Monday, October 28, 2013

Neighborhood Councils Elections- Already Been A Year Since All The Commotion In The Northeast Region.

Today is Monday, October 28, 2013 and last post here was a full year ago with the Neighborhood Council elections in the Northeast regions.

The short answer for what happened was that there were about 800 votes cast in the NC election in ERNC's case, with 2 "slates" of candidates present that were in opposition.

It was the "Eagle Rock Neighbors" slate, if I recall the name correctly, and the former "Green Slate," later renamed as "The Progressive Slate" getting the majority of voting activity.

It broke down to be about a concern over "outsiders" voting in the election under the qualification of the "factual basis" category.   The Progressive Slate, having first chosen the name of The Green Slate, created the controversy which centered on the Medical Marijuana Dispensaries that proliferated in the area.  The Green Slate had a general idea of accepting the MMDs as useful for the medically needy persons that were able to benefit from the herb.

The problem in Eagle Rock was that, aside from the many MMDs present, the customers often made themselves less than welcome in many instances by smoking their purchases in their cars, often on adjacent side streets, and this was day or night, accompanied  by other annoying behavior.

In many cases, it looked as if there was more "recreational" than "medically needy" customers, and these were the ones that were responsible for the annoying or offensive  behavior.

So, even with the change to the Progressive Slate name, the idea of a group of candidates supporting the "offending" element that the MMDs represented, and to see that slate as being the victors in the election was too much to accept by many of the ER residents and established opponents to the uncontrolled MMDs in operation.

There were five candidates for president and most of the other offices had more than one person running.  There was a candidate forum that had about 2/3 of the candidates show up to speak, with the views on the MMDs being very much a central concern of the small audience that heard them.

The responses by the candidates were generally in agreement that there needed to be some order and regulation set up to control what was turning out to be a lot of rogue operations; setting up shop without any approvals of any sort from the city government.   Additionally, part of the Neighbors Slate momentum was derived from the fears of the NC being taken over by outsiders to the neighborhood.  The truth was that practically all of the candidates were residents of Eagle Rock, or satisfied the qualification of "working" here, as was the case for Mr. Posada, Principal of Eagle Rock Elementary, who ran successfully for "Public Safety Director."

The "fear" part of the perceived "outsiders" could be traced simply to the announcement early in the candidate recruitment period of a Green Slate candidate who was a solid supporter of the marijuana dispensaries. His short item of interest, placed in the monthly Boulevard Sentinel, carried the news that the customers of the MMDs, being eligible to vote by reason of being consumers or shoppers in the area, would be a source of hundreds or more votes. I think he even said it could be potentially in the thousands.

And that was all that was needed to mobilize the opposition to keep that from happening.  Our last Neighborhood Council election two years before that was visited by less than a hundred voters in total, so the dimensions envisioned by that Green Slate candidate seemed to be a huge threat to the opposition.

So what happened just a short time before the election day was that the City Attorney's office issued an opinion that concluded that the MMD customers were not eligible to vote as planned due to the nature of the MMDs, operating in an illicit manner of some sort or another, but that business would not be legal for customers to use as a basis for voter eligibility.   It was an opinion and not a ruling of any tribunal, and resistance was voiced to the questioned level of authority that the opinion carried.

So as far as the election results turned out, the two slates had their Presidential candidates collect over 300 votes each, while there remaining 3 other candidates for the office pulled in votes something like 45, 55 and 65, or roughly that sort of spread, with me fitting in the middle of these other two, one a fellow ERNC board member and the other, essentially an unknown who said he recently sold some software endeavor for three million dollars and espoused views based his own economic models that I saw as purely social theory but untested locally and likely to remain that way.

There were two from the Progressive Slate that were successful in this election.  Overall, it was about 14 or 15 new people gaining a seat on the Board that had 18 or 19 total seat. there were 3 members re-elected and the past president was retained by default, as the "Immediate Past President."

So this new board has been in place since November 2013 (make that "2012"), with most of them from my recollection, not having attended any NC meetings and thus being new to the process and the rules.  The two members coming from the Progressive Slate have turned out to be relatively active board members, venturing outside the geographic boundaries of the neighborhood for other meetings, a marked contrast from what earlier versions of the ERNC demonstrated.

It would be very difficult to even recall those original hopes and fears that drove so many to vote in the ERNC election last year.     The question for the next election will be whether those high numbers of voters was any indication a continued interest of the neighborhood in supporting NC candidates or a response simply to "intruders" and some threatened takeover notion.

The two year election term is coming to an end in Spring 2014 when the city's NCs will be going through the elections over the course of 3 months.