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Drama in the Hood

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Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) issues fascinate LAist. Created by a City Charter amendment, neighborhood councils have been established by Mayor Hahn as a cornerstone of his administration—but it's been slow going in some districts.

Four out of about 81 neighborhood councils have yet to hold initial elections for a Board of Directors. The reasons behind these tardy elections are as diverse and unique as the neighborhoods themselves.

For instance, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) cannot move forward after losing a boundary dispute with the Olympic Park Neighborhood Council (OPNC).

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A year ago, the Mid-Wilshire Neighborhood Council (MWNC) and the Greater Hancock Park Neighborhood Council (GHNC) agreed to merge into a united council called the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) (The merger was a miracle in itself due to long simmering tensions between neighbors in the area).

But the new council found that its boundaries overlapped some areas already claimed by the OPNC. The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners assigned the disputed districts to the OPNC.

Since that decision, former members of the GHPNC have begun to rethink the merger agreement. Each side perceives the situation a little differently: some in the GHPNC no longer trust some members in the MWNC. Some in the MWNC think some members in the GHPNC are under the influence of disgruntled residents who should be in the OPNC and have persuaded legitimate GWNC stakeholders to withhold their participation in any GWNC elections, thereby halting the election process.

It sounds like the DONE and the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners has had enough. The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners summoned the GWNC leaders and stakeholders to a special Board Meeting in Van Nuys on August 3, 2004; the Board summoned all neighborhood councils named on a Timely Elections Watch List compiled by the staff of DONE.

We're still waiting for the minutes of that meeting to be published so we don't know what the various parties said about the matter.

All we can tell you is that a the parties must return before the Board for another meeting in September. Let's hope some progress has been made by then.