Clarke and Weissman – Two Separate Views of Tonight’s MeetingBy Ari L. Noonan @ 1:00 PM May 07, 2012
Apart from City Manager John Nachbar’s one-dimension presentation of a downbeat budget for the new fiscal year, the magnet for tonight’s 7 o’clock City Council meeting is making committee assignments for the next 12 months.
This may cause the hearts of new Council members Jim Clarke and Meghan Sahli-Wells to leap a beat.
For Mayor Andy Weisman, doing it for the fifth time, the lustre has, ahem, vanished. Further, all assignments are not geographically equal. A distinction is to be drawn.
“Committee assignments are significant in terms of our regional activities,” Mr. Weissman said.
“But they have become less meaningful for our day-to-day operational issues. In most areas, subjects we created subcommittees to deal with have resolved themselves. We had an Animal Services subcommittee. Now we have an Animal Services program. I am not sure we need an Animal Services Committee.
“We had a Skateboard Park subcommittee. That went away a couple years back after fulfilling its responsibility.
“An Agenda committee that worked toward revising the scope of commission roles and responsibility is another example.
“We have the ability to create ad hoc subcommittees when the need arises.
“Tonight, though,” said Mr. Weissman, “is more about dealing with the regional aspects of representation” – exactly what the newcomer Mr. Clarke has in mind because that has been a traditional strength for him.
“Yes,” Mr. Clarke said this morning, he has certain committee assignments in his focus for tonight. But they will remain undisclosed until this evening.
“I can be most useful if I am assigned to committees where I can take advantage of the external relationships I have developed over the years,” said the deputy to Mayor Villaraigosa. “I am talking about boards where I would have intergovernmental involvement.
“I may also be proposing a couple new subcommittees in light of the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agencies.” Mr. Clarke also is expected to propose a subcommittee to more aggressively seek grants.
Almost a month after being elected to the City Council, the longtime political aide has sharply changed his lifestyle in one way:
“I am making a special effort to be visible at community events,” he said.
His reasoning is straightaway: “When you are campaigning, you tell people what you will do. Let’s say 90 percent of the people who vote for you don’t know anything about you outside of a piece of mail or what somebody told them. It’s really a vote of trust they are casting, that you are as you appear to be, that you will do what you said you will.
“That is why it is important for me to be visible around the community, to be approachable.
“I really do enjoy going to community events,” Mr. Clarke said. “It is not a labor for me at all.
“Last Friday we were at the Lakers’ viewing party at the Senior Center. Yesterday morning I was at the Bike Safety event at El Marino, watching kids learning skills about their bicycles.
“I really enjoy being out in the community, seeing what people are doing.”
Mr. Clarke still is doing his door-to-door gig – at City Hall.
He is knocking on the doors of assorted departments to learn from managers the deeper nature of subtle but substantive issues that are not generally known. He is arming himself to accelerate his new education.