Members of the newly elected Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council were sworn in Tuesday night amid a brief ceremony in which they collectively pledged to represent Eagle Rock with “dignity, integrity and pride,” while praising and promoting all that is good about the neighborhood.
Paul Habib, chief of staff for Los Angeles City Council member José Huizar , administered the oath of office in Eagle Rock City Hall to 16 newly elected members of the neighborhood council board as well as to outgoing President Michael Larsen, who now automatically assumes the position of immediate past president.
Except for Faith-Based Director Andrea Anderson, all the newly elected members of the ERNC board were present at the council's debut meeting.
Huizar was scheduled to swear in the new members but was unable to do so because of a clashing appointment. On the city council member’s behalf, Habib awarded certificates of appreciation to members of the outgoing board.
In a brief speech, Larsen joked that while working as ERNC president hasn’t always been a pleasure for him, it has been a “great honor” that he hopes he will continue to enjoy as immediate past president as well as in an advisory capacity to the new council.
Incoming President Michael Nogueira, who served as vice president and business director in the previous council, welcomed the new board and thanked Eagle Rock residents for what he described as a “great turnout” in the Oct. 13 elections.
The first order of business for the newly installed neighborhood council was to nominate and appoint members to the following positions on the board as well as the executive board:
• David Greene (Sub-District 8 director) was appointed vice president and outreach committee chair on the executive board.
• Michael Blanchard (Sub-District 7 director) was appointed secretary on the executive board.
• Baker Montgomery (Sub-District 1 director) was appointed communications and government relations director on the executive board.
• Jennifer Nutting (Education director) was appointed co-chair of communications and government relations, with responsibilities largely for liaising with the government.
• Oren Bitan (Sub-District 3 director) was appointed co-chair of the land-use committee.
• Liam Roth (Business director) was appointed legal liaison and parliamentarian.
• Michael Larsen (Immediate past president) was appointed secondary signatory (on documents pertaining to allocation of funds).
• Matt Harrington (Sub-District 5 director) was appointed liaison for the Take Back the Boulevard initiative.
• Baker Montgomery (Sub-District 1 director) and Eddie Ramirez (civic director) were appointed budget representatives (to liaise with the mayor of Los Angeles on budget-related issues).
• Michael Blanchard (Sub-District 7 director) was appointed election chair.
The new council also appointed six of its members to sit on a bylaws committee that would discuss and propose changes to the ERNC bylaws, particularly as they pertain to the issue of voting by so-called factual-basis stakeholders in ERNC elections. The six members on the bylaws committee, who are scheduled to meet Nov. 26 for discussions with Department of Neighborhood Empowerment General Manager Grayce Liu, are:
• Liam Roth (Business director)
• Gregory Luke (Business director)
• José Posada (Public Safety director)
• Kerry Tribe (Sub-District 2 director)
• Michael Blanchard (Sub-District 7 director)
• David Greene (Sub-District 8 director)
In a significant action, the ERNC voted 14-2 to support a motion introduced late last month in the Los Angeles City Council by Huizar, instructing the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to work with the city attorney and neighborhood councils to examine and redefine who stakeholders are and how they may vote in neighborhood council elections. The two members who opposed Tuesday night’s motion were Montgomery and Nutting.
Before the vote, Larsen and former Civic Director Maria Nazario gave an overview of the impact of so-called factual-basis stakeholders on the Oct. 13 ERNC elections. Larsen recounted that many voters walked into the polling station in the basement of Eagle Rock City Hall with flyers that promised $40 worth of marijuana to people who could prove they voted in the elections.
Tim Ryder, a longtime Eagle Rock resident who is president of Cannabis Clubs United With the Community, told the council that the whole of issue of factual-basis stakeholders only came up because city authorities barred people who work in or patronize medical marijuana dispensaries in Eagle Rock from voting in the ERNC elections.
Had these people not been "disenfranchised," Ryder said, he wouldn't have worked to get outsiders to claim a stake in Eagle Rock by buying goods in the neighborhood and then voting in the elections after producing a receipt proving their local purchase.
DONE's Liu countered, however, that nobody was disenfranchised in the elections for lack of I.D. or proper proof purchase. Such people had the right to cast preliminary votes, pending verification of their bonafides.
Earlier Tuesday, the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment resolved the fate of three challenges to the ERNC elections that had been lingering without any decision for weeks.
According to Larsen, DONE Project Coordinator Stephen Box called him to say that the department had officially certified the ERNC elections and that a statement about the challenges would soon be posted on the Empower LA website.