Deputy County Counsel cancels secret marijuana ordinance meeting following public backlash

THC just became of aware of a sordid little behind the curtain meeting arranged by newly hired Deputy County Counsel Joe Ellinwood. Ellinwood, who has been with the County all of three months or so, took it upon himself to arrange a meeting between some very one-sided parties in order to provide the Board of Supervisors with an alternative draft of the marijuana ordinance set to go before the Planning Commission next Thursday.

The high-powered brain trust that Ellinwood (and, THC assumes, County Planner Steve Lazar) sought to bring together to craft the alternative draft included people from groups such as the NEC, EPIC, Friends of the Eel River, Humboldt Baykeeper, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. This notably leaves out a lot of organizations in the area that probably could have given some valuable input on the subject – and we hear that there are quite a few groups that just weren’t happy about it.

Understandably, Ellinwood received a slew of complaints about the meeting that was slated to take place Thursday afternoon.

The best part about the whole thing? When the groups in Humboldt that felt they should at the very least have been alerted to the meeting’s existence – if not offered a seat at the table due to their vested interest in the creation of the alternative ordinance – complained to Ellinwood, did he do the smart thing and include them? No, he just tucked his tail between his legs and cancelled the whole frickin’ meeting! Priceless! Rather than trying to fix the situation and do it the right way by including a varied range of interested parties, Ellinwood called it a wash and cancelled the whole thing. Seems fishy, eh?

Ostensibly, the meeting was cancelled to ensure that all individuals and groups who wish to be heard on the matter have an opportunity to do so. However, THC is almost 100% certain that not only has there been ample opportunity for public input on the marijuana ordinances in the past, but also that the entire point of having a public review of the ordinance at the Planning Commission meeting is to allow all interested parties the chance to be heard. So, apparently, Ellinwood and Lazar thought it was important to give the groups that they invited to their secret little pot pow wow an extra chance to be heard. And they went to great lengths to ensure they were given such an opportunity. Trouble is, he wanted to provide that opportunity to the exclusion of everyone else in Humboldt, and not in a public forum.

We rambled a little bit about our general thoughts on the marijuana ordinance a little earlier in the week in this post. (Along the way, a friendly commenter stopped by to tell us we are “f***ing stupid”; while we don’t necessarily disagree, we were actually hoping they would have told us why. We already have enough to worry about.) In that post, we mentioned that the draft presented to the Board of Supervisors had some fairly severe changes that raised concern amongst the Supervisors. Those concerning changes largely reflected the desires that groups such as the NEC and EPIC had been crowing about all along.

None of that is to say that the concerns raised by the NEC and other groups aren’t valid. The question is, given an iteration of the ordinance that already quite clearly included some of the changes that various environmental groups wanted (a draft that NEC Executive Director Dan Ehresman described as “a well thought out framework for regulating cannabis cultivation in Humboldt County,” as quoted by Ryan Burns in the LoCO) when compared to the prior ordinance draft, why did Ellinwood and Lazar feel it was absolutely necessary to listen to the groups they contacted about their secret meeting alone?

Quite simply, THC fans, it just doesn’t add up. We won’t go so far as to say that Ellinwood and Lazar were willfully trying to influence the ordinance via soliciting groups that align with their own political thinking for input  (as we honestly have no idea what the political leanings of these two may be), but we certainly will wonder about it.

Won’t you?

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13 Responses to Deputy County Counsel cancels secret marijuana ordinance meeting following public backlash

  1. Anon Too says:

    Jeeze, and everyone wonders how the General Plan got so f’ed up. Lazzar, Warner, and County Counsel have been pulling this same crap for a decade. I would have hoped that our new County Counsel Jeff Blank would have been told to put a stop to the backroom shenanigans but apparently he’s letting his new hire Ellinwood sneak around in the same way that Carolyn Ruth did. Eventually he’ll probably be shown the same door that Ruth was. Only question is how much damage and ill will is created in the meantime.

    The worst part is that we all elected new Supervisors to keep this from happening. Well Bass is on yet another vacation, Sundberg is playing his 10th round of golf this week, Fennel is oblivious, and Bohn is, well, Bohn so as usual Lovelace and his friends are running amok. None of us should be at all surprised.


  2. Arcatan says:

    Yet another fiasco in the County Counsel’s office. More secret meetings and supposedly public processes with a behind the scenes fixed outcome. Come on, enough is enough. Is no one there capable of learning from past mistakes? Lets hope the Planning Commission is capable of seeing through staff manipulation.


  3. So Hum Gal says:

    I’ve been closely watching the development of the Counties Cannabis Ordinance for several years. None of us should be at all surprised by another secret meeting. The whole process has been nothing but one secret closed door meeting after the next. Estelle has promised meaningful public input over and over again but it’s never happened. There is talk in So Hum of a big turnout next Thursday in hopes that the Planning Commission will actually listen to the people who have real on the ground experience with the issue. I hope it goes better than the last two years of wasted effort.


  4. Anonymous says:

    We shouldn’t be surprised that the fox is in the henhouse when no one is in charge.


  5. Anon too…

    “how the General Plan got so f’ed up”

    You mean when this …
    “Protect agriculture and timberland over the long-term, using measures such as increased restrictions on resource land subdivisions and patent parcel development.”

    …went to this…
    “Encourage, incentivize and support agriculture, timber and compatible uses on resource lands.”
    …by the act of, by law, no more than 2 supervisors (and anyone else they chose).

    They then landed on this…
    “Encourage, incentivize and support agriculture, timber, ecosystem services and compatible uses on resource lands.”
    …after a couple of meetings? and probably no more than a cumulative 2 hrs of discussion from the Supervisors themselves. (for that specific principle)

    And these 2 supervisors ran specifically against a process they saw as undemocratic.

    The truth is…. the process was only undemocratic for their own friends and monetary supporters … and that should make you mad.

    But now come to find out I find out it’s the county councils fault. I get it now! Darn county counsel. How much are they making again? *continues sharpening pitchfork*

    BTW, I asked/ambushed Rex about this one late night after a recent Eureka City Council meeting, about how specifically the Guiding Principles presented by himself and Supervisor Fennell were written. He had forgotten. You would think he might remember something like that. I would hope he and Estelle would have the integrity to tell us exactly how those principles were written during their campaigns next year.


  6. So Hum Gal says:

    All these meetings are about matters that are of importance to the public and should be held where the public Can participate or at least be aware of what’s going on. The Ad Hoc committee set up by the Supes for Estelle and Sundberg on the Cannibis Ordinance was done very specifically so that they could get around public meeting laws and go ahead and meet in secret. We shouldn’t be surprised that Ellingwood and Lazzar tried to do close to the same thing even if it was technically within the law. Set a bad example for staff and what should you expect?

    Sneaky staff need to go and our elected officials need to set a better example or the same should happen to them.


  7. Kat says:

    EPIC, Friends of the Eel, Baykeeper, and especially NEC are totally out of touch with reality and are the very worst groups to be crafting an ordinance. They mistakenly believe that the county can regulate its way out of forty years on the ground. Their police state mentality hasn’t worked yet. A far better approach is to deal with the practical issues of cultivation and minimize problems. Educating growers and working with the public will have a far better chance of success than creating an unreasonable process that no one will comply with. These groups have their fingerprints all over the draft document so it’s no wonder that the Supes sent staff back to the drawing board. Ellinwood and Lazzar should be severely reprimanded and totally taken off the ordinance. Their flagrant bias is unacceptable. With them and their group of secret stakeholders fixing the process we’ll never get a workable end product.


  8. Pest says:

    Follow the money. Soros, FDA, Monsanto, regulations, pesticides, combating government control by using more government control, taxes, sin taxes, regulatory science, regulatory farming, regulated partaking of said product, and back room meetings.
    Smoking weed with the president of Uraguay video on YouTube, (reported in an article at agenda 21 radio) hilights the path of the gullible. Google, before its deleted.


  9. “EPIC, Friends of the Eel, Baykeeper, and especially NEC are totally out of touch with reality and are the very worst groups to be crafting an ordinance.” Yup. Those concerned about cumulative effects of what we do, we shouldn’t let them near the process of government which should be set up to “Encourage, incentivize and support” those that make money and create jobs. Who cares if the money is coming from a illegal trade with unproven ceilings on what it will cost taxpayers from social to environmental ills.

    We are finding out what conservatives care about and that is one thing. Hint: It’s green and it’s not weed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kat says:

    Liberal Man,

    You don’t know me at all but to suggest that I’m conservative just because we disagree is ridiculous. In fact, most people consider me to be extremely progressive. How unfortunate for you that you don’t understand that not all progressives are in lockstep with your own beliefs.


  11. Tax Fatigue says:

    I did not know you had to be conservative to be pissed off!


  12. Kat, l I hold many conservative views myself. I believe in individual responsibility (as well as collective responsibility) I believe that we should be working to conserve our resources for use today AND tomorrow. In short, “conservative” is not meant as an epithet. It’s also not personal, it’s about your policies.

    Today’s conservatives believe at the top of the list that government needs to be constrained and that this will help free up the free-market. They are concern about lowering taxes. They are concerned about protecting the property rights of landowners (not noticeably property rights of the houseless). These aren’t bad things, these are ideas rooted in a political philosophy with a current best-practices mentor of President Reagan.

    When regulating an outlaw industry whose environmental imprint will necessarily be huge, who should be at the table? CCVH? That makes sense only in THC/HumCPR/realtor/construction unions/conservative world.

    So when you say that environmental organizations are the antagonists and that they have a “police state mentality”, you may not know this, but you are using conservative talking points and promoting a type of government in which those industries needing regulation to protect our commons are in fact the ones at the table at percentages just high enough to make sure the regulations “Encourage, incentivize and support” “compatible uses” rather than “protect … over the long term”.

    It’s a philosophy that government should work with business. That’s fine, it’s not personal, it’s just, imho, dead wrong. If government isn’t looking out for the “long term” in our name, please tell me who will?

    Business and property owner interests are rightfully myopic. Government needs to take into account externalities and support policies that will benefits all of us and hopefully ecosystem values (legal term for non-human centric values) as well. Those two sectors – private – and public will rightfully be in conflict. We are not looking for efficiencies here. We are looking for the best policies for today and tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Cousin Eddie says:

    “When regulating an outlaw industry whose environmental imprint will necessarily be huge, who should be at the table? CCVH? That makes sense only in THC/HumCPR/realtor/construction unions/conservative world.”

    Hey Jon,
    this might be kind of interesting to you: its an outlaw industry, right? And they’re making laws, right? what makes you think an outlaw is going to follow, um, the law? aren’t they, by definition, OUTside of the LAW?

    I’m thinking maybe, somebody thinks if you chat it up with the people doing the stuff and get a little idea where theyre coming from, maybe there’s a chance of cleaning things up….or I guess you can make some more laws they aint gonna follow in the first place?

    I don’t know, I kinda lean towards actually getting shit done. the county, one the other hand, has spent the last ten (or is it fifteen?) years writing a bunch of rules to stop stuff that aint even happening in the first place, while totally forgetting about the shit going on in the woods.


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