Who needs Jerry Springer when we got the Echo Park neighborhood council *

The January meeting of the Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council came to order at about 6:30 Tuesday night. Ten minutes later, there was total disorder, with gavels and drums banging, board members trading insults and threats and others pleading for the police to be called in to calm things down.

Things went down hill fast after some council members objected to a move by president Jose Sigala (who has seen plenty of nasty public meetings as an aide to City Councilman Richard Alarcon) to seat an alternate representative to the council. Augustin Cebada called Sigala a “Mr. Fat, bald-headed, Mussolini” and banged on a hand-held drum*. Sigala, pounding his gavel on the table, demanded that Cebada, a former, ally, shut up. Then there was some more heated, junior high school-like, back-and-forth:

“You stop it!,” Cebada shouted.
You, stop it!,” Sigala responded.
“Both of you stop it!” one audience member shrieked.
“Let’s go outside,” Sigala told Cebada

Then, like a bunch of unruly students caught by the principal, Sigala, Cebada and other members fell quiet as City Councilman Eric Garcetti walked unannounced into the meeting room. “Happy New Year,” Garcetti declared, unaware of the feud he had just diffused.

What happened next? Well, who cares. The show was over until next month’s meeting.

* P.S: A frequent audience member of these meetings noted that Cebada beat his drum with a wooden kitchen spoon. During the December council meeting, a different representative, apparently annoyed by the council president’s gavel, showed up with an old meat tenderizer. “It makes me wonder what kitchen appliance that will show up at the next meeting.”

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