Update Oct. 12: The Chamber has rescinded its endorsement of Measures U and V after receiving more information from the cities of La Mesa and Lemon Grove.
By Miriam Raftery
October 6, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) –Community leaders in La Mesa and Lemon Grove are reacting with shock and outrage over endorsement by the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce (ECC) of Measures U and V, which would legalize medical marijuana dispensaries in the two cities. Voters in both La Mesa and Lemon Grove rejected similar ballot measures in the last general election.
“The City of Lemon Grove is a dues-paying member of the ECC. Our tax dollars pay for those dues,” states an e-mail sent to Lemon Grove’s mayor and others from Helen Ofield, President of the Lemon Grove Historical Society, and her husband, Jack. “We urge the Lemon Grove City Council and City Manager to oppose the ECC’s action in the strongest possible terms and to cancel its membership in the ECC.”
At Tuesday’s Lemon Grove City Council meeting, several residents spoke during public comment,voicing concerns that marijuana is bad for children and Lemon Grove’s size of roughly 25,000 does not allow it to handle a flux of dispensaries that could crop up if the measure passes.
Some asked the City of Lemon Grove to hereby cease their affiliation with the East County Chamber of Commerce over its support of the Lemon Grove ballot initiative to regulate dispensaries.
East County Magazine called La Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Mary England , who voiced amazement at the ECC’s action.”Why is the East County Chamber taking a stance on a La Mesa ballot initiative?” she asked. “Did they do a survey of La Mesa businesses?” She indicated that her Chamber had not been contacted to help assess the pulse of businesses that could be affected. “Did they talk to La Mesa officials?” she asked. “Did they talk to the La Mesa community?”
England added that her Chamber does not take sides on ballot measures, but rather educates members and the public with workshops feature speakers on both sides of the issues.
ECC president Eric Lund declined to answer questions on what information his Board based their endorsement on and specifically whether his Chamber outreached to La Mesa or Lemon Grove city councils, planning commission, city attorney, the La Mesa Chamber, individual businesses, or community groups.
He also declined to respond when asked via e-mail whether his board has any members in the marijuana industry or has been approached by potential members or sponsors profiting off marijuana. In addition he would not disclose which board members voted for (or against) the endorsement.
He did, however, confirm that the cities of La Mesa and Lemon Grove ”have provided more information to the Board” and that the ECC Board “will be reconsidering the position at the next Board Meeting for the Chamber.”
In an earlier e-mail, Lund offered this explanation for the Chamber’s endorsement:
“The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Board did vote to support Prop U and V to empower the cities to enforce their regulations regarding Medical Marijuana stores. Cities can do this through their Conditional Use Permitting Process as does the City of San Diego. Currently, illegal storefronts are opening up and our cities are stuck with trying to shut them down at a high cost. Fining these stores does not provide a simple answer because the illegal stores are making more money than the fines so they stay open. By approving a regulatory process for legal stores, illegal stores will find it much more difficult to open and the City can dictate what regulations they want these limited stores to operate within.”
He noted that legal use of marijuana is “very likely” to pass statewide in the November ballot according to recent polling.
“The negative impact of these medical marijuana dispensaries to the general public is going to be substantially reduced if marijuana is legalized, since people will likely be able to keep a small amount for their personal use and would therefore be less likely to use the Medical Marijuana store route for purchases,” Lund concluded. “The Chamber Board feels that if the State is going to legalize marijuana then it is better to regulate it than to try to ban these stores and at least generate some of the tax based revenues for our local cities to help them recover their costs of emergency services, first responders and public services.”
Measure U and V
Eric Lund responds to our questions
I received this email today (October 10) from Eric who apparently missed seeing the list of questions sent earlier:
· The Cities of La Mesa and Lemon Grove are courtesy non-paying members of the East County Chamber of Commerce.
· We sent both mayors our agenda from the Government Affairs Committee regarding the issue and we had representatives of the cities present at that meeting
· We have about 200 business members between Lemon Grove and La Mesa
· We did not ask La Mesa Chamber since they do not take positions on initiatives
· Most of the major School group representatives were also present at the Government Affairs meeting
· The chamber has no marijuana owners or members
· We have not been approached by the marijuana sponsors of the initiative
· The Government Affairs Committee recommended to the Board to Oppose, the Board thought it would be better to Support so cities could regulate. Due to more information the Chamber is reconsidering this initiative position. Threats of dropping membership are not a part of the consideration since neither city pays dues and we would never allow that to be a determining factor.
· The Board of Directors would determine policy regarding if marijuana members would be allowed of this type, as they review all memberships
Hope this answers your questions. Sorry I didn’t scroll down in your email chain and see the questions you had asked.
I'm with Lund and ECC
We would gladly run an editorial in favor of these ballot measures if you or someone else wishes ot submit one. We welcome all views on issues of importance in our communities. I am not opposed personally to medical marijauna or patients having reasonable access,nor does our magazine take positions on ballot measures or candidates.
This story was about a prominent business group taking a stand on measures in two cities where they may not have consulted those cities or the businesses in them, based on complaints we received from people in both cities. We did give the Chamber a fair opportunity to present its side and if it had evidence to show strong support among busineses or civic leaders in La Mesa and Lemon Grove for its stances.
I'm told there was a board vote
and that the board is going to reconsider its vote at its next meeting in mid-October. A board is empowered to take such actions.
I don't think the legality of the vote is in question.
Reminder of site rules
A comment in this thread has been deleted for violating our site rules, which prohibit name calling in order to foster civil discussion.
Helen Ofield and Mary England are NOT civic leaders
you're now banned from posting, Jridgway.
You were warned against name calling and posted more posts that violate that rule and others. I'm deleting the portion of your post above that used offensive and age-insulting names toward two long-time active members of these communities.
You also made false statements.
We average 150,000 visits a month to our site, not "5 readers."
Another post of yours that I deleted falsely claimed we hang on by posting public notice. ECM cannot run paid public notices, which California allows only print media to do, not online media.
We are supported primarily by the generous donations of our readers who appreciate our news, as well as by grants, community sponsors and benefit events. Anyone who wishes to donate to support our nonprofit news and stand up against this sort of cyber bullying can hit the donate button on the top left side of our website.
Upate: I emailed Ofield to see if she mailed her letter on Friends of the Library letterhead as you alleged. Apparently you libeled her too in your post that I've removed. Here is her response, for those who saw the slur posted earlier:
"Oh, gosh, how did Friends of the Library get into this? The message is only from Jack and me. I have no letterhead for the Friends. No non profit organization has anything to do with this (as is proper)."-- Helen Ofield
A post removed earlier for a violation of site rules (name calling) stated that Helen and Jack Ofield sent their letter to officials on Lemon Grove stationery. I asked her if she sent it on "letterhead" and she replied in a post above that she did not.
The poster has since emailed an image of an envelope (not letterhead) that he says is the Friends of the Lemon Grove Library logo. The return address is crossed out and Ofield's personal return address sticker makes clear to the recipient this was not official business.
Ofield clarified, "We ran out of our own film envelopes and used two of the ancient Friends envelopes from 2003 and crossed out the address." She added that this version of stationery was not used by Friends and she had a few samples for the historical record. She added that addresses for her mailing came from other sources, not the nonprofit list.
P sure we have more than 5 readers
And you can tone down the misogyny.
"Business communities" and Chambers of Commerce
Response from President Eric Lund
Eric, Here is the email exchange on this:
Eric, your first response to me is included in our article. While it's good you provided clarity in your response above to indicate you have no marijuana business, you did NOT answer this or many other questions that we sent you, though you did acknowledge receiving themw with a mere one sentence reply.
After your first email, published in our story, I followed up with a very specific list of questions that you didn't answer. See below:
From: Miriam Raftery [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2016 9:51 AM
To: Eric Lund <email@example.com>
Subject: responses needed by Mon.on marijuana measures
On the marijuana initiatives in La Mesa and Lemon Grove, since ballots are out and people are voting we need to cover the marijuana initiatives controversy right away. If your chamber changes its vote(s) we will do a follow up story too.
We’ve heard from many people in La Mesa and Lemon Grove who are concerned about your Chamber’s endorsement of the marijuana initiatives in those cities.
We will be publishing a story late Monday, so people will be aware before this week’s city council meetings.
Please respond by Monday at 5p.m.:
Are the City of La Mesa and City of Lemon Grove members or your chamber?
Did you talk to the mayor and city council in these cities to get their input?
Did you talk to the planning departments? City attorneys?
How many business members does your chamber have in Lemon Grove? In La Mesa?
What outreach did you do to determine whether businesses in those communities support or oppose these initiatives?
Did you do a survey of member businesses in La Mesa and/or Lemon Grove?
Did you do a Survey Monkey or other survey of a larger pool or businesses in these areas?
Did you ask the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce about the La Mesa initiative?
Did you do anything to ascertain public opinion?
Did you speak with public health advocates such as Citizens Against Substance Abuse (CASA) or other health experts?
Did you speak to school districts serving these communities? Or churches?
What other outreach/assessment if any did you do to get information to guide your board in making its decision? Please provide details so we can fairly report on the decision making process.
What other information did they rely upon in reaching this decision (other than the general statement you previously sent)?
How many of your board members were present and voted yes on these measures?
Note: A lot of people have speculated that there could be a financial interest here. To clarify, please respond:
Does your chamber have any members or major sponsors that own marijuana businesses?
Have you been approached by any marijuana interests about becoming members or major sponsors?
Will you accept marijuana businesses if the 2 local initiatives and/or the statewide legalization measure win approval by voters?
Miriam Raftery, Editor
Here is your one sentence response,which clearly failed to answer the specific questions:
From: Eric Lund [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2016 8:25 AM
To: Miriam Raftery
Subject: RE: responses needed by Mon.on marijuana measures
You might put into the story that the city of La Mesa and Lemon Grove have provided more information to the Board that they will be reconsidering the position at the next Board Meeting for the Chamber.
I then responded with one more email, seeking additional details,and received no reply:
From: Miriam Raftery [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2016 8:59 AM
To: 'Eric Lund'
Subject: RE: responses needed by Mon.on marijuana measures
Is that the entire response, Eric?
Aren’t ballots printed already – is the Chamber listed in the ballots as for these measures?
(I did not receive any response to the above, and waited two extra days before publishing anything.)
No doubt he could've answered