June 24, 2013

San Leandro Police Lobbied on City Time Using City Resources

On June 18, 2012, the agenda for the San Leandro City Council included an item on whether to prepare an ordinance prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries in San Leandro. The staff report included this statement, “The San Leandro Police Department supports all efforts to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, cooperatives, collectives, cultivation, and grow facilities.”

In addition to the San Leandro Police Department's opposition to medical marijuana as stated in the staff report, the San Leandro Police emailed members of the community who were likely opposed to medical marijuana dispensaries and encouraged them to attend the meeting.

The day before the meeting, San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli, using her work email, wrote to San Leandro Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Cathey. Spagnoli wrote, "One of the points will be access to children and the problem we currently have with marijuana use in sl teens. I wanted to give you a heads up on this if you are interested in speaking to this issue since I know sled is working on initiatives and programs to protect children ."

At 9:57am on the day of the meeting, San Leandro Police Officer Kerri Kovach sent a draft of the email to San Leandro Police Lieutenant Jeff Tudor. Tudor responded with “Kerri proof read and thanks” at 11:22am. At 3:12pm, Kovach sent out an email that included the following: “One of the points will be access to children and the problem we currently have with marijuana use in San Leandro teens. The other point is the danger these businesses have on public safety. For example, a few months ago a San Leandro officer was shot at seven times at close range by a drug dealer protecting his marijuana grow.”

Kovach sent that email to more than 40 people.

At 4:12pm on the day of the meeting, San Leandro Police Chief Spagnoli sent an email to Captain Edward Tracey, Captain Stephen Pricco, and Lieutenant Luis Torres that included the question, “Ed- Can you see if anyone is attending to support the ban.”

Claudia McHenry and Cindy Cathey, two of the people emailed by San Leandro Police, attended the meeting and spoke in favor of a ban on marijuana dispensaries.

A motion by Councilmember Jim Prola to take no action until the California Supreme Court issued a decision on whether cities could ban medical marijuana dispensaries failed with only Prola and Councilmember Michael Gregory voting for the motion. A subsequent motion by Councilmember Joyce Starosciak for an ordinance banning dispensaries failed with Starosciak, Councilmember Diana Souza, and Councilmember Pauline Cutter voting for the motion. Finally, the City Council approved a motion 6-1 by Cutter for an ordinance banning dispensaries that would sunset on June 30, 2013. Prola voted against the motion. Although this was a ban on dispensaries, it was more limited than the permanent ban sought by the San Leandro Police.

The San Leandro Municipal Code, in Title 1, Chapter 4, Article 315, states, “No officer or employee of the City shall engage in political activities during such person’s working hours, nor upon City-owned or operated property at any time.”

Posted by mike at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)