A Better Way to Govern LA

www.noelweiss.com / (310) 822-0239 / Send me an e-mail!

Click on the icon above to listen to Noel in his own words
(Audio courtesy of Insight with Brian Oxman and Kathryn Milofsky AM 830)

It’s time for change – Real Change – The kind of change which will truly empower the people by making our governance system work for the Citizens of Los Angeles. Government should be our ally, not our adversary. The goal should always be to get the right result, for the right reason, in the right way.

DH Lawrence said The great virtue of life is real courage – The type of courage that knows how to face facts and live beyond them. The core job of our City Attorney is to ensure that our legal infrastructure reflects and protects our core social values. In this upcoming election you will be choosing the next LA City Attorney – Your Attorney. It is a decision as important as choosing your personal physician. You must choose wisely.

There is no question that we can do anything we want when we make up our minds to do it. My governance philosophy is one of ’smart governance’ – What I call the ‘Five-P’s’ of Governance. No program or policy should be implemented unless it is (1) Practical, (2) Pro-active, (3) Positive, (4) Progressive, and (5) Principled.

As City Attorney I will find ways to use the law as a powerful problem solving tool to serve the best interests of our diverse community and to reinforce our core social values. Public officials work for the people, not the other way around.

The City Attorney is the only real check on the excesses of the Mayor and the City Council; and when the political interests of the Councilmembers diverge from the broader public interest, it has to be the City Attorney, elected by the people, who represents that broader public interest.

Today, many of our political leaders seek to maintain their power by purposely keeping the people divided and then exploiting that division. This must stop.

I believe it is time for the people to be truly empowered – My goal and vision is to find creative and thoughtful ways of turning obstacles into opportunities.

The City and the people should be allies not adversaries. There must be less confrontation and more cooperation; less government by litigation, and more government by thoughtful legislation borne out of thorough, reasoned debate. The City Attorney can make that happen.

We need simplicity in government. What we have now is manufactured complexity. The social contract between the government and the people is breaking down. The gap between promise and performance is far too wide and must be narrowed. As City Attorney I will narrow that gap by ensuring that the system works better for the people. How?

1. By welcoming performance audits by the Controller every year;

2. By publishing a comprehensive year end review which will clearly delineate the City Attorney’s budget, how it is spent, including the payments to outside counsel, litigation expenses, operating costs, and lawsuit payouts;

3. By working to establish a coalition with other cities under the auspices of the District Attorney where certain misdemeanor crimes can and will be vigorously enforced – City Attorneys can be deputized by the DA to prosecute these cases under the DA’s auspices – That will help defeat the effort of gangs to try to ‘walk between the raindrops’ and play various City jurisdictions against each other;

4. I will be very aggressive on billboard blight. The laws will be enforced. They could have been enforced earlier; but they weren’t because the City Council didn’t particularly care and the City Attorney protected the narrow political interest of the Council instead of the broader public interest. I define the broader public interest as having a thoughtful, thorough debate by the public, neighborhood councils, and within the City Council on how best to reconcile the conflicting economic, political, practical, and legal interests involved in any given issue;

5. As City Attorney I will work closely with the Controller to put together a package of reforms which will protect whistle-blowers, preserve emails, and make public records requests of our officials something more than just a game where office holders simply hold out on the public;

6. I would require that City documents to be used at public hearings before the City Council be available to the public at least 3 days before the hearing – all the documents, not just the ones the political insiders want you to see. That would empower the people with knowledge, it would cost nothing, and it would result in better policy. I will take steps to ensure that appellants in land use cases have the final word at public comment to rebut the contentions of the Planning Department and the City Agencies often arrayed against them;

7. I will work diligently to improve the Neighborhood Prosecutor program by teaming even more closely with business and task force groups, including those I establish and Chair as City Attorney. The goal will be to shut down dozens of drug properties, put slumlords out of business, stop unlawful dumping, and better attack graffiti. This program would be based on the Neighborhood Law Corp model established by the Oakland City Attorney where local task forces are organized to combat crime in the neighborhoods where it occurs;

8. I will organize a City Attorney Governance Task Force modeled on the Watts Gang Task Force and meet personally with citizens in each district on a revolving weekly basis to shepherd ideas and develop a meaningful pro-active, action agenda;

9. I would reorganize the City Attorney website to make it much more consumer friendly to include a video blog with interviews and updates about important City issues; easy access to court documents with an understandable summary of what has transpired in notable court cases; regular City Attorney opinions on key issues raised by the public, the City Council, or Neighborhood Councils; and provide information on how to file a claim, request public records, and most importantly, access legal resources both inside and outside of City government.

Neighborhood Councils must be further empowered. Creativity is what is called for here. There is no reason why Neighborhood Councils and local Homeowner Associations can’t work more closely together on matters of common interest. I would use the City Attorney’s office to bring their common issues to the Council by issuing a City Attorney’s report reflective of these common concerns which would incorporate suggested practical and legal alternatives. Because a City Attorney’s report would result in the opening of a Council file, the City Council could then decide whether to hold hearings on such issues, both in Committee and before the full Council.

For the people to be heard, their must be given a seat at the table. The special interests have their lawyers. The City Attorney is the people’s lawyer and, along with the Controller, is the main check on the abuse of power by the Mayor and the City Council.

My commitment is to transparency and openness in government; to accountability; to quality results, and to providing efficient, effective, and enhanced legal services to the people of Los Angeles. What is needed is a vision and a commitment of what it takes to accomplish that vision.

It’s time to move forward with the kind of “smart governance approach I have described. We do not have to sacrifice our core values in order to grow and change. With hard work, skill, and determination, we can and will have the kind of change that excites and ignites the imagination in all of us.

I welcome your ideas, your support, and most importantly, your vote for LA City Attorney on March 3rd.


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