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Northeast LA:  B.L.E.N.D. Election Update

THE EASTSIDER - After my post a couple of weeks ago regarding the Northeast LAPD Division’s booster club, or B.L.E.N.D., and their Bylaws difficulties, it turns out that another group of the BLEND members sent an open letter to the BLEND Board regarding the elections held on July 18th.

Here is a copy of the text of that letter: 

July 18, 2022 [Board of Director] 6045 York Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90042

Dear [Board of Director],

This letter is to inform you of an incident involving members of your organization and their concerning behavior during a recent Business for Law Enforcement Northeast Division (B.L.E.N.D.) Meeting.

On Wednesday, July 6th, 2022, B.L.E.N.D. conducted its election for the 2022-2023 Executive Board. At such time, members of the organization expressed concern with the manner in which its election was being conducted, their results, and the shut down of open discussion by a number of individuals, including Erica Arias and Roberto Alaniz.

As long-time residents, business owners, and former pblic servants of Northeast Los Angeles, we are concerned for the future of B.L.E.N.D., the motivation behind Erica Arias and Roberto Alaniz’ new-found leadership roles in B.L.E.N.D., and the alarming behavior they have each displayed as employees and/ or Board Members of the Los Angeles Police Museum and the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Northeast Division Police Athletic League (PALs). Erica Arias’ behavior on July 6 included dismissing and degrading B.L.E.N.D. Board Members, several of which included seniors; and interfering with B.L.E.N.D.’s election, which saw the manipulation of electoral candidate lists, control of votes by increasing the vote share of a preferred candidate, depressing the vote share of rival candidates, obstructing the view and still photography of ballots, and confiscating the ballot box, to name a few. Roberto Alaniz was present during the series of events and said nothing to stop, question or diffuse concerns coming from members. Erica Arias and Roberto Alaniz’ conduct has not only been disheartening to witness - but is deemed unethical - and should be a true cause for concern for any organization they are affiliated with.

Currently, an investigation has been initiated into the manner in which your Executive Director and your Board of Directors Chair may have assisted or led illicit activities within B.L.E.N.D.. For 50 years, B.L.E.N.D. has supported those who protect and serve our shared communities in a peaceful and harmonious way. We expect to go as far as necessary to ensure that B.L.E.N.D. remains true to its mission and that its membership is found to be above reproach.

Sincerely, 

Yolanda Nogueira

B.L.E.N.D. Board Member & Daughter of B.L.E.N.D. Founding Member Highland Park Chamber of Commerce, President

LAPD Northeast LA Police Appreciation Day Event, Director

Annual Northeast LA Veterans Parade, Producer

Annual Northeast LA Christmas Parade, Producer

Annual Mercado Arts & Crafts Fair, Producer

2017 Woman of the Year, State of California (Assembly District 51)

Rosemary Muzingo

B.L.E.N.D. Board Member

Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce, Board Member

Women’s Twentieth Century Club of Eagle Rock, Member

The Eagle Rock Association (TERA), Founder and Former President

Stephanie Romero

B.L.E.N.D. Board Member

Business Owner

Office of Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang, Former Special Assistant

Office of CA State Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, Former District Director & Northeast LA Representative.

 

The CA Attorney General Response

While the July 6th Board Elections are now under scrutiny, the Attorney General’s office sent a response to Carolyn Aguirre’s request for an inquiry by the AG’s Office over BLEND’s antics.  Here is the heart of their reply:

“The Attorney General does not review matters involving internal labor disputes, contested elections, disagreements between directors and members over policy and procedures, and most legal actions between charities and third parties regarding contracts or torts. Also, under Corporations Code section 9230, the Attorney General has limited authority to investigate religious corporations. Persons with complaints in any of the foregoing categories may choose to consult a private attorney to review legal rights and remedies.

Further information regarding the Attorney General’s oversights of charitable trusts is available on the Attorney General’s website, at http://oag.ca.gov/charities.

Unfortunately, we lack the staffing to enable us to investigate all of the thousands of complaints we receive, and must limit ourselves to those few which we believe to be the most significant. We do, however, review all complaints submitted to us. As a matter of law and policy, the Attorney General’s Office does not provide information regarding its pending investigations and audits.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.”

 

The Takeaway

As time goes on, and more and more internal difficulties of BLEND come out,  there are no winners. BLEND is a vehicle for the Northeast community to provide economic and other support to the Northeast Division of the LAPD. Period. 

Clearly, it has now turned into a very public distraction, even as the fix for all this is straightforward.  Simple. 

Instead of internally melting down, all the nonprofit needs to do is to establish a small committee to go off and revise the existing bylaws, by simply looking at other similar entities within the LAPD’s purview. 

Report back, modify the recommendations as needed, and vote. Then BLEND can get back to being the effective booster club for Northeast Division that they once were, and the LAPD can benefit from the help. 

Just a suggestion... 

(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)