It took exactly 5 hours 15 minutes and 29 seconds for democracy to be snuffed out at the most recent special City Council meeting (05/15/2020). It wasn’t the process that is supposed to make every American feel as though every vote counts. It was an assassination.
Here in Milpitas, in 2020, a small, but loud group, some Milpitas Residents, some not, continue to echo 1930s propaganda to try and control the narrative of Cannabis in our wonderful city. The group known as Better Milpitas, over the last couple years, has been successful, using hints of the same rhetoric designed to inspire fear and control from over 90 years ago. There are tactics designed by one of the most famous racist fear mongers in US history. Harry J. Anslinger’s fingerprints are still all over today’s talking points for the opposition of Cannabis. All be it the racist overtones have been tamed down, but the message of fear remains. It’s a blueprint from the 30s that hasn’t changed much at all. Just check out these examples below. Some are direct quotes from Harry Anslinger himself; the others are talking points of the special interest group Better Milpitas. It doesn’t take much to draw the connection between Anslinger’s quotes and the message Better Milpitas is pushing to our community.
- Harry Anslinger: “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its user’s insanity, criminality, and death.”
- Better Milpitas: “Crime rate increase including robbery and theft”
- Harry Anslinger: “The use of cannabis, whether smoked or ingested in its various form, undoubtedly gives rise to a form of addiction, which has serious social consequences”
- Better Milpitas: “It is beyond doubt that marijuana will cause calamitous problems to the city especially in traffic accidents, crime, youth addiction, decrease in property value”
- Harry Anslinger: “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races”
- Better Milpitas: “it will inevitably lead to the issue of legalization of marijuana which is an easily addictive Category I Prohibited Drug pernicious to human beings especially the young people.”
- Harry Anslinger: “By the tons it is coming into this country – the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms.
- Better Milpitas: “I sincerely hope our mayor and city council members can put our neighborhood safety, citizens’ healthy, kids’ future and the quality of life in the first place”
- Better Milpitas: “Negative moral values for next generation”
Mayor Rich Tran, Councilmember Bob Nuñez, and Councilmember Carmen Montano bought into the veil of idiocracy, only to take it a step further, becoming the allies, the henchmen, and the enforcers of Better Milpitas. To do the dirty work. Or as Councilmember Montano said while laughing from off screen during the closing minutes of the meeting, “Quick, hurry up, kill it.” What I heard was: Quick, take away their voice, hurry up, suppress their vote, kill it, kill democracy.
Mayor Tran, a native born Milpitian, a service member, and self-proclaimed advocate for “Milpitas First” was anything but. The man’s confusion is only over-shadowed by his ego. He spoke a lot about believing in the democratic process, that Milpitas deserves to vote on decisive issues, mentioning other tough fought and extensively discussed issues that the community in the past was “allowed” to vote on. Then with a made-up catch phrase and some rooster necking at the camera, he said, “I made up my mind many moons ago” and “because of tax fatigue I withdraw my support for the cannabis tax measure.” Which was it? Many Moons ago or Tax Fatigue? How is it Tax Fatigue? It is coming from a group that is basically begging you to tax them. It came across as a man who only introduced the measure a few weeks earlier and hyped it up on his official Facebook page, but was really looking for attention. Not an actual conversation, not an actual tool to collect much needed revenue, and not an opportunity for the residents to vote, but simply for his personal reality show. Pointing fingers at other councilmembers, blaming them for being called back to discuss this once again. No sir, you are the reason for this, you introduced it, you are why it needed to be talked about again because of a Brown Act violation you allowed to happen on your watch.
The saving grace of the night was a ¼% General Sales Tax; according to Mayor Tran it was the best decision this council has ever made. Really? A tax that will disproportionately affect the lower middle class and poor citizens of Milpitas. When there are people losing jobs, businesses shuttering, and money growing ever tighter in homes, the best decision that council ever made was to charge people with less than before, more at the register for goods and services. When the alternative was a Cannabis Tax that would only have affected those that are already consuming cannabis. A group that welcomes a tax on their goods. So, tax everyone and harm a portion of your residents or tax a small group and hurt no one? The thought process and lack of leadership here is unbelievable. I’ll take your right to vote away over here, and tax you more over there. The American Revolution had a similar dynamic, taxation without representation. Benedict Arnold was a General for the colonist fighting for democracy during that time, then betrayed democracy to serve the British. Sounds oddly familiar here.
In closing, I have a word for Better Milpitas. Stop demonizing your neighbors. Cannabis users are already here, we are not criminals, we are not trying to corrupt your children, we are just like you. We want safe communities. We want to provide for our city’s Police department, we want to help fund infrastructure, we want to improve schools. We already are, unfortunately not our own. That’s what we are fighting to vote for. The opportunity to apply the money we already spend to the community we live in, where it will benefit our resident’s future. Our children’s future, yours and ours. Now what will happen if the sales tax falls through and the Cannabis Tax Measure is dead, in a city with a $5 million deficit? What programs do you think they will cut first?
Editor’s Note: In the above piece, the author cites Mayor Rich Tran, Vice Mayor Bob Nuñez, and Councilmember Carmen Montano as voting not to move forward with the cannabis tax measure. However, Councilmember Karina Dominguez also voted against the cannabis measure as well. Vote was 4-1, with just Councilmember Anthony Phan voting to move forward with the measure.