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Editorial: The Venice Neighborhood Council Does not Follow Rules so why Should We?

By Sam Catanzaro, Yo! Venice Editor

To preface this article, I have been a surfer my entire life and think that people should be allowed to surf during the COVID-19 outbreak. That being said, Alix Gucovsky and Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) President Ira Kaslow need to both resign and be held accountable after Gucovsky was spotted surfing amid closures.

On Monday, April 27, I reported that Gucovsky, VNC’s Land Use and Planning Committee Chair was spotted surfing on April 19 in the face of county and city prohibitions. The fact that Gucovsky was surfing “illegally” itself is not story-worthy. If she was not an elected official, we would have never considered covering the incident.

Photos obtained by Yo! Venice verifying the incident took place while beaches were closed.

The issue is, however, that Gucovsky is a representative of an organization that itself is telling Venetians to follow stay at home orders, sharing messaging from Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilmember Mike Bonin. Last month the VNC suspended their March meeting “out of an abundance of caution” in response to COVID-19.

While we support the closure of beaches, Yo! Venice does not think the ocean should be closed to surfers. If joggers can jog and cyclists can cycle, why should surfers be barred from surfing? Gucovsky, however, needs to be held accountable not because of her actions but because of the message her actions send the public.

Yo! Venice Editor Sam Catanzaro surfing in Mexico. Photo: Ted Catanzaro.

Say what you want about any actual power the VNC has; they are essentially just an advisory body. Even if you contend they have zero power, the one bit of influence they do have is their image they present to those who elected them. Why should Gucovsky’s constituency follow stay at home orders when she herself is not?

Gucovsky is not the only person who needs to be held accountable; VNC President Ira Kaslow needs to be as well. Before we published the story, I reached out to both Gucovsky and Kaslow for comment. After 48 hours, no response. Finally, after being pressured, Kaslow issued the following statement. Gucovsky still has not responded.

“The Venice Neighborhood Council is encumbered by many rules, one of which is that it cannot take a stand on issues without a vote of the Board. Of course, the VNC supports the Governor and Mayor with the measures put in place to fight COVID-19 and keep community members safe and we hope that all individuals in the community do their best to adhere to these important guidelines. But we can’t take a position on any individual incident as a board. Let’s all do our best to follow the rules and have cordial discourse over our differences.”

Top: Yo! Venice’s email to Ira Kaslow on April 25. Middle: Kaslow’s response Monday evening. Bottom: Yo! Venice’s email to Alix Gucovsky April 25.

No apology to the public. No acknowledgment that Gucovsky’s actions were questionable. If the VNC is unwilling to take accountability, what reason do Venetians have to follow their stay at home messaging?

Gucovsky and Kaslow both need to resign. If they don’t, any legitimacy the VNC has disappears.

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