I’m a board member of our Neighborhood Council. Volunteer, natch, but we are given a budget by the City to do things for our area, we have to take really dull webinars like a city worker with a paycheck and benefits and supposedly we have the ear of City Hall.
Long story short, some guys with gusto came to our council to get funding for surveillance cameras in a local park. It is a mixed area. Lots of families, normal, good park activities and couple of gang shootings a year. The police always tell us, “It’s so much better than it was”. Which it is. Here I am recently in said park on National Night Out. I was getting people to sign up to get emails about our council. If they did I gave them a t-shirt, a flashlight or a reusable grocery bag. Some of them thought they could just get the t-shirt without hearing from me about their neighborhood council.
They were wrong.
So, I felt that our council member, Herb Wesson should have listened to these local heroes when they emailed his field deputy about this issue. Crickets. We only get so much dough a year so I don’t want to fund all things that cross our desk, and didn’t we give the council man some scratch for movies in the park? I’m also still waiting for my stop signs.. another story. Cut to: we fund half and I say I will help them contact the council office for the other half.
Then 3 weeks of my life was spent lobbying, email, phone calls. My favorite was the one from the field deputy Vincent , “Thanks Debra, do you have a number I can reach you.” Yeah, my name is not Debra, but here is my number. He never called. Some headway with his boss, high up deputy, not enough. Went the Mayor route, which looked promising, but our council meeting was now coming up and I felt the momentum would be to fund or dump the project. Frankly, it was less than 6 grand and there was a thick petition to go with the request.
A friend of a friend is in this HILarious video that takes place in a city council meeting. It bears some resemblance to the dynamic of these groups. Good satire
The night of the meeting Wesson’s rep Sylvia Lacey was there. Now, if you have ever been involved in a board meeting or city gov’t NOTHING runs zip, zip along, so it’s hard to break this down and give you, the reader info, and not want to stick a fork in your head at the pace of things. Bottom line, the council voted to be contingency funding for the cameras if the council office couldn’t “find the money”. I was also able to bring to Syliva’s attention that our community was feeling like they weren’t being heard… or called back. She wrote down our laundry list of issues, from problems with their website to badly placed traffic lights.
This has a happy ending. Two days later the council office funded it. I was so relieved as I didn’t have the time to start the recall my council member campaign ( must cancel that T-shirt order). I have other unpaid projects to work on.