This is a re-post of an article originated from the BudgetLA website.OurLA, by Michael Cohen, 15 February 2010
At Saturdays LANCC Budget LA meeting, moderator Stephen Box reminded us that when the oxygen masks on an airplane in distress are lowered we first put them on ourselves and then assist others. NCs need to take care of themselves because like the airline passenger we wont be of help if we are incapacitated by defunding.
It was suggested in passing at City Hall? That to save the City money those NCs that didnt show up to the BudgetLA meetings should lose all their funding.
A proposal to reduce DONE staffing by including NC volunteers something previously endorsed at the Feb. 6th LANCC meeting got some serious discussion. One queried can we get enough NC members to staff the 30 or so volunteer positions and another Paul Hatfield, was concerned about continuity in the DONE with NC volunteer turn over.
Doug Epperhart presented the plan in place of Shawn Simons, away in New York. He said the final numbers or conditions are not cast in concrete.
The Education and Neighborhoods Committee will take up the issue of DONE and NC structure and funding this Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. in the City Council chambers.
BongHwan Kim, General Manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, welcomes the changes put forth. He reminds us that the neighborhood councils are considered mini-city councils by the City , at least for the purposes of oversight. That requires NCs to have various department resources and support. That makes DONE an enforcer of numerous regulations and keeps it involved in many areas, diluting focus and requiring expertise in those areas. That is inefficient.
Community Partners, a non-profit was proposed to handle financial oversight of NC funding, taking a large workload off of DONEs shoulders. BongHwan Kim felt that a non-profit could likely do it better and cheaper, largely because the non-profit wouldnt be burdened by the City pension system.
When the NC pulse was taken to support outsourcing there was some hesitation with a split vote. The motion was amended to explore the possibility of outsourcing rather than recommending it presently.
At the LANCC BudgetLA meeting Feb. 6th a 7% charge for all transactions by Community partners was thought to be their fee. At Saturdays meeting Lupe Solorio of Community Partners said the fee could be 12%.
The hybrid plan presented Saturday consists of reorganizing DONE into four departments:
- Administration Responsible for the efficient running of the DONE office
- Public Relations To create a citywide NC campaign to encourage stakeholder participation in the system
- Governmental Relations Create relationships with City departments and foster communication with City Hall
- Training Programs to create strong boards and seamless transitions.
The total paid City personnel required is just 17 which includes a General Manager and Assistant GM. This is less than the proposed cut by the CAO to 19. The slack left by the reduced staff would be formally picked up by 35 NC unpaid positions staffed by NC volunteers, permanently assigned to DONE.
The reported savings to the City is at least $4 Million, again more than required by the CAOs plan.
In exchange the NCs want minimal cuts leaving funding largely intact, re-instituted a one year rollover of unspent funds year, maintain the current system of bank cards for small disbursements and to allow NC involvement in determining expenditure categories.
Everyone is asked to arrive at Tuesdays City Council meeting early to meet City Council staff and to attend the Education and Neighborhoods Committee meeting starting in the same chamber at 3 p.m.
Michael Cohen is a long time community activist and Reseda NC Council Liaison. He can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org@earthlink.net