Re "Neighborhood councils' success limited," Dec. 17
Los Angeles neighborhood councils have been criticized for mudslinging and infighting at meetings. But democracy is messy. Conflicts often represent a sincere effort to communicate with each other and build a foundation for the future.
Establishing dispute resolution commissions in every planning area to arbitrate neighborhood council-related disputes, however, would reduce the time the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and the city attorney spend sorting out conflicts. The commissions would provide an impartial body to hear complaints so that valuable neighborhood council meeting time could be reserved for important issues, rather than personality disputes. The councils are improving their communities and empowering stakeholders. They should not be faulted for getting a little muddy in the process.
The writer is a member of the Greater Valley Glen Neighborhood Council.
\f7Mid-Town North Hollywood Neighborhood Council member Gary Baratta had it right in that the population of the boards is unwieldy. If our city of almost 4 million people only needs 15 council members, why should any community of 80,000 need a board of 23? It's much easier to get a quorum and a consensus when you have seven or eight board members who have all been elected by their community.
More frequent and vigorous candidate forums could also help stakeholders elect a board whose members seem to have the same vision for the community. Perhaps the biggest lesson that neighborhood councils have to learn is to make their meetings more exciting and more like a town hall, with a separate board meeting for business. No one has ever held a class in best practices for the councils and, boy, do they need it.
\o7The writer is a former president of the Winnetka Neighborhood Council.
Charlotte Laws does the neighborhood council system a grave disservice by passing off as legitimate that the Greater Valley Glen Council's conflicts are personality-driven. The council's problems are driven by blatant abuse of power and corruption on the part of the council's main officers and the majority of the board that empowers them.
Laws is happy to spread this propaganda because it benefits her. It helped to put her on the commission appointed by the mayor to evaluate the neighborhood council system and make recommendations for improving it. The Greater Valley Glen Council is a mess and should be decertified. A new council should be formed based on honesty, ethics, transparency and inclusiveness. When that happens, I may be interested in the two-year seat that I recently resigned out of disgust.