Council determines timeline for cannabis permit interview process

Now that the retail cannabis dispensary operating permit Request for Proposal’s (RFP) have been scored, the qualifying applicants will be faced with an oral interview with the Council, who will ultimately choose the top two applicants to award Porterville’s first cannabis dispensary operating permits.

After a long discussion on Tuesday night, the Council decided on how to conduct their interviews, and when they will reveal the permit recipients.

City Manager John Lollis, who presented the item to the Council, recommended each applicant be given 10 minutes to give a presentation to the Council, accompanied by a one page summary of what their proposal says and a rendering or project description that would provide potential examples of what the business would look like, which would be followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers with the Council.

The Council Cannabis Ad-Hoc committee will be meeting to discuss potential interview questions, as Lollis recommended the questions be provided to the qualified applicants before the interview.

It’s also recommended the interviews be conducted blindly, and the scores from the RFP’s would remain unknown to refrain from any persuasion the score may present. Lollis then asked the Council to identify how they would prefer to score the interviews and when they would make a final decision as to which two candidates received the permits.

City Attorney Julia Lew suggested the Council score the interviews and then review the proposals and look at the points total, and stated it’s more realistic to wait until the proposed meeting date of November 3.

Several of the Council members agreed with Lew, and Council member Milt Stowe made the motion for the Cannabis Ad-Hoc committee to adopt the procedures as recommended by city staff, that the Council host a special meeting on November 3 to announce the Council’s final decision, and that the presentations be allotted 15 minutes each instead of 10 minutes.

Before the motion could be seconded, clarification was needed among the council. Stowe stated he believed 10 minutes may not be enough to get all of the information needed into one presentation, but Vice Mayor Monte Reyes then questioned whether the Council would need the entire 10 minutes for questions. Council member Virginia Gurrola stated that with a 15 minute presentation and a five minute question and answer period, it would take roughly an hour and a half to conduct all of the interviews.

It was agreed upon that the interview should be composed of a 15 minute presentation, which would be followed by a five minute question and answer period.

Council member Daniel Penaloza then questioned if the Council would have access to all of the applications and scores before the November meeting. Lollis stated that was the question at hand, when does the city provide the scores to the Council.

Stowe suggested the Council host an additional meeting between after the interviews are conducted and before the November meeting, just so the Council can review their scores. Gurrola clarified the interviews would be hosted at a meeting on October 22, and the scores would be revealed on November 3. Stowe said he thought there should be another meeting in between so the Council can discuss their scores and thoughts, and Penaloza agreed that another meeting should be held before the final decision was announced.

Lew suggested the Council conduct the interviews on October 22, host a special meeting to discuss the Council’s scores on November 3, and announce the Council’s final decision on November 17.

The Council seemed to agree on this timeline. Gurrola then asked as to when the Council would receive a copy of the application, and stated she’d prefer to have the applications prior to October 22. Lew clarified the Council can receive copies of the proposals without knowing the scores of them.

A motion was then made that the presentations be 15 minutes long with a 10 minute question and answer period, for the Council to conduct the interviews on October 22, host a special meeting to discuss the Council’s scores on November 3, and announce the Council’s final decision on November 17, and for the Cannabis Ad-Hoc committee to adopt the procedures as recommended by city staff. The motion was approved with a vote of 5-0.

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