Keep It (Really) Simple Stupid

NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCILS AND THE CIS ODYSSEY - Hopefully, most if not all L.A.’s neighborhood councils will be faced with what some might describe as a “first-class” problem. 


The one here in Los Feliz we recently contemplated, agendized and then ultimately debated on how to weigh in on the City /IBEW contract standoff. We all know NCs meet about once a month, and if your window opens to get something on record before a looming deadline, you pretty much ought to take it. 

There are times a council can reach out to its stakeholders for opinions and direction. If ‘Los Feliz NC’ sounds new to you, it’s because we’re the council formerly known as ‘Greater Griffith Park’ or “formerly known as ‘Prince’” as Tom LaBonge recently quipped. He’s a card. Anyway, for that adventure, we had an election poll survey, heated public comment replete with hats and t-shirts, and over six months of cajoling, lobbying and anonymous, “Don’t-you-dare” e-mails before we ultimately made the change. 

But getting this particular high profile Community Impact Statement (CIS) in under the wire was one of those occasions where an NC dons its collective “consent-of-the-elected” hats, and makes the best call it can based on gut instincts, previously prescient intuition, or a general feel for the

neighborhood’s zeitgeist. 

Our Board has 19 members, all of whom are fairly astute, however, it’s way optimistic to assume everyone is dialed into all things City all the time. So, we researched the council

file information and its chronology. Learned that an “S” suffixas in “13-1004-S” is related but doesn’t supersede any previous motion under the same heading. We aggregated opposing viewpoints and commentary from the media and blogosphere and we walked through the necessary, “Wait, how did we get here?” setup. 

Many bemoaned ever-rising utility costs. About an hour later, we concurred. 

Oh, one other thing… You have a 100-word limit to get this done. So here’s our 100 (exactly) words: 

“Representing over 35,000 stakeholders, we recommend any motion extending the time to review a complex issue whose ultimate outcome will have long-term effects not only to LA’s stakeholders, DWP ratepayers and taxpayers, but also the City’s ability to operate in a sustainable, cost-effective manner. The Chief Legislative Analyst’s report recommends a course of action, yet lacks the supporting documentation of how the conclusions were arrived at. We believe it requires further due diligence, including second opinions. The City still faces a dire financial crisis. We urge the greater good for the entirety of Los Angeles be of your paramount concern.” 

Zip-zip. Done. Wait, not so fast. As we found out upon electronically filing this CIS, it’s 100 words or 450 characters (including) spaces and punctuation. That’s what’s known in the

parlance as “damn terse.” 

Out comes the “red pen,” gone is any flowery language; double  spaces and adjectives are the first to die, and Los Angeles becomes L.A. a lot. About 20 character counts later we hit 450 (exactly): 

“We support any motion allowing more time to review an issue whose outcome has long-term effects on the City's ability to sustain cost-effective operation. The CLA’s report recommends courses of action, yet lacks the data to support the findings; it requires more due diligence, including second opinions. LA still faces a dire financial crisis. We urge that the greater good for the entire City be the paramount concern for all council members.” 

So my fellow 95 council colleagues across the expanse of LA, I’ll dust off the gems that were pumped into most of our heads somewhere along the line” “Brevity is” indeed “the soul of wit;” “paucity of words, paramount,” but most of all, “Keep It” (really) “Simple Stupid.”


(Mark Mauceri is the Recreation Interests Representative (and occasional wordsmith) on the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council.)







Vol 11 Issue 68

Pub: Aug 23, 2013