Officials frustrated by drug use at Cow Palace raves


"When will the Cow Palace finally understand to knock it off," former Daly City Mayor Mike Nevin asked.

Nevin is showing little patience for raves at the Cow Palace. He was mayor of Daly City in 2002 when two people died of drug overdose. He urged Cow Palace management to cease them.

The facility is state-owned and run by an appointed board.

"The CEO's had his chance and the board of directors had their chance, now someone has to step in from either the governor's office or otherwise and say, 'Stop it,'" Nevin said.

The commander of the county's narcotics task force shares the frustration.

"Clearly there is an issue at this venue; it doesn't appear to be difficult to obtain MDMA at these rave events," Marc Alcantara said.

MDMA is better known as ecstasy; over 800 pills and capsules confiscated from sellers on Saturday night.

"Somebody could be held liable for these deaths," Alcantara said.

The man on the hot seat is Joe Barkett, CEO of the Cow Palace for the past year and a half. He says he knows that people take drugs.

"It's our job to manage that and control it as best as possible; if it gets to the point where we don't think it's appropriate or able to be controlled, then we will consider not having those events," Barkett said.

Barkett said the 16,000 attendees Saturday night were all patted down. Backpacks, even cigarette packs, were checked.

In doing that, ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson says the Cow Palace probably has little or no criminal liability.

"That would be like saying that the owners of the San Francisco 49ers or the Giants are liable for aiding and abetting drunk driving," Johnson said.

Gov. Schwarzenegger is now getting involved in the rave; because the building is owned by the state, the governor is asking for a review of the guidelines for events at state-owned venues across California.

Last Saturday night's event will yield the Cow Palace about $75,000.

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