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Letter: Riser Criticisms Unfair

Mount Washington resident David Brunk says criticisms of Joe Riser's candidacy for the Scyamore Grove seat on the ASNC are not fair.

With all due respect to my friend Eliot Sekuler, I believe he has a narrow view of the Joe Riser controversy.

As a founding member of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, I have known Joe [for some time] and always found him to be unquestionably ethical and dedicated to community service.

He has served Hermon very effectively and because Cypress Park was originally in the ASNC, he has served there at the Friends of the Cypress Park Association ever since.

If he can bring that service to Sycamore Grove, they will be very fortunate indeed.

This is a struggle over control of the board and finds Joe being the second Hermon representative accused of unethical behavior by Martha Benedict in the last year. The first of those charges were just refuted by DONE after an exhaustive investigation.

[ed. note: Mr. Brunk is referring to accusations of unethical accounting practices made against Hermon resident and former ASNC treasurer Mark Legassie. Those accusations were made by several members of the board, not solely President Martha Benedict. A recent audit of ASNC finances did not find any major accounting errors, though it did raise concerns of Legassie's use of Benedict's electronic signature, allegedly without her permission]

Joe is impugned for trying to form a Hermon neighborhood council, although at the request of his constituents because of the accusations against Mark Legassie.

Mark served as Web Master for the ASNC at no charge after years of paying major fees for the service. Joe is impuned for "making a career" of the ASNC, but Martha Benedict has been involved directly even longer. Before she ran for the board she was a contractor to the ASNC  Joe was a founder, but did not run early on. This is a struggle for control and representation, developing into the kind of politics we have come to dislike.

Apologies to Eliot Sekuler for being at odds with his opinion, as I respect him greatly as the [co-founder] of Lummis Day and a good citizen.

-- David Brunk, Mount Washington

JosephR September 28, 2012 at 09:20 PM
I would only ask to clarify one thing David says -- and he could not have known this --but many Hermon stakeholders will attest to it. The efforts of a large number of Hermon stakeholders to create their own separate neighborhood council through the legal means detailed in the "Plan..." that governs all NC policies started many months before any issues about ASNC bookkeeping or finances were raised. The two are completely unrelated.
David Fonseca (Editor) September 28, 2012 at 09:32 PM
That's indeed true, Joe.
Martha Benedict September 28, 2012 at 09:58 PM
I also would like to correct some facts in David Brunk's statements. He is an old friend of mine who presented me with a fabulous bouquet after the first ASNC election, which I organized. The first board voted to hire a webmaster for a specific monthly payment in June 2004. Prior to that, Donnette Thayer and I maintained the web site as volunteers. The webmaster turned out to have only a non-profit business at the time. The City could not legally pay him directly. I offered to use my Los Angeles business to pay him as a subcontractor. At least twice over the years the board affirmed this payment amount and this webmaster. Then in the fall of 2008, Joe Riser persuaded the board to lower the cost with commensurate reduction in service. Mark Legassie took it over a year later as a volunteer. In the spring of 2011, Mark told me he no longer had time to do the web site and handed to me. I have maintained it as a volunteer ever since. I have never received money for the web services except reimbursement of fees I pay for hosting and domain registration. The rest of the money was paid to the webmaster as a subcontractor.
Martha Benedict September 28, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Read the first sentence in DONE Interim General Manager Grayce Liu's letter releasing ASNC from exhaustive efforts: "On March 13, 2012, the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (Department) submitted a notice of Exhaustive Efforts to the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council (ASNC) because of violations to the Funding Program guidelines and procedures and lack of compliance with the Plan for a Citywide System of Neighborhood Councils (the Plan)." Did you get that? There were violations and there was lack of compliance. DONE has not yet reconciled records with board motions, so the discovery of the extent of the violations continues. My service on the ASNC board began in the fall of 2009. I had served as a volunteer before that, preparing mailers, ballots and being the fiscal receiver for the webmaster.
David Lyttle September 28, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Interesting.......... I am new at this and do not bring any excess baggage ............. Let’s see now, "Joe Riser persuaded......." Martha, if you can't think for yourself then you are probably not in a position to be making decisions for an entire community. Next, perhaps you can now volunteer to put the past behind you and move forward rather than continuing on with your witch/warlock hunt. Did you get that? Your counter-productive efforts to re-live the past never seem to get exhausted. If you don’t mind, I would suggest you sit back in a comfortable arm chair turn on TMZ and watch Harvey Levin and his crew – they know how to have fun. Life is a journey, not a destination
Martha Benedict September 29, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Hi David. Thanks for suggestions. I've got many ways to enjoy my leisure time already. I did not bring up the past. David Brunk did. He had some facts wrong. I was not on the board at the time Joe Riser persuaded members to change the web site arrangements. I'd be delighted to leave the past behind, but people do continue obsessing over it.
David Lyttle September 29, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Martha, Is there one last thing you'd like to add before we drop it?"
Goodman Brown September 29, 2012 at 01:33 AM
eStrange, you sound like your pretty experianced "at this", you shouldn't count yuself short...in fact your picture looks familar to I. Might you be any relation to Socratic Method? Because he looks just like you...You really shouldn't use words like witch/warlock. You make it sound like your refering to the iconic character on H R Puff N Stuff. Martha, can't help how she looks...that's not cool. If I know her she'll conjure up her Magick Billy Goat Gruff! All bedecked in muliticolored robes, rolling around on the ground, singing odes to Elvis & The Evil One! You call that liesure? LOL oh & that reminds I, if life be a journey, shouldn't ye commence a long hike, off metaphoric pier? Holloween's coming, town's folk...guard your lucky black cats from the wierdos! LOL...BOO!
Martha Benedict September 29, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Let's drop it, David. Thanks for checking in.

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