Sigh. I don’t like writing this. Polk has been my favorite City Council member, but what he did Monday was irresponsible. He was stopped by police for driving under the influence of marijuana, and for possession of the same. He was driving slowly down a two-way street, weaving, and straddling lanes. His car smelled of marijuana, and the police found two packages of it on him. He claimed he wasn’t smoking it, but had had a glass of wine a half-hour earlier. Gee, you know, if you mix two depressants together (alcohol and marijuana), the effect is magnified. Polk could’ve had one “hit” of pot, but mix the alcohol with it, and he would’ve acted like he had four. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit. I can’t quantify how much the effect would be magnified. I just know from what we learned in health class in high school many years ago.
According to the Daily Camera article (which I link to), after the arresting officer detected the presence of pot and noticed that his proof of insurance had expired more than a month ago, Polk told the officer he was not going to cooperate with him any more. Shame on you, Polk! You should know better.
After being arrested and booked, Polk was released. I guess because they figured it would be too embarrassing for him, given that he’s a public figure in this town. I suppose they didn’t think he was a flight risk either.
Polk has some major owning up to do. He needs to publicly apologize to the City Council, the city, and to the police officer who arrested him, who was just doing his job. The least we should expect of our city officials is that they follow the law. The Council is also going to decide if Polk will lose his seat. I wouldn’t blame them if they decided to take that away from him. I might be willing to forgive him if he acknowledged that what he did was inexcusable, and would do everything he could so that this would not happen again–meaning get off of pot. He should enter himself in a drug rehab program.
Having said this, we need to admit that we’re sending mixed signals in this town. Rob Smoke, the Chair of the Boulder Human Relations Commission, a city office, has posted on his private web site that he gets “stoned,” and says “I’m a city official.” This is also irresponsible. Is it really necessary to come out and say “I’m a city official” and that he gets “stoned”? Just saying “I’m stoned” without owning up to being a “city official” would be one thing. People would have to put two and two together. He could say that without the connotations of a city official saying it. It could even be taken as a joke. With the way he’s saying it one could interpret this as encouraging illegal behavior, and like I said, the least we should expect of our city officials is that they follow the law. And I’ll add that they should encourage others to follow the law, especially when using their title. Otherwise what is their office good for? They’re making decisions, yes, but part of their job is implementing city laws and policies. This involves exercising some authority. Some people in town are uncomfortable with this concept, and Smoke is probably one of them.
How can their authority be respected if they’re sending mixed messages about the city’s own policies and laws? This “works” for some people, since they don’t like some laws and policies anyway. The problem is there will be times when citizens will run up against laws and policies they don’t like, but city officials will be in a position of enforcing them anyway. The net effect of that enforcement is lessened when different people are sending different signals about what laws and policies they’re willing to follow and which they’re less enamored with, and are more likely to turn the other way when they see them being violated.
Smoke (what a name, eh?) has noticed he’s been getting some heat for his public behavior, and called Suzy Ageton a “meerkat.” Wow, talk about immature. I wonder how she likes being called that.
Boulder gets the city officials it deserves.
To my knowledge, Smoke has not been caught using or possessing marijuana, so he’s not in the same situation as Polk. However, I think that Smoke should be reprimanded/removed from his position for in effect encouraging illegal behavior.
There is this attitude in Boulder that just because someone becomes a public official, that other aspects of their life should not have to change at all. If they smoked pot before taking office, well they should be able to do it afterwards. If they advocated overthrowing the government before taking office, they should be allowed to do that afterwards as well, with no risk to their position (think Ward Churchill). Other examples could be, if they made a habit of parking illegally or speeding before taking office, they should be allowed to do the same afterwards. By that argument, if they held under-age drinking parties before, they should be able to do that afterwards. I could go on. Not to say that everyone here shares this opinion, but this attitude is prevalent among public officials, and it has plenty of supporters. To these folks the law and concept of government are flexible if they themselves deem it so. It is latent autocracy, since people like this respect no law they did not write themselves.