July 25, 2024 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Venice Shorts: VNC Rejects Proposed Revisions in Board Composition, Election Reforms

Rules & Selections Committee falls short of required two-third’s majority in as many meetings

By Nick Antonicello 

The Venice Neighborhood Council on Tuesday evening rejected for a second time a series of election composition reforms that would have shifted the board’s makeup from twenty-one, at-large elected officers to eleven elected at-large, and the remaining ten elected in what was described as neighborhood representatives that would represent just a sliver of Dog Town. 

At a special meeting last week, the revisions fell one short of passage as the required number needed for approval was fourteen with 17 members in attendance or 4-13-4. Tonight with 19 members in attendance, the vote was 7-12-2. 

Passions ran high as about 100 or so residents were in attendance at the Westminster Elementary School located on Abbot Kinney that were clearly motivated by these BY-LAW’s revisions that would have shifted a large portion of board representation (10) to newly proposed districts by that were for the most part compact and contiguous in size. Those supporting the proposed revisions were mostly residents from east of Lincoln and specifically members of EVNA (East Venice Neighborhood Association), as well as many longtime Venetians residing in the Oakwood section where many believe representation is lacking.

Currently, the election of community officers is a strange and bizarre process in which stakeholders select a single candidate, but thirteen are elected by candidates scouring for votes among friends, neighbors and relatives versus running a broad based campaign appealing to all segments of the community. Because of this strange and increasingly unpopular system, Venetians only elect 43% of the board or 9 of 21 members. The proposal would increase voter participation slightly to 57% or 12 of the 21 board officers. 

And while no one seems enamored with the current selection configuration, there was skepticism and distrust of this hybrid proposal of at-large and district membership. 

Community Officer Soledad Ursua, a three-term board member described the current system as “ridiculous,” and saw flaws with the proposed map and boundaries.

A brief presentation was made by Rules & Selections member Christopher Lee, while other committee members fielded clarifying questions from the board during their deliberations after public comment. 

Roughly thirty or so members from the public spoke and kept to the one-minute time limit that was enforced by Vice-President James Robb. VNC President Brian Averill kept control of the somewhat heated meeting and called on members of the audience to be polite and respectful which they were for the most part with the exception of one or two outbursts.

Board member Deborah Keaton, a first-term member also questioned the current proposed boundaries and felt redistricting of the map could be remedied by some “tweaking.” 

Another first-term board member Eric Alan Donaldson, commented that “less districts might be better,” while Treasurer Helen Fallon, one of the architects of the changes countered that the proposed map offered “geographic diversity” and that the committee relied on a community survey that drew roughly 82 or so respondents from a e-mail database of some 6,000 addresses. Longtime member and local architect Robert Thibodeau stressed that the sample was too small for any real pulse of the community at less than one percent. Lisa Redmond, who also served on the committee countered by saying the 82 respondents should be equated to roughly 10% of those who voted in last year’s VNC elections. 

Alley Bean, a popular board member and Chair of the VNC’s Homelessness Committee was enthusiastic of her support of this localized representation and committed to the proposed, ten-district election map. 

Another new board member, Steve Bradbury who based his initial campaign on the lack of representation from the Marina presented his own findings that indicated a lopsided number of board members were coming from 2-3 of the proposed districts in the current at-large process. 

Bradbury commented that if the system does not work if approved, it could always be changed by a future board.

But VNC BY-LAW changes and revisions require a two-third’s majority and this standing committee had not recommended major changes in recent memory. 

The VNC is under the clock by EMPOWER LA to offer any revisions for their approval with a pending May 1st deadline according to Octaviano Rios, a Neighborhood Empowerment Advocate (www.EmpowerLA.org) in attendance who recommended that the BY-LAW changes be placed on the agenda despite being defeated in the special ZOOM meeting held last week. 

Before the meeting, Bradbury stressed he was not married to the proposal as presented, and would be open to any changes as he too pointed out the flaws in the current single-vote selection process. 

Jason Sugars, himself a life-long resident who was defeated for reelection last year but appointed to fill an unexpired term offered that “my special interest is Venice,” and was willing to give the district map a chance. 

It was also noted by others that with only one proposal before the board, it left some wondering if voting yes was going from bad to worse? 

Secretary Tima Bell, also an architect by profession and first-time board member saw the proposal as “breaking things up,” and asked the question: “will division arise?”

And while proponents believed that the new selection process and corresponding map would increase stakeholder participation, no data or evidence was offered to make that case. 

Communications Officer Nico Ruderman, a second-term board member thanked the committee for the hard work they did and commented, “I want in theory to vote for it.” 

At the end of the day Ruderman remarked that there were just too many districts and that it “dilutes the at-large representation.” 

Clark Brown, a retired attorney and second-term board member credited for assisting in the cleanup of the Flower encampments off Lincoln indicated support for the proposal and voted yes. 

LUPC Chair Michael Jensen, who was elected last March asked the question of “who runs and who votes?” 

Jensen also asked if district representation was a critical component of the VNC, why was the Neighborhood Committee abolished? 

Jensen also remarked that based on the survey’s findings there was “no coherent majority” to determine a 10-district election map. 

Thibodeau, who chairs the Parking & Transportation Committee of the VNC believed that all stakeholders should have the ability to elect 100% of the board and described the motion as a “failing proposal.” 

Thibodeau described the previous ZOOM meeting as a “sneaky special meeting,” and that stakeholders need to be able to address the question of 100% voter participation. 

Lisa Redmond, questioned the reasoning of those not supporting the set of changes and believed the committee did “the best we could.” Redmond described the proposed actions as a “win-win” for stakeholders moving forward. 

After the motion failed,  I spoke with several board members who were open to revisiting a hybrid selection process that would reduce the number of districts to five, increase the at-large to eight and allow stakeholders to select all at-large members. 

When asked that very question, board member Nico Ruderman stated he would support that very motion if brought back to the floor for a vote. 

Board members Robert Thibodeau as well as Christopher Lee were willing to seek consensus on a new motion that would address the issue of single-selection voting as well as elected membership by district. 

It became apparent that change could occur, but that change would be with something that addresses all of the issues of board composition and selection. 

The meeting was adjourned after the motion was defeated. 

In other board news, US Congressman Ted Lieu (D-36) had secured $850,000 in federal funding to restore and renovate restrooms at Venice Beach according to President Brian Averill. 

This project will renovate the Venice Beach bathrooms to ensure functional, accessible, and sanitary restroom facilities for the public. Venice Beach is a popular site for residents and tourists. It needs accessible, functional and hygienic bathrooms. 

The bathrooms in the Venice Beach area are in dire need of restoration both to ensure basic functionality and security. This renovation project will improve sanitation for the community and its visitors.

Nick Antonicello is a thirty-one year resident of Venice who covers the actions and proceedings of the Venice Neighborhood Council. Have a take or a tip all things Venice? E-mail Antonicello at nantoni@mindspring.com

in News
Related Posts

Venice and Dockweiler State Beach Reopens After Major Sewage Spill

July 24, 2024

July 24, 2024

Last weekend, authorities closed the water and wet sand to swimmers and visitors after about 16,000 gallons of untreated sewage...

Memorial to Honor Lightning Strike Victim Nick Fagnano on Venice Beach

July 24, 2024

July 24, 2024

The Event Marks a Decade Since the 20-Year-Old’s Passing Family, friends, and supporters of The Thrive in Joy Nick Fagnano...

New 3rd Street Promenade Banner Depicts City Officials as “Mount Drugsmore”

July 24, 2024

July 24, 2024

As With the Previous Placard, David White Is the Primary Subject of Ridicule By Zach Armstrong The longstanding “Santa Methica Is...

Elon Musk’s Controversial Remarks on Trans Daughter Spark Outrage

July 24, 2024

July 24, 2024

Musk Repeatedly Deadnames His Daughter, Claiming He Was Tricked Elon Musk, in an interview with Jordan Peterson for the website...

Marina del Rey Bike Locker Program Halts After a Dozen Bikes Stolen

July 23, 2024

July 23, 2024

In 2022, Another Vandalism Incident Impacted the Program, Pausing It for Months and Resuming Last Year With “Extra Protections” By...

Venice Shorts: Marr Street Cleanup Takes Place, But RV Remains

July 23, 2024

July 23, 2024

Yo! Venice will continue to monitor the situation  By Nick Antonicello The situation at Marr Street that intersects with both...

Kamala Harris Secures Democratic Presidential Nomination with Unprecedented Support

July 23, 2024

July 23, 2024

Over 1,976 State Delegates Pledge Support, Solidifying Harris as the Nominee By Dolores Quintana In one day, Brentwood resident and...

Suspect Flees After Robbery at Marina del Rey Juice Bar

July 22, 2024

July 22, 2024

There Is an Open Investigation Into the Matter By Zach Armstrong A robbery took place inside of a West L.A....

Pedestrian Fatally Struck and Dragged on Venice Boulevard

July 22, 2024

July 22, 2024

The Investigation Is Ongoing A pedestrian was fatally struck and dragged by at least one vehicle late Thursday night on...

Suspect Killed by Los Angeles County Sheriffs in Shooting in West Hollywood

July 22, 2024

July 22, 2024

Incident on N. Gardner St. Under Investigation by Sheriff’s Homicide Detectives Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives are investigating a...

(Video) School of Rock Offering Summer Camps for Future Rockstars

July 22, 2024

July 22, 2024

Various Camps Are Offered for Beginners and Experienced Musicians Alike @yovenicenews Camps are offered for musicians of various skill levels...

16,000 Gallons of Sewage Spilled Into Parts of Venice Beach

July 21, 2024

July 21, 2024

The Beaches Were Set to Remain Closed Until Tests Confirm Bacterial Levels Meet Health Standards Authorities closed the water and...

Venice Shorts: “Last Thursday” Summer Concert Series Continues This Week at Ocean Front Walk

July 21, 2024

July 21, 2024

The BROBOTS will headline at Dudley Avenue beginning at 6:30 PM till Sunset By Nick Antonicello The Last Thursday Summer...

Michelle Bisnoff Arrested for $2 Million Investor Fraud Scheme

July 19, 2024

July 19, 2024

CEO of ESOS Rings Faces Securities and Wire Fraud Charges A Boca Raton woman was arrested today on charges of...

OPINION: VNC Becomes Enemy of Historic Craftsman Homes

July 18, 2024

July 18, 2024

Mark Ryavec Argues That the Neighborhood Council Took a Step That Will “Imperil Remaining One- And Two-Story Historic Structures” By...