We never thought we’d have a chance to compare Current readers to Death Row Records founder and felon Suge Knight (who supposedly hung Vanilla Ice over a sixth floor balcony by his feet until he signed over publishing rights to “Ice Ice Baby”), but after Queque contributor Keli Dailey wrote her part two on pot grower Jason Weaver `“Kahuna on the run,” April 4 – 10` some readers started acting like gully thugs and saying nutty shit.
Just like Suge, who’s taken to calling Snoop Dogg a snitch, our readers called our sterling messenger a phat rat, our platinum publication a “ragazine,” for supposedly “trying to make this man a local celeb fugitive and thereby shame john law into active pursuit with this coverage.”
“What are you trying to do here you narc?” asked one reader. (Interesting, ’cause the U.S. Marshals Service said the coverage would tip off the fugitive so he wouldn’t use his MySpace anymore, making him harder to track.)
The Queque understands any discussion of the senseless war on drugs gets people’s gangsta hackles up, but would like to redirect any beef Texas tokers have with Dailey to the state legislature, where a bill that could reduce penalties for pot possession is in trouble ...
You can guess why the Texas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws lent their support to HB 758 last month, proposed by Houston Democrat Harold Dutton. This was Dutton’s second legislative attempt to downgrade punishment for possession of less than an ounce — a J, seeds even — from a Class B to a C misdemeanor, making it a ticket rather than a crime you’d spend 180 days in jail for. C’mon Texas, said Dutton, be cool. Even Columbia, Missouri, has passed this kind of “smart sentencing” reform.
Make it like a disorderly conduct, shoplifting, or traffic violation citation and don’t clog up county jails with nonviolent weedophiles, said Bexar County Jail Administrator Dennis “Hug-a-Thug” McKnight, who also testified in support of lighter penalties for lighting up.
“This is not decriminalizing the drug, it’s changing the penalty range for the drug, and we do that all the time,” McKnight said. “I can remember a long time ago Candy Barr got 15 years for one marijuana cigarette. We’ve come a long way, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
Right now the bill’s stalled in the Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence. Last session a similar bill (puff puff) passed out of committee but faded as the Lege calendar came to an end.
According to Drugwarfacts.org, a group that compiles the latest federal crime stats, there were 1.8-million drug arrests in 2005. Marijuana accounted for 786,000 of those arrests, and almost 700,000 of those busts were for pot possession, not trafficking or dealing. So when you’re getting amped up about U.S. drug policy or the journalists who cover it, try tearing yourself away from your trainwreck tea party long enough to get angry about the real collateral caused by existing marijuana laws: the poor small-fish drug users.
Call up your legislator (see Yak at your Rep on our website, Sacurrent.com) and demand they take pot from B to C.
And now, from the Queque blooper reel: Mayor Phil Hardberger was not Democratic Party Chair of Bexar County, as we so mistakenly said last week. We are chastened. Hardberger was the Ector County Democratic Chair from 1968-70. The Queque misread and unwittingly padded the Mayor’s resume (a CV that already seems an apochrypal tale of cross-Atlantic flying, cross-Atlantic sailing, and Mount Kilimanjaro climbing that makes Lindbergh look lazy. And the mayor SCUBA dives!)
We regret overlooking Hardberger’s position in the West Texas county most notable for having the highest teen pregnancy rate in the
country — 22.9 percent of Ector County teens were pregnant according to the latest CDC data, taken from 2000. (Nationally, Bexar County came 62 counties behind Ector, with only 16 percent of its teens pregnant back in 2000. Our teen pregnancy rate is on the decline lately, according to last month’s Bexar County Health Collaborative report. A little something to celebrate on the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy this May 2 — saltpeter shakes for every boy!)
Last Friday we received an odd email request rom Blue Star Brewery’s marketing director, Alicia Spence Alvarez, regarding the Current’s “Bar Tab,” March 28 – April 3. In the review, resident male spinster Dave Maass moaned about an unenthusiastic waitress. Alvarez wanted us to check Maass’s receipt for the server’s name, so she’d be able to identify the waitress whom he described as “cute, in a Ghost World Thora Birch kind-of-way.”
Um, no. We adore your dred-tails, marvel over your paisley bike, but the Queque ain’t your secret shopper, hippie. Nothing short of a subpoena and a quash-squashing judge will get us to turn out an anonymous source, especially one whose only crime was failing to flirt with with our admittedly miserable and poorly behaved staff writer.
The Queque wishes we could leave the subpoena clause out, but unfortunately, Texas is one of the 17 states that doesn’t offer subpoena-resistant “Shield Law” protections to journalists (although in civil court, there’s a three-part test subpoena senders must pass). Today (Wednesday), however, Senator Rodney Ellis’s “Free Flow of Information Act” is set for its second hearing before the Texas Senate Jurisprudence Committtee.
Please, baby, baby, please may there be a quorum this time, and please may they vote to accept the substitution bill offered up by Senator Robert Duncan, and please may they send it to a floor vote.
The more-polished substitution bill, endorsed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, would prevent trial attorneys (Look out! A mess of them are at a litigation conference at the Marriott Riverwalk this week!) from issuing subpoenas to journalists for both confidential and nonconfidential information, documents, or the sources who gave it to them. The law allows exceptions for the extremely rare cases when a journalist witnesses a crime first-hand or the information is reasonably necessary to prevent certain death.
District Attorney Susan Reed dispatched her right-hand man, First Assistant DA Cliff Herberg Jr., to testify against the bill. Catching up with the Queque afterward, Herberg said he thought the bill was addressing a problem that doesn’t exist. Reed is against subpoenaing for anonymous sources, and they never needlessly subpoena journalists for non-confidential information.
Well, the Queque asked, what about the subpoena DA Susan Skinner issued to the Current in the Theodore Streater sex assault/home invasion case (“The Queque,” March 7-13)? In the end, she didn’t even need the testimony, but Maass was still blocked from covering the trial.
“If somebody did that to you, that’s just not right,” Herberg said. “I agree with you. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work.”
“If you ever feel like you’re getting jerked around, you need to call me,” he said.
Thanks, Blondie, but the Queque thinks we’ll stick with the bill for now.
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