Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Silver Lake N.C. Grievance



I, Carol Knapp, stakeholder by reason of property ownership and residence within the boundaries of the Silver Lake Neighborhood council, am filing a formal grievance against the City of Los Angeles, a municipal corporation, Los Angeles City Council and Mayor, and City Attorney and The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Board as agents of the aforementioned Los Angeles City Council.  Certain members of the SLNC board have consistently violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, California law regarding ethics in government (Government Code SEC. 81,000 – Political Reform Act) as well as breached the duties expressed by the stated SLNC mission, purpose, by-laws and ethical responsibilities during their tenure.


First Amendment violations


Whereas, under Article IX of Los Angeles City Charter as amended in 2000, any and all holders of elected positions, paid or unpaid, must "follow all local, state and federal laws", the above noted parties have violated the inalienable "freedom of speech" right of this individual, as guaranteed in Amendment I of the United States Constitution.


Under the First Amendment and as decided in applicable federal case law, the people have the inalienable right to freedom of speech, a right not to be abridged by any government actor or agent.  This right of the people includes the right to express "political truths" about government officials and to fully inform the public about any betrayals of the public trust engaged in by said officials.  This right also prohibits any government actor or agent from intentionally suppressing such information or from limiting the expression of any political point of view in favor of another. 


In addition, under the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech, there is a distinction between "protected" speech and "unprotected" speech, the latter of which applies to advocating unlawful action, obscenity defamation, untruthful advertising or inciting a riot.  There is also a distinction between "time-place restriction versus "content-related" restriction, which is restriction based on the message being conveyed.  Content-related restriction of speech by a government entity is presumptively unconstitutional.  If a content-related restriction is to be upheld, the government must show a "compelling state interest" and the restriction must be "narrowly construed" to achieve that end.


The subject website links, www.redevelopment.com and www.freedomadvocates.org and www.ebonyshowcase.org/pals are all informational and fact laden.  These websites are logically related to issues that frequently are considered by the neighborhood councils, such as redevelopment laws and facts relating to the practice of redevelopment.  Since the City of Los Angeles has 34 redevelopment project areas, and the SLNC has, in fact, reviewed this issue and submitted a Community Impact Statement regarding eminent domain, this topic is of widespread concern to residents of the city. 


Moreover, the Freedom Advocates website gives facts regarding the origination of stakeholder councils and the imposition of Sustainable Development by executive order.   

Neither of these websites advocate for any political party or any political candidate.


Therefore, the right to freedom of speech is indispensable in a free society and is one of the most basic of human rights guaranteed by the Constitution.  That is why it is the "first" amendment.  


Certain of the SLNC board members consistently have denied equal access to this "stakeholder" because of "content-related" motives.  The most recent violations occurred during May of 2008, and during May, June and July of 2006 where board members of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council have consistently violated the above right by refusing to post the above-referenced links on the SLNC website.


The request for these postings is an attempt to offer guidance and support to other stakeholders that may be threatened or abused by government officials, particularly in the area of property rights, since these abuses have been dispensed with alarming regularity to Los Angeles property owners during the past 30 or more years.  One of the websites exposes the agenda and origins of stakeholder councils (1977 Soviet Constitution and 1992 United Nations Agenda 21), facts that have been hidden from the public, and invites SLNC stakeholders to join the Silver Lake chapter of "Freedom 21 Santa Cruz" and Silver Lake chapter of PALS.  (People Against Land Stealing).  The stakeholder council concept was devised for the purpose of advancing Agenda 21, which severely limits property rights and ultimately will destroy them entirely, according to the terms of the U.N. Agenda 21 for Sustainable Development. 


Certain of these board members have responded to these requests with reference to a committee called "Government Liaison Committee" and have stated that this committee must "approve" of the requested links.  The responses indicated that this committee was not meeting at present, and that probably would not even be able to address the request until autumn, 2006.  This stakeholder advised these board members that such "approval" is unnecessary under the law and is an unreasonable obstacle to the individual right of freedom of speech and again requested the postings.  These links provide important "political truths", which is precisely the type of speech that the First Amendment seeks to protect, according to relevant federal case law.


Nevertheless, the board refused to post either of the links, despite the fact that this stakeholder offered to provide technical assistance to relieve any board member of additional responsibility. 


The SLNC website is replete with links for other organizations, including those that espouse a particular political viewpoint. (see below). 


Another request was directly made to the two region 6 representatives of the SLNC to assist with this request.  One of the representatives promptly responded stating that he did not have the technical ability to upload the links.


The other board member eventually responded, but stated that "no policy has been established with respect to website postings" (see attached).  This stakeholder replied that such a "policy" is inapplicable to the current situation as no authority, federal, city or state, can supercede the authority of the United States Constitution.  Moreover, the SLNC currently is replete with website links, links that uniformly express the one-sided political points of view (described below) of the established Los Angeles City Council, Mayor and City Attorney and the individual/s who placed the existing links on the website, thus refuting the claim of "no existing policy".  There is also a link supplied under the picture of one board member that connects the visitor to a private blog site of this individual.  This site, named "Silver Lake at Large", is filled with personal political views of this board member, endorses certain political candidates and is acting to promote the political agendas of City Council members, particularly in the area of implementing Agenda 21 on Sustainable Development. 


**2008 Update – This stakeholder again requested that three links be placed on the SLNC website, but was told that no one had the technical expertise to upload the links.


This stakeholder then volunteered to provide technical assistance and contacted Sarai Molina, the Silver Lake Manager at DONE, who indicated that DONE would provide technical assistance and/or a list of competent webmasters for the board.


Nevertheless, the board…and in particular Laura Dwan whose name appears on the website as the liaison for the "webmaster"…refused to answer my question, "are you saying that I must get approval from the board for these links?"  I have all electronic messages in my files to prove these allegations. 


As of November 1, 2008, these links have not been posted although the first request was made in 2006. 


Requested Remedy:


This stakeholder demands equal access to the SLNC website for the placement of links intended to advise SLNC stakeholders of their rights and equal access for any other stakeholder who should desire to place differing or contrary views to the approved monolithic "party-line views" described above.  This remedy will not only return First Amendment rights to all stakeholders, but will also be a "source of information for the community on community issues and governmental matters", one of the stated goals of the SLNC (see below)


Violation of state law because of exemption from financial disclosure requirements


This section of the grievance is directed at the Los Angeles City Council.  In February of 2003 the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to exempt neighborhood council board members from financial disclosure requirements, i.e. Form 700, the Statement of Economic Interest-abbreviated version, which merely requests a signature from each board member disavowing any monetary interest in holding the board position.  This disclosure requirement is applicable for all elected officials, paid or unpaid… and is for the purpose of avoiding conflict of interest.   Conflict of interest can cause decision-making entities unable to render unbiased opinions in the best interest of the public.  This exemption is also a violation of the Political Reform act and against public policy as being contrary to the goal of transparency in government, and thus sets a dangerous precedent.


Requested Remedy:


Thus, this exemption granted by Los Angeles City Council members must be rescinded in the best interest of the public and neighborhood council board members should be required to submit the "Short Form" 700 along with all other public servants being entrusted with decision-making authority by the people.


Violations of SLNC Mission and Purpose Statement, By-laws, and Ethical Responsibilities of SLNC Board Members


The Los Angeles City Charter of 2000 provided for the institution of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and neighborhood councils.  The stated purpose was to "promote public participation" in the governance function and to make local government "more responsive to public needs".  The grievance procedure from DONE also references a desire to "maintain independence from city hall".


Such a "neighborhood council" was established in the region of Los Angeles, commonly known as "Silver Lake" and established its name as the "Silver Lake Neighborhood Council".  As part of the statutory provisions necessary for certification as an "official" Los Angeles agency, the SLNC established a mission statement and bylaws.  The following are relevant excerpts from this statement and these bylaws:


                        Article II – Mission and Purpose


Mission statement: "The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council will work to honor diversity, build community, forge bonds with neighboring communities, and promote participation in city governance and decision-making processes to improve the quality of life for all of Silver Lake's stakeholders."


Relevant excerpts from by-laws:

" To fairly and faithfully represent the interest of all stakeholders",


"To be a source of information for the community on community issues and governmental matters",         


"To educate, encourage, and facilitate in helping government work better for the community"


"To support the efforts of existing community groups"




                                    Article VI – Ethics


B. "The SLNC board must comply with all local, state and federal laws…all applicable Conflict of Interest Laws, Political Reform Act, and the Government Ethics Ordinance"


C. "…will not discriminate in any of its policies, recommendations or actions against any individual or group on the basis of…political affiliation."


D. "..may not endorse candidates for political office."


Actions contrary to SLNC Mission Statement Goals and SLNC By-laws.


Since the inception of the SLNC these goals have been ignored and subverted by those unelected individuals who had control of the formation process and by some of the subsequently elected board members as described below: 


1.  "…to fairly and faithfully represent the interests of all stakeholders" and to "honor



During the formation process, unelected facilitator Vincent Brook wrote this statement as part of the description of Silver Lake: "We are proud of our liberal political heritage." 


This stakeholder requested a more inclusive statement be written, since obviously not all SLNC stakeholders hold the same political views, and this statement excluded some members, and thus did not "honor diversity", at least diversity of thought.  It was then revised by Mr. Brook to read: "We have a history of liberal politics".  This stakeholder again objected to the discriminatory statement.  Mr. Brook finally changed it to, "We have a history of political activism", but complained, stating that this stakeholder was "the only person that objected", thus showing his reluctance to comply with the request and aggravation at being forced to recognize any views that did not conform to the majority opinion "party line" to which Mr. Brook apparently subscribed.


Another example of the failure of this and other neighborhood councils to "fairly and faithfully" represent the wishes of the people as opposed to the wishes of the politicians is the subject of the "density bonuses" that were forced upon the city during the last Master Plan Update.  The vast majority of Los Angeles residents are opposed to density bonuses because of the obvious deleterious effects on quality of life that such density bonuses will cause.  Yet the alleged "consensus" achieved by the SLNC and other neighborhood councils was to approve the density bonuses that the city politicians and corporate beneficiaries wanted.  Thus, this alleged "consensus" is in direct conflict with the majority view of the people, as measured by informal vote-taking at other public meetings by this stakeholder.  As a matter of fact, there were many objections to density bonuses expressed by Silver Lake stakeholders at a Town Hall Meeting in October of 2003 and these objections were filed with the planning department.  However, those that were responsible for collecting the data and sending it to the planning department (Derek Ryder of SLNC and Bennett Kaiser of GEPNC) vastly minimized the objections and relegated them to the phrase a "vocal minority".  (FYI: Mr. Ryder was an architect by his own admission, and thus had a personal financial interest in supporting redevelopment law, density bonuses, and government subsidized corporate welfare projects.  He also did not own property in Silver Lake, so he had less concern for the effect on quality of life than would someone who owned property and was therefore less mobile).


It is this attempt to substitute this fraudulent "consensus" process for the individual rights guaranteed in the Constitution that is most dangerous.  The City Council and corporate supporters had an agenda to add density well before any "Town Hall" meeting was planned.  Therefore, the neighborhood council mission statement to be "independent" from City Hall has not been realized.  That Town Hall Meeting was merely to give the illusion that our input mattered.  They got the density bonuses and we suffer and that's that.  


(2008 update:  The predictions of those opposed to the density bonuses have been realized.  The freeways and local streets all throughout Silver Lake have been so impacted that it can take a half hour to drive Silver Lake Blvd. in rush hour.  These unlawful "density bonuses" are currently the cause of action of a recently filed class-action lawsuit by the "La Brea Coalition")


The same is true of allegedly "affordable", corporate welfare housing projects.  The majority of Los Angeles residents do not want these projects in their neighborhoods, yet have been forced to submit to the wishes of the politicians and corporate welfare beneficiaries under the fraudulent claim of "helping the poor".  Thus, this and other neighborhood councils have been instrumental in thwarting the wishes of the people in favor of the wishes of the politicians. 


Additionally, in June, 2006 this stakeholder was advised of a meeting of the "Government Affairs Committee", which included an agenda item regarding the use of "eminent domain for private gain", i.e. allowing the government to condemn private property and transfer ownership to other private entities.  There were two board members in attendance, and five other individuals at the meeting.


This stakeholder attended and presented objective facts and information regarding the inadvisability of this practice, i.e. the brochure entitled "Redevelopment: the Unknown Government" (Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform) and volunteered to write a statement of opposition to the practice.  This brochure contained the only objective information submitted at that meeting.  However, both board members in attendance (Jason Lyon and Elizabeth Sharkov) stated their support of the above eminent domain practices…despite the informal "consensus" of the rest of the attendees to oppose it… and refused to state any formal opposition to the practice, other than to perhaps request the clarification of the word "blight" in the current redevelopment law.


Nevertheless, this stakeholder wrote the letter in opposition to the above practice and forwarded to the chairperson of this Government Affairs Committee, who neither circulated it to other committee members nor submitted it to the City Council.  This letter was merely ignored.  The City Council was the intended recipient of such a letter as stated by Ms. Sharkov to "guide the Council" in their up-coming agenda item regarding eminent domain (as if the politicians actually listened to any opposition to their self-serving agenda.) 


This inaction on the part of those board members evidenced their breach of the duty to "fairly and faithfully represent the interests of the stakeholders of Silver Lake" and also evidences undue influence on the part of Councilperson Eric Garcetti and/or other City Councilpersons on these board members, thus preventing the attainment of the stated goal of DONE to achieve "independence from city hall".  The City Council subsequently voted unanimously to oppose any impending legislation that would limit their ability to transfer private property to private corporate entities.  In doing so, the Council thus reflected the only opinion that the chairperson of the Government Affairs Committee" and chairperson of the Urban Design and Preservation were apparently willing to support, i.e. the predetermined decision of the City Council to continue their abhorrent practices of seizing private property on behalf of corporate interests and supplying such corporate interests public monies.  Recent surveys conducted by Castle Coalition (Institute for Justice, Wa. D.C.) reflect overwhelming sentiment on the part of Americans against this type of eminent domain abuse, yet these SLNC board members supported the wishes of the City Council instead, thus demonstrating breach of the duty to represent the Silverlake residents.


2.  "To be a source of information for the community on community issues and

governmental matters", and


"To educate, encourage, and facilitate in helping government work better for the community"


This stakeholder initiated a meeting to discuss the impending intrusion of allegedly "affordable housing" projects in Silver Lake and to present evidence to the community of the fraudulent and illegal actions of Los Angeles politicians, actions which have deprived thousands of "life, liberty and property" in the city.  It was my wish to alert the community of these acts, since local media simply has refused to cover most of it.    


Since I had received certain non-official emails from those in control of the stakeholder email list, such as invitations to "anti-war protests" and requests to declare one presidential candidate "the winner" of a recent debate, I assumed that this list was for the purpose of inviting stakeholders to community meetings of importance.  I made a request for an invitation to be sent out for a meeting to discuss the impending allegedly "affordable housing" corporate welfare projects.  I wanted to discuss this matter openly with my neighbors, without the interference of city hall.  However, because those in control of the list stated their personal approval of and desire for such projects, they refused to honor my request, stating that the list was only for "official" use.  Again, the duty to "fairly and faithfully represent the views of all stakeholders" and to "honor diversity" was breached, and guarantees of "equal protection" and "freedom of speech" were also violated. 


Additionally, the duties to "To be a source of information for the community on community issues and government matters" and "to educate, encourage, and facilitate in helping government work better for the community" were breached.  It is certainly important for the public to know facts regarding government abuse.  Moreover, how can anyone "facilitate in helping government work better" if they are unaware of what the government is doing?


Therefore, the refusal to announce the meeting, and the failure to add the requested links (described above under "Violation of the First Amendment" is also a breach of the stated intentions to "fairly and faithfully represent…", to "honor diversity", "to be a source of information…" and to "facilitate in helping government work better…".  




Conflict of Interest


This stakeholder also demands the disclosure of economic and political interest of all Los Angeles Neighborhood Council board members, in keeping with applicable California statutory provisions for all elected officials, both paid and unpaid.  The continued exemption of these individuals from the "Statement of Economic Interest" (form 700) is a violation of state law, of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, SLNC by-law Article VI – Ethics- B. Conflict of Interest – see above) and is against public policy as discouraging transparency in government.  





The neighborhood council system was mandated by Agenda 21, a United Nations dictum  that has thrust "Sustainable Development Goals" upon American people by executive order (George Herbert Walker Bush and William Jefferson Clinton) without the knowledge or consent of the American people.  The stated goals of Agenda 21 include the ultimate dissolution of private property rights to all but the wealthy "elite" and "politically connected".  The City politicians have refused to disseminate this etiology and merely claim that this is "state law". 


My experience with the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council from the years 2002 until the present is testimony to the realization of these goals. 


Moreover, the neighborhood council system was created by the 1977 Soviet Constitution as an effective means of controlling the Russian people by such historically effective methods as peer pressure, marginalizing "dissenters", including government-connected "plants" at the meetings and socially engineered "visioning meetings".   All of these manipulative techniques have been implemented by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council System in a fraudulent manner.     


Therefore, I, Carol Knapp of 1817 Micheltorena Street in Los Angeles, am filing this grievance, in accordance with Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment guidelines, against the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council for breaching certain of the duties as stated in the "mission statement" and by-laws of said Neighborhood Council, and for violating applicable federal law, i.e. the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.


The complaint regarding the exemption of N.C. board members from applicable state "conflict of interest" laws is best addressed to the Los Angeles City Council as this governing body was solely responsible for the ill-advised exemption. 




This stakeholder demands equal access to post links on the SLNC website on pertinent community matters, particularly when relevant factual information exists that belie statements or claims of government actors.  The continued denial of this access is a violation of my First Amendment right to freedom of speech and my 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.    


This stakeholder demands that all Neighborhood Council board members in the City of Los Angeles must file form 700, "Statement of Economic Interest", as all other elected officials…paid or unpaid…are required to do. 


This stakeholder demands that no alleged "consensus statement" that has emanated from this or any other neighborhood council meetings be admitted into the public record under the guise of representing the wishes of the community.  If "community input" is desired, a vote count by individuals is the only acceptable measure after a well-publicized opinion poll.  "Consensus-building" in the experience of many knowledgeable sources including this stakeholder, means nothing more than bullying and destruction of Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, property rights and equal protection under the law.  


Thank you for processing this grievance,


Carol Knapp                                        (323) 660-2932

1817 Micheltorena St.

Los Angeles, California                      Carol_Knapp@hotmail.com







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