Candidate for Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council Challenges Election Results

Mark Haskell Smith files complaints against contender Peter Hilton and outgoing ERNC President Michael Larsen.

An unsuccessful candidate for a seat on the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council has challenged the validity of last Saturday's election, alleging he and other candidates were slandered by a former member of the council, and that outgoing President Michael Larsen violated election rules by endorsing a slate of candidates he privately backed.

Mark Haskell Smith, a candidate for director of Sub-District 5, filed formal complaints Monday with the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment against Larsen and Peter Hilton. A private investigator and lieutenant in the Los Angeles City Department of Transportation, Hilton unsuccessfully ran for the position of president in the neighborhood council, where he was previously Sub-District 4 director.

In one of the complaints, Smith accused Hilton of repeatedly slandering “a competing slate of candidates” in campaign flyers (see PDF) and in user comments on Eagle Rock Patch. (Smith and Hilton were defeated in the election, according to preliminary results.)

Smith identified the competing slates of candidates as the Progress & Collaboration slate and the Green Slate. The latter was a group dedicated partly to protecting the existence of medical marijuana storefronts. It was launched by members of Progress & Collaboration, who abandoned it last month.

The switch to another slate was aimed at avoiding what one of its key members, presidential candidate Nelson Grande II, described in an interview with Eagle Rock Patch as “rifts and divisions in the Eagle Rock community,” which has long been at odds over the issue of cannabis clinics in the neighborhood.

Hilton called the competing slates a “criminal syndicate, and he said he had proof of this,” Smith wrote in his complaint, adding: “None of his claims are based on facts. These outrageous claims were then parroted by the Patch and opposition candidates as facts.”

Asked where on Patch he had seen Hilton’s claims “parroted,” Smith replied in an e-mail: “I believe that there was persistent bias against the ‘Progress & Collaboration’ slate on the pages of the Patch.” Beyond saying that certain sentences in Patch articles about the ERNC elections gave the impression that “there was some sort of nefariousness afoot,” Smith did not provide any direct evidence that Patch had “parroted” Hilton.

As for Hilton’s “posts on Patch”—part of the formal complaint challenging the ERNC election—Smith pointed to a comment by Hilton in response to an article on the eve of the Oct. 13 ERNC election. (Titled “Labor Union Exhorts ‘Factual-Basis’ Stakeholders to Vote in Neighborhood Council Elections,” the article focused on efforts by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to get people who don’t live or work or own a business in Eagle Rock to vote in the ERNC elections.)

In the comment, which can be seen in one of the attached photos, Hilton refers to the Progress & Collaboration slate as “A WOLF IN SHEEPS CLOTHING waiting to infect your community with Illegal Drugs and Criminal behaviour.”

Smith’s second complaint centers on two alleged improprieties regarding outgoing ERNC President Michael Larsen.

According to the complaint, Larsen “vocally and in print endorsed a slate of candidates … in violation of election rules.” Larsen, Smith alleges, was also “seen at the ERNC booth during the Eagle Rock Music Festival handing out flyers for the [Eagle Rock Neighbors] slate he endorsed.”

Smith’s second allegation against Larsen is that the former ERNC president was one of the volunteers who checked voters’ eligibility during the Oct. 13 election. “He was the person approving ‘factual based stakeholder’ status” of voters, Smith wrote in the complaint, adding: “Who knows how many eligible voters he denied?”

Smith has asked the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to make Larsen’s alleged ethical violations public and to bar him from holding the post of ERNC’s Immediate Past President, which outgoing presidents are automatically entitled to.

Department of Neighborhood Empowerment Project Coordinator Stephen Box, who supervised the Oct. 13 vote, told Eagle Rock Patch that he would make a public announcement about Smith’s complaints shortly—but that it could take up to 14 days to do so, according to election procedures.

Jason October 19, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Nelson, I don't really feel the need to e-mail you. As I've stated on here before, I'm fine with full legalization and regulation. I don't have a problem with dispensaries. I just don't see why this has to be THE big issue that people talk about ad nauseum, and I think people on both sides of the debate make wild accusations and broad generalizations. It gets old.
Nelson R Grande II October 19, 2012 at 11:04 PM
That's cool. You have it available if you ever do change your mind. :)
EagleRockMom October 20, 2012 at 01:39 PM
@Nelson You authored a Patch blot making a case for angled parking a month or two ago. To me, if your making a stance you should be fully informed about it before you ask others to side with you. The questions I ask are essential to the topic and yet you didn't answer them several weeks ago when I originally posed them, and you are dodging them again. Come on, guy!
EagleRockMom October 20, 2012 at 01:47 PM
@Erykah You are a sore loser to the nth degree. Geez, I thought pot smokin was supposed to mellow you out.
Nelson R Grande II October 20, 2012 at 04:23 PM
http://eaglerock.patch.com/blog_posts/blog-a-case-for-angled-parking-in-eagle-rock From that post on Angled Parking: "This is one idea and it may be incomplete. I ask the residents and local business owners of Colorado Boulevard to chime in." I'd love it if you could help out. I've reached out to the Community on more than one occasion and I'll continue to do so. If you have and answer to that question, please share it so that we can all move forward. It's within your right to heckle me all you want. I just think it'd be more productive if we worked together. :) If you can help out with those numbers, I think the Community would be grateful.


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