Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 26, 2019

Political proxy

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

Last week’s City Council meeting was one of the more frustrating discussions that I’ve heard on any issue.  As a reminder for some unknown reason last year after a member of the public filed a complaint to the Open Government Commission City Staff decided that the right course of action was not to adjudicate the issues in that complaint first but, instead, continue voting on issues around cannabis businesses in Alameda.

To fast forward, after much discussion, the City Council decided to agendize repealing and replacing the existing cannabis ordinance.  If that’s all you wanted to know, you can stop here.  This will mean that the City Council will need to vote on this issue once again and should need two readings before the ordinance takes effect.  This is the right move to take, had they done this at the January 15 meeting this issue would have already been cleaned up and taken care of, but here we are, again.

However, what was interesting about that night is that some members of the public do have any any idea what the OGC actually does, which is a shame and it appeared that the ignorance of how the OGC is formed allowed a narrative to be built and nurtured that somehow this was a political issue rather than one of process.

For those that don’t know, the OGC is an unelected body.  But unlike other Boards and Commissions where the Mayor nominates the members and they are confirmed by the rest of the City Council, this body is special.  This body is made up of proxies from each elected City Councilmember.  What that means is each person sitting on the OGC has been appointed by an individual City Council member. To say that the unanimous actions taken by the OGC is one of political gamesmanship is for individual City Councilmembers to accuse their own appointee of voting for a political outcome rather than a procedural outcome.   And if that City Councilmember truly believes that, s/he should replace that member from the OGC.

Members First Appointment Current Term Expires Councilmember
Mike Henneberry 07/19/2016 12/15/2020 Jim Oddie
Heather Little 01/03/2017 12/15/2020 Malia Vella
Bryan Schwartz 09/05/2017 12/20/2022 Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
Rasheed Shabazz 01/02/2019 12/20/2022 John Knox White
Ruben Tilos 01/02/2019 12/20/2022 Tony Daysog

Vice Mayor John Knox White did comment that while the initial complaint may have been a political action, the resulting decision and deliberations of the OGC were not.  In fact, the only people making the OGC’s decision into a political issue were those who were supporting the cannabis ordinance that night.   It was disappointing to see members of the public advocate for less public transparency and oversight simply because the issue that they care passionately about was caught up in the City attempting to sort out its business.

Of course it did not help that the Mayor decided to ask if the language around youth centers could be brought for discussion again.

Hopefully, the City Council will consider, as suggested by John Knox White, to release the internal memo about null and void so that we all can see how the City Attorney arrived to the opinion that has brought the cannabis ordinance to this place.   Also hopefully, this will not lead to the City Council stripping the Sunshine Ordinance and the Open Government Commission of its oversight responsibilities.



  1. Not sure how this will get resolved with Tony Daysog recusing himself – but if the new owner of the Webster St property doesn’t get their dispensary – they will most likely attempt to sue the City.

    One creative way to resolve this – is that the city assist the owner in finding a new location for the dispensary (perhaps somewhere at Alameda Point) and the City acquires the Webster Street property from the owner in some sort of exchange.

    The new use of the Webster Street property can be determined later through a community process – but the previous owner gets their dispensary with no community protest – maybe a win win for everyone.

    Comment by Karen — February 26, 2019 @ 7:30 am

    • The easy answer for everything, apparently: “Let’s put it all at the base.”

      I live 200 feet from this location, and I’m fine with a dispensary. My daughter’s school is on the same block as two liquor store (that any kid can walk into) and a bar. Yet, no one bats an eye.

      Comment by Jason B — February 26, 2019 @ 9:50 am

  2. We’ve spent the land on Alameda Point five times over by now. It’s all spoken for. We will have these dispensaries elsewhere on this island, and ideally not on land with federal jurisdiction.

    Comment by Gaylon — February 26, 2019 @ 8:56 am

  3. I agree, I’m so, so, tired of nimby talk. “put it at the base”. How about let”s put Trabacco at the base, or maybe let’s put the Alameda Theater at the base. Then listen to the nimby s cry about it.

    Comment by trumpisnotmypresident — February 26, 2019 @ 12:36 pm

  4. Supporting the Sunshine Ordinance/OGC, but only if the final result is a cannabis ordinance with features x, y and z (or only if the Mayor stays silent about a or b), suggests that one is more important than the other.

    Tony D should probably think creatively and figure out a way to un-suppress his vote on the cannabis issue to reduce the chance for a tie vote on those issues in the future. True, city staff has supplied plenty of justification for his earlier recusals. And not just the city attorney’s initial opinion that to some extent supported recusal. Even before that, city staff argued, in essence, that unless the definition of youth center were changed (so as to allow a dispensary in the building next door to the Chi Institute (kung fu), both of which are on Tony D’s block), it would be “virtually impossible” to have cannabis in Alameda. The city attorney has since revised his opinion. Maybe if city staff also relaxed its “virtually impossible” opinion, it wouldn’t seem so much like every single piece of cannabis legislation in Alameda were focused on just one building a few doors down from Tony D’s.

    Comment by MP — February 26, 2019 @ 3:14 pm

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