Boyle Heights Council Back In Action

2012 is the 10-year anniversary of the neighborhood council that was almost broken up.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

Almost exactly one year after the faction deadlocked Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council was placed under the immediate supervision of the Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE), the group has received notice that it has made enough progress to no longer require constant oversight.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOLConcejo Vecinal de Boyle Heights está de Nuevo en Acción

“As a result of the efforts of the BHNC, the Department is declaring the BHNC out of Exhaustive efforts and effective immediately we are restoring full funding for the Board to continue the important work of supporting and providing a voice for your community,” DONE General Manager Bonghwan Kim wrote in an email to the board.

Kim congratulated the council for its big turnaround, eliminating the danger of decertification.

“Quorum issues, unclear and outdated bylaw amendments, non-functional committees, lack of clarity in terms of main function of Quadrants, lack of cohesive Board leadership, and an inconsistent board,” were among the issues that prompted DONE to take control of the stakeholder group.

DONE suspended BHNC’s funding community projects during the exhaustive effort process, which cost the group $15,616 in 2011.

The decision to revoke the funding suspension leaves the neighborhood council with about $40,000—almost all of it’s funding for the fiscal year ending in four months—available to allocate to projects, according to BHNC Secretary Margarita Amador.

“It was a good experience and it was something that was needed, we had to be put in exhaustive efforts to start fresh,” Amador told EGP, adding she believes the neighborhood council now has a “solid foundation” due to the needed temporary “handholding.”

“This is a good group of individuals who were able to work together, and I think that now that we are together, we’ll be able to conduct business as expected by city and stakeholders,” Amador said, referring to the neighborhood council’s board members.

The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council turns 10-years-old this year and members would like to hold some type of anniversary event, Amador said. Some stakeholders would also like to see a sign or monument go up that says, “Welcome to Boyle Heights,” she added.

While the council was under exhausted efforts—a sort of conservatorship state under the supervision of DONE—it’s thinning number of board members took required ethics training and additional training imposed by the city-run department.

The number of board members now sits at 19, down from 35 last year, according to Amador. The council still has area representatives though they are no longer labeled “quadrants,” and the BHNC is now evenly split between new and old members, she said.

One of the problems that landed BHNC in exhaustive efforts was its repeated inability to get a quorum, but with the new smaller board, it now only needs 11 members to be present. That’s the smallest number yet for a group that once had over 50 board members, according to Lisette Covarrubias, the DONE project coordinator who helped facilitate the BHNC’s recovery.

Covarrubias said Manny Aldana, a former member of the BHNC, filed numerous grievances while the council was in exhaustive efforts and the majority of them have been resolved, thought it may not be to Aldana’s satisfaction.

Two grievances are still outstanding, Covarrubias said, but noted that alleged violations of the Brown Act and the US Constitution do not fall under the DONE’s jurisdiction.

Last week Aldana published a lengthy blog on a political website detailing his grievances, including what he saw as a coup to remove former BHNC president Jose Aguilar by members who have political ties to elected officials criticized by Aguilar.

Last August Aldana told EGP the BHNC should be decertified to “send a message to the community that the people now on [the board] are incompetent.”
But he also admitted that his less than perfect attendance might have contributed to the BHNC’s quorum problems.

Amador, who Aldana mentions in this blog, claims the former board member only attended two BHNC board meetings while in office. In 2010 she attempted to prevent Aldana from running again by filing a grievance with DONE over his absences, but she says DONE shot down that effort because his absences weren’t documented.

Better meeting attendance documentation is one of the new procedures the BHNC has added to its revamped bylaws, she told EGP.

Aguilar was forced to resign as president last year and became an at-large member along with the other board members, as part of the move to avoid decertification. Yesterday he told EGP he is no longer on the neighborhood council, nor had he been notified that BHNC was out of exhaustive efforts.

While he did not address the specifics of his previous experience with the council or Aldana’s allegations, he did say he believes the neighborhood council should be required to hold elections every two years.

“They should be able to face the public every two years. It’s part of the accountability process,” he said. “The problem I see is that the City Council of Los Angeles has found it unviable to have an election—they might not have an election until 2014,” he said, referring to decision by the city council to reduce its funding to DONE, thereby extending the terms of some board members.

“It’s not just Boyle Heights, but it’s still wrong,” he told EGP.

Speaking on his own behalf and not for the board, BHNC President Edward Padilla told EGP he is looking forward to hearing from the community. Padilla is also a long-time member of Casa 0101’s board of directors.

Hoping to improve its outreach to the community, the board has voted to revamp the BHNC website and has set up a Facebook page. They also plan to print flyers and strengthen ties with local media to encourage public participation.

A common misconception, Padilla said, is that the neighborhood councils are government bodies, but they are actually community volunteers. “We are not the government. We are actually neighbors who want to help them get information and get the government officials to pay attention to our needs,” he said.

“…The reason we are involved is because we care about the community and want the community to be healthier in anyway we can do that. Because we are perceived as government they think it’s okay to attack us and a lot of volunteers are not ready for that,” Padilla said.

BHNC is in the process of setting up working committees, so far they have established committees for planning and land use, budget and finance, outreach and neighborhood issues, Padilla said. There are two vacant seats on the board, but as of Tuesday, the council had nnot received any applications for the spots from interested stakeholders.

DONE has made recommendations to the BHNC, including continued trainings, drafting Standing Rules to clarify procedures for absences, executive committees, and for finances, according to Kim’s letter.

The Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council was certified in 2002, three years after the Neighborhood Council system began as a way to get people involved in city government, and to advise city leaders on budget priorities and local issues.

The BHNC holds its meetings the last Wednesday of the month. The council was expected to review some requests for funding at yesterday’s meeting, held after EGP’s deadline.

The board’s new officers include Vice-President Diana del Pozo-Mora, who is also the executive director of Mothers of East LA, Rudy Salinas, Outreach and Special Events Officer,  and Treasurer Vera del Pozo. The board members are Brittany Ponce de Leon, Danny Bozarth, Edward Torrez, Gumaro Oviedo Flores, Joel Ulloa, Kenneth Wyrick, Mike McClure, Sergio Guerrero, Tam Nguyen and William Morrison.

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March 29, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

5 Responses to “Boyle Heights Council Back In Action”

  1. Teresa Marquez on March 30th, 2012 10:32 am

    The BHNC has moved forward with positive attitude, respect for the community is most important, and I beleive President Padilla has made that a priority. The BHNC stills has a few members that continue to go back to a culture establish by BHNC Board 2008 to 2010, that theydo not want stakeholders participation. And those same people do not have the ability to outreach to new stakeholders, but continue to bring the old board members that where very much responsible for the dismay of the BHNC

    Margarita Amador puts herself as a spokeperson for the BHNC, a person that cause major chaos in the running of the BHNC. Follow the participation of Amadro with the 7-Eleven fiasco that cause Lincoln Heights to loose to 7-Eleven liquor licenses request. This also was part of the fiasco in the BHNC Meeting in Sept 2010, when Amador presented that the LAPD Hollenbeck had approved the 7-Eleven request for Liquor License and branch for Boyle Heights on 6th and Lorena location, this was immediately reported to DONE, BHNC and LAPD HOLLENBECK , Amador also presented that Hollenbeck CPAB had approved the licenses. The motion was reconsidered on the October General Meeting, which was voted down. But is was too late for Lincoln Heights NC they got the liquor license they did not want.
    Amador was also involved in the purchasing of a large number of small first aid kids without approval of the General Board during the time DONE was taking over the BHNC for exhaustive measures. That was one of the reasons DONE froze the money from the BHNC.
    There is a lot more that Amador has done to cause the BHNC to getting discertified. THE QUESTION IS WHY SHE IN A MEMBER OF THE BHNC, after all this violation, including not posting the agenda, and no one was taking them down. One Library personnel that I spoke too when I went to the Benjamin Library and asked if the BHNC Agenda had been posted for that month, and she said NO, the only posting that are made weekly are the BHNC BIlaws…

  2. Mago on March 30th, 2012 4:52 pm

    It’s unfortunate that Terry Marquez continues to report her version of the truth neither does BHNC have powers to make any approvals. I also do not make purchases for the board the treasurer does. I encourage you all to view the expenditures during Marquez time on BHNC and question why their is so many checks made out to her? Why when they were voted out they could not account for $2,500 worth of Petty cash. I refuse to allow the bitterness of one person stop me from contributing to the purpose of BHNC.

  3. Terry on April 1st, 2012 7:18 am

    Thank you Mago for your information of checks made out to me personally during the Boyle Heights NC 2006 to 2008 that I serve. I will be requesting document copies of those checks. I do remember paying a bill for the BHNC remember any checks made out to me. However, I do have records of expenses I paid for some of the Miss Boyle Heights NC Events and the Parade of 2007, since I chair the committee. I also never have serve as a Treasurer of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, and had no power or connection with the disbursements of money during my services or any other time.

  4. Terry Marquez on April 1st, 2012 8:07 am

    Thank you Mago for your posting of March 30, 2012 questioning the BHNC expendetures during, my service, during 2006 to 2008, and your /references that so many chekcs made out to me. Well that is a big suprise to me, because I do remember submitting one request for expenses that had been approved by President, and Treasurer at that time for the Miss Boyle Heights NEighborhood Council pageantry expenses. This committee was compose of several members of the BHNC, one individual that continue to be on the current board. I will be requesting copies of those checks and documentation, and maybe an audit of expenses, from not only checks drawn from the accounts but also the card expenses and activities for at least 2007 through 2011. I am very interested in finding any misappropriation of funds specially when my name in on the activity. Apparently you have those records, it would be helpful if you can give copies of those documents to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and City Attorney so they can expedite the investigation to proceed in clarifying those disbusements. Thank you again.
    For the records I have never taken money or accepted moneyor gift from any organization, worst any illegal activity, I did get a free keychain and a mini emergency kit with a value total of maybe $10.00 the most.

  5. Mago on April 2nd, 2012 8:42 pm

    Terry it’s unfortunate that you make accusations without really having the facts to substantiate them. You know pretty well that I do not have the power to make approvals for liquor licenses nor do I make purchases on behalf of BHNC. That the reason we were put under exhausted efforts was due to our lack of meeting quorum. I am not the spokesperson for BHNC, but I do and will speak to the media especially when they are trying to put some positive feedback on the work BHNC is doing. I know you did not appreciate being accused and immediately filed a complaint. Well I hope you felt how I felt when you made the accusations against me. And just to answer your question as to why I am a member of BHNC? it’s because over 200 stakeholders voted for me and I know they will vote for me again if I run.

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