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CNN Reporter From Eagle Rock Covers ‘Election Trades Pot for Votes’ Story

In distant Atlanta, ER native Nick Valencia stumbles upon his hometown’s bitterly contested neighborhood council elections.

CNN’s weekend correspondent Nick Valencia was perusing the Drudge Report on Sunday morning when a link to a CBS story about Eagle Rock’s hotly contested Oct. 13 neighborhood council elections caught his eye.

“Pot Prizes May Have Lured More Eagle Rock Residents To Vote,” read the CBS headline, which made Valencia sit up in his seat in the CNN newsroom in Atlanta.

For Valencia, that was highly unusual news—and it was straight out of his hometown. An Eagle Rock native who went to Rockdale Elementary, Valencia graduated from Eagle Rock High School in 2001.

Struck by the fact that such a contentious election had occurred back home, Valencia wasted little time in contacting Eagle Rock Patch as well as some of the former candidates for the council, particularly Nelson Grande II, who ran unsuccessfully for the post of president from the Progress & Collaboration slate, which is at the center of the electoral controversy.

“I thought it was a fascinating hyperlocal look into controversies that corrupt the election process,” Valencia told Eagle Rock Patch Sunday, shortly after CNN aired his story about the ERNC elections during the cable news network’s 5 p.m. broadcast.

Click here to watch Valencia’s report about the ERNC elections.

In an interview that he gave to Valencia, Grande denied the P&C slate has anything to do with a mysterious flyer that promised $40 worth of free medical marijuana to anyone who voted in the ERNC elections.

Valencia said he was especially struck by the fact that so-called factual-basis stakeholders who neither live nor work in Eagle Rock and don’t own any business there were permitted to vote in the elections just because they were able to produce a receipt for something as small as a cup of coffee purchased in the neighborhood.

Valencia was on the air again with anchor Carol Costello in the "CNN Newsroom" show on Monday at 7 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) to talk about the controversial neighborhood council election from his hometown.

Valencia joined CNN as a teleprompter operator in 2006, a year after graduating from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. He rose to the rank of correspondent and began reporting the weekend news fulltime this past summer. As president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, he coordinates scholarship awards and helps host workshops and "newsmaker" discussions led by members.

Over the years, Valencia has reported on everything from the 2010 Gulf oil spill and the WikiLeaks controversy to the July 2012 mass shootings in Aurora, CO and Mexico’s continuing drug war.

But not all the news in the world can make Valencia forget about his beloved Eagle Rock, where he returns often.

“I’ve never known another home,” he told Eagle Rock Patch. “The house I came home to after I was delivered is the same house my mom lives in now.” He added: “Dad passed away in 2001 or he’d be there, too.”

Click here for a wide variety of all our past stories and videos about the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.

Dspencer October 22, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I saw the story on CNN. I can't believe Nelson Grande had the gall to insinuate that the other candidates created this flyer to smear his campaign. Really Nelson ?!?
nonoise October 22, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Outragous that this story goes on CNN. It is an interesting story but the facts were not in the story. It is a sign how CNN does not give all the facts. First of all the flyer is telling people that if you buying anything, anywhere in Eagle Rock you can vote in the election. That is fine as long as that is in the neiighborhood council bylaws. Second, if you buy their product and prove that you voted you will be given their product for free. That is legal. There is nothing that says to vote for a certain candidate to get something for free, that would be illegal. Starbucks and other businesses often give their products for free when you bring them proof you voted like the sticker the voting booth gives you or the stub of the ballot. This is not different. Can't believe I am having to explain this. But this story is way out of context. Looks like there was nothing done wrong. If people do not like the definition of "stakeholder" change the bylaws. I believe all Neighborhood council bylaws should have only one definition of "stakeholder" and that is you have to live or work in the neighborhood. Change the bylaws is the answer. Nothing was done wrong. The story ended up being about the reporter and not the election. If your going to do that then change the headline. Patch needs to get the full information in the story too.
Dspencer October 22, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Again, let the flyer speak for itself : http://eaglerock.patch.com/articles/labor-union-exhorts-factual-basis-stakeholders-to-vote-in-eagle-rock-neighborhood-council-elections#photo-11712598 spin it anyway you want, but it is an endorsement for those 8 candidates by a pot shop offering free weed for your vote.
bbkong October 22, 2012 at 04:22 PM
And again, it looks like poorly thought out fakery. People will believe what they want to believe. Any schmuck could have printed up a handful of flyers that said Hitler endorsed the slate and people would be willing to believe that too.
90041andproud October 22, 2012 at 04:41 PM
He's just bringing light to the problem we have in our town. I have my scrip and I think that 15 of these shops in our little town is WAY too much. Most of these dispensary owners are from Glendale anyway, and they won't even let locals in to get meds (I have experienced it first hand at more than 3 of these spots). If you don't say "dude, bro," you're S.O.L. I feel that the state of our town should be determined by its residents, and not influenced by "dude, bro," Glendale clowns.
Jerry Langford October 22, 2012 at 04:51 PM
nonoise: You're correct that it wasn't against the rules for outsiders to vote. But as Dspencer says, listing candidates' names on the pot flyer may be against California law. That's the only real story here.
Jerry Langford October 22, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I would love for this story to go away, but it seems Nelson Grande won't let it. Hey Nelson, how bout you stop talking to reporters? I can't believe you suggested that the "other side" might be behind the flyers. Who is the "other side"? Larsen and everyone who ran against you? Did they all stand outside the dispensary down on Rampart and 3rd and hand out the flyers on election day? What did that look like, I wonder? Nelson, you know what you said on CNN is 100% not true, yet you say you want to do good things for Eagle Rock. Well guess what? This is a really BAD thing for Eagle Rock, and you just did it. Your falsehood gave the story legs, and now it's everywhere. Care to explain? bbkong: Were you at the vote? The pot flyers were real, as were the pot voters who crammed into the voting room, checking off the names on their flyers in plain sight. Just ask anyone who was there. I enjoy your insights here on Patch, but covering for Nelson by repeating his lies doesn't help Eagle Rock get over this.
bbkong October 22, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I'm not covering for Nelson. The flyers look like they are fake. I could do a more convincing flyer in Word in about ten minutes time and have a hundred copies around town in less than an hour. At this point it's moot. The election is over, the chips have fallen and apparently no one wants to move on.
Cricket October 22, 2012 at 06:17 PM
It's because it's not about just the election BB. It's about making the medical marijuana community look bad. That's their goal. Winning the election was a side effect. You know what else makes the community look bad? Flyers offering free weed for voting from an unknown shop. Convenient for them, huh?
bbkong October 22, 2012 at 07:03 PM
"It's about making the medical marijuana community look bad." I agree. It appears no one came out this smelling like a rose and it's not hard at all to trace the odor to it's source. Funny how when you start flinging poo the stink stays on your fingers.
AFG October 22, 2012 at 09:16 PM
But is is against the law to give away MEDICATION in exchange for a vote. That's the issue that it was medication. Also as referenced below Eagle Rock shouldn't have even one dispensary that only lets people from Glendale in. That is ridiculous and it points again to the cities around us who are using Eagle Rock and keeping their communities MJ free. Why would anyone in Eagle Rock want that?
Tim Tritch October 22, 2012 at 11:25 PM
For the record I am totally against 'outsiders' voting in local elections. According to the current rules just about anybody could vote in any neghtborhood council election. One man one vote. If i vote in Eagle rock should I also be allowed to vote in Highland Park, El Sereno, or any other community? I should not. The rules need to be changed. But something else disturbs me about Jerry's post. "Checking off the names on the flyers in plain sight." Were people actually watching to see who you voted for?What ever happened to the priciple of the secret ballot? Were people in the polling place actually making a specific effort to watch who people voted for. And if it was in plain sight, why didnt you turn your head so as not to see. Was someone watching the people who didnt have a flyer to see who they voted for? Jerry, I would like to ask someone who was there if they were watching who people voted for, and then I want to ask why they were allowed to do that? Was it poll workers watching the voting? Again, these rules need to be changed.
Tim Tritch October 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Change the rules. But Jerry, can you please tell us who was watching to see who ohters were noting for in the polling place.? I certainly would think this is a viiolation of the right to a secret ballot. Why was this allowed, and who did it? I would like to see the newly elected president take on the issue of getting these rules changed.
EagleRockMom October 23, 2012 at 12:28 AM
If Nelson's lips are moving...
EagleRockMum October 23, 2012 at 06:29 PM
this just makes me sick all these pothead criminals coming into eaglerock and trying to take over . bringing in outsiders to vote in our election was ilegal and I hope the fbi investigate them and there druglord freinds these greenslate people should be in jail!
John October 23, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Oh, the pothead criminals have taken over Eagle Rock. They voted to make marijuana use mandatory, along with open carry of guns. They signed a pledge to steal the 3rd row seats out of your SUV! Everyone knows that potheads are psychotic burglars who not only break into your home, but tag it with graffiti and smoke pot in your bedroom! I understand that potheads are spreading AIDS, cancer and tooth decay and have been peeping in your windows at night. They go out of their way to have underage sex and probably support gay marriage. They are taking over your schools and churches and getting children to carry automatic weapons and kill their parents. This is all caused by the flouridation of drinking water, radiation from color TVs and the CIA reading your thoughts. Oh, and the religion that you just made up has been merged with lyrics from Grateful Dead songs that direct weak minded people to do drugs, be promiscuous, lazy, and poorly dressed. No outsiders allowed! This city is less than 2% African American! It needs more soul! or at least to keep a beat so you can dance to it. I am so impressed that Nelson Grande has been able to put the spotlight on the rest of nimby Eagle Rock, and the evil doers who spread lies. The paranoid neighbors party put out that deceptive orange flyer - what's the difference between votes bought with tacos or medicine? Here's the new city slogan: "Welcome to Eagle Rock. Now Please Leave - and take your money with you!"
EagleRockMum October 23, 2012 at 07:17 PM
you thiunk thats funny but these people should'nt be here there criminals
John October 23, 2012 at 08:10 PM
I honestly don't think either flyer was illegal, and I do believe that having incumbents present at the polls while others voted could be considered electioneering. It really is too bad that there isn't a pinochio pundit fact checking all the mush that is spread around here. The election is over, and almost half the voters sided with the MMDs. It doesn't matter if they came from Fresno, they have a stake in safe access. The ERNC is negatively affecting the lives of people far from Eagle Rock, so no wonder people drove from downtown and Ventura to make their presence felt. What was the count of taco receipts compared to marijuana flyers? Has the neighbors slate flyer been reviewed for legality? That seemed slanderous to me, but I'm no attorney. Marijuana should be legal, commercial, and as available as aspirin. As long as alcohol and tobacco are legal, all marijuana laws are arbitrary, hypocritical, and unfair. Please ask Senators Feinstein and Boxer to eliminate all federal marijuana laws, treaties, regulations, statutes, schedules, codes, and enforcement actions. Stop funding prosecution of medical marijuana users and collectives.
Duff Strong October 23, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I...I just...what?
EagleRockMum October 23, 2012 at 09:25 PM
We wont let Eagle Rock turn into marajaunaville! All those addicts should buy there drugs in there own towns not here.
nonoise October 24, 2012 at 05:20 AM
We don't want to send MJ patients to their own cities. Los Angeles needs the tax money and the jobs.
AFG October 24, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Even if that is so, we still don't need an abundance of them in Eagle Rock, but still each city should be made to bear some responsibility to the patients within their borders.
nonoise October 24, 2012 at 03:26 PM
AFG, I agree the shops should be spread out. There are only a couple in Cypress Park and I have seen no problem with them. I drive by them and see no one standing outside and I never see any problems. Some owners are probly better than others. Those shops that have problems should be shut down. Just like any business some are good and some are not. Sorry that Eagle Rock somehow ended up with more than their fair share. The list of candidates endorsed by the pot shops was probly legal. Other businesses endorse candidates also so I don't see what the problem is. They want to endorse candidates tha support their cause just like any other business. Unless, I am missing something, I don't see an issue with endorsing candidates and I think that is all the flyer does.
AFG October 25, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I thought it promised $40 of free medication????
Greg Nelson October 29, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Does anyone know of anyone who collected the flyer's offer?
bbkong October 29, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Yet another unanswered question lies fallow. And where would they collect it? And how would they prove they voted for the right slate? A month later and it still smells fishy.
Jerry Langford October 29, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Hi Tim - it sounds like neither you nor Joe/bbkong actually voted in the election. You don't vote, you can't complain about the results! But that's neither here nor there. To answer your question, here's how it went down on voting day: There were cardboard dividers up everywhere, just like in a "real" polling place, but since we were filling out pencil-and-paper ballots, you could move them around, and if you wanted to fill them out on your lap (meaning, not inside the cardboard shield), you could. Most people who've voted before knew to put their ballot on the table, inside the shield, if they cared about anonymity. I didn't care who saw my ballot, and neither did the "pot voters" near me. And I'll reiterate that the poll workers were top-notch, and inspiring to anyone who cares about democracy (even Joe). The poll workers helped everyone out, especially the pot voters, some of whom had obviously never filled out a ballot before, and needed their hands held throughout the process.

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