The Decatur City Council held a special public session in the Civic Center Theater Monday night to get input from those for and against our community “opting out” of allowing a marijuana dispensary to open inside the city limits — then voted 6-1 to opt out. Councilman David Horn was the lone vote against opting out.
The legislation making recreational marijuana legal in Illinois was passed by a majority of members of the General Assembly, earlier this year and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
As reported in one of our stories printed in last week’s edition, law enforcement agencies and associations, health care providers, and others, urged the city council to “opt out” of the plan. Going into Monday night’s meeting I felt the city council’s vote would be 5-2 to “opt out”, and also said so during my most recent appearance on WSOY’s Byers & Co. and that result had been hovering at that 5-2 vote for several weeks.
I was sure that Councilman Horn, based on his comments and published letters in recent weeks. Councilman Bill Faber, who wanted the question raised in a public referendum was considered a probable vote against opting out, but when the vote was taken Monday night, Faber also voted to opt out leaving Horn as the lone vote against opting out.
As I’ve mentioned before in this column, if I was still on council, I would have voted to “opt out”. To vote to expand pot trade in our community is counterproductive to everything we have been doing to make Decatur a better and safer place to live and work. If you don’t believe me, read and listen to all of the warnings that have come out from law enforcement officials and healthcare professionals in recent weeks — and those warnings were repeated during Monday night’s meeting. Just because something becomes “legal” doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the right thing to do for a community — when there are so many “wrongs” connected to it.
The council also voted 4-3 to opt out of allowing cannabis-related businesses, such as cultivation and processing centers, in Decatur. A third question on the agenda about restrictions that will be placed on open consumption and use of cannabis in Decatur was tabled to consider in a future meeting.
• AL WEIDLICH wrote: “Paul, thank you for taking the stand against Decatur becoming a drug town. Also welcome are your comments about the state roads. “I use North Water street etc. going to the YMCA……and I note there are many fine looking and well cared for homes on 51…and businesses too….and there are also some that need TLC or removal…or at least the lawns mowed. “My thanks to those who are keeping their properties in good repair for those coming into our city to get a good impression.”
• POT AND POTHOLES: Don Custin sent an email asking: “Mr. Osborne, has it ever occurred to you and/or Mr. Byers, that the repair of the state roads in and around Decatur may be contingent of the City Council’s vote on pot sales? (It’s called ‘blackmail’.)”
• LOOKING GOOD! Thanks to Nicole Bateman, Executive Director, Midwest Inland Port, Community Marketing Manager, Limitless Decatur & Macon County, and Economic Development Corporation of Decatur-Macon County, for the following information: “Despite the August drop, Decatur is looking good for another month! August is a traditional month for Local Labor Force & Employment contraction and one of the primary reasons the concept of ‘Seasonally Adjusted’ labor numbers exist; people are leaving the labor force and going back to school right around this time. In fact, both numbers dropped by over 1,000 in August of 2018; more people are staying on the job this year!
“The two big takeaways this month are that we are comfortably maintaining our four-year respective low in the Unemployment rate at 5% and our Non-farm Employment remains strong at 52,400 with a +400 year-to-year growth, mostly in Manufacturing and Educational-Health Services.”
• DON’T FORGET to contribute to the 17th annual WSOY Community Food Drive on October 5th, from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., at Airport Plaza Kroger on Rt. 36 in Decatur. Last year, over 1.52 million pounds of food were collected during the twelve hours of broadcast and this year they hope to exceed that amount. Every dollar, or food item, contributed to this event goes to help those in need. The best part? There is no administrative costs. I’ve been to all of them and there is such a community spirit in this effort to help others. It is an amazing event!