GELFAND’S WORLD - In a surprising development, Raquel Beltran is reported to have been asked to resign as General Manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) and is further reported to have done so. Unfortunately, the mayor's office has muddled the communication process, to the extent that hundreds of neighborhood council participants know this story as rumor and are waiting for some official announcement.
People who are in the know explain that they heard the story from a representative of the mayor's office. Others heard it from one of those well-connected people. What we have not seen is a press release from the mayor's office making clear what the situation is. We have, however, seen a Tweet from Elizabeth Chou, attributing the story of Beltran's resignation to mayoral spokesman Zach Seidl. Chou also reports on a conversation with Beltran that affirms the resignation.
The current situation is the latest development in continuing problems between Beltran and the nearly two thousand elected board members of the city's 99 neighborhood councils. There have been continuing arguments over the use of funds, over Beltran's attempts to force training programs on board participants, and on the overall tone of DONE's workings.
As previously reported here, the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, at a Feb 21 meeting, called on the mayor to remove Beltran. That resolution was forwarded to the City Council and other agencies almost immediately and was taken up by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition (Lancc) at its Saturday, March 4 meeting. Lancc considered the resolution and, in light of the rumors that Beltran was out, passed the motion by a vote that was just short of unanimous.
The story of friction between Beltran and neighborhood councils has been covered extensively in CityWatch, by several of its regular authors.
It is not clear how the mayor's office will (or will not) work with neighborhood councils in finding a new General Manager. The mayor's office (and the mayor) has not invited discussion over how the choice will be made, or what level of participation will be offered. This is important because DONE has damaged the relationship between neighborhood councils and city government during Beltran's administration.
Neighborhood councils and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition have asked that there be consultation with the mayor's office over the appointment of a new DONE General Manager. The fact that the GM's resignation came as rumor and surprise suggests that the mayor's office is blind to neighborhood council concerns at this moment.
(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected])