Who and What Do You Need to Know To Get Things Done? - By Tony Wilkinson-overview
Who and What Do You Need to Know To Get Things Done? 2011 Congress of Neighborhoods September 24, 2011 -- Session #2Moderator: Tony Wilkinson, Panorama City Neighborhood CouncilSpeakers:Jim Dantona, Chief of Staff, L.A. City Councilmember Tony CardenasJay Beeber, Sherman Oaks Neighborhood CouncilLydia Grant, Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood CouncilJudith Daniels, Chatsworth Neighborhood CouncilProgram Description:Every neighborhood will have similar people that you need to know. This session will cover many of them, beginningwith your councilmembers staff. You will learn how to contact the most important city departments directly forservice. (This is especially important with cutbacks to the 311 help line.) You will also learn that when push comes toshove, elected officials control what happens. The Mayor, state Senators and Assemblymembers, school boardmembers and other elected officials have resources that can help you. Schools are central to the health of yourneighborhood. Learn how they work and how to work with them. Discover the power of community projects and theart of co-sponsorship. Find other groups with whom you can partner. Finally, discover city systems that can help you:the Early Notification System, the Council File system, and Zimas. Learn how and where to send your Board actions,and how to file a Community Impact Statement.Program Overview:The program description is a capsule summary. Speakers will do their best to expand as much as possible on a widerange of subjects within the time allotted. First each will speak, then the presenters will have a conversation about thesubjects, and finally there will be an opportunity for questions and answers from the room. This program includesparts of topics that are covered in their own sessions elsewhere during this Congress, including outreach, volunteers,community partnerships and online resources. Rather than a how-to for any given subject, this session will show youhow to build your own toolkit of contacts and skills.Who Do You Need To Know?The most important person to your neighborhood in city government is your elected City Councilmember. That is howthe system works. The most important people to know to present facts and community input to your Councilmemberare the people on that elected officials staff. You will find that at all levels of government, knowing how to workconstructively with staff is your most important tool. This is true for the Mayor, city departments, city boards andcommissions, school boards, county supervisors, and state and federal officials.POLICE: LAPDs community policing has roots that go back to Chief Ed Davis. Your neighborhood is divided intoBasic Car areas. The Senior Lead Officer for each of those areas is an essential person to know. Community PoliceAdvisory Boards (CPABs) afford you access and influence over local policing. To find links to the Basic Car maps, goto http://lapdonline.org/ and search the name of your LAPD Division.FIRE: The LAFD operates the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. This free training (http://lafd.org/cert.htm) is a key to local emergency preparedness. (http://www.cert-la.com/)PARKS: Know the Director and staff of your local recreation center. These parks often have meeting rooms that youcan use. They also can become partners in community events. Many staffed parks have a Park Advisory Board, whichprovides you with additional opportunities for program input. (http://www.laparks.org/)
PLANNING: It takes some inquiry (try asking your city councilmembers land use staff person), but you want to getto know your community planner. These people work with land owners and developers whose projects needdiscretionary approvals. (These are the cases that come to your councils land use chair through the Planning PilotProject.)There could be a very long list here. These are just starters. You will find the rest. However, there is one set of peoplethat you need to know that we CANT leave out.YOUR OWN COMMUNITY: Staff people, city departments and other government entities want to work with you ifthey are convinced that YOU know key people in your community. Thats what the "neighborhood" in neighborhoodcouncil is all about. You cant wait and hope that people will wander in to your monthly meetings. Get out and visitOTHER peoples meetings: school parents meetings, chamber of commerce meetings, the social meetings of religiousorganizations, service clubs, political meetings (neighborhood councils arent partisan, but people at political meetingsare already interested in government), social action gatherings like peace marches, anything you can think of! Go toground breakings, business openings, and cultural events. Every time people see a neighborhood council volunteer atan event, you are advertising your "brand". Whenever there is a community issue, people will start to think of theneighborhood council. "Out of sight, out of mind." You cant afford NOT to be out in your community on a regularbasis.What Do You Need To Know:Neighborhood councils are intermediaries that can help people in the community access city services and petition theirgovernment. That means that YOU need to understand how the city is organized.CITY OFFICIALS AND DEPARTMENTS: The quick guide to all city officials and departments is on the home pageof the citys main website (http://lacity.org). Select the unit you want from the drop-down boxes (under "ElectedOfficials", "Boards & Commissions", or "Departments & Bureaus"), and then click GO in the box to the right of theunit you selected. A few sessions browsing the results will give you a real leg up in understanding city government.There are also groups of neighborhood council people who can help you learn the things you need to know.PLANNING: For more information on planning, sign up with the neighborhood council group that oversees thePlanning Pilot Project, PlanCheckNC (http://plancheckncla.com/). Attend their monthly meetings on the secondSaturday of each month at 10 am at the Historic Downtown Outreach Center, 114 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA90013.The city Planning Department website has a wealth of useful information (http://cityplanning.lacity.org/). For agreat collection of city maps, click on "Maps and Stats" on the index on the left side of the pages and select "GIS MapGallery".A companion planning site is the interactive system for retrieving planning cases maps and data. It is called ZIMAS(http://zimas.lacity.org/). This session will show you how ZIMAS was used to help with an actual school-relatedplanning case.WATER AND POWER: The neighborhood councils have a Memorandum of Understanding with the citysDepartment of Water and Power. The MOU Oversight committee meets at 8:45 am on EVEN months at theHollywood Community Center, 6501 Fountain Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90028. DWP also maintains a web site forneighborhood councils (http://www.ladwpneighborhoodnews.com). Since the MOU Committee is a city agency,there is a separate private group for political action on issues like DWP rates. Its called simply the "DWPCommittee", and it meets at 8:45 am on ODD months at the same Hollywood location.DWP has a government relations staff with three liaison staffers to handle local issues. To find out who serves yourarea, click on "Contact Us" on the bottom of DWPs neighborhood council page and send DWP a message. Leave the"Join mailing list" box checked and you will receive DWPs Neighborhood Newswire bulletins. The main DWP sitealso has much useful information (http://www.ladwp.com/).
ALLIANCES: There are regional "alliances" of neighborhood councils that you can join to meet other NC people whoshare some of your local concerns, and who can provide you tips on how to get things done. There is also the LosAngeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (http://www.lanccoalition.org/). LANCC meets on the first Saturday ofeach month at 10 am at the Hollywood Community Center, 6501 Fountain Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90028.MEETINGS: Running effective meetings, where something is accomplished and everyone feels that they have had achance to participate, is central to your effectiveness. George David Kieffer, who at one time was President of theCenter for the Study of Democratic Institutions, believes that no matter what else you may do, people will judge youby your meetings. His book is worth a read. (Kieffer, George David, The Strategy of Meetings, New York: WarnerBooks, 1988 [originally published by Simon and Schuster] ISBN 0446390305)COMMUNITY ORGANIZING: It isnt easy to awake people to their collective power to change their circumstances.Even if your politics isnt very far left, you may still want to read the seminal work in this field by Saul Alinsky, whoseteachings have influenced generations of community and labor organizers, including Hillary Clinton and BarackObama. (Alinsky, Saul, Rules for Radicals: a pragmatic primer for realistic radicals, New York: Random House, 1971.Vintage Books edition [reprint], ISBN 978-0-679-72113-0)Broadcasting Your Message:If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it make a sound?If your neighborhood council takes a position on a matter and you tell no one...?A key problem in neighborhood councils is TELLING PEOPLE about positions that the council adopts. Someoneneeds to set the resolution down in writing as soon as it is taken and SEND it to all the people who may be affected.For every proposed position, there should be a list of people to whom the council will send the results.Many council positions will relate to pending city council legislation ("Council Files"). You find and keep track ofpending legislation through the Council File Management System that is operated by the City Clerk (http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/). It can be reached from a link on the citys home page. Your council canalso register to use the Community Impact Statement system, which can also be reached from a link on the citys homepage ("Neighborhood Resources -- Submit a Community Impact Statement (CIS)"). People who are authorized byyour Board can file a CIS on any Council File after your Board takes official action. Your CIS becomes part of theofficial legislative record. You will also want to use the Early Notification system (a left-side link off the city homepage) to subscribe to city meeting agendas.Other Online Resources:EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: http://emergency.lacity.org/CRIME MAPPING: http://www.crimemapping.comCOMMUNITY STATISTICS AND MAPPING: http://www.healthycity.org/Tony Wilkinson