Last week, neighborhood councils worked hard in advance of the Tuesday City Council session and it paid off. Councilmember Paul Krekorian was joined by six other Councilmembers in his motion to move the CAO's recommendations on the neighborhood council system to the E & N Committee.
This past Saturday, BudgetLA met and came up with recommendations (attached) for the E & N Committee which meets Tuesday, February 16, at 3:00 pm.
Here's 10 things you can do RIGHT NOW to support the neighborhood council system:
1) Support the Re-Organization of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment as proposed and approved at the Los Angeles Neighboorhood Council Coalition (LANCC) and at BudgetLA and as presented to the Education and Neighborhoods Committee on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.
2) Support the BudgetLA recommendations for the 3 year plan for Neighborhood Councils as proposed and approved at BudgetLA and as presented to the Education and Neighborhoods Committee on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.
3) Support the hundreds of BudgetLA participants representing 75 of the 90 certified neighborhood councils who simply want a chair at the table NOW so they can fulfill the Charter Mandate directing NC's to "advise the Mayor and City Council on the budget, monitor the delivery of services, and engage the public in the process."
4) Email Paul.Krekorian@LACity.org and Janice.Hahn@LACity.org and Dennis.Zine@LACity.org and let them know that you support the DONE re-org and BudgetLA recommendations as presented to the E & N Committee on Tuesday, February 16, 2010.
5) Phone Committee Chair Krekorian (213-473-7002) Councilmember Hahn (213-473-7015) and Councilmember Zine (213-473-7003) and let their staff know that you support the DONE re-org and BudgetLA recommendations as presented to the E & N Committee on Tuesday, February 16, 2010. (Call on Tuesday, February 16, between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.)
6) Visit E & N Committee Chair Krekorian's website and leave a comment letting him know that you support the proposed DONE re-org and the BudgetLA recommendations for the neighborhood councils, and that most of all, you want neighborhood councils to be partners as the City Council and the Mayor move forward to resolve the city's budget crisis.
7) Attend the E & N Committee meeting on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at City Hall in Council Chambers. 200 Main Street, Los Angeles 90012. Fill out a speaker's card (whether you intend to speak or not) and indicate that you support the Re-org of DONE and the BudgetLA recommendations.
8) Visit BudgetLA for articles and commentary on the city's budget crisis, the community calendar, videos and photos, a link to Facebook, a Twitter feed, a roster of Neighborhood Councils, the archives, media contacts and more.
9) Join BudgetLA on Facebook and Twitter and by email and send us your thoughts, ideas, comments, contributions and suggestions.
10) Defend the neighborhood council system because now, more than ever, it is imperative that neighborhood councils take a leadership role and "advise the Mayor and City Council on the budget, monitor the delivery of services, and engage the people of Los Angeles in the process."
BudgetLA - E & N Talking Points:
Neighborhood Council System Reorganization:
(1) NC FUNDING REVAMPED
NC funding administration will be transferred to nonprofit entity such as Community Partners. Bankcard system is revamped or replaced by alternative method of providing petty cash. Current ($1.61 million) rollover stays until accurate accounting is provided. Future rollover is cut from two years to one. Amount of future annual NC funding to be determined based on cost savings. NCs will work with CAO et al to determine acceptable expenditure categories.
(2) DEPARTMENT RESTRUCTURED
DONE staff is cut to about 15 and the department reorganized into an admin section and three functional teams: publicity/media/outreach; governmental (certification, dept. MOUs, liaison, etc.); and education and training. Each team will work with NC volunteers proficient in these areas to develop programs, etc
(3) NC ELECTIONS
City clerk will get out of NC election business as soon as possible (repeal the ordinance). Cost of NC elections goes from $2.2M to about $100K.
Education & Neighborhood Committee Agenda:
(1) Motion (Krekorian - Hahn - et al) relative to directing the City Administrative Officer to study, with appropriate stakeholders, the transfer of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment or the Neighborhood Council (NC) Funding Program.
INVESTIGATE transferring neighborhood council funding administration to a nonprofit entity. The NC funding program can be simplified and operated at a lower cost while providing faster and more efficient service.
SUPPORT maintaining Neighborhood Empowerment as a separate department.
SUPPORT transferring elections back to neighborhood councils.
(2) Motion (Krekorian - Hahn - et al) relative to the consideration of eliminating the Neighborhood Council "rollover" policy and transferring all suspended "rollover" funds totaling $1.61 million to the Reserve Fund.
OPPOSE this recommendation.
The $1.61 million amount refers to the balance in the fund as of June 30, 2009. In many cases, councils had submitted demand warrant requests which were being processed at this time. In some cases, DONE required as long as three months to complete requests for payment. Unless a full accounting of which payments should be assigned to the 2008-2009 fiscal year is performed, there is no way of knowing what each neighborhood council's actual "rollover" is. In fact, the $1.61 million amount may be off by as much as 50 percent.
REPLACE current policy with a one-year "rollover" retention.
(3) Motion (Krekorian - Hahn - et al) relative to the consideration of eliminating the Neighborhood Council bank card system and convert to a demand warrant system.
OPPOSE this recommendation.
The bank card system provides councils the ability to pay for small purchases such as office supplies. As with any account linked to a credit or debit card, records of transactions are immediate and usually accessible within a few hours. The abuse of the system involved cash advances. This component has already been removed. If the bank card system is eliminated entirely, it will force council board members to pay for small purchases and seek reimbursement via the demand warrant system, resulting in an increased workload for the controller's office. Requiring neighborhood council volunteers to, in essence, loan money to the city creates a particular hardship in low-income areas.
(4) Motion (Krekorian - Hahn - et al) relative to the consideration of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, City Attorney and City Administrative Officer evaluating and redefining allowable expenditure categories for Neighborhood Council funds.
AMEND this recommendation.
Instruct CAO, CLA, and DONE staff to meet with neighborhood council representatives to explore funding, staffing, and organizational proposals affecting the neighborhood council system.
(5) Motion (Krekorian - Hahn - et al) relative to the consideration of the General Manager, Department of Neighborhood Empowerment issuing a memo to Neighborhood Councils regarding a proposed 50 percent reduction to the annual allocation amount for 2010-11.
OPPOSE this recommendation.
BudgetLA and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition has endorsed a proposal that will maintain the level of funding for neighborhood councils by saving money in other areas of the NC system. The work of neighborhood volunteers and leveraged expenditures are needed now more than ever as the city's workforce shrinks.