Pubdate: Wed, 16 Nov 2005
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Copyright: 2005 New Times
Author: Will Harper
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Oakland Pols Still Haven't Implemented Last Year's Measure Z -- Are 
They Stoned

One year ago, Oakland voters overwhelmingly passed Measure Z, a 
ballot initiative that all but decriminalized marijuana use, making 
the arrest of pot smokers local law enforcement's lowest priority. A 
year later, it seems that Oakland city officials have made 
implementing Measure Z their lowest priority.

There has yet to be a meeting of the eleven-member oversight 
committee called for by the measure to oversee its implementation. 
That's because neither Mayor Jerry Brown nor most city council 
members -- each of whom gets to name one person to the committee -- 
has bothered to appoint anyone. These pols, in other words, have 
displayed all the motivation of an unemployed stoner living in his 
mom's basement. To date, only Councilwomen Desley Brooks, Jane 
Brunner, and Nancy Nadel and auditor Roland Smith have made their 
appointments, leaving the committee two short of the six-member 
quorum required to convene a session.

Leaders of the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance, which sponsored 
Measure Z, are now consulting attorneys to see if they can sue the 
city to force officials to comply with the voters' mandate. Susan 
Stephenson, a lobbyist for the group, says the main role of the 
oversight committee would be to verify that Oakland police have cut 
back on marijuana-related arrests.

Stephenson says she's met or had contact with all the council offices 
since the measure passed, trying to nudge them into action. She has 
been either stonewalled or unable to get a response, she says, from 
City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente and at-large 
representative Henry Chang. "I don't know if it's just disregard for 
the will of the voters or whether there's some kind of intentional 
effort to undercut it," she says.

Here are some of the "explanations" Feeder got from the slow-moving 
elected officials: Willie Yee, an aide to Chang, says his boss is 
waiting for everyone else to make their appointments to make sure the 
committee is, er, balanced. An aide to Councilwoman Jean Quan says 
Quan actually interviewed a doctor for the position, but somehow 
"lost contact" with the cannabis-committee candidate. Mayor Brown, 
who is meditating upon becoming attorney general, said via spokesman 
Gil Duran: "We are considering an appropriate response to this 
unusual measure." (Memo to Jerry: Dude, don't know what you're 
smokin', but judging from that quote it's something stronger than a 
low-priority substance.)

Councilwoman Brooks, meanwhile, criticized her colleagues' 
foot-dragging, saying, "It's an intentional thwarting of the will of 
the electorate." Brooks points out that most of her colleagues 
opposed Measure Z. Still, she says finding someone to serve shouldn't 
be too hard -- they could even appoint a Measure Z opponent. The only 
prerequisites are that committee members have a pulse, live in 
Oakland, and, of course, don't bogart that joint.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake