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L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl Smokes Pot (and Gets Paid for It)

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Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge Councilman Rosendahl at a honeybee awareness event.
  • Councilman Rosendahl at a honeybee awareness event.
Whenever a public figure in an esteemed/elected position announces that he or she smokes (or used to smoke) pot, everybody freaks. Obama? No! Bloomberg? Schwarzenegger?? Michael freaking Phelps???

But when L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl announced in today's Los Angeles Times that he's been happily medicating his "neuropathy" with the good stuff for the last 10 years, no one batted an eyelash.

Duh he smokes pot! Rosendahl is, like, the Dude of city politicians:

The District 11 councilman is in charge of the liberal Westside, and he spends most of his working hours advocating for the people of Venice Beach -- a batty and red-eyed bunch who live in a permanent state of hot box (whether the "box" be their janky RV or their million-dollar Gehry home).

He's got that classic California drawl, very Sean Penn in Fast Times -- that's not a diss; we've got it too -- and his thrift store button-ups are the best of stoner beach casual.

Hell, we'd be worried if Rosendahl wasn't smoking pot.

And now that medical marijuana has risen to the top of the L.A. City Hall pop charts, it's Rosendahl's time to shine (read: cash in). From today's Times:

But pot dispensaries have quietly made headway on another City Hall front: mobilizing campaign cash for their key allies. Over the past year, dispensaries and their supporters have given more than $16,000 to the re-election campaigns of two Westside councilmen who opposed the pot shop ban, according to a Times review.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who faces re-election in March, accepted nearly $8,900 from medical marijuana advocates last year, more than one-tenth of the money collected by his campaign in 2011.

Like on the issue of gay marriage (the councilman is gay), Rosendahl is a go-to spokesman for a great cause: He can just sit back, be himself and let the campaign donations roll in.

As he tells the Times, "it's been clear for 20 to 30 years where I stand on this issue." However, as soon as the United Food and Commercial Workers union got involved in March -- taking dispensary workers at a select few "legit" facilities under the mighty UFCW wing -- it was all over. Weed has become too big of a local industry to avoid being ushered in to the Occupy-feared corporate politics scene.

[Update: There is some speculation by paranoid pot activitsts, then, that Rosendahl is only an ally in the splashy PR sense. He was conveniently absent from the recent City Council vote to ban all dispensaries in the city, and his alternative motion with Councilman Paul Koretz (the other big recipient of campaign funds from pot activists) proposes that the same handful of "legit" dispensaries that are paying into UFCW be allowed to stay open.]

But who are we to player hate? Now that Rosendahl's officially out of the closet and into the green, let's celebrate with a list of his Top 5 Most Dude-ish Quotes in Recent Memory.

5. Speaking to KABC on the Occupy encampment outside City Hall, he has a hippie-in-a-business-suit identity crisis, forgetting that he had previously welcomed campers with open arms:

"It is not an appropriate place to stay forever. They've made their statement. I agree with their statement, but it's time to move on."

4. How does one set an elephant free? Put it in a sanctuary!

"We are living in the 21st century. It is time we respect our elephants, give them their freedom and put them in a sanctuary."

3. Last year, his list of 33 hard-hitting questions for AEG, potential stadium developer, turned out to be embarrassingly similar to a list of lobbying points from AEG's rival, Majestic. Was he copying off his partner's homework? A side-by-side comparison:

Majestic: "Will the stadium developer agree to never sell/refinance the project until the bonds are paid off?"

Rosendahl: "Will the developer agree to never sell/refinance the project until the bonds are paid off?

2. Rosendahl mistakes a homeless activist for a psychopathic mass murderer at a Transportation Committee meeting:

"He started screaming and saying, 'I'm a socialist -- and Rosendahl, you're a Democrat.' I didn't understand, frankly. But the reality is that he interrupted a public meeting. ... at a very sensitive time." [Just after the Tucson massacre.]

1. After the bum was escorted from the building, Rosendahl embarked down a river of disillusioned self-grandeur, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies:

"Things are rough these days. Everywhere I go, people know who I am. So there already was heightened security for all of us councilmembers and the mayor."

We will say, in closing, that Rosendahl is also one of the most level-headed and intelligent politicians that L.A. City Hall has ever seen. Again -- classic stoner!

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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