Did Morro Bay officials exploit pot shop permitting process?

August 22, 2019

Councilman Robert Davis, Councilwoman Dawn Addis, Mayor John Heading, Councilwoman Marlys McPherson and Councilman Jeff Heller

By DANIEL BLACKBURN

Morro Bay city officials inappropriately manipulated results of marijuana permit applications to reward a pair of favored groups, a lawsuit filed this week in San Luis Obispo asserts. [Cal Coast Times]

In late June, the city identified the top finalists for two available medical marijuana dispensary permits– one a Sacramento organization, RCP, the other a Helios Dayspring-owned entity, Natural Healing Center.

The complaint alleges the two apparent permit winners “were not legally eligible for a permit under the governing ordinances and applicable city rules and regulations.” The lawsuit also names two other applicants, Ethnobotanica LLC and SLO Retail Group LLC. All of the four named applicant defendants, the complaint notes, “failed to meet the required minimum (city) qualifications.”

Irvine attorney Jeff Augustini filed the action on behalf of Connected Morro Bay Blvd. LLC, noting that litigation was necessary because the city allowed no avenue of appeal to the decision.

City Manager Scott Collins

That decision became the exclusive purview of City Manager Scott Collins through a convoluted system involving committee and sub-committee recommendations and combining written applications with in-person interviews. A subcommittee consisting of the police chief, fire chief, and finance director conducted interviews and recommended two dispensaries to Collins.

The Morro Bay City Council approved the selection methodology and ordinance “the same night my contract was approved” in Nov. 2017, said Collins.

“I’m not sure if there’s a right way or a wrong way, but that’s the way our council did it,” Collins added.

Six business entities applied for the two permits, and each was ranked according to satisfaction of specific requirements. The plaintiff, Connected, ranked highest among the six, accumulating a total of 1,646 points in the system developed by a city subcontractor, HdL, of a possible 1,650 points.

That, attorney Augustini pointed out, was 236 points higher than Dayspring’s Natural Healing center, and 320 points higher than the Sacramento-based company’s total.

Following the application session, Collins made the final decision, and in the process essentially reversed the recommendation list, with Dayspring’s company moving from fifth to first.


Elliot Lewis, a principal of the Connected group, said this week that in addition to the lawsuit, a team of investigators is sifting through details of the applicant process.

Employees of Natural Healing Center and Perfect Union must still pass background checks prior to the businesses receiving their Morro Bay operating permits.

Natural Healing Center currently operates a dispensary in Grover Beach and is in the process of opening a San Luis Obispo location. It was previously reported that the permit awarded for the Grover Beach dispensary was the subject of pay-for-play allegations centered around Dayspring and a pair of public officials in the South County city.

Likewise, the city of SLO has been criticized for awarding two of its dispensary permits to major donors to the mayor and a pair of councilwomen.

Last October, Dayspring and Natural Healing Center hosted a fundraiser for eight local politicians, including three current members of the SLO City Council and now-Morro Bay Mayor John Headding and now-Councilwoman Dawn Addis.


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jimmy_me

Is anyone surprised? And, don’t forget, the board of supervisors paved the way for this corruption.


citizensoldier

FBI, This Week: Public Corruption Threat Emerges in Marijuana Industry — FBI

https://www.fbi.gov/audio-repository/ftw-podcast-marijuana-industry-corruption-081519.mp3/view


Halpern: The corruption is more prevalent in western states where the licensing is decentralized—meaning the level of corruption can span from the highest to the lowest level of public officials.


As recreational marijuana becomes more widespread, Intelligence Analyst David Kirschner says states should expect the corruption problem to increase.


David Kirschner: It’s our role as the FBI to help to ensure that the corruption doesn’t spread in this new industry.


Halpern: If you suspect a dispensary is operating with an illegally obtained license, or suspect public corruption in the marijuana industry, contact your local FBI field office.


DocT

This is all just a big misunderstanding! The problem is people have these cute ideas about “fairness” and “equality” and other bullshit. Some of these other operators thought that the permitting process was “fair.” LOL. These dupes should have started paying out MORE money to the local officials and skipped the permitting process. But they didn’t understand the rules, so they’re left out in the cold as they should be.


You pay for representation. It’s no different than paying for booze, or hookers…..the more you pay, the more you play. It has nothing to do with “fairness” or “equal application of the law,” or some other BS. You pay for representation. Period. The more you pay, the more you get.


This is not hard to understand.


Corruption is also very easy to understand. It’s basically what I’ve described above.


JordanJ

I think most of the local public officials are either willing to look the other way because of political concerns or they are corrupt. The police officers are looking at higher wages, so they look the other way. The District Attorney is completely politically motivated, meaning ethics, truth and the public good do not matter, its all about what is best politically for Dan Dow. We need to clean house!


Everyone who has failed to protect the public in light of clear corruption, or who picks and chooses who they are willing to go against, must go.


kayaknut

Didn’t the $ame thing happen in Grover Beach? After initial ranking$, Helio$ Day $pring rated below the number of permit$ but after a meeting with Mayor Lee and other$ all of a $udden they were at the top of the li$t.


CC_Marauder

The FBI knows and we’re just helping to fill in some of the blanks.


“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely…”-John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, 13th Marquess of Groppoli


IronHub

Just another example of SLO County corruption which will be ignored, of course, by Mr. District Attorney, Dan Dow. But the hammer is about to fall. http://www.lyingintrash.com


IronHub

See how the money flows


tomsquawk

follow the money