OPINION: Sonoma Town Hall Meetings in 2018
On March 21, 2018 the City of Sonoma sponsored one of two Town Hall Meetings at the Community Center. The “purpose” was to invite the Citizens of Sonoma and Sonoma Valley to hear from a panel of selected City representatives (organized by the City Manager) that seated themselves at the front of Andrews Hall, discussing potential options for City cannabis regulations and, in turn, holding a Q & A with the 100+ Citizens that turned out. This Town Hall Meeting, to show that the City really cared about public opinion, turned out to be a charade.
- At the end of the evening, every attendee in the audience was given a post-it-note. One color for Town residents and one color for Valley residents.
- The idea was that Citizens were to use the post-it-note to cast their vote on the notion of allowing Cannabis Business to operate in the City of Sonoma.
- There were five categories: Strongly Opposed, Opposed, Neutral, Support and Strongly Support. The overwhelming number of votes went to “Strongly Support”.
- The next day, the City Manager was asked what she thought of the voting results (that clearly caught the City by surprise), when she said “These kinds of Town Hall straw votes don’t mean a thing.”
- When she was asked “Then, what was the purpose of the Town Hall Meeting and vote?”, she stammered and was unable to answer.
- The very moment those words were un-spoken, it was decided that Measure Y was needed and should be placed in front of the voters.
- Was the City of Sonoma ever really interested in providing Cannabis Access to its Citizens?
- Look at the photo and draw your own conclusions:
Historical Facts Regarding the City of Sonoma Cannabis Regulations:
- Measure Y was born out of frustration with the ongoing lack of interest or honest action by the City of Sonoma.
- Prior to the March 21, 2018 Town Hall meetings, for a full year after Prop. 64 was passed by 64% of the City Voters in November of 2016, the City Council talked about but never attempted to formulate Cannabis Regulations for the City, citing the funding needed to draft the legislation.
- The Proponent of Measure Y, out of frustration at that time, funded the drafting of a “sample” set of regulations (based on regulations in other Cities and written by a former City of Santa Rosa Council member and attorney) for the City to consider and modify to their liking. The draft regulations were given, gratis, to the City manager and all five members of the City Council, in the Fall of 2017. And totally ignored or even acknowledged.
- Over the course of the next few months, the City engaged an expensive “Cannabis Consultant” to create a set of reports that were clearly biased against the notion of a Cannabis business or businesses in Sonoma.
- As stated above, the Town Hall Meeting debacle triggered the drafting of Measure Y. Measure Y was re-formulated from the draft regulations that were given to the City Fathers, and ignored.
- Almost 800 qualifying, registered voters signed the ballot initiative, 10% of the entire registered voters in the City of Sonoma.
- When the City Council was presented with the qualifying signatures for the ballot initiative (that became Measure Y) in early August of 2018, they had three choices: 1) Adopt the ballot initiative as a City regulation. 2) Place the ballot initiative on the November, 2018 ballot for voters to decide 3) Order up yet another $35,000 Cannabis Consultant 30-day study which delayed the ballot initiative from being filed with the State just long enough to force it to the November 2020 ballot.
- It was blatant Voter Suppression by the City Counsel and caused the Democratic Party of Sonoma County to write a scathing letter to the City, calling them out on their obvious Ballot-Box Bypass.
- Meanwhile, the only reason the City of Sonoma currently has a very limited, biased and sketchy Cannabis Regulation of their own now is because of the threat that Measure Y now poses to their “sovereignty”, forgetting that it was the City Voters at the ballot box that placed them in office!
From the Sonoma County Democratic Party to the Sonoma City Council dated July 29, 2018.