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Arrogance of power

Monday, March 30, 2009
Time: 5:58 PM

As you know, not only do I blog about stuff happening in Danbury, I also keep an eye on things happening at the State Capitol. That being said, after watching him in numerous committees, it's quite apparent that State Senator Mike McLachlan is doing a horrific job representing the 24th district.

Lets put aside the fact that McLachlan's votes so far this session are ridiculous (trust me, I'll address that topic in future posts), the main problem with the state senator is that he's so self-righteous that he goes out of his way to belittle and disrespect
Democrats, other elected officials, and members of the public who don't share his twisted viewpoint is disgusting to say the least.

Take for instance, State Senate Bill 349: AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR POSSESSION OF A SMALL AMOUNT OF MARIJUANA. Here's a breakdown of the bill as proposed by Majority leader State Senator Martin Looney:
That subsection (c) of section 21a-279 of the general statutes be amended to make the penalty for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana an infraction rather than an unclassified misdemeanor.

Statement of Purpose:

To create a more sensible state policy regarding marijuana possession by classifying the possession of a small amount of marijuana as an infraction.

Now, put aside where you stand on this issue for a moment as it's not really the focus of this post. I did a live-blog over at My Left Nutmeg on the public hearing on SB 349 last week and was appalled with the attitude McLachlan took with members of the public on this issue.

Take for instance the comments from James Meickle, a member of Central Connecticut State University's Students for Sensible Drug Policy. From the start of his testimony, it was quite apparent that Meickle did his homework on this topic and delivered a very rational and well-thought out presentation...unfortunately McLachlan took the "I'm right and your wrong" approach to the student and, when unable to offer a rebuttal to Meickle's points (probably because he HAD NONE), our lovely state senator did what he does best...belittle people.

Watch the video clip (I apologize for the length of the clip but it's important to watch the entire presentation and how Meickle is questioned by all the members of the committee to get a true understanding of the arrogance of this FRESHMAN State Senator...but if you can't wait, McLachlan's rant starts about 3:55 into the clip).

Luckily, Meickle is a reader of My Left Nutmeg and talked about testifying in front of the judiciary committee...as well as his thoughts on McLachlan.
I'd like to thank you for cutting down and uploading these videos - it saves me the trouble of looking for them myself! In return, here are my thoughts on the proceedings. They may have been colored by my circumstances in the moment (it was my first time doing this and I was pretty nervous to say the least), but perhaps they will prove enlightening:

McLachlan: I found him to be very hostile, and for no real reason to boot. He asked my thoughts on drug education and I outright said that it was something effective in curtailing drug use - and many advocates of drug policy reform would not admit that - but he insisted on sidestepping that to focus on my support for harm reduction education. And then he got snarky when I pointed out that maneuvering!

I found his ignorance of marijuana 'technology' disturbing: has he ever even read an article about cannabis dispensaries, which produce large amounts of edible goods? Many people simply don't enjoy smoke aside from any health risks. Many more people would avoid smoke, and the carcinogens contained within it, if they were educated about the relative risks of ingested vs. smoked marijuana.

Conway: Conway was polite and direct in his question, however, I misspoke here slightly (long day!). I am not against this policy treating those under 18 or under 21 differently: it shouldn't just be a $100 fine to 14 year olds, or anything along those lines. However, it needs to be done in a way that doesn't penalize these already vulnerable youth populations unnecessarily. Social support is critical here, and it's difficult to legislate that into existence. Referral to the criminal justice system - even the juvenile system - should be a last resort, with preference given to psychological treatment and family education.

Lawlor: I thought that Lawlor was very courteous and open-minded. He seemed legitimately interested in what was going on 'behind the scenes' and I was glad to be able to provide the anecdotes I did. A lot can change at a school over 10 or even 5 years, and I think his questions were an attempt to bring the reality of modern iterations of college indiscretion into a committee that is necessarily divorced from that by the age differential.

Kissel: It's obvious that Kissel had misgivings about this legislation, but he did his best to keep an open mind and I commend him for that. It's very difficult to listen seriously to evidence that goes against what 'feels' right, even if you consciously admit that the feeling may be wrong. I hope that I was able to provide Sen. Kissel with a bit more information to assuage his concerns. They were largely related to issues of safety and security, and it's my opinion that research conclusively dispels the possibility that a decriminalization policy would do more harm than good overall.

Again, where you stand on the issue of whole issue of lowering the penalty of possession of small amounts of marijuana is irrelevant, what's relevant is the attitude of a moronic freshman State Senator who's arrogance and flippant behavior, which we were so accustomed to seeing when he was Boughton's chief of staff, is an embarrassment to the entire 24th district (which includes his home city of Danbury...you know, the city that voted AGAINST HIM in the fall election by over 1000 votes).


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On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.

The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.

Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.

Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.



Danbury Area Coalition for the Rights of Immigrants v.
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
3:06-cv-01992-RNC ( D. Conn. )

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(02.25.08) Court Docket

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Order on Motion to Dismiss

Defendants' Answer to Amended Complaint

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