Mayor Harry Sidhu Votes to Legalize Cannabis Dispensaries in Anaheim. (with video!)


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The Anaheim Mayor with his “pot entrepeneur” son Rohan, on a bed of weed.

… and then, 28 minutes later, he changed that vote retroactively to a NO, claiming that he was “confused” about what he was voting on!  Was the Mayor high on something?

Harry has never been the sharpest knife in the drawer, and it appears he changed his vote AFTER he realized that the measure had FAILED, and that he had just made a controversial vote that didn’t even end up having any concrete benefit to his Chamber of Commerce funders (who’d originally pushed for the motion) OR to his “pot entrepeneur” son Rohan.  (If he didn’t happen to be the Mayor, he may not have been allowed to change his vote after the fact like that.)

Remember, this measure – to repeal Anaheim’s current bans on marijuana dispensaries and “regulate cannabis distribution, manufacturing, cultivation, retail sale, deliveries and testing laboratories,” was only put on the agenda thanks to MAYOR HARRY SIDHU providing a “third” to a motion from the very pot-enthusiastic Lucille Kring and Jordan Brandman on April 21. 

Moreno – a different set of priorities.

(It used to be a councilperson only needed a SECOND vote to put an item on the next meeting’s agenda, but last year, in an effort to keep Jose Moreno‘s items off, Harry changed the rule to THREE. In fact, here’s a good place to consider just a few of the items that Jose has been unable to get onto the agenda even for discussion, thanks to this “third” rule)…

  • putting a rent cap on mobile home parks, some of whose owners have been raising rents exorbitantly;
  • putting a rent cap on apartments, some of whose owners were raising rents exorbitantly (until the state stepped in);
  • extending no-cause eviction protection planned by the state for January 2020 into the final months of 2019; 
  • publicizing the city-ordered appraisal for the Angels Stadium property;
  • granting more time for public review and input over the Stadium deal;
  • a vast array of campaign finance reform measures;
  • dedicating the day May 30 to Anaheim’s graduates who were denied a ceremony by COVID-19;
  • and just last night, passing a “Black Lives Matter” resolution… (and much more I’ll remember later.)

So, those are the sort of things that Jose Moreno has been unable to get onto the council agenda for lack of a third, but Mayor Sidhu happily provided a third for bringing cannabis dispensaries into Anaheim.

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Rohan Sidhu, chilling at the pad.

Then, investigative journalist Duane Roberts discovered that Harry’s 23-year old son Rohan, who lives with Harry in his vast palatial Anaheim Hills mansion, is in fact a “pot entrepeneur” – see Duane’s story “Anaheim Cannabis Push Could Make Mayor Sidhu’s Son a Wealthy Man!”

Reaction to that revelation of what would appear to be a conflict of interest to just about any normal person led Harry to consult with the City Attorney, who told his boss there wasn’t really any conflict, BUT to avoid even any APPEARANCE of conflict, “in an abundance of caution®,” he recused himself from the discussion at the May 12 meeting.  And then sent in a letter to the FPPC for advice on the matter.

And a couple days ago the FPPC, which in reality is just about the mildest little watchdog you can imagine, wrote back that NO, thanks for asking, you can perfectly well go ahead and vote on this matter without conflict.  So Harry began discussion on this item last night by proudly announcing his official lack of conflict, and that he would be participating in the discussion but couldn’t yet say how or whether he would vote.

(I kind of wish I hadn’t dared him publicly so many times to vote FOR it;  somebody must have told him how controversial pot still is in this somewhat backward town, and how much his “yes” vote will help his recall.)

Stephen can hold his head up this time, I guess.

And although he announced he’d be part of the discussion, he uttered NOT A WORD pro or con.  Even when Denise Barnes demanded to know his opinion, he chided her like a nosy child.  O’Neil, Barnes and Faessel remained adamant ANTI-POT votes.  You could practically hear Stephen Faessel pounding his fist on the table like Churchill:  “This is something I BELIEVE IN, this will be my LEGACY vote!”  Jeez, what pressure he must have been under from the Chamber – but at least now he can make a proud defiant face instead of a pained humiliated face!

So there was no way measure 28 (the measure that legalizes and regulates dispensaries) was gonna pass without both Harry and Jose, and Jose played the coquette at long length, wringing out several concessions from Jordan and Lucille, both of whom seem to be drooling for this to happen.  They agreed to change 600 feet from schools etc to 750 feet.  They agreed to language to prevent adjacent pot shops.  They limited the number of dispensaries to 18 max total; 3 max per council district.

PROBABLY BECAUSE OF ALL OF THAT, Harry assumed Jose was going to vote yes, which JOSE DID NOT.  So Harry cast a useless yes vote, and then had it changed after he realized it had failed.  (Took him 28 minutes to realize that, apparently – I bet he got a text or call.)  LOL.  He said he was “confused.”  And Jose taunted, “Mayor, we CLEARLY heard you say YES.”

There was a LOT more that happened in this discussion and the ensuing one over the related tax measure (which also failed.)  High drama, slapstick hilarity – all you have come to expect from Anaheim Council meetings!  But I can’t get to the video right now, it actually says “PERMISSION DENIED.” 

LOL again, or rather LMAO – are they trying to edit out Harry’s yes vote?  I’ll write more here when that video comes up tonight or tomorrow, but for now I wanted all of you to know – MAYOR HARRY SIDHU VOTED YES ON CANNABIS DISPENSARIES IN ANAHEIM!  (Before he voted no.)

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Update Monday night – “Video” finally up!

I use “video” in quotes since it’s a teleconference meeting and you can’t really see the participants.

Also six days is a really long time for them to get it up, but apparently they haven’t changed anything.

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Part one: from 3:14:43 to 3:15:59 (after long discussion on Item 28, the legalization and regulation of Anaheim dispensaries)

Harry:  OK SO.  Madam Clerk, next one is the “call for question,” right?
Theresa:  “That’s right, the motion by Jordan Brandman and Lucille Kring, along with the friendly amendments…”  (They each vote, 4 nos and 2 yes, and then Harry votes YES very clearly at 15:31)

And the motion fails.
Harry: “OK. Now I’m going to ask the city attorney, where are we at this time?”
Fabela: “Now we’re on item 29, which can be voted upon independently.”
Harry:  “We go to Item # 29, right?”
Fabela: “Correct.”
Harry:  “Thank you.”  (Damn he’s clueless as an infant.)

Discussion follows on the related tax measure, Item 29.  Then after twenty minutes, at 3:34:58 Harry interrupts everyone to MAKE SURE the clerk had marked him down as a  … “YES” on legalizing dispensaries.

Part two: 3:34:58 to 3:35:38

Harry: “Um… I just want to remind all the council member that we have two public hearings [actually there were four] and we have to hear them both of them before twelve o’clock … so I’m going to just ask everybody to wrap up.  In the meantime, I’m going to ask Madam Clerk, that uh, regarding the ordinance #28, ah, you know, I wanna explain that, that, I asked City Attorney where we were, that means, I want you to correct the uh, my record, that Item 28 I wanted to vote YES.  So now, with that said, I’m gonna stay on 29, and I’m gonna ask everybody to wrap up…”

Then SOME time in the following 8 minutes, Harry seemed to have realized that Item 28 had lost, because Jose had unexpectedly voted against it – meaning Harry had made a controversial vote that had no benefit to the Chamber or his son.  Did he realize that on his own, or did somebody call him or text him?  So at 3:43:38 he abruptly interrupted a scintillating Kring-Moreno debate on taxation to demand that the clerk CHANGE his vote to a NO.

Part three: 3:43:38 to 3:45:53

Harry:  “Madam Clerk, can I ask you, are you been watching the time at this time or not? You know, I’m TOTALLY CONFUSED.  You know, I – this is getting too late in this item, and I KNOW that on item 28 I actually voted yes, it was a NO VOTE for me on 28!  I just want to clear this up again, one more time…
Theresa:  “Mayor Sidhu, my apologies, just for the record, for purposes, to clarify, for Item 28, which was the introduction of the ordinance, you’re saying your vote was a YES vote?  Or a NO vote?”
Harry:  “No it was a NO vote.  It was a no vote.”
Theresa: “A No vote.”
Harry:  “A no vote.  It was a little confusing, that’s why I asked the City Attorney ‘Where are we now?’  So again that’s why I wanted to make sure I cleared this up right now, on the ordinance on production it’s a NO vote for me on that.  So I want to ask, can you keep the time for everybody please, because time is of the essence, we have FOUR public hearings and all those people are waiting right now, to hear on those items.  So I’m going to ask everybody to please wrap up in next ten minutes so we can take a vote on our Item # 29.  Please go ahead.”
Theresa: “Mayor Sidhu, just so I can state for the record, for item 28, you’re saying your vote was a no vote?  So that would be five no votes and two yes votes, the yes votes being Brandman and Kring.  Thank you.”
Harry:  “Yeah.  Go ahead, Councilmember Moreno.”
Jose:  “Mr. Mayor, you CLEARLY said YES on that vote.”
Harry:  “Please…please go ahead and finish your thought on item 29.”
Jose:  “thank you.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is called politics, having to … wow.  Wow.  So, um… [laughs]  The Mayor doesn’t want to be on the record for voting yes on something, even though he did.”

I’m-a get this into a 2-or-3-minute YouTube for help with the Sidhu Recall.

Harry and Jose. Cunningham has nightmares of Jose taking control of council from Harry in the next election. He should.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.