Sat, Jun

DONE Authoritarians Strike Again


GELFAND’S WORLD - Why should personal freedom be denied to neighborhood council participants? Perhaps there is a solution. 

The recent passage of an ordinance that began as something called Council File 20-0990 was a slap across the face for all neighborhood council participants. Basically, it says that the city government, acting through its Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, can sentence me -- or any other neighborhood council board member or committee member -- to forced servitude in the form of mandated training. 

The proponents of this ordinance claim to be acting with good intentions. They assert that we all need retraining in our attitudes regarding gender identification and racial bias. It's only a little tongue-in-cheek to point out that the City of Los Angeles seems to be making it illegal to be a Republican. At least you cannot be a Republican of the modern type and still be allowed to participate in a neighborhood council. 

I'm not a Republican, but I oppose such dictatorial powers being put in the hands of the city government. 

By the way, it's not just these two topics that the city aims to attack. The ordinance itself is broad and general, allowing the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to define what kind of trainings are to be mandated and to enforce their edicts against those of us who would Just Say No. 

So if the DONE chooses to demand that you and I receive training in opposing the use of military force oversees, or in opposing the death penalty, or in supporting an open borders policy, the new ordinance would give DONE the power to demand that I take their training program under penalty of being banished from the neighborhood council system. 


A few of us have been talking about this problem and offer our own response to the authoritarians in city government. It goes by different descriptions, perhaps the best being the Neighborhood Council Bill of Rights. Others (myself included) simply suggest that the city government and neighborhood councils negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding, which is government-speak for a negotiated agreement that has the force and status of a signed contract. In either case, we suggest that the city take note that we reject their latest outrage and offer our own counter. 

I would also point out that the Neighborhood Council Bill of Rights does not belong to any organization (including our alliances and regional groups) but is there for the taking by any person who participates in neighborhood council activities. 

The NC Bill of Rights as currently envisioned includes sections on personal freedom, the relationship between the neighborhood councils and city government, and a final section giving neighborhood council participants some say in the appointment of city officials who work for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and for the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners. 

We will start today with the part about personal freedoms. Here is that section: 

The right to freedom of speech exists in neighborhood council deliberations and participation. 

Neighborhood councils have the right to petition and communicate with all levels of government. 

Neighborhood council participants are not employees of the city, and the city has no right of ownership, control, or the equivalent over the persons, thoughts, or time of neighborhood council participants. 

Neighborhood councils recognize state law calling for ethics training each two years and accept a minimal amount of additional training not to exceed 30 minutes every two years on the subjects already defined by city rules; Other than these training requirements which already exist, the city and its agencies and departments shall have no right to impose training of any kind or duration on neighborhood council participants; training may be offered to individuals or boards on a voluntary basis. 

There shall be a strong presumption that any neighborhood council board member who has been elected by the voters of his/her district holds the board seat lawfully and rightfully by decision of those voters. Removal of a board member by any body other than the governing board of that member's district shall only be carried out on the basis of extreme circumstances which shall include violence, threats against a board member or a member of the public, or conviction of a crime which affects the neighborhood council or the neighborhood council system as a whole. This shall not be construed to limit neighborhood council bylaws rules which remove a board member due to a certain number of consecutive absences or due to a certain number of absences over the course of a year. Bylaws rules regarding "censure and removal" shall not be enforced unless the neighborhood council itself has intentionally included those rules in its own bylaws; the imposition of these bylaws on neighborhood councils which do not intentionally include them shall not be enforceable. 

No training, work requirement, or attendance at any function, governmentally related or not, shall be required by any department or agency of city government, of any neighborhood council participant. Neighborhood council individuals or, if they so choose, their bargaining units, shall have the right to negotiate payments or salaries for such work or attendance, should the city government be willing. 

That should do for a start. We will present more of the NC Bill of Rights later.

Notice that this section on personal freedom is a repudiation of CF20-0990, and intentionally so. This writer does not believe that the city has the right to force anyone to give up time to accept training against their will when that training consists of indoctrination in a partisan ideology. It will be interesting to see how the city's agents try to argue to the contrary. 

Addendum: You'll Never Work in This Town Again

That former president seems to be getting more and more weird. Now he is saying that people who work for the governor of Florida won't be hired to work in his future White House. You can read about it here. If I may be so bold as to interpret this, it seems to be announcing that it is impossible to hold any loyalty to Ron DeSantis at the present time and then hold loyalty to a Trump White House in the future. The idea of competence in government service is entirely missing from the equation, as is the idea of loyalty to the Constitution. In the Trump world, loyalty can only be to himself alone. 

(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected].)

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