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Stirring the Pot


Going to Pot: How odd it is that the Santa Barbara City Council is fretting about a problem that doesn’t seem to be a problem?

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Two-thirds of city voters last week voted to make possession of small quantities of marijuana by adults the lowest police priority, but now the Council is pondering whether to enforce this. The people have spoken, so why should their public servants want to reverse the decision? Besides, as I understand it, dope smoking on private property is already pretty much a low police priority.

If the Governator and feds want to do something about it, let them. The ball’s in their court. The people have spoken. Similar measures have been passed in a couple of other cities with no crackdowns yet by the long arm of the law, backers claim. Voters may not have realized, however, that the law requires the City Council to send a letter to President Bush (along with other state and federal officials) advising him of the Santa Barbara law and asking him to get busy enacting similar federal legislation.

Whether or not Bush ever inhaled of a leafy substance in his younger, wilder days, he seems unlikely to push the new Democratic Congress to ease up on dope-smoking, in Santa Barbara or anywhere else. “The Bush administration has made marijuana, medical or otherwise, the number one priority in their failed drug war,” said proponents of Measure P-for-Pot, which passed last week.

Mayor Marty Blum, normally a reasonable sort, is insisting that the council should meet with City Attorney Steve Wiley about the burning issue of Measure Pot. “We might possibly take it to court,” she said, adding, “We do respect when people vote for something.” Aha! Democracy in action!

Still, the council plans to meet December 5 in closed session over Measure Pot. But would that be legal under the Brown “secret meeting” Act? It allows closed-door sessions only in certain cases, such as personnel actions, real estate deals, and threatened lawsuits. Even if the council can make a case for secrecy, I think the voters would be interested in hearing the views of council members, right out loud at City Hall instead of after a decision is made.

Some, I suppose, will observe that Measure Pot, mild as it may be, seems to be something of a quaint echo of some campaign from the 1960s. From what I see, even in little Santa Barbara, the social dangers of drunk driving (booze being legal) and abuse of prescription drugs (also legal) deserve major attention. Maybe the city moms and pops can work on that.

VIP Voices: All those robotized calls voters got from VIPs and celebs promoting or bashing candidates or ballot measures last week — what if comedian Rich Little was doing them all, jokes Sol Morrison? Sol also suggests that we take all the campaign propaganda that was stuffed into our mailboxes and let the incendiary charges set off a big bonfire in De la Guerra Plaza in front of City Hall. (In view of air pollution and other hazards, better to recycle the stuff, along with the losers.) rich%20little.jpg

Wedding March: “My wife cries every time she hears the Wedding March,” said the guy sitting behind me at the Arlington concert last weekend. The Santa Barbara Symphony was about to play Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“Why? I asked.

“Because the first time she heard it turned into a disaster.” Then he cracked up. He was talking about their wedding day and they’ve been happily married for about a half-century. “I don’t drink as much as I used to,” he went on. “But I don’t drink any less, either.”

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Sunday Music: There were plenty of seats available for the Saturday night Symphony concert, but Sunday afternoon’s repeat was almost full. Sue and I like the dress-up nights, with the musicians in tuxes and long dresses, but apparently others prefer the less formal afternoon sessions. Or they don’t like to go out at night.

Katrina Aid: Ronnie Mellen has someone to drive her RV to New Orleans as a gift to Hurricane Katrina victims, but needs donations for gas and expenses. Donations of canned goods, clothing and blankets are also needed, plus contacts to a church there to accept the RV and items. Call her at 969-9699.

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