City funds for the
Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council were frozen last week—and then unfrozen the
following day—for the second time under the council’s current leadership.
According to a Sept. 12 letter e-mailed to ASNC board members from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which oversees funding for L.A.’s neighborhood councils, the ASNC failed to meet a Sept. 1 deadline to submit budget-related documents for the 2013-14 financial year.
“Because a completed budget package has not been received by the Department, your funding will be immediately suspended until all of the requested documentation has been submitted,” the letter, signed by Armando Ruiz of the Neighborhood Council Funding program, said. (See attached PFD file.)
“Although the Department initially set a due date of June 21, 2013 for the submission of this information, the deadline was extended to July 12, 2013 to accommodate the Neighborhood Councils and allow for more time to discuss and prepare,” the letter noted, adding: “The deadline was extended one last time to September 1, 2013.”
Then on Sept. 13, ASNC board members received another letter from DONE.
“Thank you very much for your response to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment’s letter regarding the outstanding budget package item(s) for Fiscal Year 2013‐14,” the letter said. Your documentation is complete and our records have been updated to reflect this information. We are restoring access to your funds effective immediately.”
The ASNC’s funds were frozen in 2012 following allegations that President Martha Benedict’s signature was forged on official documents. “Financial documents from the fiscal year 2010-2011 were submitted using a board member's signature without authorization, and without board approval," BongHwan Kim, DONE’s general manager at the time, wrote in a letter sent to board members in January 2012.
Following the 2012 freezing of funds, DONE assigned the ASNC an overseer during meetings to guide board officers in the proper conduct of council affairs.