To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, December 28, 2012

New laws set for California in 2013


 Thursday, December 27, 2012

 Nannette Miranda


Several new laws take effect on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. One raises the sales tax, another helps seniors and another benefits drivers with smartphones.

Shoppers are still getting their fill with those after-Christmas sales. But come January 1, the sales tax will temporarily jump another quarter-cent, bringing the statewide sales tax to 7.5 percent for four years. California voters OKed the tax hike under Proposition 30 last month to save schools from deeper budget cuts.

"I got a 17-year-old daughter and I got grandchildren that are growing up that are going to be in school," said shopper Evangelina Hernandez. "So whatever helps, we got to dig in our pockets a little bit deeper to help."

 Not everyone, though, is happy with another tax hike.

"Not looking forward to it. The reasons for it I know it's to improve things, but I never see it going towards that," said shopper Vicki McAdams.

The new year also brings some help to California's senior citizens. Modeled after the Amber Alert for missing children, a Silver Alert could be activated by police for anyone 65 years old or older who's missing and in great danger because of their medical condition, like Alzheimer's and dementia.
Families typically have to wait 24 hours to file a missing person's report.

"The Silver Alert law supersedes all of that and immediately puts the public and law enforcement into action looking for seniors who are lost," said Gary Passmore, Congress of California Seniors.

And 2013 changes some driving laws to account for technology.

Since lots of Californians are using smartphones these days, you'll be able to whip out your proof of insurance on those devices when a cop pulls you over.

Mike Dobson loves the idea since he just got a new iPhone 5.

"Because you have it with you all the time," said Dobson. "What a wonderful thing if you have your insurance with you all the time. Maybe we can have our driver's license on there, you know?"

One controversial law is still on hold: The ban forbidding the use of gay-to-straight conversion therapy on minors in California is still tied up in court over its Constitutionality.

Another change for drivers on New Year's Day: You'll be able text while you drive if you have "Siri" or some other program on your cellphone that allows you to text hands-free.

Reader poll results: Expo Line opening was the big story of 2012!


 Posted by Steve Hymon


Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 10.25.40 AM                                                                The results.   Ignore the ‘country’ column — it’s the same as the overall results.

Thanks to everyone who took our poll on the biggest transportation stories in 2012. As the above chart demonstrates, the verdict was pretty clear: the opening of the first phase of the Expo Line was the big to-do in the minds of many readers.
My take on a few of the year’s big storylines:

•Perhaps the biggest overall story of 2012 was the unceasing expansion of transit in Los Angeles County. The first phase of the Expo Line opened, the Orange Line Extension opened, the new El Monte Station opened, the Crenshaw/LAX Line went out to bid, the pace of construction quickened on both the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension and the environmental studies were completed for the Regional Connector and Westside Subway Extension — with early utility work now underway for both.

Four years after the passage of Measure R, it’s pretty clear that L.A. County is serious about transforming itself and building a transit network to compliment its sprawling road network. It has been a long time coming — and it’s great to see.

•The loss of Measure J was no doubt a significant news story. The ballot measure to extend Measure R another 30 years was obviously backed by Metro staff, the majority of the Metro Board of Directors and 66.1 percent of Los Angeles County voters. But it needed two-thirds of the vote to pass — which everyone knew ahead of time — and wasn’t quite able to reach the finish line.
A few thoughts on this:

1) Given that there are still more than 26 years left in the Measure R program, it’s hard to see the loss of J as soul crushing or the last word when it comes to trying to accelerate transit projects. If the Metro Board chooses, there will certainly be chances in the future to propose another Measure R extension.

2) The loss of J has spurred a public conversation about the two-thirds threshold needed to pass such local transportation measures and at least one state legislator has proposed lowering it to 55 percent.

There is no doubt the two-thirds threshold requires transportation ballot measures to include a long list of projects in order to get the votes needed to pass. My question about the 55 percent threshold: would it make it possible to do more targeted transportation measures – i.e. a measure with only transit projects or road projects?

I know there were transit-minded folks who voted against J because they didn’t like it sending money to road projects (the opposite is also probably true) and wanted to see money spent on existing Measure R projects as well as new ones — for example, Blue Line upgrades.

Spreading the money around makes sense politically and is fair, at least from a geographic perspective. But it also means not all projects are fully funded or lack the dollars they need to build the ideal version of them.

3) I think a few years from now we’ll better be able to judge the State Legislature’s decision to fund the first segment of the state’s bullet train project without having yet secured the tens of billions of dollars needed to build the rest of the line.

I suspect many people feel like I do that high-speed rail would greatly benefit California but worry that the version of it written by elected officials in the state and approved by voters will prove to be far too expensive to implement. If so, would those dollars have been better spent making Amtrak faster, closing the gap in Amtrak service between Los Angeles and Bakersfield or on urban transit that city-dwellers rely on day in and day out? We’ll see.

4) The ExpressLanes opened on the 110 and the world has not ended. The most interesting thing about the new toll lanes is that they weren’t very controversial and there was nowhere near the fuss raised about them that one would expect in the region that put the ‘free’ in ‘freeway.’ Obviously we’re still less than two months into a year-long demonstration project and there’s still a lot of data to be crunched as to how the ExpressLanes are impacting overall traffic flows on the 110. But the ExpressLanes on the 110 are a start and how they perform on the 110 and 10 (slated to open in early 2013) will likely dictate whether the region embraces congestion pricing as a useful strategy in the future.

5) I completely zombied out and forgot to include “Metro adds late-night weekend hours” on the poll. I know that was a big thing for many readers and also showed that Metro is earnestly trying to give people a reason not to have to drive everywhere.

6) The phasing out of paper tickets from Metro ticket machines at rail and Orange Line stations was, I think, a welcome development. As many of you know, the conversion to TAP for Metro and other local agencies has been a long, expensive saga that is still ongoing and there’s a lot more work to be done (i.e. making the taptogo.net website user-friendly, which it definitely is not). On the plus side, I think many people now find TAP something easy and convenient to use most of the time. I do.

The big stories of 2013?

The obvious one is the progress on the five Measure R projects — Expo 2, Foothill Extension, Crenshaw/LAX, Regional Connector and Westside Subway. Up north, we’ll be watching to see when/if shovels will be hitting the ground for the high-speed rail project.

In D.C., the big story will be whether Congress — and, in particular, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives — can come to any kind of agreement on a future transportation bill that would help local transit agencies build big projects. A federal loan program was expanded for the current transportation bill that expires in 2014 and Metro, as part of its America Fast Forward program, will be seeking to continue the loan program and add a bond program that could supply billions more federal dollars.

 We’ll also be looking at ridership both locally and nationally. If the latest job figures are an indicator, both California and Los Angeles County are finally on the rebound from the Great Recession and that hopefully means more people going to work each day. Over the last year, Metro bus ridership has held steady and rail ridership has grown — a trend that will hopefully continue.



With a redrawn district, Rep. Schiff moves office from Pasadena to Burbank


Mark Kellam, Times Community News

 December 28, 2012

 Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is moving his district office from Pasadena -- where it’s been for 16 years -- to new digs in Burbank, a move that puts the hub more squarely in a redrawn district.

The new office — located at 245 E. Olive Ave., Suite 200 — is centrally located in the redrawn district, which now goes from the western part of Pasadena to West Hollywood.

“It’s pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the district,” Schiff said.

His old office was only about three blocks from his new district boundary, but the location wouldn’t have been as easily accessible to all of his constituents, he added.

The new office has several amenities, including plenty of nearby restaurants and retail stores and free parking.

Still, Schiff said he will miss Pasadena, where he’s had an office since being elected to the state Senate in 1996.

“I have mixed emotions,” he said. “I’ve always had my office there. It’s a wonderful town.”

He said he looks forward to returning to represent areas that had at one point been in his district, including the foothills region and Silver Lake, which were cut out during a previous round of redistricting.

Schiff will hold an open house at his new office on Feb. 21.

Bomb Chart of the 710 Tunnel from Joe Cano

Posted on Facebook, Dec. 28, 2012

Just for comparison I used the bomb chart as the template. All approximation, but I tried to overlay the bombs fins about where the lay on the chart. It maybe distorted but better that what we have gotten so far. This is a result of lack of information coming from their camp. Orange Grove need to to be slightly lower, but you can see how the 110 fray & Huntington Dr, Poplar as best possible with my software.


Comment on "More from Bob Huddy in Regard to Joe Cano's Postings Plus My Reply to Mr. Huddy

This comment already appears in the Comment section of the above post, but so that it is not lost to readers, I am reposting it here.

Well, Mr. Huddy and Mr. Cano, you *both* are spewing rhetoric in your attempts to sway public opinion to align with your own. Mr. Cano actually did a credible job with his map of the area of influence for construction of a 710 tunnel, but he tends to get a bit overstimulated in his posts. And then Mr. Huddy has his own conspiracy theories about other-than-tunnel options being red herrings, when in fact those options have been around for decades, when they were more feasible than they are today (which is why they're being downplayed now).

Ms. Drouet has some thoughtful comments that both Mr. Cano and Mr. Huddy would do well to consider. I have to note, though, that project proponents choose environmental consultants for the required studies that have proven success records, and CH2M-Hill is one of the most successful around. There's also the economy-of-scale factor, which is why the same consultant gets hired for related projects (not that the 710 and the Panama Canal Expansion are related in any way ;/ ). The fact is that project proponents hire consultants who will perform thorough analyses and present the data in a form that will show minimal impacts to the environment, or at least list mitigations to significant impacts. It's their job to perform sufficient studies to satisfy the requirements for the EIR. It doesn't really mean that their analyses will be unbiased. Almost always, there is bias toward the project when an EIR is published. If there weren't, then the project would be pulled or adjusted by the project proponent prior to publication.

It's the public's duty to stay informed and comment on the information in the EIR to ensure that their rights aren't infringed upon. If questionable methods for calculating impacts to traffic were used, or previous studies of affected wildlife were ignored, or faulty analysis of the efficacy of the Huntington Hospital's air scrubbers is performed, then the public needs to protect itself by commenting on the draft EIR, which forces the project proponent to consider those effects (*all* comments must be addressed by the project proponent, although like comments can be grouped).

It may turn out that once CH2M-Hill gets going on the EIR, that project deficiencies become obvious. Metro may get stubborn about sticking with their losing horse and pour more and more money into pursuing their tunnel. If this is the case, then as a local taxpayer and public transportation user, I'll be angry about the misuse of my money, but I'm actually pretty confident that the project price tag and devastating environmental impact (which includes impacts to neighborhoods) will become clear and the project as proposed will be scrapped. But not before hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted, unfortunately!

Alex Fabbro

Posted by Alexandria fabbro to 710 Study San Rafael Neighborhood Posts at December 28, 2012 11:43 AM

Civility Might Be Bad For Your Health




 There has been a rather odd debate in Sierra Madre over the last few years. It goes back to our 2010 City Council election, and in some ways still influences our public affairs conversation today. That being which side of the political spectrum is more civil and decorous in the way it presents its viewpoints. It was born out of the need of one candidate that year to change the debate from issues where he did not fare so very well to something entirely different. His message instead being that you should only want to vote for candidates that are "nice," and to focus on the notable shortcomings of an incumbent candidate seeking reelection, no matter how awful his record might be is, to use the term of the day, "uncivil."

That it worked showed us that when it came to government here in Sierra Madre many people had little concept of what those issues might be, or the possible consequences of allowing inept people run City Hall.

2010 became more of a contest based on how the voters felt about themselves than any actual discussion of the issues, most of which seemed hostile and discordant to people out of touch with what was really going on. And with many having little notion about the serious matters at stake, they chose instead to go with decorum and civility. It was a concept far easier to understand.

It is now nearly three years later and the consequences are a City facing financial crisis, crumbling infrastructure, endlessly rising taxes and fees, unspoken agendas, inept leadership in the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem positions, endless process-based tautologies, and no real direction when it comes to getting a true grip on our problems. Sadly, civility politics in no way translated into quality government.

One of the great ironies here is that the candidate most responsible for injecting the civility issue into the political discourse of that election later indecorously resigned his office midterm and then abruptly left the country. Something that has yet to be adequately explained by anyone, civil or otherwise.

None of this is unique to Sierra Madre, of course. Kristin Rawls is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications spanning the political spectrum. The Christian Science Monitor, GOOD Magazine, Truthout, Religion Dispatches, The Huffington Post and Global Comment being just a few. Here is how she defines the phenomenon:

Notwithstanding the fact that "love" is perhaps the vaguest, most unhelpful political prescription of all time, this kind of thinking removes any analysis of power from the conversation. It falsely presumes that we all enter the conversation on equal footing. Indeed, everyone is so busy preaching "unity" and "loving one another" that there is never any interrogation of privilege or power. It's a bit different out in mainstream society, but the message is clear. Love your oppressors ... (We) are accustomed to being silenced because we have a "mean tone." We're asked to speak more respectfully so that we can earn a hearing. We're taught to submit to our oppressors. We're being angry and irrational, and it's our job to make everyone comfortable.

All of which is good and needs to be said. But now it appears that there is another important reason to avoid putting too much emphasis on the psychological constraints of civility and not just letting your true feelings be clearly heard. It could be bad for your health. This from United Press International (click here):

Holding back emotions may reduce lifespan -- German researchers say exercising self-restraint and holding back negative emotions -- what Britons call keeping a "stiff upper lip" -- may reduce lifespan.

Researchers Marcus Mund and Kristin Mitte at the University of Jena in Germany said the findings might explain why the generally more emotional Italians and Spanish live almost two years longer than the cool English who "keep calm and carry on," MedicalDaily.com reported.

After analyzing more than 6,000 patients, Mund and Mitte found people who internalized their anxiety suffered from an elevated pulse, suggesting those exhibiting self-restraint and holding back negative emotions -- who they call repressors -- could have serious repercussions for physical and mental well-being.

Over time, an elevated pulse can result in high blood pressure and increase the risk of developing a wide range of conditions including heart disease, cancer and kidney damage.

I'm telling you, you're really better off just getting a grip on what is really going on and speaking your mind. It is good for you.

Ride along with Metro Motion: Winter edition takes in Hollywood, ExpressLanes, and future L.A.


 Posted by Gayle Anderson


  In this latest edition of Metro Motion, transit expansion is transforming the car capital of the world.

Ride along on the brand new Metro ExpressLanes on the 110 Harbor Freeway and check out the digs at the new El Monte Station. Next, take the Metro Red Line to old Hollywood for blast from Tinsel Town’s past. Then “Go Metro” for a glimpse of the walkable, bikeable and sustainable communities of future L.A.

Relax. There’s lessons to be learned from the Great California Shakeout, including why Metro Rail is one of the safest places to be during an earthquake. It’s all there in the winter edition of Metro Motion.

Metro Motion is produced in partnership with CityTV of Santa Monica. The 30-minute news program runs quarterly on cable stations throughout Los Angeles County. Check local listings for dates and times.

 More from Bob Huddy in Regard to Joe Cano's Postings Plus My Reply to Mr. Huddy

I received these two e-mails from Bob Huddy today. In his second e-mail, Mr. Huddy wrote: "I think that the folks in the San Rafael neighborhoods really do need to know more about your world view though Joe."

I assume, Mr. Huddy, you are referring my personal world view. Mr. Huddy, my "world view" is my world view, no one else's. I have posted on this blog articles for and against the 710 tunnel and for and against Measure J. I have posted the views of Joe Cano, you, and numerous other writers. The idea I had for this blog was to inform people about the 710 project and to keep a record of what people wrote and events--to put them all in one place. 

But you would be correct in assuming that I am not in favor of the 710 tunnel and I am not for the following reasons:

1. The 210 West and 134 West are already heavily congested in the morning with people going to work (I have witnessed up to 9:30 a.m.) The 134 East and the 210 East, especially the 210 East, are congested from as early as 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon and up to 7 p.m. The 710 extension will simply add more congestion to already congested freeways as drivers who previously would have taken the streets to and from the 710 would now seriously add to this congestion.

2. I am not convinced that the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) will be unbiased. One company is involved in the entire tunnel study: CH2M Hill. It is known that this company was awarded the management contract for the Panama Canal Expansion, an expansion that is believed will lead to more LA/Long Beach port traffic and, hence, more trucks on the 710 and a need to increase the number of lanes on the 710 South and a need to provide a direct route from the 710 South to the 210--hence, the 710 tunnel. CH2M Hill also was hired by Caltrans to lead the team to evaluate the geological conditions on all practical tunnel routes. The Final Geotechnical Summary Report SR-710 Tunnel Technical Study was prepared by CH2M Hill. Metro next awarded the SR-710 environmental contract (the EIR) to CH2M Hill. Subsequently, CH2M Hill, acquired Halcrow, one of the PP3 consulting firms selected by Metro.

To me, the awarding of so many contracts to one firm appears to be a serious conflict of interest, whether it is or is not a legal one according to California and federal laws. But it does not give one confidence that the final EIR will be unbiased but that it will be in favor of building the tunnel regardless of all the concerns that people have pointed out, especially an increase in air pollution.

3. I believe it is the time for us who live in the Southland to realize that building more freeways, extending freeways, and increasing the number of lanes on freeways is not going to solve our transportation problems. The freeways are great ways to travel when they aren't congested and they are congested only at various times of the day, which tend to be the hours when people are going back and forth to work. I believe that it is Metro/Caltrans job to concentrate solely on how to get enough people out of their cars and onto public transportation to relieve the congestion on our freeways. This they are already doing and should be congratulated for and I encourage them to keep up the good work in this area, but, please, no more freeways for the hope that the more you build the less the congestion will be.

Mr. Huddy, I don't think your woes of having to get to your clients more easily and in less time has much or any effect on people's views of building the 710 tunnel. Almost everyone in the Southland--that is, hundreds of thousands of people--has their own tale of woe. The worst that I have heard was told to me by my Chinese Cambodian-American friends who own a donut shop in Yorba Linda right off the 91. They open their shop at 3 a.m. to serve the commuters who are already on the road going to work--these are commuters who are trying to beat the later-morning congestion on the 91. Armed with coffee and donuts, when they reach their place of employment, they park, eat their breakfast, and go back to sleep until it is time to report to work. Mr. Huddy, do you have any idea of how many people go to bed at 9 p.m. so that they can wake up at 3 or 4 a.m., then be on the road by 6 a.m. so they can get to work on time. Your tale of woe seems very minor to compared to these souls who do what they have to do in order to live and work in the Southland.

Below: Mr. Huddy's e-mails.

 RE: 710 Study San Rafael Neighborhood Posts=New Top Secret 710 Tunnel Portals Revealed?

You just seem to post so much about the secret conspiratorial 710 fantasy world according to Joe Cano that I really just can’t get enough of it.   

And, I really do like his latest scoop on the secret plans for a tunnel portal located somewhere near Villa and Los Robles, that will  somehow secretly snake over a mile of so, while we’re not watching, and destroy the Rose Bowl and the Colorado Street Bridge?    I don’t actually see this in any of these in any current remaining alternatives being studied, but maybe it’s a new secret alternative hidden from view by a cloak of invisibility, that you can only see with Joe’s specially made tin foil hat on?     

The fact is that all of the most clearly ludicrous 710 alternatives that were studied, like San Rafael and Avenue 64, were actually demanded and proposed by some of the 710 opponents themselves.  It is also clear that they proposed these ludicrous and infeasible alternatives to deliberately inflame the community and draw it to the anti 710 “cause”.   

Now having successfully wasted unnecessary tax dollars studying these phony alternatives, these stupid and wasteful alternatives are completely off of the table, and we are back to a full deep bored tunnel alternative from Del Mar (not Villa and Los Robles) all the way to Valley.    So there is no risk to the Colorado Bridge, or the Rose Bowl, except maybe in the mind of folks who seem to like to use this kind of distortion and disinformation as part of their ongoing political propaganda campaign of fear mongering over the 710 issue.   

Bob Huddy

The Evil 710 Tunnel Will Destroy Joe Cano's House First? Huh? So how exactly is that evil tunnel going to pop up and suddenly eat Joe's'shouse

So how exactly, except in Joe Cano’s fantasy world of  710 conspiracies and evil doers, will  Joe Cano’s house be among the “first to go down” because of a full bore deep tunnel over 100 to 200 feet down, under all of El Sereno?    

Now, I know that some folks have gone door to door making these claims to folks in El Sereno neighborhoods, and apparently some folks in Pasadena have been told the same lie, but when you actually read what’s been presented, thus far, you can’t actually find this being proposed for the remaining tunnel alternative.   What is proposed now, however, is a full bore tunnel, going deep in Pasadena, and staying deep, under El Sereno until Valley.

This latest rant from Joe Cano, about the imminent destruction of his home, would appear to be yet another perfect example of what Eric Hoffer once called the “true believer” syndrome.   In this case, it is evidenced by the propagation of what is clearly, based on the existing evidence, an outright lie, stated with powerful melodramatic effect, and which he even appears to truly believe, to sway a credulous audience with his heartfelt plea?

I think that the folks in the San Rafael neighborhoods really do need to know more about your world view though Joe.  So I would encourage Joe to defend and share his opinion as much as possible with the folks in our neighborhoods.   

How about a reprint of the posts he and others have posted on that Facebook page that would presume to tell folks where they’ll be allowed to live and where they should be allowed to work in his proposed new utopian world?

The posts from him and his minions indicated that since I have business appointments or business elsewhere in the region, and drive in an evil automobile, that I am therefore somehow “selfish”, and should be somehow dispossessed of my private property, not be allowed to live in my own home, and be forced to move out of Pasadena…….     

So, in Joe Cano’s distorted world of evil conspiring boogey men, his home must be protected, at all costs, against a non-existent threat?   But, according to this same distorted worldview, my choice of home is a product of selfishness and greed, which should be taken from me, and I should be forcibly relocated, because I happen to have to travel out of Pasadena for some of my work?    

So, I would absolutely encourage Joe Cano to post his always interesting viewpoints, as much as possible, for all to see………..


Santa’s evil elf,

 Bob Huddy

Link to the SR710 Alternative "FACT SHEETS"
Posted Dec. 28, 2012, on Facebook
Metro posted the "nfact sheets" for the tunnel, light rail, bus, TSM, and "no build" alternatives on Monday 12/24/12. (they are generally the same five alternatives as "recommended by staff" last August 23). This is NOT the detailed "Alternatives Analysis.

The detailed "Alternatives Analysis" was supposed to be released in December. We are now being told that it's January.

Please email your cities and elected officials (Mayors and City Council Members) and ask them to request a meaningful dialogue besides Open Houses to discuss these alternatives right after beginning of year. We cannot let this lack of public outreach and non-participation go this time. It is a waste of public funds given the $3.7 million contract. They are getting worse instead of better.-- http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/fact-sheets/

111 Great (and Almost Great) Ideas for Neighborhood Councils in 2013


 Written by Greg Nelson 

28 Dec 2012




 THE CITY - If you don’t want to read this column, and instead skip to the list of 111 ideas that neighborhood councils could adopt in order to change city government, click here and get to work.

I have bored myself to death with all that I’ve written about the unlimited potential that neighborhood councils have to swing a big stick and fundamentally change city government, from changing its rules and laws to electing its leaders.
Neighborhood councils weren’t created to duplicate the work of homeowner associations, chambers of commerce, or the City Council.  
Their purpose is to form the foundation of, and nurture a system of participatory democracy.  That means that the neighborhood councils need to take themselves beyond local issues and occasionally reacting to an objectionable proposal from city hall.  
It is perhaps with foolish optimism that I begin 2013 with an accumulation of as many of the ideas as I can remember that I’ve previously recommended to neighborhood councils.
The opportunity for massive numbers of people to participate in civic discussions must replace the small cabals that pretend to speak for the public but rarely make any attempt to reach past their own beliefs and crusades.   
President Obama won re-election by assembling an army of volunteers and a motley crew of the brightest computer geeks in the country to successfully target those who were most likely to vote for him, and ensure that they voted.  
Neighborhood councils may never be able to raise much money as well-heeled special interests in support of their favorite candidates and measures, but they can organize their own volunteer army to tip votes in the City Council or on the ballot in their favor.  Each council did it during the process of getting certified. 
When building a movement it’s always best to begin with goals that have universal support, as opposed to issues that are guaranteed to divide the members.   
The list attempts to provide some suggestions.  If only one person is able to get one of the ideas adopted it will be a significant victory for grass-roots democracy.
Many of the items are guided by the belief that the City Council can do much to improve the way it does its business … the public’s business.  
Those ideas begin with neighborhood councils insisting that the City Council adopt as an operating principle the same goal that the new City Charter gave to the neighborhood councils: to promote public participation in government.
It was alarming to see the Council President cut off former Mayor Richard Riordan’s attempt to answer a question the president asked him about pension reform by telling Riordan, "I get the last word here." 
If that’s the way a former mayor is treated, what chance does anyone else have of being heard?
The City Council’s goal appears to be to meet only the bare minimum legal requirements for openness and transparency.  It can do better, but it likely won’t even have the discussion unless there is public pressure.  And that’s what neighborhood councils are expected to do.
It’s difficult for anyone to hold City Council members accountable when their attendance records are so well hidden.
And it’s nearly impossible for a person to present an idea or complaint to the City Council without taking time off work or away from their family, travel to City Hall, pay for parking, wait hours to be heard, talk for two minutes, and too often have none of the members paying attention.
For solutions to these and other problems with city government, click here. 
(Greg Nelson is a former general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, was instrumental in the creation of the LA Neighborhood Council System, served as chief of staff for former LA City Councilman Joel Wachs …  and occasionally writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at gregn213@cox.net)