Don’t be surprised if the biggest, most publicized issue in this year’s City Commission election is marijuana. Namely, decriminalizing marijuana possession in the city of Marquette.
The newly formed group, Legalize MQT, is planning to run a slate of three candidates for the three open commission seats.
All three will favor making possession of 2.5 ounces of marijuana or less nothing more than a civil infraction with a fine of $100. Just a ticket, in other words. No court appearances, no community service, no probation, no criminal record, and of course, no jailing.
Attorney Brian Bloch, physician Curt Marder and recent NMU graduate Mike Marthaler are behind the move and Marthaler, in fact, will be one of the three candidates. The other two candidates (not Marder and Bloch) will likely be named in the next few days.
Legalize MQT, which raised almost $1000 in a fundraiser last week, will hold further events in the months ahead and will provide logistical support and mount a mailing campaign for its slate of candidates.
Legalize MQT tried to sell its agenda to the current City Commission in December but found no interest. That’s what brought about the election campaign. The non-profit group is also looking to put a decriminalization referendum on the Marquette ballot in 2016.
Similar marijuana decriminalization laws are now in effect in other college towns–notably Ann Arbor and Madison.
Is Marquette, which prides itself on being progressive, ready for such a change? We shall see. What might be concerning is if the marijuana issue dominates the election campaign at the expense of other, more substantive issues.
Yeah, they tell us that all the confusion and incompetence that accompanied the rollout of Obamacare has been ironed out.
Well, there’s still confusion and inexplicable disparities among locals.
Case number one, a 60 year old Marquette woman who just signed up for coverage. She’d previously been covered by her husband’s employer, but her husband just turned 65 and is now covered by Medicare. She went to an insurance agent (at City Insurance) and found a policy for herself with a $338 monthly premium and a $4000 deductible.
She’s thrilled, loves her policy. Not only that but her son got essentially the same policy for less than half the price, and after subsidies, will be paying less than $100 a month. He’s thrilled, too.
Case number two, a retired Big Bay couple, both around 60. They’re not so thrilled.
They previously had a policy with a $415 monthly premium and a $5000 deductible (for the two of them) but were told, with the advent of Obamacare, their new policy would now carry an $897 monthly premium and an $11,700 deductible. Yikes.
They’re not so happy and don’t understand why they’re paying for maternity coverage.
Turns out, with all the rollout problems, they got a one year reprieve on their Obamacare coverage. Still, they’re wondering, why were they assigned such a huge increase? And why can’t they choose the kind of coverage they want?
The disparity in cost and coverage does seem strange and needlessly confusing since they’re all Michigan residents, and all the same age.
Best advice: Go to a local insurance agent and have her/him explain it and sign you up. No fuss, no muss, no extra cost, no pulling your hair out.
Vision, determination and drive. That’s a pretty good way to describe Nheena Weyer Ittner.
She’s the lady who brought us the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum.
And now, eight years after the idea was born, she’s brought us (with the help of Stu Bradley, Brad Jackson and a bunch of kids) the Marquette Skate Park.
She and the others had to go out and find $300,000 from the city, foundations, companies and individuals for the park. It wasn’t necessarily the most popular cause in town–skateboarding teenagers with trousers hanging down around their knees generally don’t win a lot of sympathy from older folks.
But Nheena and the others managed to track down the money and got the park built. All because of vision, determination and drive.
Seems they’re still about $30,000 short, due to change orders and unexpected last minute costs.
If you want to help out, they’re having a party and an auction Thursday, the 27th, at the Blackrocks Brewery Cannery on Washington Street. That’s the old Coca Cola building. 5-7:30 pm.
You’ll be able to learn something about the beer business, enjoy a brew or two, help out the kids, talk to Nheena and figure out how she does it: how she just plows ahead, against all odds, and gets things done.
Speaking of admirable women, how about Aoy LaChappelle, the owner of the Rice Paddy?
She’s heading back to her native country, Thailand, this weekend, with $7500 in hand. That’s money she and her friends have raised from her customers over the last year or so.
She’ll be spending it on shoes, socks, uniforms and food for kids in her hometown of Phraputthabat. It’s a pilgrimage she makes every two years.
She’s done well for herself (working 80 hours a week) in Marquette; she continues to spread the wealth to the less fortunate back home.
She’s someone who could probably win the mayor’s race in both Marquette and Phraputthabat.
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