The Milpitas City Council had another jam-packed agenda to take on Tuesday night, as members took on such pressing issues as the contentious Campaign Finance Reform ordinance, the debate over allowing medical marijuana facillities in Milpitas, and the reappointment of well-known Milpitian Denny Weisgerber to the Senior Advisory Commission.
On a more positive note, Planning Director Diana Barnhart also delivered more news of new businesses coming to town.
Council Introduces New Scaled-Down, Amended Campaign Finance Ordinance
Only two new regulations were included in a new version of the Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance the Council introduced Tuesday, in response to local resident Ed Riffle's , which received more than the required number of signatures to force the City into action.
Proposed changes to the ordinance included a campaign contribution limit of $250 per person - down from $500 - and a provision for aggregation of contributions from corporations and organizations for mayoral and council elections.
Elements such as voluntary expenditure limits, campaign consultants, conflict disclosures and independent expenditure committees were left out.
The two new regulations were approved by the Council in a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Debbie Giordano opposed.
Riffle expressed his opposition again during the meeting and said he is looking at possible legal options.
Reform supporter Rob Means called for a Constitutional amendment to limit corporation personhood. Reform proponent Bill Ferguson said, "I would like to see a six-month campaign time limit added to the law."
Medical Marijuana Discussions Continue
Planning Director Diana Barnhart reported the Council's Transportation and Land Use Subcommittee met in September, October, and November of 2011 to continue discussions related to the possibility of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in Milpitas.
Items outlined for discussion were: compassion and need, taxation and regulation fees, legal developments, land use, and regulatory issues.
Estimated revenue from sales in other cities were discussed. In cities such as Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose, amounts ranged from $500,000 to $3 million annually.
Councilmember Debbie Giordano asked if there were any home-based marijuana businesses in Milpitas.
Gomez responded, saying, "We haven't gotten there yet. We hope to bring it to the Council in April."
Public comments began with Rachel Morrissy from San Francisco, who said she gets nausea and fatigue from her melanoma medications.
"Medical marijuana is the best thing that I need, that works for me," she explained.
Her mother, Jennifer, added, "I advocate this. Her injections give her fever and flu. She sipped the [marijuana-infused] lemonade and was better within a half an hour."
Michael Gamino from Campbell said he's been using medical marijuana for many years.
"The benefits are here to stay," he argued. "Things went bad in San Jose because they didn't take control. We will help the City of Milpitas. Do it smart. Do it right."
Linh Gno, a mother of two children said, "I support the ban on marijuana dispensaries. I don't want my children in an environment of crime. I prefer a drug-free environment."
"I'm a 60-year-old native," said Milpitan Donald Irving. "I'm very active, but have a bad back that I hurt at work. I can come out here tonight because of cannibis, instead of opiates and painkillers."
Rob Means added, "We're still waiting, after 10 years. Alcohol and cigarettes kill people. Cannibis kills no one. Legalize all the chemicals now illegal."
Mayor Esteves indicated he would like the subcommittee to continue its work studying the issue. The subcommittee will meet again on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m., and members of the public are welcome to attend and give input.
Mayor Esteves Argues Denny Weisgerber Should Not Be Reappointed to Senior Advisory Commission
Mayor Jose Esteves shocked many when he announced he had no intention of reappointing longtime member Denny Weisgerber to the City's Senior Advisory commission, and instead wanted to replace him.
Weisberger has lent his service to many community causes over the years, serving as a past mayor, as chairman of the Veterans Commission, volunteering his time with the local Rotary Club and serving roughly 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
The mayor's proposed replacement of Weisgerber on the Senior Advisory Commission raised objections from Vice Mayor Pete McHugh, who said Weisgerber is uniquely qualified to serve on this commission by virtue of his election to the California Senior Legislature and his many other important affiliations.
Mayor Esteves cited the fact that Weisgerber still serves on the Veterans Commission as his reason for not wanting to reappoint him to the Senior Advisory Commission.
He said, "As mayor, I need to be consistent - appointing only one person per commission, not two commissions."
Esteves said there are other applicants for the Senior Advisory Commission.
Councilmember Armando Gomez also disagreed with Mayor Esteves.
"We voted to appoint Denny to two commissions before. It's prudent upon us to put the best person forward," he said.
Councilmember Debbie Giordano pointed out that, "this is a policy, not an ordinance. I appreciate all the work Denny has done."
Councilmember Althea Polanski argued in Weisgerber's favor as well, pointing out that he helped set up the Veterans Commission.
"I concur with my other three Councilmembers," she said. "Many vets returning will be needing help. The Senior Advisory Commission only meets every other month."
"The Council has made only two exceptions," McHugh added. "I ask that we continue these exceptions for the term ending in 2013."
Although overwhelmingly outnumbered, Mayor Esteves continued to resist, but eventually relented and acted to reappoint Weisgerber, to a unanimous vote of approval.
Economic Development Report Update
News on new businesses coming to Milpitas continued Tuesday night.
Planning Director Diana Barnhart's report to the Council included three new additions since the last Planning Commission meeting.
- Petco is leasing 12-13,000 square feet in the Mervyn's building next to LA Fitness.
- Semicat from Fremont will be moving into a 26,000 square foot site on Tarob Court.
- Biovision from Mountain View is relocating to an 18,000-square-foot facility on S. Milpitas Boulevard.