Councilmember rejects recall petition as ‘browbeating’ and ‘not community-based’
Published : Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | 5:59 AM
Pasadena District 5 City Councilmember Victor Gordo, targeted by a recall petition officially filed last week, cast doubt on the petition’s origin and validity Tuesday.
The Councilmember told Pasadena Now in an interview, “As my late mother used to say, ‘I was born at night, but not last night.’”
As Gordo sees the situation, the petition — filed by Bradley Hertz of the San Francisco-based Sutton Law firm, which represents Pasadena business owner Shaun Szameit and his Golden State Collective dispensary — is merely an attempt to “intimidate” the City Council and Pasadena voters into amending Measure CC, which allows only six local cannabis dispensaries to be licensed to operate in the city.
“It is clear,” said Gordo, “that an outside attorney is organizing the recall and putting political pressure over the will of the voters. They’re trying to browbeat me into changing the law.”
But Szameit said that the petition was not related to his marijuana dispensary business or cannabis sales.
Rather, he said that responses from unofficial polls and discussions through the district “show Gordo as a very disliked and unreachable individual.”
The recall petition minces no words.
“Victor Gordo puts his personal profits ahead of the people of Pasadena,” it reads. “He is unresponsive to calls and correspondence, and inaccessible to community members and constituents. He misses Council meetings. Gordo avoids police brutality issues because the police officers’ union is his largest financial contributor. Gordo’s conflict of interest as a rental property landlord impedes addressing homelessness or consideration of rent control and just cause, despite local support evidenced by Pasadena’s Yes on measure 10 vote in November 2018.”
The petition also claims that Gordo referred local cannabis legislation to a City committee that he chaired so he could “write a law that punishes state compliant cannabis operators.”
“Gordo seeks to bring in outside cannabis operators, even if they have been cited for violations in other cities but bans Pasadena-based operators if they were cited for violations,” the petition claimed.
According to the terms of Measure CC, since Szameit’s Golden State Collective continued to operate in 2017 and 2018 while being unlicensed, the dispensary is not eligible to apply for a cannabis license under new permitting procedures.
Golden State Collective has been cited by the City for code violations 17 times, said Gordo.
In addition, Szameit and his representatives have appeared before the City Council numerous times in the last year to ask the Council to reconsider the measure and allow them to apply for a license.
In a related matter, Szameit and three other defendants — Elizabeth Mcduffie, Yulissa Gonzalez, and Tony Gutierrez — are scheduled to be arraigned on illegal cannabis possession and sale charges Wednesday, February 13 in Pasadena Superior Court.
“We will not be tricked,” said Gordo. “I certainly will not be intimidated by an attorney and his clients who already face criminal charges.”
Gordo continued, “I support the legal sale of prescription drugs, alcohol and cannabis,” said Gordo. “I don’t support those individuals who think they can sell [cannabis] anywhere. They have violated the law.”
Gordo also noted that the recall petition does not seem to be “community-based.”
“If this was a real recall,” he said, “we would see these people at City Council, and there would be a lot of noise beforehand.”
But Szameit said there is widespread antagonism towards Gordo in District 5.
“This is a very familiar situation among countless people I meet that are either a resident or business owner in this district, that have had any form of issue that needed to be resolved,” Szameit said.
He continued, “I am a constituent of District 5 and I have had no opportunity for representation and have been ignored by my Councilmember. I have attempted for over three years to speak with my Councilmember and have been completely disregarded and laughed at while speaking at City Council meetings.”
Szameit said that all of the issues documented in the recall petition trace back to facts presented at City Council meetings.
“This is about a history of performance and disregard for the individuals in his community,” Szameit’s statement continued.
Szameit said he would consider operating marijuana businesses in other cities.
, “I would love to operate in any city that believed in the quality of service we provide and (who) welcomes a responsible business owner who desired to engage with his community and build a bridge towards betterment,” he said.
Szameit reportedly approached the Baldwin Park City Council in October 2018, about operating a dispensary there.
“I would caution any other cities as they deal with the implementation of cannabis sales, to carefully investigate the history of all operators,” said Gordo.
Asked whether or not Measure CC would ever be amended to allow unlicensed operators such as Szameit to legally apply for a cannabis license in Pasadena, Gordo said, “That’s a difficult question, but it’s entirely up to the will of the people. If the voters vote to amend for the right reasons and not intimidation, I will support the people.”
Added Gordo, “I will continue to do my job and protect the voters, regardless of what these individuals attempt.”