Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
A Los Angeles blog
from Echo Park

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May the record reflect the missing record

Cluck, cluck. More dysfunction on the neighborhood council in Echo Park. Recently Chicken Corner has been observing sharply worded backs and forths (and back and forths) and sniping on the neighborhood list serve between the president of GEPENC (Greater Echo Park-Elysian Neighborhood Council) and other community citizens about all kinds of #@$%: banquet tables paid for with NC funds; cleanup teams planned for the beach instead of Echo Park; undemocratic-sounding decisionmaking and meeting procedures.

Now we're hearing that meeting minutes have not been made available to community members for at least five months. Which is no small thing. Distributing minutes may even be required by law for groups that receive public funds or tax exempt status. (And if it isn't, it should be.) What use is a meeting that went unrecorded? Even the people who attended should be able to review what was said.

Yesterday, I emailed Jose Sigala, president of GEPENC, to ask why minutes had not been available. He has not responded.

Christine Peters, who ran for GEPENC's presidency recently (and lost to Sigala), was colorful in her reply to my question of whether it was true that minutes were missing and why.

She said yes, there were missing minutes. She went on to declare it was part of a pattern of high-handed entitlement:

The newly elected [GEPENC] Exec Committee are on a slash-and-burn campaign to dismantle 6 years of grassroots urban democracy. A new totalitarian state is being established. Volunteerism is no more. Where, previously, stakeholders and board members alike would sign up to participate in committees, the "New" Board has now passed rules that gives the President the Power to appoint all Committee chairs and vice chairs. They then appoint all other members. No one can volunteer to participate. They must kiss the ring and be annointed? Appointed? Just look at the list of "designees." Of 21 Boardmembers, only 10 people are appointed to a possible 20 or so positions. If you played for the "winning" team, you get to Chair or Vice chair Multiple committees.
They've even voted to change the By Laws to allow the President to Vote to CREATE a tie! Previously the "Chair" would abstain as neccessary to ensure an odd number of votes. Which "democratic" country did they steal this idea from! Fantastic. Another "proposed" ByLaw ammendment makes a quorum of the exec committee now 3 instead of 2 (they've voted to add a 5th member to the exec com, Augustine Cebada).
All hail the great and powerful OZ!

And here we get back to the question of minutes. Because if the minutes are, indeed, available (or were available) then it would be only a matter of minutes to fact-check many of the assertions made above. And it wouldn't take long to see if anyone by the name of OZ had proposed a vote in which all present had elected to a) have their words disappear forever as soon as they fell from their mouths, or b) have them recorded.

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