As I follow the discussion about a constitutional convention, I note that it seems to center on two areas. Most of the attention seems to center on the “right to privacy,” which I support. When asked shortly before his death from cancer what his most important accomplishment was, former State Senate President Terry Miller (R-Fairbanks) answered that it was being the prime sponsor of the right to privacy. I agree. The right to privacy has given me the right to smoke marijuana in my own home since 1975 and protected women’s right to choose.
The second area is the Permanent Fund dividend, which many want to enshrine in the constitution. This will undoubtably require a new broad-based tax (income, sales or both). I, like most Alaskans, support the PFD. However putting the PFD into the constitution will tie the hands of future Legislatures by prioritizing the PFD over other state needs.
But today I am writing about another thing that will be “up for grabs.” On vacation several years ago, we spent the night in our camper in Delta, Utah. When we arose, my better half went to look for a latte, not easy to find in a small town in Utah. While waiting for her, I decided to roll a couple of joints for future use. Unfortunately, a deputy sheriff looked in the window, saw what I was doing and arrested me. It turns out that in Utah, Like most other Western states, sheriffs, prosecutors and judges are elected. The county prosecutor told me that the judge wasn’t even an attorney and didn’t like reading lengthy legal documents. Is that the kind of judge that you would like to decide your future? I worked with the prosecutor, pleaded guilty, was fined $780 and had to write to the court once a month for a year, after which my conviction disappeared.
I out myself now to make the case that in Alaska, we have the best criminal justice system in the nation. While the system is far from perfect, one would be a fool to think that people needing to be re-elected would dispense justice better than the non-partisan professionals that currently staff Alaska’s system. Do you think that people elected by running a tough-on-crime campaign can dispense justice with mercy and logic, according to the law, or will the pressure to get re-elected influence the outcome? We don’t want to find out. Please vote no on a constitutional convention on Nov. 8.
— John Farleigh
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