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Marijuana - subject of contentious exchange

POSTED May 31, 2019 4:15 p.m.


DARLINGTON - Lafayette County Law Enforcement Committee met Tuesday, May 21, 2019 and had a heated exchange during public comment regarding the county’s resolution to “Opposition to the Legalization of Marijuana in the State of Wisconsin”. Sheriff Reg Gill had an excused absence and Lafayette County Chief Deputy, Troy Loeffelholz sat in for him at this meeting.

During approval of agenda, Committee Chair, Gerald Hiemann announced that item 8 (Opposition to the Legalization of Marijuana in the State of Wisconsin) on the agenda would be tabled. Loeffelholz explained, “Sheriff  Gill had talked to Lafayette County Corporate Council Nathan Russell and he wanted to clarify a few things. So it will be tabled here and at the County Board meeting. A meeting will be set between the Sheriff’s Dept. & Corporation Council and then it will be brought back.”

During public comment, Steve Acheson said, “I wanted to introduce myself to the committee. I’m a veteran and live in Lafayette County. I’m a founding member of Wisconsin Veterans for Compassionate Care. We are a non-partisan organization of veterans and travel around the state and make the case for safe access for medical cannabis, specifically for veterans. I have an interesting perspective on this issue and I would like to help this committee work through this issue in a less divisive way than what I saw in the language used in the resolution. I think the committee is not hearing everybody’s perspective. I would like to be involved when this comes back around.”

County Board member, Kriss Marion asked to speak and was granted permission. Marion said, “Steve lives in my district. My phone has been blowing up for the last few days. There’s a lot of interest and concern regarding this issue. I’m relying on friends to do research on this issue. I have a letter from a librarian in Argyle. I thought she had a very balanced take on this issue and I’d like to read it.”

County Board Chairman Jack Sauer said, “I don’t think we’re here to debate it tonight. Has anybody else had any calls on this? [committee members all saying they hadn’t] I haven’t had a d**n one.”

The conversation turned to whether medical marijuana was helpful as a medicine. It was mentioned that medical marijuana helps millions of people and it’s legal, to some degree, in 33 other states, to which Sauer suggested that those interested in medical marijuana should move to one of those states.

Acheson said, “Sir, I’m a veteran of this state and you’re telling me I have to move somewhere else to access the medication that has saved my like?”

Sauer said, “Saved your life?”

Acheson then held a bag that had prescription bottles in it, and said, “In this bag I have all the opiates the Veterans Administration (VA) has legally prescribed to me to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Do you want to see all the opiates I have in here? Is this what you want me to have access to?”

Sauer said, “Don’t start on me with prescriptions. I take 21 different medicines everyday. So I don’t need to hear about it.”

Acheson: “If you could access one medicine that would replace all of those, wouldn’t you want to do that - naturally?”

Sauer: “Whatever.”

Acheson: “Whatever, I’m a living example, sir.”

Loeffelholz inserted, “The sheriff has asked that this be tabled. We’re going to work on some things. The ultimate decision lies with the Sheriff on the ordinances that he wishes to pursue.”

Sauer said, “This has been proposed in a lot of other counties.”

Acheson asked, “Where’s this coming from? Where’s the public outcry? Over 70 percent of Wisconsinites support medical cannabis and close to 60 percent would support adult use. You’re not being representative of the people of your county sir.”

Again Loeffelholz pointed out, “This item has been tabled and it will be reviewed with corporation council and we will be looking at all aspects.”

Sauer: “Where else would this come from, other than the sheriff? He’s the one that maintains law and order.”

Acheson: “But he’s not a medical professional.”

Sauer: “Ooo. We’re going to get into medical professionals.”

Acheson: “I just came from the VA. Do you want to argue with them?

Sauer: “For starters, you show me proof. You sit here and run your mouth; show me proof!”

Acheson: “I’m not running my mouth. I have studies right here.”

Sauer: “That ain’t showing me nothing. Show me your doctor’s order.”

Acheson: “Sir, I’ve read your resolution and there is absolutely no factual information in it.”

Sauer: “Show me your doctor’s orders.”

Acheson: “I have a lot of evidence here; governmental studies.”

Sauer scoffed, “Studies.”

Marion said, “I agree with Jack…”

Cutting her off - Sauer, to Marion, “You seem to have all these people come out of the woodwork over in your district, that includes the goddamn water study. None of us have heard anything from our constituents.

Acheson said, “I just moved here and I haven’t had time to get to know people and participate.”

Sauer: “That isn’t my problem.”

Acheson: “As a veteran I find your attitude offensive towards me. I am involved in my local community and I have a kid on the way.”

Sauer: “That’s not my problem either. You shouldn’t be smoking marijuana if you have a kid on the way. What are you teaching that kid?”

Acheson: “I didn’t say that.”

Sauer: “That’s what you said. You’re using cannabis.”

Acheson: “No, we want to have safe access to cannabis.”

Marion said, “And it appears that you’re precluding that with these resolutions.”

Sauer: “I’m not a lawyer, but if they would approve legalizing marijuana at the state level, I don’t think we could stop you from using it in Lafayette County, even with this ordinance.”

Acheson: “But if you stop all retails stores, the people that wanted it would have to leave the county to get it. I’ve talked to county board members in Green, Iowa and Grant Counties. They said, tell your Law Enforcement Committee thank you for sending us all of your business and tax revenue.”

 Sauer: “You still haven’t shown me proof. I want to see proof when we get into this discussions.”

Carry-over Requests

Lafayette County Sheriff’s Dept. is approximately $161,711 under budget for the 2018 financial year. Loeffelholz gave reasons for being under budget and they include:

Revenue/Reimbursement Increases for 2018 - $87,067 (approx.): New Federal Grant/Reimbursement for Drug Investigation overtime; Auction of impounded abandoned property; FEMA Reimbursement for Emergency Patrol overtime; New Salvage Inspections Program; Reinstituted State Grant program in the Jail; Reimbursements from Municipalities for use of the records management system; Transfer of funds from the old commissary vendor to the new; Temporary holds payments on Sanctioned inmates from the WI Dept. of Corrections and Carryover revenue from 2017 added to 2018 revenue.

Decreases in 2018 Expenditures - $74,000 (Approx.): Purchased two squads, (instead of the three budgeted); Reduction in fill-in wages as the Sheriff, Chief Deputy & Jail Administrator assisted with increased inmate transports; Savings in Health Insurance costs due to "Single Plan" reclassifications.

Lafayette County Sheriff's Office Carryover Proposal & Breakdown - Available Funds: Sheriff Administration - $68,883.67, Jail - $92,827.93, total - $161,711.60.

Proposed Projects: Spillman Project (Final Module Install) - $13,000; Jail Assessment Study - $15,000; Jail Plumbing Replacement Project - $14,000 (cell blocks A & B will require replacement of the 40-yr. old sink/toilet combo units as well as the shower. The Huber Dorm requires a shower replacement system); I.T. /Spillman Server Project (StateLink) - $3,000; Squad Car Replacement - $30,000. Total Sheriff’s Dept. Carryover Request - $75,000. Total returned to the general fund by the Sheriff's Office - $86,711.60.

A motion was made and approved to accept the carry-over projects as stated. The items will go to the Finance Committee for further action.

Jail Assessment

In recent meeting the committee has been discussing additional space needed in the jail, as the jail is almost always full, to the point of sending (and paying for) inmates to other counties.

Two companies have put together jail assessment proposals for the committee. The proposals are similar in scope and what they’re proposing. Venture Architects - $19,000 and Potter Lawson Architects - $9,900.

Loeffelholz stated, “Potter Lawson has done a lot of the recent jail studies in the area, including the new Sheriff’s facility in Grant County.”

Sauer asked, “How soon would they get started on this?”

Loeffelholz answered, “Relatively soon. The sheriff and I discussed this. We would like to stay in this building; it would be the best for everybody. We want a thorough study and get their ideas that would address our size problem. Adding an addition to go out or up. That’s what we need to find out.”

A motion was made and approved to choose Potter Lawson for a jail assessment at $9,900.

ATV-UTV Insurance

An ordinance to close another ATV-UTV loophole was discussed. The ordinance addresses the operation of ATV/UTV on the public trail or approved route and it will be a requirement for all ATV, UTV and Off Road Motorcycle (OHM) to have an insurance liability policy covering the unit being operated and to be able to show proof of insurance to law enforcement.

A motion was made and approved the ordinance that requires liability insurance for ATV, UTV and OHM operating on public trail or routes.

In other business:

•Approved changes in the pre-approved vendor list. Adding - Emergency Lighting and Electronics of Waukesha; Langkamp Auto Body of Benton. Removing – Bob Barker Detention Supplier of Fuquay-Varina, N.C.; Piggly Wiggly of Darlington; ProMed Supplies of Maple Grove, Minn.

•Discussed the new Kiosk/Breathalyzer located in the lobby of the Sheriff’s Dept. lobby. It is installed and operational. It’s being used in the court system. The cost to use the machine will be between $3 - $5.

            •Approved April bills in the amount of $52,683.

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