Editorial: Alarm bells uncalled for
June 25, 2011
Craig City Council member needs to support his medical marijuana claims with hard facts before tarnishing another city or school, and alarming the local community about an issue that’s more pandering than problematic.
During a recent meeting, Craig City Council member Byron Willems claimed that 10 percent of the Steamboat Springs population and nearly every student at Colorado Mountain College has a medical marijuana card.
He used little supporting facts when making his claims, and voiced concerns about the perceived marijuana problem spreading to Craig.
His soapbox on this issue has the Editorial Board thinking that at least 14 percent (Willems) of the city council is out of touch and trying to create an issue and concern in Craig and Moffat County where none really exists.
It's not unusual for politicians (mostly ineffective ones) to grab hold of an issue that's somewhat sensitive and ram it into the ground as a way to pander to voters.
These issues aren't generally ones that have a large impact on a great number of people, but ones that touch nerves and play on emotions.
What's rare in this case is that it's happening at a local level, where grassroots and effective governing generally exist rather than a mirror of the cheap tactics of state and federal politics.
In his bid for re-election, Willems ran with the medical marijuana issue, as well as his support of a questionable city ordinance (social hosting), perhaps in an attempt to take attention away from his spotty attendance record at city council meetings.
It must have worked: his approach to medical marijuana and the social host ordinance gained him just enough favor to earn more time on the council.
Please don't misunderstand the Editorial Board with this opinion piece. We're neither voicing support nor opposition to medical marijuana in our community. We don't know enough on this issue, and it deserves additional study and consideration.
However, the fact remains that it's here and it's a legal enterprise in our state and must be dealt with in a manner other than frantically sounding the alarm bells.
No, we're critical of Willems today because he's taken the issue and turned it into a platform when it shouldn't be.
Does the city council not have more pressing concerns? Could Willems' attention not be turned to matters that affect more people?
The last time we checked, it's the economy — locally, statewide and nationally — that ranks as the biggest worry for most residents, not whether marijuana is running rampant.
We contend the council definitely has bigger issues to consider and work on, and if Willems wants to be a valued public servant like most of our elected officials are, he should stop thrusting his personal agenda onto the public.
The Editorial Board believes Willems has an obligation to back up his claims with facts.
If not, he owes the City of Steamboat Springs and the students and administration at Colorado Mountain College an apology for throwing dirt on their community and school, respectively, and one to Craig residents for wasting their time.