‘As the Council Turns’
By SUE PASCOE
The latest soap opera installment of “As the Council Turns,” featuring the Pacific Palisades Community Council, occurred at the group’s latest meeting on July 26.
For those of you who know more about ABC ‘s “The Bachelorette” or NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” here’s a quick update of the Pacific Palisades organization that “provides a forum for the discussion of community issues where there is broad community agreement.”
This volunteer body is not an official L.A. neighborhood council yet serves a similar function. Elected officials such as Councilman Mike Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as county and state officials, treat this organization as if it speaks for the community.
Many residents are unaware that an elected body is making recommendations that affect the entire community, and yet others claim this body doesn’t speak for them.
In the 2014 election for eight Area representatives and the At-large representative, only one vote was allowed from each household and 753 people voted (for one candidate in the Area in which they lived and for the At-large candidate). Statistics shows 36,393 people and 15,143 households in the 90272 and 90402 zip codes. (Point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/CA/Los-Angeles/Pacific-Palisades-Demographics.html.)
In that election, there were four Areas where there were multiple candidates. George Wolfberg (the current chair) ran unopposed as the At-large candidate.
In the 2016 election, again only one vote was allowed for each household and 1,237 votes were cast (228 votes were invalidated because there were duplicates from the same household). Four of the Area races and the At-large contest were hotly contested with multiple candidates.
Now in 2018, the PPCC election committee is chaired by David Card, who sits on the council as the American Legion representative and is also active in Rotary.
He and his committee worked tirelessly to craft guidelines for the upcoming election. Card read all the rules aloud at the July 26 meeting, including a new one that allows every adult (18 and older) living in Pacific Palisades to vote.
Also new this year: all voting will be online. (See details below.)
Wolfberg announced the following candidates:
Area 1: Joanna Spak
Area 2: Steve Cron, Adam Handler
Area 3: Haldis Toppel
Area 4: Rick Mills
Area 5: Sue Kohl
Area 6: David Kaplan
Area 7: Steve Boyers
Area 8: Reza Akef
The slate resembled elections in the old Soviet Union, where citizens would go to a polling place and cast ballots for the Communist Party candidate–the only person on the ballot.
In all but Area 2 (the Highlands), the person running could actually vote for themselves and it would be the only vote needed to win. No write-in votes are allowed.
For the At-large position, incumbent Lou Kamer announced that he would not be running again, leaving John Padden as the sole candidate.
At that point Alan Goldsmith, the current Area 2 representative, said he would also run for the At-large position.
There was much flurry about whether he could announce his candidacy at the meeting.
Luckily Rob Weber, who had been approved as legal advisor earlier in the evening, stayed and was able to render a legal position that Goldsmith could run. (According to the by-laws, “Any candidate, including any incumbent running for reelection, must submit a Candidate’s Application and Statement prior to or at the regularly scheduled July PPCC Meeting.”)
Goldsmith, who had earlier planned to run for Area 2 representative, had submitted all the required material, but had withdrawn from that race at 5:45 p.m. because there were already two candidates.
A few executive board members insisted he resubmit everything, which meant he had to email the board–while they sat there—delaying the close of the meeting by 20 minutes. (Note to residents: it took that long for an email to go from Goldsmith to secretary Chris Spitz, who was sitting two chairs away.)
While waiting, this reporter asked Wolfberg why so few people were running for PPCC positions. He said, “Ask them yourself.” (I did so, and that story will follow on a subsequent blog.)
If you live or work or own a business in Pacific Palisades and are 18 years or older, you can vote online, starting August 9 at 9 p.m., through August 30 at 9 p.m. Everybody can vote for either Alan Goldsmith or John Padden as the At-large representative. Those people who live in the Highlands can also vote for either Cron or Handler.
To vote, visit: pacpalicc.org. A voting “help” session will take place on August 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Palisades Library. Members of the election committee will assist community members who are unable to access the online ballot.