Committee to Study Bylaws In Wake of Election Controversy

Pacific Palisades Community Council leaders announced Thursday, Oct. 23 the formation of a committee to study the organization’s bylaws and recommend possible changes.

The announcement came in the wake of accusations of unfairness in the election process.

Marquez Knolls residents were critical of the PPCC after recently elected Palisadian and Marquez resident Greg Sinaiko’s two picks for area three alternates went ignored.

Sinaiko beat Palisadian Jim Rea for the position of “Area 3 Representative” in a rarely contested election.

Area 3 includes Marquez Knolls and both sides of Sunset Boulevard from Palisades Drive to Bienveneda Avenue, the Bel-Air Bay Club and St. Matthew’s School.

Under the group’s bylaws, candidates for alternates are chosen by a committee of three board members, which must consist of the chair emeritus and two other former chairs.

Part of the trouble started when the PPCC opted to select  Sinaiko’s opponent, Rea, as a candidate for first alternate.

Brian Deming, who worked to identify homeless encampments on the Bernheimer Gardens lot, was picked as second alternate.

Despite following its rules, the council’s move raised eyebrows among Marquez neighbors, who called the gesture undemocratic.

Rea, a longtime community volunteer, withdrew his name from the process in the wake of the controversy.

Area 8 Representative Reza Akef said volunteers shouldn’t have their reputations tarnished because of involvement with the council.

Rea has done a lot of positive work for the community, Akef said.

“Like all organizations, PPCC is guided by its bylaws,” said PPCC president Chris Spitz. “I categorically reject and deny any allegations of wrongdoing in this instance.”

Council followed procedures as required by its bylaws, Spitz said.

The controversy has obscured the facts, she added.

Critics of the group say the council’s bylaws appear to give incumbents more leverage on the board rather than open the process to the public.

For instance, language in the bylaws outlining the three chair committee process was amended six years ago to give less significance to the area representative’s recommendations.

In 2007, the bylaws read that the three chairs would give “particular weight to the recommendations of the area representatives” when choosing alternates.

But by 2009, the bylaws read that the committee of three chairs shall nominate candidates with “input from the area representative.”

Ted Weitz, who lost to Sue Kohl for the Area 5 Representative position, which includes the Alphabet Streets neighborhood, said the council needs to look at its laws and make appropriate changes.

“It shouldn’t be like the ‘Godfather’ where somebody is a made man,” Weitz said.