Neighborhood Council officers; Cowan Governance Council; Oropeza-Bowen town hall; Paris in Playa

For many years, the Westchester/Playa del Rey community has had little representation in determining what happens at Westchester High School. Taxpayer dollars are spent and policies are established without significant input from the people who live in the surrounding community. But that is changing.

The community, parents and teachers have already decided overwhelmingly to join the Los Angeles Unified School District iDesign Schools and the LMU (Loyola Marymount University) Family of Schools, gaining new autonomy within the school district.

Community members will be asked to vote Thursday through Saturday, January 22nd to 24th, on the new governance plan at Westchester High School to determine who will make the decisions that impact students every day.

Three options will be presented, but Proposal 3, drafted by members of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey, is, in my opinion, the only plan that provides true, equal community representation.

Proposal 1, crafted by the teachers’ union, would create a Leadership Council, including just two community members on the 16-member group.

Proposal 2 would include just two community members on a 17-member governance board.

Proposal 3, however, would include five community and business members on a 17-member panel that also includes five teachers, five parents, one classified employee and the school’s principal.

According to the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/ Playa del Rey, Proposal 3 would fill empty seats at Westchester High School with local students, bring additional community resources to the school and create equal partnerships among all the school’s stakeholders.

Those interested in voting on the new governance proposals can do so from 1 to 8 p.m. Thursday or Friday, January 22nd or 23rd; or from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, January 24th, in the auditorium at the front of Westchester High School, 7400 Manchester Ave. in Playa del Rey.

NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT —At the January 6th meeting of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey board of directors, the board voted unanimously to elect a new group of officers to lead the group throughout 2009.

President Mike Arias announced his resignation from the board prior to the vote, indicating that he had chosen to allocate his volunteer time elsewhere.

With the top seat vacant, the board unanimously elected the following officers — president, Cyndi Hench; vice president, David Voss; treasurer, Steve Donell; corresponding secretary, Mary Taylor; and recording secretary, Geoff Maleman.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl was on hand to congratulate the newly elected officers and give an update on the city budget and a variety of other issues.

COWAN SEEKS GOVERNANCE HELP — Cowan Avenue Elementary School is looking for community members interested in serving on the school’s Governance Council. Governance Council members will be elected Thursday, January 29th, and the Governance Council will serve as the governing body of the school beginning in September.

Cowan voted to become an iDesign school within the Los Angles Unified School District in March and has drafted a governance proposal that was to be ratified by Cowan parents, teachers and classified staff Wednesday and Thursday, January 14th and 15th. This proposal may be viewed on Cowan’s Web site, cowantigers .com/.

In order to serve as a community member on the Governance Council, a candidate must be “an adult demonstrating a significant interest in Cowan, who either lives or whose primary place of employment is in the LMU Family of Schools attendance area (including Windsor Hills), and who is neither a Cowan parent/guardian nor employee of Cowan.”

The nomination deadline and more details will be announced shortly. In the meantime, any questions may be directed to Sheila,

OROPEZA TO HOLD TOWN HALL MEETING — State Senator Jenny Oropeza will join Secretary of State Debra Bowen Thursday, January 29th, for a town hall meeting and update on the California budget, Senate leadership and legislative issues, as well as a presentation on election issues.

The event will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Mary Lou Crockett Community Room at the Westchester-Loyola Village Branch Public Library, 7114 Manchester Ave. in Westchester.

The event is free and light refreshments will be served.

Information, (310) 318-6994.

PARIS IS NO PLAYA DEL REY — Sure, Paris has a reputation as a haven for street painters who soak up the French ambience and transfer it to their canvases. But there’s a new rival — Playa del Rey.

Recently, artists Davide Piubeni and Humbert Curcuru set up their canvases on Culver Boulevard to paint the village’s aura.

The duo met in the Palisades about eight years ago. Without knowing each other, they had chosen the same location to undertake their “plein-air” paintings, a French expression Curcuru says is used to “convey that we paint landscapes in the outdoors.”

“In some way, we become public and passers-by are usually extremely friendly with us,” he said. “They do not hesitate to start a conversation, happy to see us. Sometimes three years have passed since we showed up on the same spot, and they remember us.”

Curcuru is French and traveled to Los Angeles in the early ’80s after his studies in France, where he attended ENSAD (Šcole Nationale SupÈrieure des Arts Decoratifs) in Paris. He also attended classes at Otis Parsons School of Design (now Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester) and is currently represented by the Susan Schomburg Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

Piubeni, a native Italian, was most recently in Peru for several months painting and selling his work. He also has a gallery in the Marina that shows his work.

Curcuru said the duo loves to paint in Playa del Rey and other locales throughout Los Angeles.

“The weather here is clement, and we can be sure that the light will be there every day,” he said. “With pigments we try, with humility, to capture the light at different times of the day.”