Boyle Heights NC Avoids Losing Status
New bylaws adopted to streamline the organizational structure.
By Gloria Angeleina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer
A resident who did not want to take part in the “dysfunctional” and “bureaucratic” mess that Los Angeles’ Neighborhood Council (NC) meetings can be, picked an interesting night to get involved.
Boyle Heights resident Marco Ramirez attended the March 30th meeting of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council (BHNC); the same meeting attended by representatives of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) that oversee the neighborhood councils. They were there in hopes of helping the council avoid decertification.
Though the often-heated meeting lived up to some of Ramirez’s preconceptions, he said the meeting also left him feeling empowered.
“I was pleased to find that people are genuinely interested in improving conditions in Boyle Heights… I finally recognize how important it is for me to participate and support the Board rather than criticize the process from afar,” Ramirez told EGP in an email.
The failure to get a quorum has been an ongoing problem for the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, leaving them unable to make important decisions and threatened with de-certification.
The BHNC was able to hold onto its certification for now by finally getting a quorum. With just one board member more than the 24 needed to approve changes to their bylaws, the neighborhood council adopted several measures aimed at making it easier to achieve quorums both in the short- and long-term. And they did it just in the nick of time.
About an hour into the meeting, a board member who had earlier said he was going to resign, got up and left.
The council is dysfunctional; members disrespect each other and talk over each other. “They can’t even get through one item on the agenda,” Saul Zepeda, BHNC’s former outreach and education officer told EGP as he left the meeting accompanied by his two school-age sons.
Two others also resigned before the meeting concluded.
During public comment, former and founding neighborhood council members scolded current board members for risking de-certification.
The BHNC voted to make all 35 executive seats at-large positions, which means they are still on the board but no longer represent quadrants or elected positions, according to Grayce Liu, DONE project coordinator.
The neighborhood council could go on to select executive officers, but the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners must first approve the bylaw changes, which could take one to two months, according to Liu.
The board also changed its attendance policy so that in the future any council member who misses three meetings in a 12-month period will automatically be considered to have resigned and be removed, she said. That includes any scheduled and posted meeting regardless if there is a quorum.
Jose Aguilar, the council’s president prior to the meeting, told EGP he agrees with the new “three-strikes and you’re out” attendance policy. He believes some of the council members were sabotaging the group with their absence. Some members wanted to avoid tackling issues, and preferred to deal with holding events, he said.
The council was scheduled to consider additional bylaw changes at this past Tuesday’s meeting and to allocate some of its remaining funds before the city’s upcoming funding deadline.
“The goal is to make sure that the funding Boyle Heights receives is used in the Boyle Heights area,” said Liu, adding “we don’t want the community to lose those funds” that can be used for outreach, community grants and public safety.
The deadline for the city “to issue checks” is April 15, so the board urgently needs to decide how to spend nearly $34,000, she said.
Other bylaw changes should also make it easier to recall or remove a board member.
BHNC is not out of the woods yet. Liu said the council needs to maintain quorums for the next two or three months, and change its board structure to something that is sustainable” in order to avoid further action by DONE.
The BHNC bylaw committee has worked tirelessly for months on the bylaw changes, according to Terry Marquez, the committee’s chair. She said the committee has had no problem getting a quorum and the neighborhood council should be congratulated for taking “difficult actions.”Print This Post
April 7, 2011 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.