Background: Last month the Skid Row Neighborhood Council failed to be formed and then General Jeff Page, head of the formation committee, and his colleague Katherine McNenny discovered some very shady looking activity and filed an appeal with the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. You can also read a more balanced version of the story by Gale Holland of the Times.
Last night a panel consisting of three neighborhood council presidents from around the City heard General Jeff’s appeal of the election that defeated the Skid Row Neighborhood Council separation from DLANC last month. You can read the whole appeal here, including DONE boss Grayce Liu’s recommendations to the panel. The gist of it is that someone sent around an email that looked like it came from DLANC urging people to vote against the SRNC. If this had been a candidate for a neighborhood council office this evidence would have been enough to incur sanctions from the City based on the rules in the official election manual.
As it was, though, the panel unambiguously recommended that DONE either hold another election without the exceedingly contentious online voting that was unaccountably allowed in this election.1 Note that you can also read a less impressionistic version of this story than mine by Gale Holland, writing in this morning’s Times.
The meeting was well-attended and the level of interest and excitement was high. Unfortunately I had to leave after only three hours, long before anything was decided, but what I did see was well worth the trip. Most exciting was the public comments, which, at least while I was there, were all but one in favor of Skid Row. They were insightful, heartfelt, moving, convincing, enough to restore understandably flagging faiths in democracy. The one guy who was against the new NC was…well, his comments are summarized in the image that appears at the start of this post. It may seem like a joke, but it was not.
I’m pleased to note, also, that at least one public commenter mentioned my recent public records request on the SRNC, connecting up the immoral, probably illegal anti-partition campaign with the nefarious activities of Downtown Business Improvement Districts and their cross-appointed-to-DLANC executive directors Rena Leddy and Estela Lopez. Even puppet-wielding crackpot Wayne Spindler, evidently seeing the gravity of the situation, laid his creepy-moronic pig-performance aside and said something important in favor of the SRNC, and was applauded. Anyway, that’s the news. Find a little unfounded speculative nerdview material after the break.
One problem with the appeal seems to be that there are no explicit rules for neighborhood council partition elections because the whole process is so new. Thus General Jeff’s appeal attempted to fit the present situation into the old rules by, e.g., characterizing the new SRNC and the old, to-be-partitioned, DLANC as the candidates. If DONE had published actual rules for partitions, it’s possible that this would have been somewhat of a stretch, but as there don’t seem to be any rules, it’s only natural to look for parallels in existing rules to see what’s right in new situations.
Anyway, Patti Berman’s whole defense was that there weren’t any rules that applied, so how could DLANC have broken them? The panel saw right through this, challenging her multiple times on why she didn’t send out emails to everyone who’d received the illicit was-it-or-wasn’t-it from DLANC explaining that the email was not from DLANC and that DLANC was not taking sides. It was very plausibly suggested by a number of commenters that if the putative DLANC email had supported SRNC formation she might have taken a much more active position. This point was hit hard by the panelists.
So anyway, the ball is now in DONE’s court. They don’t have to accept anything that the panel recommends. But even if they don’t, this appeal is a necessary prerequisite to a lawsuit, and if DONE rejects the panel’s recommendations, arrived at through a rigorous process, they’re gonna have a lot of splainin’ to do!
All images are ©2017 MichaelKohlhaas.org.
- Actually, “unaccountably” is a euphemism. It was allowed because a bunch of shady characters formed an anonymous front group called Unite DTLA, hired a shady lobbyist called Rocky Delgadillo, and had him work with shady CD14 Councilboy Jose Huizar to implement online voting for this and only this NC election, which is essentially what did it in.