San Leandro's Cannabis Revenues Look Promising 

Plus teachers back Rubio and health district still needs a CEO.

click to enlarge Blum

Photo by Rosa Furneaux

Blum

San Leandro's projections that the cannabis industry would yield roughly $500,000 in annual tax revenues have largely failed to materialize due to the speed with which its three permitted dispensaries have opened shop. However, initial tax revenues are promising.

Blum San Leandro has contributed $135,923 in gross receipt sales tax during the 10 months it has been open, Deputy City Manager Eric Engelbart told the San Leandro City Council on Nov. 11. During the same period, Blum San Leandro paid a total of $850,000 in taxes that included a state excise tax of 15 percent.

Extrapolated over an entire year, along with the addition of San Leandro's two other dispensaries, the city's cannabis-related tax revenues could exceed staff's long-held assumptions.

Earlier this year, the council set a Dec. 31 deadline for NUG San Leandro and Harborside to open their doors or risk revocation of their cannabis dispensary permits. NUG, which is adjacent to the Davis Street Family Resource Center on Teagarden Avenue, held a soft opening on Nov. 11 and intends to hold a grand opening in December. An official from Harborside said it intends to begin operations before year's end.

The dispensary operators contend high taxes on cannabis sales from the state on down are hurting legal operators and strengthening the illegal market. As in other East Bay cities that permit cannabis sales, operators are lobbying San Leandro to lower its local taxes rates. San Leandro's 6 percent tax rate is currently middle of the road.

"The industry needs a booster shot," John Oram, one of the founders of NUG San Leandro said. "That currently is not happening." He advocated for San Leandro officials to lower its tax on gross receipts to 5 percent or even lower.

At least some San Leandro councilmembers appeared swayed by the argument. Although several advocated keeping the tax at 6 percent, some said it should be lowered, and one backed removing the tax altogether.

Eden Health District Will Not Hire Former Sutter Exec After All

At a surreal meeting of the Eden Health District, its Board of Directors quarreled last week over the pay and limited work hours contained in a proposed contract for former Eden Hospital administrator George Bischalaney to become the beleaguered health care district's interim CEO.

After charges by one director that the board's chair, former San Leandro Councilmember Gordon Galvan, was working behind the board's back to attract Bischalaney's services for $17,333 a month in salary for just 16 hours per week, no vote was ultimately taken to approve the contract.

"Seventeen thousand a month is outrageous," Eden Health District Director Roxann Lewis said. Bischalaney's primary role for the duration of the three-month contract was to begin a search for a permanent full-time CEO.

Galvan said Bischalany told him he would only accept the position of interim CEO if Wednesday's vote was unanimous. Eden Health District Directors Lewis and Mariellen Faria indicated that they would oppose the terms of Bischalaney's contract. Both Lewis and Faria voiced concern over Bischalaney's insistence the proposed contract include language that he work just 16 hours per week.

"You went out and started negotiating before we gave you the right to negotiate and you did it without anybody knowing it," Lewis told Galvan. During a closed session on Nov. 7, Galvan pressed the board to quickly sign the contract, she added. But the district's legal counsel advised them the contract must be approved during an open session.

"This is public money. It's not yours. It's not mine," Lewis said. "This was sort of made without anybody knowing about it until you brought it forward as almost a done deal."

Faria, too, found the proposed pay exorbitant. "It makes us look like we're not being stewards of the budget," she said.

The point could loom large. In recent years, Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk, along with some members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, and elected officials in Hayward and San Leandro, had pushed for dissolution of the Eden Health District.

One of their main criticisms was the district spent too heavily on executive and administrative costs. The Alameda County Local Agency Formation Commission ultimately decided against dissolution, yet some of the same opponents of the district are again quietly raising similar questions about its future. They also doubt the district serves a purpose since it does not actually oversee a hospital anymore.

Galvan argued the salary terms were commensurate with those leading other local government health care entities. "If you want good people, you want smart, talented people, you have to pay," Galvan said. But when it became clear Bischalaney would not receive unanimous approval from the board, he lashed out.

"I'm not going to call for a vote because it's pointless," Galvan fumed. "He's not coming. So, somebody else go find our interim CEO. Somebody else go do this work because I'm not doing it anymore."


Labor Opposition to Steve Glazer Grows

Fresh off a successful denial of an important Democratic Party endorsement for incumbent Seventh District state Sen. Steve Glazer, challenger Marisol Rubio received the endorsements Wednesday from the California Federation of Teachers and California School Employees Association.

Both unions are typically heavy participants in legislative races, especially those that could be highlighted by the issue of charter schools, which the unions strongly oppose.

The primary in the Seventh District could be once such campaign. Glazer, a Democrat elected to the state senate in a 2015 special election, has supported charter schools in the past. Four years ago, the California Charter Schools Association endorsed his re-election.

In addition, Glazer voiced opposition to Assemby Bill 1505, legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Oct. 3 that gives school districts greater power to decide whether to approve charter school applications. Glazer voted against the bill in committee, but recorded no vote when it came to the full state senate floor.

Opposition from teachers' unions was clear at last weekend's California Democratic Party Convention. One flyer charged Glazer with voting like a Republican and supporting President Trump's border wall. Glazer voiced exasperation with the argument that he did not support the union's cause, in a tweet last Saturday.


In Other News ...

UC Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ supports ending the use of SAT testing for incoming freshman, EdSource reported. A U.C. task force is studying the issue. Last month, several groups threatened to sue the U.C. system if the test, which they said puts minority students at a disadvantage, is not discontinued. ... A proposal by the Cal State University system to require a fourth year of mathematics is being criticized by some who believe the change will unfairly hamper minority students and do little to improve graduation rates, the Los Angeles Times reported. ...

The California Restaurant Association sued Berkeley over the city's natural gas ban, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Last summer, Berkeley approved an ordinance that bans all new homes, town homes, and small apartments from being equipped with natural gas. A commercial ban may follow. ... Oakland dropped its lawsuit against the county selling a portion of the Coliseum to the A's, but Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid believes a stadium deal will not be made on the team's preferred timetable, Phil Matier wrote in the Chronicle. ...

A man was stabbed and killed at the South Hayward station on Tuesday afternoon, KGO-TV reported. The victim was attempting to stop the suspect from stealing another person's property. ... The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering a $20,000 reward for information on the Halloween night shooting at an Airbnb in Orinda that left five dead, the Chron reported. The Contra Costa County District Attorney's office declined to press charges against five suspects who were arrested on Nov. 14. ... No repeat of Occupy Oakland here. Oakland Police arrested 22 activists who set up an encampment on the lawn in front of Oakland City Hall, the East Bay Times reported. The protest was organized to highlight the city's treatment of the homeless.

The California Legislative Analyst's Office is projecting the state will have a $7 billion surplus during the next fiscal year, the Associated Press reported. "However, nearly $2 billion of the initial $7 billion projected surplus depends on whether the Trump administration lets California tax organizations that manage the state's Medicaid plans."

Oakland Assembly, a 40,000 sq. ft. food hall set to open next summer in Jack London Square, announced a line-up of vendors, Eater SF reported. ... The opening of the local Dungeness crab season, previously set for this Friday, will be delayed to Dec. 15, the Chron reported. Officials fear high numbers of whales near Half Moon Bay could be endangered by crab fisherman. ...

Vallejo singer-songwriter H.E.R. received five Grammy nominations, including album of the year. She also is nominated for song and record of the year.

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