January 18, 2022 Your Source for Brentwood News

Brentwood Beat: Thank You, Michelle Bisnoff

Michelle Bisnoff is the outgoing chair of the Brentwood Community Council.  She held that position for four years and she really dug in. She understands the issues, the rules and regulations and has a firm feel for where she thinks Brentwood should be headed.

In recent years, as the homeless encampment along the VA fence on San Vicente took hold and started to grow, Michelle was an early and passionate voice in favor of cleaning up the encampment.  She worked with LAPD, the Sheriff’s office, Mike Bonin’s office, Sheila Kuehl’s office and others.  

Trying to cut through all the red tape and finding someone in a position of authority willing to take responsibility has been hard. All the while, in our decidedly uncivil age, some who said they spoke for residents of the encampment sent a barrage of nasty messages Michelle’s way. These activists wanted to keep the encampment going.  

Other parts of LA have their own homelessness issues and Michelle has been in constant communication with community leaders in other neighborhoods as everyone sought solutions that have somehow eluded our elected officials.  

Pushing homeless individuals from one street corner to another, all agree, isn’t a solution. But without shelter available in large quantities, where can the homeless go?  Michelle’s persistence paid off. Now, not only is the encampment gone, but many who were outside the fence are now living in decent tents and tiny homes inside the fence. This wouldn’t have happened without Michelle.  

Michelle was aided by Marcie Polier Swartz, whose nonprofit, Village for Vets, paved the way for a larger encampment on the VA grounds. Once inside, it’s easier for the VA to provide food, showers, bathrooms, mental health counseling and other services homeless individuals need in order to get back up on their feet. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle on all that’s going on in Brentwood in a recording I captured on Zoom. 

Michelle is now stepping down as head of the BCC and Carolyn Jordan will take over. Carolyn is well prepared, according to Michelle.  Michelle isn’t taking a well-deserved rest; she is now spearheading an effort to open a new Brentwood Chamber of Commerce. We’ve had chambers in the past and such efforts never ended well.  If anyone can make a chamber work, it’s Michelle. 

Our local businesses are incredibly important to our quality of life. Many don’t realize that many shopkeepers, restaurant workers and other service providers commute a very long way in order to work here in Brentwood.  They can’t afford to live here. They can barely afford the rents they pay the landlords. Let’s not take these people, many of whom we’ve known for years, for granted.  Shop local.  

You might notice I’ve mentioned Michelle Bisnoff, Marcie Polier Swartz and Carolyn Jordan – all women. I’ve been noticing this in almost all our Westside communities these days. It’s the women who are really rising up and taking the lead on dealing with homelessness and other issues.  This is true in Brentwood, Palisades, Venice, Westchester and elsewhere.  

In recent months I’ve gotten to know another take-charge female, Traci Park, who is now running to become our next city councilwoman in District 11. I like Traci and I think she can pull together the popular support that will be needed to come to terms with homelessness and other vexing issues that have only gotten worse in recent years. 

Traci, an attorney specializing in municipal issues, lives in Venice and has had a front-row seat to how bad things became in recent years. 

I have always prided myself on keeping out of politics and remaining neutral, giving equal ink in the Brentwood News to all candidates. I just feel like things have become so bad that it would be remiss to stand on the sidelines. I am now helping Traci Park with her campaign.

While the Brentwood News and Mirror Media Group remain neutral – and I hope we adhere to this policy forever – I, as a concerned citizen, no longer can, at least for now. For a journalist and even an opinion writer to be involved in electoral politics is considered a journalistic no-no.

For this reason, I won’t be writing any more columns about the recall effort, the coming election in CD11, Traci Park or Mike Bonin or other candidates who might jump in. I won’t interview any of the candidates and I won’t be able to host a candidate forum in CD11, as I’ve done for decades now.  I will continue to write about homelessness and other issues. 

Over the years, I’ve known and interviewed Marvin Braude, Cindy Miscikowski, Bill Rosendahl and Mike Bonin.  I voted for Mike Bonin – twice.  But something has changed in a drastically bad way, and, in my opinion, it’s time for the voters to make a change.  We deserve a city council representative who listens to us, actually solves the problems, and inspires us. We don’t have that now.  

As Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about that” – at least until after the election.  

Have a great holiday season and fingers crossed for a great 2022!

in Opinion
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