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People Power

Volunteer-run neighborhood councils in Los Angeles are gaining political power and showing what a new kind of politics could look like.

"The neighborhood council board members -- representing the new world of politics-as-it-might-be -- generally accepted the criticism. But they were at the Convention Center for more than a lesson in civility. They were ready to talk about real power -- because the neighborhood councils have discovered they actually have some."

"That's a problem for the City Council and the mayor, because each would like to use neighborhood councils for their own small ends. It's a problem for the neighborhood councils themselves too, as they labor to define what their larger purpose is. Neighborhood councils may one day have the capacity to change how Los Angeles is being made. In fact, change has already begun."

"The making of more and broader coalitions is the next lesson neighborhood councils are trying to learn. The guiding principle is "the rule of three." If three neighborhood councils are mutually supportive, some board presidents believe, and they combine their access to other community organizations to leverage their influence on City Council decision-making, then the councils stand a chance of prevailing against City Hall, its watchful phalanx of lobbyists and its often unfeeling bureaucracy. Even some developers are sensing a shift in the webs of power. They want to talk to, rather than fight, neighborhood councils."

Full Story: Neighborhood councils -- the powers that could be

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