Neighborhood councils may be a luxury city can't afford, city v.p. says.

As the city faces a $400 million deficit, officials are looking for places to cut. And one place for the axe to fall a – neighborhood councils, a system of 89 councils scattered throughout the city that are designed tto serve as liaisons between communities and elected officials,

"When you're $400 million in debt, that luxury may have to wait until another day,"
Al Abrams, the vice president of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, told Callie Schweitzer of Neon Tommy.

The system, established in 1999, includes the bureaucracy of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to administer the funding and a Board of Neighborhood Commissioners to set policies.

The neighborhood council ducked a 78 percent cut in the spring, but were not spared a 10 percent cut as their budgets shrank to $45,000.

"The neighborhood councils that are experiencing problems will start dissolving,"
BongHwan Kim, general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to Neon Tommy.

Juliet A. Musso and Christopher Weare of USC "argue that neighborhood councils have the potential to change elite-dominated governance"

But according to her colleague, neighborhood councils aren't working, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Neighborhood councils have little influence because their members squabble, lack diversity and are out of touch with their communities, a report said."

"To the extent that neighborhood councils do not reflect the composition of their own neighborhoods, they don't have legitimacy,' Terry Cooper, director of the University of Southern California's Civic Engagement Initiative, told the Daily News of Los Angeles."

On Oct. 3, neighborhood council leaders are sponsoring a summit as a prelude to the Oct. 10 Congress of Neighborhoods.

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