CD 15 - On Aug. 13, Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council President Lou Caravella resigned as both president and board member.
This came after a censure motion against him, and a vote from the board asking him to step down in July. The board will likely elect a new president at its September meeting.
“I did not join a Neighborhood Council to undermine it or to compromise my own principles by helping others undermine ethics and law,” Caravella wrote in his resignation letter. “Members of this Board have retaliated against me for trying to uphold Bylaws & Standing Rules and for refusing to violate the law at their request. Since these illicit patterns show no sign of significantly abating, and since it is clear that I cannot serve as the Board wishes without violating laws and other regulations, I cannot in good conscience and will not continue to serve as its president.”
On July 28, the board held a special meeting where it voted 13-1 asking that Caravella resign. Board member Eugenia Bulanova voted against the motion. Caravella was not present.
“Mr. Caravella has on several occasions publicly demeaned and disparaged other CeSPNC members,” the board’s motion states. “Additionally, Mr. Caravella has disseminated written statements to public officials wholly inappropriate, regardless of whether those written statements were made as a private citizen or in his capacity as CeSPNC President.”
Board member Linda Alexander criticized the emails that Caravella sent when she spoke at the meeting, saying that they consisted of inflammatory and unfounded accusations.
Board member Anya Sipivy expressed her own concerns with Caravella’s emails.
“All the emails that I was sent for my small business in this neighborhood that were defamatory and slanderous, I wasn’t given a voice,” Sipivy said. “I had to go through another method to make sure other people saw what was being said and what was being sent back. I totally have no confidence, I don’t feel safe around this person. These rantings are of someone who is unwell.”
Bulanova, the only board member who voted against the motion, said she had not observed any misconduct from Caravella.
“It seemed to me that he’s been provoked over and over and over again, for many, many months, maybe years even,” Bulanova said.
Board member Matt Garland said Caravella has been a dysfunctional president.
Records show that he is the fifth central president not to finish a full term.
“Our council has been unable to serve our community for many, many months,” Garland said. “The efforts of this board have been outright thwarted and undermined and sabotaged.”
The board’s meeting came a few weeks after board member James Preston Allen, the publisher of this newspaper and the port committee chair, submitted a motion to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, or DONE, to censure Caravella on July 12. Censuring means formally disapproving of a person’s actions, and the motion lists several complaints, including harassing and slandering board members and improperly running meetings. Caravella submitted a grievance against the board prior to Allen submitting the censure, and in his resignation letter, Caravella said that the city’s Regional Grievance Panel unanimously sustained the grievance.
Prior to the board’s meeting asking Caravella to step down, Gibson Nyambura, a chief equity officer with DONE, reached out to the board to tell them not to discuss the motion.
“The predisposition of any board member when a grievance is filed against the board can be deemed as retaliation or bullying as it was filed by a board member,” Nyambura wrote.
However, some have questioned the timing of his grievance.
“It just seems like he’s got this manipulation going with DONE, or whatever, that he’s a victim of retaliation,” Sipivy said at the special meeting. “In fact, I’m starting to wonder if the grievance was filed because he could sense this was coming.”
Garland had similar sentiments, saying the censure was in motion beforehand.
“All of the evidence, supporting documents, predate the grievance by a longshot,” Garland said. “So, I don’t agree that this censure was written in response to the grievance, I think it stands on its own merits.”
The final actions of the council and Caravella’s resignation come after a series of disputes with DONE over placing letters of admonishment against this president on the monthly agenda. Several people on and off this council have commented that DONE has over-reached its authority in its meddling of this matter.
(Hunter Chase is a writer for Random Lengths News where this article was first published. RandomLengthsNews.com)