To the Polls! Let every man go to the Polls!
That was a cry from American newspapers in the early 19th century, symbolizing a period of political awakening as well as public interest and action. A similar slogan might have been in evidence on Saturday when an unprecedented 792 people exercised their franchise in the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council elections—nearly 10 times as many voters compared to the previous elections in 2010.
Saturday’s political action was significantly influenced by so-called “factual-basis stakeholders”—bureaucratese for just about anyone able to demonstrate an interest in neighborhood affairs by producing no more than a receipt for minor items such as gum, water or a cup of coffee purchased in Eagle Rock.
Of course, it's hardly the first time “Starbucks stakeholders” have influenced the outcome of a Neighborhood Council election—without in any way breaking the law. But in Eagle Rock, the phenomenon had the effect of “waking up the sleeping giant,” in the words of ERNC presidential contender Peter Hilton.
Fearing that their Neighborhood Council was about to be hijacked, Eagle Rockers flocked to the polling booths in record-high numbers apparently in response to word of an electoral invasion by a faction aligned with medical marijuana dispensaries.
Although the Progress and Collaboration slate, as this faction is called, denies any involvement, a deal was cut with outsiders that they would be given $40 worth of free marijuana products from a pot clinic in the Rampart area (Third Street and Rampart, to be precise) if they produced an “I Empowered LA” sticker given to voters who cast their ballot. (See attached scan of flyer.)
A total of 313 factual-basis stakeholders voted in the elections, compared with local residential voters who numbered 379. In the end, the factual-basis voters proved no match for the proverbial giant stirred from its slumber. All but two members of the Progress and Collaboration slate were defeated, according to preliminary results, which will become final if they go unchallenged within five days.