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Two elected spots safe for now

Speakers back medical pot dispensary
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The possibility of taking two elected positions off the ballot was tossed back and forth Monday night. And residents have one more chance to comment on the final draft of a potential city charter before it is placed on the June 2012 ballot. The Auburn City Council, except for Councilman Mike Holmes, who was absent, directed City Attorney Michael Colantuono to make several changes to the draft document before bringing it back to the Sept. 12 City Council agenda under the consent calendar section. If voters approve the charter city proposal, the Auburn City Council would have more authority over local decisions, and the state would have less influence, proponents say. Although Monday’s debate was slightly less heated, residents and former elected officials brought up several parts of the charter they wanted to see adjusted. During the Aug. 8 meeting, the council voted unanimously to put the charter on the ballot, after heated debate from those on both sides of the issue. Article 2 of the charter read that the City Council members would be the sole elected officials in the city, and that the qualifications for future non-elected city clerks and city treasurers would be established by an ordinance of the City Council. At the start of the discussion, Councilwoman Bridget Powers said it was her understanding whether the positions should be elected would be placed on the ballot as a separate issue. Colantuono said that was a possibility. Several members of the public stated they felt this issue should be removed from the charter. Harriet White, a former Placer County supervisor, said she didn’t think the council should muddy the waters by including the eliminations of the elected positions on the charter and that the discussion should be left for another time. Michael Otten, president of the Placer County Historical Society, said he was neither an opponent nor proponent of the charter, but he thought the two positions should not be a part of it. “I think if you separate that issue, you increase your chances of winning passage,” Otten said. “I think if you put that in there, it’s dead on arrival.” Planning Commissioner Bob Snyder said he agreed that it should be a separate question on the ballot, if it needed to be a question at all. He said those who might want to attack that particular provision would say the council went about it in a “devious,” “back door” way. “Make it a separate question,” he said. “Otherwise you may sink the ship for the sake of a rowboat.” City Clerk Joe Labrie said he thought it wasn’t fair to include that item on the charter, and that a ballot item to eliminate the elected offices of city clerk and treasurer had been voted down two times in the past. The council decided not to include the provision as part of the final draft of the charter. The council also declined to make the issue a separate ballot item. There was also some debate about whether or not the council should include Section 304 of the charter, which would give the city an option to allow bid preferences on city projects for local firms a certain distance away from the city. Auburn resident Jerry Wilfley said he thought the provision and the charter’s provision about prevailing wage clashed. “To me, 304 kind of flies in the face of (the prevailing wage provision),” Wilfley said. “We don’t want prevailing wage, but we want to give local people a boost-up.” At the end of the discussion, the council decided to keep the bid preference provision in the charter. Although consent calendar items are normally approved with one vote, a member of the public could request the council remove the charter from the calendar for further discussion. Colantuono said the final version of the charter will also be available on the city’s website before the Sept. 12 meeting. Earlier in the meeting, three people spoke during public comment in support of Sierra Patient and Caregiver Exchange, Inc., doing business as S&R Blooms and Blossoms, a medical marijuana dispensary on Lincoln Way. The city of Auburn is currently involved in a lawsuit with the dispensary, as such a business is prohibited in the city. The speakers included Sacramento resident Pam Martini who said she was diagnosed with cancer in her first year of law school and medical cannabis helps her with nausea and pain. Martini said she comes to Auburn because she has never seen such a “beautiful and well-run dispensary” in Sacramento. The next court date in the case is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Dept. 32 of the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville. In other business, City Council: • Approved the lease for the Placer County Visitor’s Bureau and California Welcome Center in a portion of the Old City Hall in Downtown Auburn. • Approved a World War II monument on city-owned property next to Wings Restaurant at the airport. • Approved $2,500 for the placement of a Sept. 11 memorial at City Hall. The piece is planned to include a portion of a beam from the World Trade Center. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com