Neighborhood councils are such a good idea, and they are so fraught. Chicken Corner just can't help clucking in worry for their future -- as well as their present. The city agency dedicated to supervising them doesn't seem to be able to supervise them, for one thing. The people who get elected to the councils often don't behave well, to say the least. Here in Echo Park, we have had our troubles. Vicious fighting during the elections about a year ago, assault accusations, bitterness and conflict during meetings and shouting. Fyodor Dostoyevsky could have written the script the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council (GEPENC) has been reading from. (For some reason, I am excited about GEPENC's new storefront office on E.P. Ave., but that's a different issue.)
But Echo Park is not alone -- sadly -- in hosting Neighborhood Council shenanigans. Chicken Corner sat down this morning to read reports of strife at Downtown's neighborhood council, where the elected president, Russell Brown, is said to serve both the neighborhood council and as Executive Director of the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District (a consortium of major property owners). Which sounds a bit fox in the hen house to Chicken Corner.
The conflict has spread to downtown's successful Art Walk, with Kim Cooper (a friend of mine) and Richard Schave stepping down from the art walk nonprofit they founded as a result, they claim, of meddling by Brown. They have filed a grievance against Brown. The filing of the grievance was followed by threat of legal action by Brown.
Cluck, cluck. Since when is it illegal to file a grievance and tell people about it?
In any case, the grievance process is going forward this Wednesday in an open forum at the public library:
WHAT: Grievance Committee hearing on ethics complaint against Russell Brown, President of Downtown LA Neighborhood Council (DLANC)
WHERE: Los Angeles Central Public Library
WHEN: Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 6:30pm
MORE INFO: This Grievance Committee hearing is a public meeting, and all interested members of the community or press are welcome to attend.
The staff at Chicken Corner (that would be me, myself and I) are united in this cry: "May justice be served!"