Just before 9 a.m. Friday morning, a reporter ran into Angelique Gaeta, a longtime administrator who runs the city’s medical marijuana program, at City Hall’s coffee cart.
After some small talk, an interview for Tuesday was set up — a chance to chat about medical marijuana deliveries in San Jose — an idea being mulled by the City Council.
But by Tuesday morning, Gaeta was gone. City Hall is mum about why Gaeta, who’s been with the city 15 years, was shown the door.
Gaeta, 46, declined to comment about the situation Tuesday, but said she was “surprised” by the decision.
“I’m looking into all options available to protect both my legal rights and my reputation that I’ve earned of hard work and doing what is in the best interest of the city,” she said in a statement. “I’ve been with the city for 15 years and have always received positive performance reviews from both the City Attorney’s Office and the City Manager’s Office.”
Gaeta said medical marijuana inquiries should now go to Michelle McGurk, a policy analyst in the City Manager’s Office and former press secretary to former Mayor Chuck Reed.
After leaving private practice 15 years ago, Gaeta, an attorney, worked as a deputy city attorney at the City Attorney’s Office for a decade before shifting to the City Manager’s Office.
“She got along with everybody,” said City Attorney Rick Doyle on Tuesday. “She was very professional but she decided she wanted to do something different and went to work for the City Manager’s Office.”
Gaeta’s new gig at City Hall wasn’t always easy. She regulated the city’s pot dispensaries — which were pared from 80 shops to just 16 after new city rules kicked in.
In December, some medical marijuana shop owners accused Gaeta of lying and making threatsduring an internal meeting — charges she denied. Other dispensary owners defended her and Gaeta’s boss, City Manager Norberto Dueñas, dismissed the claims. He praised Gaeta’s work on the complex issue.
“I have complete confidence in the work Angelique has done,” Dueñas said at the time.
So, what changed? Dueñas could not be reached Tuesday.
Gaeta earned $146,248, according to city spokesman David Vossbrink.
The decision to oust the city’s medical marijuana czar comes a week before voters decide whether to undo all the city pot regulations by approving Measure C — which allows medical cannabis dispensaries to open virtually anywhere in the city.
And although Measure C’s author now opposes his own measure, others have picked up the campaign. “Yes on Measure C” signs are popping up everywhere. “The campaign is being carried out by people acting dishonestly and acting illegally,” said former Mayor Reed.
Sources say the campaign was resurrected by the California Medical Marijuana Association and physician Sacha Nemcov, both based out of Beverly Hills.