MARC GARMAN - EDITOR

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Your City Council Report

 

For April 10, 2012



By Marc Garman

4/13/12
 

The Tuesday March 10 meeting of the Vallejo City Council was not exceptionally eventful in terms of things accomplished: The council decided by a 5-1 vote to have City Manager Dan Keen send a letter of warning and clarification to medical marijuana dispensaries rather than an outright cease and desist letter, much to the obvious dismay of Mayor Osby Davis. The Smoke Free Parks Ordinance was adapted. Consideration of Participatory Budgeting, a process championed by Councilmember Marti Brown was delayed until the next meeting on April 17 due to the absence of Councilmember Sunga.

 
 

But the raw emotion and histrionics were at a high level.

 

Medical Marijuana proponents, who were assembled on the steps of City Hall, say they are intent on circulating a petition demanding the recall of Mayor Osby Davis. After speaking with Tip Baldwin (pictured) he explained that the proposed impending recall effort was initiated by Curtis Halk, a cancer survivor who credits cannabis for his recovery. Many of the cannabis proponents feel that Mayor Davis has been influential in compelling law enforcement to engage in the recent spate of raids against their establishments. “He may not control the police, but he certainly can influence them.” stated Baldwin holding a clipboard with signatures. Time will tell if a viable effort emerges...or just goes up in smoke.

 

Presentations and Commendations


April is “Child Abuse Prevention Month” and the week of April 23-30 is “Public Schools Week”.


We don't take this as a formality.” said Mayor Osby Davis regarding child abuse, indicating the importance of being aware that abuse does happen in our community.


Vice-Mayor Hannigan presented regarding Public Schools Week and was flanked by Superintendent Ramona Bishop and members of the local Freemasons, who are long time sponsors of Public Schools Week.



First Community Forum


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Ruscal Cayangyang announced that the annual Youth Expo at Solano College will be taking place on Saturday April 21 from 11-4 and will feature events such as horseback riding and archery. “Please support our youth!” urged Cayangyang, continuing to add that he also supports the Smoke Free Parks Ordinance.


 

 


 

 

David Corbett thanked staff for a very productive meeting with the Vallejo Lamplighters http://www.vallejolamplighter.org who have been involved in organizing and coordinating neighborhood groups throughout the city. He also suggested that the city consider re-implementing the Police Beat Health program and the creation of a new position: Vacant Property Coordinator. Corbett also urges the removal of fine limitations for negligent banks under Vallejo's abandoned property ordinance.


 

 

 

 

Gary Smith announced an upcoming May 4 fundraiser to help the Vallejo Veterans Hall in paying down some $12,000 in back taxes so they can continue providing services to veterans. The event will be from 6-9 PM at the Vallejo Veterans Hall. For more info, contact Gary at: (707)557-2895 or Jess Malgapo at (707)333-8850.


 

 

Consent Calendar


Councilmember McConnell pulled items 7G, and 7M


7G has to do with proposed funding of $122,320 to build a fence around the Cooke property in the Northgate area. After some discussion of fence types, discussion moved on to 7M, which sets fines for illegal parking of large trucks on city streets. McConnell wants fines increased from $40-$50 to $100-$150 for violations. City attorney Nagel indicated that the lower amounts were more in line with what other cities in the region charge and this might make a higher fine more difficult to enforce. McConnel opined, “I would just as soon defend it as set it too low.” The item will return with some suggestions for higher fine amounts from staff.

 


Solano College student Amalia Greteri and High School student Giselle Hernandez spoke in the Smoke Free Parks Ordinance, with Hernandez holding up a large poster board covered with bags of “tobacco litter” she and her classmates had picked up at area parks...some 3600 butts and etc. in 31/2 hours. “We don't want our parks used as ashtrays.” she stated.


 

 

Also speaking in favor of the Smoke Free Parks Ordinance was Barbara Myles a American Cancer Society “ambassador” and Julie Williams of La Clinica community health center.

  
 

The consent calendar, including the Smoke Free Parks Ordinance was passed unanimously with Councilmember Sunga absent.

  
 
 

Action>Action>Action Calendar


8A Medical Marijuana


Assistant City Manager Whittom discussed a number of the issues surrounding Medical Cannabis businesses in Vallejo. In light of the confusion generated over the the seeming conflict inherent in raiding businesses you collect business tax from, Whittom explained the city's position as: “Payment of the business tax does not guarantee that dispensaries will not face enforcement” and continued to explain that there is no conflict in collecting tax and engaging in enforcement action simultaneously. In other words...if you pay, you can still be busted.


Public Comment on 8A


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Retired Vallejo Police officer Burky Worel feels the city has “put the cart before the horse” with regards to the MMD ordinance and that we would be better off to “get this thing ironed out with the state legislators” first.



 

 

Morgan Hannigan, a medical cannabis patient and advocate pointed out that the raids on Vallejo MMD's have not resulted in any federal charges and that “selling cannabis is legal” in California. Adding that spending money to shut down tax revenue generating businesses is ridiculous for a city “just leaving bankruptcy.”


 

 

 

 

 

Lex DelRio, a lobbyist with California Capital Solutions cited AB 1300 and advised “You have the power today to regulate medical cannabis.”



 

 

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Curtis Hefner, a cannabis patient with chronic pain opined “federal law does not exempt state law.”


 

 


 

 

Artist and cannabis patient Robert Lunch stated “No one on medical marijuana will ever rob a bank.” and referenced a friend who was the victim in an unsolved murder as an example he feels raises questions as to the priorities of Vallejo's police.

  

 

 

 

Lifetime Vallejo resident Howard Fitzpatrick has never tried marijuana because he is afraid he might like it (laughter from both sides), but he feels that “prohibition on marijuana and several other drugs is stupid.” Nonetheless, the law is the law until or unless it changes.

 

 


 

 

Mike Tomatta, owner of MMD California Collective Care urged that “It is time the good clubs stay, time to

segregate the good ones from the bad.” adding “CCC follows every state law.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wallace Ingalls a disabled veteran and cannabis patient who has suffered with AIDS and rectal cancer wants the raids to stop.


 


 

 

Scott Candell who provides legal representation to many of the collectives wants the City to “pass a resolution tonight giving guidance and telling collectives how you want them to operate.” He requested that the city 1) Give collectives the rules 2) Give collectives the opportunity to follow the rules 3) Give assurances that collectives will not be raided if they follow the rules.


 

 

 

Guillermo Herrera expounded on the benefits of cannabis. “It actually cures cancer!” he announced adding that cannabinoids, the active ingredients in cannabis are non toxic, wholistic and “God's gift.” He called for “Justice for Guy Jarreau" and exited with “I just said something really dangerous. Bye.”

 

 

 


 

Doug darling feels that the City made a mistake by moving forward with steps to tax collectives and that a cease and desist order is probably the best course of action at this point. He continued to add that such and action would not be about “putting patients out”, but reminded everyone that collectives had “falsified their application for a business license.” 

 


 

 

Collective owner Daniel H2C stated “We provide good medicine for patients.” and recounted how he had invited Vallejo's finance director to his business “She came to see what it is all about.” he explained adding that he provides cannabis for “hundreds of disabled veterans.”


 

 


 

Veteran and cannabis patient Diane Koontz called the behaviors by Vallejo's police during raids “very testosterone fueled behavior” Koontz explained that she suffers from chronic pain “I'm out of medicine because I cannot go to Better Health Group.” referencing the Solano Avenue collective that has been raided twice by police.


 

 

 

 

 

Jorge Espinoza of Better Health Group questioned the decisions by police as to which collectives have been raided. “Why would you want to raid the clubs that have business licenses?” he asked bringing up the point that many of the smaller, perhaps less...as he sees it...legitimate clubs have not been targeted, while several establishments, including his, who have made efforts to comply with laws to the best of their understanding have been shut down. “Stop the raids.” he urged.


 

 

Councilmember Comments


Councilmember Hannigan asked Assistant City Manager Whittom if letters have been sent to property owners warning them about renting to MMDs. Answer; Yes.


Hannigan also emphasized the need for a more clear process in how the city interacts with MMDs asking for “Step1, step2, step3”


Councilmember McConnell indicated the need to for a better understanding of 'Whether and to what extent can we regulate?” He continued to suggest that the City Attorney file an Amicus Brief with the Attorney General asking for a better explanation of the current state of the City's legal position with regards to MMDs. He also feels that we need to consider where police resources are best used.


Councilmember Brown cautioned that the conflicting cases in the State Supreme Court, and the lack of clarity on the part of legislators will likely result in judges serving as de facto legislators. An situation she considers “not the best.”


Councilmember Sampayan agreed that “We do not know where to go with this.” He also emphasized the need for Vallejo PD to take their own safety seriously during raids adding that he he has seen too many funerals in his 30 years in law enforcement. He also noted a recent rise in part1 violent crimes in the city.


Councilmember Gomes supported McConnell's suggestion of asking for an Amicus Brief and continued to add that she does not feel that Vallejo “put the cart before the horse” with regards to moving towards regulating cannabis. She described the confusion around this issue as akin to being “in a washing machine, bumping all over the place.” She also mentioned the need to consider where police resources are allocated.


City Manager Keen indicated that the City would be sending out a letter to collectives to provide some clarification.


Mayor Davis, a major opponent of MMDs in Vallejo laid out his arguments against the whole thing, excerpts as follows:


Every one opened up illegally.– Paying taxes does not confirm an activity is legal – everybody here (council) agreed that the ones who had opened illegally all had to close – Why did you open illegally in the first place? (to collectives)– What's the surprise?(regarding raids) – I just think we're not doing this correctly Don't try to tell police how to do their jobs! – “

 

I think it would be safe to describe Mayor Davis as MAD as in:

 "I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!"


Then Mayor Davis and Councilmember Brown got into it...excerpts: (Add WHAM! SLAM! SMACK! Etc. liberally for realism)


Brown: “I don't think anyone here is trying to say we should tell the police how to do their jobs, so I don't know where that came from.”


Davis: “Issue a cease and desist.” “Shut them all down.” “Get 'er done.”


Brown: “Ger 'er done?? OK” “Let the process decide who we keep and who we get rid of.”


Davis: “None of them opened legally”


Gomes: “City Manager Keen, did you hear direction from anyone telling you how to direct the Police Department?”


Keen: “No, no.”


Gomes: “Murders, rape, robberies, car thefts are on the rise. People in the community are suffering.”


MASSIVE APPLAUSE


Gomes: “I will not support closing them all down. That's very rash.”


McConnell: “ We have to prioritize what we want to spend our money on. This is not telling the police what to do. We are the keepers of the purse. That is our job.”


FINAL VOTE:

The city will issue a letter to MMDs, but the letter will not contain cease and desist language. Approved 5-1 Davis opposed – Cease and desist letter dead in tie: Sampayan, Brown, Gomes: NO – McConnell, Hannigan, Davis:YES

  
The City Attorney will draft a report opining as to whether or not we can regulate MMDs in the current legal climate, and considering the value and advisability of the Amicus Brief suggested by McConnell. Approved UNANIMOUSLY




Item 8C: Resolution Authorizing First Amendment to Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement Covering Early Transfer Parcel of Former Mare Island Shipyardand First Amendment of Mare Island Remediation Agreement and Mutual Limited Release and Covenant not to Sue ---Moved up at request of Mayor Davis and aproved UNANIMOUSLY



8B: Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Budget Calendar and Process of Engagement of Public in the Process

AKA PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING (PB)


City Manager Recommendation: City Manager Keen opened with a brief presentation on E-Government: Using technology to increase public participation and interaction with government.


Participatory Budgeting: The whole Participatory Budgeting debate seems to break into two camps:


  1. Those who feel that citizens should have more direct input into how their money is spent.

  2. Those who feel that PB will allow small groups to rally their supporters and drive expenditures through the actions of small vocal groups in ways not in the best interests of the City. This side would rather see elected officials exercise control as representatives of their contingencies.



Mayor Davis then requested that any vote on this be held over due to a request by Councilmember Sunga, who was unable to be present at tonight's meeting. Much to the chagrin of Councilmember Brown, who has been a strong proponent of Participatory Budgeting...in which citizens have access and input into the process of government spending...of their money.


Brown was obviously not pleased with this last minute delay, addressing the mayor with: “It would have been a considerate thing to do not to put us on the spot.”


After a back and forth, an apology from Davis for springing this at the last minute, and further explanation of the custom of allowing councilmembers the indulgence of a continuance of the vote on an item of particular interest in cases of unexpected or unplanned absences, the public was welcomed for comment:


JD Miller CPA emphasized the unfunded pension liability in Vallejo of approximately $250,000,000 “There is absolutely no way the citizens of Vallejo can pay that $250 million.” He also cited his time on the '93 Citizens Budget Advisory Committee and how they predicted the city's future financial problems.


Rich Curtola emphasized the sudden interest, and desire of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce in delaying any vote on Participitary Budgeting, and their desire to give the concept consideration.



Howard Fitzpatrick feels “The Participatory Budgeting process is going to pass decision making processes to whoever is best able to sway elections.” He also mentioned that the senior center is at risk of cut-backs or closure if “they don't get a piece of that money.”


Coleen Cole-Morrison is a passionate advocate of PB. “I want you, city people and the council to understand how daunting democracy has become.” she said continuing to add that “We have to invest in a civics education.” and “Just e-Democracy isn't going to cut it.”



Burky Worel feels that PB could lead to “control by a handful” and that it would likely “leave it up to a councilmember to marshall their forces”


Dave Cary emphasized that the City needs to look for ideas that will ”snowball”



Participatory Budgeting continued to April 17 study session


Both McConnell and Brown pushed for clarification that the council WILL vote on this as an action item on the 17th. Answer: YES


Second Community Forum


Burky Worel feels that Councilmembers Gomes and McConnell are trying to set an agenda for the police department. If true, this would be a violation of the city charter. However, City Manager Keen has made clear that in his opinion there has been no violation. Undoubtedly, Worel's remarks are likely tied to claims by proponents of the Gomes/Brown recall effort who allege that charter section 503 violations have occurred. But really, the City Manager's position is pivotal...because it is his authority which is usurped in a 503 violation and Keen has been clear on this point, and his answer is NO. All else is blather.

 

This has been YOUR CITY COUNCIL REPORT