The Milwaukee Common Council, never criticized for being too liberal or too forward thinking, shocked everyone this week when it almost said smoking a joint is okay.
What it did was reduce the municipal fine for first time possession from $500 to $50.
I don't do weed but I think it's a great idea. I can't imagine the police being bothered to bust someone for smoking marijuana.
But I am struck at the same time that while marijuana use is still illegal, the aldermen get their collective dander up when it comes to granting a license for a perfectly legal business.
Yes, regular readers, I'm talking about a strip club.
As anyone who has been paying attention knows, Silk Exotic has been trying for years to get a strip club in Downtown Milwaukee. The aldermen have consistently resisted the request for a license.
My own alderman, Nik Kovac, authored the change in the penalty for marijuana use.
"This is the first step in making it legal," Kovac said. "If you're not bothering your neighbor, and you are not a threat to your own safety or someone else's, why should we have any tax-funded resources involved in that personal decision you just made?"
So if you are going to a well-regulated strip club and not harming yourself or anyone else and you aren’t bothering your neighbor because there aren’t any neighbors, that should probably be okay, too.
Apparently most of the aldermen, based on a 10-3 vote, agree with Kovac, even though pot is illegal. It makes me wonder whether those same 10 people might wonder to themselves why they are so opposed to licensing a business that is perfectly legal.
These aldermen are very concerned about the nearly $1 million taxpayers are going to have to pony up for losing a lawsuit over this several months ago. It’s going to be pretty hard to explain to voters why the city should be facing this penalty over a license for a strip club.
Silk has been trying to get a license for a variety of locations since 2009 and each time the city has turned it down.
Here’s the campaign dilemma:
"We reduced the fine, and thereby the revenue, for an illegal activity, but we are going to further reduce our revenue by almost a million dollars because of a lawsuit we lost over a license for a perfectly legal strip club."
I can imagine candidates lining up by the dozens to challenge any alderman who has to campaign on that platform.
I love a good fight as much as the next guy. But this might well be a time when you fold your cards, toss in the pot, and go ahead and fight about something that really matters.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.