By Rich Vitiello
I find it appalling that the incumbent would try to pull the wool over our collective eyes and hide the facts.
FACT: Contrary to what he claims, the incumbent presented a motion to approve an open grow marijuana farm in the unincorporated area outside of Casa Grande and voted in favor of it on Feb. 18, 2015.
His claim is not merely misstating the facts, but a denial of his own actions. He stated: “…I voted against creating this medical marijuana grow facility…Also the application for the medical marijuana facility was for an enclosed facility and not an open grow facility.” Here’s what the official transcripts from the county board of supervisors meeting states:
“Supervisor Smith said he was a supporter of farmers and their property rights to be able to grow the crops they choose.”
“Motion was made by Supervisor Smith…to approve…deleting the requirement that cultivation be inside a completely enclosed locked building…” We see that the incumbent voted in favor of his own motion for an open grow facility on a roll call vote which passed, 3-2. There is no ambiguity here — he voted for it but yet denied that he did it.
It amazes me how the incumbent in good conscience could claim that he was against a marijuana grow facility when the records show that he voted in favor of his own motion.
The incumbent also stated “A medical marijuana distribution center does not exist in Supervisor’s District 4 or anywhere in Pinal County.” Research shows there to be at least four such distributors of medical marijuana (dispensaries) according to Weedmaps.com: one in Superior, another in Casa Grande, and two in Maricopa, including a delivery service. That makes four. Additionally, according to Copper Area News (www.copperarea.com), in a story entitled, Medical Marijuana Dispensary Possible for Oracle (Feb. 5, 2014), “Pinal County currently has medical marijuana dispensaries in Eloy, Superior, Casa Grande, Coolidge, Apache Junction and Maricopa”. Plus those either applied for or active since he took office (Oracle and Florence). It seems to me that the incumbent is either wrong, again, in denial, or…well.
FACT: A medical marijuana distribution center (dispensary) in Oracle was approved by the incumbent in a board meeting on June 18, 2014.
I asked the question: “Did he look to see if the person at the end of that business chain is a convicted criminal wanting to get a license to distribute pot and keep the cash?” The applicant before the board for a medical marijuana facility in Oracle (Glenn Wilt) stated that the facility would be managed by Bloom Dispensary (Copper Area News, 2014-02-05). According to research, Bloom has four such locations: Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, and now Oracle. (ref. bloomdispensary.com website)
Public records indicate the name Bloom Dispensary is a fictitious business name registered to Medpoint Management LLC. Medpoint is owned by other limited liability entities, having a common principal in Yuri Downing. Mr. Downing is the sole member of Ask Nice Twice LLC and Here is Now LLC, which owns Medpoint.
Research into Medpoint and Downing shows Medpoint was forced into bankruptcy by creditors over stiffing the prior owner on the sale, but because the nature of the business is contrary to Federal law, the court dismissed the bankruptcy due to “unclean hands” of the parties. (ref. 528 B.R. 178 (2015), case no. 2:14-bk-15234-DPC)
A story in the East Valley Tribune published on July 3, 2005 (A Man’s Bizarre Odyssey to Infamy) identified Mr. Downing and described how he was arrested with “…hundreds of contraband documents, including stolen utility bills and fake Mexican identification cards. The IDs featured Downing’s photo and a variety of different names”.
Downing, a former libertarian candidate, with two other former candidates, was ordered by the Arizona Clean Elections Commission to pay the state back over $100,000 for misused and misappropriated funds. According to the Tucson Citizen (July 31, 2003), the “trio of defeated Phoenix-area legislative candidates spent thousands of dollars on alcohol, food, rental cars and entertainment expenses at trendy Scottsdale nightspots” with state-funded campaign money.
Downing was indicted (July 14, 2004) and later convicted in Maricopa County Superior Court under the name YURIKINO CENIT (“YURI”) DOWNING-GARCIA on December 18, 2008 for two counts of identity theft (Taking Identity of Another Person) (case no. CR2008-007337), felony flight (Failure to Appear in the First Degree) (case no. CR2005-011593), and perjury (case no. CR2004-018522). All of these convictions are FELONIES.
Further, Supervisor Rios called for an investigation into an alleged bribe from Bloom Dispensary issued to any medical marijuana recipient who attended the supervisors meeting. (Reported in the Oracle Town Crier on July 9, 2014 and at CopperArea.com on July 4, 2014.)
So, again, my question was, “Did he look to see if the person at the end of that business chain is a convicted criminal wanting to get a license to distribute pot and keep the cash?” And I repeat: I seriously doubt it.
FACT: On June 18, 2014, over the objection by the sheriff’s department, several Oracle residents and the county attorney, with Yuri Downing in the audience, the incumbent motioned to approve the medical marijuana facility in Oracle. The records prove it.
And about that vote to approve a marijuana distribution facility just outside the Florence city limits — it’s a little too coincidental that the incumbent accepted a $1,250 campaign contribution from the medical marijuana dispensary applicant and didn’t show up for the vote. It’s too bad he wasn’t present to do his job to represent his constituents. But on this issue, it doesn’t look like he does, anyway.
As I previously stated, the people of Pinal County don’t need ineffective leadership and mismanagement…But that is what the incumbent has brought. People looking for leadership in government don’t like to be taken for a ride. They need honest representation. Not the Smith experience.
Rich Vitiello is a candidate for Pinal County Board of Supervisors District 4, running against incumbent Anthony Smith.