Monday Oct 6th, 2014 11:06 PM
The Measure K Committee, created by voter initiative in 2006 here in Santa Cruz, in Santa Monica, and in Santa Barbara was supposed to be the first step in holding the local PD and similar agencies accountable and moving to end Marijuana Prohibition. I detailed the agenda and some preliminary concerns about the Committee pro-police bias at http://www.indybay.org/
newsitems/2014/10/05/18762458. php . Marijuana enforcement was supposed to become the lowest enforcement priority for adults on private property–whether the marijuana was being used, bought, sold, transported, or simply possessed. The Measure K Committee was supposed to ensure that police were laying off. Instead it’s acting as a rubberstamp.
TICKETS OUTNUMBER COMPLAINTS 8-1 BUT COMMITTEE NOT INTERESTED IN SEEING THE CITATIONS
None of the Committee was interested in actually looking at the statistic around marijuana arrests. Why were the police doing 8 times more ticketing/arresting for marijuana than there were calls for service around that issue? Member Coral Brune couldn’t get a second for her motion to ask to see the actual fifty marijuana citations and arrest reports. Before rubberstamping the summary and conclusions of Assistant to the Assistant City Manager Scott Collins that the SCPD were “in compliance”. In essence they took the SCPD’s word for it.
However, MC 9.84.060(1)(e) actually reads: “Responsibilities of the committee shall include: submitting written reports semi-annually to the Santa Cruz City Council on the implementation of this ordinance, … These reports shall include but not necessarily be limited to: the number of all arrests, citations, property seizures, and prosecutions for marijuana offenses in the city of Santa Cruz; the breakdown of all marijuana arrests and citations by race, age, specific charge, and classification as infraction, misdemeanor, or felony; the percentage of all arrests in the city of Santa Cruz that are for adult marijuana offenses.”
The only provision that was actually followed was the final section which requires the reports to include “any instances of law enforcement activity that the committee believes violated the lowest law enforcement priority policy”–where everyone took the SCPD’s word that that number was zero.
I couldn’t figure out whether most of the Committee members were being cagey, cowardly or just clueless in willfully ignoring the requirements of the law (passed by the voters after being rejected by City Council back in 2006). I suspect that exaggerated respect for and/or apprehension of the police played its usual role.
VICTIMS OF POLICE ABUSE CAN CONTACT THE COMMITTEE IN SIX MONTHS
One member afterwards–the only one who actually stopped to talk with me–actually told me that he didn’t want to examine police records unless he received credible reports of violations. When I told him that as a radio broadcaster I’d received such reports of homeless people being ticketed for marijuana on private property (though admittedly outdoors), he suggested they “come to the next meeting” That would be in six months, I told him. No, he insisted, we meet ever three months. I showed him the minutes of the last meeting–since the Committee meets twice yearly. On several occasions the members don’t bother to show up or City Council members left their seats vacant.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
To his credit, at Coral’s request Collins arranged to have a recording of the meeting–something David Terrazas–head of the Public Safety Committee twice refused to do. Terazzas’s committee excreted one anti-homeless law after another last year.
To his discredit, Collins suggested that getting the police to release the 50 marijuana citations from the last six months would be “burdensome” and “costly” and “time-consuming”. The Committee ignored my testimony that I regularly got such information from the police department–which didn’t seem to bankrupt them or prompt wails of dismay.
HOW MUCH MONEY IS THE SCPD USING FOR MARIJUANA ENFORCEMENT? DON’T ASK!
Other motions presented by Brune were dismissed as “beyond the purview” of the Committee that “might require an opinion of the City Attorney.” These included a request to find out what grants or funding sources the SCPD gets that are used for any kind of marijuana enforcement. This is actually explicitly authorized if not required by MC 9.84.050(2) (e) of Measure K which states: “Responsibilities of the committee shall include…the estimated time and money spent by the city on law enforcement and punishment for adult marijuana offenses.”
Another one turned down without a second or a vote was “how much is spent for marijuana arrest and citations?” Another action authorized by the law.
ARRESTING HOMELESS PEOPLE? NOT INTERESTED.
Brune also asked that Collins provide a breakdown of arrests that include marijuana as an additional offense and the number of citations given homeless people in their campers (private property which the SCPD is supposed to give lowest enforcement priority to.
Brune also called for researching the proportion of service calls (i.e. marijuana complaints) to marijuana citations. The latter outnumber the former by a factor of 8 to 1, indicating that the SCPD is doing such citing without a complaint in most of the cases. This was ignored.
A PRIVATE PERSON HAS TO DO WHAT A CITY-FUNDED COMMITTEE REFUSES TO DO
Brune noted she’d filed her own Public Records Act request to get the stats, which I’ll ask her to post publicly so the community can do the job that the Measure K Committee declines to do.
Collins and other Committee members hastily moved to distance themselves from her action–suggesting that any criticism of our armed Drug War Enforcers was just not cricket.
HASSLED IN CONNECTION WITH MARIJUANA ON PRIVATE PROPERTY IF YOU’RE OVER 21?
Please contact me with any instances of harassment for marijuana use, possession, transportation, sales, or purchase on private property. That means on any piece of private property whether open to the public or not, as far as I know. E-mail rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com or call me at 831-423-4833. I will pass on these concerns to the Committee (via Brune) as well as make them public on Free Radio Santa Cruz.
The “Semi-Annual” Report which the Committee approved can be found at http://www.indybay.org/
To read further critical background on the Measure K Committee, follow the links at http://www.indybay.org/