Denver Direct: August 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Lowest-Priority-for-Marijuana Initiative “Courtesy” hearing was held last night at the Denver City Council Chambers, and what a love-fest it was (not). It seems that everyone has their finger in this pot pie.
As my mind wandered, I thought of a drinking game in which players would down a shot when “the children” were mentioned, but then realized that the result would have been death by alcohol overdose. Children this, children that, save the children. Councilperson Hancock had even said earlier that he had to violate the City Charter by not voting the measure out of committee because he has two daughters. Strange, given that this initiative is specifically for those 21 and over.
And the cameras of Channel 8 (ht) rolled on, and every moment was captured. In the service of fairness, I’ve decided to post them all. They seem to divide readily into three groups, those in favor of the initiative, for various reasons, those who have a vested interest in the prohibition of pot, and of course, the Council members themselves – the Educators, trying to “educate” us, as Linkhart said in committee, which is why it was arranged with two ordinances for them to vote on. (Come on folks, we’re talking about a weed here.)
(Tech note: I’m trying something new, using a just-introduced capability in Blogger. You can now upload videos directly without going to YouTube. The videos are hosted on Google Video, but not searchable. It’s a beta.)
at 12:39 PM
Monday, August 27, 2007
"Cannabis Nation was on the march in Seattle last weekend. An estimated 150,000 people showed up Saturday and Sunday at Myrtle Edwards Park on Elliot Bay just north of downtown to celebrate the 16th annual Seattle Hempfest and call for marijuana legalization. Lauded by organizers as the world's largest drug reform protest rally or, as they like to put it, "protestival," once again, the Hempfest lived up to its advance billing.
As usual, Hempfest was marked by peacefulness, a hefty dose of commerce, and the heady, sickly sweet smell of burning marijuana. Hundreds of vendors -- the vast majority of whom seemed to be peddling glass pipes, eight-foot bongs, and other smoking accoutrements -- did a brisk business, and thousands of celebrants toked up blissfully as Seattle police -- obeying a 2003 voter-installed city "lowest priority" ordinance -- looked on without acting.
Some 60 bands ranging from rock to reggae to hip-hop to punk, as well as a tent pumping out techno music, kept the sounds coming. Among the musical highlights were reggae veteran Pato Banton, whose "I Do Not Sniff the Coke (I Only Smoke Sinsemilla)" evoked huge roars of approval and Hempfest mainstays the Herbivores, whose "Losing Battle" ("You can throw us all in prison, but you can never win the fight") could well be the Hempfest anthem.
Between the people-watching -- oh! What a glorious parade of punks, Goths, aging hippies, junior hippies, suburban moms with strollers, Oregon pot fairies, men in skirts, and the simply indescribable -- the music, the pipe shopping, and the effort of moving among the masses, it was easy to miss the serious political message behind the event, but organizers made every effort to ensure that even the most apolitical stoner got a healthy dose of the reform message.
"Hempfest is all about promoting the freedom of choice and human rights," said head organizer the ubiquitous and tireless Vivian McPeak from the Main Stage during one of his countless mini-rants between acts. "Responsible, law-abiding adults should not be incarcerated for marijuana offenses," he reminded the audience.
That could be a mark of the "normalization" of marijuana on the West Coast in general and in Seattle in particular. After a rocky start with police in the festival's early days in the 1990s, police and organizers have reached an accommodation. Law enforcement reasonableness is doubtless linked to experience with the peaceful gathering, which has become a Seattle institution, but is also a matter of law and public policy in the city. In 2003, voters there approved an initiative making adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. With fewer than 40 marijuana possession arrests in Seattle last year, the police clearly have heeded the voters.
While Seattle police were visible and circulating among the crowds, a no-arrest policy was clearly evident. Officers walking or riding bicycles routinely passed clusters of young pot-smokers without taking action. Seattle police Wednesday told the Chronicle there had been a grand total of five arrests. "It was a peaceful event," said Officer Mark Jamieson, a department spokesman. "There were three felony arrests and two misdemeanor arrests, and a few patrons were escorted out of the park," he said.
For Officer Jamieson and the Seattle police, Hempfest is just another event. "Hempfest is approached the same way as any of the hundreds of other events held in the city annually," he said. "It is a permitted, legal event which requires Seattle police officers to staff, based on the numbers of participants that attend each year."
And that's as it should be. Hempfest is indeed the world's largest drug reform "protestival," but it is also -- and for the majority of attendees, more -- a celebration and normalization of the cannabis culture that they share. Given the broad community support in Seattle and a police department that knows how to follow as well as lead its community, America will know it has reached "drug peace" when Seattle's approach is norm and not the exception for similar events around the country.
To see how far we are from drug peace now, though, just ask yourself what might have happened if Hempfest had been held in your community."
Doesn't Seattle have conflicting Federal laws? Of course it does. So much for that spurious argument.
at 4:06 PM
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Saturday, August 25, 2007
We've all been told that the laws of the State of Colorado force the Denver Police and Prosecutors to continue to arrest and prosecute the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana within the City of Denver because State law trumps City ordinance.
The Colorado Constitution, Article XX Home Rule Cities and Towns, Section 6, says:
The statutes of the state of Colorado, so far as applicable, shall continue to apply to such cities and towns, except insofar as superseded by the charters of such cities and towns or by ordinance passed pursuant to such charter.
Of course I'm not an attorney, but this sounds to me like Denver's ordinances take precedence over Colorado laws. But then what about that gun carry situation - didn't Colorado law supersede Denver ordinance? Can we get a little clarification here from some of Colorado's fine legal bloggers?
And from SAFER:
New marijuana initiative has teeth
Wednesday, 08 August 2007
Denver voters will once again weigh in on how the city handles marijuana, and this time they will consider a new ordinance designating private adult possession the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.
The measure comes at a time when pot arrests are at an all-time high in the state capital, despite voters’ approval of a 2005 initiative calling on the city to end them entirely.
Denver police and other city officials argued then that they must continue enforcing the state marijuana law, and it is unsurprising that they have dusted off those very same talking points for 2007.
But this assertion is just as bogus now as it was two years ago.
Officials have yet to provide any concrete justification for their need to be subservient to the state here, and they fail to discuss what — if any — repercussions there would be if the city ignores the state pot law.
Unfortunately, much of the mainstream press in Denver opted to take these officials at their word, rather than asking them such tough questions concerning intergovernmental relations.
The Rocky Mountain News, for example, ran an editorial claiming that this latest initiative will make no difference in the city if passed (“Pot vote, Round 2/Possession will remain illegal, no matter what the result”). This came on the heels of a Denver Post story bearing the headline, “Denver cops say they can’t ignore state pot law.” But according to the Denver city attorney’s office, the issue is not so clear cut.
As Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell put it in the Post story: “This is an entirely new beast, and I don’t know what it means. There’s not a single law on the books like this.” But there are virtually identical laws that are on the books in other major cities — a fact omitted in the Rocky editorial.
Seattle voters adopted a “lowest law enforcement priority” measure in 2003, and it has resulted in a dramatic decline in marijuana arrests and prosecutions.
Even Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, who originally opposed the initiative, has admitted that implementation of the policy has been safe and effective.
Moreover, neither Carr nor the home-rule city of Seattle ever doubted its ability to implement such a policy. So, why does Denver?
The Mile High City also enjoys home-rule status, having been granted the right to self-governance under Article XX of the Colorado Constitution.
Along with enumerating Denver’s abilities to “define,” “regulate” and “alter” the powers of the local police, Section 6 explicitly states:
“[The city's charter] and ordinances made pursuant thereto in such matters shall supersede within the territorial limits and other jurisdiction of said city or town any law of the state in conflict therewith.”
Herein lies Denver officials’ dilemma. They say they are sworn to uphold state laws, thus they supposedly cannot implement the proposed city ordinance and ignore the state pot law. But the state constitution says that such city ordinances “shall supersede” conflicting state laws. The result: In order for Denver police to abide by the state constitution, they must implement the ordinance.
Denver officials have tried to account for this inconvenient truth by arguing that the city only gets to flex its home-rule muscle when it comes to local laws that are stricter than state laws.
But this fails to take into account the fact that Denver police do often ignore stricter state laws.
For example, a Sept. 11, 2006, article in the Rocky carried the following headline: “Denver ignores DUI law: City not enforcing state’s photo, fingerprint rule for those caught driving drunk.” If Denver can take it easy on people who get drunk and drive, why can’t we take it easy on adults who simply possess a small amount of a drug that is safer than alcohol?
It is time Denver city officials admit that their hands are tied only by themselves. And if voters approve the “lowest law enforcement priority” initiative, it must be implemented.
at 8:19 AM
Friday, August 24, 2007
Dear NORML Supporters in Colorado,
This Monday, Aug. 27, the Denver City Council will be holding a public hearing on the latest marijuana policy reform initiative in Colorado's capitol city. The measure would create a new city ordinance designating adult marijuana possession as the city's "lowest law enforcement priority," and it would establish a Marijuana Policy Review Panel to oversee its implementation. The City of Seattle adopted a virtually identical measure in 2003, and since then the city has significantly reduced the number of marijuana arrests and prosecutions for simple marijuana possession.
The Denver City Council has been trying to derail this very important initiative, and they have publicly stated they will be using Monday's hearing to campaign against the measure. The initiative's sponsors, Citizens for a Safer Denver, are working to counter this effort and use the hearing send a huge message to Denver officials and voters.
You can help this campaign by attending Monday's hearing or contacting the council members to demonstrate your support for this latest initiative.
Attending the hearing:
The more people who show up and show their support for this effort, the better. Thus, you are encouraged to bring as many friends or family members as possible, but please be sure everyone you bring appears professional.
WHAT: Press conference and City Council hearing
WHEN: This coming Monday, Aug. 27, 4:45 p.m.
WHERE: Denver City-County Building, 1437 Bannock Street, Denver (map)
A short press conference will begin at 5 p.m. out front (please, NO signs). The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m., but there is no way to know exactly when the Council will consider the initiative. If you cannot make it at 5 p.m., please still consider attending the hearing any time before 6:30 p.m. Or, if you can make it at 5 p.m. but cannot stay for the hearing, that would also be helpful.
at 10:00 AM
We're just ignorant.*
I'm sorry, but that's my opinion after reviewing the Channel 8 tapes of the Denver City Council Safety Committee meeting (Aug 15) and the subsequent Legislative meeting (Aug 20). (Aside: This is the kind of work that Lisa Jones of the short-lived blog DearDenver used to do. Lisa ... come back, we need you. I'm not sure I can stomach it!)
Regarding the Lowest Priority Marijuana Initiative, here's what City Council President Michael B. Hancock had to say last Monday, Aug 20.
"...and for someone to come out and call us closed-minded bigots, is absolutely, flies in the face of the values and integrity these people carry every day to serve the people of Denver. But it also, I think, goes to speak to the kind of character that the people who propose, who are supporting, at least, are starting this initiative, not the people who signed the petition, but the initiators of this process, carry with them every day."
Man, what are you saying? City Council members are full of high values and integrity and the initiators of this initiative are what ... come on, just spit it out.
"I just want to issue a challenge to those who are pushing this initiative. I hope that you will go down, to places that you've probably never been before, and spend time with the children who have been neglected abandoned and left behind by drug-addicted parents, who today we as a society are responsible for caring for. The only thing they want, is for the option to be loved, and if you just follow the trends or the pattern of their parents and their addiction, I would almost guarantee you'll find that this marijuana which is a gateway drug to their current addiction, lead them to harsher addictions. That is why I stand on against this sort of initiative.
I've seen it first hand, experienced it first hand with family members, and I've seen it in communities where children and their livelihoods have been absolutely devastated...by drugs. And so I'm absolutely opposed to the use of drugs."
OMG, here we go again with the long-since repudiated GATEWAY DRUG theory. Smoke reefer and you'll soon be smoking crack, you know, as in cause and effect.
"In December 2002, a study by RAND regarding the cannabis gateway theory was published in the British journal Addiction, a peer-reviewed scientific publication. "We've shown that the marijuana gateway effect is not the best explanation for the link between marijuana use and the use of harder drugs," said Andrew Morral, associate director of RAND's Public Safety and Justice unit and lead author of the study. "An alternative, simpler and more compelling explanation accounts for the pattern of drug use you see in this country, without resort to any gateway effects. While the gateway theory has enjoyed popular acceptance, scientists have always had their doubts. Our study shows that these doubts are justified."
See Hancock for yourself:
*Please note: Saying someone is ignorant is not to say that they are stupid. I'm merely saying that they are uninformed, or ignorant, of the facts. Outdated prohibitionist arguments like "gateway drug", no matter what your individual anecdotal experience may be, have been disproven by the facts. Council members should take care to educate themselves as to the facts before they announce that they are going to educate the public at the upcoming hearing, lest they appear ignorant.
at 5:53 AM
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
At the Denver City Council meeting on Aug 13, 2007, citizen Joe Anderson gives us his take on how the money is used.
P.S. Does anyone know Mr. Anderson? I'd like to get in touch with him to take him up on the offer to visit some of these $350,000 restrooms. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
at 10:34 AM
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Reprinted from YourHub, the internet/print offering of the Denver Post. I remember Jim Syring from the '70's, when we taught film classes at the Western States Film Institue. It's great to see him still kicking butt and taking names.
My new address will be a cardboard box Contributed by: James Syring on 7/30/2007
Thank goodness our millionaire mayor is so committed to seeing that Denver's homeless have housing, because when hizzoner gets done raising my property taxes to fund everything, I'll be one more addition to the homeless statistics.
I'm sorry, but I'm tired of us homeowners being the ones to bear a substantial portion of the burden of supporting the City of Denver. Over the years, I've seen more and more of my taxes go to support the Denver Public Schools until now, sixty percent of my property tax goes to an education system that is failing to educate our young people to such an extent that I believe it handicaps Denver in bringing new business to town because people don't want their children in DPS. Sixty percent of my taxes, and I don't even have any kids for them to dumb down.
Anyway, hizzoner wants to bundle a bunch of bond issues and force them down our throats come election time and it appears that the flock of sheep that masquerades as our city council will go along. After all, they're all satisfied with their free passes to city golf courses and other perks that the rest of us taxpayers pay for. Continue reading...
at 11:47 AM
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Denver District Attorney Mitchell Morrissey briefed the Denver Democrats (House District 8) on Aug 18, 2007. It's great having a government official who is articulate, intelligent, good looking, and doing a great job. What a pleasant change from the national scene.
His briefing to the Dems gathered at the Whittier Community Center was concise:
1. The use of DNA to catch burglars is working. 50 habituals have been apprehended, tried and incarcerated.
2. The recently restarted Drug Court is working well (1200 people processed).
3. We really need to pass the bond for Public Safety, as it includes a new crime lab. The old one is falling apart and could lead to massive problems if evidence is destroyed (leaky roof) or lost.
See Part 2 for Q and A including City Council option of passing Marijuana Ordinance instead of ballot.
at 8:19 PM
Part 2 - City Council Proposed Marijuana Ordinance and Other Important Matters as Discussed By Denver DA Morrissey
Denver DA Mitchell Morrissey answer questions at his 8-18-07 briefing of the Denver Democrats of House District 8.
- Indirect consquences of felony creep (or, what happens when you boost the criterion for a felony crime involving money from $500 to $1000).
- re City Council's absurd idea to pass a marijuana-low-priority ordinance and have it tested in the courts before the ballot question can be brought to the people for a vote: Morrissey says, "There's something about marijuana that makes people.....(wait for it)..silly."
at 8:18 PM
Monday, August 13, 2007
At tonight's City Council meeting, a 64 year-old gentleman laid it all out. The guy spoke truth to power. He said look at the track record. He used 1 million bond as an example.
Cost to taxpayers = 2 million
-1 million interest
-.15 million admin
-.50 million outsourced to developers and planners
350,000 Net for getting it done.
So for every $2,000,000 of our dollars we get $350,000 worth of result. He sited 4 or 5 examples of park toilet facilities which cost that much EACH! He challenged the Denver Post to go to these parks and photograph, for the people to see what they are getting for their money.
I sure would like to see the Post pick up the challenge.
Note: I have to watch Channel 8 on my computer because Dish Satellite doesn't provide it. I will have a clip for you tomorrow if they rerun the meeting tonight.
at 8:58 PM
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Ok, time to join in the Denver fun - Wednesdays, 4:45 - 6:00pm, Broadway and Colfax.
HONK TO IMPEACH RALLY at the corner of Colfax & Broadway 4:45-6 pm every Wednesday in front of the Denver Post & Rocky Mountain Newspaper building. We have Signs..JUST SHOW UP and yell HONK TO IMPEACH. We may go for a drink after the rally.
If you can't join us but will be driving through the intersection at the time please "HONK TO IMPEACH"
On July 4 th there were 3 groups of Impeachment protesters. Ours at Colfax & Broadway with 21 activists. A 2nd group at Lincoln & 14 th with 8-9 activists. And a 3rd group later at Colfax & Lincoln with 7-8 activists. All at the same time. Our effort is growing, JOIN US Or Start your own HONK TO IMPEACH Group somewhere in Colorado
See the website called: Colorado IMPEACH MeetUps- List Events here to enlist support at http://impeachbush.meetup.com/372/ and we'll list your event on the Calender and feed you activists. Email your event date & time to "email@example.com"
Our goal is to force the Corporate Media to put Impeachment Back On The Table... so do your Impeach Rally in front of your local Newspaper or TV Station each week.
You do not have to join our MeetUp for us to list your event in our Calendar. How about that? Cool!
at 2:27 PM
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
House District 8 Candidate Matt Bergles talks with the Clarkes.
Thanks to neighborhood activists Pat Manning and The Cone Zone's Denise Meny, a lively gathering of over 200 folks at 22nd and Humboldt Streets got plenty to eat Tuesday night. Free hot dogs, hamburgers, cake and ice cream were provided by generous sponsors including the Cone Zone, East Denver Liquor, the Chicken Palace, My Style Boutique, Cake Crumbs bakery, Walmart and the CPWNA.
The Merchant's at 22nd and Humboldt are quite a positive force in the neighborhood these days. Let's give them our support in return.
at 1:05 PM
Monday, August 6, 2007
(Cano's property in Antonito)
The assessed value of my property on York Street went up $341,000 this year.
No, I’m not kidding. The assessed value of the “improvements” (the building) went up $341,000 (almost 300%) this year. The land doubled in value to $250,000 a few years back.
Of course I appealed, as I have done many time in the past. That’s when I learned that the assessor’s office now uses the MLS to check on your property listing.
“Well, I see here that you listed your property for $xxx just last year. So you will have to agree that you think it’s worth at least $xxx.” Yeah, but it didn’t sell.
And how can it triple in one year? “Last year’s valuation is not relevant”. Oh…
Ok, now that they’ve got the property values all over town jacked up to the max on the back of the bogus real estate bubble, Let’s freeze the tax rate!! Hey, good idea! Now that they’ve agreed to suspend TABOR in Denver for 10 years, we’ll get the stupids to agree to a whole load of capital improvements that we’ve been putting off for 20 years.
Yeah!! Good idea!! Just as we are heading into a recession. It’s a good thing we’re building that new jail, because crime is going to soar, as it always does in recessions.
They are saying this one may be “The Greater Depression”.
Oh, and by the way, hat’s off to City Council for sending that dastardly Fed a nasty proclamation. That’ll teach ‘em.
I’m embarrassed. And I'm still trying to sell my building.
at 11:08 PM
- Pot Pourri
- Pro - For Various Reasons
- Con - Vested Interest in Pot Prohibition
- Council as Educators
- Can We Learn by Example?
- Did Hancock Violate City Charter?
- The Big Doobie
- And in the other corner, we have...
- We're Not Closed-Minded Bigots...
- Bond Issue - Joe Anderson - Check the Track Record...
- Bond Issue - Jan Mares - I Can't Afford It
- Denver Bond Issue and Mill Levy Increase
- Part 1: DNA Evidence + DA Morrissey = 50 Burglars ...
- Part 2 - City Council Proposed Marijuana Ordinance...
- Come On, Let's Rehab the Whole House!
- Honkin' For Impeachment
- National Night Out in City Park West
- Nickel and Dime is Now $5 and $10
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