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Mr. CityWatch Visits NoHo Arts District

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Neighborhood Council’s Pothole Lottery: Is it the Wrong Message?

PERSPECTIVE - Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council staged a unique form of outreach: a lottery where the stakeholders could decide what was the worst pothole in the community.  The winning hole would be filled; funding provided from the NC’s budget.
I have to credit SONC for imagination.  There are few problems in this city that appear to get the more attention from stakeholders than potholes. So why not turn lemons into lemonade by transforming this pervasive icon of LA’s mismanagement into a marketing concept?  The idea rivals any concocted by Don Draper and the advertising whiz kids of Sterling Cooper.

There are bigger problems than potholes, for sure, but few people seem to care. A lottery to decide how much of NC funds should be used to offset LA’s pension liability for Council Member and Controller wannabe Dennis Zine’s double-dipping benefits package would probably garner little interest.

While the lottery was a brilliant plan, it sends the wrong message: it’s OK to hand out NC funds to pay for core services.

NC Valley Village has provided assistance to local government entities, too.  Recipients included Colfax Charter School, the LAPD NoHo station, the fire department’s Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) program and the NoHo Public Library. However, the funds were for unbudgeted discretionary programs or purchases and reflected our community’s appreciation for the direct positive impact these organizations have had on the quality of life in our part of the city.

But forking over NC funds for a core service that should be provided by the city on an ongoing basis is setting an undesirable precedent.

Department of Public Works commissioner Andrea Alarcón [link] said in a press release:

“We commend the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council for its leadership and for taking ownership of its neighborhood and streets.”

“We encourage other Neighborhood Councils to do the same.”

I’m sure Ms. Alarcon and the city would welcome such participation.

It’s another way to strip neighborhood councils of some of their $40,500 allocations (which are 20% less than the $50,000 granted three years ago) and to reward the city for reckless mismanagement of its spending.

City Council Member Paul Koretz was on hand for the news conference announcing the lottery results.

He should have expressed remorse for the policies of the mayor and City Council that have allowed LA to develop the structural financial hole it is in today – and that’s the biggest pothole around.

(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as Treasurer for the Neighborhood Council Valley Village.  He blogs at Village to Village and can be reached at: –cw

Tags: Pothole Lottery, potholes, Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council, Paul Koretz, Valley Village, Public Works, Andrea Alarcon, Dennis Zine

Vol 9 Issue 83
Pub: Oct 18, 2011