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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Rudisill Files Five Challenges to VNC Election

Robin Rudisill, former chair of the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Land Use and Planning Committee (LUPC), filed five challenges with EmpowerLA on behalf of the Venice 2016 election challengers listed. Two challenges were for campaign material issues, one was for voter eligibility, two complaints regarding design of the ballot.

The following are the Venice 2016 Election Challengers for all complaints: Mark Kleiman,, Robin Rudisill, Sue Kaplan, George Gineris, Lydia Ponce, Kevin Keresey, Gabriel Ruspini, Ilana Marosi, Noel Gould, Gloria Dabbs, Mike Bravo, Maria Tenorio Bravo.

Note: For confirming information and documents go to:
https://lacity.quickbase.com/db/bkke2xh4j?a=q&qid=-1000635

Complaint 69 — Campaign Material Issues
Flyers were handed out with the website: popul.us/vnc. The very first page announces that the website is “The Official Channel of the Venice Neighborhood Council.”, a claim which is repeated later on in the website. The website may be found at http://popu.us/vnc. A pdf of the entire website is submitted along with this challenge.

This “official channel” endorsed George Francisco, (Vice President), Matthew Royce (Chair of LUPC), Matt Kline (Outreach officer), as well as the following Community Officers: William Hawkins, and Sunny Bak. The following successful candidates took further affirmative steps to use the “Official Channel of the Venice Neighborhood Council”: Evan White (Communications Officer) and Matt Shaw (Community Officer).

This conduct is explicitly prohibited by Article IX (A) of the 2016 Neighborhood Council Election Manual which warns that “[T[he use of . . . any other official Neighborhood Council designation created by the Department is prohibited for use on candidate materials. IX (A)(3) points out that “[The purpose of this provision is to prevent candidates or supporters of candidates from campaigning under the expressed or implied endorsement or authorization of the City, a City department, or a Neighborhood Council and prevent voter confusion.”

Supporting documentation: Populus.site.pdf

Please State Your Desired Remedy
Candidates supported by or availing themselves of this bogus website should be disqualified from holding office for this term.

Complaint 70 — Campaign Material Issues
Campaign material offered financial inducements to vote for a slate. The C&O restaurant, a large Venice employer, offered to pay employees who are not working for their time in voting in the Neighborhood Council election, (as well as a free meal). The letter, which calls on the employees to vote for a hand-picked slate of candidates, goes on to state that AWe have prepared everything you need to vote that you can get from your managers@ and says Awe will pay you for an hour of your time and even provide a free lunch.

2. Campaign material was provided along with free meals and drinks at Scopa, another Venice restaurant, during which the free diners were given slate sheets telling them whom to vote for and loaded into a van and taken to the polling place.
Both of these tactics violate Elections Code ’18522, which declares it a felony to Apay, lend, or contribute, any money or other valuable consideration to or for any voter … to: (a) Induce any voter to: … (2) vote … for any particular person.@ In each case the slate supported included Ira Koslow, George Francisco, Melissa “24/7″ Diner, Matthew Royce, Evan White, and Matt Kline.

The campaign materials handed out at SCOPA also called for electing the restaurant’s owner, Steve Livigni, as a community officer. Livigni won with the sixth highest vote count of all Community Officer candidates.

Supporting documentation:C&O Ltr pdf

Please state your desired remedy.
The members of the slates should be disqualified from holding office for this term, including Steve Livigni.

Complaint 71 — Eligibility of Voter
1. Many people received stakeholder ballots when there was no real evidence that they were stakeholders or even minimally eligible The Venice Chamber of Commerce, short term rental landlords, and restaurants were openly handing out letters purporting to describe people as employees or holders of a community interest when they were neither.

2. Although the VNC has historically had one of the highest rates of citizen participation, this year there was 40% increase in “voters”. This statistically unlikely increase is due in large measure the influx of purported employees with nothing more than a form letter attesting to their “employment”.

3. There are other serious problems with the voter accreditation/registration process but we cannot tell specifically what those are yet as we have been given less than 4 days to analyze 2,700 registration forms, and DONE did not change them the way they said they would, to add the name of the employer, which is causing us to have to take even more time to research. DONE did not follow through with its promises, and we should not be prejudiced by the fact that DONE did not do what it said it would do.

There are other serious problems with the voter accreditation/registration process but we cannot tell specifically what those are yet as we have been given less than 4 days to analyze 2,700 registration forms, and DONE did not change them the way they said they would, to add the name of the employer, which is causing us to have to take even more time to research. DONE did not follow through with its promises, and we should not be prejudiced by the fact that DONE did not do what it said it would do.

4. Observers noted many “voters” who claimed to work in Venice but could not say where or for whom they worked.

5. Perversely, voters who are homeowners, voters with professional offices in Venice, and voters who work as journalists for Venice-based publications were either denied ballots altogether or were relegated to “community interest” ballots.

6. DONE has impeded challenger’s ability to furnish supporting evidence by insisting upon an artificially foreshortened time period in which to assert challenges, even though this challenge requires analysis of over 2,700 registration sheets.

Supporting Documentation:
Carmine_Gangemi_Witness_Statement.pdf
Gloria_Dabbs_Witness_Statement.pdf
Teri_Keresey_Witness_Statement.pdf

Please state your desired remedy.
A new election with proper accreditation of voters.

Complaint 72 — Incorrect Ballots
The VNC ballot was incorrectly designed, leading to an overcount of 107 votes for Community Officer, out of 2,264 ballots cast for CO positions. An overcount rate of 4.7% is extraordinarily high. Moreover, the fact that the overcount rate for community officer was. 4.7%, while the overcount rate for general executive officers was one tenth of one percent makes it clear that the problem was incorrect ballot design.

Since only sixteen votes separate the successful CO candidate with the lowest number of votes (69) and the next eight CO candidates. With nearly five percent of the CO ballots not being tallied, there is a great likelihood that the VNC board’s composition would be substantially different but for the incorrect ballots.

Finally, the number of “overcount” ballots exceeds the difference in votes between the differential between the winning and the losing Community Interest Officer candidates.
Further note: DONE has refused to turn over the best evidence – the actual overcount ballots.

These ballots are now the subject of a request via the California Public Records Act. However, since they are already in DONE’s possession, they should be considered as part of the supporting information for this challenge.

Supporting Documentation: Venice Unofficial Canvas

Please state your desired remedy.
A new election for all general community officers and the community interest officer.

Complaint 73 — Incorrect Ballots
addendum to last challenge

Supporting Documentation: Spreadsheet Venice

Please state your desired remedy.
A new election for all general community officers and the community interest officer.

Comments (5)

  1. Nick Z

    I’m not sure restaurant owners “control” the vote. There is no camera in the booth. Nothing to stop a worker from taking the paid hour off and voting for whoever they want. Its no different from social services “clients” being able to vote. Providing a recommended slate is no different from a union telling its membership to vote for certain politicians who promise to give big raises (see LA City Council literally months before the economic crash giving 20%+ raises to city employees). I highly doubt that any law was broken and that website pdf looked doctored to me, the real story there might be that the file was manipulated to look guilty. If voting is going to be limited to residents, then it needs to be limited to residents. Playing the “stakeholder” game has been played by both sides in the past. Whether it’s an issue or not depends on whether it helps or hurts you.

  2. Nick Antonicello

    Some of these challenges are serious and should be investigated as it applies to employee incentives to vote. Some of these are frivolous in nature and will have no outcome on the election. The definition of “stakeholder” needs to be revised and amended. You can’t have restaurant owners having dozens of votes they control versus the single franchise of a resident. If Venice was a stand alone community and not part of Los Angeles, none of these infractions would matter because only registered voters could participate. This is why seriously examining city hood is important for this new board to consider. Challenges that could change the outcome in my mind is the employee impact since about 300 did vote and that represents the value between the winning and losing slates.

    • James

      Of the two employers mentioned in the challenge, Scopa and C&O, there were about 20 votes total. Not enough to change the direction of the election.

      The challenge calls for the recommended candidates to be disqualified. Why should they be harmed for the actions of independent businesses?

      • Nick Z

        That’s a good point. If you look at the “employee” list there are many different businesses, including whatever Peggy Lee Kennedy (who lives in an RV) claimed her job was.

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