San Leandro councilman says dispensary permit holder lobbied council colleague’s employer

San Leandro Councilmember Pete Ballew
slammed the city’s second dispensary permit
holder for acting unethically.

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL
The cross section of cannabis and politics clashed Monday night in San Leandro after one elected official said the group seeking to retain its previously approved dispensary permit has acted unethically in its zeal to protect their investment.

San Leandro Councilmember Pete Ballew read potentially explosive remarks into the record during Monday night’s meeting, in which the Davis Street Wellness Center, the city’s second approved dispensary, was allowed to continue with progress towards fulfilling requirements laid out in the conditional-use permit issued in July 2016.

The group backed by Rose Padilla Johnson, the well-known founder of the Davis Street Family Resource Center and Gordon Galvan, a former San Leandro councilmember, have until Oct. 20 to finalize a location for their proposed dispensary. The Davis Street Wellness Center’s one-year conditional-use permit was scheduled to expire this Tuesday, July 18.

Former San Leandro Councilmember Gordon
Galvan and Rose Padilla Johnson, the founder
of the Davis Street Family Resource Center.

But, Ballew’s comments again highlighted the great amount of discord that exists between city officials and Padilla Johnson, along with the public relations hit the venerable San Leandro non-profit specializing in helping women and children has suffered as a result of the dispensary permit.

Technically, the Davis Street Family Resource Center is not part of the dispensary bid, but its leaders and supporters crossover to the for-profit Davis Street Wellness Center. However, the dispensary group intends to open the dispensary near the non-profit, which is owned by the city, but gifted to the Davis Street Family Resource Center.

Ballew, a first-term councilmember and retired San Leandro police officer who ran unopposed last November, slammed the Davis Street Wellness Center group for acting irresponsibly through its political connections.

“Before the permit was given to the Davis Street Wellness Center, the Davis Street Family Resource Center was a beloved institution doing God’s work,” said Ballew.

After accusing the city of unfairly awarding the its first-ever dispensary permit to Harborside of Oakland, said Ballew, the Davis Street Wellness Center acted unethically.

In perhaps the most inflammatory allegation, Ballew said the Davis Street Wellness Center group sent a local labor union president and a former state senator to lobby the employer of a San Leandro councilmember. According to sources, that person is Councilmember Deborah Cox, who is a district aide for Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk.

However, no meeting occurred, according to Quirk’s office.

There is great uncertainty among some Davis Street Family Resources Center’s board members about whether they should have aligned the non-profit with the for-profit bid for a dispensary permit, said Ballew. In fact, the entire ordeal brought to light potential financial problems with the Davis Street Family Resource Center after it repeatedly failed to pay back a $1.5 million loan from the city.

Some public officials in San Leandro also believe Padilla Johnson lied to the city on a number of ancillary issues regarding the non-profit and its finances. Over the years, the city has allocated millions toward helping the Davis Street Family Resource Center and its efforts to help the underprivileged.

Ballew’s comments, though, also appeared to be an attempt to extricate Padilla Johnson and her non-profit from the Davis Street Wellness Center. On numerous occasions, Ballew referred to Padilla Johnson as the “face of goodness.” “I feel horrible that the Davis Street Wellness Center is being put on the defensive,” he said.

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