With the Los Angeles City Council ready to approve a train wreck of a budget, and with its vote on May 26 to delay for months a bizarre plan to place “sign districts” potentially filled with pulsating digital billboards in more than 20 residential and business districts citywide, arm yourself by knowing how each one voted!

Popular L.A. cartoonist and blogger about Silver Lake Donna Barstow, who does great cartooning for Slate.com, told me at a cocktail party about a little-known but great way for the public to become citizen journos. Look up your council members' votes by subject matter, online. It doesn't matter what they say. How did they really vote? Here's  how to sleuth it:

First, go to L.A. City Clerk site here.

Then, look down on the right, to find the light-brown title “LA City Clerk Connect.”

Right below that is the Sweet Spot you click, titled the Council File Management System.

Ahhhh! Now, type in your search term to see how each of them voted.

You can type in a big issue like billboards, density bonus, pensions, police, GRYD (the “gang prevention” experiment  now unfolding citywide), or you can type in names of some big, very rich recipients of your taxpayer largesse or their pals, like LA Live, Staples Center, Tim Lieweke, AEG, Grand Avenue or Related Cos.

Donna says you can look up any damn topic, even the council's votes on Roosters.

Here's one on City Debt Collection. You can not only see how Jan Perry, Eric Garcetti, Bill Rosendahl, Jack Weiss and the others really vote, but the records also clearly state who is “absent”.

Donna says the search system was created to respond to complaints from Neighborhood Councils about how tough it was to track the council votes. It's been online for A YEAR but is still not well-known.

Thank you Donna Barstow, cartoonist, sleuther extraordinaire, and inventor of the Obama.chia pet.

Credit: All Rights Reserved, ©Donna Barstow

Credit: All Rights Reserved, ©Donna Barstow

LA Weekly