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Morning Report: Liquor Store Barons Dabble in Pot

Harbor Collective, a licensed marijuana dispensary in Barrio Logan, was featured at the Earth Fair 2018 Cannabis Village. / Photo by Vito Di Stefano

The retail worlds of alcohol and marijuana are colliding in San Diego.

Voice’s Jesse Marx reviewed state, county and city records and found that at least 20 businessmen with ties to the Neighborhood Market Association, an influential trade group for corner stores, are also connected to the unlicensed and licensed marijuana industries. Three of San Diego’s regulated dispensaries are either managed by, or sit on property owned by, people who have ties to the convenience and liquor store trade.

For years, professionals from a variety of backgrounds have been elbowing one another for room in the new commercial space.

But the presence of the region’s convenience and liquor store interests in the marijuana world comes despite a an effort to keep them apart. Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana for adult use in 2016, prevented liquor license holders from also obtaining a marijuana license — but the California Legislature ultimately dropped that prohibition.

In March, the Chula Vista City Council laid down rules for potential marijuana businesses that gives alcohol store owners, among others, an advantage in the process. Applicants need to demonstrate one of several minimum requirements — including three years running an alcohol store.

The overlap between the two industries isn’t necessarily surprising: Both are heavily regulated by the state and deal in controlled substances. Both require a lot of cash and connections. NMA members happen to check off a lot of those boxes.

In fact, the connections between alcohol and marijuana in California go all the way to the top. The head of the state Bureau of Cannabis Control spent more than 20 years as an alcohol regulator.

San Diego Water Officials Flip on Tunnels, Still Reviewing Leader’s Actions

From Ry Rivard: The San Diego County Water Authority reverse itself seemingly without warning last week, and now supports Gov. Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels project, a $17 billion plan to carry water south from the rivers of Northern California — though it’s still concerned about the high price tag.

Also last week, the San Diego County Water Authority’s board met behind closed doors to discuss the fate of the agency’s general manager, Maureen Stapleton, who was recently accused of drunkenly smearing a board member and an employee at a rival water agency.

The Water Authority’s 36-member took no public action, pending an ongoing review of Stapleton’s behavior.

The agency hired Frances Rogers, an attorney, to help with its review.

San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher Transfers Big Dollars to the Dem Party

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In his pursuit of a county supervisor seat, Nathan Fletcher has been getting attacked in paid mailers and advertising from the right (Republican Party and the Lincoln Club), a rival (Bonnie Dumanis) and the left (the United Food and Commercial Workers).

But he has more friends than before in this fight. This weekend, Scott Lewis revealed that the Democratic Party has spent more than $680,000 supporting him. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, his wife, has transferred $355,000 of her own campaign funds into the party.

State law prohibits her from earmarking where that money must be spent and some of it helped the party’s spending on other candidates. The infusion of cash to the party, though, dwarfs anything any other state legislator has transferred to the party. And $150,000 of it went to the party just Friday.

  • In the U-T, columnist Michael Smolens takes note of our reporting on the late infusion of cash into helping Nathan Fletcher’s campaign in his summary of the final push. Smolens highlights what’s at stake for Nathan Fletcher.
    “Following two mayoral campaign defeats, another loss would raise the broader issue of whether he could ever get elected to anything in San Diego again. They’ve put their combined efforts into trying to make sure that doesn’t happen with all-or-nothing fervor,” he wrote.
  • “In it to win it,” wrote Tom Lemmon, the leader of the Building Trades Council, a coalition of construction unions about the news of Gonzalez Fletcher’s donations. Lemmon helped walk precincts for Nathan Fletcher this weekend.

Pepsi (and Red Bull and Coca-Cola, etc) May Kill Chula Vista’s Tax Hike

This weekend, in the Politics Report, Lewis and Andrew Keatts explain an extraordinary occurrence at the San Diego Association of Governments meeting Friday. No, it wasn’t just that San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond walked out of the meeting in a huff (though that was interesting).

It was why he walked out: The agency’s board — led by the city of San Diego’s Myrtle Cole and Kevin Faulconer — triggered a weighted vote for the first time since a new law passed last year making that possible.

San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond left the SANDAG board room rather than participate in the new weighted vote created by AB 805. / Photo by Andrew Keatts

The result could make it a lot easier to build homes in cities that don’t meet their goals to produce housing.

Also in the Politics Report: Soda companies have turned in signatures for an initative that, if passed in November, would require that all new taxes receive a two-thirds vote of the people. Right now, if a government wants to raise a tax with no guarantees of where the money will go, then it just needs a simple majority approval from voters.

That’s what Chula Vista’s asking voters to approve next week. But supporters of the tax hike shouldn’t feel relief they’re getting this in before the soda companies’ proposition gets to voters: The soda companies’ plan is retroactive. If passed, it could nullify Chula Vista’s vote if supporters don’t get more than two-thirds of the vote..

Prep for the Primary

The June 5 election is around the corner. Adriana Heldiz put together this handy video highlighting five races that will be decided in this election — so don’t hold off on studying up, thinking that you can weigh in on these contests in November.

The big decisions on the June ballot affecting county residents include the races for district attorney and San Diego County sheriff. Of course, voters will see other issues and candidates on June’s ballot, including several races for San Diego City Council, but those will continue to the November ballot.

  • Another big South Bay measure on the June ballot is Measure A. Chula Vista officials want to raise the sales tax for the second time in two years, citing a need to hire more cops and fire personnel. Voice’s Andrew Dyer has a breakdown of the debate.
  • The San Diego County Democratic Party is spending big on Nathan Fletcher, with help of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher.
  • Ads produced by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom criticize Rancho Santa Fe businessman John Cox but may be signaling to conservatives that Cox should be their choice on June 5, the Union-Tribune reports. CalMatters has other examples of other gubernatorial candidates who are trying to boost their chances while picking their opponent in November.
  • Smolens also reported that Gov. Jerry Brown recorded telephone robo-calls to support incumbent Sheriff Bill Gore, not the Democrat trying to unseat him, Dave Myers.

News and Other Stuff You Might Have Missed Over the Holiday

The Morning Report was written and compiled by Jesse Marx and Kinsee Morlan, and edited by Sara Libby.

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