Monday, August 24, 2015

Rogue Governments

The NO MORE DRUG WAR protest returns to Grants Pass

The spirit of the Rogue River Indians haunts this valley, in their name on the Rogue River; the Rogue Valley; Valley of the Rogue State Park; and numerous business names.  French-Canadian fur buyers called them “coquins,” which translates to “rogues.”  They also named La Riviere aux Coquins, later called the Rogue River, as were the various related tribes that lived along it.  Some tribes were killed off; others were put on reservations outside the Rogue River Valley, except for Indian Mary, whose father betrayed his people. 
People grow up here thinking that “rogue” is a good thing, though they know the meaning of the word.  But as the name of their home, they identify with it.  Our city councils seem to take a roguish pleasure in thumbing their noses at the state and people, especially poor people, and ignoring any law that they find inconvenient, even their own.
For instance, in Grants Pass we have longstanding property maintenance “nuisance” codes that the city council and manager find inconvenient to enforce, despite the provision in our charter that our city manager must enforce all city codes.  Noxious and nuisance weeds grow mostly unchecked and trash litters many properties, but it would be an expensive bother for big property owners to clean up their properties, so they don’t make them do it.  Some might have to sell their vacant lots rather than wait for the price that they think that they are worth, if they had to maintain them.  They target an occasional residential property when people complain enough, but refuse to enforce property maintenance codes generally.
And yet, the Council passed a new nuisance code targeting marijuana, banning it outdoors in all its forms including possession of dried product, and calling greenhouses outdoors, despite 4 state laws to the contrary: Measure 91; the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act; House Bill 3400, which modified both; and Senate Bill 863 (2013), which forbids local governments and voters from enacting or enforcing any local measure or ordinance that inhibits or prevents production, marketing, or distribution of agricultural products. 
People have called them Good Old Boys for taking care of their rich friends and oppressing the poor, but they are really rogues, taking care of people as roguish as they are, those who do not love their neighbors, only themselves and their friends.
August 21, 2015 protest issue, published at
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Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Legislate in haste, repent at leisure

Honorable Mayor and Council,
            “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”  The same could be said for legislating. 
It pays to give people time to think about a proposal, and inform you about its consequences.  It pays for you to take time to think on what they said and search out more information.  That’s why our county charter requires two readings of an ordinance, two weeks apart, with public comment at each, before the Board of County Commissioners votes on it.
            July 15th, you passed an illegal ordinance banning marijuana outdoors with no public comment allowed, because you had voted for it two weeks before, after only one reading when you were tired and irritated with the people telling you not to do it.  On the 15th, I wanted to tell you that Representative Carl Wilson had told you by email that it was illegal before the first reading and point out exactly why it was illegal, but I was not allowed to; your ears were stopped by your previous vote.  I will tell you at your next meeting; I’ll be talking about this as long as it takes to fix it.
            Sometime before I started attending City Council meetings, some Council lost the point of having a second reading of an ordinance.  They started your present routine of: vote to read; vote on the ordinance; immediately vote to read it again; and vote again if the vote for the second reading is unanimous, which it usually is.  Otherwise, the 2nd reading is held off until the next meeting.   And you are supposed to talk to no one about it in the meantime.  Really?
            What is the point of this ritual?  It’s just a rigmarole, which makes no sense and ticks people off.  It is an avoidance of information from the public, a rush to judgment, thinly disguised as procedure.  I’ve never seen the Board of County Commissioners reconsider an ordinance.  It is common with the City Council.
            Please reconsider your outdoor pot ban, which, your Recorder read in the second reading, includes possession.  I do not want to sue you over it.  I do want you to pass a city sales tax.  This ordinance and that tax campaign are not compatible. 
You can’t offend the poor, pot smokers, and shop owners and expect to keep your seats, much less pass a sales tax.  You can, however, reconsider and repent your illegal ordinance, and adopt the County’s procedure for passing ordinances.  A little repentance and reform can soothe a lot of hurt feelings.

P.S. Their unknowing prohibition of outdoor possession got an immediate response from one councilor.  She explained that it is too late to reconsider the ordinance; it cannot now be changed or repealed for 6 months.  I said that the Manager must stay enforcement of it; publicize it, so we need not fear to call the cops; and the Council must repeal it in 6 months.  I repeated this in an email to the Council, Mayor, and Staff, and gave them two weeks to do it or I will retain an attorney and sue.
August 5th speech and protest issue, published in
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Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040

The ordinance was amended September 16, 2016, to remove any references to possession.  The rest of it is still quite illegal.