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Our guest for this episode of the EmpowerLA Podcast is Ken Draper, a founding Board Member from the Mid City West Community Council and Editor-Publisher for LA’s most notorious watchdog, CityWatch. Ken has been one of the most active and prominent voices in the neighborhood council community since its inception. In our conversation, Ken talks about the origins of the Neighborhood Council system, how Neighborhood Councils have evolved since their early days, and what he thinks they can (and deserve) to be. We hope you enjoy!
Ken Draper’s Long and Storied Career
Ken Draper has had a long career in media and communications working for years in radio and print in the midwest before settling in Los Angeles. For the last 16 years he has served as Editor-Publisher of CityWatch, LA’s most notorious local government watchdog.
CityWatch: Politics. Perspectives. Participation.
CityWatch started in 2002 as a group of Neighborhood Council people trying out figure out how to have a single voice, citywide. It now covers a variety of issues from the local level to the national level, reaching over 123,000 subscribers. You can learn more about CityWatch here.
City Councilmember Joel Wachs
Ken Draper mentioned that Councilmember Joel Wachs provided some of the original inspiration for the Neighborhood Council system when he used one of his campaign planks to push for a so-called “Family of Neighborhoods”. You can read more about Wachs here.
Former GM of Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, Greg Nelson
Greg Nelson was an aide to Councilman Wachs for years before becoming the first General Manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. He stepped down in 2006. You can learn more about his tenure here.
Dueling Charter Reform Commissions
The movement to reform the LA City Charter spawned two competing commissions. The synthesis of their work produced a new Charter that voters approved in 1999. You can read more about that historic change here in coverage by the New York Times.
Neighborhood Council MOU with DWP
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Water and Power (DWP) and Neighborhood Councils was an early victory for advocates of the system. Draper says the agreement gave credibility to the Neighborhood Councils early on and should serve as a model for other people active in the system. You can read a summary of the MOU here.
EmpowerLA’s monthly podcast is produced by Arin Abedian and hosted by Brett Shears.
The views expressed in the EmpowerLA Podcast do not necessarily reflect those of EmpowerLA or the City of Los Angeles. The veracity of any claims made during the recording are the sole responsibility of the host and guest(s).