Friday, May 29, 2009

OPINION: Thanks for Speaking Up for Neighborhood Councils; Here’s the Rest of the Agenda

By Doug Epperhart

I was having dinner at a local restaurant and got into a conversation with the stranger sitting next to me. It turns out that he reads San Pedro News and thinks highly of our neighborhood councils. He told me he responded to our letter-writing call to action a few weeks ago and emailed the politicians to lobby for council funding.

It was heartening to meet a stranger who’s on our side and willing to take action. To him and everyone else who spoke up for the councils, thank you.

The city council passed a final budget that preserves neighborhood council funding at $45,000 apiece.

This was a seminal moment in the quest for more grassroots power and a functional democracy in the city of L.A. We have reached the tipping point and there’s no turning back now. In a commentary for CityWatch, I share some ideas for next steps. How about ballot initiatives to cut city council members’ salaries in half and give neighborhood councils the power to introduce legislation? How about public financing of campaigns, to level the playing field and give good managers – not just charismatic actors and savvy fundraisers – a shot at winning office?

Take a look at my Tipping Point analysis, add your comments and keep your motor running. We have a lot more bottom-up campaigning to do.
Doug Epperhart is a San Pedro business owner, community leader and member of the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

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