Elected members get the boot for missing meetings

By Gary Walker

For the first time in recent memory, a Westside neighborhood council has voted to remove elected board members for failing to attend public meetings.

On May 14, Del Rey Neighborhood Council members voted 9-0 to remove council Secretary Tanya Franklin and Area H Director MeiWah Wong for repeated absences, a violation of council attendance requirements.

Neither attended the meeting.

“We do try to stress to the community and all candidates that, while we are volunteers, effort and time needs to be committed to make Del Rey a vibrant place,” Del Rey Neighborhood Council President Jonathon Neumann said. “We do also ask that our board take their role seriously and think of their ability to put time into the community. Most do; some unfortunately overcommit.”

The problem of poor attendance by some neighborhood council members has not been unique to Del Rey.

Linda Lucks, past president of the Venice Neighborhood Council, said that at one point during her tenure she began circulating an attendance log identifying those who had missed several meetings.

“That got them to pay attention. The board has to demand accountability, even though we’re all volunteers. You’re not serving the community or the board when you don’t show up,” said Lucks, also a former member of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, an oversight body for the city’s 95 neighborhood councils.

The Del Rey council, which already had a vacancy for its Area B director, will be considering appointments next month for Franklin’s and Wong’s seats, Neumann said.

With the two removals and the early departure of another member, the 15-member council had just enough members to reach a quorum last Thursday.

“The good news is that, as our role in the community has grown and we have been able to accomplish goals of the board, interest in joining the board has also increased. We already have several candidates for these positions and will be forming review groups to nominate replacement board members, hopefully at the June meeting,” Neumann said.

“I try to manage the burden put on others so that they do not drift from the council,” he said. “But ultimately it is up to the board member to stay committed and participate with the rest of the board. When they don’t, as in the case of the two recent removals, we have to move on.”