It is never good practice for a city to drop the ball on expanding voter-approved lines of revenue — especially when that city faces an estimated $12.2 million deficit for the 2012 fiscal year.
Unfortunately, the city of Berkeley is doing just this, losing out on a huge potential source of tax dollars by stalling on the seating of a new medical marijuana commission and the opening of a new dispensary, as Berkeleyside reported last Wednesday.
Six months have passed since voters approved Measure T in November, creating the commission and calling for the creation of the city’s fourth dispensary. Voters also approved Measure S, which levies a 2.5 percent tax on for-profit medical marijuana facilities. The longer the city fails to implement Measure T, the greater the forgone revenue. Council members should recognize that this inaction is unaffordable and refocus efforts toward this unfulfilled mandate.
Though enough of the commission members have been seated to reach quorum — six out of the nine members have been named — the group is not scheduled to meet until all nine are present so that every member has a voice in who is named the chair of the commission. While it would be ideal if all nine of the City Council-appointed members were present to vote for the chair, the fact is that voters approved Measure T six months ago, and it is unfair to the citizens of Berkeley for the commission not to begin work.
Proceedings should commence with or without all nine members present. If the commission begins, council members who have not yet named their appointees will perhaps feel more pressure to do so in order to ensure that their constituency is represented.
While this issue might have fallen through the cracks, we feel it is imperative that the City Council and the medical marijuana commission move forward. Failure to do so at this point would not only be a statement of financial carelessness but also of disregard for the will of the voters.