Leave it to a legislative body to argue over setting a date for an issue over great public interest. At Thursday’s Fresno city council meeting, finding a date to discuss councilman Garry Bredefeld’s proposal to ban marijuana dispensaries met with opposition.
In the wake of four days, three dates were set for the meeting. A brief timeline:
-Monday, Feb. 27: Bredefeld writes an op/ed in the CV Observer calling for the ban, with a March 9 hearing date
-Monday, Feb. 27: The CV Observer reports Bredefeld agrees to push back the hearing to a special meeting on March 30 after consulting with Mayor Lee Brand
-Thursday, March 2: After complaints that March 30 is a bad date (and so was April 6), council settles on March 23 at 4 p.m. by a 4-3 vote
Oliver Baines complained that he was not notified about a March 30 date because he would not be able to attend. Pushing that back a week to April 6 didn’t work for Steve Brandau, who would be unable to attend. Moving it back to the original March 9 didn’t work for Esmeralda Soria.
So, March 23 was the proposed date. It would follow a scheduled workshop on the issue. Simple, right? Nope.
Council President Clint Olivier, whose duties include setting the agenda, approved. Bredefeld asked for a vote. Both Paul Caprioglio and Baines objected, neither seeing the rush to hold such a vote. Caprioglio pointed out that they have until January 1, 2018 before any regulations have to go into place, per Prop 64 passed last November. That didn’t satisfy Bredefeld who pushed forward on setting a date.
Finally, when it was time to vote, councilman Luis Chavez wandered away from the dais. If a vote was held at that moment, he would not be able to participate. This is an occurrence that actually happens with some regularity at council. A member will slip out for a moment, a vote is taken, and things move on.
Olivier, recognize the importance of how one vote may go, put the meeting on pause. Olivier then left dais to the back area to find Chavez. One minute and 47 seconds later, Olivier found his colleague and the vote was recorded to hold the marijuana shop ban hearing on March 23. It passed 4-3, with Chavez voting for that date. If Olivier refused to wait, it would have been a tie vote.
How will the actual vote go on banning marijuana dispensaries? GV Wire spoke with Baines and Chavez who have reservations about pot shops. Olivier was quoted by The Business Journal that he would be okay with such shops, saying he wanted the free market to decide.
Contact David Taub
Phone: 559-492-4037 / e-mail