GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Friday, February 4, 2011

Los Feliz Forward - disenfranchising to secure their power base at the GGPNC

Los Feliz Forward is the astroturf slate elected in whole under extremely questionable tactics to the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council last year.   Los Feliz Forward includes Tomas O'Grady, currently running for Tom LaBonge's CD 4 council district against proven community activist Stephen Box.

Other Los Feliz Forward member are  Alex De Ocampo, Christina Khanjian, Jessica Kornberg, Harpreet Malhi, Frank Masi, Mark F. Mauceri, Ron Ostrow, Leslie VanKeuren, and Mio Vuckovic.

Special to Griffith Park Wayist.

Changing the Rules of the Game

By Radio LosFeliz

The Los Feliz Forward slate of the new GGPNC board has made bylaw change one of their main goals, some might say obsession. They wasted no time voting their first big change into place last June.

After only two meetings they revised the nearly decade old bylaw and unanimously agreed that only the elected Los Feliz Forward team could vote for the next round of appointed board members. The other nine board members who had been serving for two years would not be allowed to vote. The disenfranchised nine considered worthy to vote on every other issue before the board have been denied a voice on who should replace them.

This is a long way from what was once considered and example of best practices by a leading author of the NC system and former General Manager of DONE, Greg Nelson. Mr. Nelson has stated he posted the GGPNC bylaws on their website as a shining model during his tenure.

Then Los Feliz Forward comes along. Elected not selected was the campaign cry that certainly rhymes nicely but causes real concern for anyone with experience and vision. Many of the existing appointed members have worked and lived in the neighborhood for decades. People like Charley Mims, Rosemary DeMonte and Nyla Arslanian bring to the table a sense of history and knowledge of how to navigate issue through the behemoth politics of City Hall. Those voices wont be heard when selecting new appointments. Los Feliz Forward will only further it’s lock and influence in the neighborhood council. No system is perfect but while choosing appointed representatives of the neighborhood council it seem highly unfair to deny a voice to 47 percent of the board.

Also in serious question is the lockstep voting habit of Los Feliz Forward. If you look back through the minutes you will find that the only time all Los Feliz Forward members show up for a meeting is when bylaw revisions are up for a vote. The required 12 votes to amend bylaws means all of Los Feliz Forward must attend and they all must vote exactly the same. It is almost as if serial meetings were taking place outside the boardroom because the coincidence of this happening on its own is astronomical.

However that voting block was shaken at the last board meeting when the newest member of Los Feliz Forward broke ranks. Nelson Bae who was recently appointed to fill the Religious Representative position failed to blindly follow the Los Feliz Forward slate in voting for the sweeping bylaw changes that were being proposed.

Many remember Bae’s appointment process at the meeting where Tor Hyams announced to the room that Scientology was not a recognized religion. Bae was running for the Religious Representative seat against Patrick Renne, a Scientologist and community activist. Renne offered this statement regarding his philosophy of interfaith cooperation and community betterment. Bea, who had no religious affiliation except for perhaps the Church of Mark Mauceri, expressed a genuine fondness for the neighborhood and offered he had been a football official.

When the question of qualification came up both Ron Ostrow and his side kick Tor Hyams encouraged the members not to dwell on qualifications as noted in the minutes:
Arslanian: Concerned about how a person represents religious community without being a leader of the community.
Ostrow: Clarifying that religious community representative description is absent from the bylaws but delineated in board action at the last appointment process.
Hyams: Objecting to further clarification on this point.
Ostrow: Agreeing further discussion of qualifications irrelevant.
Hyams: Opining that the Church of Scientology not a recognized religious body
After a long uncomfortable silence Ostrow tried to un-ring the bell by ruling the comment out of order.

In an ironic twist, Hyams repeated comments challenging Scientology’s religious validity came during the same meeting when wording of GGPNC bylaws was being revised to ensure impartiality. The Rules and Elections Committee chaired by Hyams himself recommended the following revision:

[To remain politically and ideologically non-partisan and inclusive in its operations including, but not limited to, the selection process for Governing Board and committee members;]

The slamming of Scientology was more an attempt to shoe-in a Los Feliz Forward pick than it was an actual affront to what must be thousands of stakeholders. But it is a telling example of what Los Feliz Forward will do the further their own agenda.

Changing the rules of the game is what occupies hours of meeting time. The changes lean heavily in favor of the existing Los Feliz Forward leadership. The methods to achieve these changes are increasingly unsettling. For a group that also made ethics a priority they seem pretty happy to backslide from the sermon they preach in public.

Disenfranchise nearly half the board, lockstep voting, and denouncing religious beliefs at a public meeting, even with all that I get the bad feeling that Los Feliz Forward is just getting started.