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Fri, Jul

DONE’s Website: A Broken Mess That Needs Fixing

THE EASTSIDER - The last time I wrote about Richard Hopp was back in March 2021.

“Mr. Hopp, for reasons of his own, decided to check out all of the City of Los Angeles websites including those of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and 99 Neighborhood Councils. He was looking for broken hyperlinks (link rot) on the DLANC website (the Downtown LA Neighborhood Councils.)” 

As the article indicated, evidently DONE/EmpowerLA took it upon themselves to attack Mr. Hopp, who was only attempting to make the system work, and was pointing out a large number of broken hyperlinks in their version of a City website.

Well, DONE or EmpowerLA or whatever they are calling themselves these days, recently had Mr. Hopp take a look at their Neighborhood Council Roster of all the Neighborhood Councils.  Unsurprisingly, he found that something like 179 people on the  roster didn’t exist.  Evidently since January DONE has not updated the roster, and there’s no telling when or if they will do so.

[First, I have to give Mr. Hopp a shout out for his ‘Unauthorized Historical Biography of the City of Los Angeles, Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and Neighborhood Council Ecosystem Information Archive’, which you can find hereIt’s a serious treasure trove of information about the Neighborhood Councils history, and well worth a look.]

Anyhow, back to the narrative. In addition to bad email addresses, Mr. Hopp again found a very large number of broken hyperlinks. 

Of course, with the involuntary exiting of Raquel Beltran, and the installation of an “Interim” General Manager, it would appear that DONE hasn’t done (no pun intended) a darn thing about fixing their cobbled together internet presence.

According to DONE’s own Roster, there are evidently at least three paid staff involved in their IT presence, including:

Armando Ruiz - Director of Administrative Services Budget, Accounting, Payroll, Personnel, Facilities, IT, Marketing, and other administrative elements of outreach activities. 

Wendy Edison - Systems Manager responsible for technically complex & critical analyses of Information Systems; Project Manager for all IT assignments; develops, plans & provides regular systems support including budgeting, purchasing and maintenance of technology assets for the Neighborhood Empowerment Department”

I am told that the IT function for DONE, now cleverly called the “Department of Neighborhood Empowerment” and/or “EmpowerLA”, depending on where you look, is in fact outsourced.  I put in a request to DONE to (1) confirm whether their IT function is indeed outsourced, and (2) the name of the vendor, since when, and contact information for the vendor.

Ann-Marie Holman, who is the ‘Director of Communications”, replied to my inquiry and informed me as I was preparing this article that they use the City of Los Angeles IT Department.  That’s good, they are excellent.

At the same time, she indicated:

We additionally have a small in-house Systems team providing tech support to other staff members.”  

Nice reply, but it doesn’t really answer the question as to whether that ‘in-house Systems team’ is a vendor or not.

The Takeaway

So, regarding Richard Hopp’s inquiry, maybe DONE should forward his information to the ITA to see what’s up. My guess is that DONE staff are simply not doing timely updates in several areas, and that’s not OK.

For a City Department that is charged with supporting some 99 Neighborhood Councils scattered throughout the entire City of Los Angeles, solid IT support is critical.  Back when they had in-person monthly meetings of the Neighborhood Councils with DONE staff attending each meeting, it wasn’t such a big deal.

Now, however, the Department is getting Sacramento to amend the Brown Act to allow remote only meetings just for our Neighborhood Councils as a carveout. That’s right, SB 411, a bill by Anthony Portantino to modify the Brown Act just for DONE, so that they can do Neighborhood Council meetings remotely.  Honest.

I think they fed Anthony Portantio a load of BS to get him to author SB 411, and they are trying to get it passed quickly, before anyone really thinks about the implications.

More about SB411 later...

(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.)