"On May 14, Del Rey Neighborhood Council members voted 9-0 to remove council Secretary Tanya Franklin and Area H Director MeiWah Wong for repeated absences, a violation of council attendance requirements.
Neither attended the meeting."
- The Argonaut
Members of Los Angeles' neighborhood council system volunteer our time to represent the members of our community as part of "the closest form of government to the people." As with any team, each council's ability to work effectively can be jeopardized when its members fail to fulfill their individual responsibilities. This is especially true when there are excessive absences as boards must have a minimum number of members present to do business. If this quorum is not established, then the meeting must be canceled, even if there are time-sensitive items on the agenda.
On June 12, 2014, Tanya Franklin was sworn in as a member of the Del Rey Neighborhood Council (DRNC). The very next month she was excused to be absent for the monthly meeting. After attending meetings for three months in a row, she missed the November meeting. According to the council's minutes, she was present for the December meeting, but this was the last one she would ever attend as a board member. In total, she was present for 38.5% of the meetings that were held during her tenure on the board.
During the meeting of the DRNC on May 14, 2015, a motion was put forth to remove Franklin "as Secretary of the Del Rey Neighborhood Council for consecutive absences." This was moved by the board's president Jonathon Neumann, who was quoted in The Argonaut as saying they "ask that our board take their role seriously and think of their ability to put time into the community. Most do; some unfortunately overcommit." The motion was passed unanimously and Franklin was removed from the board.
Franklin's campaign disputes the timeline established by the minutes approved by the DRNC. According to her campaign, "Tanya resigned and notified the President of the neighborhood council months before [the] article [in the Argonaut] came out". Unable to "commit the time and still fully serve the students of the LAUSD," they say "she left the neighborhood council regretfully."
Regardless of the circumstances of her departure, her leaving the council less than a year after being elected broke a commitment to the constituents that she promised to represent. When asked if this was fair, the campaign states that adults "make tough decisions all the time". She felt that this decision was about making "everything else second" to students' needs.
Franklin is now asking voters to elect her as the representative for the LAUSD Board District 7 school board seat. As the board district faces a crisis of unprecedented proportions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students are depending on their elected officials to fulfill their obligations. Voters should, therefore, be asking themselves if each candidate can be counted on to be present at LAUSD School Board meetings, ready to advocate on their behalf.
Depending on which set of facts a voter chooses to believe, Franklin's history on the DRNC provides a different answer to this question. If one accepts the historical record provided by the neighborhood council itself, Franklin went AWOL and abandoned her obligations without notice. Her campaign provides an alternative set of facts where she properly quit the position because she focuses "100% of her time on the betterment of children."
Does anyone else miss a time when facts were not up for debate?
The complete list of questions that were sent to the campaign along with the unedited answers" can be found by clicking here".
Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.