Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council fills subdistrict director and treasurer vacancies

Matt Hemmingway discusses a vacancy in the council before the meeting in Los Angeles, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Spencer Patrick/Occidental Weekly

The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC) met at Eagle Rock City Hall Nov. 7 to address two board position vacancies: treasurer and subdistrict two director. At the meeting, former Treasurer Miry Whitehill became the new subdistrict 2 director and former Subdistrict 2 Director Bridget Byrnes Hirsch became the new treasurer.

According to ERNC Vice President Matt Hemingway, members of the council vote on candidates for positions on the ERNC. These candidates must have the correct qualifications for the position.

Hemingway said that Eagle Rock has four subdistricts, each with two directors. Occidental is located in subdistrict 2, which only had one director before the vacancy was addressed. While the subdistrict directors have no official responsibilities, they are encouraged to operate on community initiatives in their part of Eagle Rock.

According to Hemingway, while the subdistrict vacancy is not negatively impacting the neighborhood, it limits the council’s progress.

“The negative thing is there is this seat that’s not being [used]. No action is coming out of it,” Hemingway said. “Somebody could be in that seat writing a community impact statement or have a cool idea for a community improvement project around Eagle Rock, and that’s not happening now, so that’s the negative aspect there.”

According to Hemingway, the treasurer position vacancy has a more time-sensitive impact. The treasurer is in charge of all the financial aspects of the ERNC. If that position is unfilled, it will be difficult for the council to grant funding requests for community initiatives. The treasure must already be familiar with certain funding and expense processes, according to Hemingway.

“All of the [financial expenditures] are put on hold if we don’t have an active treasurer,” Hemingway said. “Tonight we have like $16,000 worth of expenditures proposed, who knows how many will get approved or whatever, but that’s a lot of stuff that could not happen. Without having the treasurer seat filled, all those kind of expenditures get delayed and put on hold, lord knows what happens after that.”

ERNC President Lisa Kable-Blanchard said that the treasurer vacancy obstructs multiple steps in the council’s funding process.

“Anybody who comes to us for money, if we don’t have a functional treasurer, that means all training up to date, all ethics and funding paperwork up to date and time to deal with all the stuff that comes through, we really can’t deal with anything,” Kable-Blanchard said.

ERNC Boulevards Director Chloé Renée Ziegler said that the council has obligations to the city of Los Angeles.

“Not only are we accountable to our community, and the people who elected us, but we are also accountable to the city that gives us our yearly budget,” Ziegler said. “So let’s say our treasurer resigns, then the accounting is not going to get done, and people who spend money are not going to get reimbursed.”

According to Kable-Blanchard, not having a treasurer is particularly frustrating due to the consistent poor attendance at council meetings. Kable-Blanchard said that the council has 19 people all volunteering their time to the council, but at each meeting they barely have enough attendees to begin. According to the ERNC bylaws, a quorum requires 10 members to be present.

“We strive to have a council full of active people, but again, 19 volunteers, people have busy lives, people have kids, people have jobs, I myself wasn’t able to be at my last two meetings because my job got in the way,” Kable-Blanchard said. “The goal would be to have people who are really interested and involved.”

Kable-Blanchard said that it is important for Occidental students to become involved in their community.

“When we have the opportunities to have community events, it would be great to have [students involved],” Kable-Blanchard said. “The students come with different eyes. They come from all over the country and they come here and they see different things than maybe people who have lived here all their lives or for the last 15 years.”

Kable-Blanchard said that the ERNC arts director position, which is currently vacant, would be ideal for an Occidental student.

“If there’s somebody who’s really excited about trying to figure out how to do public art and what that could be or, you know, trying to make new and exciting things happen in this area, well, we don’t have a big budget, but we have a budget, and if someone is willing to put some time and energy into something like that, that’s fantastic,” Kable-Blanchard said.

Ziegler said that she encourages students to consider coming to council meetings, both to learn how L.A. functions and to create new partnerships.

“I have organized many events with Oxy students in the last 3–4 years with their community engagement office and I love working with Oxy students,” Ziegler said. “I also encourage them to come to us with projects, we have money. I totally encourage students to come with us and say, ‘hey, can we collaborate?'”

The next ERNC meeting will be Dec. 5 at Eagle Rock City Hall.