MARC GARMAN - EDITOR

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Your City Council Report

 

for May 8, 2012



By Marc Garman

5/10/12



Presentations and Commendations

 

May 19-25 has been declared National Safe Boating Week.


It's also National Public Works Week and Water Awareness Month. Mayor Davis presented a proclamation resplendent with the requisite whereases and wherefores etc. to Public Works Director David Kleinschmidt. Davis emphasized the importance of the folks in Vallejo's Public Works Department...who provide us with “health, safety and comfort.”

 

The Public Works Department will be holding an open house at the city corporation yard, located at 111 Amador St. behind the police station on Sunday May 20 from 9AM until 3. According to Kleinschmidt, there will be free food, equipment to climb on and guided tours of the water treatment plant.


And that's not all. May is “Older Americans Month” as declared in a proclamation read by Councilmember Hermie Sunga.

 



Solano Community College Report

Solano College Vice President of Finance, Yulian Ligioso gave an informational presentation on the monetary state of affairs at the college. Simply put; finances are tough everywhere these days, not least of all in the area of education. Cuts at a state level have reduced the Solano College budget by around 15% leaving funding for a lot of programs and services at risk. Ligioso gave a fairly detailed overview of the many vocational programs offered at the college and the role the institution plays in preparing people for work as well as higher educational goals.


 

First Community Forum – Tennis anyone?

The first community forum was largely devoted to tennis. Or rather the poor condition of tennis courts in Vallejo. A number of parents, kids and members of the Greater Vallejo Tennis Association (GVTA) spoke of the cracked and unsafe courts in town.


GVTA Vice President Ledy Delfin-Icatar brought her kids (avid tennis players) who declared “We are proud to be tennis players. Please help repair our courts and make kids like me happy.” in a carefully prepared speech, their heads barely visible from the speakers' podium.


GVTA president Chris Pelcolm explained that, “Tennis courts are in great demand in Vallejo.” and Corey Mentall(sp?) offered a proposed “public-private partnership” with the City in which the $100k to repair Vallejo's public tennis courts are raised as follows: $50k from a citizen fundraising drive, and $50k from the city. Sounds like a possible Participatory Budgeting application. The GVTA can be found online at: www.gvta.org


Gary Smith thanked the public and Councilmembers Sunga, Hannigan and McConnell for attending the recent fundraiser at the Vallejo Veteran's Building.


Periodic non-sequitir Richard Schoenfield spoke with great agitation on his topic and focus: the “Multi-Million Dollar Investigation Bank Account” and detailed how when he went to Vallejo PD on this issue they “put on their stupid face.”

 

 


Consent Calendar

Item 7D, Participatory Budgeting pulled.


Gary Smith spoke about his misgivings with this process. “I have been opposing this Participatory Budgeting idea since the beginning,” he announced adding that the idea is from “socialist South America.”


Councilmember Sunga is also not a fan of Participatory Budgeting. He feels it is “something not intended in connection with measure B,” monies.


Consent Calendar approved with councilmembers Davis, Hannigan and Sunga voting NO. They don't like Participatory Budgeting.



9A Legal Update on regulation of Medical Marijuana Establishments

Assistant City Attorney Alan M. Cohen provided legal insight and advice from the City's perspective on the issue of Medical Marijuana establishments in Vallejo, the ongoing raids and the, “confused and unusual state of the law,” on this issue.


In short, there is considerable uncertainty regarding the handling of Medical Marijuana Establishments in Vallejo and California. Questions surrounding the extent to which local authorities are compelled to act on Federal Law, how far they can or should go and whether things will change in the next few months due to several cases working their way towards the California Supreme Court...most notably Pack v. Superior Court. The Pack case, out of Long Beach considers the extent to which cities can regulate MMD's.


In light of Pack, most cities have put MMD regulation schemes on hold. The fear is that by engaging in regulation now, cities might overstep, understep or sidestep a pending decision and have to reverse themselves as well as open up the possibility of “exposure to litigation,” as Assistant City Attorney Cohen explained.


We would expect the Supreme Court would issue a ruling within the next six to eight months,” said Cohen, adding “If Pack was upheld....the permit scheme would be in violation of federal law; however, everyone who has a permit could claim they would be deprived of a vested right.”


So, it seems that the City is in a damned if you do, damned if you don't predicament at this point. The only legal position that seems unclouded to them is to move forward with action against any establishments deemed not in compliance with the law as it now stands. Raids.


Cohen and Deputy City Attorney John Nagel have provided a letter on the topic which is available in the staff reports for this meeting HERE Scroll WAAAAY down. It's near the end and explains the position of the City and points of law in very clear terms.



Public Comment on 9A –

Point of order

Upon the opening of public comment, Mayor Osby Davis stated, “We've heard from most of you before on this issue.” noting a number of familiar faces in the audience, the mayor proceeded to limit public comment to two minutes per person rather than the five normally allocated.


While the Mayor does have the latitude to limit the length of comment, and there were a number of familiar faces, one would hope that Osby did not base his move on his obvious personal dislike of marijuana, marijuana collectives and marijuana smokers. On other occasions...Osby has done to little to limit the length of comment even at extremely late, past midnight butt-numbing sessions (this wasn't one). As a lawyer, one would hope that Mayor Davis holds the importance of the even application of laws and even procedural rules without bias in high regard especially in context of the First Ammendment.


And, yes many of the commenters have spoken before:



MMD collective owner Mike Tomatta thanked the city for allowing him to pay the 10% sales tax on cannabis, adding that he has been in Vallejo over 30 years and is hopefully “not going anywhere.”


Pro-cannabis lobbyist Max Del Rio disagrees that the city's hands are tied on a number of issues regarding MMD's, and cautioned that the raids will drive the cannnabis business into the hands of the “black market and cartels.”


Disabled veteran Robert Lunch displayed all the prescription medications he now has to take to “get through his day” now that he no longer has access to medical cannabis.


Jorge Espinoza, whose collective Better Health Group has been raided twice brought up the loss of “50 direct jobs, and at least 100 indirect jobs,” due to the raids and closures of cannabis businesses in Vallejo. He also feels that the city is enforcing zoning laws with the police department, which does not make sense.


Morgan Hannigan cautioned that Vallejo will likely “have to pay for product,” either damaged or destroyed during raids, and accused the city of “cowardice” for being “so litigation averse.”


Collective owner Daniel H2C indicated that, “You no longer have a mass amount of clubs. Maybe 3,” remaining open in Vallejo.


 

Council Comment

Vice Mayor Hannigan noted that we likely have more Cash 4 Gold establishments in Vallejo than MMD's in Vallejo if comments by H2C are accurate. She engaged in a back and forth with attorney Cohen who opined that the Pack case was not likely to stand and that the best course of action for the City still is to “wait and see.”

  
 

When someone in the audience yelled “We're running out of medication!” Mayor Davis demanded that they “Be quiet!” Not a happy camper.


In response to VM Hannigan's probing on the risks of exploring a ministerial framework for MMD regulation, attorney Nagel stated, “Every option we have in terms of regulation carries some risk.”


Councilmember McConnell asked staff to see if The California League of Cities is filing an Amicus Brief with the State Supreme Court, and concluded that the “only reasonably prudent course of action here is to wait, even if we don't like it,” and suggested that we could research the regulatory framework being used by other states, such as Connecticut, where MMD's are legal in the meantime.


Councilmember Brown asked attorney Cohen if the Compassionate Use Act could be overturned? Cohen responded that it would not happen in the Pack case at least, and acknowledged the “frustrating situation,” parties on all sides of this issue find themselves in.


Brown suggested that rather than letting the State Supreme Court act as de-facto legislators on this issue, cannabis activists should consider seeking legislative action by contacting their state senators and assembly people and pursuing change in that way.


Councilmember Gomes acknowledged the frustrating situation and reminded all that “Measure C was a mandate from voters to collect tax from MMD's. Not to regulate.” She added that the actions by the PD is, “not zoning. It's about illegal acts.”


Attorney Cohen agrees adding, “The tax has nothing to do with criminal enforcement, just evidence that you pay tax.” He continued to cite the federal machine gun tax as asimilar example. Apparently, you still have to pay tax for your illegal assault weapons. They may not get you for that UZI...but the tax evasion charges will sink you!



8A HOME Program Allocations and CDBG Funds

Funds from CDBG Community Development Block Grants and HOME Grants, both federal grant programs from HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) are being allocated for use in South Vallejo. These funds can be used to help people with lower incomes purchase homes (HOME) and for overall improvements to infrastructure etc. (CDBG).


Numerous speakers from South Vallejo thanked the City for allocating funds to their neighborhood. Alexis-Bush Harris thanked the City for helping to “change the stigma of South Vallejo,”



City Manager Dan Keen urged the public to participate in the new e-government program now offered on the City's website.



And that's about all folks.