Friday, September 18, 2009

Strays, Not Schools: Why The GHSNC Should Be Abolished

In a stifling hot room at First Baptist Church of Granada Hills (not to be confused with Granada Hills Baptist Church), Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council meeting attendees munched pizza and chatted freely amongst themselves during a presentation by representatives from the Deaprtment of Sanitation on a city plan to make biofuels from black bin waste.

The whirring of box fans and ambient chatter made it difficult to hear details of the plan, as did problems with the room's sound system. As I strained to hear, a woman sitting next to me loudly groused, "Idiots. What do they spend all that money on microphones and they don't even use them. Five thousand dollars on that sound system and it doesn't even work. Disgusting."

When I began Giga Granada Hills, one of the first things I did was email all of the members of both the North and the South Neighborhood Councils, inviting them to write guest blog entries. No one responded. However, Linda Romney, who has regularly attended Neighborhood Council meetings for about two years and seems to have positioned herself as their arch-nemesis, was more than happy for an opportunity to share her views.


How long have you lived in Granada Hills?

My parents bought their house in 1965.


What's your opinion about what goes on here?

First off, they hold what's called secret meetings because of the fact that when the board was elected, there were about 54 votes to put these people in. And the stakeholders, who are the taxpayers and represent everyone, we have no say in anything that occurs whatsoever.

They have $50,000 a year, and there's 58 different neighborhood councils. Each one of them gets $50,000. Plus the bureaucracy that goes with it, plus we're supposed to be having hard times, the city's having a problem with money? They can't spend money fast enough!


What kinds of things have they spent money on that you disagree with?

One of the things is that they're constantly buying computers for elementary schools.

As you know, there hasn't been a bond measure that the public hasn't voted in for schools. There's all kinds of money available for schools, but they constantly come here. The Rotary Club, and the Chamber of Commerce -- anything that they want, they get us to pay for it.

For instance, there was a man that came for a food bank, and it was in Sylmar/San Fernando. And on the agenda today there's another person from Sylmar coming here, and it's gonna be used in Sylmar. They have these neighborhood councils all over. Sylmar should go to Sylmar, not Granada Hills.


Have you thought about joining the council yourself?

No. What I want to do is, there is no recall procedure. You know, in any other office the city sponsors, there's always a recall procedure. Did you know that with the neighborhood councils there is no recall procedure, which is illegal. The taxpayers should have a suit against all the neighborhood councils because there's no recall.


But how long is their term? When their term is up, could you run?

I wouldn't want to run. The base of how they're set up is totally and completely erroneous. The stakeholders, the citizens, don't have any say in anything that's occurring here.

It should be abolished. And so what what I want to do is I want to abolish them.


But let me ask you: maybe if you asked the board members, they would say, "We are citizens of Granada Hills, and we have a say, because we got on the board." What would you say to that?

I would say that fifty-four people elected them. So they're not representatives of Granada Hills. Because if you know how many citizens there are that live in Granada Hills, not to mention the others that work in Granada Hills, they don't represent fifty thousand.

You think fifty-four votes represents fifty thousand constituents? I don't think so. And when we voice our concerns, in one ear and out the other, and it's run as if it were a dictatorship by Dave Beauvais.



If you were somehow in charge, if this were done away with and you had the power to have your say, what would you do with that $50,000?

I would spend each of the $50,000 for each of the 58 councils, which comes to about 1.2 billion dollars,* I would use it to make sure that all of the animals were spayed and neutered and that they were never killed. The runaway pets.

The other thing I would do is you know how they're putting the taxes on our tax bill for the schools? I would make sure that the money went toward that. It didn't go on our property taxes. I would say use that money, and make sure that money goes toward the schools and it's not put on the individual taxpayers. Which is what they're doing -- they skirted Prop. 13 with this latest proposal that was voted in.


As far as Prop. 13 being about not having a tax without taxpayers' approval...

Right, two thirds approval. And we voted for a proposition just recently , and in the fine print it gave them authority to go ahead and add any amount of money that they needed that they didn't' have, any deficit, straight onto the property owner, and that's what they're doing. And it amounts to, I think they said between 124 and 300 dollars per every property, and we can't afford it.


So you said you've been coming to these meetings for two years?

Yes, and I'm on the Outreach and City Planning Committees. City planning they do listen to what you have to say, the Outreach, in one ear and out the other. The only people that are here are the people that are wanting to get money, that are on the agenda.



(*58 times 50,000 actually equals 2.9 million --ed.)

8 comments:

  1. I disagree with this 100%.

    $2.9 million to fund the operations for thousands of volunteers in the City of Los Angeles is a bargain.

    Most of what was said my Ms. Romney in the article is untrue. Here are some examples:

    "One of the things is that they're constantly buying computers for elementary schools."
    You can look on the GHSNC website and read through their agendas and minutes and find nothing about the purchase of computers for elementary schools.
    http://www.ghsnc.org/minutes-agendas.html

    When asked if she ever considered joining the council herself, she answered no because she wants to abolish the Neighborhood Council. The reality is that she would never get elected to the council.

    This is probably the worst of them all:
    "First off, they hold what's called secret meetings because of the fact that when the board was elected, there were about 54 votes to put these people in."

    There are NO secret meetings among the members of the GHSNC. All of their meetings are public and listed numerous places on the website. The meeting agendas are posted publicly at the library and other locations days before each meeting, and a list of all meetings is emailed to interested stakeholders weekly. Linda's claim that only 54 votes were cast is absurd. The election results are confirmes and posted on the website -- 191 votes were cast at last year's Street Faire.
    http://www.ghsnc.org/election/GHSNC%20-%20FOCOV%2010-04-08.pdf

    Linda can complain all she wants about the noise of the cooling fans, but often she is chatting to herself or with the reluctant person sitting next to her -- louder then the fans. I've taken to sitting as far away from her as possible for this reason.

    Her Prop 13 gripe is not a Neighborhood Council issue. It's a L.A. City Council issue. Does Ms. Romney actually think that the GHSNC voted to change to fine print of Prop 13 to increase taxes? Even if they wanted to (which they don't) they don't have the authority.

    Her solution for the entire Neighborhood Council system budget: save the kitties. Seriously? Linda is off her rocker.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This fellow stakeholder is out of her mind, and she has repeatedly made our community look bad. If anyone should be critized it should be her.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Q: So you said you've been coming to these meetings for two years?

    A: Yes, and I'm on the Outreach and City Planning Committees."

    That's funny. I was looking on the GHSNC website's Committees page (http://www.ghsnc.org/committees.html) and there's no mention of a City Planning Committee.

    Once again, Linda is delirious and talking out of her ass.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Please read my response to this article on my blog at seanrivas.blogspot.com.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Methinks Linda doesn't really believe in democracy and more citizen participation. Neighborhood councils are a way to give more local control to communities and have at least some pittance of the city budget used in the local neighborhoods for local concerns. Also interesting that she wants to sbolish the Neighborhood Councils, but yet, she is participating in the NC by being a member of two of the committees of the council.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Neighborhood councils should be the right way to go but as everything else in politics it is a big scam. They did hold secert meetings and intice neighbors to spy on each other. THIS IS NOT what a neighborhood councils should be doing. Im think they should all be investaged just as BEll was. Its not the $5000.00 that matters it what isnt on the books and what isnt taken in meeting mins.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Unreal... The Neighbourhood Council is a VOULINTEER ORGINIZATION. Everyone on the Council volunteers their time and effort. What has this woman done? Nothing except complain. We need more doers in the world and less of this type of person that just stands on the sidelines attempting to find wrong with people giving their time for free. She should be angry at Paid Elected Officials but instead she chooses Volunteers to attack because she knows that they are not protected in the same way that Paid Elected officials are. You disgust me Linda Romney, you are everything that is wrong with our country. Instead of helping you hurt, instead of giving you take.

    ReplyDelete
  8. While I think this woman is a little out there, I don't disagree with her basic premises:

    1) Both the north and south Granada Hills councils have so few voting stakeholders at their elections that they in no way represent the area in which they function. Allowing absentee voting, as does the rest of the city, would no doubt help but they refuse to allow that.

    2) Having attended numerous neighborhood council meetings myself, and been on one council for a term, they are run as mini-fiefdoms and ego-boosters, with numerous clicks and special interest factions controlling the agenda, proceedings and outcome.

    3) The councils are wasteful of the money they are given (that is, if they spend it at all - some seem to think it is to be banked for eternity and never actually used for any worthwhile projects). The North Granada Hills Council is particularly bad in both these regards.

    ReplyDelete

There was an error in this gadget