For some time, members of the Council felt that at nearly 70,000 residents, the Council's area was too large to effectively serve the community. Two councils could more aptly do outreach and engage the stakeholders.
The Council was instructed to appear before a meeting of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners to plead their case. Though the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment felt there was no clear process for a boundary division, the recommendation of the department and its general manager, Dr. Carol Baker Tharp, was to allow North Hollywood to go ahead and then use that Council's experience as a template for additional council's citywide who wished to undertake a similar process.
However, at 3:25 p.m. the day of the meeting, Dr. Tharp informed the Council in an email that she was changing her recommendation to the BONC to deny the application, based on the advice of the City Attorney. Citing issues with the petition signatures as part of the application Tharp told the Council "The people who worked with you are no longer here, so this is no one's fault but my own. I was trying to help and I screwed up. Just as you are frustrated, so am I." Little solace to the members of the Council who showed up at 6:00 p.m., as instructed, to express solidarity and support for the proposal. Following Dr. Tharp's recommendation, the BONC removed the item from consideration.
During a period of open comment by the BONC members, Commissioner Diane Middleton told the crowd that they had been "misled." If they walk out of the meeting thinking the reason for the action was some technical error with the application, petition signatures, etc. they are mistaken. There is nothing the BONC can do as far as expediting the Council's request because nothing will happen until DONE, BONC, the City Attorney and City Council establish a complete policy. And of course the implication is this will be months later.
"The people who worked with you are no longer here, so this is no one's fault but my own. I was trying to help and I screwed up. Just as you are frustrated, so am I."No wonder people are alienated from their city. No wonder its hard to get good people involved in Neighborhood Councils. With bumbling bureaucrats at DONE and a lack of leadership by their oversight body, BONC, its unlikely anything will move forward.
Dr. Carol Baker Tharp
General Manager, Department of Neighborhood Empowerment
And they wondered why the Valley wanted to succeed.
Full disclosure: I was recently appointed to the Mid Town North Hollywood Neighborhood Council and support the breakup.