Posts Tagged ‘Newark Marijuana Decriminalization’

The Bubble

January 30, 2019

Harry Shearer’s weekly radio broadcast, Le Show, has a segment entitled “News from Outside the Bubble” where he reads accounts of the news from overseas publications. For American devotees of U.S. politics, the equally polarized politics of a country like Poland would be puzzling, to say the least. Accounts of “liberals” would include the U.S. pro-choice position, but also embrace free market capitalism while “conservative” would agree with pro-life positions while promoting the welfare state (universal health care, state funded retirement, etc.). The existing polarization is even more vicious than here in the U.S. with the recent public and real time publicly broadcast murder of the mayor of Gdansk. A recent article in the NY Times by Tina Rosenberg (1-29-19) spoke of steps to remediate the insanity. Entitled: The Magazines Publishing One Another’s Work, “Polarization is everywhere. But it’s being challenged in Poland by a handful of magazines across the political spectrum. They’ve begun sharing articles, to show readers a variety of viewpoints.” In a nutshell, every few weeks the editors of 5 magazines from both ends of the political spectrum have agreed to publish one magazine’s essay on an issue of national concern in conjunction with the other 4’s responses to that featured essay. All 5 publications would run not only the main essay, but all the responses. Readers of the magazines would get out of their bubble by finding the alternative views presented alongside their preferred journalism. Not as radical as Sinclair’s Fox 28 and ABC 6 appearing on CBS 10, NBC 4 and WOSU 34 but more like The Atlantic, National Review and Newsweek, etc. agreeing to publish each other’s articles of faith. Newark News Analysis wondered how this would look locally. The problem is not as much one of “the bubble” being the published outlook of choice (with regard to political affinity) but more like “the bubble” being the inaccessibility to outlooks of difference, period. Recent news brings that situation to the fore. Tristan Navera headlined Park National Bank names new president (1-28-19) for Columbus Business First. “The Newark-based bank said in a release that its board will vote at its April meeting to make Matthew Miller president effective May 1.” Not news for Newark’s hometown paper, The Advocate. Also not news was the account that “The bank also reported its net income rose by 15 percent to $26.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to the same period the year before. Its profit for the full year rose 31 percent to $110.4 million.” As well as the final “As of December, the bank had 11 community banking divisions, totaling $7.8 billion in assets.” (In the banking industry, assets are primarily comprised of money loaned to, and owed by customers) Polarization is eroded by shared pertinent facts. An Advocate published news article, Knights Inn hotel closes 6 months after numerous violations found, by Kent Mallet (1-24-19) appears to disclose important local activity addressing public concern. The onus of this concern was categorically “The mayor [Mark Johns] said the property has already attracted interest for another use. “There is a developer exploring the prospect of re-developing the property,” Johns said. “That property would not be operated as a hotel if these plans go through.” The closing of Knights Inn, combined with construction delays at two other hotels, leaves the Newark-Heath area lacking in available lodging, according to Dan Moder, executive director of Explore Licking County.” The same paper headlined  Knights Inn problems top Advocate’s August stories (9-4-18). That story extensively covered the low income people trapped in a form of indentured servitude requiring full time work to pay off the rent for living there. The Knights Inn closes in the middle of winter and Mallett can’t say what became of the tenants!? In past postings this blog has excoriated the Newark city administration (as well as The Advocate) over the citizens initiative that passed regarding the decriminalization and (de)prosecution of small amounts of marijuana possession. The “one size fits all” approach spilled over into the legalized medical marijuana zoning provisions. A Growing Chorus of Big City Prosecutors Say No to Marijuana Convictions headlines Shaila Dewan for the NY Times (1-29-19). ““If you ask that mom whose son was killed where she would rather us spend our time and our attention — on solving that murder, or prosecuting marijuana laws — it’s a no-brainer,” said Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore. She vowed at a news conference to no longer prosecute marijuana possession, regardless of quantity or prior criminal record, and said she would seek to vacate almost 5,000 convictions. Ms. Mosby’s move places her in a vanguard of big-city prosecutors, including Kim Foxx in Chicago, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in Manhattan and Eric Gonzalez in Brooklyn, who are moving away from marijuana cases, declaring them largely off limits and in some cases going so far as to clear old warrants or convictions off the books.” ““How are we going to expect folks to want to cooperate with us,” Ms. Mosby said in an interview in her office on Monday, “when you’re stopping, you’re frisking, you’re arresting folks for marijuana possession?”” In the 1-29-19 Advocate that headlines United Way officials: Billions needed for opioid fight; meth abuse rising, Craig McDonald writes “Dingus [Deb Dingus, executive director of LC United Way] agreed about meth abuse: “We see it here, too.” She added, “By the time we federally address the drug of choice, the drug of choice has changed on the street.”” How are we going to expect folks to want to cooperate with us if we’re criminalizing marijuana possession? The news from outside the bubble is that, locally, the bubble is manufactured for local residents to reside in unquestioningly. It is not a bubble of choice or preference, rather it is one of learned resignation.

 

Who Are The Thousands Of Ohioans Using Marijuana?

February 28, 2017

Cleveland.com just headlined “Who are the 700,000 Ohioans receiving health insurance under Medicaid expansion?” by Rich Exner (2-28-17). It is an insightful synopsis of a state report by the Department of Medicaid for the Ohio General Assembly. Along with the requisite statistics, like “Among the 702,000 added to Medicaid: 43.2 percent were employed. 55.8 percent were men. 71.5 percent were white; 24.8 percent were black. 13.1 percent had at least a four-year college degree. 15.7 percent were married.” there was something that jumped out. “Before [Medicaid expansion in 2014]: Until the change, Medicaid was generally restricted to adults with income of less than 90 percent of the poverty level and only if they were also a parent, pregnant or disabled. After: Medicaid coverage was expanded to Ohioans age 19 to 64 with incomes at or below 138 percent of the poverty level. The threshold for a single person in 2016 was $16,394. The state reported 702,000 people were insured as a result of the expansion.” In this post Analysis would like to make use of a term entitled “the blue laws”. Wiki gives “Blue laws, also known as Sunday laws, are laws designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. Blue laws may also restrict shopping or ban sale of certain items on specific days, most often on Sundays in the western world.” The day before Cleveland.com reported the statistics packed Medicaid report, the AP reported “Sessions: More violence around pot than ‘one would think’” by Sadie Gurman and Eric Tucker (2-27-17). In line with White House methodology on immigration and refugees, voter fraud, etc. the article states “”Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” Sessions said. The comments were in keeping with remarks last week from White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who said the Justice Department would step up enforcement of federal law against recreational marijuana. Sessions stopped short of saying what he would do, but said he doesn’t think America will be a better place with “more people smoking pot.”” Before his confirmation hearings to become the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions views were well known (as indicated in a previous blog posting). Upriver of that, before the November elections, the Ohio General Assembly staved off citizen’s initiatives by legalizing medical marijuana. In the same spirit of citizen initiative, the citizens of Newark voted to minimize the illegal status of marijuana possession within the municipality. As of the present (2-28-17) it is impossible to obtain or possess medical marijuana within the State of Ohio. The will of the Newark electorate is likewise irrelevant. “Before [Medicaid expansion in 2014]” those actually able to be covered by Medicaid were few and far between. Would it be fair to say that this was a “blue law,” “laws created to enforce strict moral standards.” (Wiki); a policy put in place at the time to “shame” the citizenry to claim ownership of their personal health? Some vehement agitation surrounds the current Medicaid debate. Little surrounded Sessions confirmation, nor surrounds the foot dragging and obfuscation of the Ohio Legislature as well as the actions of the Newark City Council and Mayor’s administration regarding marijuana legalization. Analysis finds the unifying force presented when blue laws are on the books to be a mystification. Was America great then because of “laws created to enforce strict moral standards.”?

Why Does A City Even Bother To Make Laws?

December 7, 2016

In the 11-20-16 post (It’s Troubling That People Face Different Charges For The Same Offense) Analysis posed the rhetorical question “Why does a city make laws to begin with?” Today, Maria DeVito reports that a handful of Newark residents asked the same question, only non rhetorically. “Despite the cold and rain Tuesday morning, about a dozen protesters chanted outside the Newark Municipal Building to voice their frustration that the city will ignore the newly passed marijuana decriminalization law. Shawn Aber, a Newark resident, organized the People Have Spoken rally after learning the city will charge people under the state laws for marijuana.” “”If the people voted it in, one man should not be able to change it,” Aber said.” (Group protests Newark decision to ignore pot law, Advocate, 12-6-16). It appears the question is not so rhetorical after all, and maybe Mr. Aber is on to something that he himself is totally unaware of. Same day, the Advocate’s parent company, Gannett, reporter in Cincinnati headlines “Lawmakers want to block $15 minimum wage (Jessie Balmert 12-6-16). “Legislators want to block efforts like one from Cincinnatians for a Strong Economy to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15-an-hour. Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature would prohibit cities from imposing a minimum wage that is higher than the state’s rate, which will be $8.15 next year.” “State lawmakers plan to add the prohibition to another bill: One that would prevent cities from imposing their own rules on where pet stores can purchase animals. That proposed legislation, called the Petland Bill, is a reaction to a Grove City ordinance that prevented pet stores from purchasing animals from puppy mills.” Dear reader, please recall the fracking brouhaha that resulted in the state overriding individual municipalities from enacting drilling restrictions within their communities. In the previous We’re Dealin’ post (11-27-16) Analysis found itself questioning “Which “public” will our political leaders be fighting for?” It was pointed out that the various government entities all claim to be looking out for the best interest of “the public”. Even Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb feels the sting of who gets to represent “the public” when he told LCJFS Director John Fisher “We’re looking at some loss of revenue next year courtesy of the state.” (see previous post Cleansing 12-5-16). Analysis detects a thread here that was anticipated years ago at the start of this blog but has been difficult to corroborate. Over the past decades there has been a concerted effort made to redefine how America is governed through the lobbying of ALEC (if the reader is not familiar with ALEC, Wiki American Legislative Exchange Council, then Google same). Anecdotal evidence always appeared in the form of various disparate states passing similar legislation, all modeled on wording drawn up by ALEC. Americans For Prosperity likewise found that pursuing an agenda of changing state legislature to fulfill their demands of free market and smaller government was more effective than doing it through the federal government (Some would say the outcome of the recent election confirms the effectiveness of that back door strategy). Analysis points at the plethora of ultimate state determination of everything from education (pre-K through grad school), economic development, employment, etc. to health, marijuana, minimum wage, children’s services and puppy sourcing. This is done not only through economic incentives/prohibitions (taxes, cuts in funding) but also in the legislative creation and enactment of law. Why does a city even bother to make laws?

It’s Troubling That People Face Different Charges For The Same Offense

November 20, 2016

In the pre-election post “What The Hell Have You Got To Lose?” (10-26-16) Analysis asserted its mission “to draw the link, to follow the thread between what is large and “out there” (as news, policy, etc.) and what is local, next door, just around the block.” The saga continues with the recent episode, “Smoke gets in your eyes.” 8-20-16 The Advocate’s Maria DeVito headlined “Newark officials not backing pot decriminalization.” “Mayor Jeff Hall said He doesn’t support the initiative as it is being presented because it goes beyond what has been done at the state level.” Further on: “Licking County Municipal Court Judge Michael Higgins, who wrote a letter to Newark City Council members earlier this year pointing out the difference between Newark’s law and the State law, said he doesn’t have feelings one way or another on the ballot measure. But he did say it’s troubling that people face different charges for the same offense.” Well, history shows the initiative to have been passed into law 11-8-16 by a majority of the electorate of the City of Newark. 11-11-16 DeVito headlines “Newark ignores newly passed pot decriminalization”. Notable: “[Law Director Doug] Sassen said there is nothing that requires the city to charge offenses under city law. “it’s just an option to pursue it and we’re going to choose not to pursue it.” He said.” The article stated Newark’s Police Chief Barry Connell’s accord with the Law Director. Analysis feels it is safe to assume ditto for the ever vociferous Mayor. On 11-14-16 The Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlined “Council members OK with decision to ignore new pot law.” Reporting that 100% of the City Council members were likewise 100% behind Doug Sassen’s policy decision. In a 11-20-16 letter to ed, the Law Director expounds on his policy: “If the initiative as passed were to be given full effect as suggested that would mean the conduct previously outlawed in these ordinances would be perfectly legal under Newark Law.” Well, yeah, that is how law making/changing is done (for some historic precedent Google “Newark City Council Pit Bull”). Analysis finds all this begs an awful lot of questions. Who makes the law? When is a law a law (not to mention the will of the people)? Which law is law? Who decides any or all of the above? Why does a city make laws to begin with? In the pre-election post of 10-26-16 Analysis claimed that “what the GOP candidate [and now president] is about, that has his party in a tizzy, can be found with that same party and electoral process here in Licking County.” Contemporary answers to some of the preceding questions might be found in the opposite direction – looking at the national and state news rather than just in Newark. The 11-18-16 Washington Post Wonkblog’s Christopher Ingraham headlines “Trump’s pick for attorney general: ‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana’”. Quoting the Trump administration’s AG to be, Jeff Sessions, (from a U.S. Senate Drug Caucus hearing in April of 2016): “We need grown ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger.” Analysis finds this correlation with Sassen’s national counterpart to lead to various conclusions, all troubling and untenable. Is one to assume that Jeff Hall, Barry Connell, Doug Sassen and the members of the Newark City Council are the “grown ups” with the city’s electorate being children? How did the electorate get the right to vote if they are underage? Analysis finds more complications with all this. The same Advocate that published the Law Director’s letter also ran an older news item by its parent company, Gannett’s USA Today, headlined “Think tank calls on legislature to help rural Ohio”. The think tank (no, not Newark’s), being Cleveland’s the Center For Community Solutions, calls for what Analysis likewise pointed out in the 11-13-16 post, Make Licking County Rural Again. Both highlight the state’s withdrawal and redirection of funding, etc. resulting in the negligence and lack of affordable housing, public transportation, public health care, children’s services, etc. in Licking County and Newark. Yet, along with Sessions, Newark’s elected officials march lock step with the state. When will they diverge? When will they heed the children’s concerns? Analysis finds the local leaders response to the 2016 election results even more troubling, but from an ethical dimension. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana” determines, carte blanche, the morals that make America great. Unseen is the obverse. It also determines what is not good, immoral, without taking any recourse to the law and lawmaking. Such determination Newark’s elected leaders likewise choose to reserve for themselves. This is also evidenced in the same day’s paper that ran Sassen’s guest editorial alibi. In “Q&A: Offender list in Ohio brings up questions about cost” by the AP’s John Seewer, state legislators propose to expand the registry (and tracking) of convicted felons from those presently marked for life. Analysis wrote about the Steve Smith trial outcome back in 3-29-16 (Where’s The Crime In All This?). At the time Analysis was dumbfounded that a Marion County man convicted of drug trafficking that resulted in death (with a preponderance of evidence) could receive a lesser sentence than an isolated and unsubstantiated drug trafficking charge in Licking County. “Newark ignores newly passed pot decriminalization” says more for why “there is nothing that requires the city” to be fair, just, equitable or non-discriminatory in its interaction and treatment of citizens, underage or otherwise. To paraphrase Judge Higgins: “it’s troubling that people face different charges [and outcomes] for the same offense.”