On Monday July 11, the Tomah city council voted down a proposal by Alder Chris King to create a city commission to study pot fines by a 4-3 vote in the face of opposition from four members of a county anti-drug group, the municipal judge and Police Chief Mark D Nicholson.
But at another meeting of the council last night July 12, Chief Nicholson had a change of heart and reversed course. Chris King reports the chief again spoke before the council and expressed his opinion that the committee of the whole made a mistake July 11 in not forming a committee to look deeper into the issue. The council then voted 5-2 to approve the committee. The next step will be for the council to approve the members of the committee. The new cannabis decriminalization committee will include 3 council members, the mayor, the city attorney, city administrator, and 2 citizen members.
On Monday night, the City Council had split sharply on the issue, with Eric Prise, Luke Bohlen, Wayne Kling and Larry Siekert all voting against. Voting in favor of the recommendation to the mayor were Chris King, Mary Ann Komiskey and Lamont Kiefer.
On Tuesday, Eric Prise was absent. Larry Siekert and Wayne Kling flipped their votes after the chief’s change of heart and Chris King offered a proposal to include mandatory community service and an increased fine for minors. The two joined Chris King, Mary Ann Komiskey and Lamont Kiefer in the 5-2 vote in favor with Mike Murray, who presided over the Monday night meeting joining Luke Bohlen who again voted no.
Tomah’s city hall stands across the street from the former location of Ed Thompson’s Tee Pee Supper Club. Ed, the late libertarian brother of former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson was once Tomah mayor. Ed was a friend and a strong opponent of cannabis prohibition and it was good to see the council he once presided over come to good decision after initially blowing the call. I think somewhere Ed is smiling.
Four of us had traveled from Madison to Tomah Monday in support. After the council heard two locals in support and the police chief, judge, local who was opposed and 4 members of the MCSCC speak in opposition, a motion was made to allow those who were in attendance but not from Tomah to be allowed to speak. The motion carried and myself and Greg Kinsley testified strongly in favor but we were still left with Monday’s final vote against as we returned to Madison. It had been a long night highlighted by outrageous hyperbole that seemed outright quaint as marijuana prohibition crumbles further every day. I had written a post reflecting the setback Monday and am so pleased to revise it with a happier outcome. It is very gratifying the council reversed itself and did the right thing and I have to give credit to Chief Nicholson for rethinking the situation and putting people over prohibition as Tomah seeks clarity on the cannabis issue.