Tag Archives: city council

Herb Wesson’s people skills will be tested as L.A. City Council president – latimes.com

Herb Wesson’s skills will be tested as L.A. council president

A former state Assembly speaker, Herb Wesson has honed his powers of persuasion over the years, and vows to bridge differences on contentious issues as he helps his colleagues deliver on their promises.

City Councilman Herb Wesson

City Councilman Herb Wesson, in line to become council president, presents Chihuahua mix Jackie O as “Pet Adoption of the Week.” (Genaro Molina, Los Angeles Times / November 18, 2011)

Before getting into politics, Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson went door to door selling cookware. After that, he sold tires. Then there was that stint as a bill collector, cajoling people down on their luck to make good on their unpaid debts.

The powers of persuasion he developed then — and has honed since inside government — will be sorely tested in the coming months as he steps into his newest political post: president of the Los Angeles City Council.

A former speaker of the state Assembly, Wesson is in line to run a 15-member body criticized by the public for getting distracted, ignoring policy details and sometimes even failing to show up. But Wesson, who lives in the Mid-City neighborhood of Wellington Square, said he intends to safeguard the council’s reputation.

“My job is to make them look good. My job is to put them in a position to deliver on the promises they made to their constituents. Their desires come before mine.”

Wesson plans to occupy the president’s chair in January, ending a six-year stint by council President Eric Garcetti. Although a vote of support from the council doesn’t come until Wednesday, he already has promised to make meetings move more briskly and clamp down on “out of line” behavior by members of the public who address the council.

The leadership change worries Neighborhood Council member Jack Humphreville, who has criticized the council’s decision to give a $2.6-million loan to a restaurant in Wesson’s district.

Wesson, who until recently ran the powerful committee that allocates tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, “never met a deal he doesn’t like,” Humphreville said.

With Wesson as president, “what you’re going to have is all this Sacramento transactional stuff,” he added, alluding to the councilman’s years in the Legislature.

Wesson disagreed with that portrayal, saying he has a track record of bringing “peace” to the council floor by bridging differences on contentious issues. “That’s not deal-making,” he said. “I think that’s leadership.”

Judging from his life story, Wesson has little in common with the current president. Garcetti, a Rhodes Scholar who attended the London School of Economics, was only 34 when he took the post. The son of a two-term Los Angeles County district attorney, Garcetti has a well-known talent for musical theater and opened up his environmentally friendly home for a spread in Dwell magazine.

Wesson, the son of an Ohio auto worker, celebrated his 60th birthday last week. Reared in Cleveland, he was the first in his family to go to college, and as a teenager cleaned oily factory equipment.

When his dad died at age 42, his father’s co-workers collected $800 to send Wesson to the West Coast to start a new life.

On the council, Wesson keeps his activities below the radar. While Councilman Tom LaBonge boisterously greets audience members and Councilman Bill Rosendahl rails on national policy issues, the 5-foot-5 Wesson frequently remains silent or sneaks out for a smoke on the south patio. But he wins praise from several colleagues for his ability to craft compromise.

“He has amazing skills in working with people,” Rosendahl said. “He doesn’t put ego into it. He’s quiet about it and he’s respectful.”

Those people skills have not charmed every colleague. Wesson is poised to become the council’s first African American president. Yet his two black colleagues — Bernard C. Parks and Jan Perry — have declined to say whether they will support him.

Wesson became intrigued by politics in the early 1970s while studying at Lincoln University, a predominantly black liberal arts college. The turning point came when Rep. Ron Dellums, a California Democrat, delivered a speech on the Pennsylvania campus.

“I got goose bumps,” Wesson said. “I remember it like it was yesterday. I turned to my fraternity brothers and said, ‘That’s what I want to do.'”

Despite that interest, Wesson did not get a firm foothold in California politics until 1987, when Nate Holden won a seat on the City Council.

Wesson went to work for him, first as a campaign worker, then an aide and finally chief of staff. By the 1990s, he was running the office of then-county Supervisor Yvonne Burke.

Wesson was elected to the Assembly in 1998 and won a seat on the council in 2005, representing a district that includes Koreatown, Mid-City and West Adams.

As president, Wesson will join the powerful committee that negotiates city employee labor agreements. He also will set the agenda for each council meeting. For now, however, he said he has no interest in putting his name on a spate of new proposals and resolutions.

“I don’t need to take credit for anything, other than hopefully running an orderly house,” he said.

Los Angeles Council President Backs Black Colleague To Succeed Him – L.A.Times

Eric Garcetti backs Herb Wesson to succeed him as council chief

The move sets the stage for the Los Angeles City Council electing its first black president.


“I’m not big on symbolism,” said Councilman Herb Wesson, “but I do think any and every barrier we can tear down makes it easier for other people.” Above, Wesson hears public comment on light rail in 2010. (Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times / February 4, 2010)

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti announced Thursday he is backing Councilman Herb Wesson as his successor, a move that could pave the way for the council to elect its first African American president in its 161-year history.

Garcetti, who is running for mayor, said he would introduce a motion Friday calling for Wesson to become president at the council’s first meeting in January. Wesson, 60, has already signaled interest in the job, and supporters hope to put six other signatures on the motion — enough to show that a majority of the council supports him.

The maneuvering comes two weeks after the abrupt resignation of the council’s president pro tem, Jan Perry, who said she did not like behind-the-scenes negotiations over the presidency and the upcoming process for redrawing council district boundaries.

Wesson has served as the state’s Assembly speaker, one of the most powerful political jobs in California. Nevertheless, he would make city history if Garcetti’s motion is approved.

“I’m not big on symbolism, but I do think any and every barrier we can tear down makes it easier for other people,” said Wesson, whose district takes in neighborhoods including Koreatown, Jefferson Park, West Adams and Mid-City.

In a statement, Garcetti said Wesson has “the experience and skills” to guide the council through the city’s ongoing budget crisis. Garcetti also said he supports making Councilman Ed Reyes president pro tem. A vote is expected Wednesday.

The change in leadership could spark a number of shifts at City Hall. Wesson said he wanted to “cut down some of the theatrics” during council meetings and make them move more quickly. Wesson is viewed as being closely aligned with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose office sometimes has had a prickly relationship with Garcetti and Perry.

Wesson was chief of staff to former Councilman Nate Holden and former county Supervisor Yvonne Burke. He was elected to the council in 2005 and reelected twice.

As president, Wesson would set each council agenda and serve on the powerful committee that negotiates contracts with public employee unions.

Wesson’s legislative deputy, Andrew Westall, was named last week to run the 21-member Redistricting Commission, the panel that will draw new maps for the 15 council districts. That hiring was opposed by Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who said Westall was a key figure in a lawsuit over Parks’ unsuccessful 2008 campaign for county supervisor.

Budget Cuts To L.A. Parks


Tell City Council how Budget
Cuts to L.A. Parks Affect You

WHAT:          City Council hearing on Recreation & Parks budget     

WHEN:          Friday, May 13
                         Starting at 10 a.m.

WHERE:        Los Angeles City Hall
                         200 N. Spring Street, 90012
                         City Council Chambers – 3rd floor

The public deserves transparency in the budget debate, beginning with reliable numbers.

  • The Mayor’s proposal shows $19.7 million in “charge backs,” but RAP’s version of the budget identifies $43.7 million.  
  • Attached charts show “charge-backs” grew from $3.1 million in 2009-’10 to $31 million in 2010-’11 to nearly $44 million in 2011-’12.  
  • How did DWP calculate the $16 million “bill” it sent RAP? Many parks don’t even have water or electricity meters.  
  • The Finance and Budget Committee directed the CAO to study the issue of “charge-backs.” The public needs to see this report.  
  • After factoring in savings from the budget agreement with City unions, how many positions will RAP lose, and how will services be affected?

Treating RAP as a proprietary department is wrong, and reverses 86 years of City Charter mandate.

  • The 1925 City Charter fixed funding for RAP (and libraries) as 0.0325 of assessed value of all City property tax income.  
  • In 1934, the Council rebuffed an attempt by then-Mayor Shaw to strip funding for parks.  
  • Voters reaffirmed the baseline funding system in 1999. 
  • RAP does not generate revenue. Two-thirds of its parks are in poor communities, where few kids can even afford entrance or uniform fees.  
  • For DWP, which generates tremendous revenue, to bill RAP $16 million for water and lights is like “Robin Hood in reverse.”  
  • The $6 million “charge back” for sanitation services could keep Midnight Basketball and other programs.  
  • Why are RAP and the Libraries being billed directly for early-retirement incentives ($4.3 million for RAP) while ERIPs are being financed for all other city departments?

Will these cuts leave us in shape to rebuild when the economy recovers, or are officials selling our crown jewels at fire-sale prices?

  • Does RAP intend to merge senior centers into the Aging Department?  
  • Isn’t that the same as privatizing senior services, given that Aging is most likely going to contract out programs?

Contact Stephanie Taylor at (213) 346-3284 or staylor@greenlacoalition.org


Increased costs have effectively cut the RAP budget by 25%. RAP has been forced to cut 20% of its staff and programs and services have suffered

Save the NC Funding

For Immediate Release
jay handal

Budget Advocates

Neighborhood Council Funds may be swept  

and your annual funding cut !!!


The new budget for 2011/12 is now being formulated and word has it that the rollover funds are going to be swept, EVEN IF YOU HAVE THEM ALLOCATED TO A FUTURE PROJECT,  and your annual budget will be reduced by 10% or more !!!!!!
You must act now.
Below is the Budget Advocates 3 page recommendation given to the Mayor and the City Council.
IT IS IMPORTANT that you CALL-WRITE- SPEAK to your council member to save our funding.

And you MUST do it NOW !!!!!

If you have any qustions, please feel freee to call me at 310-466-0645  or e mail to budgetadvocates@aol.com


Remember-the money you save may be your own !!!!!! 

Neighborhood Council 2011-2012 Budget



Whereas the City of Los Angeles is in financial crisis




Whereas the Neighborhood Council System encompasses more than 3000 volunteers for the City


Whereas the Neighborhood Council System represents more than 4,000,000 constituents as prescribed by the City Charter,


Therefore, the Budget Advocates propose the following budget for Neighborhood Councils for fiscal year 2011-2012:



Item                                        2010                      2011

Elections                      $1,900,000.00          $   800,000.00*

NC Funds                     $4.095,000.00         $4,185,000.00**

Congress                                    000.00                          $20,000.00

Total                                    $5.995,000.00            $5,005,000.00



Net Savings:                        $990,000.00  or $ 10,645.16 per N.C., a 23.6% reduction per N.C.


Roll Over Funds:

Policy: Roll over funds that are allocated but unspent ( No Demand Warrant yet issued) should remain with the neighborhood council. Any funds not allocated or spent should be used to hire additional support staff at DONE for the purpose of hiring a grant writer to supplement the NC funding system.




In 2010, the City Clerk was allocated more than $1,900,000.00 to fully run the NC elections. It was originally anticipated that the Clerks office would do all outreach as well as administer the elections.


In order to have the NC system participate in the reduction of the budget gap, it is proposed that each neighborhood council would administer its own election, with the help of the City Clerks office who would appoint one person as the independent election administrator at each election site. It is anticipated that the cost per election would not exceed $1,500.00 per neighborhood council.


Each Neighborhood Council would be responsible to hold its own elections. A citywide system of ballots would be put into place, and a committee set up to formulate how the elections are to run and be administered.


In the 2011 budget, it is anticipated that the election costs would not exceed

 $ 800,000.00. The balance of the requested funds would be used to fund the charter mandated annual congress (20,000.00)


This represents a net savings to the City of  $ 990,000.00; a significant contribution that also empowers the NC system to take back and administer its own elections and to fully fund the charter mandated NC Congress.


In addition, in the past 12 months, the NC system has come to the table with:


1)    By Laws Committee volunteers charged with working directly with NC’s for By Laws issues

2)    Peer Mentoring Committee: NC members whose charge is to work with NC’s who have questions or issues within their councils, thereby supplementing DONE staff with peers.

3)    Volunteer Committee: A committee of NC volunteers who will work with the NC’s for their volunteer needs. In addition, the volunteer committee will be taking the lead in holding the 2011 Neighborhood Congress.

4)    An election task force was assembled and recommendations are forthcoming to the City

5)    Congress committee: Charged with organizing and implementing the 2011 NC Congress, as mandated by the Charter.

6)    Volunteer treasurer committee working with DONE to ensure proper financial reporting and accountability by all NC’s.




In addition to the above, it is estimated that there is a volunteer pool supplementing, in many cases, city council office staff, working for the city for free, for a better quality of life.

Below is the estimate of number of volunteers and the hours estimated overall, along with a “Living Wage” calculation to show how many hours and how much labor is expended on behalf of the city, all at no cost to the city:


# Of Board Members:            __________1800______________


# Of Volunteers            __________1200______________


Estimated Hours per:            ____________10 month____________


Total Estimated Hours_________360000_______________


Living Wage per hour            _______$ 11.55___________


Total donated dollars            _______$ 4,158,000.00_________________


Total Donated Dollars by median Wage of a city worker: 

$24.00 per hour equals  $8,640,000.00**


** Does not include benefits and pension



Meet The Other Candidates Event – Sunday, January 23rd

On Sunday January 23, from 2 – 5 p.m. The Neighborhood News will be sponsoring the 2011 CD10 Candidates Forum.  Registration starts at 2 and the event starts promptly at 2:30.

It isn’t necessary but it would be helpful if you could RSVP to 
theneighborhoodnews@yahoo.com if you plan on coming. 

Did you know the election for CD10 Council Representative is coming up on March 8?

Do you know anything about the 5 Candidates who are running against incumbent Herb Wesson?

The Neighborhood News is providing an opportunity for you to meet them in person and find out why they want your vote.   

 Kary Earl from Earlez Grille has generously offered to provide his space for the event and Rick Cryer, chef to the Stars, is cooking up a $10 lunch plate of Jumbalaya, salad, role and soft drink. All the candidates with the exception of Councilman Wesson have agreed to participate. They are Chris Brown, Austin Dragon, Andrew Kim, Luis Montoya, Althea Rae Shaw. 

 We will have a moderator, Damien Goodmon, and a set of questions developed by a panel of 7 local residents from varying Neighborhood Council districts with a history of community activism. The candidates will be allowed a timed response with a follow up question by the moderator if necessary. There will be questions from the audience at the end.

 These elections typically go unnoticed but The Neighborhood News wants to support community involvement in the issues that affect them. 
We hope you will take the time to attend this exciting local event. Meet your neighbors, hear local issues discussed and have a delicious lunch.

 The address is 3630 Crenshaw Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016. Just below Exposition on the east side. You will see the big CHILI sign.