Politics

Amid calls for investigation, LA certifies Skid Row election outcome

File: General Jeff, head organizer of the proposed Skid Row Neighborhood Council, greets voters as they line up outside San Julian Park on Thursday, April 6, 2017.
File: General Jeff, head organizer of the proposed Skid Row Neighborhood Council, greets voters as they line up outside San Julian Park on Thursday, April 6, 2017.
Matt Bloom

Skid Row advocates say they hope to pursue "any and all legal action" to help keep their community's effort to establish a neighborhood council alive. 

General Jeff Page, speaking for the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation committee, told KPCC Monday he did not agree with city officials' decision on Friday to certify last month's election results, when the Skid Row effort was defeated by less than 100 votes. 

"It's a bunch of hogwash," he said. "Right now we're in the process of seeking legal representation to stand with us and overcome this travesty." 

The Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment certified the results from the April 6 election late last week, rejecting the formation of a new council for Skid Row. The decision came amid calls for an independent investigation into alleged illegal campaigning efforts by the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council. 

Shortly after the April election, Skid Row advocates submitted three challenges to the election's outcome, accusing the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council's board members of knowingly interfering in the election through a "front organization" called Unite DTLA. 

At an election challenge panel earlier this month, the downtown council's president, Patti Berman, repeatedly denied any illegal activity on her council's part. 

Despite the downtown council's denial, the panel upheld the Skid Row group's challenges, recommending an independent investigation into the matter: 

"Within 60 days, there shall be an independent investigation to determine if any laws were broken and how many votes [in the Skid Row council election] were affected; if the number of votes affected is greater than the vote difference in the election, then the election result shall be overturned. Within 90 days, if the election result is not changed after the investigation above, then the election shall be held again, without online voting." — Department of Neighborhood Empowerment Election Challenge Panel, May 3, 2017

The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment's decision last Friday to certify the Skid Row election results overruled the panel's recommendation, and will keep the thousands of homeless residents living on Skid Row within the jurisdiction of the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council.

File: A volunteer holds a map showing the proposed borders for the Skid Row Neighborhood Council on Thursday, April 6, 2017. The effort to establish the council was defeated in a special election, to the disappointment of hundreds of homeless Skid Row residents.
File: A volunteer holds a map showing the proposed borders for the Skid Row Neighborhood Council on Thursday, April 6, 2017. The effort to establish the council was defeated in a special election, to the disappointment of hundreds of homeless Skid Row residents.
Matt Bloom

The decision was announced in a letter from Grayce Liu, general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. In the letter, Liu dismissed evidence presented by the Skid Row advocates' challenges, saying there was "no factual basis" to determine that the evidence presented had any effect in the April election's outcome.

A spokesperson for the department told KPCC the decision in no way bars the submission of another Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation proposal next time the submission period is open for subdivision proposals in 2018.