Defend Grassroots Democracy in Venice

by Eric Ahlberg Sunday, Jun. 27, 2004 at 3:36 PM

Progressives defend their election from lies, slander and sabotage.

Well lets try going back to the beginning.
Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council was established with the Approval
of the City Of Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment,
like many of the other Neighborhood Councils around LA.
A lot of them struggle with factional nitpicking, but in Venice
it has come to sabotage.

When it became obvious last year, that the then incumbent GRVNC members, and the Land Use and Planning Comittee, were getting ready to approve a major 9 story development at Lincoln Bl. and Lake St., local community members organized a Progressive Slate and won the Neighborhood council elections, roughly 600 to 150, on a platform opposed to the development which was completely out of specification with the community plan. Immediately the opposition, calling themselves "Team Venice" filed fraud charges and delayed the seating of the "Progressives". The League of Women Voters investigation only found fraud comitted by a member of "Team Venice", who registered her dog, and the LWV recommended that the perp be banned from participation in GRVNC. I wish. Comitting fraud to discredit an election is a standard gadfly and factional dirty trick from the dawn of civilization, if you can call it that.

After the Progressives were allowed to take their seats, Team Venice kept spinning the unsubstantiated fraud charges, with the aid of a Pro Political Consultant, and cooked up The Feist Initiative. The Feist initiative had something for every fear about how outsiders might come in and take over the
neighborhood council. It's seven provisions disenfranchise
many stakeholders, and are restrictive enough to possibly cause DONE to disqualify GRVNC. Done and most of the current board weren't happy with the new bylaws, but the old bylaws required a petition with stakeholder signatures to be referred to a vote. No one turns out for bylaw elections. Wrong

It's proponents turned out over 300 votes to pass all the provisions except a ban on absentee voting, which only barely lost. Progressives disputed the election which lacked procedures and was staffed by partisans, and asked DONE to invalidate it. The Feist proponents proceeded to spam DONE and all the City Government representatives, and DONE is put in the position of damned if they do, damned it they don't, so they told GRVNC that they had to have a special bylaw election to extend the current officers' term until the
bylaw changes could be worked out, or GRVNC could fall into the abyss.
Yes that's the word Greg Nelson of DONE used. The GRVNC board majority voted to defy DONE and proceed with the council seat election, since they
felt they could turn out a larger constituency for an Council seat
election. DONE has disavowed the election, which means they
won't pay for it, but nor will they mediate it. GRVNC is an independent
organization however, so it may proceed as it will, however DONE
can terminate it's association with it, and it would lose it's
"official" status. Could happen, but the city is expedient,
political, and may be hesistant to decertify
GRVNC if the election turns out enough voters.

As if things weren't bad enough a board member forgot to reserve
the elementary school where the election was to take place,
however quick action by another board member on Friday secured the location.
The school reported recieving a call that 10 busloads of protesters were going to
show up to protest the election. Other complaints to the school resulted
in the school losing it's ability to rent out the parking lot on weekends to beachgoers, the revenue being used for classroom improvements, unbeknown
to LAUSD real estate administrator....but I digress.

I am urging Venice Stakeholders (residents of 90291 and 90292)
to come out and support the Progressives, This Sunday 6/27/04.
from 10AM - 4PM
at Westminster School
1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Their platform is at

I also urge any supporter of Grass Roots Democracy in LA to come
out a make sure the "opposition" does not physically obstruct
or intimidate voters.

Eric Ahlberg

Much of the discussion of these issues can be found on