Tue, May

The GPIA Does What the Neighborhood Councils Should Be Doing in Northeast LA

THE EASTSIDER - On Thursday evening, Eunisses Hernandez (CD 1) and Hugo Soto-Martinez (CD13) were the headliners courtesy of a Glassell Park Improvement Association event, along with a very detailed presentation about developers clear cutting our hills of trees, even though there is a City Tree Ordinance prohibiting it. 

First, a big thank you to the GPIA, and the Councilmembers for a great back and forth evening. This is the kind of stuff that Neighborhood Councils should be doing, even though it would freak out Raquel Beltran and her gang of thought pol 

Politics In Northeast LA

When you think about it, most of the political excitement in the City of Los Angeles is here in Northeast LA, both for good and bad. 

For bad, of course, we have Kevin De Leon and his refusal to admit he shouldn’t be a Councilmember, as he fights to keep his position and lets the constituents of CD 14 rot. 

For good, we now have two City Councilmembers who are absolutely opposed to the 15-0 vote trading system and are redefining what should be the job description for a Councilmember. Courtesy of their diligence it’s gone, even as the go along to get along City Council tries to limp forward. 

Eunisses and Hugo are not your standard politicians. As I wrote in an earlier article covering Eunisses and Hugo:

“Unlike most media coverage, we now have at least two Councilmembers (the other being Hugo Soto-Martinez), along with ex-Councilmember Mike Bonin, who are examining the City Council organization in terms of its structural failings. 

They are a clear counterpoint to the corporate democrat lifecycle of two terms in the Assembly, two terms in the Senate, and then blessing us in LA City with their presence for another 12 years.” 

Personally, I think it’s cool that Northeast LA, often ignored and thrown under the bus, can be the beginning of a transformation of an inherently corrupt City Council System. 

The Q and A

The format was for the approximately 70 or so attendees to write their questions on 3x5 cards, and the appropriate Councilmember would answer. The first thing that struck me was this event was much more ethnically balanced than the usual Northeast event, and was instantly clear that  Eunisses and Hugo are equally comfortable in either Spanish or English. Cool. 

Further, they directly answered the question asked, or admitted they didn’t know the answer but would find out. How refreshing. They also shared real issues that they are encountering as new Councilmembers, and which impact all of us 

For example, a number of people had contacted the Council office of CD 1 or CD13, and didn’t get a response from the City Department in a timely manner.  Turns out that there’s a trick to it all.  To get the quickest response, call My 311 first to get your problem resolved.  Then call the Council office and they can follow up.  Turns out that many of the issues are already resolved by the time they check. 

It also turns out (news to me) that on average the City Departments are about 20% understaffed.  When you figure that the 2022 LA City population was about 3.85 million, you don’t have to be a math genius to realize that there is no way that the City workforce can do their jobs. 

Finally, Eunisses and Hugo are actually on the side of Tenants!  Instead of the usual Councilmember diving for dollars with the developers.  Wow. 

They noted that something like 600,000 tenants in Los Angeles pay over ___% of their income for rent.  Doesn’t leave much left. A large part of the reason, they argue, is that something like 70% of the units are corporate owned. 

They have some doozy proposals to right this ship, including having our new Controller Kenneth Mejia, auditing the LA City Housing Trust Fund. 

I could go on, but the bottom line is that they could have gone on long after the evening had to come to a close. 

The New Team

I won’t say give them a break, but even as Eunisses and Hugo are being asked what are they doing, it should be noted that they have been at a grand total of 3 LA City Council meetings, and those have been more chaos than business being done. 

They also have not completed their staff hiring and are moving forward with less people because they are determined that their staff will be out there in the District finding out what needs to be done and then figuring out answers.  Not the normal District staffing model :-) 

The plus is that Eunisses and Hugo have been working together as community organizers for a good long time.  As I wrote in a piece about governing Los Angeles, “Maybe, just maybe, we can learn to develop a City Council system that helps our elected officials to actually govern our 4 million plus Angelenos in some kind of an equitable basis, instead of taking care of themselves for three terms and out. ”


(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)