Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dodgers, Misfits, Clowns, Nuts And Sumo Wrestlers - Welcome To GEPENC

Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council Area
With the best will in the world, it would be difficult to describe the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood of Los Angeles as a desirable residential area. Mind you, the neighborhood boasts some major league attractions, not least of which is reigning National League West champions The Los Angeles Dodgers, who migrated here from Brooklyn in the late 1950s. And it's home to the City of Los Angeles' finest young recruits, none of whom should be confused with Carey Mahoney, Eugene Tackleberry, Moses Hightower or Laverne Hooks.
That deals with the dodgers and the misfits. To find the clowns, nuts and sumo wrestlers, we need only turn to the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, known locally as GEPENC. Last week The Eastsider, a blogzine based in the Echo Park area, published an interesting insight into the forthcoming neighborhood elections. "Who would willingly subject themselves to serve on the neighborhood council for Echo Park?", it enquired rhetorically. "The residents who serve on the unpaid, advisory board have to sit through some unruly - albeit entertaining - meetings, fight off grievances and also rely on one of the most criticized city departments for support."

'Unruly - albeit entertaining - meetings'? I wonder what they could possibly be referring to. Perhaps it was a reference to this report of a 'sumo wrestling match' last June when alternate council member Luiza-Padilla Mavropoulos alleged that she was assaulted in sumo-like fashion by the Council President following a meeting at an Echo Park church: "President Jose Sigala bellied me like a sumo wrestler causing me to lose balance...". According to The Eastsider, Mavropoulos also claimed that Council Treasurer Francisco Torrero called her a 'whore' during a heated argument. "He called me a whore. I'm no ones whore," she wrote in an apostrophe-free complaint filed with the city's Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. The blog goes on to report that, backing Mavropolous in her case against Sigala is council member Augustin Cebada, "a former Sigala ally who attracted attention early this year for his rants against Jews and Whites".

Elections for GEPENC take place on March 20 and, as in previous years, the local 'Action Coalition' is putting up a slate of candidates. The group currently holds 7 of the 21 Council posts, including President Jose (sumo wrestler) Sigala, Vice-President Francisco Torrero, Treasurer Gustavo Moreno and Information Officer Lisa Baca, along with David Rosen, Jorge Prado and Stephen Stickler. "Our coalition of candidates", reads their manifesto, "reflects the diverse, progressive and active spirit Echo Park is known for and proud of. Each one of us cares deeply about our community and has a personal stake in its well-being. We have all contributed in some way to making our community a safe and enjoyable place to live. Together we have organized neighborhood clean ups, removed graffiti and blight from our streets, promoted and preserved our parks/open space, assured the preservation, promotion and designation of historical landmarks in our neighborhoods, funded important children and youth programs in our libraries, schools and recreation centers and opened the new GEPENC Office and Community Center in Echo Park to bring people together."

Not everyone in the local community appears to have been brought together by this message of peace and love, however. "What a JOKE!!!!", wrote one anonymous resident. "Take away the money, and see who the real community volunteers are. All these wanna be power mongers will go away, hopefully to another "hood"." A second contributor observed: "More like the Neighborhood Assclown Coalition... The only benefit of neighborhood councils is that they keep the neighborhood's nuts busy on meeting nights." And a third plaintively declared: "Echo Park was better off without a Neighborhood Council." Oh well, you can't win 'em all!

It may be the home of dodgers, misfits, clowns, nuts and sumo wrestlers, but when it comes to funding, GEPENC is not exactly Fort Knox. Last year's fiscal budget was a mere $133,087 and $83,087 of that was roll-over. The smallest of the five districts in budgetary terms is District 4, where last year's miniscule $9,900 was increased to a paltry $11,000 for the current financial year. So it's not somewhere that would attract a potential fraudster or diverter of funds, unless of course they had greater designs on the $37,000 General Funds budget. And even then it would hardly attract Al Capone. So money is clearly not the motivation for one particular new face in District 4, standing on the Action Coalition slate for GEPENC in 10 days' time:

PS. If any cynic concludes that this weary, uninspiring and gramatically awful presentation must mean that I've made it up as a piece of mischief, just click on the candidate statement above to visit the LA City Clerk's Office public filing.


  1. This must be true. Even you couldn't have made this up, unless you took Yo'Nicked's photo at the ceremony the other night while you were picking up the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

  2. Another of Yo's fansMarch 11, 2010 4:11 AM

    Yo certainly should be committed (to an institution). And she certainly "gives back to the community in new and creative ways". No one else I know gives back debt and fear to the community through such innovative rip-offs, subterfuge and thuggish activities.

    Seeing as how she has signed her own name incorrectly, (Yolanda, not Yolande) can this application be considered a true and correct statement?

  3. Another of Yo's fansMarch 11, 2010 4:27 AM

    Yo will, I assume, have studied the ELECTION CODE of the CITY OF LOS ANGELES to ensure that she doesn't fall foul of any of the strict compliances. We await ... with bated breath!

  4. You're not wrong about it being "weary and uninspiring". It's almost a plea to be put out of her misery. Another runner, another place to try to sort out a job to pay the bills...