OPD ELECTION COMPLAINTS SHOULD BE FILED WITH DONE (Dept. Of Neighborhood Empowerment)

Posted: February 24, 2009 in Gentrification
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

VENICE VOTES by CLAY CLAIBORNE

DISSATISFIED WITH THE WAY THE FEB. 21, 2009 OVERNIGHT PERMIT PARKING ELECTION WAS RUN? SEND COMPLAINTS TO THE DEPT. OF NEIGHBORHOOD EMPOWERMENT (DONE) and VENICE NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL (VNC) : 

D.O.N.E  ~ Deanna Stevenson (deanna.stevenson@lacity.org)

D.O.N.E. ~ Leyla Campos (Leyla.Campos@lacity.org)

V.N.C. ~ secretary@venicenc.org

Here is the D.O.N.E. website for those wishing to check out more info ~ http://www.lacityneighborhoods.com/page2.cfm?doc=home

Here is the D.O.N.E. Election Procedures webpage ~ http://www.lacityneighborhoods.com/electionProcs.htm  

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Below is a copy of the mail Mark Lipman sent to the VNC board and president:

Hi Mike,

I’m sure you are aware of the final results of the election by now and of the series of complaints that are going to be filed from different sources over the election itself. What happens from that happens.

So you know, there are three complaints that I will support:

1:  That after the second initiative was filed that the ballot was not simplified for a straight YES or NO vote on permit parking.  This objection was made several times during the process of setting up the rules for the election and was ignored by both the Rules and Elections Committee and Adcom.

2: That by having both initiatives on the same ballot, it sufficiently confused the issue for voters that it had the effect of denying me my rights as a stakeholder in Venice to have a fair election on the initiative I presented under article 5 section A on the VNC ByLaws.

3: That initiative B, was not valid to begin with as it was submitted by a sitting board member.  As board members you give up certain rights as stakeholders – as clearly explained when running for a seat on the board.  Ivan Spiegel, chair of the elections committee also agrees with me on this point and has said so to me verbally. 

In fairness, I would call for a new election with a straight forward YES or NO vote on parking permits for Venice in a more neutral location, at a time that would be open to a greater diversity of our community.  

By looking at the demographics of the vote, Saturday afternoons at the library (which is located closely to the more affluent section of Venice), highly favors the pro-permit parking side and therefore is too biased to be considered valid.

Alternatively, if we considered holding a supplementary election at say the Oakwood Recreation Center, for the rest of the Venice population that did not get to vote yesterday, solely on initiative A, I would consider valid the results of the two vote totals combined.

This would in effect be an expansion of the democratic process by including more of the population while at the same time counting the votes of those who already cast a ballot on this issue.

Either solution is acceptable to me.

Best regards,

Mark Lipman

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D.O.N.E. website:  http://www.lacityneighborhoods.com/page2.cfm?doc=home

(SOV)

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Comments
  1. bmpeck says:

    Here’s a copy of the email I sent to DONE and VNC – I received an acknowledgment from VNC but not from DONE – yet!

    Dear Ms. Stevenson,

    It is now over a week since I contacted you requesting information on the Neighborhood Council Election Procedures and perceived irregularities in the election procedure of the February 21, 2009 VNC election re: OPDs in Venice. As I have received no response from you, as of today, I am contacting you again to file the following complaints in regard to the aforementioned VNC election:

    1) I attended the last meeting of the VNC Rules and Election Committee (REC) before the rules of the Feb. 21 OPD vote were finalized. At that meeting I and others requested that more time be made available for people to vote because the 12:30-3:30pm (3 hours) window of time on Saturday, Feb. 21 was insufficient. This request was refused in violation of DONE’s Neighborhood Council Election Procedures, XVIII. POLLING PLACE OPERATIONS, (h) Require that the polling site(s) remain open for a minimum of four (4) hours.

    2) At that same meeting I also pointed out that the public library location for the Feb. 21 vote would have limited parking space available to voters, especially on a Saturday in the middle of the day. In addition, parking on Venice Blvd. would also be very limited owing to the weekend visitor traffic to Venice Beach. The response I received from one of the committee members was that people could “walk to the library”. This is a violation of DONE’s Neighborhood Council Election Procedures, XVIII. POLLING PLACE OPERATIONS, (a)(i), 2. The site(s) selected should have sufficient parking.

    3) As it turned out, I was correct in my assessment of the situation and on the day of the vote the library parking lot was full during the three (3) hour voting period and LAPD actually blocked the entrance to the parking lot to stop people from driving in. This caused unnecessary congestion in the traffic lanes immediately adjacent the entrance to the library, causing a severe traffic hazard.

    4) VNC did not take the above situation into account prior to the election and failed to provide directions to additional public parking available in the next block which, although close by, required that people drive a specific round-about route in order to access the lot because of a one-way traffic system in that area. As a result, many people, not being able to find parking, did not vote in the election, especially the disabled.

    5) There were no provisions made for special needs groups. For example, when a disabled man, carrying his disabled placard, approached Ivan Spiegel, the official election administrator, to request special access to the vote as he was unable to stand in line for what would have been up to one and a half hours (the average time people had to wait to vote), he was denied and abruptly told by Ivan that only voters in wheelchairs could have special access. Because he was unable to stand in line for a prolonged period, the disabled man did not vote. This is in violation of DONE’s Neighborhood Council Election Procedures: XI. AT POLLS VOTING, VI. Identify any procedures that will be implemented to facilitate the participation of seniors, the disabled or other special needs groups in the election; and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    6) Access to the polling room at the library was unsecured. There was nobody at the entrance to the polling room to monitor people going in and out. On two (2) separate occasions I was able to enter the room without being detected because there was so much confusion going on at the entrance and inside the room.

    7) When I entered the polling room I saw that:
    (a) there was no security at the ballot box which was a large cardboard box positioned next to the entrance with nobody watching over it.
    (b) Approx. twenty (20) voters were milling around the room asking each other which way to vote as they did not understand the initiatives.
    (c) The poll attendants, sitting down at tables, were swamped with people requesting ballots and other information, which blocked the attendants’ view of the ballot box. It would have been very easy for someone to vote several times, undetected, under these conditions.

    8) When I offered to distribute blank VNC registration forms to people waiting in line (who were impatient and threatening to leave), to speed up the registration process, I was not allowed to do so.

    9) After the vote was closed I was an observer in the polling room from approximately 5:00-6:00pm. I observed the following:

    a) Two (2) Latinas (whose names I can provide if requested) approached me asking if the vote was still open. When I replied “no” they were extremely upset because, they informed me, they had been at the library at approximately 3:00pm that same day and had asked one of the VNC members (Challis Macpherson), who was giving out information at the library entrance, what time the vote closed. According to them, she responded: “6:00pm”. When the Latinas returned at 5:30pm they were very disappointed to discover the poll was closed and they had lost the opportunity to cast their vote.

    b) Ivan Spiegel, the election administrator, started the vote count after the poll closed but refused to complete it that evening, because the library was closing at 6:00pm. He refused to move the count to another suitable location even though he had promised, prior to the election, to count the vote the same day. Many observers were extremely upset by his refusal to keep his promise.

    c) Ivan Spiegel insisted on taking the ballot boxes to his home to keep overnight even though he had the opportunity to lock them inside a library cupboard.

    10) The next day, Sunday Feb. 22, the vote was counted at Extra Space Storage in Venice. I arrived to observe at approximately 12:15pm. As the ballots were being counted I observed Ivan Spiegel and his vote-counters were having difficulty counting the votes because of the way in which the initiatives had been written and voted on ie. “yes” on A, “no” on B or “no” on A, “yes” on B. The same confusion that I had witnessed in the polling room the previous day had spilled over to the vote counting.

    11) While the votes were being counted, I spoke with VNC President, Mike Newhouse, about the irregularities I had witnessed the previous day and suggested the vote should be nullified as a result. He did not agree with my evaluation, dismissing me with the words “You’re crazy”. In violation of the VNC Code of Civility:

    c. We collectively and individually agree to abide by the following Code of Civility to the best of our abilities.

    1. I will conduct myself in a professional and civil manner at all times as a representative of the Venice Neighborhood Council.

    2. I will treat each member of the board and members of the public with respect at all times, regardless of an individual’s opinion, ethnicity, race, sexuality, age, disability, or religion.

    3. Even in the face of disagreement or differences of opinion, I will demonstrate esteem and deference for my colleagues and the public.

    4. Under no circumstances during Neighborhood Council meetings, functions, or events will I engage in or threaten to engage in any verbal or physical attack on any other individual.

    5. I will commit to communicate my ideas and points of view clearly, and allow others to do the same without interruption.

    6. I will not use language that is abusive, threatening, obscene, or slanderous, including using profanities, insults, or other disparaging remarks or gestures.

    12) When speaking with VNC members Ivan Spiegel and Ira Koslow, on Sunday Feb. 22, about the election irregularities I had observed, I found them to be dismissive and disrespectful towards me in violation of VNC Code of Civility (see 11) above).

    13) As previously mentioned, the ballot was not simplified for a straight “yes” or “no” vote on permit parking and there were no instructions on the ballot or accompanying material to inform the voter on how to complete the ballot. This objection was made by Mark Lipman and others several times prior to the finalization of election rules but was ignored by both the Rules & Election Committee (REC) and Adcom. In violation of NC Election Procedures XVI. BALLOT DESIGN. (f) Voter instructions will be included on the ballot or accompanying material to assist the voter in completing the ballot correctly.)

    14) Having both initiatives on the same ballot sufficiently confused the issue for voters that it had the effect of denying Mark Lipman his rights as a stakeholder in Venice to have a fair election on the initiative that he presented under article 5 section A on the VNC ByLaws.

    15) Initiative B, was written and presented by Stewart Oscars, a sitting board member and was not valid. Board members give up certain rights as
    stakeholders – as clearly explained when running for a seat on the board.

    16) Many Venice stakeholders were unaware of the Feb. 21 election and, aside from election canvassing done by both sides of the issue, I do not recall seeing any VNC public notice or flyer visible in Venice notifying myself and others of the upcoming election. For example, nothing was posted at the polling station, Venice public library, prior to the election. This is in violation of DONE’s Neighborhood Council Election Procedures: XXI. PUBLIC OUTREACH AND NOTICE OF ELECTION, (b) – (f).

    In closing, I would like to add that the entire OPD election process was inappropriately operated from start to finish. I understand that the VNC Board members are volunteers and time is an issue (which they reminded me on several occasions) but that goes with the position they have chosen to undertake, and does not preclude abiding by DONE’s NC Election Procedures and the VNC Standing Rules. I suggest the entire process be overhauled and VNC Board members given further training in election procedure, outreach and public relations.

    Yours truly,
    Barbara Peck

    Like

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