HASSO HERING

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Councilor vows to block pot sales ban

Written December 2nd, 2015 by Hasso Hering
Councilor Ray Kopczynski, left, and Dick Olsen, right, are two of the three opponents of a recreational pot sales ban.

Councilors Ray Kopczynski, left, and Dick Olsen, right, are two of the three opponents of a recreational pot sales ban.

The evergreen Christmas garland on the dais notwithstanding, the Albany City Council got into a sharp disagreement Wednesday over Councilman Ray Kopczynski’s announced intention to block a ban on retail sales and other commercial activity involving marijuana.

When the prohibition ordinance comes up for its second reading and final vote on Monday, Kopczynski said, rather than voting against it, he’ll abstain from voting. This would yield a 3-2 majority for the ban, not enough to pass it because the city charter requires four votes for the council to act. It would also prevent Mayor Sharon Konopa from casting the deciding fourth vote, because she can vote only if there’s a tie.

Kopczynski said he was driven to this drastic step because the pot opponents had rejected his proposals for a compromise. If retail sales are to be banned, he would like medical marijuana dispensaries to be allowed to sell recreational weed through 2016, which state law allows but the council previously banned.

The marijuana opponents on the council denounced Kopczynski’s plan. Rich Kellum said this kind of stuff makes the council seem like Washington, D.C. Floyd Collins said councilors have a duty to vote. Bessie Johnson accused Kopczynski of undercutting majority rule, but he pointed out that Albany voters had approved Measure 91, which last year sought to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana sales.

The council voted 4-3, with Konopa the tie-breaker, to direct City Attorney Jim Delapoer to prepare an amendment to the council rules to thwart the abstention move. The amendment would count any abstention as a no vote. This would restore the 3-3 tie on the marijuana ban, giving Konopa a chance to pass it.

That amendment will come up Monday, the last scheduled meeting of the year (7:15 p.m., City Hall), but it can’t be enacted at one meeting because at least one council member will object. So unless the council calls a special meeting, neither the rule change nor the sales ban will become law before January. On Jan. 4 the state plans to accept applications for recreational marijuana stores.

Kopczynski could also block the pot prohibition by not showing up to vote at all. But he didn’t want to do that. It would seem like chickening out. (“Chicken…” was part of the word he used when I asked him why didn’t just stay away.)

The other opponents of the sales ban are Dick Olsen and Bill Coburn. Both plan to stick by their positions, and they’ll also oppose the rules change.

If the ban takes effect despite all this, it will be referred to the voters on Nov. 8, 2016.  (hh)

 

 



15 responses to “Councilor vows to block pot sales ban”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    And people think that understanding parliamentary procedure is a waste of time.

    Interesting move, Ray. Do you also play chess?

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      I used to when I was growing up — haven’t for 40+ years now. (Same with contract bridge…)

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    “Bessie Johnson accused Kopczynski of undercutting majority rule, but he pointed out that Albany voters had approved Measure 91, which last year sought to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana sales.”

    Bessie & math don’t seem to get along very well!

    And then the same, hypocritical mayor that personally opposed Wal Mart from moving into the Lowes site because of “the way they treat employees” but was more than willing to stand at the ribbon cutting ceremony (PHOTO OP) gushing about all the new jobs, is supposed to make decisions for the rest of us?

    • I don’t remember Walmart being interested in what became the Lowe’s site. Walmart years ago tried for the site of the old plywood plant on S.W. Pacific but was thwarted by a state highway planning rule. (hh)

  3. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    I believe it was FDR who said – Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.

  4. Jim Engel says:

    Mr Collins, you & your cohorts doing an end run around thru an amendment to get your way is most definitely Washington “good ole boys” style politics. I might say your actions at times seem sanctimonious, solicitous, and reflects your position as an equine’s derriere. And that’s to keep this blog polite!…JE

    • Bob Woods says:

      One of these days you should read the constitution. We have a representative democracy.

      To paraphrase a quote, Jim, this one seems to most appropriately apply to you: ” I might say your words at times seem sanctimonious, solicitous, and reflects your position as an equine’s derriere.”

  5. A Centrist says:

    Frankly, the rule change to equate an abstention to a “no” is weak, selfish, and just bad business. It likely cannot withstand judicial review. Votes that descend from the practice would likely be overturned as well.
    Get your spit together folks. There’s much more important work to do.

  6. Peggy Richner says:

    I wonder why Mayor Konopa seems to believe she is anointed to decide what other people may or may not do in their choice of personal vices. It is my opinion that people have a right to make their own choices in this regard, even if they have later regrets.

    • Bob Woods says:

      She was elected by the people, that’s why.

      Read the Constitution.

      • Peggy Richner says:

        The Albany Constitution?

        • Bob Woods says:

          For Albany, it’s the Charter; for the state it’s the State Constitution; and for the nation it’s the Federal Constitution. All three require representative government.

          Representative government means PRECISELY that elected officials are “…anointed to decide what other people may or may not do…” That’s what they are elected to do.

          • Peggy Richner says:

            Those representatives are then accountable not only to the people who elected them, but also to those who did not. Such representatives do not have dictatorial powers, at least not in the United States.

 

 
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