HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Effectively Legalized In Santa Cruz
Pubdate: Wed, 08 Nov 2006
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2006 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Ken McLaughlin, Mercury News
Bookmark: (Marijuana - California)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


In a big defeat for organized labor, Santa Cruz voters tonight
trashed a measure to boost the minimum wage in the city to $9.25 an
hour. But another controversial initiative that would all but legalize
pot smoking for adults passed easily.

If the wage measure had passed, Santa Cruz's minimum wage would have
been 23 percent higher than the state minimum beginning in January.
While the measure drew wide support from labor unions and low-income
workers, local business people said it defied the laws of economics.

If the marijuana initiative is upheld by the courts, police will be
forced to make marijuana crimes their "lowest priority."

Two other measures aimed at controlling growth at the University of
California-Santa Cruz sailed to victory, and a measure to permanently
raise Santa Cruz's sales tax to 8.5 percent also passed.

Meanwhile, city council members Cynthia Mathews and Mike Rotkin
handily won re-election, with neighborhood activist Lynn Robinson
taking the third open council seat. Bruce Van Allen, Chris Cobb and
Simba Kenyatta trailed badly.

Rotkin and Mathews, both longtime council members, argued that Santa
Cruz couldn't afford to lose their experience during fiscally scary
times. The four non-incumbents contended that the city needed fresh
ideas and fresh faces.

Measure G, the minimum-wage initiative, was the hottest measure on the
Santa Cruz ballot. Backers argued that the lowest-paid workers deserve
a boost in pay because they live in one of the nation's priciest
housing markets. Opponents claimed that having an only-in-Santa Cruz
minimum wage would make it nearly impossible for locally owned
businesses to compete.

Measure K, the marijuana initiative, was put on the ballot with the
help of pot-smoking billionaire Peter Lewis of Cleveland. Proponents
said police needed to spend less time arresting pot smokers and more
time focusing on serious crime.

But Santa Cruz police accused Measure K supporters of blowing smoke.
Police officers argued that the measure would make it harder to do
their jobs and send a message to teens that it was cool to smoke dope.

Measure I, one of the two initiatives aimed at reining in UC-Santa
Cruz growth, requires the council to oppose all increases in the
university's student enrollment until the university pays "the full
costs of mitigating past and future growth impacts."

A companion initiative, Measure J, amends the city charter to require
Santa Cruz residents to vote to approve new water and sewer hookups in
areas outside the city limits. Most of the new growth at UC-Santa Cruz
is expected to be outside the city's boundary lines. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake