10/12/14 Annise Parker

13 Yr Anniv Show: Houston Mayor Annise Parker re needed changes to drug laws, Kevin Ludlow running for office, has home searched for drugs, Jason Miller Pres of Houston NORML

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Guest: 
Annise Parker
Organization: 
Mayor Houston
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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / October 12, 2014

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DEAN BECKER: Those who believe in drug war believe it eternally necessary to empower our terrorist enemies daring enough to farm the flowers we forbid. They believe they need to forever enrich barbarous Latin cartels that terrorize millions of innocents as they corrupt civilization itself. Their mandate to themselves and the world ensures tens of thousands of gangs roam our neighborhoods with high-powered weapons enticing our children to lives of crime and addiction.

They believe these tactics necessary to destroy the terrorists, to eliminate the cartels and to dissuade the gangs from the annual sale of one hundred billion dollars’ worth of drugs to our children. They believe they will never have to defend their tactics or explain the horrible flaws in their plan.

Quite obviously those who believe in drug war do not believe in public safety. One hundred years of drug war is quite enough. December 17th will mark 100 years since the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act - the first major prohibition of drugs in the U.S.

Our goal is to have rallies at noon on this date in front of hundreds of U.S. courthouses featuring defense attorneys, judges, pastors, and members of LEAP, SSDP, DPA and many others. We will invite local police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys to defend this policy if they have a mind to.

To learn more please visit http://endprohibition.org

Do it for the children.

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DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker. I want to thank you for being with us on this our 13th anniversary show for Cultural Baggage - the unvarnished truth about the drug war – and, of late, it seems the drug war in little ‘ol Texas and tiny ass Houston is starting to screech to a halt maybe just the letter ‘s’ in that word.

A few days ago the Houston Chronicle (the biggest paper in this town) came out with a front page story featuring yours truly talking about advocates of legal pot saying it is not “if” but “when.” I think that has helped open the doors to our mayor, perhaps the district attorney, perhaps the sheriff. In two weeks we are going to hear from our police chief, Charles McClelland.

Here’s my interview this week with Annise Parker, the mayor of Houston.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, today speaking to us from Little Rock, Arkansas at a gathering of our nation’s mayors we have the mayor of Houston, Texas – Anise Parker.

How are you, ma’am?

ANNISE PARKER: Doing great. Glad to be with you.

DEAN BECKER: Yes ma’am. As I understand it there’s been a great deal of discussion about the militarization of our police forces. Is that true, ma’am?

ANNISE PARKER: Yesterday there were discussions on policing, in general – the state of policing in America, what happened to servicing, what it means for cities, what it means for our police department. Part of that conversation was the militarization of police particularly in small towns.

Today we’re in a conference on ports. A lot of the mayors went home but obviously Houston is a big port and so we’re talking about [inaudible] our ports today.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, ma’am. There’s been a lot of media coverage in Houston of late a couple of different proposals put forward by the current district attorney as well as her challenger, Kim Ogg, and how they were going to handle marijuana cases. I was wanting to ask...I saw the press conference which featured Devon Anderson as well as our sheriff, Adrian Garcia and Police Chief Charles McClelland. Do they seek your opinion in this regard? Did you have any input in that new situation?

ANNISE PARKER: I was certainly aware of it. As an individual I am supporting Kim Ogg for DA. I want to state that both DA candidates are looking to do a better job in how we deal with personal marijuana use and low-level...but I think I prefer Anderson’s proposal but I’m glad they are both engaged and the sheriff as well.

Anytime we try to do enforcement around drugs we want people higher up the food chain and as public views about marijuana are changing in the United States - even in states that still have marijuana laws on the books for personal consumption – we have to be sensitive to that and I salute both of them for taking a bold stand.

DEAN BECKER: It is. It is good to hear some new dialogue in this regard.

Now, last year’s Conference of Mayors they came out with a recommendation that the federal government kind of get out of the picture, let the states decide. I think that’s a good idea. Even recently President Obama was quoted that legalization of drugs should be an open topic of discussion considering the horrible blowback.

In Houston we have the situation in the last election where we voted for that new jail because we were so overcrowded. I wanted to get your response. Had we stopped arresting the 12...some say up to 40,000 people per year on marijuana charges there likely would not have been the need for that new jail. I just wanted to get your response there, please.

ANNISE PARKER: Yes, U.S. mayors made a call for the federal government to respect the rights of states in how they did their drug laws but we clearly believe that, as mayors, that there ought to be some uniformity in drug laws. The concern was that states through their regular legislative and voting processes were making changes in drug laws and the federal government was coming in and invalidating and we believe that is a violation of state’s rights. It’s not that we don’t think that there ought to at the federal level be changes in drug laws.

Specifically we did not vote to build a new jail. We actually voted to build a new processing center which it’s not the semantics it is actually significant because what this will allow us to do is better manage the intake of prisoners so that those who are mentally ill, for example, - and a significant number of folks who go through the county jail have mental health issues, in fact, as Sheriff Garcia will tell you he is the largest provider of mental health services probably in the state of Texas...It will allow us to have mental health beds. It will allow us to [inaudible] at intake and it will allow the city of Houston to co-locate with Harris [inaudible] so that rather than booking through jail and then transferring them that ... a lot of folks will just be released.

Issues of drug use and how we through legal action and law enforcement action we still have to enforce state drug laws except in those areas where there is some discretion at the local level. In marijuana, for example, there is some prosecutorial discretion at the same time what just happened in the city of Houston is that we took a hard look at a drug that is really growing exponentially in abuse across America and has had an immediate negative impact on our citizens.

Yesterday unanimously the city of Houston, the council, voted to create local ordinances that supplement state law to increase the penalties for use of ...they’re called potpourri, spice, K2...what some people mistakenly call synthetic marijuana but, in fact, it’s not anything like marijuana. We also added a set of requirements on the seller of the products that are clearly marked “not for human consumption” but are being sold with a “wink and a nod.” So, again, not so much interested in the people who are using it but want to try to stop it’s source – people who are selling it.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, ma’am. That brings to mind that these new Kush and all these new synthetic products probably would not exist...they have found to me much more dangerous than the real thing, marijuana, and it is through the prohibition that...I’ll give you my spiel here it’s that the drug war empowers terrorists, these barbarous cartels, it gives reasons for these gangs to be prowling our neighborhoods. I know that in private conversations (and I won’t even name names) but I’ll say law enforcement officials when that microphone is not turned on that they “get it” but in many ways it is the police unions and so forth who kind of cling to this old way of doing things. I just want to get your response to that, please.

ANNISE PARKER: I agree with you that we need a complete rethinking of the nation’s drug laws. We have seen over and over again that outright prohibition doesn’t work. We saw that in the 20’s when the prohibition in this country fueled the rise of organized crime.

At the same time we don’t want in any way to send a message that illegal drugs are approved or appropriate but we need to figure out a way to go to managing these drugs rather than simply saying, “Don’t do it or we are going to treat all illegal drugs the same.”

What you see again in America is beginning to have an adult conversation in many places about marijuana and once that works its way through the justice system across America, through our state legislatures and I think that...well, it’s not going to happen quickly...I think, too, that public opinion is going to shift on marijuana and then it will be decriminalized in most states.

There are still lots and lots of drugs out there that...Kush, for example, is one where if you are considering pot you are not likely to go out and disturb other people. The first time you indulge in “potpourri” or Kush or so-called synthetic marijuana you could very well go out in a psychotic state and injure yourself or others and you have to make a distinction between different types of drugs and the impact they have on people.

This is something that we need to do to decide as a nation when it is appropriate the clearly rethinking how much of our GDP we put into the drug war and how much of that money that we spend on these drugs goes to fuel organized crime in other countries and in America is significant.

DEAN BECKER: It is through the black market, the street corner venders, that entice our children into lives of crime or addiction. It just seems that we shoot ourselves in the foot at every opportunity with this drug war.

Ma’am, I know you have to go and I do thank you for your time. I just have this one last question. Given the horrible consequences of this drug war (and I’ve asked this of many people) we’ve never stopped one determined child from getting their hands on drugs...it’s kind of a question without an answer and that is considering the horrible consequences what is the benefit?

I don’t expect you to have a good answer, ma’am, but it’s something we should consider....

ANNISE PARKER: You are going to spend the money one way or another and I do not think that we should in any way imply to our kids that...these are mind altering substances...whether that is alcohol or some other drug and if it were going to adults you have to accept the consequences of your action and that you should do it safely. If we don’t fuel the criminal justice complex in cracking down on drugs we are going to have to take that money and spend it in addiction recovery, rehabilitation services.

We have chosen to invest in the law enforcement side rather than the treatment side and there is no free lunch. We are going to have to fund one or the other.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, ma’am.

Once again we’ve been speaking with Anise Parker who is the mayor of Houston, Texas. I thank you for your time.

ANNISE PARKER: You’re welcome.

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It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By Its Side Effects!"

Agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, face chomping, lip eating, brain slurping, ecstasy, suicide, zombieism….

(((gong)))

Time’s up! The answer according to law enforcement from some crazy-ass chemist somewhere – methedrone, otherwise known as bath salts.

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JASON MILLER: My name is Jason Miller. I’m the executive director of Houston NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). We are doing a lot of work here in Houston to grow our organization so we can have more influence on reforming the laws and eventually ending prohibition here in the state of Texas.

DEAN BECKER: Jason, it seems there is change afoot so to speak. The two district attorney candidates have nudged the bar a bit – one more than the other. What’s your take on Anderson vs. Ogg?

JASON MILLER: I’ve been looking into this quite a bit and there is about to be a lot more information that is going to come out in terms of our current district attorney, Devon Anderson’s pilot program. That’s the program we are concerned about right now because that is a policy that was put into place on Monday.

Ogg’s plan is something that is a proposal from a candidate who is trying to get elected but Anderson’s plan is a government policy that is currently taking place in Harris County.

So that’s what we’re concerned with. That’s what we are looking into. The more we look into this the more questions that it raises. The narrative in the media right now is kind of along the lines of Houston district attorney decriminalizes marijuana but that narrative is just so wrong on so many levels.

We are looking into this and there are a lot of problems with this program. It’s gotten to the point where this is no longer about marijuana. This is about due process of law because under this program the judicial branch is almost excluded from the entire process – almost entirely, as much as possible – so there is very little judicial oversight and individuals are afforded no due process if they participate in this program.

Honestly, looking at the program it gives the cops basically the ability to do whatever they want – kind of like the ability that they already have currently.

What we are seeing is ...the biggest concern is they are taking a person to a police station and we’re not even sure if the person is being placed under arrest or not because if it’s the HPD or the county sheriff’s office they use the word “detained”. I talked to a county sheriff and what I was told was if they are not being arrested, if they are being detained and they go to the station (and this is how they worded it) as if they being brought in for questioning.

If they transport you that is an arrest under every definition of the word so I don’t know if they are trying to say that it is not an arrest but it is just a detainment if it’s HPD or the county sheriff. If it’s any other law enforcement agency it’s definitely an arrest because the other law enforcement agencies are not utilizing the program.

DEAN BECKER: Whether or not they call it an arrest it is going to take the cop off the beat for a couple/three hours and they are going to tow your car. That sure sounds like an arrest to me.

JASON MILLER: Right, definitely. Now what’s really concerning is the fact that when you go to the police station you are being asked to enter into an agreement with the government without having an attorney present.

The reason why...the HPD and the county sheriffs do not like this program. They are under political pressure to agree with it for now. The reason they don’t like it is not because they are going to be throwing less people in jail for pot it is because they don’t want a bunch of marijuana smokers coming into their police stations every day into this program. We don’t know if they can have an attorney before they enter into the agreement. They certainly don’t want a bunch of lawyers coming in there.

They are trying to work. They are trying to do their job and our taxpayers are paying for that work to be done. What they do is they agree...now a big problem with it is we don’t know what they agree to when they agree to this program. I guess they are sitting in a little room with armed government agents and they are being asked to agree to this program.

First they assess your eligibility for it and we don’t know exactly what that entails. Are they asking you questions, gathering evidence against you? Are you making statements that can be used against you? Are they trying to persuade you to maybe become a confidential informant?

There’s a lot of questions that it raises and a big concern is they don’t even file a criminal charge. Looking at the two programs...Ogg’s program a criminal charge is filed immediately and under Anderson’s it’s not. They just kind of hold it over your head and threaten you.

Looking at the county sheriff’s guidelines on this for their instructions it says there is an exception. The exception says the on-duty supervisor may authorize the filing of charges on an otherwise eligible offender when deemed appropriate. So that means they can arbitrarily deny you participation in this at any time if they deem it appropriate. Well that opens it up to all kinds of abuse.

So it’s going to be tons of work for the police officers and the staff and the pre-trial services and I don’t think it’s going to save the taxpayers a penny. If they don’t like the way you are dressed they can just deem appropriate that you can’t participate or maybe they might deep it appropriate that you can’t participate and they if you do something else they might say, “Well, you can have this first chance intervention program later but you have to do this first.” Or they might try to get information from you on somebody else they are investigating.

So I’m uncomfortable with a charge not being filed right away because when a charge is filed on you right away you have due process of law. You can get an attorney, obviously, you can still talk, cooperate with law enforcement if you choose. It’s really not that much different than what we have in the way the system is right now.

DEAN BECKER: We need to point out that this is a 6-month trial. After the elections they could just undo it if they wanted to. It’s also being called a means to scare kids straight.

JASON MILLER: That was another thing I had an issue with. Saying people will be scared straight – that’s a very authoritarian statement...the idea that people will be afraid of their government so they obey. That might be the way a parent disciplines a little kid but not the way the government should interact with the citizens. We should be less focused on scaring people, more focused on facilitating justice for victims of crimes.

Let the officer issue a citation and get back on patrol so they can keep our community safe. Follow the law. There’s a 2007 law that was passed with overwhelming approval - unanimously in the House and almost unanimously in the Senate. It was signed into law by Governor Perry. We should follow that law. That’s what I’d like to see happen.

So really with this plan there is so many problems with it that Devon Anderson is coming under a lot of fire from members of her own party saying, “Look, there’s due process concerns. We want transparency. We want equal treatment for everybody across the entire county. We want the program to be successful.”

I wrote her an open letter and we’re still waiting for a response. This open letter is signed by a coalition of ten leaders in the Harris County Republican Party including the President of the Houston Young Republicans, Houston Republican Liberty Caucus, the vice-chair of one of the senate districts and two people who serve on the local government committee.

We’re asking a lot of questions. We are saying these are people that...the letter states the signatories of this letter believe that marijuana prohibition has been a failure. We believe that responsible adults should never be arrested or imprisoned for possessing cannabis and we, therefore, applaud any policy changes that reduce the number of people facing jail time and a criminal record.

It does seem to reduce that as far as the number of people that will be, indeed, on a small-time marijuana charge so I think it’s a step in the right direction. I just feel that it needs to be improved and expanded. They need to have a dialogue with the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association and they need to have a seat at the table and we need to fix this thing and we need to fix it quickly.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, friends, once again we’ve been speaking with Mr. Jason Miller. He is president of Houston NORML. That’s out there on the web at http://houstonnorml.org

Jason, what did you want to add?

JASON MILLER: This was stated by the Harris County District Attorney, Devon Anderson, herself. She said, “In 2013 the office processed more than 43,000 Class B misdemeanor cases. The majority of those cases were possession of marijuana.”

Now that’s interesting because that same year in 2013 more than 15,000 burglaries, 3,000 assaults and 3,000 “hit and runs” went uninvestigated by the HPD. These were all cases with workable leads. This is according to a city-commissioned study that was released in June. This was a study that was conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum and Justice Systems, Inc. is a consulting firm co-directed by Larry Hoover. He’s a professor of criminal justice at Sam Houston State University.

When this came out basically what they are blaming it on is (the HPD and everybody) are blaming it on a lack of manpower. It is that it was mismanagement of resources. They were too busy locking people up for small amounts of pot and that’s pretty obvious with the 43,000 Class B misdemeanors that we’re looking at for that same year when we’ve got 15,000 burglaries that were not even investigated. They had leads and they just didn’t investigate them at all.

The taxpayers are getting ripped off because these were cases, like I said, with workable leads and these were real victims that were denied justice.

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[music]

The drug war exists thru fear

And little sister hysteria

Wrapped up tightly in the hearts of man

Big Brother propaganda’s eternal issue

Floods forth a cornucopia of lies

Flowing like a river from the cartels to the cops

The poor people are so afraid to make it stop

Our fear makes Shorty Guzman a very happy man

These drugs are soo dangerous,

yehaw, andele, ariba, epa, epa y qua su!

(Sound of gunshot)

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, folks, as we wrap up for our 13th anniversary program I want to thank you for listening over the years. I want to thank you for sharing our show an dour transcripts with your friends, associates, your elected officials – with those who want to lock up generations of our children forever.

But it comes time for you to step forward, my friends. You know the truth. You understand the nature of this drug war, the illogical nature of this drug war and it’s time for you to do your part.

You need to go visit your elected officials. It’s good to call them and email them and write them and all of that stuff but face to face and handshakes kind of instill more trust and belief in what you have to say.

I urge you to put your thoughts down on paper and memorize what it is you understand about the drug war – its failings and what must be done to correct this inquisition, this abomination and then go share it with the prosecutors and the elected officials who believe in drug war. Remind them of the quote the Chronicle took from me, “Those that get on the right side of this issue will be seen as heroes and those who don’t will be seen as goats.”

In closing, in recognition of our many years of existence here’s a voice from the past from the Official Government Truth guy, Winston Francis:

(piano music plays in the background)

Winston Francis: If we end the drug war now, all of our efforts are for nothing. Victory cannot come from admitting defeat. Lives lost. Families ruined. Billion’s spent. All for nothing. Almost a century. Generations of fighting. All for nothing. Giving up is the only true path to failure. We must continue to fight, to spend and jail and kill, to honor the memory of those who fought before us. It is what we know. So it is what we must do. Follow the leader. Do not falter. Your path, has been chosen for you.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org