The Return of Alan M, the Hinchey Amendment, a Ploy to Cripple Charter Schools, and other Thursday NewsJuly 26th, 2007 by Celeste Fremon
Furious local constituent expresses self
1. THE GOOD NEWS AND THE BAD NEWS about our treasured pal Alan Mittelstaedt is that…the reason he hasn’t been writing here at WLA (the bad news) is that he was hired as News Editor for LA City Beat (the good news) and his LA Sniper column premiers today. It’s smart, snarky, well informed and will easily become a must read for Los Angeles folks (and anyone else who appreciates smart snark).
In terms of the reactions of those in city government…? Well, let’s just say I’ve advised Alan to invest heavily in Kevlar.
2. THE HINCHEY ROHRABACHER AMENDMENT (PREDICTABLY) WENT down to defeat yesterday evening. Here is the exact roll call vote. Shout accordingly.
And here’s an except from Maurice Hinchey’s post vote statement:
….I am pleased that the medical marijuana amendment received a record level of support in the House and will help build upon this new level of support next year.”
Twelve states have adopted laws that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington passed laws to allow the use of marijuana to relieve the intense pain and nausea that accompany some debilitating diseases.
The federal government, however, has made it nearly impossible for those 12 states to fully implement their medical marijuana laws. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has conducted numerous raids, at times prosecuting patients who were using marijuana in accordance with state laws to relieve pain, nausea, and other symptoms caused by a variety of illnesses. Recently, the DEA began to send asset forfeiture notices to owners of property where medical marijuana is being distributed.
The medicinal benefits of marijuana are well documented. At the request of the White House, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine conducted a study in 1999, which indicated that marijuana can relieve severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss. The AIDS Action Council, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Nurses Association, and the American Public Health Association all support access to medical marijuana based on the fact that the drug can help patients.
3. THE LA TIMES IS IN A STATE OF RIGHTEOUS FURY OVER the prison pop capping situation and is calling for California to throw the bastards out. (Or some of the bastards anyway.) In our opinion, yesterday wouldn’t be a moment too soon. I blame the dems for being spineless. But the Times has it right handing the repubs the bigger and badder responsibility for this prison mess.
Failed prison policies are a bipartisan phenomenon, but most of the blame for the current fiasco goes to Republicans in the Legislature, whose refusal to consider sentencing and parole reforms prompted Monday’s ruling. The minority party’s shortsighted obstructionism isn’t just contributing to the overcrowding problem, it’s a violation of the GOP’s core principles.
Tough-on-crime GOP lawmakers are unwilling to consider steps that might lessen criminal sentences. By their own criterion, then, they have failed miserably: A population cap threatens to impose precisely the early releases they were trying to avoid. Further, by voting to spend billions on new prisons without taking meaningful steps to reduce the prison population and thus cut costs, Republicans have abandoned any pretense of being the party of fiscal responsibility.
4. AND SPEAKING OF VILE MOVES ON THE PART OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE, here’s a doozy from the San Jose Mercury News:
In the budget now pending in the Legislature, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would double the money now available to pay for facilities for charter schools serving the state’s poorest kids. The amount would go to $18 million. But committees in both the Senate and House placed a condition on that money. It would be available only if the State Board of Education in effect lost its ability to grant charters to high-quality charter organizations.
If that condition stays in the law, Schwarzenegger will have an ugly choice. He can finally provide substantial rent assistance to as many as 150 charter schools that urgently need it. Or he can veto the provision in order to preserve the state board’s approval power, which will lead to the growth in California of some of the best charter organizations serving poor children.
Pitting money for charters against statewide charter authorization is a cynical ploy by politicians who want to kill the charter movement without taking the blame for doing it. And sneaking through changes to charter law in a budget trailer bill represents the worst of back-room dealing, avoiding open hearings and legislative debate.