O'Bin House Reveals CERT Bin Contents

About two-dozen community members attended the event on Saturday, which aimed to clear up the mystery surrounding the contents of the Hermon CERT storage bin.

For some time, the contents and whereabouts of the Hermon Community Emergency Response Team's storage bin has been a matter of some confusion for the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council (ASNC). 

On Saturday, Former Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council member Mark Legassie attempted to clear up the air of mystery surrounding the storage bin.

Community members were invited to 5710 Monterey Road to view the bin and its contents. Attendees also participated in disaster training trivia, sampled emergency food supplies and witnessed a fire safety demonstration conducted by CERT team members.

"I was very surprised at the large turnout and also was surprised how we received no recommendations to improve the layout of the bin or its contents.  Either we're doing something right, or people just didn't know enough about community preparedness to comment," Legassie said. "The item talked about the most was our huge stash of wool blankets (over 1000) donated by a local company.  Everyone who attended the event walked away with one as their door prize.  Someone lost an heirloom wedding band at the event, so if anyone found it please email info@LAsurvival.org."

The bin, and its contents, were among several items listed as unaccounted for by ASNC Treasurer Judy Knapton in an inventory report released in October listing more than $11,000 in missing items.

Sycamore Grove Representative and Hermon resident Joseph Riser disputed the report, saying it was "a little inflammatory" to suggest that the items were missing, when they were in fact purchased for community organizations.

Legassie responded the Knapton's report as well, releasing a 19-page report complete with references to motions showing that many of the expenditures were made for local community groups.

The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment has recommended that the board publicly devise a plan of action to reach out to the parties believed to be in possession of the items.

"This process will ensure that the Board has agreed as a body with respect to its property and how possession of the property should be addressed," a letter from Department of Neighborhood Empowerment Interim General Manager Grayce Liu. "Other items should be removed from the inventory list if they were lost/broken/discarded or specifically issued to another organization."

Wendi Riser February 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM
A little update -- there were actually close to 200 people that came to the event over its 2-hour span. Many actually came early, including CERT members from all over LA to see this model and connect with other first responders. There were also many community members that came because they'd been hand-delivered fliers about the event to their door, as well as community members from the broader Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council and Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council areas. It was great community building and another chance to promote emergency preparedness on the most grassroots level.
Rob Schraff February 12, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Two dozen or 200? Hmmmmm, who should we believe, Wendi Riser or David Fonseca? The ASNC, directed by DONE, has also issued a letter to Mr. Legassie requesting the return of all misappropriated items - including the bin itself! And if this is "community-building," what have the Riser's unending attacks on the ASNC since these budget shenanigans were exposed been about?
JMarsh February 12, 2013 at 05:43 PM
People get over this! I am sick and tired of all this haggling! Makes me ashamed of our neighborhood council!
David Fonseca (Editor) February 12, 2013 at 06:30 PM
I'd lean toward Wendi's number, Rob. There were about two dozen folks there during the half-hour I spent at the event. I'm totally wiling to believe that more cycled through throughout the duration.
la-agog February 12, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Thanks for being so active. Neighborhood politics aside, this IS a great opportunity to promote emergency preparedness (something not many of us want to think about). You've been really good about reminding people on this site that the project is a great model for other communities, whether within the ASNC or beyond.
Rob Schraff February 12, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Given the history, I'm not. But of course the number isn't particularly important - what is interesting is that this whole event was just transparent Riser/Legassie PR to justify the misappropriation of ASNC resources through highly questionable budget practices, practices since ruled inappropriate by DONE. And the circus continues.
la-agog February 12, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Totally get your frustrations. The "Hermon first" approach could be driven by the fact that these neighbors have lived in a community that felt underserved for a long, long time. It could also be because they don't play well with others. Regardless, we all get to dictate how we spend our own volunteer hours, what we lobby funds for and why. Wendi Riser has personally invested a huge amount of time, energy and love into her community. I completely respect her dedication to working towards a greater good (even if you or I think that greater good could be a little less myopic). I've lurked on this site for a bit and really value your humor and insight on a variety of topics. Even this! You're really good at challenging people to reevaluate their own assumptions and approaches.
Rob Schraff February 12, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Good points, and the Riser's do indeed put in the hours.
Alice M. February 12, 2013 at 08:14 PM
And for that service to community, they apparently become fair game for potentially libelous accusations in media post comments, of having "misappropriated" taxpayer funds -- a criminal charge (when no on in any position of authority has ever used that term, as far as I have read). Hmmm. sorry la-agog, I just don't get the 'humor' part there -- and I wonder why anyone bothers to donate service hours to any community if they can be called criminals in a public place like this, and the accusers can go unpunished.
Mark Legassie February 12, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Mr Schraff, I wasn't going to respond but your libelous comments are now becoming a compulsive obsession for you. I understand your frustrations but your credibility is in question due to your extreme dislike of me (for reasons unknown since you don't know me). At our last ASNC board meeting, for example, you were calling me a "douche bag" behind my back. Those that criticize others publicly without ever a face-to-face discussion of their concerns are the definition of a true "coward". Your legacy on this site leaves a trail of written proof of your libelous accusations, and I'm prepared to pursue legal retribution for your defamatory comments if they don't stop. I find people who complain the most are the same people in general who do nothing to help the community. I also was told you are a bitter old man and actually left the ASNC board after you didn't get your way a few years ago. If this is true, then please take your frustrations out on the President, not me.. Your obsession with me is somewhat creepy -- is there something else buried deep inside you (like a secret desire) that is triggering this compulsion?
Rob Schraff February 12, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Actually, if you read the DONE correspondence, and heard the statement of Ms. Liu, the head of DONE at the last ASNC meeting regarding recovery of these items, I think "misappropriation" is exactly right.
Rob Schraff February 12, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Actually Mr. Legassie, I called you a "douche-bag" to your face. This was because you took the opportunity to grandstand at the ASNC meeting to return some, but by no means all, of the items at dispute in this controversy. And I still think this is a "douche-bag" move. Just to be clear about my concerns in a public forum, I think you have been misallocating and misappropriating ASNC funds for you pet, Hermon interests. It also seems you used Ms. Benedict's e-signature without her permission related to some of these expenditures. Finally, I would delight in seeing you melt down in public yet again, so by all means, sue me.
David Fonseca (Editor) February 12, 2013 at 10:38 PM
Okay, I'm going to lock up the comments section here.


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