If you have not voted already — it is time to do so and make sure you vote yes on the $5 million dollar bond to rebuild the 1960s-era South end firehouse on S.E. 68th Street. It is falling apart. If the voters say “yes” to the levy, the new place will not be fancy. The proposed levy will fund a barebones replacement. After much hand-wringing, the Council voted to minimize the size of the new station. Yes, the bond issue includes funding for a new emergency rescue truck, a step that had been planned for several years. While the truck may not have many miles on it, replacing it later will mean it will cost more with higher borrowing costs, a higher sticker price.
But beyond the real need for timely emergency services, whether it is a life or death medical call or an earthquake, the firehouse serves as the city’s presence in the everyday life of the community — an invaluable community amenity. What does it say about our community values to skimp on the firehouses or delay replacing key equipment? No one seems to mind when hundreds of thousands of dollars (albeit from different funds including private donations) are paid for resurfacing ballfields.
Speaking of money, it is plainly time to legalize and tax marijuana.
We’ve waged a war on drugs for decades. Sometimes the battle is worth it, but many times it is not. The illegality of marijuana doesn’t mean it’s not available. Far from it. It is grown extensively and is readily available to those who want it. But, because it’s “illegal,” we waste millions of law-enforcement dollars trying to eradicate it, money that would be better spent stopping violent crime. Some worry that marijuana is a gateway drug, leading people to harder — and more destructive — substances. But that remains debatable and beside the point. The public can buy liquor and tobacco products in their neighborhood grocery store. Government isn’t about to stop that — it makes too much money by taxing them. Marijuana should be treated — and taxed — the same.
Vote “yes” on I-502.