1. Congress of Neighborhoods September 24th


Congress of Neighborhoods
Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Main St.
Los Angeles, CA

Making the most of your Congress:

(1) Plan to get to the Congress EARLY. You will need to park in the garage under City Hall East and then walk to the Congress at City Hall. Continental breakfast will be served from 7:45 to 8:30 am. There will be a roll call of all 95 neighborhood councils promptly at 8:30 am. You want to make sure that someone from YOUR neighborhood council is there! The roll call and the keynote speaker will take only 45 minutes.

(2) There will be three 75-minute sessions, two in the morning and one in the afternoon. Seven programs will be offered during each session. You chose the three programs you want to attend. Bring more people and plan to attend different programs. Everyone is welcome. Parking and lunch are free.

(3) After the afternoon session there will be a "Congress of Neighborhoods" from 2:35 to 3:30 pm. This is an experimental way to return to the intent of the City Charter Article IX, Section 901(c) provision that neighborhood councils can come together, discuss issues, and possibly take collective action at a Congress. For example, in September, the City Council may be considering legislation to regionalize control of neighborhood councils and to switch from an equal funding allowance to a competitive grant system. Might these be issues for councils to discuss and about which to possibly take joint action?

Tentative 2011 Congress of Neighborhoods Schedule
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Parking by prior reservation and arrangement

07:45 [45m] Mixer and continental breakfast
08:30 [45m] NC Roll Call and Welcome
09:15 [10m] (break)
09:25 [75m] Session 1
10:40 [10m] (break)
10:50 [75m] Session 2
12:05 [65m] Lunch and Networking (lunch provided)
01:10 [75m] Session 3
02:25 [10m] (break)
02:35 [55m] Congress of Neighborhoods (action session)
03:30 [30m] Networking
04:00 Congress Ends

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* 1. Please type your name.

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* 2. What is your Neighborhood Council?

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* 3. What is your title?

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* 4. How long have you served on the board?

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* 5. If you are a member of a business, non-profit organization or
government agency, please type in the name:

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* 6. What is your phone number?

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* 7. What is your email? (must be provided so you will receive a registration confirmation)

The Congress Programs:

There are 21 different programs offered at this Congress. All of them have been designed by neighborhood council people to be practical, how-to types of sessions. In each you will receive a broad overview of the subject and a hand-out with resources you can use to learn more and to take local action.

Ten programs cover basic information that is important for new Board members. Eleven programs cover more advanced topics that may be of interest to experienced Board members OR specialized subjects that may be attractive to anyone with that specific interest.

For convenience, the programs are categorized here in sets of three that have something in common. Each set of three is listed in the sequence that it is offered (Session #1, Session #2, Session #3).

There is no magic in the groupings, or in the basic and advanced/specialized categories. Feel free to select any program that interests you during any session. The only exception is the pair of Ethics and Open Government programs in Session #2 and Session #3. You MUST take BOTH in order to obtain a certificate for this state-mandated training.


Session #1
*Meet Your City Officials (brief remarks and a mixer)
This is your chance to meet your city's elected officials and department heads. People you hear about on the news will be there to speak to you in person. After introductory remarks, you will be able to move around the room and talk to the officials and their staff people.

Session #2
* Working with City Council Committees (subjects, council files, contacts)
City Council committees are one way for you to have impact on legislation while it is being developed. This program will describe each committee, its current members, the subjects it handles, and key staff contacts. You will find out how to use the Early Notification System to get agendas by electronic mail. You will learn how to use the online Council File system to obtain documents relating to issues pending before the City Council, along with the history and current disposition of each Council File. You will learn how to file a Community Impact Statement to place the official actions of your neighborhood council into the Council File.

Session #3
* Working with City Departments (which does what, resources, staff)
City services are delivered by city departments. Knowing which department does what is a critical first step to having an impact on service delivery to your neighborhood. Typical issues and online reporting systems for the most-contacted departments will be covered. Both the regular departments and the three proprietary departments (Water and Power, Port of LA, and LA World Airports) will be included. Key contacts at departments will be listed, especially where departments maintain a special liaison for neighborhood councils. The commission system will be covered, where Boards provide public oversight of departments. Learn to use the Early Notification System and other contacts to get agendas for Commission meetings. Learn about PlanCheckNC for Planning and the NC-DWP MOU Oversight Committee and the DWP Committee for DWP.

Session #1
*Funding Program Basics for Everyone (how spending works)
The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment has a course called "Treasurer Training" that is required for every new Treasurer of a neighborhood council. However, it doesn't help if the people who vote to allocate the funds and those who select vendors don't understand how the system works. In this session, DONE will tailor the funding course for a more general audience. Included will be basic information like what can and cannot be purchased, the relationship of expenditures to the council's budget, and what documentation your Treasurer needs in order to pay your bill. Learn about Neighborhood Purposes Grants, when they are required, and the responsibility of the council to follow up to verify use of the grant. Understand the financial reports that must be approved by Board members each month, and how to check online to see what has been purchased by your council. Neighborhood council funding needs to be transparent to everyone, including community members.

Session #2
*Ethics and Open Government (State-required training) session 1 of 2
Government Code section 53235 requires ethics training for local government officials, including neighborhood council Board members. You must take this training within the first year of gaining office and every two years after that. In order to get a certificate of completion, you MUST enroll in and complete both this program and the second part, which will be held during Session #3. Part 1 will show you examples of conflicts of interest under the Political Reform Act, explain how Common Law controls personal bias in decision-making, and cover Government Code Section 1090's prohibition of financial interests in public contracts.

Session #3
*Ethics and Open Government (State-required training) session 1 of 2
Government Code section 53235 requires ethics training for local government officials. In order to get a certificate of completion, you MUST enroll in and complete both this program and the first part, which will be held during Session #2. This second part of the program covers bribery and extortion, misuse of authority for private benefit, limitations on mass mailings, and prohibition on the use of public funds for political purposes. Most of the time will be spent covering the state open meetings law, the Brown Act, which controls many aspects of neighborhood council operation. The California Public Records Act also applies to neighborhood councils, and its strict deadlines for compliance will be covered. Finally, city rules on competitive bidding will be described, along with city rules for entering into contracts.

Session #1
* Emergency Preparedness (CERT, Homeland Security, ham radio, etc.)
Your neighborhood may need to take care of itself in a major emergency, such as a giant earthquake. Training and maintaining a local Community Emergency Response Team is one way neighborhood councils can help. This session will explain the CERT training, team maintenance and deployment process. In addition, it will cover terrorist threats, profiling behavior, and how to take action. Also covered will be stockpiling emergency supplies and equipment, and sources of supply. Ham radio is an often overlooked aspect of emergency preparedness. One neighborhood council has a solar-powered ham station located in the council office. You will come away from this session with a broad overview of many emergency preparedness programs and resources.

Session #2
* Animal Issues, Organizations and Programs (different perspectives)
Human-animal interaction in an urban environment raises many issues that are brought to neighborhood councils. One program, developed within the neighborhood council system, appoints a Director of Animal Welfare (a DAW volunteer) to oversee local animal issues. Although this session will explain the DAW program and the effort to move the city's Animal Services department toward a no-kill shelter policy, that is only one part of the content. Every type on animal issue will be covered: spay and neuter programs, microchiping, veterinary care, cock and dog fighting, illegal breeding, exotic pets, barnyard animals, dog breed pros and cons, wildlife interaction and preservation, equestrian issues and more. You will come away from this program with knowledge of the many organizations that can serve as resources for animal issues, along with a variety of perspectives.

Session #3
* Green Technologies, Sustainable Living, and Community Gardens
Many neighborhood council board members and stakeholders are concerned with "green" issues. This program will present a wide-ranging survey of technologies, organizations, resources and activities that help us make a lighter footprint on the earth. It won't so justice to any one area. It WILL give you a huge toolkit with which you can make your neighborhood a more earth-friendly place. Utility-related subjects include residential solar power, water conservation and dual meters, gray water systems, rain barrels, runoff capture, and a good introduction to gardening with native plants. Community beautification with plants will be embraced for the benefits of an urban forest, with tips for water conservation and for creating permeable hardscapes. Water-efficient landscaping laws and planning requirements will be referenced, as well as Green Building Standards and Low Impact Development rules. Fruit trees, vegetable gardens and composting are great for those with a place to grow. There is also a community garden movement to provide everyone with an opportunity to grow fresh food, herbs and flowers. Much more than food grows at community gardens: they are community-building spaces.

Session #1
*How Neighborhood Councils Work (Basics, for New Board Members)
On the surface, a neighborhood council is a government agency that holds public meetings. Because there are public funds, there is a budget that must match your expenditures and monthly financial statements that you must approve. Because meetings are public, there must be a descriptive agenda posted in advance. The public has a right to speak before you decide. There are Board officers, each with a role to play. The Bylaws and Board policies are your local rules, and then there are DONE, BONC and The Plan. These are the mechanics. This session will attempt to give you a summary of all of them. On another level, there are practical ways that councils work to be effective. One key is a strong committee system, where extended discussion and debate takes place. Another is continued communication with your community, through a web site, email, flyers and personal contact. At the core of it all, the neighborhood council is not a monthly meeting where people vote. You have joined a grass roots conspiracy to make positive changes in your community. The reason you can do that is that you work as a team. The surest way to discord is an attempt to be a lone sheriff. Make friends and allies on your Board. Try to disagree with ideas, not with people. Propose positive alternatives. Have fun! This is a people business.

Session #2
*Who and What Do You Need to Know To Get Things Done?
Every neighborhood will have similar people that you need to know. This session will cover many of them, beginning with your councilmember's staff. You will learn how to contact the most important city departments directly for service. (This is especially important with cutbacks to the 311 help line.) You will also learn that when push comes to shove, elected officials control what happens. The Mayor, state Senators and Assemblymembers, school board members and other elected officials have resources that can help you. Schools are central to the health of your neighborhood. Learn how they work and how to work with them. Discover the power of community projects and the art of co-sponsorship. Find other groups with whom you can partner. Finally, discover city systems that can help you: the Early Notification System, the Council File system, and Zimas. Learn how and where to send your Board actions, and how to file a Community Impact Statement.

Session #3
*How to Run a Meeting (procedures, fairness, order, time control)
Running an effective meeting is an art, not a science. At the end, the group must have accomplished real work, participants must feel that they had an opportunity to be heard, and people should believe that the process was fair. That's a tall order for a meeting chair, especially if you have never managed a large public meeting. Nevertheless, this is an essential skill, for committees as well as for Board meetings. A clear, descriptive agenda with time targets helps. Explaining the process to the public as you go (for example, accepting public comment for later action, so it can be placed on an agenda) is often helpful. Consistent application of the same rules, such as the Brown Act, builds public and Board confidence in the integrity of your meetings. Roberts Rules of Order and other meeting rules provide a framework for fair meeting control. The program will give you a quick overview. The chair also needs to use common sense and a feeling for group dynamics. Above all, the chair must be impartial in managing access and the meeting process.

Session #1
*Effective Outreach and Community-Building Techniques
Outreach, like housework, is never done. There are two parts: brand awareness and sales. First, people need to know you exist; that's brand awareness. Neighborhood councils will never be able to afford heavy commercial advertising. This program will give you tips on free and low-cost ways to expose your "brand". One of the best follows Woody Allen's maxim, "Eighty percent of being successful in life is showing up." Make sure your board members show up at every community event they can find. But you can't advertise people into your meetings. You have to sell them on coming. Sales is person to person. Sales also takes finding a prospect's "hot button". Your NC needs to be doing work in the community that people value. For example, social action programs, from citizenship workshops to earth-friendly living events, will help you draw young, action-oriented people. Hook people with a cause, and then show them how participation in government (that's you) pays off. In the end, we are all community organizers.

Session #2
* Dealing with Difficult People and Board Conflicts (practical suggestions)
Difficult people are everywhere. (Sometimes they are even us.) Start by treating them with respect. Then remember that if a difficult person can get you to lose it, they have won. What you need to do is protect colleagues, the public, and the process from being usurped by the difficult person. The City Attorney will want you to know what you cannot do. Actions in a public meeting can be a city liability. You'll also get tips on many positive techniques you can use. Board conflicts are often created when groups of people act with the same primitive instinct for dominance that worsens conflicts one-on-one. This program will give you some psychology and some social strategy. It will also cover techniques like outnumbering problem people by bringing new people into the group. You will take home a toolkit, and some hope.

Session #3
* Recruitment, Training and Management of Volunteers
The more connected people feel to a community, the more likely they are to volunteer their time and skills to make it better. The first part of a successful neighborhood council volunteer program, which includes Board volunteers, is the care and feeding of that connection. A shared sense of purpose is contagious. The second part is to realize that while volunteers provide their services free, they (we!) need the same careful attention as paid staff. Your recruitment should not be arbitrary. Although all are welcome, it is a selection process. Training is not going to be provided by an understaffed DONE. Each NC needs to have a real training program. Training is a right. It's also a way to incorporate volunteers as members of the family. When volunteers are on board and trained, they need to be managed like any workforce. There's a need for leadership, division of labor, responsibility for work, time and project management, and thanks and recognition. When you can recruit talent, match people with their interests and provide a cheerful working atmosphere, there is no end to what you can do.

* Perspectives: The Role of Neighborhood Councils (panel discussion)
Section 900 of the City Charter says that the two purposes of neighborhood councils are to promote more participation in government and to make government more responsive to local needs. Are neighborhood councils focused on these missions today? In particular, how should neighborhood councils use the limited public funding that the city allocates to help councils accomplish their mission? If neighborhood councils are seen as grant-dispensing agencies, will that help them or hurt them when the city's increasingly limited funds are reduced to the support of "core services"? What ever happened to social action? This session will explore divergent opinions about the neighborhood councils' mission, role in the community, activities, and use of public funds.

Session #2
*NC Collaborations (Alliances and Peer Mentoring programs)
With huge staff cuts at the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, DONE is unable to provide a high level of training and support. Most neighborhood councils will need to find ways to help themselves. The answer, not surprisingly, often lies within the neighborhood council system. This program introduces the many ways in which NCs are helping each other. These include the regional alliances, LANCC and the LA Citywide Alliance, and the ad-hoc alliances put together by activists for issues like the proposal to eliminate DONE. The Budget Advocates, NC-DWP MOU Oversight Committee, and PlanCheckNC all focus on special city issues. The DWP Committee and SLAP are NC-oriented political action groups. Probably most important of all are the emerging peer-support teams, like those for Bylaws and Treasurers, and the new, broad-based Peer Mentoring program built by NCs and coordinated by DONE. You will come away with a wide range of contacts and opportunities for getting (and giving) help within the NC system.

Session #3
* Creating Community Partnerships (both financial and joint-action)
It's not in the Charter, but one of the important functions of a neighborhood council is community-building. One of the best ways to build community relationships is to work together. As a city agency, a neighborhood council is often in a great position to "pitch a tent" and invite everybody to come. Health fairs, education fairs and anti-gang collaboratives are examples of this kind of partnership. Partnering with other organizations is also a practical way to get things done that an NC can't do alone. Businesses, business organizations, elected officials, religious groups, schools, colleges, service clubs and non-profit service organizations are examples of possible partners who have funds, expertise, or volunteers. There are also many events put together by others in which NCs can participate. These are both outreach opportunities and "photo ops". This program will give you tips on how to team up with others, ways to handle funding, and events that work.

Session #2
*Planning and Land Use 101 (what Land Use committees do)
Planning and Land Use committees are common to all neighborhood councils. The cases and other issues they bring to neighborhood council Boards are often matters of strong community interest. These matters also can be hard to understand without some basic knowledge. This program will give you that basic knowledge. It is intended to help Board members and stakeholders as well as new members of land use committees. You will get a general idea of how planning and zoning work, by-right versus discretionary development, conditional use permits, the hearing process and "findings", and the planning appeals process. The General Plan, Community Plans, Specific Plans, Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, sign districts, and some important State laws that affect the local planning process will be briefly described. You will learn how planning cases are numbered, and how to look up cases and properties on a wonderful online tool called ZIMAS. You'll also learn why it can be important to consider land use proposals BEFORE a case is filed, and why your council should care about issues like "code simplification" and "development reform". Finally, you will leave the program with numerous ways you can learn more and get help, including PlanCheckNC.

Session #3
*Online Resources for Neighborhood Councils (healthycity, zimas, etc.)
Often the first place you go to find an answer about a neighborhood issue is the Internet. Online research is one of the critical skills that every neighborhood council needs. This program will cover all the basics. You will get an outline of city web sites, including the places you can go to report and track local issues. You will be introduced to specialized services like the Council File system to track legislation, the Early Notification System to get meeting notices and agendas, the DONE database of neighborhood councils, and the Planning department's ZIMAS database of properties and planning cases. Healthy City is an online resource that lets you search for data and prepare customized local maps with your choice of demographic, economic and social information. Then there are sources of understanding. Some sites focus on the neighborhood council movement, in Los Angeles and nationally; others focus on community organizing. Finally, there is the power of social networking. This session will give you tips on how to use Facebook, Twitter, email services, photo sites, blogs, YouTube and podcasts to promote your neighborhood council.

Session #1
*Perspectives on the City Budget: Budget Advocates and Other Voices
* Perspectives on the City Budget: Budget Advocates and Other Voices
The City of Los Angeles is facing unprecedented shortfalls between its revenues and its expenditures, including its pension obligations. Critical departments from Planning to Building and Safety to Recreation and Parks have had their budgets slashed. Police overtime has been cut. Next year the situation is even bleaker. Nothing affects the delivery of city services to our communities more than the city budget. The Mayor asked neighborhood councils to appoint a team of Budget Advocates to advise him while he was preparing the city budget. This past year the Budget Advocates transformed themselves into an in-depth investigative team. They used their exceptional access to city departments to develop a broad understanding of the budget challenges. In this session you will hear different perspectives on the budget, from inside and outside the system, from optimistic to pessimistic, including those of some Budget Advocates. You will leave the program with a new appreciation for the size of the problem, and the realization that the way the city does business will be changed forever.

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* 8. Which session 1 workshop would you like to attend? (9:25am-10:40am)

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* 9. Which Session 2 Workshop would you like to attend? (10:50am-12:05pm)

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* 10. Which Session 3 Workshop would you like to attend? (1:10pm-2:25pm)