Archive for May, 2010

Robert Cruickshank of Calitics believes the connection between higher taxes and people departing the state is a myth.  His article was featured in Citywatch.

If there is a myth it is Mr. Cruickshank’s insistance that high income earners will prefer to stay in California. He gushes about how the number of high income earners increased in the 1990s. Well, why not when escalating real estate prices were creating wealth hand over fist.  Heck, who wouldn’t want to stay when your house was doubling in value every few years?  That would be worth living with tax rates in excess of 10%.

Let’s see how things pan out in the next few years when real estate prices are sluggish, when government can’t deliver basic services, when businesses move outside the state.

The super rich will probably stay – for a while.  But the old monied families will eventually die and the heirs are going to want to cash in the chips they inherit for greener pastures.  They can always come back and vacation at Pebble Beach and La Jolla.  They will be able to afford the airfare from their tax free havens in Texas, Florida and Nevada.

Actually, Mr. Cruickshank’s assertion that the rich are staying put is not supported by a study performed by the Public Policy Institute of California.  If anything, the rich are departing the state at a rate 9% higher than incoming well-heeled taxpayers

If Mr. Cruickshank truly enjoys mythology, I suggest he reads Homer or Euripides. Better yet, visit Greece and witness what happens when a government engages in unsustainable spending.  It won’t be Helen’s face that launches a thousand ships, it will be the collapse of the economy that drives the money away in a thousand yachts.

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Check the City Clerk’s website and scroll down to Zone C.

Results won’t be certified for seven days.

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I am writing this post today because I did not want to give the appearance of trying to interfere in the SCNC election, even to the very insignificant extent of my ability to do so.

To be honest, the outcome there does not matter to me.  Studio City is Studio City and has community issues that only it can resolve.

My interest in their recent removal processes was from a broader, generic standpoint.  Does any NC have the ability to handle a matter with potentially damaging impact to someone’s reputation?

After sitting through both the McCue and Sarkin proceedings, I concluded “absolutely not.”  If someone even suggested pursuing such a case in my NC, I would argue against it and urge my fellow members to abstain from considering it.

But that’s not the main point of this article – it is only the preamble.

In Citywatch, Lisa Sarkin responded to my article about the attempt some SCNC stakeholders engineered to oust her.  I am glad she responded.  Everyone has the right to a rebuttal in any forum.  Citywatch allowed me to comment about her remarks.  I am grateful I had the opportunity.  I kept my points brief rather than create controversy right before an election.

Sarkin made her points in as objective a manner as possible, although I disagree with her nuanced logic to some extent.  However, her concluding paragraph provided insight into her line of thought:

“Hatfield’s opinion about the mishandling of the SCNC business should have had no place in CityWatch.  It is unfortunate that his facts are not what really occurred.  He might be slanted by his apparent friendship with McCue.  Hatfield should beware of such a friendship as it may come back and bite him.”

Really?  When does opinion not have a place in a public forum?  I can think of a few places in the world where that is the case and I don’t believe Sarkin or any of us would care to visit. If that is Sarkin’s view of how the SCNC should conduct business, then the stakeholders are being shortchanged.

Her warning that my “apparent friendship” with McCue and its possible implications for my future might be simple sarcasm (OK) or it might indicate a degree of cynicism one would not want to see in a community leader.

Apparently, Sarkin does not make distinctions among various levels of friendship.  McCue is an acquaintance of mine.  I first got to know him on the CD2 campaign trail along with several other candidates.  Many of my acquaintances are friends in the sense that I care about their well-being and wish them good fortune.  I can also enjoy my limited time with them.  It does not mean they are my allies or we necessarily share agreement on any issues. That is the case with McCue, as it is with everyone else who ran (for the record, one candidate is a close friend).

I am not questioning Sarkin’s knowledge of the issues or her ability to address them. She is as technically capable as any board member in the NC system. However, she needs to look inward on the events of the last two months and take stock of the implications they have throughout the NC system and democratic principles as they apply to the grassroots level.

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Final vote count is 231.

As of 4:20 I received a report that we had over 100 voters with more people coming in.  The key will be the turnout after 6 PM after people have returned from work.

At 2:20, which was just twenty minutes after the polls opened in Valley Village, we had twenty votes.  That’s based on the sign-in registers I saw on the table.

Twenty votes in the first twenty minutes is a pretty good rate.  Hope it continues.

The sprinkles have not dampened the spirits here.  I was listening to a forecast last night.  The weather guy said there was a “threat of sprinkles,” but “they would not be severe.”  I slept well with that reassurance.  Nothing scarier than category 4 scattered showers.

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I regret that time does not permit me to cover the elections for other zones.  There have been some noteworthy turnouts in a few NCs – well over a thousand.  Check out the results

If you live in Zone C (check the Elections tab), show your support and send a message to City Hall that you value grassroots democracy; that you demand to be heard.

May 27th is not about slates or individuals, it is about overall numbers. Turnout is everything. 

Lastly, I would like to thank the members of NC Valley Village who have chosen not to run for re-election for their service:

They are: Beth Fulton, Greg O’Conner and Andrew Sacher.

There are some new faces on the ballot: Aaron Belliston, Charles Sulahian,Sandy Hubbard, Dale Liebowitz-Neglia and Suzanne Lauer.  All of these people have played a positive role in our community and have maintained a working relationship with NCVV.

This is one election where you can’t go wrong with either incumbents or new candidates.

I am proud to be part of this board.

I welcome reports from other zones.

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My daughter penned this article for a trade association blog.  Interesting points.

As you can tell, her viewing interests are similar to mine.


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Region C Neighborhood Council elections are this Thursday, May 27th.  See my earlier post.

When I first became engaged with the formation of NCVV back in 2004, my vision was a grassroots citizen organization working in concert with our City Council Members to improve the quality of life for the neighborhood.

I was so naive.

Valley Village is split between two Council Districts: 2 and 5.  Having two elected officials representing our little community would appear to have been an advantage because it doubled our exposure.  Think again.

Jack Weiss, the former occupant of the CD5 seat, never paid so much as a courtesy visit.  Well, Jack won’t be visiting any neighborhood councils now.

Wendy Greuel, the CD2 member, appeared a couple of times, but only when she wanted to use the meetings to suit her agenda.

I vividly recall when NCVV put Measure S (phone tax) on the agenda for a discussion and motion.  Within a day after the agenda was distributed, we received a request from Greuel to attend the meeting.

Excellent, I thought.  We can have a real discussion about the tax with an elected official.  What better way to exercise grassroots democracy?

Wendy was added to the agenda in order before the Measure S matter.

We anxiously anticipated listening to her opine on the controversial measure – a disingenuously worded proposition giving it the appearance of being a tax cut when it was really a replacement for the current tax.

Instead, Wendy gave a rambling, long-winded, presentation on her ideas for transportation improvements.  In addition to draining the enthusiasm from the room, it cut deeply into the meeting’s available time.  We had to race through the measure S presentation during which I did question Wendy about the tax.  I received the “thousand-yard stare.”  It was evident she was not prepared to discuss the matter despite her support for the measure.  Nevertheless, NCVV did pass a motion in opposition to the tax. We never received an acknowledgement from her  about our decision.

I heard similar comments about Greuel from Sunland-Tujunga, particularly concerning her avoidance of the Home Depot project in that community. 

Whatever vision I had about NCs working as a team with a Council Member evaporated.

Until Measure B was defeated, in no small part because of united opposition from neighborhood councils, the City Council did its best to ignore us.  Occasionally, a bone would be tossed our way, but that was it.

Neighborhood Councils are on the cusp of taking their game to the next level, but the city is doing everything possible to impede us.  The City Clerk’s Office, which was tasked with running this year’s NC elections, has reneged on its commitment to provide outreach despite benefitting from a $5,000 allotment from each neighborhood council budget.

Lack of support from the City Clerk was evident in the low voter turnout for Zones A and B.  To the credit of the individual NCs in those zones, they organized campaigns to raise awareness of the elections, but it was too little, too late.  It’s pretty difficult for volunteers to get back on their feet when the rug has been pulled out from under them.

No one on the City Council or the Mayor’s office has paid lip service to the Clerk’s office failure to deliver on its promise.  I’m not surprised.

Do you want a responsive city government?  If so, you need to reach for it.  No one is going to hand it to you.  Vote for people who will listen to you and take your fight to the city.  Even then, there is no guarantee of success, but issues will be forced to the surface for all to see. Transparency is a victory in itself if it leads to the defeat of certain officials in the next general elections.

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