Response to Nov
8th letter re: City Council funding of non-profit organizations
As usual I haven taken time to read your newsletter because I find
it informative and well worth the time spent. I am writing today
in response to the letter to the editor you published from a Mr.
& Mrs. D. Vitkoff of Marina Del Rey who questioned the funding of
a non-profit agency by the Los Angeles City Council. Although it
was signed by Mr. & Mrs. D. Vitkoff, the letter was written in the
first person, the writer never really identified herself or himself,
so I shall respond to the letter as though both Mr. & Mrs. Vitkoff
were both in the council chambers, and both authored the letter.
This vagueness of authorship however, is indicative of the tone
of the letter which is replete with misinformation and disinformation.
Although the letter begins with complimentary statements about your
newsletter, the veneer of civility soon vanishes behind allegations
of impropriety and unethical behavior that includes the Board of
Directors of Barrio Action Youth and Family Center of El Sereno,
myself and the Los Angeles City Council itself.
At one point in the letter, the Vitkoffs wrote the statement, I
(sic) didn't know that City Council was in the business of funding
non-profit organizations (NPOS)." It seems to me that before making
such a statement, the Vitkoffs would have performed some basic inquiries
in order to ensure themselves that they had all the facts about
the matter about which they speak. The fact is that the City Council
is in the business of servicing the needs of all the people of Los
Angeles City. It does this in different ways. One of these ways
is for the City to provide direct services through the various City
Departments. Another way is for the City to contract out to the
Boards of Directors of non-profit organizations and/or to private
sector companies. By utilizing different types of funding resources,
the City administers scores of social service contracts and awards
capital improvement grants to dozens and dozens of private non-profit
organizations throughout the City. The City Council has been doing
this for decades! The Barrio Action Youth and Family Center is only
one of numerous non-profit organizations that have received funding
from Los Angeles City in an open and public competitive forum. It
is clear that the Vitkoffs do not have a clue, intentionally or
unintentionally, about this funding process; nor do they know what
the Barrio Action Youth and Family Center is and what services the
agency has actually provided for decades in El Sereno and the many
communities around the agency. Perhaps they don't know about our
services because we do not have an office in Marina del Rey.
Yes, the City Council is in the business of funding non-profits.
These non-profits compete on an equal playing field for funds. They
work diligently in proving themselves as viable options for paid
services for the poor and the working poor. At the end of the day,
these non-profits are the only hope that many families have to support
them and see them through very trying and difficult times.
For the Vitkoff's information, the Barrio Action Youth and Family
Center has been supporting, nurturing, educating, and most of all,
empowering youth and their families since it's inception over twenty
five years ago when Sister Emmanuel Barragan, a nun with the Blessed
Virgin Mary Order, founded the agency. Our mission has not changed
from that time to this day. Barrio Action is fortunate to have staff
and volunteers who through the decades have come from different
backgrounds, are community residents from El Sereno and vicinity
who work with our families to help them break the cycle of poverty
and social deprivation. The staff and volunteers are highly respected
for their hard fought gains and tireless work in the community.
One of the reasons they are so respected is that they have never
found it necessary to vilify and/or belittle other agencies in order
to build a self-serving platform from which to brag and toot their
own horn about the work they do. The staff and volunteers of Barrio
Action are respected for their dedication to the people they serve
and they are known for the fruit of their work. They don't need
to use self-aggrandizement statements in misguided attempts to create
a public name for themselves.
By their letter, the Vitkoffs exposed a great deal of resentment
and bitterness on their part over what they mistakenly concluded
was a gift of $2,000,000.00 by the City Council to me. This conclusion
is particularly insidious because the Vitkoffs, implied, if not
directly stated, that this award was given to me by the City Council
as a pay off for my work as a City Commissioner.
The truth is that the City Council did not award this grant to me,
or because of me. As with other awards and grants given to dozens
of other non-profit agencies such as the Barrio Action Youth and
Family Center the funds were awarded to the Board of Directors of
the Barrio Action for use in improving services to the community.
The working for this grant, which incidentally is matching funds
from other sources outside the City, was in the making for many
years; long before I was even hired by the Board of Directors. I
picked up and continued to work to build the agency as directed
by the Board where others before me had done. These funds will remain
with the agency to be administered for the good of the community
by the Board of Directors, long after I have left the agency and/or
am no longer a Commissioner. The Vitkoffs insinuated that the City
Council acted unethically in awarding this grant and suggested that
the Council's action should be reported to the Ethics Committee
(sic). The Vitkoffs total lack of comprehension of the workings
of City funding, and their misinterpretation of what happened concerning
this award, prompted them to make statements that not only do a
disservice to the entire City and are entirely incorrect.
As for myself, my accountability as to how I spend my time as Executive
Director of Barrio Action is to the Board of Directors. As Executive
Director of Barrio Action I will continue to do my best to promote
and advance the work of the agency in the community. I will also
continue to spend my own time promoting and advancing the work of
BONC because I believe that Neighborhood Councils will be the vehicle
to self determination and empowerment of people at all levels in
the community. This work includes helping certify Neighborhood Councils
that the Commission determines are worth certifying and denying
those that are not worth certifying.
Barrio Action Youth and Family Center