Friday, July 14, 2017

Comment on the Misguided Negative Campaign Against Davis Wellness Center

Dear Friends:

When I served as Mayor from 2011 through 2014, by far the most consistent and outspoken opponent against San Leandro allowing providers of medical marijuana to open a dispensary was Council member Diana Souza. She voted against every any proposal involving medical marijuana claiming crime, reduced property values and youth drug addiction would all come with any dispensaries.

Fast forward to the present, one the greatest proponents of medical marijuana in San Leandro today is Ms. Souza.  However, her support is focused on one company that obtained a license for a dispensary in San Leandro and for which she serves as a consultant.  Ms. Souza has been vehement in opposing the effort by another provider, Davis Wellness Center, to establish its dispensary, and has repeatedly disparaged persons associated with the Davis Wellness Center and Davis Street Family Resource Center, a separate legal entity which for decades had aided the unprivileged in San Leandro and our surrounding communities with food, medical care, counseling, and other services. 

While the City Council has authorized licenses for three providers to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, including one issued almost two years ago, no dispensary has opened in San Leandro. This Monday night the City Council will be reviewing solely the license for Davis Wellness Center.   

I am concerned that Ms. Souza's negative campaign against the Davis Wellness Center based on an obvious conflict of interest has gained traction and support within some members of the City Council. For this reason, I am posting two recent letters to the San Leandro Times that were written in response to a recent critical letter by Ms. Souza.
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Editor:

I’m at a loss to understand Diana Souza’s (Letters, June 29) continual vitriol directed at Davis Street and at the Wellness Center (medicinal cannabis dispensary).

Ms. Souza asserts my relationship with the Wellness Center is for my personal financial gain. This is untrue. My role is to ensure the WC funds benefit local community needs.

And yes, Davis Street is the major beneficiary of their community benefits fund and the reason I’ve been involved with the WC. To secure a reliable stream of income for our non-
federally funded programs would mean those most basic needs (food and clothing) will never be subject to cuts.

Ms. Souza is connected to Blum. I can only believe that her anger directed at me, our programs and the new Wellness Center has something to do with her position with a direct competitor.

I support medicinal cannabis because of the experience of my daughter when she was diagnosed with lymphoma. I want anyone in my daughter’s position to have access to treatment
alternatives and I wholeheartedly welcome the Wellness Center, Harbors Side and Blum to San Leandro because my priority is and will always be to meet the needs of those with the most need
and least access.

- Rose Johnson, CEO

Davis St. Family Resource Center

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Editor:

In regard to Diana Souza’s letter questioning the integrity of our decision to apply for a Conditional Use Permit for the Davis Street Wellness Center, there is apparently a need for education about who we are and what we are setting out to achieve.

For more than a quarter century, The Davis Street Family Resource Center has been providing a myriad of social services for our neighbors in need. Our mission is to build on our clients’ own natural strengths to help them improve their futures and those of their families.

The formation of the Davis Street Wellness Center represents the same mission, applied to a larger, organization-wide scale. Just as we “help others help themselves” – we have opened our clinic, merged with other nonprofits, and are opening the Davis Street Wellness Center so we can stop depending on government funding to support Davis Street Family Resource Center and it’s programs.

Ironically, Davis Street is the region’s safety net yet, Davis Street is in need of a financial safety net of it’s own. It is up to us to find creative ways to pay for the programs and services to meet the ever-growing demand in our region. The Davis Street Wellness Center will both provide safe access to medical cannabis to the sick and provide a reliable, long term income stream to the Davis Street Family Resource Center through it’s community benefit program.

We are committed to providing vibrant and successful programming for our clients -- and that requires funding. If we are accused of doing everything in our power to see that Davis Street has a sustainable source of funding to continue – and even grow – the services that we provide for the region’s poor, we are blamable.

The reality is that someone in Ms. Souza’s immediate family works for a large dispensary, Blum, and her motivation for calling us out is a simple case of wanting to squelch a possible competitor. What she fails to realize it that the needs of our clients are great and that we are myopic in our focus to sustain Davis Street Family Resource Center.

We will not be deterred from our goal to fund our much-needed programs and services today and long into the future. We invite Ms. Souza and you to take a long, comprehensive look at who we are, go ahead and dig deep, our record speaks for itself.

- Gordan Galvan, President Board of Directors

Davis St. Family Resource Center