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EDITORIAL : THE SKY'S THE LIMIT; VALLEY RESIDENTS ON NEIGHBORHOOD EMPOWERMENT PANEL CAN MAKE L.A. A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK.

SAN Fernando Valley residents Lee Kanon Alpert, Keith Weaver and a Val to be nominated later to the new Neighborhood Empowerment Commission will have an extraordinary opportunity to maximize community involvement in government.

In drawing up the rules, they have a chance to ensure that the neighborhood councils, although advisory, have a real opportunity to define issues and influence decisions being made at City Hall.

They will need money and staff and support to work together regionally and citywide to bring city government back to the neighborhoods it abandoned so long ago in favor of a twisted ideology that forgot Los Angeles is just a city and not a nation.

Alpert, who is excited about ``flipping government on its head,'' has done some thinking on the matter and said one model for the new neighborhood councils could be found at the Department of Recreation and Parks. In that case, local park advisory boards inform the department of what their needs are, instead of being told what to do by a bureaucrat in a downtown office.

That is a plan that can be enforced throughout city government, which has let down many sectors of the city over the years.

It usually comes in the form of a ``can't do that'' response. If the people ask, they are told they can't have their streets paved, must endure sidewalk vendors, can't have buckled sidewalks fixed, thoroughfares beautified, names of neighborhoods changed, extra police assigned, more fire stations built. The list goes on and on.

The new system of neighborhood councils has the potential to make life in the city of Los Angeles more pleasurable and government more responsive.

It may also save the city from the very movement that sparked the successful charter reform effort and stave off secession. People don't want to live in a city that doesn't think highly of its residents. If they pick up a phone, they want their council member to answer it.

Alpert, Weaver and the third Valley representative on the seven-person Neighborhood Empowerment Commission owe it to the entire Valley to not let themselves be steamrollered by downtown power politics.

They have the chance to lay the cornerstones for the future of self-government, whether the Valley secedes or not. Soon enough all governments will take their cues from residents, not the other way around.

Let's lay the groundwork in Los Angeles.
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 17, 1999
Words:395
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