Mon, May

LA’s Neighborhood Council Congress Makes Some Dramatic Changes


GELFAND’S WORLD-As reported in two previous columns, there has been a continuing uncertainty over the planning and administration of the neighborhood council congress, an annual event in which nearly a thousand neighborhood council participants come together to discuss their mutual issues and interests. 

One faction, led by Cindy Cleghorn, has been claiming to hold the officers' positions in the congress planning group, and claimed to be able to run meetings as it saw fit. As reported previously, this has included the muzzling of contrary voices in several earlier meetings. 

The opposing group, led by Daniel Perez, appealed to the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (BONC) and the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE), the commission and city agency respectively that are tasked with assisting the neighborhood council system and, in this case, with accepting and dispersing funds used by the congress. 

Also as reported previously, the Cleghorn group announced and held an online meeting last Saturday, April 3 in contradiction to the request by the DONE General Manager, Raquel Beltran, that the meeting be cancelled. Then DONE, through GM Beltran, held its own meeting on April 10 with the express intent of holding the officer elections that Cleghorn had so far refused to schedule. 

The April 10 meeting commenced at 1 PM and continued for 3 hours. It took a while for those present (online) to agree to the meeting's ground rules, but finally proceeded effectively, if not completely amicably (see below) to the officer elections. 

Daniel Perez and Cindy Cleghorn were nominated for the position of chair, as expected. Surprisingly, Cleghorn did not join the meeting and therefore could not speak on her own behalf. Perez was present and spoke. 

At this point, there was some discussion about whether participants in the meeting could speak on behalf of either candidate. Although the answer was No, a couple of supporters insisted on giving their own campaign speeches on behalf of Cleghorn, in spite of this being a violation of the agreed-upon rules. One devoted supporter continued to speak about Cleghorn in spite of attempts to call out her misconduct. 

Finally, voting for chair commenced, and what some would have expected to be an easy win for Cleghorn (or perhaps a close election) was nothing of the kind. Daniel Perez was elected by a majority of 30 to 16. The Perez side has the count at 31, but the official DONE spread sheet has the vote counts as shown.  

Apparently both sides were pretty well dug in, because the succeeding votes were similar for the most part with a few elections in less contentious contests being all but by acclamation. In each case, the candidate or pair of candidates supported by the Perez slate were elected. (Disclosure: It is no secret -- see the previous stories in CW -- that I supported the Perez side and my votes for chair and vice chair were cast for that slate. I did not participate in the rest of the meeting after the vote for vice chair.) Here are the final tallies with the name of each candidate and the vote total. There were some additional nominations which were either declined or declared to be ineligible. 


Daniel Perez            30

Cindy Cleghorn        16


Vice Chair

Kay Hartman            25

Suzanne Lewis         10



Adriana De La Cruz   29

Note: Treasurer also to serve as budget committee chair



Richard Larsen         26


Programming CoChairs (2 elected)


Tony Wilkinson         24

Conrad Starr            24


Production CoChairs (2 elected)


Heinrich Keifer          21

Colette Amin             21


Outreach CoChairs (2 elected)


Heather Michaels       23

Selena Inouye           23 


It should be noted that DONE General Manager Raquel Beltran chaired the meeting and in general did an excellent job. She adhered to the ordered structure of Roberts Rules of Order, allowing for both sides to have their say and cast their votes. It was an object lesson in how such meetings should be run, and was characteristic of organizations where the participants understand how to get things done. On a couple of occasions (as described above), it was simply impossible to force one of the participants to shut up, short of using the mute button. DONE had promised at the beginning of the meeting that all participants were in control of their own mute/unmute buttons, and DONE did not go back on that promise.


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




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