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Patch Blog: Gossip vs. Facts; ASNC Mudslinging 2012 Style

Should neighborhood council voters elect people who knowingly misrepresent the record of other dedicated volunteers? What's the relative value of honesty in campaigning vs. honesty once elected?

The day after standing under the Sycamores at the Lummis Home this past weekend, waiting for the start of an Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council (ASNC) candidate forum that would never actually happen seemed like an appropriate time to address some repeated gossip – passed along by and to several others also waiting there – and no doubt furiously e-mailed even more widely as the NC election day comes within one week (October 13).

(Maybe it’s worth something to note that I’d decided not to take advantage of Patch’s generous offer to let candidates post blogs in support of their candidacy.  It seemed like enough had already been said, here -- mostly by others – about mine.)

While waiting there with a dozen or so other candidates and an equal number of stakeholders … not one, not two, but no less than three current or former ASNC board members told me that several others in attendance were using the downtime at the failed forum to tell voters present some variation of the following rumor:

 “Joe Riser is opposed to cultural events and landmarks; if he’s on the board again – funding for those things is in jeopardy.”

If you’ll allow me a “Forrest Gump” moment … “my mama always said ‘actions speak louder than (in this case – other people’s) words’.”  Whatever my personal feelings may be about the relative importance of some such events, the best way to judge anyone’s support or opposition to projects and programs on a council is to look at the ACTUAL Board records to see what “actions” he or she actually took.  Mine, during the years most of the other current boardmembers served and were able to witness, are on record.

(All cites here are available at the neighborhood council’s Website, in the approved board minutes listed at the date referenced, at: http://www.asnc.us/archives-2012.htm - at the appropriate year/month minutes indicated)

-- LUMMIS DAY: 2010  (Apr. 26 minutes) … Riser is present; the board’s vote is UNANIMOUS to provide the full funding request for that event (which to rational people probably doesn’t sound much like “opposition”).

-- LUMMIS  DAY: 2011 (Jan. 24 minutes) … Riser is present, again; and Board minutes say: “Riser moved … to approve $2,000 from Festival Funds…” and the motion carried; ($2,000 being the Board’s agreed maximum for project funding that year). 

Wait there… “Riser moved?”  The guy gossips now say is OPPOSED to this stuff actually made the motion for it pass?   Well, once again, this isn’t sounding much like a campaign of “opposition.”

-- LUMMIS DAY: 2012 …. Longer story; most observers know – many through Patch acticles written by David Fonseca this year – ASNC funds were frozen early this year by the City.  However, there’s an interesting backstory as to how several sitting committee chairs (all “supporters” of Lummis Day; all members of an opposing candidate slate in this election) were actually the ones responsible for that festival not receiving any funds in 2012 – more so than the City’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.  I’ll save that for another time (or e-mail me, if you’re really curious).

So maybe these gossips were confused.  Maybe they meant the actual Lummis HOME (where they were this weekend urgently speaking to voters about Riser’s rumored “opposition”), and not the festival itself.  The same online archives show that in 2010 (June 28 minutes), $1,500 was requested from the ASNC for “Preservation of Lummis Entry Doors.”  Riser is again present, and the Board vote is (you guessed it) – unanimous.

Hmmm, could it be that the “He’s against it” cadre of opposing candidates got their music festivals confused?  Maybe they meant the other event that’s received tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, courtesy of the ASNC Board, over the years – the one held in MONTEREY HILLS?

-- 2010 … to make a long, and at this point, probably predictable story short (Aug. 23 minutes) – present? (yup … GREAT attendance record, by the way). Maximum funding approved; no votes against. 

-- 2011 … Riser is present (Sept. 26 minutes), and made the actual motion that allowed that festival to receive $2,240 (even though the board, by overwhelming majority vote, had set a $2,000 maximum for each such request that year).
 
So, to make that clear, this guy Riser -- who’s supposedly “opposed” to all things cultural – again made the motion that allowed that festival to receive 12 percent MORE than the maximum allowed by the Board?

Apparently either this guy doesn’t understand what it means to OPPOSE something -- to take action AGAINST it -- to try to keep it from happening -- or is it possible that some folks telling these tales out of school aren’t being completely (shall we say -- in the interest of civility) . . . “accurate” ?

If you’ve heard anything like this, then maybe the moral of this story is: Think back to who you heard it FROM, and ask yourself… “If they’d mislead me NOW --  just to get my vote -- what would they be willing to say AFTER  they’re elected?"

On October 13, vote the “BACK-2-Business 4 ASNC” slate in all 5 ASNC communities:  Buhler, Bowman, Sakamoto, Feliciano, Moseley, Torres, Jaramillo, Moran, Shane, Lyttle, Vidal-Echeverria (and yes, maybe even that “Riser” guy). www.facebook.com/b2b4asnc 

Stakeholders always deserve to hear the whole truth!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Eliot Sekuler October 08, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Joe Riser's sudden avowal of support for local arts, and Lummis Day in particular, is shockingly insincere in light of his comments in the current issue of the "Boulevard Sentinel" (October issue, page 7). There, he refers to Lummis Day as an "overblown annual garage band festival." Those comments were made just two weeks ago, but knowing that position is unpopular--Lummis Day draws over 3,000 people each year to its music, dance, art and poetry presentations and is regarded by the community and the media as a signature Northeast L.A. cultural event--he has quickly flipped on the issue. Joe Riser has become the Mitt Romney of local activism: he will say anything to achieve his incoherent goals.
JosephR October 08, 2012 at 08:40 PM
"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." -- John Adams, 1770 (And, quoting from the original post above (emphasis added): "Whatever my PERSONAL FEELINGS may be about the RELATIVE IMPORTANCE of some such events, the BEST way to judge anyone’s support or opposition . . . on a council is to look at the actual Board RECORDS to see what “ACTIONS” he or she took. Mine . . . are on record." Many recorded years of voting "yes" to taxpayer funding hardly seems like a "quick flip." Is it no longer sufficient to be tolerant of others cultural observance preferences (and even help make taxpayers funding for them available)? Must all members of a neighborhood council also now bow down in unison to the same festival altars -- or else risk being slandered, gossiped about, and trashed for having divergent opinions? Will there now be a "litmus test" to serve as a volunteer on the ASNC board that requires absolute support of any one project or program that Board had some role in creating in the past -- or is there still room for any other ideas, such as (perhaps) finding out what the 29,000 or so other stakeholders in the area might think about such things? Is it possible they may have other priorities? How will we ever know (if we don't ask), or does it not really matter if they do?
Mark Legassie October 08, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Maggie Barto, a friend who's an animal lover like me, is the one who said that to three of us standing there. I was very surprised. "That statement is incorrect, because since 2005 I don't recall one vote Joe made AGAINST these things. I went on to say, "But even if he was, how would you know this since you haven't been to an ASNC meeting for years until just recently when you got appointed to the Board?" I received no response. I presume it was Martha Benedict who filled her ears with this misleading information since that's who was to blame the last time Maggie provided less-than-accurate information about certain NC board members.
Alice M. October 08, 2012 at 10:55 PM
If you don't mind my observing, Mr. Sekuler, the blog author doesn't strike me as someone who is too awfuly concerned about his personal positions being 'unpopular'
Margaret Barto October 09, 2012 at 02:08 AM
If indeed mr. Riser did vote for Lummis day then why has he told another stake holder the he didn't attend Lummis Day because it wasn't in his neighborhood Why would he say it's an overblown garage band festival. He will probably be the sycamore grove rep. But he needs to be concerned about and nicely support all current activities and artist that use sycamore grove as their home. His support of a separate Hermon NC is very suspect as a real supporter of what takes place within the ASNC
Paula Sirola October 09, 2012 at 07:29 PM
If Joe Riser is able to replicate his ASNC-Hermon community organizing efforts in ASNC-Sycamore Grove, then the ASNC will FINALLY represent the voices of all five ASNC areas. More power to him. Let's hear it for participatory democracy!
David Lyttle October 09, 2012 at 08:29 PM
What has taken place at the ASNC is on the record. You have Martha Benedict and Judy Knapton casting baseless aspersions at Mark Legassie leading to exhaustive efforts, you have a police officer at the meetings in order to maintain civility, you have DONE coming in and mandating Ethics Training..................need I say more ?

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