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Portugal, 10 Years after Decriminalization

According to a recent Forbes article, 10 years ago after all drugs in Portugal were decriminalized, drug abuse in the nation has been cut in half.  Portugal has had one of the most progressive drug policies out of modern countries, and they are a shining example of why we should follow their example and end the War on Drugs.  Most critics to Portugal’s decision thought that it would make the country a drug vacationing destination, but contrary to popular belief this never happened.  Drug addiction switched from being treated as a criminal problem to a health issue, and this allowed addicts much easier access to seek treatment instead of having them locked up in a cage.  Thus, drug abuse was treated more humanely and at a far cheaper cost to society.

According to the report:

Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

“There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.

“This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”

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New Santa Barbara County Redistricting Map: Status Quo and Corrupt

New Santa Barbara county district map proposed by George Relles and approved by liberal supervisors

Every 10 years we are given the chance to rewrite district lines to adjust for population growth and to fix the mistakes of the past.  Sadly, the newly accepted district map for Santa Barbara county only meets one of these criteria, as it reeks with political corruption.  Once again, it appears that Santa Barbara county is getting it’s lines gerrymandered by the liberal supervisors who are more interested in keeping the status quo and protecting their power.  To make matters worse, the redistricting process was conducted by the supervisors themselves, while working with a political insider, instead of a citizen panel like the California redistricting project.  The supervisors who are perpetrating this scandal are Doreen Farr, Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal, and the political insider whose map they are accepting is George Relles, a long time supporter and campaign consultant to these supervisors.  George is associated with the progressive group SBCAN, the Santa Barbara County Action Network.  Farr, Wolf and Carbajal are also all members of SBCAN.  This organization ended up controlling the redistricting process, which as it turns out was not a public process at all, but simply a big sham.

At the public hearings, numerous citizens put forth map proposals which would have moved Isla Vista from the third district to second district because it shares more of a community of interest to Goleta and Santa Barbara than to Lompoc or Santa Ynez.  Additionally, many Lompoc citizens, including the city council, wanted Lompoc to be a part of a single district to have their vote count for something.  None of these requests were considered by the liberal supervisors, who instead gave them the proverbial middle finger.  With the new map, Lompoc is now getting split into two districts, one sharing a district with Santa Maria and one sharing a district with Isla Vista.  Nothing says disenfranchisement like having your votes in Lompos offset by transitory college students!  Liberals claim that keeping IV in the third district ensures the swing vote when determining the county supervisor majority (ie. which is code for liberal incumbent protection).  But it’s quite obvious that Doreen Farr would have never been able to win the third district without IV, thus it was vital for the liberal majority to maintain the status quo map to retain their power.

According to Lompoc resident and GOP central committee member, Robert Jeffers, who was interviewed by the Santa Maria Times, “His (Relles’) map was designed to solidify the incumbents in the lower regions,” referring to the South Coast. “In Lompoc, our vote is pretty much toast. Lompoc’s voice won’t be heard because we’re a minority in both districts.”

Andy Caldwell, executive director of COLAB (Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business) told the Santa Maria Times, “This has to stop, this is wrong.  They (the board majority) take Relles’ map, and Gray and Lavagnino say can we talk about lines in our areas and they said no. They screwed Lavagnino and Gray for their own interests. They gerrymandered the entire North County.”

We need to convey to the public what has transpired and ask the Board of Supervisors to relinquish the power to draw their own district boundaries.

We DO HAVE RECOURSE!!!

The law allows District Attorney Dudley, the Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone, and the County Clerk Recorder Joe Holland to perform the task of redistricting.  We have hope and do trust that these three elected officials will not recruit a campaign consultant to do this important task to the detriment of the voting public.

The Board of Supervisors only had ONE meeting to debate and discuss their campaign consultants map.  It will not take ANY time at all for Dudley, Cirone and Holland to finish the task of drawing fair lines for district boundaries in the time allotted by the law.

Please contact your County Supervisors and demand that they withdraw themselves from this process.  They have demonstrated that they are overtly partisan and cannot be trusted with this task!

Please prepare to attend the Board of Sups meeting on August 2 and do contact the Board members in the meantime.

1st District: Salud Carbajal

Phone: (805) 568-2186
Fax: (805) 568-2534
E-mail: SupervisorCarbajal@sbcbos1.org
Website: Salud Carbajal

2nd District: Janet Wolf

Phone: (805) 568-2191
Fax: (805) 568-2283
E-mail: jwolf@sbcbos2.org
Website: Janet Wolf

3rd District: Doreen Farr, Vice-Chair

Phone: (805) 568-2192
Fax: (805) 568-2883
Solvang: (805) 686-5095
Fax: (805) 686-8133
E-mail: dfarr@countyofsb.org
Website: Doreen Fa

4th District: Joni Gray, Chair

Lompoc: (805) 737-7700
Santa Maria: (805) 346-8407
E-mail: jgray@co.santa-barbara.ca.us
Website: Joni Gray

5th District: Steve Lavagnino

Santa Maria: (805) 346-8400
Fax: (805) 346-8404
E-mail: steve.lavagnino@countyofsb.org
Website: Steve Lavagnino

To read more, check out these articles below: