Tag Archives: robert hutchinson

Alachua County’s marijuana problem

by Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson
Alachua County Commissioner

Last year, the Alachua County Sheriff’s office arrested 237 people for simple possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. These people were booked into jail and had their mugshots posted to the internet.

At first appearance, bail was set, and some were released while others who couldn’t post bond sat in jail a month or more until arraignment, when they would be fined and sentenced to time served.

I sat through more than a dozen such arraignments recently, and all of the defendants were African American. Indeed, those arrested for marijuana are five times more likely to be African American despite the rate of use between blacks and whites being essentially the same.

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Elections Matter!


Dr. Martin L. King Jr. said in his “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” “One of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.”

Suppressing voter turnout is but the mirror image to ballot box stuffing, same effect. Unfairly drawn districts, negative advertising powered by huge corporate donations, an election campaign process that keeps many great potential public servants from running,  a news media focused on the shallow and sensational, and a right-wing talk radio industry all work to increase cynicism. These are forces that put us to sleep. People died to get the right to vote, and now we have a majority of voters sitting on their hands come election day. It is not a healthy situation.

Has Obama been a disappointment? Heck yeah. But do we give the steering wheel back to the ones who drove us into the ditch last time? Hell no! Three words: The Supreme Court. This is not a time to stay home to “send a message,” we did that in 2010; it wasn’t that the Rs came out big, it was the Ds who stayed home. I’ll take a disappointment over a disaster.

But there are other reasons to vote, and that is the power of the vote locally needs to be ready to counter the attempted Republican takeover of the Alachua County Commission. The voting in the primaries takes place August 14.

The Iguana strongly endorses Byerly, Hutchinson and Chestnut for the County Commission, and Wheeler for the District 20 State House seat, who faces a tough Primary race. You can find links to the candidates’ info through the Supervisor of Elections website.

If you’ve got the time or resources, plug in in any way you can; there are a lot of really good folks in this town who participate in the electoral campaign process regularly. And if you are a student, or a temporary resident, there’s been talk of suppressing your vote by some in the Republican legislature. You are representing the future waves of students, get registered and vote!

Upcoming Important Elections – County, State and National

As we look forward to the elections season this year, it is obvious that big money is flexing its muscle. In the presidential race, Romney (or “R.money”) has simply buried his opponents with his huge war chest and all the negative campaigning that large money permits – the ads, the robo-calls, the opinion research and push polls.

Well, get ready Alachua County. The Republican Party is gonna be trying to buy seats on the County Commission. Even though the qualifying period for candidates isn’t until early June, they have their high-funded candidates picked out. and they are piling up the money.

In District One, Mike Byerly’s seat, Brandon C. Kutner already has $11,000. In District Three, which pro-science environmentalist Robert Hutchinson will be running for, the

R’s have Jean Calderwood with $13,000. And then in District Five, local developer’s son Dean Cheshire already has $25,000!

And this is before the April 10 reporting period information comes in; all this money came in before February. The Supervisor of Elections site is very handy to follow the money.

That is not to say the Dems won’t raise some serious money, but from where and what increments is significant to study.

There will be primary elections to thin the field down on Aug. 14. The main election is, of course, Nov. 6.

It is not too early to volunteer and get the word out about the good candidates. We’d suggest in Alachua County support for Byerly, Hutch and Chestnut.

One other candidate needs a mention. Maryhelen Wheeler will (as of now) face Clovis Watson in a Democratic Party primary on Aug. 14 for the District 20 Florida House of Representatives seat. She is a newcomer to electoral politics, but a woman of great experience in education issues, trying to get things done in Tallahassee as an advocate for our schools. Watson has a record of questionable conduct from his time in the City of Alachua as City Manager, and at one point renounced the Democrats and very publicly joined the Republican Party. Now, supposedly, he is back to being a Democrat. Please support Wheeler. Again, the supervisor of election’s site has contact info for the candidates. If you’ve got time, do what you can.