STUDIO CITY—The Studio City Neighborhood Council held their elections on April 7, and there is still a debate on who won the two seats of the Employee/Independent Contractor category. Patrice Berlin and Eric Preven had the most votes, according to the Studio City Canvass of Votes document. Once the votes had been counted, Stuart Miller filed a grievance against the election claiming electioneering of both Berlin and Preven.
Stephen Box of Empower LA emailed Canyon News the link to the grievances made against the election. Miller’s grievance of electioneering was sustained due to loitering by Berlin and Preven. The remedy was to disqualify Berlin and Preven, send letters of reprimanding and place the next two highest vote getters on the board. The seats are now held by Lisa Sarkin and Brandon Pender who had the next highest amount of votes.
On April 25, Berlin sent an email to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. In the email, Berlin states that “the voters of Studio City were robbed of this election.” Berlin’s main concerns are that Sarkin’s friends waited until after Sarkin officially lost the election on April 12 to file grievances, the lack of communication from Jay Handel of Empower LA, and that Miller had LAPD Officer Mike Lewis listed as a witness to the electioneering in his grievance.
According to Berlin’s email to Garcetti, Miller is a friend and advocate of Sarkin and her friends were volunteers at the event who were then used as witnesses to the electioneering, along with Lewis. “When the 3 person panel listened to the grievances by Sarkin’s friends they were led to believe that the LAPD was a witness to our bogus electioneering and therefore voted thinking that was true,” Berlin told Canyon News in an email.
Berlin had emailed Lewis asking about Miller naming him as a witness. In an email reply from Lewis, he described that he saw Berlin at the polling location less than a minute before Berlin left. He also said that he would contact Miller, because he did not like someone speaking on his behalf. In Miller’s grievance form Lewis is named as a witness, but there is no witness statement from Lewis.
The Neighborhood Council’s remedy is final with no appeal process, according to an article by Mike Szymanski, who also filed grievances against the election. Neither Berlin nor Preven attended the council meeting, since, according to Berlin’s email, she had asked Handel of Empower LA if she had to be at the meeting to defend her position on the grievances and never received an email back from Handel.
Berlin told Canyon News on April 27 that she still has not heard back from Garcetti or any other city officials. Berlin hopes that she and Preven will get a chance to defend themselves and present their own witnesses including Officer Lewis. “This has obviously been a very upsetting time for us. I do not believe I have ever so blatantly been accused of something that I did not do,” Berlin said.
Canyon News tried to reach Preven, Garcetti and Sarkin for comment, but did not hear back before print.