Employees Deserve Neighborhood Council Voting Rights

Re: “When Voting Rights Go Wrong,” News, May 26

While I have always felt that only residents should vote in neighborhood council elections, the L.A. City Council thought otherwise and authorized the franchise for anyone who lives, works or owns property in a neighborhood council’s jurisdiction.

Reporter Gary Walker has found fault where there is none, but that is not a surprise as Walker always takes the Linda Lucks, Steve Clare, David Ewing side of every issue in Venice. My columns are always marked as opinion; Walker’s should be, too.

In this instance it is perfectly legal for members of the business community and those who work for them to vote; this practice has been allowed for years.

Readers should note that while Walker’s article criticizes workers for participating, it fails to shine a light on the practice of homeless individuals, who have no fixed place of residence, claiming the right to vote by using St. Joseph Center as a mailing address. They don’t reside at St. Joseph Center so should not be entitled to use that as proof of residence.

The workers are making a productive contribution to Venice, which certainly cannot be said for those who degrade our community with ugly encampments, crime, drug sales, and urinating and defecating on public and private property.

Walker also fails to report that many residents have joined in support of the same list of candidates as business people due our commonality of interests — especially public safety, cleaning up Venice and stopping an overzealous 50% down-zoning of residential property by the current majority of the VNC.

Mark Ryavec
President, Venice Stakeholders Association

Walking the Line Between Enfranchisement and Corruption

Re: “When Voting Rights Go Wrong,” News, May 26

Mechanisms that allow those who are often disenfranchised from representative government to participate in neighborhood council voting — specifically low-income people, undocumented people and unhoused people — give neighborhood councils the potential to become bastions of true representative democracy.

As corporate money and influence corrupts elections from City Hall to the White House, neighborhood councils can be a model for government that is more responsive to all constituents by lowering barriers to voting, especially for the low-income people most directly impacted by issues considered at the neighborhood council level.

When business interests collude to corrupt this system, we all lose, because it discredits instead of encourages truly democratic government.

Giving explicit instruction to support a specific slate, especially to those who would otherwise not vote at all, corrupts the system.

Educating voters about the issues and the positions of various candidates and making it as easy as possible to vote enhances democracy.

Providing transportation and ensuring people have the proper documentation to reflect their real stake in the community is an enhancement to democracy. Big-city machine politics — exchanging favors, goods, services and even cash for votes — corrupts it.

Walking the line between broad enfranchisement and corruption can be tough, but we can definitely do better than this.

Bill Przylucki
Executive Director, People Organized for Westside Renewal

Vote: Venice’s Future is at Stake

Elections matter. Those elected to represent you play a critical role in the development of a community.

All Venetian stakeholders have an opportunity to choose those who will sit on the Venice Neighborhood Council come Sunday, June 5. The VNC serves as the grassroots arm of local government and our connection to the 11th Council District office that represents us on the L.A. City Council.

Issues such as street paving, catch basin cleanup, filling potholes, tree trimming, sidewalk remediation and the all-important issue of land use planning are the kind of challenges in which the VNC can play an effective role.

The greater discussions of gentrification, homelessness and crime are also topics of intense discussion, and those who sit on the VNC can play a critical role in the direction Venice will take over the next two years.

Because of the rapid change that has impacted Venice, we have a plethora of candidates — almost 70 — competing for just 21 seats.

There is a clash of new and old, and a real diversity of ideas as to which way Venice will travel.

Elections involve healthy discussions of these issues and what Venice can do to flourish. We need strong representation to keep downtown from neglecting our issues and problems, for that has gone on too long.

I believe Venice would be best served by a serious examination of whether we should remain part of Los Angeles or consider the idea of independent cityhood, with our own elected officials and government structure. Those who are seeking seats on the VNC should take a stand on the viability of cityhood and offer an opinion on the proposal.

I don’t like to endorse candidates because there are too many, and I don’t like when people try to convince me to support any individual.

But cityhood is different. Cityhood is a real opportunity to extend the promise of the neighborhood council model and morph it into a true unit of local government in which Venetians would enjoy local control and home rule, like Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach.

This Venice Neighborhood Council election matters because so much is at stake, whether you’re a renter or homeowner. The future quality of life and the course of development could in many ways be determined by the people you select to represent you over the next two years.

Take the time to read the local voter guide. Visit venicenc.org and click on the elections button to review the candidates.

A vibrant and thriving Venice matters to us all. Please vote between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 5, at the Oakwood Recreation Center, 767 California Ave.

Nick Antonicello