Saturday, June 25, 2005

Antonio... Antonio... Antonio...

Mr. Mayor-elect - what is it with you and the Neighborhood Councils?

First, the good news; since winning the election for Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has made several outstanding appointments (more, very belatedly, on this) and he has announced a number of very encouraging policies. So far, I'd give him a 90 for what he has done.

But, when it comes to his attitude towards Neighborhood Councils - he remains a complete mystery.

At today's Congress of Neighborhood Councils at the Los Angeles Convention Center, AV made an appearance at the student workshop held after most of the regular Neighborhood Council seminars. Most in attendance were students, parents and teachers, with only some NC leaders there.

Two things of interest happened there in regards to Neighborhood Councils. First, Edwin Ramirez of the Pacoima Neighborhood Council and the Los Angeles Citywide Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, lobed up a soft ball - right over the plate to the Mayor-elect - asking him about his commitment to the Neighborhood Councils.

However, not only didn't Villaraigosa hit it into the stands, but by the end of his rambling answer - he hadn't even said... anything. Now that seriously disturbed many of NC members present that he would come into our 'house' and still not even clearly endorse our right to exist. But shortly before there, he also bizarrely lectured the DWP for proposing a water rate increase without notifying the Neighborhood Councils - and then accused them of violating our just signed MOU between the DWP and the MOU!

Now if you look back to my DWP posts on June 8th and 14th, you can see that due to an erroneous Daily News article - which was latter 'corrected' (though not before it had been picked up by KFWB news radio), it was briefly claimed that the DWP had violated our hard fought MOU. But since there was no truth to this, those of us who wrote and negotiated the MOU, came to the aid of the DWP and defended their actions. Janice Hahn even called a special committee meeting where we were able to give public testimony to this affect.

We also called the current Mayor's office and we also talked to most members of the city council to let them know that this was simply not true. I also personally called and talked with two of the Villaraigosa transition aides plus I left a cell phone voice mail message for a third advisor to explain that the report was in error and that the DWP had totally fulfilled every detail of the MOU with the Neighborhood Councils. Other DWP taskforce members did the same.

So... how could AV stand before us and say the exact opposite?

Puzzling... to say the least.

Now I am sure that once AV understands that the NC's can - and want to be - his strongest ally in fixing the problems of this city, we will be able to develop the same kind of close relationship we had with the previous mayor. But right now, we are not only not on the same page - we are not even in the same universe.

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