The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council voted unanimously Tuesday to change its bylaws and create a new “at-large” seat for so-called “factual-basis” stakeholders in the council’s elections, effectively seeking to limit the ability of people who don’t reside in Eagle Rock from contesting or voting for more than a single post on the 19-seat body.
The ERNC board also voted to appoint its president from among elected members rather than continuing with the past practice of getting the president elected directly by voters. Appointing the president is common among other neighborhood councils, ERNC Secretary and Sub-District 7 Director Michael Blanchard said in a brief presentation at the council’s first monthly meeting in the New Year.
The vote to create a single seat for factual-basis stakeholders was a response to the highly contested Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council elections last October in which hundreds of non-residents voted. Their ability to vote for all 19 seats was, strictly speaking, a violation of the council’s bylaws, which clearly state that only Eagle Rock residents can vote for posts not reserved for stakeholders, Blanchard said.
The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which conducted the Oct. 6 vote, inexplicably chose not to enforce the bylaw, Blanchard told the board meeting at Eagle Rock City Hall. Shortly after the elections, Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar called for a review of stakeholders in neighborhood council elections, proposing that election authorities, assisted by the city attorney and with advice from neighborhood councils, examine, redefine and recommend who should vote in local elections.
Funds For School Library
In another significant move, the ERNC voted 7-3 to provide $1,500 in funds to the Eagle Rock Elementary Foundation Library, housed in the Eagle Rock Elementary School & Magnet Center. The funds will be used to install solar shades and murals in the decade-old library as well as help pay for catered food that the school sells during its annual fundraising event in May, EREF President Eric Wong told the meeting.
ERNC Business Director Gregory Luke was among the three board members who voted against granting funds for the school library. Luke argued that it seemed unfair to other schools in the neighborhood who might not be aware of the ERNC’s action and may well be as needy of funds as Eagle Rock Elementary.
'Erotic' Massage Therapy
A much-anticipated discussion and possible action on how to regulate “erotic” massage therapy businesses in Eagle Rock was postponed until next month’s meeting because a representative from the Los Angeles Police Department’s vice unit was not available to make a presentation on the issue.
Immediate Past President Michael Larsen, however, presented an overview of massage therapy businesses in Eagle Rock. While some of them are genuine, until a few years ago the neighborhood had some 26 massage parlors advertised online as providing “erotic” services. The LAPD has been unable to shut them down because the massage therapy industry is controlled by state authorities, Larsen said.
The ERNC board also deliberated on a proposal to develop a 7-Eleven convenience store at 4515 York Blvd. by a group of people who had been to previous ERNC meetings thrice before—twice when the board did not have a quorum. Besides the lack of a quorum, the proposal was also stuck before the ERNC because the entrepreneurs had not done the necessary outreach to inform neighbors within 500 feet of the proposed store that it would sell beer and wine.
'I Don’t Blame Them'
Hours before Tuesday’s 7 p.m. meeting, the local Boulevard Sentinel newspaper posted a set of unprecedented online comments about the ERNC meeting agenda. Written in an e-mail on Monday, Jan. 7, to both the Sentinel and Eagle Rock Patch by former ERNC Secretary Robert Guevara, some of the comments were unusually acerbic.
“I stopped by the ER Branch Library and photographed the Agenda since there was not any link online that I could locate,” began the comments. “After seeing the content, I don’t blame them.”
In a comment about funding for the Eagle Rock Elementary School Library, Guevara remarked that “usually this school gets most of [the] school gifts from ERNC,” and that although he’s unaware of the “current situation,” Larsen and former ERNC board member Peter Hilton were among council members “with children in this school.” (Larsen didn’t vote for the $1,500 award to the EREF, and left the meeting room before the vote.)
Guevara’s final comment about the ERNC meeting—click here to read the rest—was particularly biting. “Still considering whether to show up or skip this,” he wrote.
As it turned out, Guevara not only showed up but stayed until the end of the meeting.