Monday, July 29, 2013

Ferndale to Vote on Full Marijuana Decriminalization ?

Ferndale…It’s Way Past Time....End Marijuana Prohibition

The upcoming municipal elections in Ferndale may well have an added bit of excitement this November if the petitions turned in to our City Clerk are validated. Volunteers from Compassionate Ferndale are planning to turn over nearly 600 signatures this week with language for a ballot issue that would call of the City of Ferndale in fully decriminalize up to one ounce of marijuana for all adults 21 years of age and older on private property. Marijuana would still be illegal under federal laws.

Voters have already taken this step in five other Michigan cities, including Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Traverse City, Flint, and Detroit. Ferndale can be next. It’s one more move toward a sane approach to the reefer madness that has gripped some politicians and law enforcement for decades.

The 43 year-old “War on Drugs” has failed miserably. I call again, along with many other respected community leaders and health and legal experts, for the full decriminalization of marijuana, and an end to marijuana policies that rely on law enforcement, prosecution, criminal penalties, and incarceration for users and in its place new models of regulation, taxation, education, and addiction treatment.

That the war on marijuana has failed is almost universally accepted. Beginning in 1937, and accelerated by President Nixon in 1970, the U.S. criminalization of marijuana has resulted in hundreds of thousands of persons arrested, prosecuted, and jailed, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. For that money, we have seen the creation of huge underground economies that are neither taxed nor regulated. We have spent precious resources on prisons, lawyers, and law enforcement that focus on drug use instead of burglaries, larceny, rape and other violent crime. Meanwhile resources for drug and addiction treatment are reduced, while grandmothers are arrested for baking brownies.

Marijuana has been decriminalized in many places across the globe, including nations in Europe, and in two states and certain cities here in the US. The results show no increase in crime, addiction, or use. Everywhere medical marijuana issues are put on the ballot, voters pass them in overwhelming numbers. Yet some reactionary segments of society, particularly in law enforcement, continue to follow failed policies of prohibition.

In Ferndale, MI, voters have voted for legalization of medical marijuana three times. Each time they voted the percentage of voters saying yes increased, until finally during the state referendum 4 years ago Ferndale residents voted 3 to 1 in favor of decriminalization. As a Councilman and then Mayor in Ferndale, I came out in support of these efforts, against the advice of advisors and other politicians. As mayor, I worked for a year with City Council devising zoning rules, developing policies, drafting legal legislation and planning for medical marijuana to come to Ferndale, following the wishes of our residents and the people of Michigan. Our police chief was on board, the city council and city staff were together; we set up policies to regulate dispensaries in our city. We opened one with great fanfare, and it was toured by mayors, council members, and police officials from several neighboring cities. There were no problems, complaints or issues of any kind during the two months Clinical Relief was open, that is until the day the Sheriff and his strike force came to town with helicopters, bullet proof vests, automatic weapons, and dogs.

Marijuana is one of those issues that many politicians are frightened of. Most know the current system is unfair, illogical, unwise, expensive, and doomed to failure. They also will refuse to take any corrective action. Three of our recent Presidents have admitted to using marijuana, but the denial and silence by politicians is still the rule.

Progress is slow, but Ferndale may get its chance to weigh in on the issue in just a few short months. For those of us who want law enforcement to focus on true crime that affects our citizens and to empty the prisons of pot smokers, it is worth the ten minutes it will take to vote on November 5th.

As you vote, remember the astronomical taxpayer costs of prohibition from arrests, enforcement, prosecutions and imprisonment. Then think of the funds that would become available for schools, public safety, and roads with marijuana regulation and taxation.

In this age of growing austerity, we can no longer afford to pay for the failed war on cannabis. Ferndale voters will send such a message this Fall.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ferndale Pride Festival June 2013 Total Success !

I am so pleased to report that with our final financial results completed from the 2013 Ferndale Gay Pride festival, we are able to share success beyond our most optimistic projections.

More than 15,000 people attended some part of our weekend events, including the Rainbow Run, the pre-Friday event at Affirmations, the street festival, the Dyke March, and the parties in all of the clubs and restaurants along W. Nine Mile and Woodward Avenue. That is double our estimate from last year's festival's events.

The Chamber's Rainbow Run itself doubled in size, and doubled its fundraising.

The sponsors donated 40% more funding to the event, and we had an increase of 15% in businesses and organizations renting booth space. We had two stages instead of one, and total funds raised grew by more than one third.

Funds that were pure profit, which are being donated to Ferndale Community Foundation, Affirmations, and Michigan AIDS Coalition, were up by 50%, and total $15,000.

The weather held up after a week of rain, and most importantly, the community got to gather in its diversity and pride and have fun. Ferndale loves its festivals, and the Ferndale festival organizers deserve all of the credit.

The folks who put this festival on with me this year include Greg Pawlica, Julia Music, Monica Mills, Tony Phoenix, Derek Pratley, Eddie Mulak, and Sharon Chess. Kudos to you all!

Monday, July 22, 2013

17th Year for the Annual Ferndale Pub Crawl Friday July 26


Thousands expected for annual charity event!

(Ferndale, MI) – This is the original…the big one! One of the most popular and anticipated events each summer in Ferndale is the Annual Ferndale Pub Crawl. Always held the last Friday of July, the walking downtown tour raises money for four local not-for-profit organizations. Registration for the event runs from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at Boogie Fever and from 9 pm until midnight at the ELKS lodge, both on Woodward in downtown Ferndale. Participants must be at least 21 years of age; motorized vehicles are prohibited.

This event began 17 years ago with 36 people walking to the half dozen bars in downtown Ferndale. The event grew every year with more people and more clubs and venues, as the renaissance of Ferndale took place. This year the crowds will visit 16 pubs, clubs and restaurants. All funds raised go to four local tax-deductible charities, including the Ferndale Police Auxiliary, FernCare, Ferndale Community Foundation, and the Michigan AIDS Coalition. The event typically raises about $12,000 annually. Crawlers travel in groups of 15 to 100 people and they spend 20 minutes to a half hour at each venue.

The venues are as diverse as the crowds of residents and visitors who attend, and include upscale martini bars, several dance clubs, sports bars, gay bars, an underground club, restaurants, “shot & a beer” neighborhood pubs, and even an outdoor tiki bar. The participants are diverse in age, race, income and orientation. They buy food and drinks, and they see the shops and stores that abound in vibrant downtown Ferndale. About 30 volunteers help the event run smoothly and safely.

New this year is a “trivia tour” happening simultaneously during the pub crawl. People wishing to participate in the trivia tour will also register at Boogie Fever and get questions and clues about a smaller list of select bars and clubs. They will then try and find the correct locations and get answers to questions about that venue. The winner of a later drawing with the correct answers will win a gift basket of prizes and certificates worth more than $250.

“The Pub Crawl is all about camaraderie and fun, but it also secures funds for our local charities, and it showcases Ferndale's myriad fine businesses,” said pub crawl founder and former mayor Craig Covey.
Top sponsors this year include Rosie O’Grady’s, Absolute Vodka, Dino’s, Soho, Como’s and Boogie Fever. Additional sponsors include Schramm’s Mead, Attorney Howard Shifman, Valentine Distillery, and Relief Choices.
Web site for the event is or join its Face book event page: 17th Annual Ferndale Pub Crawl. Tickets are $10 and can only be purchased the night of the event at Boogie Fever from 6:30 until 9 pm or at the Elks Lodge from 9 until midnight. For information or to volunteer contact Monica Mills at 248.545.1435 X 117 or email her at:

Friday, July 05, 2013

More Investing in Green/Energy/Jobs

I had the pleasure of addressing a large crowd last week in downtown Ferndale demanding more investment in jobs, particularly green jobs. It makes so much sense, which may explain why Congress can't seem to make it happen. Always being one who wants to multi-task, the idea of creating jobs in a new green economy would move towards solving some of our most intransigent problems.

More investment in green infrastructure would reduce unemployment, add stimulus to the economy, gear up construction, and at the same time, reduce environmental degradation. Every dollar invested in green energy that is sustainable, such as solar, wind, biomass, and geo-thermal, also reduces spending on fossil fuels that sends money overseas and contributes to air pollution and climate change.

Some believe that the shale oil and gas energy "boom" is the answer to our stagnent economy, but really it is a step back to the past. Using billions of gallons of precious fresh water to "frack" for gas miles underground is a double-edged sword. It may be a "bridge" to a greener future energy plan, but it will just extend our addiction to the fuels of the 20th century. Meanwhile, as fresh water becomes scarcer and more expensive, we will have squandered huge amounts in drilling and fracking that may be permanently poisoned.

Nations as varied as Brazil, Holland, Germany, and Sweden are way ahead of this country in moving away from fossil fuels and toward a smarter, greener future.
If we are the richest and most innovative nation on earth, then why is our energy and green infrastructure policy so lazy and backward?

We can keep extending the life of our oil/gas/coal energy lifestyle, but it is not a plan that is sustainable or smart. Unless we want our future jobs to be building dikes to hold back the rising seas, and selling Great Lakes water to parched nations, we ought to start investing in green energy and sustainable green infrastructure employement. Our kids and grand-kids will thank us.