Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman on Tuesday announced his endorsement of Measure B, the June 3 ballot initiative to repeal Measure G and unify the county's medical marijuana policy with the state's legal protections.

Until Tuesday, Allman had steadfastly remained neutral on Measure B, but he says the No on B campaign's misuse of his image and words has changed his mind.

"Without my knowledge or permission, the opponents of Measure B sent out a campaign mailer that includes my uniformed picture and a quote from me," Allman explained. "First, they have taken the quote attributed to me out of context. Second, by doing so they are implying that I am opposed to Measure B. Because of this misrepresentation, I can no longer remain neutral."

The No on B campaign issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying it was disappointed in the sheriff but acknowledging it may have erred in not asking Allman for his permission to put him in the mailer. No on B spokeswoman Laura Hamburg added late Tuesday that the campaign is putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of its campaign consultant, who, she says, used the material despite her instructions not to.

Throughout the controversial campaign on Measure B, Allman has met with both sides and has provided information when asked.

"I have strived to remain neutral on the ballot initiative for the purpose of allowing the voters to decide," Allman said.

No on B campaign was misusing a quote he gave the Santa Rosa newspaper last year, and reiterated his stance that, "Investigating violent crime will remain our top priority. We do not, and will not, target small grows. We will continue to focus on large grows and complaints about growers who create a public nuisance, endanger public safety or trash the environment."
Recently, at a Measure B forum before the Employers Council of Mendocino County, Allman, when asked, said that Measure B would make his job easier in that he felt many people now growing 25 marijuana plants or more - simply because they can under Measure G -would voluntarily cut back to the six-plant state limit Measure B adopts.

On Tuesday, Allman added, "The investigation of violent crimes, the eradication of large commercial marijuana gardens and combating methamphetamine will remain top priorities for the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office."

And he made it clear he was no longer neutral.

"Today, I lend my name and full support to the passage of Measure B. It is the right thing to do for Mendocino County. I urge the voters to vote and vote for Measure B," he said on Tuesday.

The No on B campaign apologized for using Allman's photo and quotation without his permission but maintained it would continue to use his statements.

"The No on Measure B campaign apologizes for the misperception the voters may have received from our recent mailer and the inconvenience it has caused Sheriff Tom Allman," Laura Hamburg said. "We used a relevant quotation from Sheriff Allman at the end of the campaign mailer with his picture, not to depict him as an endorser. We stated prominently he is neutral. We quoted him as Mendocino County's sheriff with something relevant to say about the potential public safety effects of Measure B. A wiser course of action would have been to place a courtesy call to Sheriff Allman regarding the coming mailer to work out any potential problems ahead of time."

She also said, however, that the No on B campaign was disappointed Allman had decided to end his neutrality.

"We are disappointed that the sheriff has decided to abandon his principled neutrality on Measure B," Hamburg said. "His new position is contrary to his previous statements to the effect that it is his job to enforce the law, not make the law.

"Now the sheriff has disavowed his previous comments," Hamburg said. "We're not sure what has made him change his mind, but we suspect it's pressure from the Yes on B campaign. The sheriff must be a person who can withstand public pressure and maintain principle."

After spending a day explaining how the costly campaign misstep had happened, Hamburg decided later Tuesday to announce that she had warned the No on B consultant not to use Allman's photo and to move his statements elsewhere in the mailer and got the consultant to take the blame publicly.

"I take full responsibility for the inclusion of Sheriff Allman's picture in the No on Measure B mailer and for any confusion about the sheriff's position on Measure B," said Doug Linney, president of the Oakland-based The Next Generation campaign consulting group. "In a rush to meet a deadline for printing the mailer, I failed to make these changes."

Source: Ukiah Daily Journal
Copyright: 2008 Ukiah Daily Journal
Website: Sheriff endorses Measure B - Ukiah Daily Journal