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Give Every Neighborhood a Share : Mayor's race: Community councils, open to everyone, would empower all Angelenos in decision-making for the city.

L. A. '93: THE RACE FOR MAYOR: The Times invited mayoral candidates to describe their ideas for Los Angeles and a vision of the city's future. Their articles will run on this page in the days to come. Today, Joel Wachs

March 26, 1993|JOEL WACHS | Joel Wachs, a resident of Studio City, has been a member of the Los Angeles City Council since 1971.

What I envision for Los Angeles is a family of neighborhoods in which everyone participates and everyone takes pride.

If there's one thing I've seen as I've gone around this city, it's that people have something to say. They want to be heard. They want to feel they can make a difference. They want to participate. They want to make a better city.

We need a leader who will give people that opportunity.

We need a leader who will unite Angelenos of every race and color and creed and rebuild this city--not from the top down, but from the bottom up.

In essence, we need a leader who will empower people.

And the best place to start is in our neighborhoods.

Community empowerment is the only way Los Angeles can retain its identity as the city of opportunity, new ideas and optimism. If we are to realize the potential greatness of our diversity, all of us must participate in the governing process.

And that will require a totally new approach to governing. It requires leadership that is willing to reach down into the roots of our city and share power with the people who live here.

I will be that leader.

I am the only candidate for mayor who is totally committed to empowering people in this fashion, who has a specific plan for doing so and who has the demonstrated capacity for making it happen.

On my first day in office, I will initiate a fundamental reform of city government in order to give people a real community voice in how their city is run: I will create strong neighborhood councils in each of the more than 100 communities that make up our city.

The councils will be formed by business, community, religious, labor, education and civic leaders and will offer free membership for everyone who lives, works or owns property in the community. The members will hold open elections for officers. Among each council's functions will be: to develop a plan of objectives, including a Bill of Responsibilities for neighbors; to prepare a disaster preparedness plan; to develop a means of regularly communicating with the people in the neighborhood; to nominate qualified people from within the community for key city commissions; to participate in issues including community-based policing and planning, neighborhood improvements, historic preservation, educational reforms, self-help programs and the mediation of neighborhood disputes, and to participate in major citywide issues, including budget and spending priorities, ordinances and proposed City Charter changes.

City departments will be required to provide neighborhood councils with priority access to records, information and staff.

Funding for the neighborhood councils will come from money they raise, private foundations and redirected federal grants.

Coordination of the councils will take the form of a citywide Neighborhood Congress where leaders from all neighborhood councils will meet on a quarterly basis to exchange their concerns and discuss the general direction of the city.

It is time, right now, to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what can be done and how can we participate in making a difference in our city.

The neighborhood council plan is a powerful idea at exactly the right time. It is an idea that can help bring our city and our people together. It is born of cooperation among widely diverse people whose interests, seemingly divergent at first, become one, for the sake of the greater good.

The neighborhood council plan creates a unifying process whereby people and neighborhoods will for the first time begin speaking to one another about how to realize common goals.

It is the only plan that will work for our city, because the people will be a part of making it work.

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