Culver City Observer -

By Lynne Bronstein
Observer Publisher 

Council Postpones Finance Committee Appointments


February 26, 2013

Application Forms Provided Confusion

The City Council was poised to vote on members for the new Finance Advisory Committee at Monday’s meeting when a glitch came up. It seemed that the applications were so muddled it was hard to tell if people were applying as resident members or business members.

Council member Mehaul O’ Leary brought up the problem just as potential members were coming up to the podium to give statements about their qualifications. He complained that the applications were “confusing” and did not offer any real information about whether people were qualified to be business members.

Furthermore, some people seemed to be candidates as both business and resident members. Also some candidates were already members of other city committees, which meant they would have to resign their membership in those committees to be eligible for the Finance Advisory Committee.

“All the candidates should have been vetted before this came to us,” said O’ Leary.

Council members also noted that the applications were difficult to read because the photocopies were faint, blurred, and as Meghan Sahli-Wells put it “looked like they had been stepped on.” She even offered to retype them and turn them into pdfs.

City Manager John Nachbar apologized for the applications. According to city staff, a new form is being created that will be easier to fill out and will look better.

The Finance Advisory Committee has been accepting applications for the last two months after the Council agreed to create the committee last year in the wake of the passage of the city sales tax measure.

The Finance Advisory Committee will advise the Council on financial matters and is to consist of six members, three residents and three members of the business community.

Three other members have already been named for special positions and their appointments are awaiting approval by the Council: Desmond Burns for the Staff Level Bargaining Group office; Allan Azran for the Management Level Bargaining Group Office; and Sean Kearney for the CCUSD Office.

Because many of the 24 candidates’ applications were not clear as to their status, the Council decided to postpone selection of members until the applications can be vetted and separated as to resident and business candidates. In the meantime, those candidates who were present were allowed to introduce themselves to the Council.

Statements were made by Michael Chaghouri, Goran Eriksson, Harden “Alex” Fisch, Wendy Hamill, James Harris, Steven Rose, David Trovato, Alejandro Lara, Stephen Murray, James E. Wright II, and Karen Coyle, among others. (Observer publisher Stephen Hadland is also an applicant for the committee but was not present).

The Council also approved city participation and official sponsorship of the CicLAVia event to be held April 21.

Not an actual bike race but more of a street festival, with Venice Boulevard being closed to vehicle traffic from downtown to the beach, CicLAVia is technically a Los Angeles event but will pass through Culver City via Venice Boulevard, Main Street (which will also be closed off) and the downtown plaza area, which will be a “hub” for participants.

The downtown plaza area and Parcel B will form the “hub” where there will be a “bike valet” area for parking bikes that people will ride along the 15-mile course, said City Engineer Charles Herbertson, adding that will be police security and traffic control.

CicLAVIa executive director Aaron Paley said the event originated in Bogota, Colombia, and has been picked up by many American cities. It is basically “a temporary park.” People can bike, walk, jog, and mill about in the open street space.

The Culver City Downtown Business Association (DBA) endorsed CicLAVia and DBA director Eric Sims said the Hub area would be “Third Wednesday on steroids,” referring to the street-fair activities held on third Wednesdays during the summer.

The Council was concerned about what the participation would cost Culver City. The estimated cost is $12,500. Herbertson said Sony was contributing $10,000 in “matching funds.” The DBA has promised to raise $5000 of the funds to be matched. The money will cover the cost of sanitation, portable toilets, fences around bike parking, signage, and other incidental costs.

Paley also assured the Council, in answer to a question by O’ Leary about Metro construction, that all Los Angeles city agencies have been working with CicLAVia on the event and “construction will be stopped” for that day, while the running of Metro Expo Line trains will be increased in frequency to allow people to attend the event car-free.

Jeff Cooper was dubious about the monetary expense and voted against participation, but the other Council members voted for it enthusiastically. As Mayor Andrew Weissman pointed out, the “potential economic opportunity” of people flocking to Culver City and discovering local businesses, is “worth the modest expenditure.” And as Sahli-Wells put it: “It combines the green of sustainability with the green of the money it will bring in.”


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