Submitted by Quinn Symonds of Mason City –
Today the news broke, or at least the silence did. A super secret project between myself a city councilman and a high ranking member of Iowa’s NORML was leaked. Nick Taiber, a Cedar Falls councilperson reached out to me and my group a few months back about a project. He had some serious concerns that I couldn’t ignore. He told me some things that I knew already but did a great job of putting it into perspective.
Basically prohibition is racist, and prohibition in Iowa is as racist as it gets. The facts are this, in Iowa blacks make up less than 5% of the actual population, but make up more than 25% of the prison population. Usage of marijuana between races in Iowa is virtually equal, yet blacks are 8.53 times more likely to get arrested as white people, and in his city where he helps govern the stats are even worse.
This led civil rights groups like the Cedar Valley group for Undoing Racism to reach out to him because they knew as a libertarian leaning councilmember he would be sympathetic to ending the war on drugs. That led Nick to my group, Iowa First, asking for any help that we could provide. Well, we will have our decriminalization bill completed within the next few weeks to be presented. It is professional and thorough, and legal for any city in Iowa to implement.
Now you can argue whatever angle you want to say there isn’t racism involved, I would actually ask that you do. My challenge for you though, is to do it in a non-racist manner. You could argue an education and poverty gap, you could also argue that young black folks are just more scared of police than white people. If you want to call reverse racism there, however there are studies that show that police are more likely to shoot black people than white people too. Getting back on track I personally blame the quotas given to the drug task teams to appropriate their funding from state and federal agencies, scared young black people make easy targets.
So what makes this so unique? Well we have a councilman jumping through all the hoops to get something done for the people of his community. His city government is a bit different than what we are used to up here by Mason City, his is a mayor strong government. In Mason City and from what I understand most surrounding communities we have a council strong government. So for Nick it’s a little bit harder, but he’s trying and that speaks mountains towards his personal integrity.
For something like this to pass in Mason City All we would need is a super majority vote between the council members. Four council members to say ok, that will work. Sounds easy right, not really. Council members in Mason City have done a great job of insulating themselves. I have never gotten so much as a reply from an email, and when I see one after a meeting they run. Kuhn does talk to me however, but it’s usually at a democrat event and I’m usually gushing over his wonderfully sculpted hair. And honestly if any of these councilmembers want to play the victim card against me, I want to hear it.
So how do you get the attention of your council when they don’t pay attention and a simple super majority vote would decriminalize marijuana in Mason City as well? Well I could write a long blog calling them out like I am now. I could also include many points showing how other councilmembers across Iowa are working hard for their citizens like I am now. I could spend the rest of my time talking about how police could better spend their time patrolling for real criminals. After all, it would help out our city in more ways than one. We did embarrassingly lose our human rights commission, this would certainly make our city look more progressive than regressive. It would keep our jails less full by making simple possessions like a parking ticket up to certain amounts. Not victimless crimes like smoking a bowl before bed, or even ease pain that currently “legal” medications in Iowa don’t help.
I’m also a big fan of bringing back community service for offenders. I know our highways need cleaning. I wasn’t impressed finding a Fazoli’s cup out by Indianhead Square 10 years after it had been closed when I adopted a portion of the highway. I know the fairgrounds could use some help cleaning, as well as our many parks could use some free help. The bill is nearing its completion and will be done within the next week, maybe two and will be very malleable for any city in Iowa to use, in fact we encourage you reach out to us to use it.
The point is, this is what good local government looks like. I would love to see several Nick Taibors sitting on our council guiding our city. Even in a council strong government like ours he would be able to make a larger impact. Our council has a lot to learn from him and silly me, I admire his courage and dedication and I’m proud to be part of this movement.