By John Guevara
Frank Schier was a lion. He was larger than life. We were like night and day, on national politics especially. Even at the local level, in the past few years especially, there were a couple areas we didn’t see eye-to-eye.
We disagreed about marijuana legalization. For years, I had considered myself one of the few republicans in favor of marijuana legalization and by that I mean, I was for legalization in the case of specific medical treatments to be measured in controlled studies for efficacy, adverse events, and cost effectiveness to start.
I remember one night at Vintage when Frank walked in. It was less than a year after my divorce and I found it easier to enjoy a cocktail at a bar than to sit alone in an empty house. Frank sat, looked me up and down and said, “You’re the County Board guy I endorsed.”
He was right. I was the county board guy he endorsed. And he lit into me on spending, especially host fees and one cent sales taxes. As we verbally fenced over revenue streams and expenditure preferences, he settled on marijuana as a source of both revenue and cost savings. Tax weed for the money and save on police and incarceration costs.
I told him that would make sense if the money weren’t absorbed into general funds and if it were true that marijuana was safe. If marijuana saved California’s budget, why were they always running a deficit?
He challenged me on the health risks of marijuana. I mentioned my view, saying long term controlled studies need to happen so we can know for sure. He sparred with me over it for awhile and I remember him taking a drink looking at me and saying, “I guess you’re alright.”
A few years later we sparred again. This time it was about riverfront tax credits. I made a comment where I said the credits were initially intended to encourage development, not permanently subsidize it. My thought was there should be a review process to determine the health of the river front community in which the credits are available and whether businesses can transition from the credits on a sliding scale. And that’s when he asked me which business owner currently benefiting from the tax credit would I like to tell shouldn’t be receiving it anymore. I stammered my way through the exchange and hurriedly made a red-faced exit.
Looking back, I can’t tell if our run-ins were more about issues or about us. In his own way, I think Frank was taking measure of me, and that he was as interested in how I think as he was in what I thought. He wanted to know if I was the kind of person he should continue to support.
I last saw him shortly after losing my most recent race for County Board. He was gracious, and thanked me for my service. I had no idea it would be the last time we spoke.
Thank you Frank, for your service to our community. You were a lion. Godspeed, sir. I don’t know what’s next for me, but I do know this: I won’t let you down.