Wednesday, January 31, 2007

2006 City Nerd Award Winners

After a month and a half process, the 2006 City Nerd Awards are ready to be announced. You will recall that there were ten categories for which nominations were accepted. This was done to broaden the pool so that not just the LA City Nerd office was making nominations in their limited (albeit a large limit) scope.

There are four criteria that the winners were nominated and selected upon so that it wasn't just a popularity contest:

-passion for Los Angeles
-knowledge of Los Angeles
-promotion of Los Angeles
-actual positive contributions to Los Angeles

Then, there was a poll to gauge public opinion. Knowing the potential pitfalls of online polling, this facet of the awards was to give public input with the caveat that this wasn't a "people's choice award." The City Nerd Awards take into consideration the opinions of the masses, but then they also employ the opinions of anonymous experts.

And that leads us to the results...

So, the 2006 City Nerd Awards are given with honor to the follow:

2006 City Nerd Blog
Though there are so many blogs out there that have an LA theme (many listed on our menu to the right), there are few that have the passion for the City to do what needs to be done to focus on the City and promote it. Metroblogging LA, or Blogging LA, does just that and is the 2006 City Nerd Blog awardee. I think what proved their passion for blogging in LA wasn't that they stayed focused on LA through and through, but that they really went for it. Proof: the 25 greatest fictional characters of LA. They speak of LA in a way that promotes it - just look at their feature that keeps the world aware of LA's art scene. And as a group blog, they have varied civic-nerdy posts. Heck, they even have "celebrity" postings from Wil Wheaton. How much more nerdy and LA can you get?

2006 City Nerd Blogger
This award is bestowed upon the blogger most likely to be a City Nerd in my absence. I think the proof of this comes in the LA-centric posts that appear almost weekly at his Downtown focused blog. From maps to histories to digging into the important, very local issues that effect downtown, Eric Richardson has a true City Nerd-esque way about his blogging. He promotes parts of the City, and has worked to improve his community as a blogger (and a DLANC board member). He has shown himself to be a true Downtown City Nerd Blogger this year. (Now if he'd only link to this site!)

2006 City Nerd Elected Official
This year's City Nerd Elected Official awardee proved himself early on as a City Nerd Award winner for 2006. Though this category was designed for the likes of Tom LaBonge and his infinite knowledge, passion, and action on behalf of the City, this year's Elected Official Award goes to City Council President Eric Garcetti. Not only does he blog regularly, answer his own email, and continue to work on behalf of the people of not only the City but the entire nation, he is a true city nerd. This was confirmed early this year when he stood up in May at Taix and shared nerdy facts about the City. Council President Garcetti has had a decent year with trials and tribulations, but he's come through as a true passionate booster of the City with the knowledge and action to back his words up.

2006 City Nerd Elected Official Staff Member
This category may be the most interesting in that it had the most total votes at over 3000. But, with such an anomaly, even more scrutiny was paid to those who received the highest public votes and those in the mid-range also were paid attention to. After careful review of comments, suggestions, and the poll, the 2006 City Nerd Award for Elected Official Staff Member goes to Mitch O'Farrell of CD13. Mitch as been described by community members as "outstanding" - so much so that he was promoted from field deputy to District Director for Constituent Services. This year, he worked on LA River issues and bringing the Echo Park Farmer's Market into existence. He's made some real contributions as a staffer; and outside of work, he has proven his passion for Los Angeles by serving on boards and as president of various community improvement (& political) organizations. He's working for Los Angeles in the way that a City Employee should. [Note: this does not imply the other staffers nominated are not as effective or are not hard workers.]

2006 City Nerd Department Head
With five great nominees, this category was difficult to decide. All had great positive contributions. Each had passion for the City and promoted it equally. But one person - one GM - truly has knowledge of the City. And it's clear why: starting on a pothole crew decades ago and rising through the ranks, Bill Robertson has a distinct understanding of the City and it's infrastructure. He can speak to any group and know issues in their neighborhood. This year, he had the chance to have a bond to fund his operation, but it was pulled back. Then, his funding was frozen (and in some instances, decreased) while public safety saw increases. Yet, the Bureau of Street Services still kept street repair moving forward and continues to do more with the limited resources they have. And though the street system as a whole is not in the condition that even Professor Pothole himself, Bill Robertson, would like to see, he keeps working to address the infrastructure needs with limited resources. For these reasons, William R. Robertson is the recipient of the 2006 City Nerd Award for General Manager.

2006 City Nerd Neighborhood/Community
Everyone seems to be passionate about the Neighborhood or Community in which they live, but as the awardees are selected, just think about the four criteria. Which community does more for LA than any other? The answer is obvious, and this year's no different. Hollywood spreads Los Angeles to the word. It promotes and is passionate. And in terms of actual contributions: no com unity - whether a geographic one or an industry one - does more to bring people and increase revenue here than Hollywood. Hollywood Boulevard is one of the leading free tourist attractions in the region. Hollywood has been good to Los Angeles in 2006 with a renewed Christmas Parade and an invigorated Honorary Mayor. Investment is up in the heart of Tinseltown, and people continue to flock back to see our modern day Rome. All roads lead to and from Hollywood: both the place and the state of mind. Hollywood is good for Los Angeles.

2006 City Nerd Project
To find a project has has "passion for Los Angeles" isn't easy. But to find one that reaches to all Angelenos, regardless of their location in the City, language, or economic status is rare. But, there is one project that in 2006 crossed all borders and was created for Los Angeles: the Million Tree Initiative. Forget the politics behind it - it's become a project all people can embrace. It will have a lasting impact on the City that will be reaped for years to come - the true impact not really being felt for another 15 or 20 or even 25 years. If nothing else, this project has made people think. And whether you agree or not with the amount of money spent advertising this program, no one can deny that as a program it shows a passion and commitment to the future of our City.

2006 City Nerd Neighborhood Council
With 88 neighborhood Councils in the City, which one is truly making it work and doing good things in their neighborhood? Which one isn't mired in the process and caught up in minutia that turns community members off to the whole idea of getting involved with government? Which council is actually getting things done? This year, the Reseda Neighborhood Council has been able to get a lot done, building on past years of success. Though not perfect, the Reseda NC has implemented emergency plans for their community with supplies to aid thousands, they have held meetings that consistently attract community members, and they even have consistent communication with their stakeholders. As a council, they have embraced the development in their community and have not been mired with the conflicts of who has the power. They hold two meetings per month: a business board meeting to take care of board business and a community Board meeting to address issues that would be of interest to the community (planning, public safety, expenditures on projects, etc.). They brought holiday decorations to the business district, they installed surveillance cameras in crime areas, and they implemented multiple community improvement and beautification projects. And, they have a pretty impressive and often updated website (even if it's all frames). A neighborhood council must have knowledge of the City and passion for their community to get such projects accomplished in a year.

2006 City Nerd Citizen of the Year
When we look at the City Nerds out there working to make LA City better, there are a lot of folks from which to choose. But, if you think about the criteria of a City Nerd Award, the field begins to narrow. And, in looking at the nominees, though all shine in their own way, one stands out among the rest. Nominated in multiple categories and respected by all those who know or know of him, the 2006 City Nerd Citizen of the Year award goes to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department. As the man behind, Brian has innovated blogging this year to the point that other departments look to him as the benchmark. Throughout City Hall, departments are directed to the Fire Department's efforts to communicate to the public using new tools and "to connect to the people." Brian is innovative, trying BlogTalk Radio and even calling in posts from the field if he can't get into his dungeon of an office. Brian's positive demeanor and participation on other blogs shows his ability to work to improve all of Los Angeles. He has made strides in raising the bar for government, making it useful, transparent and a part of the community (be it online or in the flesh). The LAFD has had a trying end of 2006, but Brian's stability online has been welcomed by all.

And the City Nerd Awards' highest honor, which may not be given out every year:

"The LA City Nerd Award"
As previously mentioned, the City Nerd Awards are almost designed for the likes of Tom LaBonge: a true booster of the City and city nerd, if there ever was one. Though his details are a little vague, Tom has a story about almost every street corner in the City. He is a human 3-1-1: you can give him a department or issue that needs to be solved and he can give you the number to the office and the direct line to the supervisor. Tom has made more positive, tangible contributions to this City than most city employees - and this was before he was elected. From monument in Griffith Park to flagpoles at parks across the City - Tom made things happen. He had signs posted and streets named and communities united. Before the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, there was Tom LaBonge. He brought communities together from Hollywood to Atwater Village. Tom knows more people than most electeds and can drive down almost any commercial corridor and stop a shop to say hello to an owner he knows. And on top of all that, he has captured the City on film From video taping NFL games to his personal photography, Tom has captured the heart of the city. He has a permanent photo exhibit up at Nick's Cafe on Spring Street and an entire collection (161 photos) on the Library's website as a photographer and not just the subject! With the opening of the Griffith Observatory, his work on behalf of public transportation from subways to runways, his push for the LA River restoration, his celebration of water and Mulholland, and his overall zeal for LA, Tom LaBonge is the only person to receive the inaugural LA City Nerd Award.


dgarzila said...

All of these winners happen to be Nerds. I mean real nerds. They fit the crieria of Nerd. Eric Richardson falls into geekdom as well as nerd. I am a proud geek too.

I think this was a great competition.

Eric Richardson deserves the accolades.

Mitch O'farrell also falls into a great nerd too. I love the CD 13 field staff and I also love Eric Garcetti. HE is so popular and is a true blogger and a true nerd. I mean he even won a Town Crier Ambassador of Goodwill Award for his blog. HE is a true town crier. Thus the Town Crier award along with Eric Richardson. Eric is so open source he allows us to post comments on his blog in various avenues. Very open.

Tom is a jock. But it is good to seer he is a City Nerd Award Winner. How do you leave Tom out of the running when he loves Los Angeles.

These are great awards. Unfortunatley my blog won't ever win a nerdy because I have to focus on the issues of skid row.

Let's see more diversity though.

Nominations for the 2nd annual ambassador of goodwill awards will be accepted coming in February.

Anonymous said...

Yay, I'll second those congratulations to Eric R. He's certainly deserving of the recognition.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Reseda Neighborhood Council! They really are demonstrating great leadership and taking action to propel the community in a new direction. Hats off to RNC Chair Walt Sweeney for making sure things get done.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Reseda but Westchester is just as good. Meetings every month that attract lot of people. Nicer web site too.