By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
He notes that he and other former council members have presented a timeline showing how they plan to knock on doors every weekend for the rest of the summer until they can get the people of Van Nuys to come back to the table. If only they get one more chance.
BONC decides to allow the reorganization effort to go forward, and the handful of Van Nuys neighbors exchange papers that mark out who will be walking in which neighborhoods of what days. “We better make it work,” Davidson-Castillo tells her companions.
The results of their efforts will become clear on September 9, when BONC meets at the Mulholland Middle School to consider new elections in Van Nuys — and to consider competing applications for certification from the Mid Valley Neighborhood Council and the West Van Nuys/Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council.
“Please acknowledge City Administrative Officer Bill Fujioka!” a voice declares into a microphone, but council members from around the city ignore the call and get on with neighborhood news and gossip. It is the May 22 Citywide Congress of Neighborhood Councils, a sort of gathering of the tribes of the council network for sharing ideas and boosting spirits.
“Please welcome your fire chief, Captain Bill Bamattre!” What happened to that Watts plan to have the board spend their money on a retreat to Palm Springs, a woman at a West Valley table asks. They didn’t do it, a man answers. DONE got hold of it, made them take their retreat in San Pedro. “Please acknowledge general manager of the Department of Building and Safety, Andrew Adelman!” Did you see that list of everybody’s use of their 50 grand? a man at the San Pedro table gasps. Historic Highland Park spent 15 hundred bucks on soda pop! Glassell Park spent 700 bucks on a limo! A limo! And did you know we spent 500 bucks on the chamber of commerce? It’s all parties, mutters a man from across the table. Fifty grand a year and we spend it on parties.
“Please also welcome — Deputy Mayor Doooooaaaaaane Liuuuuuuuuu!” We are the first caucus that has come from the neighborhood council system, Bel-Air/Beverly Neighborhood Council representative Pam Cook tells the gathering. We’re number one! “Please acknowledge the interim general manager for the Department of Animal Services, Sharon Morris!” As members of the gay caucus introduce themselves, a surprising number announce that they are not “out,” as far as their home councils are concerned. One man blames the anti-gay tension on his council.
A Puzzling Draw
“Come on time,” warned the notice on NELAlist, a listserv for the communities of Northeast Los Angeles. “The meeting will start promptly at 6 p.m.!”
It’s 6:10, and the only people in the Eagle Rock Library community room on this rainy night are two guys sitting in the audience seats. Is it a little dark in here? Slowly, a half-dozen more people trickle in and take their seats at the head table. One woman leans over to ask another: “Am I still treasurer?” “You are!” comes the response. The treasurer makes a noise, but it’s unclear if it’s a cheer or a groan.
Now the two guys in the audience slowly make their way to the head table. They, too, it turns out, are on the board. The only person remaining in the audience is asked, “Are you our guest speaker?” No, I’m a reporter from the L.A. Weekly.
“Have the trash cans been ordered yet?” someone asks. “We have an update on that,” comes the response.
It’s 6:30 now, and someone thinks to turn on the lights. The meeting is under way. Eight people sitting at head tables speak to a room completely empty, except for the president of The Eagle Rock Association, who is there with a presentation on a community garden, and me. But there are things to discuss and the meeting goes on — for two long hours.
“That wasn’t a good one,” then–President Dalila Sotelo insists later. “We usually have a good turnout. Come back next month.”
I let several months go by, then drop in again. Nothing especially important is on the agenda, and it’s pretty clear this one will be a bust. But the parking lot is jammed, and the community room is standing-room-only.
“You see?” Sotelo says with a smile. “You just never know.”
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