ADVOCATING FOR YOU-Los Angeles is home to the largest, most diverse system of grassroots governance in the world, the LA Neighborhood Council System. Except, in our city of 4 million people less than 1% of us know what a Neighborhood Council (NC) is or the amount of influence they hold. I've lived in LA for roughly a decade and had never learned any of this until this past spring. So, being brand new to the NC system myself, I was interested in learning more. What better place to make a real difference than in my own neighborhood, right? 

The thing is, we are all inundated on a daily basis by so many ads and emails from every product and service under the sun. So, you'd think the 2nd largest City in the country would be spending some serious money to let people know that they've got such a powerful tool at their disposal, right? 

Yeah, me too. Except, they don't. So, what’s our option? Either we stay in the dark or we start digging for information by ourselves. But not everyone has the time, patience or capability to do that alone. 

So, what's the solution? Who can bridge the gap between the City's current outreach efforts and all of us out here who want to get our issues heard and resolved? 

The Budget Advocates, that's who. 

The NC Budget Advocate Committee exists for that sole purpose: To bring the issues, complaints and priorities of our Neighborhoods to the immediate attention of the only people who CAN resolve them -- our elected officials and the general managers of every City department. The BA committee is responsible for reviewing the budgets of every department financed through the General Fund and providing feedback to both the General Managers and the Mayor regarding their findings. 

Whoa. That sounds like a tall order. How can a BA committee of 36 people possibly carry the influence or possess the ability needed to accomplish these goals? Well, it’s simple: we have the right kind of diversity and experience. 

There are dozens of alliances, committees and action groups throughout the City of LA, but they tend to be compartmentalized with narrow focuses and have been created to operate in “silos” or bubbles. However, there is ONE group that equally represents the whole City – that includes all of our 12 Neighborhood Council districts. The Budget Advocate committee truly unites all our 97 Neighborhood Councils, and this group is comprised of the most dedicated, knowledgeable team members who come from all walks of life. On our current committee, we have people from multiple religions, races, sexual orientation and ages ranging from 22 to 78! 

Our group includes lifelong educators, a hedge fund manager, civil servants, entertainment professionals, a litigating attorney and a medical researcher, to name a few. We all have an equal voice and together, we will get results. 

So, what now? Now, you get in touch with us. Tell us what's bothering you and your neighbors. Tell us how the City's services are performing in your community. Or, just introduce yourself and find out how you can get involved too. 

You're going to want to stay in touch with us. The Budget Advocates will be putting out short videos loaded with more information and statistics that you really should know. We’re looking for more rocks to turn over and that’s where you can help. Our Outreach team can speak with you, document your story and turn it into the next project the Budget Advocates tackle. 

Talk to you soon…and, again, let us hear from you! 

Email us here: [email protected] 

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(John DiGregorio is the Treasurer of the Panorama City Neighborhood Council. He serves as a Budget Advocate and is Vice President of Communications and Outreach.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.