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DLANC: First Meeting of the New Board

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2006, at 11:58AM

Last night the new DLANC Board met for its swearing in and first time of what neighborhood council life is all about. There were a few people absent due to sickness or travel, but twenty-three of the twenty-seven new Board members were present as was a good sized contingent of alternates and public.

Jan Perry presided over the swearing in, the Board elected a new President, and off it went with big-picture issues.

Election of the Executive Committee

The first order of business once everyone was sworn in was the election of a Board president. Michael Gagen, who though not a Board member has been involved in DLANC since its inception, presided over the nomination and election. Brady Westwater (Arts, Culture, Education) and Russell Brown (Area Wide Resident) were both nominated and interested in the position. Brady served in the position for the past two years, while Russell has been on the Executive Committee as secretary since his election to the Board in May of 2005. Via a show of hands Russell was elected to the position with a several vote majority.

It's a little unfair to the Board to start off their very first order of business with a decision that's going to affect them for the next two years, but you need a president to run meetings and that's the way it works.

Russell then ran the rest of the Executive Committee elections. These ended up being pretty easy, since all four were uncontested. Brady was elected Vice President of Administration. Shannon Buhrmaster (Social Service Provider) was voted in as Vice President of Outreach and Communication. I (Area Wide Resident Artist) was re-elected as Treasurer, and Matthew Klekner (Business - Alameda East) was chosen as Secretary.


With this done the meeting got bogged down in a discussion about taking a stand on the City Council's appeal of the ACLU homelessness lawsuit. Things went back and forth with some people having already been heavily involved in knowing about the issues and others trying to get up to speed. The Board ended up voting to support City Council continuing its appeal, but not before new Board member David Robinson (Resident - Bunker Hill) made the very reasonable case that it was a bad move for DLANC to vote on such a complex issue without having the time to deeply get into the facts.

Making Informed Decisions

Obviously in this case the deck was stacked against the Board being completely informed: it's a new Board, the proposed settlements all came up since the last Board met, and the timeline for City Council decision was tight. That said, I really hope that the Board does heed David's call to get informed before taking on an issue.

An important part of that is letting the committees do their work. Issues should be sent to the appropriate committee. That committee should then have discussion on the issue and sent the matter back to the Board with a brief report and recommended action. That part mostly works. The next step is the important one: the Board needs to do whatever background reading it wants before the meeting and hold committee recommendations in high regard. Don't let the Board meeting hash the entire issue out again just as it was in committee. All that does is waste people's time and discourage committee involvement.

I was thinking during the meeting that a great thing to have would be a DLANC equivalent of the City's Council File Index. That way all the appropriate information about an issue is immediately available to those who want it, as are committee recommendations and Board actions. I may just have to step up and write the web app for this. I would certainly use it.

The next Board meeting will be Tuesday, November 14th.


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