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Patch Blog: Just What We Expect From City Hall

Do concerned citizens have to comb the city calendar 24/7 for meetings that suddenly pop up? Apparently so.

Although notices of meetings are usually posted well in advance and agendas are supposed to be posted 72 hours in advance, a Closed Session of the City Council suddenly appeared Tuesday on the city calendar for Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m.

Mind you, when we got our regular email notices of the West Hollywood weekly calendar, it had not yet appeared. And when we got our regular West Hollywood Public Notices update, it wasn’t there either.

So, what is this meeting that suddenly and quietly appeared on the calendar? Some urgent matter that just transpired requiring immediate attention?

No. It’s a Public Employee Performance Evaluation of City Manager Paul Arevalo by the City Council.

Even though it’s a closed session, it requires public notice and allows for public comment at the beginning before the meeting is closed. It’s taking place at City Hall in the 1st Floor Community Conference Room.

Shouldn’t we have a say about his performance?

Since most complaints about our governance boil down to complaints about the “process” leaving citizens out of the loop, and since the City Manager is in charge of that “process,” am I the only one who thinks maybe the citizens might have something to say about Mr. Arevalo’s performance? And shouldn’t we have been given the normal timely notice of our opportunity to do so?

So let’s not allow another under-the-radar opportunity to slip by us. Let City Council members know exactly what you think of the way the City is being run. Council members can’t have it both ways. Either Paul Arevalo is directing the unaccountable process on his own or he’s doing it at the direction of some or all Council members.

It’s time to find out which is the case. If City Council believes he’s to blame for a broken process, now is their opportunity to do something about it. They can send him packing to his home in Pasadena. Or they can choose to approve of his practices and the status quo.

Either show up Thursday evening to comment or send emails to all the Council members ASAP. You won’t get this chance again any time soon!

And please share your comments to City Council members with us. Perhaps we can inspire one another.

You can find Paul Arevalo’s city bio here: http://www.weho.org/index.aspx?page=415

Here’s the link to the notice: http://www.weho.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=9944

Here are Council members’ emails:

jduran@weho.org

jprang@weho.org

jdamico@weho.org

aland@weho.org

jheilman@weho.org

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

joninla February 17, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Shawn - I don't want to speak for everyone, but I doubt there is anyone who disagrees with you about the excessive pay. I believe that even if our City Council were inclined to be responsive and consider changing the City Manager (or any other City Employee) Salary, the have to overcome whatever is part of the Employment Contract already negotiated and agreed upon as to his salary, perks, bonuses (and I think the biggest expense for the City's future, a significant Retirement/Severance Package). An Employment Contract (especially a government employee) is very difficult to change. However overpaid he is, he is protected by his contract with the City. Unlike other matters where the City could change their minds and then vote to effect the change, they can't vote to cut his salary under his contract. Then there is the problem bigger problem, the City Council doesn't seem to have a problem with the excessive salary and does have a problem ever listening to and then acting on even the loudest of public voices. If, however, there is grounds for his improperly performing his duties (or perhaps a much more serious issue regarding misuse of City Funds (stealing, but how the rich do it, via secret bank accounts and protecting the privacy of their actions). Unlike the irrational outbursts that I am trying to stop an attempt to make change, I just don't think it is procedurally possible. The guy has a contract, I assume.
joninla February 17, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Laura - what I've noticed several times at the Public Meetings seems even worse, if possible. From the recorded session I downloaded (specifically referring to Planning Commission meetings) there is a clear 'tell' or sign that is obvious to me, that there was clearly a prehearing agreement that a group of at least 3 commission members would vote against a project, directly in the face of the City Attorney making it absolutely clear and certain that it was a legal project and the committed did not have the 'discretion' to vote against the project being heard. The youngest Committee member (I forget his name) is clearly holding back with a smirk, as he votes against the project knowing it is not proper to do so. The perspective from the video recordings I think will reveal even more than is apparent during the live sessions. Likewise, the same trio or foursome, will just say without hesitation a revision that is taller, larger and much uglier "looks better to them and seems to fit with the direction of that neighborhood". As far as I am aware, there is absolutely no time throughout any project for any City Council Member to have to answer to the Community. Literally - they are never asked a question at any point by a concerned resident. I think my only point is that you might see even more problems (and can show/prove) by re-viewing the downloaded recording of the meetings.
joninla February 17, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Riley, I not only agree to what is more fact than opinion. But I've been noticing an even larger on-going process of preventing first the Public being aware of what's really going on, then preempting know 'red flag' issues by bringing them up before most people knew about it, along with numerous explainations that are so obviously meant to prevent the questions that would naturally follow (the release of the $41 Million Dollar Bond issuance ... with a long explanation why no resident could invest in bonds giving such a high return) That makes me think, someone in power with a lot of money and wants more, took advantage of the extraordinarily high (8% or so) return buy buying up all the City Issued Bonds and reporting "large investment funds pre-purchased all the bonds before they ever hit the open bond market" As I was informed, or City Manger is the one person with the ability and desire to take advantage of a unheard up high return on $41 Million dollars in bonds issued. The whole process excludes the ability to participate, and the Supreme Court has ruled that simply meeting the 'legal notice requirements' may not be sufficient given a look at the broader picture of the process the City is using to meet the minimum statutory notice requirements. That, I think, is the one spot we could successfully use to affect the desired change in our hijacked city.
joninla February 17, 2012 at 12:38 PM
The difference is the City of Bell is a middle class city with residents who are predominantly home owners, rather than renters. The combined crash of the economy, the housing bubble burst and the Home Owners paying Property Tax, led to the revolt in Bell. Weho is predominantly renters, has a very high profile 'glamorous' image, and the motivation is driven only be the voices of the informed residents, who are not backed up by the financial need to pay their property taxes or lose their homes. That is such a strong and identifiable reason that brought enough angry people together and come down on the City of Bell (and still, I think it was very difficult to legally prosecute those City Leaders) The net dollar figure involved with WeHo's secret government dealings must be many times greater than The City of Bell Scandal ..... If we can get it started.
joninla February 17, 2012 at 04:05 PM
JOHN HEILMAN ACTUALLY MAKES A PUBLIC STATEMENT ABOUT THE PROBLEMS WITH THE SYSTEM WE HAVE IN PLACE AND I FINALLY HAVE A CLEAR PICTURE OF WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM THE PROPOSED PLUMMER PARK UNDER GROUND PARKING STRUCTURE. You may have already heard it, but I missed it. Probably due to the soothing sound of his voice and professional way of dealing with piss on his brand new parking garage. See the video clip I got from one of the most recent City Community Meetings.

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