Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm apologized Tuesday for using a
city-financed newsletter to campaign against the marijuana initiative on
the April 8 ballot.

Boehm wrote an article in the March 24 issue of the "Neighborhood Watch -
Crime Blockers" newsletter, which is published and mailed by the
( Columbia Police Department in
which he urged voters to "go to the polls and vote NO on the proposed
ordinance." Improper Action Under
( Section 115.646
of the Missouri Revised Statutes, no contribution or expenditure of public
funds can be made to advocate, support or oppose any ballot measure.

"It was improper," Boehm said on Tuesday. "I was not as familiar as I
should be about that rule. I put an article in every newsletter. I didn't
take into account that it could be against the law."

Dan Viets, a lawyer and advocate of the proposed ordinance, brought the
newsletter to the attention of public officials including Second Ward
Councilman Chris Janku last week.

"The state statute prohibits spending any public money on campaigns," City
Counselor Fred Boeckman said. "After Councilman Janku called it to my
attention, I called Chief Boehm and explained the law. He was apologetic."

The Proposal

The city proposal, which will appear on the ballot as
Proposition 1, would require that all misdemeanor marijuana possession
cases be sent to Municipal Court, reduce fines for first-time offenses to
$25 and allow medicinal use of the drug for seriously ill patients with a
doctor's recommendation.

Mayor Darwin Hindman said Tuesday that he had not heard about Boehm's
article, but he said any decision by the council to take action against
Boehm would take place in an open meeting of the City Council.

"I don't mind admitting when I make a mistake, but I hope we can find a way
to keep the focus on the proposed ordinance," Boehm said. "I hope the
public can get proper information so they can make an informed vote."


Related Links

* -- Missouri
Revised Statutes

* -- Columbia Police Department

* --
Proposition 1

Pubdate: Tue, 01 Apr 2003
Source: Columbia Missourian (MO)
Copyright: 2003 Columbia Missourian