A self-described “Green Slate” of “community garden advocates and pro-medical marijuana activists” campaigning for several positions in the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council has formed a new group in what one of its key members says is an effort to keep the Oct. 13 vote from becoming the “medical marijuana election.”
Nelson Grande II, one of five candidates running for ERNC president, has confirmed to Eagle Rock Patch that he and several other Green Slate members are now part of a group called “Progress & Collaboration,” which wants to be “representative of all the people, moving past just the medical marijuana thing.”
The new group, which was scheduled to discuss its future plan of action at a meeting at the Coffee Table Bistro at 6 p.m. on Monday, has crafted what Grande referred to as a “joint statement,” a copy of which Eagle Rock Patch procured this past Friday.
'Let’s Try Something New'
Titled “Let’s Try Something New,” the roughly 470-word statement is both a manifesto and an appeal to voters that starts out by mentioning the record-high number of (35) candidates in the elections.
“It’s fantastic to see people getting involved to make our neighborhood great,” the statement says, adding: “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?”
The ERNC’s efforts to get the City Council to ban medical marijuana dispensaries has caused “rifts and divisions in the Eagle Rock community,” the statement goes on to say, emphasizing that “It’s Time to Look Beyond Medical Marijuana” because “the issue will be decided in the courts and in a city-wide referendum.”
See the attached pdf for a full copy of the Progress & Collaboration statement. The document is signed by seven candidates for the ERNC election, including Cannabis Clubs United With the Community President Tim Ryder, a co-architect of the Green Slate who wrote an article titled “‘Green Slate’ Forming for ERNC Elections!” in this month’s issue of the Boulevard Sentinel newspaper.
A Medical Marijuana Election?
A major reason for launching the new platform, said Grande, is that the longstanding debate about medical marijuana has become too touchy.
“It wasn’t as contentious an issue before,” he told Patch when asked why he had joined forces with Ryder to launch the Green Slate earlier this month—only to abandon it for the new Progress & Collaboration platform.
“It’s become a medical marijuana election—and I want to steer it away from that focus,” Grande said. (In a two-minute video segment aired by NBC4 on Sept. 18, the news channel’s anchor Ted Chen noted that “the battle over medical marijuana has become extremely local here in Eagle Rock.”)
Grande alluded to a Sept. 18 e-mail that his wife Erykah (a contender for the ERNC’s two-seat business director’s post) received from Department of Neighborhood Empowerment Independent Election Administrator Terrence Gomez.
In the e-mail, which Grande forwarded to Patch, Gomez informs Erykah that the office of Councilmember José Huizar is scheduled to meet with City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and DONE this week to discuss an issue that Erykah had queried Gomez about—and which lies at the heart of the notion that the ERNC election has become a ballot over medical marijuana: Whether or not customers of marijuana clinics in Eagle Rock will be allowed to vote as community stakeholders on Oct. 13.
'Let’s Bury the Hatchet'
Grande said he recently invited ERNC President Michael Larsen, under whom the ERNC has pursued what the Progress & Collaboration manifesto says is a “single-minded focus” to get pot clinics banned, to join him for coffee but that he declined.
“I said, let’s bury the hatchet—I think collaboration is the way,” Grande said he told Larsen.
“I don’t want to go into the presidency on an aggressive stance,” Grande told Patch, underscoring the “collaboration” platform that he recently outlined in a lengthy interview with Patch—in which he also spelled out his Green Slate philosophy.
Patch asked Larsen for his view of the Progress & Collaboration platform that Grande is now part of.
"Any slate that contains Tim Ryder will be one that will promote and defend the illegal dispensary businesses in Eagle Rock,” Larsen said. “Whether it's called the ‘Green Slate’ or ‘Progress & Collaboration,’ it will reflect the positions of its candidates, which are clearly pro-marijuana, pro-dispensary and anti-regulation.”
Added Larsen: “If that's what the majority of Eagle Rockers want, then they have a clear choice on Oct. 13."