Defends need to fund neighborhood council elections next year

To the Editor:

Re: “Perry cautious opposing delay of 2012 council elections” (Argonaut, Nov. 24):

Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry’s recent appearance at a Venice Neighborhood Council meeting had all the feeling of politics as usual than a discussion of responsible public policy.

My first thought was ‘why is the Venice Neighborhood Council enabling an elected official who seemingly refuses to support the empowerment of local citizens in the form of these local boards?’

Ironically, she seemed to be using this very meeting as bully pulpit for her own political self-interest, but allegedly refused to go on the record and financially fund this vehicle of sustaining open government and grassroots democracy.

Perry’s presence was clouded by partisan campaigning and her interest in being mayor than the crucial issue of homelessness at the beach which has been abdicated in great part by the city’s governing body.

Specifically, Perry refused to take a position on funding neighborhood council elections and failed to comprehend the consequence of extending the current terms of these councils that are served by dedicated volunteers.

Unable to answer my question as to the size of the current city budget ($6.9 billion), I found it interesting to note that Department of Neighborhood Empowerment funding is roughly $1.75 million, or just 0.0002 percent of the city’s overall appropriations for 2012.

To infer that the lack of funding is a fiscal concern is an insult to any reasonable Angeleno who can read the city’s budget.

For Perry or any other council member to suggest the neighborhood council system is a burden to the city’s budget crisis, think again.

Here in Los Angeles, council members are now approaching $200,000 annually in salary, pension and health benefits all subsidized by taxpayers.

Given these outrageous salaries, perks and benefits, how can the cost possibly be justified in lieu of this non-support for neighborhood councils and responsible open government at the local level?

Even more tragic is the fact you have these volunteer boards that are the basis of legitimate home rule and direct democracy being held hostage by a budget process that lacks any serious support for local control and home rule.

People don’t go to downtown for help and assistance, they rely on these volunteer boards to offer some semblance of service and outreach in a city that is for the most part, fundamentally broken from the top down.

It is mind boggling that the one function that does work in city government is now being compromised by an out-of-touch governing body more concerned about their own political existence and the upcoming 2013 mayoral contest than assuring local citizens here in Venice that this grassroots government will not be cast aside or abolished.

This lack of political courage seems infinite and disappointing.

For the refusal to commit to the long-term funding of these local elections is a violation of the city charter and deserves immediate public support for this intentional non-compliance of the people’s need and desire for direct, grassroots governance here in Venice Beach as well as the city at-large.

Nick Antonicello, Venice Beach

Impressed with Argonaut 40th anniversary celebration

To the Editor:

Your 40th anniversary soire/, held on Nov. 6 was lovely and not much over produced – thank you. It was wonderful to say hellos and thank yous in person, and with card packets, to many of you.

The displays led by Greg Wenger and Willie Hjorth from their collections with the Marina del Rey Historical Society were fabulous, along with the sets of old photo prints in the hallway at the Marina del Rey Hotel. I urge all to go view the display, and support the historical society.

Personally, I was thrilled the celebration was held at the hotel, and not at one of the huge fortress edifices. The owners and staff of the Marina del Rey Hotel provided fabulous foods and a 40th anniversary cake, sublimely and kindly for all.

State, county and city of Los Angeles politicians each presented 40th anniversary resolutions/proclamations, honoring The Argonaut.

Maryjane, Venice