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Pot Ticket Stirs San Leandro City Council Race

Candidate Chris Crow says he was cited for pot in 2009. Will this fact, first reported in an unsourced blog item, hurt his candidacy or be dismissed a smear?

Pot Ticket Stirs San Leandro City Council Race


City council candidate Chris Crow confirmed Thursday that he had been cited for possession of pot in 2009, that the ticket had not been paid and that it had later been upgraded to a warrant.

Crow told Patch that he had gone to court during the summer and gotten the matter dismissed.

"I'm sorry that I got this citation (and) I have smoked weed before," he said Thursday. "It's not something that I am proud of. I don't smoke it any more."

He plans to continue running for council.

"This is a political attack," he said. "I hope it doesn't distract people from the real issues confronting San Leandro.

Crow's pot problem surfaced Wednesday in a story by independent reporter Steven Tavares, who based it on unnamed sources.

On Thursday Crow gave this account of the incident in which he was cited for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

He said he was moving from Los Angeles back to San Leandro in 2009 when he was pulled over at the 98th Street offramp to Interstate 580 for having an expired registration.

"That is all I received a ticket for in my hand," Crow said of the registration infraction.

He said two CHP officers searched his car which was full of boxes from his move. But he says he was not handed a citation for pot. He said the ticket may have been mailed to him and become lost while he was changing addresses.

He said he forgot about the matter until a few months ago, when he asked to go on a ride-along with the San Leandro Police Department.

During a routine background check SLPD discovered the unpaid citation and told Crow that it had been upgraded to a warrant because he failed to deal with the pot fine.

Crow said the police told him he could not go on the ride-along until he cleared up the warant. He recalls that happened on a Sunday.

The next day he went to Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland where an assistant district attorney showed him the citation he still does not recall ever seeing or receiving. He said the court dismissed the matter and he paid no fine.

Crow said he stopped smoking pot when he entered public life in 2010 and began serving on non-profit groups and the city Planning Commission.

"I made a personal choice in my life," he said. 

One prominent supporter was undeterred by the revelation.

"I did not know (about the pot incident) but it doesn't change my opinion," said Councilwoman Pauline Cutter. She said Crow was young and had some rough edges but "is eloquent and has what it takes to be a good council person."

How the incident affects the race may depend on the public's perception of how and why the anonymously-sourced story surfaced: will it be considered an act of whistle-blowing or a low-blow?

What is know is that Crow has proposed pension reforms that could cut into the compensation of police and that the Police Officer's Association has endorsed one of his rivals, Benny Lee.

But Mike Sobek, president of the San Leandro Police Officer's Association, said his membership was not the source of the report.

"We don't play those games," he said, adding that he felt sorry for Crow and bemoaning the fact that politics "is an ugly, ugly sport."

Did you know about Chris Crow before? Are you more or less likely to support him? What do you think about the story in general?

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