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Candidates Downplay Dispute Over Deleted Facebook Post

While the candidates disagree over how the deletion of a Facebook page was handled, they both agree they they want to move on.

The two candidates running for president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council say a controversy over the use of a Facebook event page featuring the board's logo has been blown out of proportion.

This week, a mini dust-up was created among neighborhood council candidates when Monica Alcaraz deleted a post by Cathi Milligan on a Facebook event page inviting community members to an upcoming forum. Both Alcaraz and Milligan are running for president of the board, and both say they are hoping to put the disagreement behind them. 

Though Milligan's post did not directly solicit votes, it identified her as a candidate for president and invited community members to attend the forum.

Alcaraz, who administers the page, as well as the HHPNC's official website, deleted the post, citing election rules that prohibit candidates from soliciting votes on pages that bear the HHPNC logo.

"If I would have left that on there, it would have been implied that we were endorsing her," Alcaraz said. "It wasn't like she wrote 'vote for me,' but it was 'I'm running for.' You can't even say anything like that. I don't think she meant to do it, but we are governed by rules." 

Milligan responded, saying that it wasn't her intention to solicit votes with her post.

She also agreed that deleting the post was ultimately the right thing to do, but said she did not feel that Alcaraz was the right person to do it.

"I don't have any problems with her, I have a problem with what she did as the other candidate for President. And I can't even rebut [allegations of voter-solicitation], because the original post is gone. I just wish she would have spoken to me before she took it down. It would have been easier."

Terrence Gomes, an independent election adviser for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment will attend next Tuesday's candidates forum at 6 p.m. at Franklin High School to address the rules regarding solicitation.

The issue was also brought to the attention of the City Attorney's office by  Margarito Martinez, who is running for an at large seat on the council.

Martinez also posted a video of himself on Patch's Neighborhood Gallery, detailing the dispute and his impromptu meeting with Darren Martinez of the City Attorney's Office.

"I think he's trying to support me, but he's also making it bigger. I just want it to go away," Alcaraz said.

Martinez responded, saying "I acted properly, in the interests of all the candidates, not just myself."

In the meantime, current HHPNC President Chris Smith has handed administrative control of the HHPNC's Facebook page to Carmela Gomes, a stakeholder who is not seeking a seat on the board.

"I think it's better than anyone who is running for anything to not have control of the page," Smith said.

For her part, Alcaraz said she wasn't trying hide Milligan's post in order to gain an edge with voters. In fact, she said she wished there was even more competition.

"I wish there were five candidates for president, not just two," she said. "Even more people should want to serve on the board, because its an honor."

The MOG September 27, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Please understand, it was not the initial posting that sent up the red flags, it was the communications by Chris Smith, and Terrence Gomes that raised the greater issues of transparency. The members of the HHPNC Board, Candidates, and Stakeholders, should not have to rely on Patch to be informed on the election process. I do not feel comfortable discussing matters that pretain to everyone privately. I tried to cc Cathi, in my email to Darren,but do not have her address. Nor, am I equipted to notifiy every candidate. It was in the interest of Transparency, since it was Terrence Gomes, who brought up potential Brown Act Violations, that I suggested input from the City Atty. It was Chris Smith's handling of the situation, IMHO, that brought us to this point. I'm sure someone as obviously as thoughtful, caring, and serious as Cathi appears to be, would like to use the forum for something other than to talk about this. I know I would. There are 39 other candidates to consider. I am interested in their input. BTW, when are the notices going out to the other candidates, informing them that this matter will be on the agenda? And whose decision was it, if you don't mind me asking, for the matter to be taken up at the Forum? Who discussed it with whom, and apprx. when was the decision made, and when will ALL the candidates be officially notified by the HHPNC?
Monica Alcaraz September 27, 2012 at 04:12 AM
David, please clarify, I did NOT say Magarito WAS TRYING to make it bigger. I said, "I think he was trying to help but it's just getting bigger. I just want to move forward and get back to promoting the Election. I hope everyone in Highland Park comes out and votes. Please know one thing, I would be honored to be your next HHPNC President, but It would make me even happier if EVERYONE came out and voted! So Highland Park let your voice be heard and come out and VOTE, not only in this election but in the Presidential Election!
David Fonseca (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Updated, thanks for clarifying, Monica.
flygirl September 27, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Drama!!! Eeeww!
sila September 27, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Crazy how even at the most minimal level, politics get so childish. Sounds like y'all should take advantage of the yogananda center, maybe some meditation and spiritual centering will help redirect this ugly energy into productive things for the community and make it less like a homecoming queen race.... Just an observation...
The MOG September 27, 2012 at 04:34 PM
To Sila,& Flygirl, this is politics at it's most crucial level. The board represents the closest some will ever get to City Hall. It may seem like drama,(& politics is a kind of a stage) but electing your government officials is as serious as it gets. This isn't about any individual, it's about transparency, right now. Without David's story, Stakeholders would not have known about any of this, and they have a legal right to know. Again, it's not about Cathi's Posting On HHPNC, it's about what happened afterwards that sent Up The Red Flag. I ph. Terrence Gomes this morning,& left a message stating that my present concern is for ALL Candidates to recieve Official Notification from the Elections Committe of HHPNC, on the format change for the up coming Forum. I'm especially concerned that some Spanish Only Speakers may not understand what is transpiring, and they deserve to know. It troubles me that apparently I was the only one given a "heads up",by Mr. Gomes, on what to expect on the 2nd of Oct. I don't think that was fair. ALL Candidates should have been informed by now. I want to publicly state, that it is extrodanary that dep.City Atty. Martinez, & Steve Box, have taken the time to give this matter personal attention. EVERYONE is committed to having a FUN, Joyous, and Pleasent time introducing themselves at the Forum. Giving dignity to the proceedings, & civility. Let me say, that BOTH Monica & Cathi are exemplary in their qualifications, hard working,dedicated,& caring!
Carl Showalter September 27, 2012 at 04:40 PM
This incident is consistent with the view that the people who self select into politics are usually the obnoxious type.
The MOG September 27, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Well, Carl, at the risk of sounding a little obnoxious myself, I might say that your comment bespeaks of the cynicism that sometimes poeple can't help but feel, when we talk about politics. Especially local politics. I am as eager as a can be to demonstrate, that no matter what some Public Officials may say, The HHPNC continues to opperate under the premise THAT YES WE CAN!
HPLA September 27, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I'd have to add the fb page as a Friend? No thanks.
Cerro Gordo September 27, 2012 at 07:56 PM
The writers from "Parks and Rec" should be taking notes.
The MOG September 27, 2012 at 08:32 PM
LOL I don't blame you, HPLA. I've been trying to get my fb page up with no success. A friend keeps telling me,"Come on. Don't do it!" I figure I ought to have one though. This morning I went Down Town, to 334-B, East 2nd, in Little Tokyo. That's suppose to be the Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment. I went to there to see if Mr. Steven M Box, the Elections Coordinator. Of course, one assumes the gentleman responsible for over seeing the Elections for the 2nd Largest City, in the Most Powerful Nation on Earth, would be very busy at this time, but I thought I'd at least leave a message with his Secretary, thanking him for taking time to call, and to convey my feeling that this rift is being resolved for ALL parties concerned, primarily the Stakeholders of Highland Park. I tried to call, but surprisingly, if YOU, THE STAKEHOLDER/VOTER attempt to call D.O.N.E., at 213-485-1360,you'll get the "has been disconnected" message. If you Google it, you will see an Error Listing. (Simple question. How is the election being coordinated? By telephone? There are other questions, but this is a start.) When I got the D.O.N.E. Office, I saw the whole place under construction! I was a little chagrined as I ask the workers how long they'd been working there, but they didn't speak English. I've done jobs like this, it looks like it's been on going.
The MOG September 27, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Just got off the phone, with Mr. Box. Boy! Was I embarassed! D.O.N.E. is now something called EmpowerLA. I relayed my concerns about making sure ALL Candidates were notified that Mr. Gomes has decided to take up the matter at the Oct 2nd forum, and he said he'd look into that. Frankly, I think now is the appropriate time to move past this. So, our forum will be as congenial, and enjoyable for EVERY candidate, to introduce themselves in the best possible light. I look forward to meeting you all!
Culturevator September 27, 2012 at 09:57 PM
In response to the question: What do you make of this disagreement? I believe the bylaws of the council would have Ms. Alcaraz disqualified as a candidate. But I also realize that we have a newcomer to the council process, running against a seasoned council member. Maybe the newcomer screwed up. Should she have to be disqualified for it? I believe she should have taken the high road, and called the candidate she is running against, to express her concern about the Facebook posting. That, to me, shows leadership/fairness capabilities. Not the unapologetic brazen removal of the post, especially against your opponent. Too much drama to be president.
The MOG September 27, 2012 at 11:05 PM
1st, I am impressed with BOTH candidates for pres. I don't think either of them go along with the program that either of them made any unethical actions, or intentional improprieties. Monica's actions were completely inline, and proper. The problem is the toxic injection by Chris Smith, the current HHPNC Pres., that was improper. It was that email that set off the chain of communications that may have been a violation of The Brown Act, not any actions by Cathi or Monica. So, lets get that straight, right now. 2nd, Voters have a tough choice for president this year. Both are lovely,beautiful,intelligent,competent,hardworking,talented,dedicated,passionate. Either of them would make a good president. 3rd, I have made a suggestion to Terrence, that a vote be taken before the forum, among the assembled candidates, as to whether we should use that valuable time to discuss this issue. I don't think that is in the best interests of anyone.
El Cid September 28, 2012 at 02:22 AM
First of all, I know who established and set up the FB in the first place and its original purpose! Its intent was to promote HHPNC, community outreach, and engage HP stakeholders. Quite honestly, Ms. Milligan's post was quite innocent and someone should have politely informed her of it possibly not being a good idea during this election time period. I am confident she would have gladly removed it herself. Instead, it appears an individual who is also a candidate overstepped her boundary and elected to unilaterally remove it. In this case, an obvious conflict of interest. This individual may have unknowingly not been aware of the conflict of interest matter and probably would like this issue to go away too. I do not believe it is fair to comment negatively toward outgoing President Chris Smith. Why? For those of you who are new to local NC's you will soon discover the inconsistencies of DONE, lack of definitive answers to questions posed to DONE, and quite frankly the foolishness of DONE itself! Bureaucracy at its worst!
ELGATONEGRO September 28, 2012 at 09:14 AM
I HOPE WHOM EVER OF YOU GUYS WINS SEATS IN THIS IMPORTANT ELECTION FOR MY HOMETOWN DONT GET TOO HUNG UP ON CHILDISH ISSUES LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME!!! I WANNA SEE MORE COMMUNITY OUT REACH, MORE YOUTH GROUPS, OPEN UP STONERS PARK FIX THE CRAP OUT OF IT!!! DO SOME GOOD FOR MY BARRIO PLEASE!!! AND THANK YOU!!
ELGATONEGRO September 28, 2012 at 09:22 AM
I DONT SEE WHATS THE BIG DEAL SO LONG AS THE OTHER CANDIDATE DIDNT GO AND DO THE SAME TO SOLICIT VOTES. SHOULD EACH PERSON BE INFORMED OF THE RULES GOVERNING THEIR CANDIDACY IN THE FIRST PLACE?? JUST SAYIN.
The MOG September 28, 2012 at 02:42 PM
El Gato Negro, you are right, this is no big deal, but it is not about the Face Book Posting. It's about the way it was handled afterwards, by board Pres. Smith, & the Independent Elections Advisor Gomes. The Brown Acts protects the the Public's Right To Know. What I'm concerned about is a few, well off people forming cliques, to the determent of 1, or 2, individuals who may not have the same resourses, like Face Book, or iphones. Anyway, I might take the time to Blog on it, before the scheduled Forum, in the interests of clarification, etc. btw, I want to thank you, from the bottem of my heart, for your sincere passion for Highland Park. We both love her, & her people. ALL her people, whether they be one of the more fortunate, or a homeless human being living in abject poverty. Whether the speak Spanglish, or Manderan, "Documented", or not, Black or White; ALL StakeHolders have an Equal Right To Know how decisions involving ethics are made, & by whom. Again, it is not the actions of either Monica, or Cathi that is the matter. It is the unsolicitated, & unneeded interjection by Mr. Smith, that set off a chain of communications that may have been a violation of The Brown Act. Now, THAT is serious business, because now we have drifted off into wheither or not any felonies may have been committed during an election process, by people in power making private calls to one another, thinking they can do any damn thing they want to, because no one will ever find out. That's it.
The MOG September 28, 2012 at 02:50 PM
El Gato Negro, you're beautiful man! I love your idealism! Please Please Please encourage EVERYONE you know to come out to the Forum on the Tues. You are correct. This is probably the most important neighborhood election ever, because it represents a chance for voters to make a serious change, a break from how things were done from the past. The new Board will be comitted to OutReach, in languages representative of community demographics, & finding solutions for increasing Transparency, & bringing ever more people into the process. Look forward to meeting you Sir!
El Gato Blanco September 30, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Regardless of technicalities regarding the bylaws, the intent of erasing a competitors comments during an election cycle screams of impropriety. Ms Alcaraz is the PTA president at one of our local elementary schools and on more than one occasion she has literally thrown a tantrum to the point of tears if she did not get her way or was not appointed to a committee she wanted to sit on to the point of excluding other parents and creating a position for herself. Personally I am not interested in having someone who is self serving, power hungry and ultimately selfish/childish representing my neighborhood in any type of political seat, even one as insignificant as neighborhood council seat......I'm just saying
The MOG September 30, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Okay, now let me say this, it was entirely proper for Monica to take-down Cynthia's post, because it is unethical for the Official HHPNC Social Media to appear to even tacitedly give an impression they are endorsing one candidate over the other. Could it have been handled differently? Certainly...but surely, with entire Sessions @ the Congress of Neighborhoods dealing with EXACTLY this example, Cathi should have known, at least had the basic instincts to know, what she did wasn't kosher. & Chris, the current presiding chair, most certainly should have known better than to inject himself into the controversy, or it's resolution. Because it's his actions, not anything Cathi or Monica did, that call into question the propriety of these neighborhood elections. It was that email that set in motion the chain of communications between himself, Terrence Gomes & ??? That is the issue, of The Brown Act, that was brought up by the independent advisor himself. I have the emails. There's no debate about it. Let me say once again, both Cathi & Monica are equally qualified to assume the persident's chair. We have a very diffecult choice to make...I haven't decided yet who I'll vote for. Let's see how the forum evolves...See ya there!
El Cid September 30, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I'm looking forward to hearing from the candidates! Let's emphasize getting out the VOTE! HHPNC stakeholders must vote for the better candidates versus loyalties. HP stakeholders must know that these individuals will be your voice to LA City's Council. Therefore, avoid the traditional "Puppets" who always run, " I Do Nothing", "I'm not a free thinker-someone else does that for me" of old boards. Let's VOTE for board members of ACTION, UNSELFISHNESS, FREE THINKERS, TRUE DEDICATION to the betterment of HP as a WHOLE!!! Meet the candidates at Franklin High School's Auditorium on Tuesday, October 2, 2012. (David - Can you please verify time and actual location?) HP - Let's get out the VOTE and get an amazing turnout!!!
El Cid October 02, 2012 at 04:08 AM
HHPNC Candidate Forum - Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at Franklin High School's Cafeteria from 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. HHPNC Election Day - Saturday, October 13, 2012 at Highland Park Recreation Center from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

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