George Boardman: Nevada County conservatives are fighting another battle they can’t win
May 14, 2017
Observations from the center stripe: Something new edition
THE 2017 calendar handed out by Holiday Market to South County customers has something I’ve never seen before in a calendar: A typo. May has two 23rds but no 24th … NOBODY SHOULD be surprised by the unruly behavior of airplane passengers. The airlines have made flying so unpleasant that customers arrive in a foul mood expecting something bad to happen … WHY DOESN’T the EPA go after some real polluters, like Canada geese? … I’M EXTRA careful when I’m driving near a vehicle hauling an outhouse … THE FEDS are investigating Fox News’ handling of sexual harassment claims. I’ll be shocked if the Trump administration brings charges against its favorite television network …
I read an article recently about how the residents of Dayton, Tennessee, still resent attorney Clarence Darrow for making them look like a bunch of monkeys when he defended the teaching of evolution theory in their schools. That was 92 years ago, folks.
I'm confident the good people of Dayton would sympathize with conservatives in Nevada County, who still aren't willing to accept the fact that people will be able to grow and smoke marijuana without going to jail next year.
California legalized medical marijuana over 20 years ago and broadened the right last November to include anybody over 21 who wants to inhale noxious substances into their lungs, but that doesn't mean conservatives are ready to accept the will of the majority in the state or the tide of events in Nevada County.
To be sure, they've been aided and abetted by the conservatives who dominate the Board of Supervisors — never ones to be in the vanguard of social change. Citing unnamed constituents who complained about the growing and smoking of pot but apparently don't vote in large numbers, the supervisors rammed through severe restrictions on the cultivation of medical marijuana. They then made the tactical blunder of putting the measure on the ballot, where it was soundly defeated.
The supes have since hired a consultant to work with a citizens advisory committee to craft recommendations for a permanent cannabis cultivation ordinance. When the supervisors met last week to approve the members of the committee, the conservatives came out of the woodwork.
Republicans complained about the lack of political diversity on the committee, and the fact that all 14 members recommended by the consultants are, you know, willing to accommodate cultivation, the whole point of the committee.
Bob Hren, chairman of the Nevada County Republican Party, claimed that nine of the people nominated for the committee are Democrats and no one is a Republican, creating an imbalance in age, home ownership and political affiliations. He apparently didn't mention that opposition to cultivation makes it unlikely you'll be selected to serve on a committee that wants to establish grow rules.
But Hren found a sympathetic ear in Supervisor Ed Scofield, who ran for reelection last November on an anti-pot platform and has lamented the supervisors' decision to allow citizens to vote on the issue. The board went along with the GOP request to add two new members to the committee, Rich Johansen and Don Bessee.
Bessee, executive director of the Northern California chapter of the ill-named Smart Approaches to Marijuana (their approach is to ban the stuff), fashions himself an anti-pot crusader. Putting him on the panel is analogous to appointing an atheist to the Vatican commission that considers candidates for sainthood.
But this agitprop production choreographed by conservatives with the cooperation of Scofield is not about achieving balance on the committee, it's about continuing the opposition to pot. "The war is still on," explained conservative activist Wade Freedle. "We have not surrendered and we are not going to surrender."
All of this will make for entertaining political drama when the committee holds six public meetings before crafting its recommendations to the supervisors. Expect the usual suspects from both sides of the issue to harangue the panel. Regardless of what the committee recommends, Bessee will probably file a dissenting report, leading to much venting and emoting when the supes vote.
This will not be a kumbaya experience, but it will be a failed exercise by the opposition unless it can get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to enforce the federal prohibition against pot. Alas, he appears to be more concerned about taking the civil rights shackles off police, toughening sentencing guidelines for low-level drug offenses, and coming up with a new FBI director who can't find Russia on a map.
The state Legislature is considering a bill that will crack down on the estimated 35,000 disabled parking placards that have been issued to people who are probably dead. A state auditor's report concluded that 26,000 of the placards have been issued to people who are over 100 years old if they're still alive.
While they're at it, legislators should crack down on another abuse, this one involving placards issued to people who live in nursing homes and may need one or two rides a week to church or a doctor's appointment. The rest of the time, the friend or relative who provides the rides is free to abuse the parking privilege meant for the disabled.
There's a simple solution to that scam. If the placard is being displayed and the person to whom it's issued isn't in the car, the driver gets an expensive ticket.
This is the time of the year when students in many schools are encouraged to show appreciation for their teachers, an idea I endorse. How they show their appreciation is another matter.
Many students — or at least their parents — show appreciation with small gifts of candy and other items to the teachers, but this can turn into a competition that can get out of hand. There are parents who think they can give their child an edge by coming up with a gift that is better — or more expensive — than what the other children are giving.
This can reach the point it makes teachers uncomfortable. My daughter had this experience when she was teaching at an expensive Catholic girls high school a couple of years ago. She felt uncomfortable enough to return some of the gifts and generally discouraged the whole process.
The process can create even more tension in public schools, where there is a bigger spread in the economic firepower of students' parents. The whole exercise is a low-grade solicitation to bribe, and is undignified for practitioners of the noble profession of teaching. Students should be encouraged to show their appreciation by contributing what they can afford to a charity or non-profit they believe in.
George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at email@example.com.
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