Despite a recommendation from the City of Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) to postpone an upcoming election, a majority of Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council (GRVNC) board members have elected to proceed with a planned Sunday, June 27th, election.

In a letter sent from the department to Grass Roots Venice board members Friday, June 11th, DONE general manager Greg Nelson stated the following:

“At this time, the Department cannot support an election of the GRVNC on June 27th, 2004, for the following reasons:

“In the absence of a citywide election policy, admittedly the Department has no legal authority to force a Neighborhood Council to postpone an election, however DONE does have the right to withhold financial support and its ‘sanction’ to an election that we feel is not in the best interest of the stakeholders.

“By ‘approving’ election procedures, the Department announces to stakeholders that we are reasonably certain that the election will be conducted fairly and in accordance with the laws that govern all Neighborhood Councils, the bylaws of the Neighborhood Council, and that participation will be open to all stakeholders.

“In this situation, the uncertainties surrounding the election, and the fact that the timelines for outreach, candidate notification, stakeholder registration and notification, etc, have passed, we cannot make that claim.”

Grass Roots Venice president Sheila Bernard broke a tie vote Monday, June 14th, when she voted to approve election procedures for the Sunday, June 27th election.

Included in the procedures was a ban on absentee voting, which infuriated board members Laddie Williams and Jataun Valentine.

This was the first time Bernard voted as a board member since being appointed president in October.

When asked if he was concerned about the Neighborhood Council losing its funding from the City of Los Angeles, Grass Roots Venice treasurer Jim Smith said:

“We need to have the election in June, or there may not be a Neighborhood Council.”

The current board terms expire June 30th. After that date, the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council would lose the ability to gather a quorum and conduct business.

Smith said that board member Sabrina Venskus had discussed providing a van that could be used as a shuttle for disabled and elderly Venetians, driving them to and from the voting location, Westminster Elementary School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice.

The election is scheduled for Sunday, June 27th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A list of candidates for the Sunday election is available at http://www.grvnc.org

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