VNC Fails to Pass Compromise Revisions on Third Try

Board Composition Will Remain the Same for the 2025 Elections

By Nick Antonicello 

The April meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council (www.venicenc.org)  pretty much ended the same way the March meeting did, with an inability to come to a consensus on a BY LAWS revision that would have created district representation, a primary concern of the Rules & Selections Committee for months. 

After missing the required two-third’s majority by a single vote during a special ZOOM meeting last month, the VNC met again in-person in March and rejected a plan that would have created 10 distinct districts while drastically reducing the number of at-large members while retaining the size of the board of officers at 21. 

That plan was summarily rejected after a long deliberation and debate that left the Rules & Selections Committee going back to the proverbial drawing board. 

After the second rejection, it was believed that a hybrid representation plan could be accommodated, as several VNC members who voted against the second proposal would support a reduced district representation of 5, and keeping the at-large membership at 8, from the current 13. 

The Rules & Selections Committee met yet again and two proposals that supported district representation failed as the committee was deadlocked 2-2 with members CJ Cole voting in the affirmative along with Christopher Lee while Treasurer Helen Fallon and Lisa Redmond insisted on a dual district representation plan which was eventually approved on the third try by a 4-0 vote and it was that proposal that made its way to the board’s agenda Tuesday night. 

That plan called for 6 districts, of which 2 members would be elected in four of the districts or 8 members while 2 districts would have single-representation based on census data tracs used to configurate these voting units. 

The at-large representation would be reduced again to 3, but stakeholders could select all three positions. 

When the new plan was introduced, there was support in the audience primarily from East Venice residents as well as those residing in the historic Venice Canals, but it became apparent the required number of votes for a BY LAWS change were not evident. 

It was obvious that a lobbying campaign for the third revision strongly backed by Fallon and Redmond had brought support from the audience during public comment, but the whole idea of reforming or changing the election composition had become tiring and frustrating, as other board business was not being discussed. 

After public comment, board member Steve Bradbury who campaigned on the notion that changing the board’s current election composition was important, offered an amendment to the Fallon/Redmond initiative that would revert back to the 5-district, single-representation model with stakeholders being able to select 3 of the 8 at-large positions. 

The rationale was that a compromise plan that could pass was his goal moving forward. 

With Bradbury’s amending motion now on the table, public comment also indicated support for this revised plan as well. 

Under board deliberation, LUPC Chair Michael Jensen described the original motion as “a replication of the same,” and believed 10 districts was just too many. 

Longtime member Robert Thibodeau, a local architect described the 10-district, dual-representation offering as “creating walls” for Venice and that the plan was nothing but a minor adjustment to the previously defeated motion last month. Thibodeau took strong exception to the notion that having the ability to select all 8 at-large members was some violation of the LA City Charter, and proved to be at best an overreaching interpretation of the rules and as Thibodeau sought city input and the notion of being able to select all 8 at-large members was in fact, allowable. 

Thibodeau chastised both Fallon and Redmond for being “uncompromising” and offering what he regarded as “misinformation” on their committee’s original, unamended proposal. 

“We’re not fools,” offered the veteran VNC member. 

Alley Bean, a popular board member and noted actress called for the VNC to support the amended motion so that change could in fact take place and limited district representation may occur. 

Secretary Tima Bell also weighed-in and felt the business community should have a stake in the board’s composition and felt that this segment of Venice was being “demographically marginalized.” 

Under board comment and deliberation, it was made clear by Gibson Nyambura, the Director of Innovation for EMPOWER LA that the motion to amend would only require a majority vote to pass and then a final vote would be taken on the new, amended motion which would require 14 votes for passage. 

The amending motion did in fact pass by an indicated vote of 11-6, so now a final vote which would require a two-third’s majority would be put before the full board. 

Ironically, both Fallon and Redmond would oppose the amended motion along with Outreach Chair Erica Moore, who was also a strong proponent of the original, 10-district, dual representation plan. When the roll call took place, Moore struggled in how to vote, ultimately voting against the amended motion as well. 

In the end, the vote was again 11-6 as indicated, but failed by three votes as the two-third’s majority was not reached. 

Rules & Selections Committee members CJ Cole and Christopher Lee both voted yes for the amended motion, and were disappointed by the refusal of either Fallon or Redmond to compromise, leading Cole to announce after the vote she was resigning from the Rules & Selections Committee and was even contemplating resignation from the board itself, since after months of committee work, little seemed accomplished. 

With an impending May 1st deadline for BY-LAW revisions, the issue of elected board composition will remain the same as Fallon and Redmond dug in their heels and seemingly would rather have no change then some. 

For during the 2023 VNC election there seemed to be widespread support for some reform, at least expanding the voting franchise from 1 to at least 3, but that was also lost in the defeat of the motion. 

While the meeting was an exercise in democracy, it came across as an exercise in futility as the board’s ability to compromise and get to consensus was not possible. 

President Brian Averill, clearly agitated by the lack of board cooperation and consensus urged all members to place the community first before the voting commenced. 

It was not to be. Nick Antonicello is a thirty-one year resident of Venice who covers the deliberations of the Venice Neighborhood Council. A member of the Outreach and Oceanfront Walk Committees of the VNC, you can contact him via e-mail at nantoni@mindspring.com

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