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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: Column: Newspapering Is Not A Crime
Title:US CA: Column: Newspapering Is Not A Crime
Published On:2011-10-20
Source:Sacramento News & Review (CA)
Fetched On:2011-10-23 06:01:39

What's more annoying than relatively healthy 20-somethings who pretend
they have a medical need for weed? Busybodies who presume to tell
other people how to medicate.

That and federal authorities who threaten newspaper publishers for
exercising their rights under the First Amendment.

By now, you've heard about plans by U.S. attorney out of Southern
California, Laura Duffy, to prosecute newspaper publishers, and the
owners of TV and radio stations who run advertisements for
medical-marijuana dispensaries.

Bites can't remember the last time a U.S. attorney issued such a
blanket threat against media outlets. Neither could Jim Ewert, legal
counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. "In fact,
I don't think I've ever seen it before."

"It's so troubling to see resources potentially spent going after
newspapers, TV and radio stations. As public policy, it just boggles
the mind," Ewert added.

The U.S. attorney presiding over the Sacramento region, Benjamin
Wagner, seems less enthused about throwing publishers in jail. And for
now, the SN&R is still publishing its "420" section, as is The
Sacramento Bee. But Ewert said taking medical-pot ads is a "calculated

"I can make quite a strong argument that this is Constitutionally
protected speech. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to
who's wearing the black dress that day."

Does Duffy think she's protecting the community from pot dispensaries?
Because the community clearly has other ideas.

Just take a look at the recent agendas for the Sacramento Planning
Commission. They are inundated with applications for permits for
dispensaries. Because, you know, cannabis is so morally reprehensible
to people that they just can't get enough.

Consider some of the letters the commission got from nearby businesses
about El Camino Wellness Center.

The owner of a neighboring auto-supply store said, "The security
guards they keep posted seem to reduce crime in the

The owner of an apartment building nearby said, "They keep the
neighborhood clean and safe, and are extremely helpful whenever I need

Another neighbor said, "I have personally noticed a decreased activity
in relation to drugs, graffiti, theft and violence in the area." And
so on. So heckuva job, U.S. attorneys, protecting us from these
neighborhood threats.

The Sacramento City Council approved new alley names a couple of weeks
back. They all kind-of sort-of have something to do with Sacramento's
culture or history. Solons Alley for example.

Then there's Government Alley, which is dumb, but also kind of fun in
a foreboding Blade Runner sort of way. But Improv Alley? No.

Why go for faux-historical when you can have the real thing, says
writer David Kulczyk, a frequent SN&R contributor and author of the
cheery California Justice: Shootouts, Lynchings and Assassinations in
the Golden State. His most recent book, California's Fruits, Flakes
and Nuts is coming out in the spring.

He says Improv Alley, just behind where Office Max on J Street is
today, was the scene of the murder of one Joseph Scott, just the
second Sacramento city cop to be killed in the line of duty. "A hobo
shot him. Scott laid in the alley for a couple of hours because the
[1878 version of] Midtown hipsters thought he was passed out," Kulczyk

Also, the Sacramento cops didn't wear uniforms back then, and his
fellow cops thought he had a heart attack. "They only found out that
he was shot when they were preparing him for his embalming."

"Anyway, Scott Alley would be better than Improv," Kulczyk

Agreed. Anything would be better than Improv Alley.
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