"I'm The Decider"

Editorial

Councilman Wesson Ignores Opportunity to Partner With Neighborhood Council

 

Let’s imagine your home is looking a little rough around the edges and you’ve begun an action plan to fix it up. Someone knocks on your door and says, “Surprise! I have $1,000,000 to fix up your house.”

“GREAT!” you think. But after the initial excitement dies down, and being somewhat savvy you ask...”What’s the catch?”  As they push you out of the way and start marching into your home, they reply, “Oh no biggie. You won’t need to bother your pretty little head. We’ll be making all the decisions for you.”

Councilman Wesson has begun his ‘beautification’ of the Washington Corridor with his eye on Pico, next.

A representative from Councilman Wesson’s office, Council District 10 (CD10) told Allan Dicastro, President of Mid City Neighborhood Council (MINC) that a big “surprise” was coming their way. “Uh, oh,” thought Allan and replied, “We don’t like surprises. We want to partner with CD10. That is what we are supposed to be doing. I don’t understand why you (CD10) refuse to do this.”

Sure enough the community woke up one morning to an army of forbidding iron Tree Cages surrounding every slender tree along Washington from Normandy to Fairfax. One after the other, “Washington Boulevard” emblazoned on all 4 sides just in case you forgot what street you were on as you traveled the few feet between the cages.  According to emails that poured into MINC, you could sum up the overall community response with one word...‘Overkill!’. The next word? “Ugh”.  As another member from United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council (UNNC) put it…”Why weren’t we consulted?”

Local Neighborhood Councils set up for the express purpose of creating direct empowerment of communities by City Hall, were ignored despite repeated requests to become involved. Councilman Wesson was given a golden opportunity to work with the community on a fairly obvious, benign project that would have generated enormous goodwill between the Council Office and the community. For some inexplicable reason he chose to turn his back on it and blew the opportunity.

To make matters worse, the idea for trash cans that matched already existing ones and tree grates, originated as a MINC project and they had the funds to pay for it. According to my sources, Councilman Wesson attended a MINC meeting where plans for this project were well underway and he promised to fund the entire effort. But as time went on MINC realized that the Council Office had “hijacked” the project and were cutting the Neighborhood Councils out of any decision making process.  In fact one email forwarded to The Neighborhood News from another source claims…”He wrote me and said this was his project and that he would do whatever he wanted...thus blatantly disregarding the community.  He cut us out of all communication on any of it.”

MINC had successfully begun the responsible task of outreaching and finding businesses willing to empty the trashcans for free. When CD10 took over the effort, the cash strapped city had to pay to have them emptied. But the once a week the city was willing to pay for,  has proven expensive and inadequate.  When CD10 went to the Neighborhood Councils to ask for help in convincing local businesses to assist, they were understandably met with a cold shoulder.

It appears as if Councilman Wesson is exhibiting a tendency to give the community what he thinks it wants or needs or what he wants the community to have (movies, presents, gates, etc.) but not necessarily what they actually want and need. The Neighborhood News has been told that repeated requests to fix trees that are tearing up sidewalks and need trimming along Adams have been ignored. Bumping along the beat up streets of Washington Boulevard while looking at all the money ($1,000,000) spent on something the community is having a difficulty time swallowing, is an unpleasant experience.

So the question is, who is CD10 trying to impress? Why would they turn their back on the community? It makes no sense. If the rumor that Councilman Wesson’s ambition to become Mayor is true, than perhaps he is making decisions he believes will look good to some larger, future audience. But who knows? One can only speculate. Phone calls and emails to CD10 with requests to clarify who oversaw the project and why were Neighborhood Council’s involvement denied, have gone unanswered. So much for transparency.

The tree plantings along Washington Boulevard happened through the separate efforts of UNNC and MINC. Resident signatures were gathered and donations of the trees secured, creating a beautification project generated and supported by a community proud of its efforts.  The heavy handed imposition of tree cages by CD10 obscures the natural elegance of the trees and comes off as a graffiti tag, marking territory. It could easily be read as nothing more than an advertisement for Councilman Wesson’s false  “interest” in the community.  If he was genuinely interested…why would he ignore the Councils who were set up to partner with his office about their community? Why did he not approach them with a genuine and sincere desire to find out what the community really wanted, ask what he could do to help, listen when they told him and make an effort to be of service, rather than impose his decisions on the community?

Currently stakeholders residing in the Pico Neighborhood Council area are organizing to try to stop the tree cages from being placed in their community.

The Neighborhood News will stay on top of that story.

Update: as of Sept. 2010 PICO has not seen any tree cages, the signs on the cages along Washington have become, as predicted, graffiti walls and an effort appears to have been made to take down 3 of the 4 signs surrounding the cages in a few blocks along Washington leaving them looking like they've been vandalized.

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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