That big sigh of relief you heard this morning was from the city’s 91 neighborhood councils, who cheered a vote by the City Council Wednesday on a motion to they say will strengthen community empowerment.
The motion, by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, chair of the Education and Neighborhoods Committee, restored five positions to the embattled Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) and transfered $1.3 million to it from the Community Development Department (CDD).
“This is a budget-neutral action that does not cost taxpayers a dime, but still allows the department to function in support of neighborhood councils,” Krekorian said. “DONE’s budget and staffing have been decimated of late, so this fiscally prudent move was an important step to strengthen community participation in governance.”
In fact, DONE itself was close to decimation after the mayor proposed rolling the department into CDD during this year’s budget negotiations. Neighborhood councils railed against that proposal, fearing it would be the death knell for the community empowerment department after its funding – and staff positions – had been steadily siphoned off.
Community empowerment: Alive and well in L.A.
As late as 2008, DONE operated with 72 staff members to help the city’s neighborhood councils flourish. Earlier this year, as the city’s fiscal situation worsened, the department’s budget was greatly reduced as its staff was cut to 36 people. Later, that figure was slashed in half again, to 18, where it stood before Wednesday’s action.
“Today’s vote was very major,” said Barbara Monaghan-Burke, chair of the Studio City Neighborhood Council’s Government Affairs Committee. “This is just the beginning of restructuring [DONE] as an independent system so we can operate most effectively.”
The 2010-11 adopted city budget provides $1.34 million to the CDD for functions that had been performed by DONE. Pursuant to the reccomendation of Krekorian’s committee, that amount of funding was transfered out of CDD and into DONE. The additional positions are to be paid for out of that existing funding.
“We’ve never wavered in our support for this,” said Nina Royal, a member of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council and chair of the public safety committee. “This is great. It will strengthen DONE and give us better service.”
While many of DONE’s staff fan out across the city, helping the city’s neighborhood councils solve a plethora of problems, the five new positions will work internally to help the department function and maintain a high level of accountability.
While Krekorian cheered Wednesday’s action, he added that it was one step on the road to ensuring greater neighborhood empowerment.
“Today, we sent an important message to Los Angeles that we value the importance of neighborhood councils, and my office will always stand with those who care passionately about community empowerment,” he said. “However, this is not an end, but another important step as we continue to reorganize and improve one of our city’s most important movements.”
Keith Richman, a former California Assemblyman who would have been mayor of the San Fernando Valley if the 2002 secession drive had prevailed, has died after fighting brain cancer for more than a year.
Richman died Friday night at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He was 56.
“Keith Richman was a great leader and passionate public servant,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said. “He advocated for so many important causes in California, including health care and pension reform, and his work for our state made a lasting impact that will be remembered.”
Colleagues remembered the longtime Northridge resident’s political courage in being one of the few prominent elected officials who supported San Fernando Valley cityhood before the movement became popular.
“There are few people that have done so much for the San Fernando Valley,” said Richard Close, who was chairman of the secession effort.
“Keith was a warrior, and we needed warriors,” said attorney David Fleming, a major backer of secession.
There are three consecutive events on Monday May 31st (click for an informational flyer), comprised of two ceremonies and also a Charity Fundraiser Barbeque Steak Dinner.
The first is at 1600 (4 PM) on the new patio at VFW Post 2323 dedicating our new flag pole featuring a 21 gun salute and bugle call for memorial day taps.
The second will be at 1700 (5 PM) at Veterans Park on the southeast corner of Chatsworth and Zelzah with the same service plus other activities for 3 new flag poles and the New Beautiful Veterans Park Grand Opening rebuilt by the Rotary Club of Granada Hills.
These will be followed by a great Charity Fundraiser Barbeque Steak Dinner at 1800 (6 PM) at Post 2323 on our beautiful new patio by the waterfall, across from the putting green. The Post is located just a few blocks east of the park at 17522 Chatsworth St. with parking in the Verizon lot in the rear. Dinner tickets are a $12 donation purchased at least two days before the event at VFW Post 2323, or a $15 donation after and on the day of the events. You may call the Post at 818 366-7799 for information any afternoon, 7 days a week.
The Granada Hills Veterans’ Park project by the Granada Hills Rotary Foundation has transformed a dilapidated traffic median at the corner of Zelzah Ave. and Chatsworth St. into a beautiful tribute to the military men and women who have served our country.
The improvements include a new pergola (thanks to the generous contributions of the Granada Hills Improvement Association), new landscaping, brick and cement work, flagpoles, a monument and a statue (thanks to the generous contribution of Jake Parunyan, the 2009 Gil Benjamin Granada Hills Citizen of the Year).
Contributors have been Granada Hills North Neighborhood Council, Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council, Councilman Greig Smith’s office, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2323, and the Granada Hills Rotary Foundation.
The tribute bricks are currently being installed, and more are still available for community members to dedicated to veterans, businesses, friends and loved ones. For information about donating for tribute bricks, contact John Weitkamp at (818) 363-3144 or [email protected].
Mayor asks the City Administrative Officer to develop a plan to shut down all General-funded city services except for public safety and revenue-generating positions for two days per week beginning the week of April 12
With the looming possibility of the City of Los Angeles running out of money in less than a month, Mayor Villaraigosa called upon the City Administrative Officer to develop a plan to save money by shutting down all General-funded city services, except for public safety and revenue-generating positons – for two days per week beginning the week of April 12.
“There are no easy decisions or simple ways to solve this budget crisis,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “But as the CEO of this great city, it is my responsibility to make these difficult but necessary decisions to steer the city out of this crisis and onto solid financial ground.”
The Mayor said he would immediately ask the CAO to develop the plan to shut down the City for two days per week and calculate the savings the city would earn from this. He also called an emergency meeting of the Executive Employee Relations Committee to discuss the next steps to replenish the General Fund.
Last night, Mayor Villaraigosa also sent a memo to all General Managers asking them to adhere to the spending controls initiated in the joint Mayor-Controller memorandum issued last month, expedite repayment of Reserve Fund loans to ensure that the Reserve Fund is fiscally sound by the start of the next fiscal year, and to submit the requested repayment information from each department with an outstanding loan to the City Administrative Officer immediately.
Yesterday, in reaction to Fitch Ratings, a major credit rating agency, withdrawing the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s AA- bond rating, the LADWP informed the City Controller that they could not transfer $73.5 million to the City’s General Fund. Controller Greuel immediately issued a memo saying the Los Angeles was in danger of running out of money by May 5, 2010 and recommended draining money from the City’s limited reserve fund.
A complete copy of the Mayor’s remarks as written for delivery follow: My fellow Angelenos,
For the past year, I have been trying to work with the City Council to put the Department of Water and Power on a more sustainable path: a path towards transparency and accountability, a path towards clean renewable energy and a path towards fiscal health.
It has been clear to me and it has been clear to the City Council that the DWP needs to change.
So in March 2009, I began to speak about the Department’s fiscal health and the need to increase the Energy Cost Adjustment Factor to account for the rising cost of energy and fossil fuels.
In August 2009, the DWP Board recognized this need and proposed a two-cent rate adjustment. The Council rejected it and instead, asked for an independent fiscal review. I supported the Council in this decision, and I welcomed the outside opinion.
In February, the independent consultant finished their exhaustive review and recommended an even larger rate adjustment of 2.7-cents. The DWP Board correctly used this outside, independent review and approved a 2.7-cent rate hike spread over four quarters in a manner that not only secured the Department’s fiscal health but put us on a path to a greener, cleaner future.
The Council rejected it.
I listened to the Council’s concerns. And I agreed to a compromise for a one-time 0.8 cent adjustment with added protections for residents and employers.
The Council rejected it.
The DWP Board listened to the Council and did its best to address the concerns and, over my objections, tried to meet the Council halfway with an even more modest adjustment than what I authorized.
And again, the Council rejected it.
The politics of no is no more sustainable than the DWP’s over-reliance on coal. Instead of acting in the tradition of past city councils, where progressives put partisanship aside and positioned Los Angeles as a national leader, this Council leadership has demonstrated what we’ve already seen at the national level: they have shown the results of the politics of no.
With the Council leadership saying no to my every attempt at compromise, at the DWP Board’s attempt at compromise, and NO to their own outside, independent fiscal review, we’ve seen the detrimental effects of only saying NO, and it is simply not acceptable for the council leadership to continue this practice.
The facts tell us that the cost of energy and fossil fuels will only continue to rise.
The facts tell us that the DWP gets 44% of its energy from dirty coal.
The facts tell us that the State and Federal governments will soon penalize us because of this over-reliance on coal.
The facts tell us that the DWP has been under-collecting by $6 million per week.
And the facts tell us that the national agencies have withdrawn the DWP’s credit rating because of this under-collection.
The facts don’t lie.
There are no easy decisions or simple ways to solve this budget crisis.But as the CEO of this great city, it is my responsibility to make these difficult, but necessary decisions to steer the city out of this crisis and onto solid financial ground.
As such, today, I am asking the CAO to develop a plan to shut down all General-funded city services – with the exception of public safety and revenue-generating positions – for two days per week beginning the week of April 12.
I am also calling an emergency meeting of the EERC to discuss the next steps to addressing this fiscal crisis and ways to balance our budget.
We can no longer wait. We can no longer keep saying no. We must act now.
For the Mayor’s official press release, click here.