A community news source for residents of the HarriOak neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Marijuana Emergency in Oakland

Lots of things are going wrong in Oakland. The latest report from the state's Economic Development Department shows the East Bay losing jobs. Packs of kids in new hyphy sweatshirts are hunting down people in downtown Oakland, robbing them and bragging about their exploits on MySpace pages. Diesel fumes are poisoning residents of West Oakland.

So what is on the city council agenda for the next meeting on April 1? They are going to vote to renew a previous declaration of a PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY "with respect to safe, affordable access to medical cannabis in the city of Oakland."

This vote is recommended by the City Administrator Deborah Edgerly -- the same administrator who approved more than a million dollars in extra perks to a select group of city employees, according to a recent audit of the payroll system. The audit also showed that Edgerly had allowed city employees to sell back their sick leave and vacation leave in violation of city policy. Instead of taking vacation and other permitted leaves of absence, employees got a cash -- more than $3 million. Bonuses and other awards were handed out to the tune of almost $400,000. For a select group, there were salaries advances -- interest-free loans -- and auto allowances. In total 134 employees got salary advances worth more than $560,000 and 238 employees got cars subsidized by almost $700,000.

To put in perspective what kind of public services this money could have been used for: Altogether, the perks, loans and leave buybacks would have funded at least 35 new police officers.

You'd think safe streets and honest government would be a top priority for the council. But access to cheap pot apparently trumps those traditional civic preoccupations. This vote has been an annual duty of council members for at least the past several years. No wonder Oakland is in so much trouble.

It's true a lot of people use marijuana at every level of society and government. It's also true that very few of those people use it because they "are suffering from life-threatening or serious illnesses whose painful symptoms are alleviated by injestion of cannabis," as the resolution before the council states.

And it is extremely difficult to believe that "thousands of seriously ill persons" who obtain pot from medical marijuana dispensaries will endure great pain and suffering and in some cases may die as a result of the closure of ... the medical cannabis dispensaries" as the resolution states.

Folks who live downtown will tell you the medical marijuana dispensary there is a source of constant criminal nuisance.

There is nothing wrong with fighting to legalize marijuana. It's California's number one cash crop and would bring in a lot of tax dollars. Indeed, as many Americans appear to be illegally smoking pot in 2008 as people illegally drank alcohol during prohibition.

But this kind dishonest representation of the issue by the City Administrator and the City Council is a joke. Allowing dispensaries in poor neighborhoods that are already terrorized by thugs is reprehensible

This measure is expected to pass unanimously, including with support from Nancy Nadel, who is up for re-election in District 3, where HarriOak is located and where there are real emergencies -- uncontrolled crime in downtown Oakand, life-threatening speeding on residential streets and widespread tolerance of buildings operated by slumlords in violation of dozens of city codes. Unfortunately for her constituents, those aren't problems Nadel has been inclined to address.

4 comments:

V Smoothe said...

Hmmm...a couple of issues with this. First, I'm not sure where you came up with the figure that we could have funded 35 new police officers - if you read the auditor's report and attachments, you can see that the City was contractually obligated to pay the employees the vast majority of the money in question. Ruby's concern is a lack of documentation, not the expenditures themselves.

Second, the resolution you're talking about is a routine item that gets a vote, but never discussion - it's on the consent calendar of every single City Council meeting. They've renewed this resolution at every meeting since at least the beginning of 04 (oldest records I can check easily), and I think since October 1998, when the resolution was passed in the first place.

Third, I've lived right by one of the downtown dispensaries for over three years, and I've never noticed it as being the source of anything that could be characterized as criminal nuisance. Not sure where you heard that.

Anonymous said...

You wrote: You'd think safe streets and honest government would be a top priority for the council.

Conversely, those who can't stand honest government also do not give priority to safe streets. Example: council at-large candidate Clinton Killian. He is quoted in the Montclarion, "The debate has to go beyond just hiring more police." Pardon me, but the way to get beyond this job is to get it done - hire more police!

And who backs Mr. Killian? Carlos Plazola, the man who left his job as a councilmember's aide under a cloud of conflict of interest (legislating a rezone for land he has an interest in).

If you want an independent voice on the council who gives priority to peaceful neighborhoods, basic services, and clean government, please see http://www.PineForOakland.org

Charles Pine

harrioak crime blog said...

V smoothe, thanks for the smart comment, I tweaked the post a bit. I've heard about the criminal nuisance from people who live near the main downtown dispensary and from cops who believe that it is not operating legally. Thanks to idiot proclamations like this one, they can't do anything about it.
One thing I've noticed in Oakland is that a lot of people have developed a blindness to very blatant lawbreaking. On Nancy Nadel's street, I think on her actual block, one of her neighbors had his house broken in to and his dog held for ransom. Another neighbor brokered the deal. Maybe that wouldn't strike you as criminal activity either! I say leave the dog out of it. Nancy, of course, didn't do anything. She voted to reduce the number of police officers when crime was increasing.

Critical Chris said...

Bro, I live blocks from the Oaksterdam district, have been to every single Beat 4x NCPC meeting except 2 since June, 2006, I know the PSO A.C. Smith, Sgt. Gonzalez, Lt. Berlin (retired) and have heard Lt. Hamilton address the NCPC. I have NEVER heard of the dispensaries being a source of criminal nuisance. Check your source before you throw around dangerous smear propaganda. And who are you to characterize wether someone has a "serious" illness or not?