Blog: Why Our Neighborhood Council Needs 'Progress & Collaboration'

Seven Candidates have come together to pledge a new era of Progress and Collaboration within the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.

Over the years, Eagle Rock has faced many issues, some more contentious than others. Many times, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and its board members have been at the forefront of these contentions. Unfortunately, this has been cause for a divide amongst the residents of Eagle Rock and has taken up valuable resources from an otherwise Collaborative Community.

So far, seven Candidates have stepped forward to move beyond hyper-focused issues and to bring a new era of True Representation to the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. Nelson Grande (President), Tim Ryder (Public Safety Director), Mark Haskell Smith (Sub-District 5 Director), Erykah Grande (Business Director), Cecilia Ryder (Treasurer), Anthony Freeny (Business Director), and Eddie Ramirez (Civic Director) have signed a Joint Statement pledging to promote a Neighborhood Council that truly represents the Residents of Eagle Rock and, rather than contention, promotes Collaboration.

We aim to revitalize Eagle Rock by focusing on outreach. Only then, will we have a true sense of what Eagle Rockers anticipate for our Community’s future. With more Eagle Rockers involved, innovation is certain to occur. Whether it be Education, the Local Economy, Self-Sustainability, Quality of Life, or any other Community-wide issue, we will work together to find rewarding solutions for all.

We would like to include discussions of local business development, economic restructuring, and aesthetic reevaluation. Done right, we will keep our invaluable businesses open while attracting new entrepreneurs. This will pave the way to stimulating the local economy. Eagle Rock is ready to reassert itself as a hub for robust local business presence.

Eagle Rock’s residents deserve to have a Council that takes into account everyone in the Community equally. They deserve a Council that avoids allocating precious resources to single ‘hot button’ issues. They deserve a Council that will look to the big picture; rebuilding our Community by empowering each and every Citizen of Eagle Rock.

We, aforementioned candidates, formally release this Joint Statement:

Let's Try Something New

We are proud to live in Eagle Rock—It is one of the most highly diverse neighborhoods in the city of Los Angeles and a vibrant community of hard-working residents. We live here because we love Eagle Rock’s small town charm in the middle of a great metropolis. Whether we win or lose, we are excited and encouraged by the outpouring of candidates running in this election. It’s fantastic to see people getting involved to make our neighborhood great. 

Our main goal is to open a dialogue, to start a conversation with all the residents of Eagle Rock. Tell us your concerns. How do you feel about where our neighborhood is going? What can we do to improve it? How can we help you?

It’s Time to Look Beyond Medical Marijuana—The banning of medical marijuana dispensaries has been the single-minded focus of the previous neighborhood council and has caused rifts and divisions in the Eagle Rock community. But no matter which side of this issue you are on, it is now out of the ERNC’s hands. The Los Angeles City Council has banned the dispensaries and now the issue will be decided in the courts and in a city-wide referendum. We can now look beyond this one issue and begin to deal with the multitude of other concerns of our community. 

Economic Development—We understand that times are tough. But there are too many empty storefronts in Eagle Rock. New businesses that would like to open here are choosing Highland Park and Glassell Park instead. We want to work to resolve some of the issues. Colorado Boulevard should be a robust retail environment, with attractive aesthetics and easy access, a place where residents can stroll, chat with neighbors, and shop. We want to help the businesses that are already here grow stronger and examine what’s keeping new businesses from opening by revisiting the 20-year-old Colorado Specific Plan. Today's Eagle Rock is vastly different than it was in 1992 and our ordinances should reflect that.

Public Safety—The empty storefronts are not just an economic issue, it’s a public safety concern too. Empty storefronts attract crime and graffiti, while businesses that create pedestrian traffic lower crime. We will empower Neighborhood Watch in order to provide safety at home as well.

Progress & Collaboration—We are a diverse community with many different issues and concerns, but we feel that everyone deserves to be heard and to have their concerns addressed in a respectful and constructive way. We hope you vote for us!


Nelson Grande - President

Tim Ryder - Public Safety Director

Cecilia Ryder - Treasurer

Erykah Grande - Business Director

Anthony Freeney  - Business Director 

Eddie Ramirez - Civic Director

Mark Haskell Smith - Sub-District 5

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jerry Langford September 29, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Beyond being boggled by the fact that the (former) Green Slate is now accusing everyone else of being obsessed by pot, I'm still trying to get a straight answer to a simple question: Are the Green Slaters being paid by, or materially supported by, the marijuana dispensaries in Eagle Rock? I've tried elsewhere on Patch to get an answer, and I have yet to get a definitive "no." So Nelson, can you please answer this simple yes or no question? Are you, your wife, or Tim Ryder (or his mom, who's running for Treasurer) being paid by or supported by the dispensaries, in any way? Isn't Tim's "Cannabis Club," which hosts your slate's info on the web, funded by the dispensaries? If the answer is "no," then another question, in all seriousness: If you are not supported by the pot shops, and no longer interested in the pot issue, as you say, then why are you and Tim's organization continuing the get-out-the-vote drive for illegal marijuana buyers to vote in our ERNC election? Thank you in advance for your answer -- and btw, I really appreciate the civil tone with which you've been handling all of this.
Nelson R Grande II September 29, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Hello, Mr. Langford! Thank you for asking the question so directly. It allows me to answer it in just such a way. The simple truth is: I have not received a single dollar from any party or from any affiliation. The only thing moment in which I received something by not paying for it was when I was offered a coffee at The Coffee Table. I took it black. Every dollar spent on this campaign has been from my own earnings as an employee; and that's only for gas to meet with Eagle Rockers and for the printing of flyers. No other money has entered my campaign from any source. I can also say, with absolute certainty, that Mrs. Grande has not received anything. While I can't speak for Mr. Ryder, I don't believe he's received any donations either. We are looking to represent Eagle Rockers as volunteers and that's what we've been doing. We've been volunteering our personal time and money for something in which we believe.
Nelson R Grande II September 29, 2012 at 09:53 PM
CCUWC is a completely independent organization that has recommended me, as well as others, for candidacy. There has been no monetary exchange of any kind between CCUWC and myself. I am endorsed by someone and I am grateful for that. I have reached out to many small business owners, school teachers, and heads of churches to seek their endorsements as well. Some local businesses have placed my flyer on their front windows. I humbly accept that as an endorsement. While we work to contact all local organizations (schools, businesses, etc) and ask for their support, those that endorse the slate will not receive a promise of priority. They will endorse us because they believe in our message of Progress and Collaboration for Eagle Rock and they believe we will deliver on that message. I will take the time to reassure you as well, sir, that we will deliver on that message. The candidates on the P&C slate have pledged to represent all Eagle Rockers equally and that's what we'll do. I don't take my signature lightly, Mr. Langford, and my signature is on that pledge.
Nelson R Grande II September 29, 2012 at 09:54 PM
In regards to Getting out the Vote… I feel it is very important to note that my priorities lie in getting all Eagle Rockers to vote. What is contested by Mr. Larsen, Mr. Huizar, and the City Attorney is the vote from those not presently living in Eagle Rock even though these are allowed as stated on the Eagle Rock NCs very own website. As stated elsewhere on this site, I am not here to fight. Therefore, I am not seeking to earn any votes from outside voters. Mr. Larsen et al can make last-minute changes to the rules without my involvement. I feel the message of “Progress through Collaboration” will resonate enough here in Eagle Rock, so there will be no need for outside voters in order to be elected. If an independent organization is working to ‘Get out the vote’, I encourage them to do so as long as it’s within the election rules set by ERNC and Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE). I, personally, am in talks with a couple of other organizations and hoping to encourage their members to also ‘Get out the vote’. Please note, these other organizations have absolutely nothing to do with MMJ or the sort.
Nelson R Grande II September 29, 2012 at 09:55 PM
If I may… Since the start of my campaign, I have seen very little in the realm of outreach by the current Neighborhood Council. I, and those who are on the P&C slate, have worked on outreach as a top priority. We have talked with businesses, organizations, schools, residents, churches, and anyone else in our network who is willing to give us a couple of minutes of their time. We have already built some community partnerships which will be announced soon. Forgive me for being rash, Mr. Langford, but the idea perpetuated by others that we are solely out to gather the votes of MMD members is a plain-and-simple lie. We, of the Progress & Collaboration slate, will represent all Eagle Rockers equally and we are proving it by reaching out ALL Eagle Rockers equally. I invite you to read on the 2012 Congress of Neighborhood Councils: http://eaglerock.patch.com/blog_posts/blog-eagle-rocks-unprecedented-alliances-at-the-congress-of-neighborhoods I attended on Saturday, September 22nd. It is a testament to my dedication to all Eagle Rockers. I was provided choices on what seminars/panels to attend. I attended Outreach, Alliances, and Empowering Citizens. I humbly ask that you consider my actions as a candidate, Mr. Langford. You will see that they speak volumes in comparison to some of the slanderous fallacies shared here.
Nelson R Grande II September 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Hello, Ms. Niederlander, The 'Green Slate' was something that Mr. Ryder and I enjoyed a smile over. It was meant to illustrate a common ground between my admiration for Nature and Mr. Ryder's compassion for MMJ patients. But we are no longer two. We are 8. And two do not speak for 8. While Mr. Ryder still may have his personal views and I may have mine, there are now 6 other candidates whose personal views may differ greatly. We are not the Green Slate. We are Progress and Collaboration because that is now the common ground amongst 8 candidates. It is common ground because we believe that is what is needed to revitalize Eagle Rock and empower its Residents. You will see that our actions prove this. Please have a look at my summary for my visit to the 2012 Congress of Neighborhood Councils. You will see that I am there to represent all of Eagle Rock by listening to best practices on Outreach, Alliances, and Citizen Empowerment. http://eaglerock.patch.com/blog_posts/blog-eagle-rocks-unprecedented-alliances-at-the-congress-of-neighborhoods Please call me if you have anymore concerns. I want to earn your vote, but I understand that I must first earn your trust. Nelson. 323.989.3762 NelsonBig@NEGeeks.net
Michael Larsen September 29, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I'd like to re-clarify an important point that Mr. Grande and his slate of advocates seem to be confused about: The ERNC asked the City Attorney whether or not someone who otherwise has no valid stakeholder claim (such as living, working, going to school or church), would be allowed to vote based on their association with one of the marijuana shops in ER. This is the City Attorney's answer: "...a person who claims an interest in a neighborhood alleging that it is based on a Medical Marijuana Dispensary, which is an unauthorized and illegal use, is not an eligible stakeholder." This is not a determination that I made, nor is it one that the ERNC made. This came from the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, and is not a "rule change" as Mr. Grande asserts. We asked the CA to clarify this because Tim Ryder (Candidate for Public Safety Director on Mr. Grande's slate) claimed in his Boulevard Sentinel article (link below) that the City had confirmed to him that pot store customers could vote in our election, presumably for his "Green Slate", now re-branded as the "Collaboration and Progress Slate". As he stated in his article, "This potentially increases the pool of voters by hundreds if not thousands of pro-medical marijuana patients." We encourage EVERYONE with legal stakeholder status to vote in the upcoming Oct 13 ERNC election. http://www.jejprint.com/blvdsentinel/#/18/
Nelson R Grande II September 29, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Thank you for the clarification, Mr. Larsen. It's a great help. I shall resume speaking with the churches and other organizations.
Michael Larsen September 29, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Please do.
nonoise September 29, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Anyone that shops in the area can claim to be a stakeholder so just buy some gas for your car or stop into Trader Joe's and buy something. That makes you a stakeholder. I disagree with this defination. A stakeholder should ONLY be someone that lives or has a business in the community. The defination of stakeholder has always been a problem for most NC's. That needs to change.
Nelson R Grande II September 29, 2012 at 11:41 PM
That is very true. The current ERNC Bylaws allow it. However, this is something that can be ammended in the future if the People of Eagle Rock prefer it. With our outreach campaign, we're looking to get as many Eagle Rockers involved in local governance as possible. We'll have a much better opportunity at a Collaborative solution to this. I feel it is a very good idea to consider future elections being limited to residents and business owners.
Baker Montgomery September 30, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I just wanted to pipe in here as a candidate running with the Progress & Collaboration slate. I was drawn to the slate do to its focus on community empowerment and transparency. I believe, like Nelson Grande, that getting all of Eagle Rock's citizens involved will be the catalyst for a vastly improved neighborhood. Also, just to be clear, I have no association with any dispensary or other commercial enterprise. Not that it is particularly cogent to the issues facing our community but incase anyone is interested, I do not use marijuana or even drink alcohol (just a cup or two of coffee in the morning is as wild as I get). My personal position on the marijuana issue is very similar to those who have been leading the anti-dispensary campaigns (that is to say I favor medical marijuana for those that actually need it but not the current system with its widespread abuses). I see that some people want to paint the Progress & Collaboration slate as a cover of sorts for pro-marijuana issues and I can assure you that is simply not the case. All 8 of the candidates now running on the slate realize the dispensary issue is being decided by the federal government not the ERNC. We want to stop focusing solely on this divisive issue and begin to work on things all of us care about (cleaner streets, attracting businesses, improving Colorado Blvd.). I hope anyone who also wants Eagle Rock to be an even better place to live will vote for us.
Jerry Langford October 01, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Nelson, thanks for taking the time to consider my question. But I'm disappointed you still won't give me a straight answer. Here's why I care: As Baker Montgomery suggests above, I am indeed concerned that the marijuana dispensaries are trying to pull a fast one on the "People of Eagle Rock," as you call us. Last week, there was an article in the Boulevard Sentinel about Tim Ryder forming his pro-marijuana Green Slate, with you as its President. This week, the Green Slate has a new name, and you're visiting churches and posting blogs about diagonal parking. That's great. But it smells to me like a cynical ruse to get elected. On Tim Ryder's Cannabis Club website, you and your wife are endorsed as "Medical Marijuana Patients," with Ryder himself (running for public safety director) as a "Medical Marijuana Activist," Ryder's mom (for Treasurer) as "Mother of a Medical Marijuana Activist," and Anthony Feeney (for Business Director) as a "Medical Marijuana Employee." Even though you still won't answer my question about whether your slate is funded or supported by the marijuana dispensaries (your cup of coffee notwithstanding) it looks like at least one member is actually employed by the pot shops. So I'll take that as a "yes." Do you mention this when you visit the churches, schools and businesses on Colorado Boulevard? Or are you only giving them half the story?
Jerry Langford October 01, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Mr. Napper, thanks for your comments. My question to Nelson was whether he or anyone on his slate was being funded or supported by the marijuana dispensaries. He answered, as you have quoted, that he personally is not funded by the pot shops, but he couldn't speak for Tim Ryder (or anyone else). That's half an answer. So I asked Google instead. And it turns out that one of Nelson's fellow Green Slate members, Mr. Freeney, apparently works for a marijuana dispensary, and is running for a Business Director position. This certainly is germane to the discussion here, since Mr. Freeney does not mention this in his candidate statement. And I don't think it counts as mudslinging if it's true. I also agree that Nelson is being very polite, which I greatly appreciate.
Peter Choi October 01, 2012 at 04:29 PM
According to the ERNC website, a stakeholder is anyone who belongs to "... community organizations ... non-profit organizations ... political action groups ... cultural groups". It seems to this Patch reader that Mr. Tim Ryder's community advocacy group "Cannabis Club United With the Community" (CCUWC) is easily more than one of the above categories and thus that organization's members are - per the ERNC website - considered stakeholders with a right to vote. The Neighborhood Council system was created to encourage local community empowerment. The ERNC has clearly defined this neighborhood's qualifications for stakeholder eligibility and must adhere by them. Please note this comment is not about clinic patients, but members of CCUWC. ( http://www.ccuwc.org/index.html ) P.S. I am not a CCUWC member and I do not know, nor have I ever met, Mr. Ryder.
Mark Haskell Smith October 01, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I can't speak for the other candidates in the race but I can speak for the Progress & Collaboration slate and say that no one is "funded" by anyone but themselves. It's not like a Super PAC is buying TV ads, we're all chipping in $25 bucks to print up some flyers. But people seem to be missing the point. The dispensary issue is out of the Neighborhood Council's hands now. The City has banned them. The Feds have come in. And it will be up to the Courts and the general electorate if they remain or go. It has no bearing whatsoever on Eagle Rock now. And, again, this all goes back to underlying economic issues related to the Colorado Specific plan that make our neighborhood unfriendly towards businesses. Solve that and you'll see businesses that help the neighborhood grow move in.
John October 01, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I'm pretty sure members of Mr. Tim Ryder's community advocacy group "Cannabis Clubs United With the Community" have standing to vote if they have some kind of membership card or receipt. I don't know Tim Ryder, but he sure seems to get out in the community and get people involved and talking and working together for solutions, so I think he and his members are definitely stakeholders. Probably easier to go with the Starbucks receipt - it seems to be less controversial and is accepted by the rules Michael Larsen put out there. MMJ patients who want to vote can show they patronize other businesses in Eagle Rock, and that buying coffee shows more of a stake in the community than buying medicine. But honestly, will there be more voters than candidates next week? If so, a great accomplishment by all who get out the vote.
Erykah Grande October 01, 2012 at 07:31 PM
I come in peace. Hello All. Just dropping by for a Not-So-Random Announcement. Spreading this like wild fire so brace yourselves if you see this on multiple places, but I want to leave very little room for the "I Never Heard About This" excuse. --- The Event is here: Progress & Collaboration Meet-N-Greet! The full event details are on the Patch Event Page but here's the rundown- Food, Live Music and Bowling. Oh, and let's not forget, come meet us, the folks on the P&C Slate. Put to rest all your questions, doubts and concerns. Enforce your support for us. Bring the family! It's bowling night on Sunday, October 7! http://patch.com/E-p7H5
Peter Choi October 01, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Per the ERNC website's definition of stakeholders in their by-laws (Article IV, p. 6), this reader finds no mention that "casual shopping" defines one as a stakeholder with voting rights. https://docs.google.com/file/d/18jyUyA9bPB9SEz_PV4bpgKeyZVI5KC6kT2GPuOBYIgi_oQIgYYe6LSzXaOEn/edit?hl=en_US&pli=1
burned@thestake October 02, 2012 at 10:56 AM
"...a person who claims an interest in a neighborhood alleging that it is based on a Medical Marijuana Dispensary, which is an unauthorized and illegal use, is not an eligible stakeholder." Ok - added to the TO DO list - Stop at a 7-11 next time I'm in Eagle Rock - save receipt.
burned@thestake October 02, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Mr. Grande - while I respect the right of the people of Eagle Rock to amend their bylaws - allow me to remind you and they both...the purpose of NC's is to INCLUDE people - not exclude them. Under the current regime of the NC system - in all cases, people who Live, work at, or OWN property, within an area, are entitled to participate in the process. Which means that if you are rich enough to own property in all of the various NC districts, you could not only VOTE in, but sit on, ALL of them. People who own businesses, and have the resources to do so - could hire vast numbers of 'temporary' workers - in order to sway elections. Here in Venice I've heard of a developer who was giving a relative 'free rent' in the district, which entitled her to vote. Unless there is some GLARING problem with (poorer) people coming into the community to advance some agenda - it is probably a bad idea to disenfranchise anyone. While even pre-1776 town hall meetings in New England had property and age requirements, for voting and participation - there is NO evidence that these requirements were ever enforced. And with good reason - they needed wide participation (if not complete consensus), in order to achieve much of anything. People who shop in ER (often enough, to care about voting in the NC election) should have a voice in the community as well.
burned@thestake October 02, 2012 at 11:18 AM
In Venice we had a rightly praised and lauded NC (the GrassRootsVNC) - with inclusive Bylaws and voting conditions (Absentee ballots, to accomodate the disabled, etc.). People who belonged to Venice-based organzations were allowed to vote too. This included many folks who'd been pushed out by LAPD harrassment, and other symptoms of gentrification; and yet still belonged to Churches in the neighborhood. Not only was it the most particpatory NC in the entire system, but one of the most progressive. A small group of people (who just happened to be in close contact with the LAPD and Cindy Miscikowski - who was elected to represent the Valley, and foisted off upon Venice by a redistricting swap - and who had lost decisively in several rounds of elections) managed to pressure the DONE to decertify the GRVNC - after several attempts and upon essentially spurious grounds - to the delight of the poltical machine at City Hall. When the creeps won, that was the first thing that they changed....
rebecca niederlander October 02, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Can you provide some specifics about how the coalitions plans for: cleaner streets, attracting businesses, improving Colorado Blvd?
rebecca niederlander October 02, 2012 at 04:50 PM
What solutions? How is he getting people to work together, other than the conversations on innerwebs?
Erykah Grande October 02, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Hi Rebecca, seems you have a few questions and concerns. Hope to see you on Sunday, October 7 at the AllStar Lanes from 5-7! :D
Baker Montgomery October 02, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Attracting businesses: Strict restrictions on commercial enterprises in Eagle Rock are discouraging entrepreneurs from opening businesses in our neighborhood. This simply has to change. The P&C wants to take a hard look at The Colorado Specific Plan and to see if it can be revised in part to include provisions that would be more attractive to the type of businesses many Eagle Rockers want: restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Parking is another huge hurdle in this area and we would like to see more thought put into finding solutions for not only Colorado Blvd. but also Eagle Rock Blvd. Please see Nelson’s excellent post on parking for more information. Improving Colorado Blvd.: The P&C wants to see an increase in the amount of pedestrians, bikes, greenery, seating and lighting as well as improved signage on Colorado. We hope to work very closely with Take Back The Boulevard to make our main commercial district the most attractive and family friendly in the city. This, of course, includes cleaning it up and getting great businesses to move in.
Baker Montgomery October 02, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Rebecca, Thank you for your question. I am happy to provide some specifics on the P&C’s plans. I would note that the three areas all overlap in part as we believe the issues at hand are in no small part connected. As well, if you have any suggestions yourself on how to improve Eagle Rock, please feel free to contact me at bakermontgomery@gmail.com. I would love to discuss them with you. None of us running on the P&C slate claim to have all the answers and we have been consulting community leaders and previous ideas alike. People such as yourself, who are clearly passionate about Eagle Rock and who have done lots in the past to improve it, will be key going forward. For cleaner streets, we hope to work with the city and businesses to place additional receptacles on the busier thoroughfares. As well, we are looking to organize teams of volunteers to help pick up litter (possibly as part of larger community events). The P&C believes that cleaning up Eagle Rock in an organized, consistent and systematic way will benefit all of us, from matter of fact sanitation and quality of life issues to attracting more pedestrians (which in turn lowers crime and brings more commercial activity).
Duff Strong October 03, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Jerry Langford: Family Guy Director Jerry Langford: Obscure 1950 Rock and Roll artist Jerry Langford: Anonymous commenter on Patch that has posted only on Mr. Grande's blogs in order to (unsuccessfully) back him into a corner. Larsen, stop creating fake accounts!
rebecca niederlander October 03, 2012 at 04:34 AM
http://eaglerock.patch.com/articles/city-council-repeals-ban-on-medical-marijuana-storefronts The City Council has rescinded the gentle ban, so the issue of the MMDs is very much a part of the NC discusion. Also, what part of the Specific plan does this coalition have a problem with?
Nelson R Grande II October 03, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Good evening, Ms. Niederlander, The ERNC is an advisory board for the City Council. Since the City of Los Angeles has directed its efforts to the California Supreme Court, it is, in fact, out of the hands of the ERNC. However, if there are specific troubles you see in the neighborhood that involve any establishment, I would absolutely direct the ERNC to address it. As President, I will take every resident's concerns very seriously and have the council address them on an individual basis. Regarding the Specific Plan, it is our goal to revisit it and have an open dialogue between all Eagle Rock Residents and Business Owners. We will discuss what is and what is not acceptable to revise when considering the revitalization of Colorado Blvd. I invite you to come to the P&C Meet and Greet on Sunday, October 7th at All Star Lanes. It's located at 4459 Eagle Rock Blvd. We'll be there from 5-7pm. I'd be happy to speak with you in person so that I may address anymore concerns you may have.


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