Hal Netkin, POB 3465, Van Nuys, CA 91406 -- 818-989-3043
October 21, 2003
Councilman Tony Cardenas, D6
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring Street, Rm 455
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dear Mr. Cardenas:
I am in your district and also a voting stakeholder of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council.
To my dismay, the Los Angeles City Attorney has made it official that registered sex offenders on parole, may vote and run for office in Neighborhood Councils. Here is the exact quote as received by email.
Oct 14, 2003
Dear Mr. Netkin
You have posed the following two questions:
A)1. May a felon who is a registered sex offender on parole vote as a stakeholder in a neighborhood council election? Yes or No.
A)2. May a felon who is a registered sex offender on parole run for office as a board member in a neighborhood council election? Yes or No.
As to your Questions A 1 and 2, based on the current City Charter, which can be amended, the answer to both of your questions is, "yes."
Office of the City Attorney
Neighborhood Council Advice Division
Moreover, as the city charter is written with regards to Neighborhood Councils, the only requirement to vote or run for office, is that a voter or candidate must live, work, or own property in the neighborhood. What this means is that anyone, even fugitives, felons, gang members, terrorists, or anyone who is otherwise breaking local, state, or federal law, may take over a neighborhood council by "vote stacking." And there is no age requirement -- there is nothing in the charter that prevents a five year old child from voting.
On a lesser level, the above scenarios have already happened: The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council in its election was stacked with Latino street passers-by who, through illegal electioneering, were told they could vote even if they were undocumented -- as long as they lived, worked, or owned property in the neighborhood (or attended church in the neighborhood). The Hollywood Neighborhood Council was dogged by complaints that the Church of Scientology flooded the polls with its members, and in San Pedro, activists said the union representing dock workers did the same. More recently, the manager of the controversial Bradley Landfill won a seat on the Sun Valley Neighborhood Council by stacking the electorate with his employees, raising concerns in the community that he would use his influence on the advisory panel to push for the expansion of the dump.
Some scenarios that will eventually unfold, will be neighborhood takeovers by gang members who will intimidate voters and stack the electorate with their members. Or when the KKK finds out that all they have to do to become part of the community, is to establish a non-profit corporation in one or more of the L.A.'s neighborhoods which would make all its members, even those who didn't live in the particular neighborhood, eligible to vote.
I respectfully request that you make a motion for a city initiative to amend the charter so that it not only states who is eligible to be a stakeholder and/or a board member, but who is NOT.
An amendment to voting and candidacy eligibility for Neighborhood Councils, could use Article IV of the city charter (Elections) as a model.
I look forward to your comments.
CC: (via email and/or U.S. mail): All L.A. Council members, unnamed recipients, and posted on www.LAwatchdog.com.