Friday, August 7, 2020
Home News Neighborhood Councils, Steep Learning Curve

Neighborhood Councils, Steep Learning Curve

By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

Los Angeles neighborhood councils were intended to make city government more accessible to citizens, with hope that they evolve into a bicameral governing system similar to New York City’s borough system. But two Central and Coastal Neighborhood Councils meetings this past month showed the growing pains of realizing such a system.

Coastal Neighborhood Council

Coastal Neighborhood Council president James Baeza (left in above photo) resigned from the board last month following a reprimand from the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment for “non-compliance with the laws, regulations, policies and rules that apply to the governance of the council.”

Baeza’s resignation followed a meeting with, and subsequent letter from, the Department’s outreach and communications director, Stephen Box.

The letter addressed illegal council actions, which including:

  • Holding a meeting that was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Failure to comply with a public records request despite being supplied with the information.
  • Violating the Brown Act in several different ways.
  • Violating its own bylaws and standing rules at the October Agenda setting meeting.
  • And, creating a hostile work environment in which board members and the public felt bullied, harassed, intimidated or stalked by members of the board.

At the Oct. 17 Coastal San Pedro stakeholder meeting, Baeza used the public comment period to air his complaints against Box and Octaviano Rios, another DONE representative, who were present at Baeza’s moment in the woodshed.

“I thought I was being invited down there to figure out a way to fix it …make it better. To take stock of the mistakes we made and to improve upon ourselves to make something better than what we have.”

He called the meeting a one-sided recap of a list of complaints that have been lodged against the council—complaints with which the council has been most familiar.

He admitted to the ADA violation, but noted the council corrected the mistake.

Baeza strongly disputed charges of anti-Semitism in reference to the fact that the stakeholder meeting was held on the Jewish holiday Sukkot.

Baeza noted that no one in DONE warned the council of the holiday and allowed the meeting to go on anyway.

The Coast Council president chalked it up as another tactic by opponents on the council to stall votes they didn’t like.

“Does anyone know that today is the first day of Sukkot?” Baeza asked the audience. No one knows because nobody brought it up. No one wanted to stall this meeting.”

“These are the things I spent my time dealing with as president of this council,” Baeza continued. “I have not spent any of my time dealing with community improvement projects and I have not spent any of my time dealing with neighborhood purpose grants.”

Baeza accused DONE of being more interested in protecting their jobs than assisting the council, saying that the department could have stopped the meeting.

“I can’t continue doing this anymore. I am out,” Baeza said. “This is cronyism and founders syndrome. This is the city of L.A. making an established bureaucracy.”

Baeza took note of the salaries of the officials that are at the head of DONE, saying the general manager earns $130,000 to $140,000 a year and the next person in line earns $100,000 a year.

“They are just there protecting their jobs. They are not in fact assisting this council,” Baeza said.

According to records by Los Angeles Controller’s office, DONE General Manager Grayce Liu actually earns a salary of nearly $180,000 when benefits are factored in.

It’s worth noting that Baeza emerged at the end of another Coastal president’s term, Dave Behar. Back then, council members attempted to officially reprimand Behar on the grounds of self dealing and lack of transparency in council business dealings overall.

Baeza resignation was similar to the way Behar announced he was not going to run for the council again three years ago.

Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council

On Oct. 18, Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council held a special board meeting prior to the 6:30 p.m. stakeholder meeting to discuss the proposed Navigation Center on Pacific Avenue.

This was the council’s first meeting after Councilman Joe Buscaino’s Oct. 4 town hall meeting where he and his homeless task force were taken to task by residents angry about the lack of outreach and proposed placement of the center.

The board voted to oppose the proposed location of the Navigation Center, but amended the proposal so they council could forward recommendations to go along with the council’s community impact statement.

The amendment was surprising since Danielle Sandoval and Donald Galaz were most insistent in ensuring that recommendations were offered with their rejection of the center. Those two council members were most intimately involved with the Sept. 25 rally.

Before the vote, Sandoval spent several minutes recalling how much she learned while on the council’s homeless committee and working on the issue while on the council’s board. She related her own experience with homelessness as a young single mother, recalling the proliferation of liquor stores and drug addiction.

She described today’s homeless situation  as different from what she experienced, one marked by widespread untreated mental health problems amongst the homeless and few resources to address it.

During the regular stakeholder meeting, however, Sandoval took a few moments to call out this newspaper in objection to being connected to the flyer that drew Barton Hill residents to the Sept. 25 rally.

“There was an article printed in Random Lengths,” Sandoval said. “I wanted the board to know that I never conducted an interview and I never said that I was a member of this neighborhood council and I never took responsibility for passing out the flyer… I never created the flyer nor did I pass it out to the community in reference to the Navigation Center. Elise was very upset with me asking “why did I put her name on that flyer, why did I put her phone number in that flyer.” My words were misconstrued and I just wanted to make sure I was on record.”

Galaz and Sandoval thought they could exchange their neighborhood council hats for community activist hats and that the two roles would never meet. They had to learn the hard way that elected officials cannot turn off their status as public leaders whenever they want.

In the cases of both Baeza at Coastal and Sandoval and Galaz at Central, the learning curve of running a system of government in a pluralist society is steep, and living up to the ideals of the neighborhood council is not always easy.

Click below to listen the recording of her remarks in regards to her involvement with the Sept. 25 rally.
[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Popular

Justice for Andres Guardado Now!

By Najee Ali Andres Guardado was an 18-year-old Los Angeles man shot several times in the back and killed...

Coronavirus Myths Explored

In June 2020, Medical News Today, produced by Healthline Media UK Ltd in Brighton, UK, published a fact check of the top...

Black is King

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s gift to the world By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor My assignment is to mount...

Random Letters: 8-6-20

COVID-19 Hits Long Beach Leadership It is with deep sadness that I share that my mother, Gaby O’Donnell, has...

Recent Comments

Randomly Lengthly Walt on Republicans’ Revolt
Antifa are the real fascists on The Truth About Antifa
Artemis Gordon on The Truth About Antifa
Vicky Palesa Adam on Lung Health Tips for COVID-19
J.S on Icarus Falls
Ghost from your past! on Icarus Falls
Lisa Bennett on The Truth About Antifa
Dave on Icarus Falls
Kevin on Icarus Falls
DAVID J LEE on Think: George Floyd
M Mackey on Think: George Floyd
Michael S. Motta on Think: George Floyd
Thomas "HOUSE" Houchens on Think: George Floyd
Eliath Mena on Think: George Floyd
Deidre Powell on Think: George Floyd
Marcia Ladymgirl on Think: George Floyd
Jennifer L on Think: George Floyd
Carlos Fisher on Think: George Floyd
Jose "cheMMa" Rodriguz on Think: George Floyd
Aniza Thomas on Think: George Floyd
David Seay on Think: George Floyd
Marc LJ on Think: George Floyd
andre edwards on Think: George Floyd
Terelle Jerricks on From Pop Culture to Cop Culture
Sharon Hislop on Think: George Floyd
Fetteroff on Think: George Floyd
Raul Acevedo Jr. on Think: George Floyd
Mel Grayson on Think: George Floyd
Terelle Jerricks on A Virtual World of Events 
Alice r. Knoop on Lung Health Tips for COVID-19
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Joshua E Chambers on Take me to Sardine
Chad Dorchester on Take me to Sardine
Terelle Jerricks on Change Won’t Be Televised
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Bob Kohler on About
Judie M Barker on About
Kim Kaufman on Staff
Kim Kaufman on Staff
Vivian Morales on From War to Lowrider
Robin Doyno on Staff
Publisher on About
Joe Stackhouse on Advertise
Marshariki Haylock on A Stabbing in San Pedro
CARRIE MENDOZA on A Stabbing in San Pedro
Martin Palmiere EMC(SW) ret. on Trouble on the Iowa
Martin A.Palmiere EMC(SW) USN(ret.) on Trouble on the Iowa
John H Winkler on Frequently Asked Questions
J. McVey on Staff
Malou Mariano on Tampering and Collusion
Terrell Williams on The New Gap Band Fills The Gap
Alton C . Thompson, Ph. D. on About
Harold Ericsson on Letters to the Editor
Hillbinkel on Trouble on the Iowa
Ian Gordon on KKJZ Leaves CSULB Campus
larry lebedin on KKJZ Leaves CSULB Campus
Joseph Bianco on Frequently Asked Questions
Deborah Steed on Zerby Family Finds Solace
Don Griffin on Rosenberg
Pete on About
Anne Marie Knudsen on Clem Pennington is the Whole Package
Terelle Jerricks on About
Lyn Jensen on Go Retro with Records
Steven R. Heldt on Fig Trees Are Like Democracies
Joanne Sims on Peacocks, Paseo, Politics
Dave Borst-Smith on Peacocks, Paseo, Politics
Charles Traupmann on The Buscaino Report:
james P. Allen on Across the Great Divide
Allyson Vought on Across the Great Divide
PBinLostAngeles on RL NEWS Roundups: June 14, 2016
davehall on Voter Guide
Chris formica Gringos Tacos on Food Truck Blues
Random Lengths News on Iowa Fever
Tinisha Rodrique on IMG_1761
polos fred perry on Less Than a Side Show
cheap soccer jersey on Less Than a Side Show
le mahjong gratuit on The Surrealness of Knives and Breast
Harry and the Gang on Sherlock Holmes at the LB Playhouse
neufert architect s data pdf on IMG_1761
sewing machine reviews on Annie at the Warner Grand