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Ron Kaye: Valley COG is a missed opportunity

May 31, 2013
  • Ron Kaye
Ron Kaye

The meeting started late and it started badly, with a 10-minute argument about approving the minutes of the last meeting. Then it headed downhill.

Issues that were raised were sent to committees for further study, though no one was quite sure which members were on them or when they would be able to meet.

Welcome to the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments — a three-year-old coalition that was supposed to finally, belatedly, bring the cities of Glendale, Burbank, San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Los Angeles together to develop plans and raise funds to solve transportation and other regional problems like every other part of the county has been doing for so long.

But the Valley COG is not like the others. It was set up to fail.

There are 13 members: one council member from each from the smaller cities, seven council members who represent parts of the Valley in Los Angeles, and the two Los Angeles County supervisors who carve up the region, Mike Antonovich and Zev Yaroslavsky.

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Amazingly, every one of them has veto power. Even more incredibly, each of the smaller cities contributes $10,000, the same amount L.A. and the counties contribute, for a total annual budget of $60,000, a fraction of the funding provided to other COGs.

As the dysfunction has become painfully apparent in the last six months, it was inevitable that the politicians would need to find a fall guy.

Since the only employee is Executive Director Robert Scott, there were no other candidates. For more than a quarter century, Scott has been a driving force behind efforts to organize the Valley politically and economically, the last man standing from the Valley secession movement when others have moved on or been co-opted by the downtown power structure.

The focus of last week's meeting was the same as several previous meetings: Find candidates to replace Scott, who has irritated some with his aggressive efforts to change the voting rules and get enough funding so the COG can get projects moving.

There are 18 candidates, including Scott, who will be considered at a special meeting June 17 or 24, depending on whether all 13 members can make it.

Getting members to meetings is a big problem, even though they are only held every two months, and on Thursdays, when there are no conflicts with other meetings.

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