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Wednesday, Sept.20, 2006 | Dear Mayor Sanders, City Attorney Aguirre, Police Chief Lansdowne, the San Diego City Council, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors:

I figure just one letter to all of you will do. It is about a shared problem. Also, it will save on postage. If you folks had been as frugal as I, the city wouldn’t be in the fix it is in today.

But I digress, we have a problem here involving crime, one not specifically yours. In fact, you may take some comfort in the fact that the nation as a whole is handling it even worse than San Diego did its pension problem, and it’s not even looking for a solution as hard as you guys.

I say it’s time for some rational thought. Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Now, no matter how tempting it may be, I’m not going to call you lawmakers, law enforcers, and law deciders insane, but many of our laws are just that.

Take the increasingly draconian ones designed to protect us from drugs. They are not working, and we here near the border bear a special responsibility to look for solutions, and those solutions do not require more jails.

Yet, that’s mostly what we’re getting. Building jails is the biggest growth industry in California and the nation today. As it is, we have to build the things because we have more people per capita behind bars than any country in the world, and that’s not cheap. We throw more money at the drug problem than any country in the world – all this while various hallucinogens are more plentiful on the streets than ever before.

I wonder what I missed all these years. I never considered myself sheltered, but I had been in the Navy for 17 years before I even saw marijuana. Then I didn’t even try it for another 10 years. After all that, rather than wanting to rape and kill as I’d been promised, I simply fell asleep. Now, another 20 years down the road I fall asleep without any artificial soporific.

So, where does rational thought come in to all this? First, we ought to pay attention to Albert and stop doing what doesn’t work. Then we ought to try and figure out what does. That’s pretty much the advice of Judge James Gray of Orange County. Judge Gray will be the guest of the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry (SDARI) this coming Sunday evening at the Joyce Beers Center in Hillcrest.

Gray wrote a book about drugs,”Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It – A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs.” He will be speaking courtesy of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). No bleeding heart liberal, Judge Gray was a conservative Republican who was appointed to the bench, then to Superior Court by Governor Deukmejian.

The judge fits in well with the outfit sponsoring his talk. LEAP is comprised of police, parole, probation and corrections officers, judges, and prosecutors. It even has prison wardens, FBI and DEA agents to help make up their bureau of more than 100 speakers. LEAP is based in Medford, Conn.

Here is a blurb from their website: The mission of LEAP is to reduce the multitude of harms resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition.

It aims to do this by:

  • Educating the public, the media, and policy makers about the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug use and the elevated crime rates – more properly related to drug prohibition than to drug pharmacology – and;
  • To restore the public’s respect for police, which has been greatly diminished by law enforcement’s involvement in imposing drug prohibition.

So, movers and shakers of our community, please stop by the Joyce Beers Center this Sunday. I guarantee you’ll learn something you can use. You might come up with a solution that will put you ahead of your contemporaries across the country. That would generate better publicity than a failed mayor, or a billion and half dollar debt.

And for the general public, of course the you are invited also. There’s no charge. If you decide to come, please call your council person or supervisor and tell them you’d like to see them there. Doors open at 6 p.m., program starts at 7. Bring a sandwich and say hello.

Keith Taylor is program chair for the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry www.sdari.org He can be reached at KRTaylorxyz@aol.com

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