Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Political Notebook: Lee, others protest U.S. Attorney Haag


U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag
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Three East Bay Congress members are speaking out against U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag 's targeting medical marijuana dispensaries.

In a letter sent recently to Haag, the trio demand that she cease her efforts to close locally regulated and fully compliant dispensaries in California.

"It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward dispensaries," states the letter, which goes on to stress that Haag's actions "directly counter the spirit" of the Department of Justice's order in August for lawfully abiding dispensaries to be allowed to operate, "and is in direct opposition to the evolving view toward medical marijuana, the will of the people and, by now, common sense."

Joining Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), a vocal critic of Haag's actions, in signing the letter were George Miller (D-Concord) and Eric Swalwell (D-Pleasanton). Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel), whose central coast district extends north into Santa Cruz and Gilroy, also signed the letter.

"It is our view that the intent of the Justice Department is to not enforce its anti-marijuana laws in conflict with the laws of states that have chosen to decriminalize marijuana for medical and recreational uses," wrote the Congress members.

In 2011 Haag and three other U.S. attorneys in California began targeting medical cannabis dispensaries as well as the landlords of their buildings. Their actions have led to several in San Francisco closing down and litigation in the courts.

Last year, Haag targeted Harborside Health Center, a dispensary with over 100,000 patients and locations in Oakland and San Jose, with a property forfeiture action.

"It's time for Melinda Haag to realize what everybody in the East Bay has known for a long time: her attack on voter-approved medical cannabis increases the suffering of people who can least bear it, while simultaneously endangering our entire community," stated Harborside Executive Director Steve DeAngelo.


Candidacy by Skype?

Should longtime (and bullhorn-bearing) AIDS and LGBT global rights activist Michael Petrelis indeed run for District 8 supervisor next fall, it may be the city's first candidacy by Skype.

For due to a legal settlement stemming from criminal charges he faced, Petrelis is required to remain 150 feet away from the incumbent, gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who will be seeking a second term on the Board of Supervisors in 2014.

"Debates are going to be impossible," said Petrelis, who lives off Valencia Street with his partner, Mike Merrigan .

In June Petrelis pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge stemming from his taking a photograph of Wiener inside a bathroom at City Hall. His stay away order expires June 12, 2016, and Petrelis can't contact Wiener or his offices by any means including email or through a third party.

Asked about the possibility of participating via video screen through Skype or some other means of electronic communication in any debates regarding the supervisor race, Petrelis said he was unsure if that would be allowed.

"I think we would have to go to the judge to see about that," he said.

It may not be needed, however, as Petrelis acknowledged to the Bay Area Reporter that he has yet to commit to the campaign. Instead, his pulling papers last week with elections officials "is all an exploratory effort right now."

His goal seems more focused on putting pressure on prominent progressives who have criticized Wiener's tenure on the board to run against him. But as the B.A.R. has reported, none have committed to doing so to date.

One person who has signaled he may run, out lawyer David Waggoner, has yet to decide if he will.

"I have heard rumors that another progressive or two are looking at throwing their hats into the ring and times a wasting. I want these other progressives to get off the fence," said Petrelis.

Asked about Petrelis's decision, which he announced via his blog Sunday, November 24, Wiener sounded nonplussed and a bit amused.

"We live in a democracy and everyone has a right to run for office," Wiener told the B.A.R. Monday.


Wiener sports a new look

As he readies to run for re-election, Wiener is sporting a new look these days. Since Labor Day he has been wearing glasses to correct for being near-sighted.

"Considering my dad is a retired optometrist, it is surprising it took me turning 43 to need glasses," said Wiener, adding that all through law school and his career as a lawyer his eyesight remained fine.

When asked in late October about his showing up to meetings and public events sporting his frames, Wiener joked to the B.A.R. that being an elected official had taken a toll.

Recently he began noticing an issue when people would show him images or emails on a cell phone and he needed to extend the screen further away in order to see it. In consulting about his vision issue with his father, he opted to buy prescription glasses rather than wear contacts.

"His take was my prescription was not really severe enough to warrant it," said Wiener.

He has yet to update his official photo on the board's website or on his campaign site online. He plans to do so "eventually."

Political Notes, the notebook's online companion, is on hiatus. It will return Monday, December 9.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:.



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