The phone calls started coming in early today as the LA Weekly and its cover story on the Neighborhood Councils hit news racks around town. And all the callers had the same message. They each wanted me to sternly reprimand the writer of the article and to defend the tarnished honor of neighborhood councils with a strongly worded letter.
But upon reading the article - while I deplored the sub-title (What can save LA's broken neighborhood councils), which suggested that the NC's overall needed to be fixed - the article was actually quite accurate in the individual stories it told. And it was even understated when it came to describing the problem children of our NC's.
The mentally challenged lunatic fringe running the Venice Grassroots Council actually came out far better than any of the first hand reports I have heard of them, and the factionalism that has split the Van Nuys Council (and which is legendary in NC circles) was calmly dealt with. And the writer very accurately described the nursery school antics of the Lincoln Heights Council which equal if not surpass some of the early Malibu City Council meetings where I once opined that what Malibu's new city manager would need most was a degree in child psychology.
The only real problem I had with the article is that these councils are the exceptions rather than the rule, a fact that was not at all made clear. Now, granted, the article does cover the activities of some of the more typical councils and it does end on a very hopeful note, but I do feel the article really only tells one (albeit, important) side of the story. Still, as for being an examination of the problems that do face the handful of true problem NC's and the pitfalls that all NC's are and will be faced with - it is a very accurate article.
In the interest of full disclosure, I might add that I have run into the writer - Robert Greene - a number of times during his writing of the article and we have developed a kind of relationship that can best be described as follows; when a person once asked him if he wrote for a newspaper, I graciously answered for him that he did not - that he wrote for the LA Weekly.