Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Operates Outside the Law
|By Carol Knapp|
|Wednesday, 12 July 2006 09:00|
Several years ago the City of Los Angeles divided LA into Neighborhoods with Councils for the purpose of implementing Sustainable Development policies. Carol Knapp understands the implications of her neighborhood council, and has documented and filed a formal grievance against certain people and entities for their illegality and breach of public ethics. The patterns of LA are sweeping the Country.
I, Carol Knapp, stakeholder by reason of property ownership and residence within the boundaries of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, am filing a formal grievance against the City of Los Angeles, a municipal corporation, Los Angeles City Council and Mayor, and City Attorney and The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Board as agents of the aforementioned Los Angeles City Council. Certain members of the SLNC board have consistently violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as breached the duties expressed by the stated SLNC mission, purpose, by-laws and ethical responsibilities during their tenure.
First Amendment violations
Whereas, under Article IX of Los Angeles City Charter as amended in 2000, any and all holders of elected positions, paid or unpaid, must “follow all local, state and federal laws”, the above noted parties have violated the inalienable “freedom of speech” right of this individual, as guaranteed in Amendment I of the United States Constitution.
Under the First Amendment and as decided in applicable federal case law, the people have the inalienable right to freedom of speech, a right not to be abridged by any government actor or agent. This right of the people includes the right to express “political truths” about government officials and to fully inform the public about any betrayals of the public trust engaged in by said officials. This right also prohibits any government actor or agent from intentionally suppressing such information or from limiting the expression of any political point of view in favor of another. This right is indispensable in a free society and is one of the most basic of human rights guaranteed by the Constitution.That is why it is the “first” amendment.
The most recent violations occurred during May, June and July of 2006 where board members of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council have consistently violated the above right by refusing to post two links on the SLNC website, www.ebonyshowcase.org and www.freedomadvocates.org.
This stakeholder made the request in an attempt to offer guidance and support to other stakeholders that may be threatened or abused by government officials, particularly in the area of property rights, since these abuses have been dispensed with alarming regularity to Los Angeles property owners during the past 30 or more years. One of the websites exposes the agenda and origins of stakeholder councils (1977 Soviet Constitution and 1992 United Nations Agenda 21), facts that have been hidden from the public, and invites SLNC stakeholders to join the Silver Lake chapter of “Freedom 21 Santa Cruz” and Silver Lake chapter of PALS. (People Against Land Stealing). The stakeholder council concept was devised for the purpose of advancing Agenda 21, which will ultimately severely limit property rights and ultimately destroy them entirely, according to the terms of the U.N. Agenda 21 for Sustainable Development.
Certain of these board members have responded to these requests with reference to a committee called “Government Liaison Committee” and have stated that this committee must “approve” of the requested links. The responses indicated that this committee was not meeting at present, and that probably would not even be able to address the request until autumn, 2006. This stakeholder advised these board members that such “approval” is unnecessary under the law and is an unreasonable obstacle to the individual right of freedom of speech and again requested the postings. These links provide important “political truths”, which is precisely the type of speech that the First Amendment seeks to protect, according to relevant case law.
Nevertheless, the board refused to post either of the links, despite the fact that this stakeholder offered to provide technical assistance to relieve any board member of additional responsibility. The SLNC website is updated weekly, thus demonstrating that someone was able to, and did in fact, add or remove information from it. The SLNC website is also replete with links for other organizations (see below). A request was made to the entire board to have this person, whoever they are, upload the links to the site, but this request was again ignored.
Another request was directly made to the two region 6 representatives of the SLNC to assist with this request. One of the representatives promptly responded stating that he did not have the technical ability to upload the links.
The other board member eventually responded, but stated that “no policy has been established with respect to website postings” (see attached). This stakeholder replied that such a “policy” is inapplicable to the current situation as no authority, federal, city or state, can supercede the authority of the United States Constitution. Moreover, the SLNC currently is replete with website links, links that uniformly express the one-sided political points of view (described below) of the established Los Angeles City Council, Mayor and City Attorney and the individual/s who placed the existing links on the website, thus refuting the claim of “no existing policy”. There is also a link supplied under the picture of one board member that connects the visitor to a private blog site of this individual. This site, named “Silver Lake at Large”, is filled with personal political views of this board member, endorses certain political candidates and is acting to promote the political agendas of City Council members, particularly in the area of implementing Agenda 21 on Sustainable Development.
This stakeholder demands equal access to the SLNC website for the placement of links intended to advise SLNC stakeholders of their rights and equal access for any other stakeholder who should desire to place differing or contrary views to the approved monolithic “party-line views” described above. This remedy will not only return First Amendment rights to all stakeholders, but will also be a “source of information for the community on community issues and governmental matters”, one of the stated goals of the SLNC (see below)
Violation of state law because of exemption from financial disclosure requirements
This section of the grievance is directed at the Los Angeles City Council. In February of 2003 the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to exempt neighborhood council board members from financial disclosure requirements, i.e. Form 700, the Statement of Economic Interest. This disclosure requirement is applicable for all elected officials, paid or unpaid and is for the purpose of avoiding conflict of interest. Conflict of interest can cause decision-making entities unable to render unbiased opinions in the best interest of the public. This exemption is also against public policy as being contrary to the goal of transparency in government, and thus sets a dangerous precedent.
Thus, this exemption granted by Los Angeles City Council members should be rescinded in the best interest of the public and neighborhood council board members should be required to submit Form 700 along with all other public servants being entrusted with decision-making authority by the people.
Violations of SLNC Mission and Purpose Statement, By-laws, and Ethical Responsibilities of SLNC Board Members
The Los Angeles City Charter of 2000 provided for the institution of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and neighborhood councils. The stated purpose was to promote public participation in the governance function and to make local government more responsive to public needs. The grievance procedure from DONE also references a desire to “maintain independence from city hall”.
Such a “neighborhood council” was established in the region of Los Angeles, commonly known as “Silver Lake” and established its name as the “Silver Lake Neighborhood Council”. As part of the statutory provisions necessary for certification as an “official” Los Angeles agency, the SLNC established a mission statement and bylaws. The following are relevant excerpts from this statement and these bylaws:
Article II – Mission and Purpose
Mission statement: “The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council will work to honor diversity, build community, forge bonds with neighboring communities, and promote participation in city governance and decision-making processes to improve the quality of life for all of Silver Lake’s stakeholders.”
Relevant excerpts from by-laws:
“ To fairly and faithfully represent the interest of all stakeholders”,
“To be a source of information for the community on community issues and governmental matters”,
“To educate, encourage, and facilitate in helping government work better for the community”
“To support the efforts of existing community groups”
Article VI – Ethics
B. “The SLNC board must comply with all local, state and federal laws…all applicable Conflict of Interest Laws, Political Reform Act, and the Government Ethics Ordinance”
C. “…will not discriminate in any of its policies, recommendations or actions against any individual or group on the basis of…political affiliation.”
D. “..may not endorse candidates for political office.”
Actions contrary to SLNC Mission Statement Goals and SLNC By-laws.
Since the inception of the SLNC these goals have been ignored and subverted by those unelected individuals who had control of the formation process and by some of the subsequently elected board members as described below:
1. “…to fairly and faithfully represent the interests of all stakeholders” and to “honor diversity”
During the formation process, unelected facilitator Vincent Brook wrote this statement as part of the description of Silver Lake: “We are proud of our liberal political heritage.”
This stakeholder requested a more inclusive statement be written, since obviously not all SLNC stakeholders hold the same political views, and this statement excluded some members, and thus did not “honor diversity”, at least diversity of thought.. It was then revised by Mr. Brook to read: “We have a history of liberal politics”. This stakeholder again objected to the discriminatory statement. Mr. Brook finally changed it to, “We have a history of political activism”, but complained, stating that this stakeholder was “the only person that objected”, thus showing his reluctance to comply and aggravation at being forced to recognize any views that did not conform to the majority opinion “party line” to which Mr. Brook apparently subscribed.
Another example of the failure of this and other neighborhood councils to “fairly and faithfully” represent the wishes of the people as opposed to the wishes of the politicians is the subject of the “density bonuses” that were forced upon the city during the last Master Plan Update. The vast majority of Los Angeles residents are opposed to density bonuses because of the obvious deleterious effects on quality of life that such density bonuses will cause. Yet the alleged “consensus” achieved by the SLNC and other neighborhood councils was to approve the density bonuses that the city politicians and corporate beneficiaries of such a proposal wanted. Thus, this alleged “consensus” is in direct conflict with the majority view of the people, as measured by informal vote-taking at other public meetings by this stakeholder.
The same is true of allegedly “affordable”, corporate welfare housing projects. The majority of Los Angeles residents do not want these projects in their neighborhoods, yet have been forced to submit to the wishes of the politicians and corporate welfare beneficiaries under the fraudulent claim of “helping the poor”. Thus, this and other neighborhood councils have been instrumental in thwarting the wishes of the people in favor of the wishes of the politicians.
Additionally, in June, 2006 this stakeholder was advised of a meeting of the “Government Affairs Committee”, which included an agenda item regarding the use of “eminent domain for private gain”, i.e. allowing the government to condemn private property and transfer ownership to other private entities. There were two board members in attendance, and five other individuals at the meeting.
This stakeholder attended and presented objective facts and information regarding the inadvisability of this practice, i.e. the brochure entitled “Redevelopment: the Unknown Government” (Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform) and volunteered to write a statement of opposition to the practice. This brochure contained the only objective information submitted at that meeting. However, both board members in attendance stated their support of the above described practices (despite the informal “consensus” of the rest of the attendees to oppose it) and refused to state any formal opposition to the practice, other than to perhaps request the clarification of the word “blight” in the current redevelopment law.
Nevertheless, this stakeholder wrote the letter in opposition to the above practice and forwarded to the chairperson of this government liaison committee, who did not circulate it to other committee members nor did he submit it to the City Council. The Council was the intended recipient of such a letter as stated by this board member to “guide the Council” in their up coming agenda item regarding eminent domain (as if they actually listened).
This inaction on the part of this board member evidenced his breach of the duty to “fairly and faithfully represent the interests of the stakeholders of Silver Lake” and also evidences undue influence on the part of Councilperson Eric Garcetti and/or other City Councilpersons on this board member, thus preventing the attainment of the stated goal of DONE to achieve “independence from city hall”. The City Council subsequently voted unanimously to oppose any impending legislation that would limit their ability to transfer private property to corporate entities. In doing so, the Council thus reflected the only opinion that the chairperson of the “government affairs committee” was apparently willing to support, i.e. the predetermined decision of the City Council to continue their abhorrent practices of seizing private property on behalf of corporate interests, despite public disapproval. Recent surveys conducted by Castle Coalition (Institute for Justice, Wa. D.C.) reflect overwhelming sentiment on the part of Americans against this type of eminent domain abuse, yet the SLNC board members supported the wishes of the City Council instead, thus demonstrating breach of the duty to represent the people.
2. “To be a source of information for the community on community issues and governmental matters”, and“To educate, encourage, and facilitate in helping government work better for the community”
This stakeholder initiated a meeting to discuss the impending intrusion of allegedly “affordable housing” projects in Silver Lake and to present evidence to the community of the fraudulent and illegal actions of Los Angeles politicians, actions which have deprived thousands of “life, liberty and property” in the city. It was my wish to alert the community of these acts, since local media simply refused to cover most of it.
Since I had received certain non-official emails from those in control of the stakeholder email list, such as invitations to “anti-war protests” and requests to declare one presidential candidate “the winner” of a recent debate, I assumed that this list was for the purpose of inviting stakeholders to community meetings of importance. I made a request for an invitation to go out for a meeting to discuss the impending allegedly “affordable housing” corporate welfare projects. I wanted to discuss this matter openly with my neighbors, without the interference of city hall. However, because those in control stated their personal approval of such projects, they refused to honor my request, stating that the list was only for “official” use. Again, the duty to “fairly and faithfully represent the views of all stakeholders”“honor diversity” was breached, as well as “equal protection” and “freedom of speech” guarantees violated. and to
Additionally, the duties to “To be a source of information for the community on community issues government matters” and “to educate, encourage, and facilitate in helping government work better for the community” were breached. It is certainly important for the public to know how the government is abusing the people. Moreover, how can anyone “facilitate in helping government work better” if they are unaware of what the government is doing?
Therefore, the refusal to announce the meeting, and the failure to add the requested links (described above under “Violation of the First Amendment” is also a breach of the stated intentions to “fairly and faithfully represent…”, to “honor diversity”, “to be a source of information…” and to “facilitate in helping government work better…”.
Conflict of Interest
This stakeholder also demands the disclosure of economic and political interest of all Los Angeles Neighborhood Council board members, in keeping with applicable California statutory provisions for all elected officials, both paid and unpaid. The continued exemption of these individuals from the “Statement of Economic Interest” (form 700) is a violation of state law, of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, SLNC by-law Article VI – Ethics- B. Conflict of Interest – see above) and is against public policy as discouraging transparency in government.
I, Carol Knapp am filing this grievance, in accordance with Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment guidelines, against the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council for breaching certain of the duties as stated in the “mission statement” and by-laws of said Neighborhood Council, and for violating applicable federal law, i.e. the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
The complaint regarding the exemption of N.C. board members from applicable state “conflict of interest” laws is best addressed to the Los Angeles City Council as this governing body was solely responsible for the ill-advised exemption.
This stakeholder demands equal access to the stakeholder list for invitations to pertinent community meetings, equal access to post links on the SLNC website on pertinent community matters, or injunction against these uses by the government, including the City of Los Angeles and its agents.
This stakeholder demands that all Neighborhood Council board members in the City of Los Angeles must file form 700, “Statement of Economic Interest”, as all other elected officials are required to do.
Thank you for processing this grievance,
Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Operates Outside the Law by Carol Knapp
Freedom Advocates note:
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