- Written by Carol Knapp
14 Oct 2011
VOICES - After reading the mission statement for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE), my comment is … "HUH”?!
Hyped as a way to “promote increased citizen participation in government”, the Neighborhood Council Program, and DONE, in reality promote the wishes of a few, and often seem to echo the desires of the City politicians or NC board members’ own selfish agendas rather than what the people want.
Do NC Board members even KNOW what the people want? How could they when so few residents actually attend the meetings?
Individual Rights vs. “Consensus” Model
The foundation for American law and society is the concept of inalienable, natural rights for each individual, e.g. freedom of speech, equal protection under the law and due process, which guarantees “notice” and an “opportunity to be heard” before deprivation of life, liberty or property.
However, the NC system insidiously changes individual rights to something they call “direct democracy”, such as the initiative process where each person votes either “yea” or “nay”. In contrast, DONE exhorts participants to “learn to think as a group”. How, exactly, does this work? Do they teach clairvoyance? Do we email other members through brain waves?
My experience with the NC system is that individuals are ignored, marginalized and/or ridiculed if they don't accept the government "party line" or the wishes of the few Neighborhood Council Board members.
The alleged “Consensus Processes” is substituted for individual votes of all members of the community. Thus, the loudest “control freaks” … and those with an agenda … can manipulate the “consensus” and others have no voice.
NC participants are a tiny fraction of the neighborhood. How can 10 to 20 people on an NC board claim to “represent” the wishes of the whole community, when the vast majority is unaware of the issue for which they are being “represented”?
This was exactly the case when the NC program was initiated back in 2000 and the issue was, “should we increase the allowable density in LA”? I attended the Town Hall Meeting in Silver Lake where such “consensus” was derived. The majority of attendees (which probably was .01% of the neighborhood) stated they did NOT want more people per square inch, which increases traffic problems and generally worsens our quality of life.
Nevertheless, after the “facilitator” heard the responses, the consensus became “yea” … not “nay”… and this fraudulent “consensus” was whisked to the planning department, claiming to represent “the people”.
“Notice and an opportunity to be heard by an impartial judiciary” are the cornerstones of a free society.
However, “administrative hearings”… presided over by biased bureaucrats … are used by the Housing Department to confiscate property and money. “Notice” is often sloppy or nonexistent and the “judiciary” is a gang of biased bureaucrats who stand to benefit from the increased revenue and swindled property. They are accountable to NO ONE. Has YOUR Neighborhood Council Board or DONE mentioned that?
Now, the City Council wants to “spread the wealth” of the abusive administrative process to all property and business owners through the Administrative Code Enforcement program (“ACE”) that allows the city to cite and fine without notice or a hearing … as with parking tickets. They get your money first, and then you fight to get it back. Oh, that’s right. They now HAVE your money and you can’t hire a lawyer to fight it.
(This ACE program was conceived by Councilpersons Paul Koretz and Bernard Parks. Fortunately, due to loud citizen objections, they put off the vote for 30 days, hoping we’ll get tired and go away.)
Furthermore, hasn’t the “People’s Republic of Los Angeles” (“PRLA”) done enough to chase business away? High taxes and Draconian regulations have caused small and mid-sized business to flee or face insolvency. The PRLA has the highest unemployment rate in the State of California, which has the second highest unemployment in the nation. So, not only does this scheme violate “due process” it will further depress the area economically.
At the Budget and Finance Committee meeting held to discuss this bright idea, four NC’s sent letters to the City Council in support of this nightmare! Who ARE these people that so freely squander away our rights in favor of crack-free sidewalks? Are these people who claim to “represent” the neighborhood schooled in Constitutional rights? Are they economists? Do they even have common sense? They sure don’t represent ME. Do they represent YOU?
And, why was this advanced by the Budget and Finance Committee? Because they were worried about their pensions, according to the city attorneys I overheard in the hallway.
Unbelievably, four NC’s sent letters to the City Council in support of this horror! Who ARE these people that so freely squander away our rights in favor of crack-free sidewalks? They sure don’t represent ME. Do they represent YOU?
Next they’ll apply this system to the death penalty. Oh, that’s right. Once you’re dead you can’t fight. Oh, well. At least there’s no gum on the sidewalk.
Freedom of Speech:
The PRLA violates this right with the wholehearted support of DONE and many NC Boards, who seem not to have the foggiest clue about natural rights and care less. The DONE website teaches “ethics”, the "Brown Act", and how to get a “consensus”, but totally ignores the Bill of Rights. Is this oversight intentional? You be the judge.
For example, the City Council passed a “Decency” ordinance for public comment, which silences criticism of individual council people and prohibits various words “they” don’t like. Where is that caveat in the First Amendment? There is no law against offending politicians who have such control over us. And the way they’ve treated the public, they SHOULD be offended! Hell, they SHOULD be sent to jail!
Furthermore, DONE has an alleged “blog site”. Isn’t the purpose of a “blog site” to give everyone a voice? The DONE version of blogging means that they … just another bunch of bureaucrats … get to choose whose voices are heard. If “they” don’t approve of a comment, link or any other information ... they just won’t allow it to be posted. This is NOT a blog site …it’s a “propaganda site”.
The Community Redevelopment Agency has abused property owners for years by using “eminent domain for private gain” to force owners to sell below market and funneling millions in corporate welfare to favored corporate cronies. That’s what they call, “public-private partnerships”, i.e. BIG government joins with BIG business to screw The People.
This occurred unbeknownst to the American public until the 2005 Kelo vs. New Haven Connecticut case, which finally exposed this practice after being in existence since the 1920’s when John D. Rockefeller used it to seize the land where the Twin Towers sat. Once the public became aware, the polls stated that at least 80% of the public was opposed to Eminent Domain for Private Gain.
Kelo vs. New Haven was the case where a homeowner was being forced to sell to make way for a
Pfizer, Corp plant, a plan that never materialized after Kelo was forced to sell.
Eric Garcetti and Antonio Villaraigosa … along with crony corporation Legacy Partners … used this method to crush 35 Hollywood and Vine business owners, who were forced to sell to the city and accept below market prices. Boyle Heights residents and businesses were forced to get out of the way of the BIG guys (e.g. Home Depot and Starbucks), despite strong community opposition. This has happened all over the city.
Has DONE exposed these abuses? Or, do they refuse to allow such information to be heard? My own NC “government affairs” committee board members submitted an “advisory opinion” to allow unfettered confiscation of private homes and businesses by eminent domain, despite the “consensus” of the 5 people in attendance. One “board member” was an architect and not a homeowner … thus standing to benefit from this practice. Community consensus or strong arm tactics?
The above examples are only a small sample of the abundance of individual rights violated by the City politicians with the wholehearted supported of DONE and many Neighborhood Councils. Do YOU believe?
DONE has increased citizen participation in government?
The Russian term “soviet” means a system of interlocking councils, which the Soviets instituted after the 1917 revolution. These “stakeholder councils” were used as a means of controlling the population by having neighbors spy on neighbors, and then reporting dissenters to the government. The public was forced to attend under threat of being “disloyal”. We are not that far away from the Soviet model, in my humble opinion. Can you say “ACE” program?
Go to freedomadvocates.org to find out about the 1990 “Agenda 21” United Nations coalition in Rio, where “stakeholder councils” and “sustainable development” began for the United States, contrary to the claims of the PRLA that all this started from the “City Charter of 1999”.
(Carol Knapp is a citizen activist living in Los Angeles.) -cw
Vol 9 Issue 82
Pub: Oct 14, 2011