Studio City NC unseats Michael McCue



UPDATED 9/04/2010
http://www.laweekly.com/2010-09-02/news/done-in-by-democratic-process/

Done In by Democratic Process
* Article reproduced below

UPDATED 8/19/2010:

* The Grievance Panel report reproduced below.

* Article by Paul Hatfield, “The Epilog” is reproduced at the end.
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April 21, 2010

— NOTE: Click on time to jump to indicted segment after video loads (be patient) —

1:55 minutes Conduct of Meeting, Point of Order M. McCue
7:25 minutes Todd Royal
9:51 minutes Barbara Monahan Burke
11:31 minutes Rita Villa
13:24 minutes Michael McCue

I feel much like Rita Villa, quite sad that people on both sides of the issue, that I know and respect, have reached such a tragic impasse.

The petitioners’ arguments are weak while many professed admiration verging on love of McCue.

I feel self importance, emotion and personality has dominated many on the boards thinking.

If, in fact, bad behavior on McCue’s part has been prevalent these past years, the board should
have censured him for those incidents. This could have led to a robust discussion of acceptable behavior and put McCue formally on warning. If in fact that was warranted.

An email was authored and sent by the Ben Neumann, SCNC President, to ALL board members PRECEEDING the board meeting. The email accused McCue of lying and misrepresenting the facts.

Clearly the intent of the email was to influence the board’s decision. Is that not condoned under the Brown Act? Is not the very purpose of the Act to disallow discussion of items on an agenda out of public view.

Since McCue is a candidate for reelection to remove a board member this close to the election smacks of retribution, character assassination or an attempt to influence the election.

Yes, i know, hard to reconcile with their professed admiration of him.

Frankly, SCNC needs a better procedure for what is the most extreme action a neighborhood council board might take – firing a board member, and overturning an election.

McCue if successful in the May election would be back in 5 weeks or so. What then, hmm? More fireworks or will Wednesday’s event prove to be a catharsis for both sides? Allowing the SCNC to get back to real business.

I certainly hope so. Yet McCue is certainly within his rights to challenge many aspects of SCNC Board’s procedures and decisions in this matter.

Important Links:
Paul Hatfield:
The Removal of McCue: A Case Study
and
McCue’s Removal: The Epilog
http://phinvv.wordpress.com/

McCue’s Removal: The Epilog

August 18, 2010 by Paul Hatfield

A grievance committee headed by former Studio City Neighborhood Council member Jane Drucker released its findings regarding the removal of Michael McCue from the SCNC Board last April.

The point I and many others made in the weeks following the proceeding, including those who attended the removal hearing, was that there was no specificity in the removal petition. In other words SCNC acted spuriously.

The grievance committee concluded that the petition lacked specifics. The lack of detail made it impossible for McCue to prepare a defense going into the hearing.

In other words, he had to wing it. That’s not justice.

Ms. Drucker also warned the Board that removal actions affect stakeholders and must be weighed carefully. A neighborhood council “is not a private club” where members can be removed simply at the discretion of the board.

About twenty-five stakeholders attended the meeting, which was quiet and well-run – in sharp contrast to the removal hearing, which was poorly managed and raucous, including an inflammatory statement by a board member that punctuated the travesty that evening.

Although the grievance report contradicts the SCNC’s decision, nothing can undo the train wreck the board created.

But there is still time to make amends. The eight members who voted for removal (including one who was defeated in the last election) should do the right thing and issue a public apology to the stakeholders and Mr. McCue (who reclaimed his seat in the election).

As I stated before, no neighborhood council is prepared to deal with a removal, much less one lacking basis.

Of even greater concern was the role played by the City Attorney’s Office. SCNC should have been advised to step back and reconsider. Instead, it appears the council was given a green light – perhaps a dim green light, but it still amounted to tacit support.

The grievance committee deserves the thanks of the stakeholders for not only finding against the council’s deeply flawed process, but, more importantly, for recommending by-law changes to prevent a reoccurrence.

There was a little turnover on the SCNC as a result of the election. Perhaps more sensible views will prevail going forward. Let’s hope so.

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GRIEVANCE PANEL REPORT DATED JULY 29, 2010

Introduction

On May 6, 2010, Mr. Michael McCue filed a complaint entitled “THE ILLEGAL VOTE TO REMOVE MCCUE FROM SCNC BOARD” with the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE). The complaint was forwarded to the Studio City Neighborhood Council (SCNC) to be handled through its grievance process.

A Grievance Panel (Panel) was selected and convened on July 1, 2010 according to procedures laid out in the SCNC Bylaws. A Panel Chair (Jane Drucker) and a Panel Secretary (Charles Shultz) were selected. The first formal meeting of the Panel was held on July 6th. The Panel also met on July 8th, July 12th, July 18th, July 19th, 2010.

On July 6th, the Panel Chair attempted to contact City Attorney Darren Martinez by telephone but was unable to reach him as he was out of the office until July 12th. Subsequent phone messages left in an attempt to reach Mr. Martinez following his return to his office were not returned.

The Panel reviewed Mr. McCue’s Grievance point by point and determined that paragraphs 2, 12, 16, 17, 19, 20 and 21 were beyond the scope and powers of the Panel to address.

The remaining points of Mr. McCue’s Grievance were considered to be within the scope and power of the Panel to address and will be discussed below.

Outreach

Outreach was done via word of mouth and via email by both the SCNC Vice President at the request of the Panel Chair and by Panel members to over 300 Stakeholders. Mr. McCue and three other Stakeholders requested time to address the Panel. All were given specific times to appear. In addition, three stakeholders submitted their views via email.

The Panel Chair contacted the SCNC Board members individually by email through the SCNC website, and by aggregate email that is delivered simultaneously to each individual Board member’s email box using board@scnc.info. Five (5) Board members addressed the Panel at individual appointment times during regularly held Panel meetings on July 12th and July 19th. One Board member wished to address the Panel on July 12th but was unable to attend. This member was given the option of setting a future appointment or providing input in writing. In addition, four (4) other Board members provided the Panel with written responses to the Grievance.

Presentation of Issues

**There was disagreement among the Board members who addressed the Panel either in person or in writing about the number of signatures that should be required to initiate a “Petition to Remove”; about the definition of “reasonable detail”; about the appropriateness of the detail in the “Petition to Remove”; and about the timing and effect on Stakeholders’ rights in regards to this removal.

**There was general agreement among the Board members who spoke to the Panel either in person or in writing that speakers’ time can be limited as needed by the Chair of any meeting; that the Chair of any meeting be allowed to limit the time allotted to public speakers; and that the Operating Procedures explicitly state the Chair’s authority.

Grievance Panel’s Determinations

Did a serial meeting of the SCNC Board occur?

The Panel determined that a serial meeting of the Board did not occur, but the manner of communication created a possible appearance of impropriety.

Was the President’s conduct of the April 21st meeting in keeping with the SCNC’s Bylaws, Operating Procedures, Code of Conduct, and Robert’s Rules of Order?

The Panel determined that the conduct of the President at the April 21st meeting did not appear to be neutral. The President’s actions evidenced that he may have come to the meeting with a preconceived determination of the outcome and to have allowed his personal feelings to override proper procedural conduct of the meeting.

Did an email sent by the President prior to the April 21st meeting convey prejudice?

The Panel determined that the email sent by the President to Board members prior to the April 21st meeting conveyed personal opinion and therefore was deemed to be potentially prejudicial.

Did the “Petition to Remove” Mr. McCue satisfy the requirements of the SCNC Bylaws?

The Panel determined that the “Petition to Remove” properly named Mr. McCue and complied with the SCNC’s Bylaws signature requirement. The Panel was concerned about the “specificity requirement” of the Petition.

Is the current procedure for “Removal of a Board Member” appropriate?

The Panel determined that the current procedure is not adequate.

The Panel strongly recommends that the Bylaws Committee revise the “Removal of a Board Member” procedure with particular consideration given to the number and type (Board Member and/or Stakeholder) of signatures required, and to the specific meaning of the term “reasonable detail.”

In addition, the Panel strongly recommends that the Bylaws Committee delineate a specific procedure for conducting meetings at which the removal of an Officer or Board member is being considered and that the meeting follows the formal structure provided in Robert’s Rules of Order.

What is “reasonable detail?”

“Reasonable detail” is a sufficient amount of information under the circumstances that includes objective and measurable criteria, specific acts of conduct, with enough information provided to the subject member to allow him or her to present a proper defense against the charge or charges.

Did the “Petition to Remove” Mr. McCue as an SCNC Board member contain “reasonable detail?”

The Panel determined that the “Petition to Remove” Mr. McCue did not contain “reasonable detail.”

The Panel strongly recommends that the Bylaws Committee define the term “reasonable detail” in the “Removal of a Board Member” procedure. The definition should require supporting details.

The Panel strongly recommends that a “Petition to Remove” outline the charges and findings with enough specificity that the Board member can defend the charge. The Petition should include objective and measurable criteria; specific acts of conduct; and not allow for the introduction of new charges and/or findings in the motion and/or during the meeting at which removal is being considered.

The Panel expressed concern over introduction of additional charges during the hearing to remove Mr. McCue which were not outlined in either the “Petition to Remove” or the Board’s motion.

Were the rights of the SCNC Stakeholders violated or infringed upon by actions of the Board during the April 21st meeting?

The Panel determined that the SCNC Stakeholders’ rights were not violated since the elections were one month away and Mr. McCue was re-elected.

The Panel recommends that a board member’s seat, once vacated, be re-filled in an expeditious manner.

Is the statement on the Agenda heading as to the time allowed per speaker at Board meetings adequate in light of the Operating Procedures?
No. The Bylaws clearly state that the conduct of a meeting is governed by the Operating Procedures. The Operating Procedures provide for 3 minutes for each stakeholder to speak on an agendized item – – this time can be increased at the discretion of the presiding officer. The Operating Procedures do not authorize any changes to this by way of notice in the Agenda.
The Panel believes that it is imperative that the Board conduct itself in compliance with its rules and Operating Procedures at all times. The Panel specifically recognizes that the presiding officer needs more flexibility than currently granted by the Operating Procedures in order to control the length of meetings while balancing the stakeholders’ rights to be heard.
The Panel strongly recommends that the Bylaws Committee amend the Operating Procedures to grant the Chair of a meeting the specific right to limit and/or extend the time granted to any individual speaker, and the specific right to limit the amount of total time spent on a particular topic.

Were all parties given appropriate time to address the issue of the “Petition to Remove” Mr. McCue?

The Panel determined that all parties were given an appropriate amount of time to address the issue of the “Petition to Remove” Mr. McCue.

Recommendations

All Board members and Officers must demonstrate clear, ongoing compliance with the SCNC’s Bylaws, Operating Procedures, Code of Conduct, and Robert’s Rules of Order. Each Board member should be given a copy of each at the beginning of his/her term.

All Board members must avoid even the appearance of prejudice and impropriety in person and in written or telephonic communications.

The Bylaws Committee should create a formal warning/counseling system similar to that which a business uses when dealing with employees where written documentation is required.

The Bylaws Committee should revise the “Removal of a Board Member” procedure with particular consideration given to the number and type (Board Member and/or Stakeholder) of signatures required, and to the specific meaning of “reasonable detail.”

The Bylaws Committee should revise the “Removal of a Board Member” procedure and require that the motion to remove a board member be included in the Agenda and that the motion includes all the information provided on the petition.

The Bylaws Committee should delineate a specific procedure for conducting meetings at which the removal of an Officer or Board member is being considered and that the meeting follow the formal structure provided in Robert’s Rules of Order.

The Bylaws Committee should define the term “reasonable detail” in the “Removal of a Board Member” procedure. The definition should require supporting details and/or specific acts of conduct, with objective and measurable criteria.

The Bylaws Committee should amend the “Removal of a Board Member” procedure requiring the “Petition to Remove” to outline the charges and findings with enough specificity that the board member can defend the charges. It should prevent the introduction of new charges and/or findings to be introduced in the motion and/or during the meeting at which removal is being considered.

The Bylaws Committee should amend the Operating Procedures giving the chair of a meeting the unlimited authority to extend and/or limit public comment speakers. The information on the Agenda “Public comment is limited to three minutes per speaker, unless directed otherwise by the presiding officer of the Board” should be included in the Operating Procedures.

Submitted by:
Jane Drucker (Chair)
Richard Adams
Marcella Bell
Sharon Crigler
Eyal Gamliel
Charles Shultz
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http://www.laweekly.com/2010-09-02/news/done-in-by-democratic-process/

Done In by Democratic Process

Studio City Neighborhood Council dispute sees member booted from board, then vindicated by re-election
A A A Comments (14) By Paul Teetor Thursday, Sep 2 2010
Grassroots democracy is, by all accounts, a good thing. But is there such a thing as too much democracy? L.A.’s continuing experiment with neighborhood councils suggests at times that the answer is yes.

The most recent example occurred in Studio City, where Michael McCue was booted from the Neighborhood Council board. He was removed after being repeatedly branded a liar and a disruptive force, and after being told by a fellow board member to “shut the fuck up.”

But a grievance-committee review of McCue’s removal found flaws in every step of the process. In the wake of the committee’s report last week, observers warn of the dangers of subjecting council members — elected by their communities — to the equivalent of a public trial by other council members.

“Mr. McCue was publicly humiliated for no good reason, on charges that were so vague, he could not prepare a case against them,” says Dr. Bob Gelfand of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition, whose members come from many of the 91 councils across the city. “We need a citywide process that does not allow a board to sit in a trial of one of their fellow board members.”

Indeed, the city is trying to create a removal template, a framework for all the city councils, rather than leave the issue of colleagues judging colleagues up to each council.

As currently envisioned, the template would create basic removal guidelines rather than impose a strict set of rules, but the final version is still being drafted by the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.

Like many city councils, neighborhood councils sometimes have personality disputes masquerading as policy disagreements. But unlike more established democratic institutions, neighborhood councils often lack the standards and conventions that can put the brakes on extreme behavior.

Council board members around the city have been asked or forced to resign over the last eight years. One council recently insisted on accepting a board member’s resignation, even though she rescinded it five minutes after submitting it.

But no one could recall a case quite like McCue’s. Fellow board members, frustrated by his independent, outspoken ways, were determined to expel him a month before an election, when voters would have their own say in the matter.

The grievance-committee report and a video of the meeting at which McCue was tossed out provide a rare look at the rough-and-tumble politics often practiced at the grassroots level.

Dozens of McCue’s supporters, who showed up to speak on his behalf, were limited to one minute of public comment each by President Ben Neumann — not the usual three minutes afforded members of the public. Later they were told by board member Lisa Sarkin that their opinions didn’t matter because they had not attended past meetings.

That remark provoked the fiercest reaction of the night: nearly a full minute of booing, hissing and shouting.

The report also noted that Neumann did not provide a neutral tone in presiding over the meeting, and had circulated an e-mail critical of McCue just hours before the meeting, giving at least the appearance of impropriety.

Neumann did not return several calls from the Weekly seeking comment.

Most importantly, according to the report, there was not enough specificity in the charges to allow McCue to prepare a factual defense. It also found that the board’s bylaws were vague.

“I’m shocked that anyone from the City Attorney’s Office would have approved that document as adequate to remove someone from office,” says Paul Hatfield, who writes the influential Village-to-Village blog.

The committee’s report noted that Deputy City Attorney Darren Martinez, who advised the Studio City board on how to proceed with the removal, did not respond to the committee’s own repeated requests for information. McCue says he tried to reach Martinez a half-dozen times before the meeting and never heard back. Martinez also did not respond to the Weekly’s repeated requests for comment.

“The city attorney’s role in all this needs to be examined,” Gelfand says. “Why did they assist one side and not the other?”

When McCue’s supporters finally were able to speak during the meeting, they compared the board to a lynch mob trying to thwart the will of the voters by turning festering personality disputes into something far more serious: the political assassination of a passionate public advocate. McCue himself was outraged that three of his fellow board members — Todd Royal, Rita Villa and Barbara Monahan-Burke — had signed a petition of removal against him. McCue countered with his own description of events in the various long-simmering disputes of protocol and policy that had divided the board.

McCue also heatedly demanded specifics of actual wrongdoing in what he describes as personality-based accusations and hinted at the culture clash lurking just below the surface.

It was a clash unspoken but unmistakable as the night wore on: McCue is a flamboyant green-and-gay liberal. Most of his harshest critics are conservatives, who, he says, are uncomfortable with his verbose, heart-on-his-sleeve style.

“You have to wonder if there was any homophobia involved in what they were doing to him,” Gelfand notes. “There was real ugliness in that room. It felt unjust and un-American.”

Comments (14)Yuval Kremer 09/04/2010 2:15:08 PMI would first like to thank the LA Weekly and Paul Teetor for this article. Second, I would like to note the unanimous (or virtually unanimous) support for Mr. McCue in the comments, the fact that the comment writers all included their full names, and particularly the great comment by 4:23:46 PM, and the insight provided by 5:34:52 PM (sounds like a Mansionization battle, involving a roughly evenly split R1 community). Interestingly enough, I STILL don’t know exactly what Mr. McCue did, after having read articles, watched video of the removal proceedings, asked “friends in the know”. Apparently, it was a case of style over substance, which was used as an excuse to eliminate a very eloquent, intelligent, independent-minded Board Member. I first got to know of Mr. McCue when I was fighting the City’s Density Bonus and Developer Incentives Ordinance, which went beyond the State’s giveaway to developers, known as SB 1818. Mr. McCue attended City Hearings in order to fight this ordinance, because it’s a scam that allows for Overdevelopment in the name of Affordable Housing, when it actually often leads to the NET LOSS of affordable housing, b/c rent-controlled housing is torn down, and is replaced by luxury condos and mixed-use projects. For more info on SB 1818 and the City’s ordinance, please see the website of the attorney who filed the first (and victorious) lawsuit against the ordinance, NOEL Weiss: http://noelweiss.com/ Ironically, Mr. McCue attended those City Hearings with Lisa Sarkin and Barbara Monahan-Burke, effectively a group of three Board Members from SCNC who were advocating for residents AGAINST overdevelopment. I want to take the opportunity to thank the three of them for doing that, when many of us (like myself) were not able to attend. Four Council Members voted AGAINST the Density Bonus and Developer Incentives Ordinance: Hahn, Rosendahl, Zine, and LaBonge. Who voted for the DEVELOPERS, you ask?? Jan Perry, who is running for Mayor (no surprise there); Council President Eric Garcetti, who led the effort to pass the ordinance on the Council floor with big misleading speeches, etc. By the way, as Council President, Mr. Garcetti controls who serves on the City’s PLUM (or Land Use) Committee, which approves all the Overdevelopment around town. That’s why PLUM previously only had three (3) members: JACK Weiss, Ed Reyes (the chair of the committee), and Huizar (who hardly ever attended, which often led to a committee or conversation of JUST TWO council members)…basically, the PLUM committee was RIGGED/STACKED to be pro-development (no “slow/responsible growther”, no REAL dissent). If you felt like “the fix was in” when you went before PLUM to fight a Massive Project, you were right !! Now, plum STILL only has three (3) members (why not five ??): Chair Reyes (you have to give Mr. Reyes credit for being a very hard worker and not lying about his land use views), Huizar, and Krekorian (who has replaced Paul Koretz, who apparently does not wish to challenge his Developer Buddies or work too hard for his Quarter of a Million Dollar Paycheck). Here’s video of the SCNC threesome gang fighting the City Hall Machine (the meeting is presided over by Jan Perry, who obviously got an expensive hairdo for the occasion…taking care of business for her Developer Buddies, so that Eric Garcetti can “work the floor”; notice how little time each speaker is given before they are “buzzed out”…go to City Hall, spend “a mint” to park, sit for several hours waiting for your “opportunity to be heard”, waste a WHOLE weekday/workday, get to speak for a WHOLE MINUTE…WOW, get stuck in traffic on your way home after you’ve lost): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFzkjPx_R10 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW0s2Xg1M5M Jan Perry actually CUT OFF MR McCUE’S MICROPHONE, mid-sentence, after only allowing him ONE MINUTE to speak. She would NEVER do that to a Developer. Can you say “double standards” ? How about “Denial of Due Process” ?? It’s actually pretty amazing what Mr. McCue was able to communicate in only SIXTY SECONDS…you try it ! We Will Never Forget. Your tax dollars at work, helping the Special Interests. I phoned the number on Mr. McCue’s website (google it) to ask him to run for the Council Seat for Council District 2, in the upcoming election, like he did last time. Unfortunately, the number no longer works…fix it !! You see, Council Member Krekorian won an election to finish off Wendy Greuel’s term, after she became Controller (how could you CD2 folks allow her to become controller after what she did to you guys; we “took care” of JACK when he ran for City Attorney and we expected you to do likewise with Ms. Greuel). He hailed from Burbank (or was it Glendale…doesn’t matter; they’re both VERY slow growth compared to the City of LA), he had beautiful blue eyes, such a nice charismatic guy from the local Armenian community, served honorably in Sacramento… Krekorian was supposed to be the Maverick, the Reformer, taking on Christine Essel (our Mayor’s pick, a Developer’s (wet) Dream), with all of that grass roots support from HOA’s, NC Board Members. He was going to be the one that would FINALLY “rock the boat” and reform the Machine. So, what happened ?? (I asked to be his Face Book Friend, and he said “yes” !) Paul quickly “started playing it safe”. Can’t be too tough on the DWP and the Powerful DWP Union, because the unions supported Paul, and he had an election coming up. Can’t be too tough on the City Employee Unions (police, fire, everybody else, and the BLOATED PENSIONS that have created the Never-Ending Budget Crisis, which is ONLY GETTING WORSE, gutting all of our City Services, and taking our “city of angels” on the path toward “the B word”…Bankruptcy), because the unions supported Paul and he had an election coming up. Can’t be too tough on the Developers…why’s that Paul; they supported Christine ? Are you SCARED of the Developers, that they’re gonna run somebody against you ? So, the Two Pauls (Krekorian and Koretz…with “an assist” from Mr. LaBonge) put forward an “ambitious motion” to reign-in the Density Bonus and Developer Incentives Ordinance and SB 1818. Well, with all that fire power, you would think it’s a shoe-in (the Two Pauls are also buddies with Council Prez Garcetti…even better). Then the Downtown (City Hall) Cliche occurrs…wonderful motion is put forward, said motion is hyped in the media to the max, the movers (the Two Pauls) don’t “put their weight behind it” (they don’t want to use their precious ‘political capital’ or it was ‘all for show’ to begin with), motion is tabled, the press doesn’t go back to ask “what happened; was there follow-through ?”, and everybody forgets (but the public has warm and fuzzy feelings about the council member movers, which will guide their vote during the next election). It should be noted that Paul Koretz ‘ditched’ the SB 1818 vote when he was in the State Legislature in Sacramento (no surprise, there). It should also be noted that EVERY WEEK, the City Council votes to lobby the State (and sometimes the Feds) on various ‘Issues of the Day’, including the recent vote on Boycotting Arizona, but has NEVER voted to ask the State Legislature (people like Assemblyman Feuer or Senator Fran Pavley, who would most assuredly be quite helpful) to repeal SB 1818, even though many council members have opined that they “hate SB 1818, but there’s nothing [they] can do about it…it’s State Law”…yeah, right. THEN, recently, Council Member Krekorian voted (with his colleagues) to make the Mayor’s pick, Michael LoGrande, the new head of the LA City Planning Department !! Actually, he voted twice for Mr. LoGrande: once in PLUM, and once on the council floor. So, where’s the old Krekorian that everybody supported; what became of him ?? And, what’s wrong with Mr. LoGrande? Mr. LoGrande resides in the City of Long Beach, even though he has worked for the City of LA, specifically the Planning Department (e.g., the “expediting unit” that helps Big Developers get special treatment if they can pay higher fees) for many years, and has been the Chief Zoning Administrator (in charge of all the ZA’s) for quite some time. Is the City of LA too small for Mr. LoGrande to find a place to live ?? Has he not had enough time over the years to make the move ? Is it efficient and useful for the Chief Planner of such a large city to reside elsewhere; how long is his commute ? Then there’s the “wide casting of the net”, reaching out to all qualified candidates inside and outside the Planning Department for such an important, prestigious position for such a Major City…oh, that didn’t happen! Michael LoGrande is great at pushing through OVERDEVELOPMENT and BOOZE. That is his chief qualification, IMHO. He’s a Class-A Jerk, to boot. Now, I’m sure Councilman Krekorian knows this; Paul is VERY intelligent (unlike the OTHER Paul, Koretz), serves on the PLUM committee, and has been on the CD2 Beat for a while, now. Oh, and he has roughly 15 staffers (as do all council members, paid for by our tax $$$) to help him out. Mr. McCue: Please run !! I KNOW that you will reform the Council, if elected. I KNOW that you will EXPOSE all of the “corruption, waste, and abuse” down at City Hall. I KNOW that you will speak your mind and ROCK THE BOAT (and it most certainly needs rocking). I figure that nobody is currently running against the incumbent, because he is fairly popular (at this point in time; who can speak to the future?), the DWP union will be behind him, the OTHER unions will be behind him, he’s a career political pro, he has a great campaign organization, TONS of dough will be thrown at mailers and perhaps TV ads by his campaign, and others who will have NO $$$ LIMITS, b/c they are “not coordinating with the Krekorian Campaign Committee”. In my opinion, you have a 1% chance of winning, you’re a long-shot, the underdog (if you run). But I love supporting long-shots and underdogs, b/c SOMETIMES incumbents get beat, which is very exciting. And, ‘ya know what, Krekorian will DEFINITELY become the guy that I originally supported if he has a tough-as-nails grass roots (even GREEN) challenger. And we’ll ALL be better off when that happens. Is Paul Krekorian the best LA City Council Member right now ? Arguably, yes. Is that saying much? No. Can CD2 do better? Yes. Would the City of LA be better off with Michael McCue on the City Council (instead of the incumbent)? Hell, yeah. Michael, I wish you the best! If you run, you can count on my support. Sincerely, Yuval Kremer, JD, Council District 5 Resident Zone 3 Representive (I used to represent Homeowners, now I represent Renters AND Homeowners) MID CITY WEST COMMUNITY COUNCIL (and, of course, I’m speaking for myself, and only myself, here), one of the roughly 90 Official Neighborhood Councils (it’s a BIG City, but it’s not big enough for Mr. LoGrande to find a residence in)
Linda Piera-Avila 09/04/2010 8:55:32 AMThank you, Michael McCue, for demonstrating the courage of your personal convictions and standing up to the unprofessional and unethical intimidation by your colleagues and standing up for the residents, your constituents.
Tim Schyler 09/03/2010 11:39:15 PMI would like to publicly congratulate Michael Mc Cue on his recent election to the neighborhood board despite vicious and unfair attacks on his character as his term was ending. Michael Mc Cue is a perfect example on what happens when you listen to your constituents and act in their best interest. Unfortunately, not everyone got that memo, and a couple candidates paid the ultimate price at the ballot box. Michael Mc Cue will always continue to have the support of both homeowners and renters in Studio City!
George Staggs 09/03/2010 11:32:57 PMWhat is so shocking about the events at this neighborhood council in Studio City is that there was no over-sight of corrective actions taken by the people in downtown who have it as their job of protecting the idea of transparency and accountability. Who exactly was asleep at the wheel? Thank you Mr. McCue for alerting homeowners as to the punitive regulations they were trying to ram through without talking to the very stakeholders affected by the proposal.
Scott Ouellette 09/03/2010 5:34:52 PMMcCue may have saved the flatland Studio City single-family homeowners from losing significant property rights. He exposed a self-serving board and nefarious actions. It all helped to galvinize opponents of the Studio City RFA. See StudioCityAgainstRFA.com… The entire mess started when concerned citizens were ignored, and SCNC demonstrated intollerance of dissent related to the Studio City RFA. Thank you Michael.
Byron DeLear 09/03/2010 4:23:46 PMI have attended Studio City Neighborhood Council meetings, and can testify that So. Cal. Neighborhood Councils suffer from the same behind closed door corruption(s) that plague most legislative bodies; whether a City Council giving monopolized sway to such-and-such a developer, levying unanimous decisions for significant variances, etc. without even a peep of public debate—or, a US Congress stripping away any significant protections in the recent Financial Regulation bill while passing through the conference period letting the overwhelming number of 3000 banking lobbyists rule the roost versus the 60 pro-Fin. Reg. ‘volunteer’ lobbyists—these are symptoms of cronyism and a corrupted democratic process. John Adams said when the legislature is corrupt, the people are un-done. Cue, Michael McCue. Entering from stage left, McCue is right on time to attempt to inject some accountability and a cynical-free passionate sense of making our political subdivisions work for the people. For the people—not the powers that be. So, cuing up on the embryonic corruption in closest proximity, McCue began pushing buttons, asking questions, probing data, demanding answers, bringing accountability, recruiting interest among residents, and all-in-all, acting the fly to the Studio City Neighborhood Council’s status quo ointment. Well, when you’re an ointment owner, the last thing you want is a residential fly. A conspiracy began to remove McCue and it backfired on the plotters, as it were, the ointment is actually owned by the people. Which brings up the moral of this story. If you spot a fly on the wall and wish to swat, think twice, he may be Super-Fly, and while being a fly on the wall heard a few secrets; once you miss, Super-Fly will make you eat crow: If you fly with the crows, you get shot with the crows. Kudos for McCue, a restoration of integrity in leadership!
WendyJDec 09/03/2010 4:06:18 PMGreat writing…love the eyewitness narration of maniacal step by step ka-raziness. Plus the hero wins (so far). Go Michael McCue! Having participated in a SCNC committee & attended multiple meetings, I knew this group kept rules with a seemingly arbitrary flair. But your story dug up what was beneath those grass roots.
Todd Hacker 09/03/2010 3:10:49 PMMichael McCue is passionate and knowledgeable. Outspoken? Yes. This is the whole point in grassroots DEMOCRACY, is it not? As for Mr. Taylor’s attempt at being “helpful”, in that McCue was “not helping himself”, that could rightly be seen as a contradiction to his Party’s mere existence. “Shutting the fuck up” when one is being wronged is not a solution. I think justice has prevailed and that maybe Mr. Taylor should next time take a firmer stand or heed his own advice. From what I’ve read and witnessed in person, Studio City, Los Angeles, and America are in need of more “politicians” that are truly sincere, unwavering in the face of “well-meaning” hypocrites and their enemies alike. God Bless America and God Bless Mr. McCue for not backing down. That’s the stuff heroes are made of. TMH
John West 09/03/2010 2:41:18 PMThanks for exposing unethical behavior wherever it appears. The reason why our government has so much of this is because it starts at the lower levels of leadership and then works its way up like a growing tapeworm. Nasty stuff.
Ross D Frankel 09/03/2010 2:31:10 PMLet’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Los Angeles City Neighborhood Councils are a critical part of our grass-roots democratic-representative governing processes. However, clearly there are a lack of critical checks-and-balances–perhaps intentionally, because some people at City Hall would rather this junior-legislative system fail, not compete with the more senior, full City Council. What is overlooked is that Neighborhood Councils are a proving-ground, a place to train for future City Council Members. As such, closer guidance, reform is needed–not dissolution! Without this proving ground, we risk having a City Council that is less competent, less objective and ethical, but more dependent upon corruption by “special interests.” At the meeting to expel Mr. McCue, Council Members Royal, Villa and Monahan-Burke demonstrated a deficient professional demeanor, prejudicial intent and blatant disregard for procedures–except when the appearance-of-procedures suited their interests. Council protocols were ignored–partly out of chosen ignorance, partly due to a lack of guidance, and partly due to personal vendettas. Without a City Parliamentarian, without improved policies and procedures, abuses will continue. Therefore I call upon the City to make reforms and improvements to the Neighborhood Council legislative process. They need closer parliamentary oversight. And apparently attending orientation and procedural development workshops for ALL neighborhood council-members is optional, not compulsory–as it should be. Some members of that council apparently have not attended because they think they know better–clearly some don’t. Sincerely, Ross D Frankel Candidate for CA State Controller- Green Party
Michelle Smith 09/03/2010 2:07:33 PMIlluminating article. First, all board members advocating/ voting for McCue’s ousting need to account McCue’s lies —if they exist. The neighborhood has a right to know if it’s McCue who should be prepared for departure or his board member colleagues. Several appear to have acted in unscrupulous ways that, ultimately, seriously compromise their ability to serve the public. Second, I’m taken-aback by Neumann’s action to conven a vote on such a serious matter when quorum wasn’t met. That’s shockingly unprofessional and gives credence to the personal vendetta claims stated and implied throughout the article.
Ginny Moyer 09/03/2010 1:55:42 PMThe failure of the City Attorney’s office to respond to the Grievance Committee, and the slow to no response from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment in drafting the removal template, seems to indicate that the City doesn’t care about empowering the neighborhood councils, and would probably just as soon the councils continue to function as private clubs and coffee klatsches. At least the Grievance Committee put in some thoughtful time and got it right.
John Lincoln 09/03/2010 12:25:37 PMIf the Studio City Neighborhood Council is suppose to be a grassroots organization with non-politicians who care about openness and transparency , then why are Ben, Lisa, Taylor and the like refusing to make the charge for removal clear? Why will they not make a statement or comment to the press other than to say that Michael McCue lied about something? Incidentally, they won’t even say what the lie is. Sounds like professional politics who claim they are not political. Clearly, they must be lying about the lie.
Sharon Crigler 09/02/2010 7:14:02 PMAs a member of the Grievance Committee that was asked to address the grievance against Mr. McCue, I will comment on this article. 1) “The grievance committee didn’t find anything wrong with the removal or with the process, only with the bylaws,” Villa says. “Why should I apologize?” MR. VILLA’S STATEMENT ONLY SHOWS THAT HE DID NOT READ THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE GRIEVANCE PANEL. THE PANEL WAS SET UP TO ADDRESS THE PROCESS, NOT ADDRESS THE DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE ISSUE. WE WORKED DILIGENTLY TO REACH THE CONCLUSIONS IN OUR REPORT TO BOTH IMPROVE THE BY-LAWS AND ADDRESS ANY FUTURE BOARD REMOVALS. I SUGGEST THE WRITER OBTAIN A COPY OF THAT REPORT. HAVING SERVED ON MANY BOARDS, I WANT TO COMMEND THE PEOPLE WHO GAVE OF THEIR TIME AND JANE DRUCKER FOR HER EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP.

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