Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Council Retreat

council retreat w CLA CAO
Originally uploaded by CD-13
Each year, the Los Angeles City Council takes action on almost 10,000 agenda item. For two days, my colleagues and I gathered at a hotel near the Port of Los Angeles and focused on only one: "Dialogue and discussion concerning issues attendant to Council's information sharing, partnership in city government, policy direction and operational improvements." We too often in government replace the important with the urgent. We don't dedicate time to take stock of the issues that matter to Angelenos the most, or to find the long-range vision and policy tools needed to address them. The retreat was our way of changing that.

In a 36-hour span, we heard about each council district, the opportunities that every neighborhood presents and the common challenges that each community faces, whether gang violence or poor air quality. We discussed how the power of the council as a whole can be used to articulate policies and programs that will address these issues on a citywide basis. We thought through strategies to make the council more effective and more accessible to residents. From being more proactive in setting budget priorities to solutions to gang violence, this council's record in getting things done was highlighted by the retreat, as was its recognition that we are standing at a crossroads in this city's history. As representatives of the people, we have been entrusted to work the raw materials of Los Angeles's human and natural resources and turn it into the model for a 21st-century city.

What's next? In the coming months, we will be setting up visits to each council district. We will have in-council broad-view policy discussions on the highest-profile issues that confront our city: public safety, the environment, and mobility, to get started. I think we will become an even more effective body at advocating for the residents of Los Angeles.