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Thursday, October 9, 2014

New 'Griffith Park Park Advisory Board' named, process is suspect

Park Advisory Boards and their members are essential to the overall operation of a recreation facility. The Department of Recreation and Parks believes that the partnership between staff and the community is of primary importance in identifying and meeting the recreational needs of the community. A Park Advisory Board works to make facilities safe, clean, and hospitable while offering guidance and assistance on programming and fundraising.

A Park Advisory Board member must be a community stakeholder and understand the community’s needs and interests. A member should support park improvements and help establish goals for the park. A member should also assist with special events and fundraising for park improvements. All PAB members are selected by the Department of Recreation and Parks staff.

- from Rec and Parks'  Park Advisory Board handbook

First off, let me state that I did apply for this Park Advisory Board (PAB). I knew I would not be named - if you don't know why I knew this, then you clearly don't read this blog often enough.  :-)   I have some longstanding familiarity with the Dept. of Recreation and Parks' PAB system. The main reason I applied is to observe this particular process by being part of it.

Initially there were approximately 20 people who applied to be on this PAB by the published deadline. There were then two days of interviews. Those who applied had a choice of 1 of 2 days in which to schedule the interview. 

Then, mysteriously, at least another one or two days of interviews after the deadline took place, after the initial interviews.

So who actually applied by the deadline? And, how many of those appointed were likely solicited by someone to apply after the official deadline? How many of those were chosen for the PAB? (probably most of them.)

It's worth noting that any PAB is all about the RECREATION.  In fact, PABs are typically associated with a specific Rec Center. Wildlife and environment is not part of the main mission of these boards.

With that in mind, Griffith Park deserves a WASC as well as a PAB.  A WASC is  a Wildlife Areas Steering Committee.  Sepulveda Basin has a longstanding WASC.  I hope environment-minded groups like the Sierra Club - who, glaringly, has no members on this PAB - step up and demand equal time with a WASC for Griffith Park.

Each potential member must .... Be the only representative from an outside organization serving on the PAB.

         - from Rec and Parks'  Park Advisory Board handbook

With this in mind, who was chosen for the Griffith Park PAB?

We're not 100% certain who all these people are exactly as of yet, but the names are correct as provided by the department. Where there is a question about identity, we've marked it with a question mark.
  1. Don Seligman - Treasurer of the Los Feliz Improvement Association.
  2. Ann Marie Johnson - Most recently but not currently Tom LaBonge's field deputy; recent Silverlake Neighborhood Council board member.
  3. Barbara Ferris - Board member of the Neighborhood Council Formerly Called Greater Griffith Park; Symphony in the Glen managing director who has a project in Griffith Park and derives income from activities in the park; Los Feliz Improvement Association board member.
  4. Chip Clements - likely? the Chip Clements who is the owner of Clements Environmental Corp; affiliated with the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association.
  5. Jerry Petryha - likely? a disability lawyer of the same name from Encino.
  6. Ted Johnson - possibly? a writer at Variety by the same name who covers Tom LaBonge's antics.
  7. Alex Chavez - recent Hollywoodland Homeowners Association president.
  8. Chris Laib - Current president of the Los Feliz Improvement Association.
  9. Laura Howe - Friends of Griffith Park volunteer coordinator.
  10. Janell Mullen - likely? an Urban Planner and program manager with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative.
  11. Kris Sullivan - likely? another Hollywoodland Homeowners Association member.
  12. Lynn Brown - Los Angeles Equine Advisory Board.
  13. Susan Swan - Hollywood United Neighborhood Council; Oaks resident almost 30 years.
  14. Susan Lee - likely? the Former CEO, Korean Munhwa Broadcasting Company and current National Director of Urban Peace at The Advancement Project California.
  15. Lucinda Phillips - Longtime Oaks Resident; Friends of Fern Dell.
Looking at the selections, in all honesty I have never seen a park advisory board made up of people who are either employees of or directors of so many special interests and agencies who make money in development-type activities. Typically a park advisory board is made up of neighbors, park volunteers, and a few individuals who have either concessions or facilities in the park itself.

There is also the issue of the requirement quoted above that says just one member of an outside organization can serve on the board.  I count at least three from the Los Feliz Improvement Association, and at least three from the Hollywoodland Homeowners Association.

And then there is the irregularity with the process. This particular irregularity smells of the modus operandi of a certain City Councilmember, doesn't it?  No surprise there.