Jun 132017

District B City Council candidates Catherine Love and Timothy David Ray speak Monday night before the Faubourg Delachaise Neighborhood Association at Spirit Wine on Magazine. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

In a city with such costly obligations that money to prosecute criminals has to be weighed against fixing roads, finding new revenue and holding down expenses are the only way to increase the services the city can afford.

And one possible solution, two candidates for District B suggested Monday night, may be legalizing marijuana, reducing the cost of enforcing drug laws that overburden all elements of the criminal justice system and raising money for new projects through taxes.

The two candidates — Catherine Love and Timothy David Ray — were speaking before the Faubourg Delachaise Neighborhood Association on Monday in one of the first public question-and-answer sessions with the candidates leading up to the October city government elections. Both gave an introduction and noted the unusual coincidence that both had lived in Germany — Love while working on a doctoral degree at Frei University, and Ray while teaching legal courses at Humboldt University in the same city.

For the next half hour, the candidates then took a handful of questions from the neighborhood association members about crime issues and the city’s spending. Marijuana played into their answers on both issues.

Regarding funding for the criminal justice system, Love said she had spent the day watching the city’s revenue forecasting sessions, which consists of “a lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

“We really just need to re-look at how we’re spending money and where we’re getting money,” Love said. “One of the worst problems is that we’re criminally prosecuting things that are not criminal issues in our society anymore. You’re talking about somebody that has a joint that’s getting criminal prosecution. They’re sitting in jail for months for a joint.”

Love said she doesn’t personally use marijuana, but her parents were hippies, and when she studied in Holland it was widely accepted as part of society.

“Why are we putting people in jail and leaving them sitting there for crimes that are not violent that do not affect other people?” Love asked. “If we took the limited resources we have and focus on violent crimes and property damage crimes and things that are affecting us as citizens, instead of somebody who goes in their backyard and smokes a joint – likes who cares? Instead of overburdening the system, I think re-evaluating our criminal justice is just as important.”

When association members asked about how the city could generate new forms of revenue, Ray returned to the theme.

“I’ve thought about, if the citizens of New Orleans are open to this, legalizing marijuana and also regulating marijuana,” Ray said. “I don’t think we’ve ever looked at that as a city yet.”

The legalization of marijuana has been a success in other places where it has been tried — such as Colorado — in recent years, Ray said. That success can be measured in new tax revenue — much of it from tourists — to pay for governmental services that would be especially helpful in New Orleans, where everything is chronically underfunded.

“Amsterdam is a very high tourist destination for many reasons, but I think it’s something we should look at,” Ray said. “Other states have done it. What I’m afraid of is that Texas and Mississippi are going to do it first, and if they do, it’ll take the edge of us a little bit. We won’t make as much money. We won’t be the first ones.”

Three other candidates have also announced for the District B seat — Jay Banks, Seth Bloom and Eric Johnson — and all were invited to the meeting, Faubourg Delachaise members said. Johnson was expected to attend, but did not show up, said organizer Debby Pigman.

  One Response to “District B candidates ask: Could legalizing marijuana balance New Orleans’ budget?”

  1. This is the worst idea a candidate (or candidates) could ever propose. Why not also eliminate the drinking age, that way the City will collect more taxes from those under 21 who will drink before they are able to handle it (and many can’t), get drunk AND stoned, and injure and/or kill themselves and lots of other innocent citizens. Has it ever occurred to our politicians that what is good for them is toxic to the rest of the citizenry? Has it ever occurred to the politicians that we expect them to make do with whatever tax dollars we allow them to confiscate from us, and perhaps they should try living within a budget that doesn’t grow year after year while government services get worse and worse and more and more expensive? Did anyone notice that in yesterday’s shooting of the “Republican” Congressional baseball team, one of those injured was identified only as “a lobbyist”? How many other lobbyists are on the team or contributing $ to these politicians? The Democrats are no different. The only difference between the parties is which lobbyists support which party and when you look closely enough you will see that many of them support BOTH parties. You know what it is going to take to end the nonsense? Strict term limits, coupled with public auditing of anybody elected to office, every year that person serves, and for up to 10 (pick a number, the higher the better) years after the person leaves office. Make those who are elected pay for every post-election audit if the person’s net worth goes up more than the rate of inflation (another benchmark our government lies to its citizens about on a daily basis to hide what the public debt is doing to the entire citizenry, especially our descendants). People, you’d better wake up and start paying attention to what these thieves are up to. As long as you’re watching the NFL and/or The Housewives of Your Favorite City to Hate, they will be quietly robbing you, your children, and their children blind while you are not watching. The press/media won’t do it anymore.They have already picked their side.

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