EAST COUNTY CHAMBER TO RECONSIDER ITS ENDORSEMENT OF MARIJUANA INITIATIVES IN LA MESA AND LEMON GROVE AFTER BACKLASH FROM CIVIC LEADERS

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Update Oct. 12: The Chamber has rescinded its endorsement of Measures U and V after receiving more information from the cities of La Mesa and  Lemon Grove.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.”

Comments

LEGALIZE

Lemon Grove is broke, Legalize grows and shops it will be rich. Do not allow them to be 7/11s put them in industrial areas I am more than happy to consult with them on these matters. thanks

Measure U and V

Glad La Mesa's measure passed, and hope LG's holds on to its lead!

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:

Hi Miriam,

 

·         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.

Eric

I'm with Lund and ECC

I agree with the ECC and Mr. Lund. Last time i checked we are in the United States of America. We can support any measure we see fit. we still have the freedom of choice. Martial law has not been instituted yet. To try and shame someone or a group of people for supporting whichever ballot measure they choose is simply un-american. the writer of this story seems a bit biased. i am a resident of la mesa and a medical marijuana patient. having more choices of where to get my prescription is basic capitalism. more store fronts mean better prices and better service. how many pharmacies are in lemon grove? how many in la mesa? was there any research done,questions asked,polls taken on whether to allow CVS or Walgreens or rite aid to open on 3 corners of the same intersection? i think not. so why try and embarrass or shame someone for whatever position they and their constituents take? (Think of the children) Please... the children card is over played. the kids nowadays have more avenues to get weed than ever before. many of them already use or have used marijuana. you still have to be 18 to legally purchase weed in a storefront. along with a valid prescription. so all this negative knee jerk reaction to weed is paranoia perpetrated by those who have no clue about its benefits. my advice. climb down off your high horse or pedestal and smoke a bowl and get happy. stop trying to push people around just because you don't think its a good idea. its never been done before so let it play out and let facts, not harassment make your case. so sick of holier than thou people who think they know better than everyone else.

Redbeard--

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.

 

 

 

Miriamg

If indeed Mr Lund has endorsed any public ballot measure, without the unanimous vote of the current and valid board members. He would then be in violation of company policy. the CEO is responsible to do what is in best practices for the company he represents. I approximate 98 percent of the members, have little or nothing to gain, from the passage of either measure. i submit that if he indeed acted alone, in his endorsement of either measure, then they should call for his resignation. i do not believe the whole chamber should be admonished for the actions of one person acting of his/her own accord. Thank you for responding and keep asking the tough questions.

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

Holy cow, get your stories straight. If you want to have the respect of the remaining 5 readers you have. Ofield and England are not leaders. They are hang-on-ers. They are legends in their own little pea brains.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

clarification

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.

"Business communities" and Chambers of Commerce

Why do businesses need Chambers of Commerce in the first place? Isn't 'sink or swim' pretty much the backbone of 'capitalism'? Why do businesses need what amounts to a Union? And please, please, tell me WhyTH cities are expected to chip in to fund Chambers of Commerce, which seems to be a con game played by most Chambers throughout the country? This is one big nation-wide con foisted on the unsuspecting tax payers and if it were to be discontinued, as it richly deserves, no one would even notice it. While we're discussing anomalies, WhatTH is a "civic leader"? Who elected a civic leader? I thought we elected public servants. At what point do they morph into 'civic leaders'? No wonder politicians develop uppity attitudes and feel their every utterance is imbued with wisdom. They're SERVANTS! Keep it in mind! The people are already sheep-like enough without providing lofty titles to their servants. Try not to be the instrument of your own servitude.

Response from President Eric Lund

1. We did not decline to respond to any emails or questions from your paper. 2. We have no marijuana businesses as members and we were not approached by the Marijuana folks. 3. We have had a discussions with community leaders, and La Mesa and Lemon Grove Business Members and there has been additional clarification and understanding along with further dialogue about the issue, which is fairly complex, especially when you look at the language of the initiative. None of the discussion has included what I would term a "backlash or amazement" there is simply further discussion to clarify positions and new information about the issue and thus, the Board will reconsider it's position. 4. The San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce is a regional Chamber and represents Lemon Grove and La Mesa and has more than 40 members in Lemon Grove and 114 members in the City of La Mesa. Board does take positions on ballot measures and will always make recommendations to our members regarding how the business community recommends to vote. This is to support an understanding of these issues and educate our employers, employees and the communities about the issues from a business position perspective. Our Government Affairs Committee did recommend to the Board of Director to Oppose, the Board had a discussion that they wanted to equip the cities with stronger ability to manage the issue and thus their first position. They are gathering more information from the cities and will reconsider this initiative at the next upcoming Board Meeting. We always reserve the right to change positions with more information, and our Board carefully considers all positions that it takes. Sometimes those positions do not always make the other side happy, but this is what our members want us to do, to take positions and "To Be a Strong Voice to Support our Business Communities". These Ballot positions and the Board thinking behind them is available to the public on our website at http://eastcountychamber.org/san-diego-business/government-business-relationship-advocacy-help/

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:editor@eastcountymagazine.org]

Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2016 9:51 AM

To: Eric Lund <ericl@eastcountychamber.org>

Subject: responses needed by Mon.on marijuana measures

Importance: High

Hi Eric-

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?

Thanks!

Miriam Raftery, Editor

www.EastCountyMagazine.org

 

Here is your one sentence response,which clearly failed to answer the specific questions:

 

From: Eric Lund [mailto:ericl@eastcountychamber.org]

Sent: Monday, October 03, 2016 8:25 AM

To: Miriam Raftery

Subject: RE: responses needed by Mon.on marijuana measures

Hi Miriam,

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.

Eric

 

I then responded with one more email, seeking additional details,and received no reply:

 

From: Miriam Raftery [mailto:editor@eastcountymagazine.org]

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

No doubt he could've answered the more important questions but yeesh that seems like a lot to expect answers for.