Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 10, 2017

2 a.m. phone call

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Did everyone catch Steven Tavares’s piece in the Alameda Magazine about the local cannabis wars?  It is amazing.  It’s one of those dramatic in-fighting things (with a dash of xenophobia) which is so very Alameda.

This is how it starts:

One of his colleagues, acting as a hype man, touted Nolin’s credentials and influence in the industry. The hype man then asked the overflow audience in the council chambers if any of its members have had positive interactions with Nolin in the past. A few hands raised, and Nolin stepped to the mic.

Folks, this is not embellishment.  This is exactly how the public comment went down.  “Hype man” is really the only term that should be used when it came to this really strange set of public comments.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone use their public comment period to talk about how great the next commenter is and how he’s the best thing since sliced bread.

But that’s not even the best part, the best part is the feud, and involves — surprise, surprise: Trish Spencer — highlights

Yet despite their shared opposition to off-Island cannabis interests, the two Alameda groups are far from united. Members of the organizations are expected to compete for cannabis permits in the city in the months ahead, and they’ve traded allegations of political favoritism, conflicts of interest, and stealing ideas from each other.

There are also questions being raised about Mayor Trish Spencer’s allegiances after she appeared in a promotional video for the Alameda for Safe Cannabis Access group in July.

Sharon Golden, founder of the rival Alameda Island Cannabis Community, said Spencer’s video raises concerns about the mayor’s objectivity as the council moves forward with cannabis regulations and who receives permits. “It does look like a conflict of interest when one elected official is tied to one group,” said Golden, who founded her group in March.

Evidence of animosity between Golden’s group and the mayor surfaced in late June when she ripped the group on Facebook for failing to attend a June 20 council meeting that was scheduled to include a discussion on cannabis—although the council took no action on the subject that night. At numerous previous council meetings, Golden’s group had waited all night to speak about cannabis but to no avail. In the early morning hours after the June 20 meeting, Spencer called Golden to express dissatisfaction with the group, Golden said. “I’ve never got a 2 a.m. call from any elected official, ever,” she said. Spencer subsequently left the group and joined Alameda for Safe Cannabis Access, which is composed of former Alameda Island Cannabis Community members and led by Moskowitz.

Can I just say a 2:00 a.m. phone call from a family member or friend is alarming, but understandable.  A 2:00 a.m. phone call from an elected official?  That seems to cross a really awkward line.

Anyway, it seems as though these two groups are fighting over something that has yet to exist since the City Council hasn’t really worked out what the permits will look like.  But I tend to agree with Malia Vella that while a local preference is good, a proven track record of participation in the community shouldn’t be trumped by zip code residency.




  1. Wow have a national leader tweeting insanities at dark-thirty am and a local mayor calling a constituent at 2:00 am. Complementary bookends on the political spectrum? (Their effectiveness and their respect for norms seem to match…)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — October 10, 2017 @ 7:32 am

  2. A 2:00 AM call from an elected official to voice disappointment is completely unacceptable. Once again Spencer oversteps her role. The majority of this Council cannot stay in their lane. I feel sorry for the residents of Alameda. They got the short end of stick with this Council.

    Comment by Eyeroll — October 10, 2017 @ 2:05 pm

  3. The idea of dispensaries seems outdated. Online and app sales/deliveries seem to be taking root in the bay. I wonder how the council will address these types of sales?

    Comment by michonnekatana — October 10, 2017 @ 3:37 pm

  4. Bars chuck patrons out at 2 AM.

    Comment by BC — October 10, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

  5. MJ is big business and brings in tax revenue. Business people go to multiple meetings and wait their turn if they are serious. I agree with the poster that MJ online sales might make brick and mortar obsolete. But this is really a Tempest in a teapot/bong. I think it’s great we have a Mayor who is in step with the public and state on the MJ issue, not some old foggy politician Alameda is so famous for…And consider that maybe Golden’s group was supposed to be at the meeting, but wasn’t despite the issue being scheduled. What was Hillary’s line when she ran against Obama? Who do you want getting the 2a.m. phone call-her or Obama? The American public answered that one. If you don’t like the Mayor making 2 a.m. phone calls then defeat her in the next election.

    Comment by Nowyouknow — October 10, 2017 @ 5:36 pm

  6. I’m looking forward to an independent assessment with recommendations that have an eye for what’s right for Alameda, not necessarily what is right for industry stalwarts who are looking to get first dibs on lucrative cannabis licenses. I want a full understanding of the criteria that the city chooses to evaluate possible applications. The criteria need to be comprehensive and transparent so that it is clear that whichever business is chosen is selected for reasons that benefit Alameda the most. One thing I really want to understand is who are the players in this activist group who will also be making applications. I would like to see a co-op model that spreads the profits among as many workers as possible.

    Comment by Angela — October 10, 2017 @ 8:07 pm

    • The co-op model is a bit dicey as long the risk of federal prosecution remains. Suppose there are 50 employees who might earn an annual dividend of 5 or 10 grand from co-op profits after wages/salaries. That’s nowhere near enough for any of them to pay bail and lawyer up should AG Sessions follow through on his threats to crack down.

      But if one entrepreneur owns it, there’s enough reward to (possibly) justify the risk of prosecution. Full legalization obviates this of course, and makes the co-op model much more realistic.

      Comment by dave — October 11, 2017 @ 5:08 am

  7. I remember people in my neighborhood being arrested and cited for amounts of marijuana that are now legal.
    I hope “equity” and historic repair enter Alameda’s conversations about legalization and taxation.

    Comment by Rasheed — October 10, 2017 @ 9:38 pm

  8. Can we not make jokes about 2AM calls, at least for the next __ years ? Don’t worry, this selection process will give us plenty of other opportunities for fun and entertainment. If we’re lucky we might get to see some real bootleggers (albeit dispensing something even milder) and Baptists action.

    Comment by MP — October 11, 2017 @ 9:33 am

  9. I know we lean towards the provincial here in Alameda, but having “home-grown” entities fighting The Outsiders on who should supply the weed in our fair city is taking a “grass-roots” approach too far!

    Comment by CD — October 11, 2017 @ 12:35 pm

  10. Treat retail like we do liquor stores. Same thing, mind altering substance. Everything else is just craziness and political maneuvering.

    Comment by SanePerson — October 18, 2017 @ 5:26 pm

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