My old pal Sly is at it again. While my wife and I were off in Arizona soaking in baseball and sunshine, he was up to his old tricks of getting elected officials to say controversial things.
Full disclosure: for those of you reading this who don’t know, I sat across the glass window from Sly’s studio for quite a few years in the early part of this decade, doing news and being constantly interrupted by the local bad-boy. What our city’s longest-running talk-show host (30 years in radio, the last 20 of them here) doesn’t want you to know is that underneath all the bellow and bluster beats a heart of gold.
As near as I can figure, about the time my wife and I were westbound on the Superstition Freeway headed from Mesa to Tempe to watch the Brewers and A’s play last Friday, back in Madison Sly was having a little on-air chat with Mayor Cieslewicz about the Verveer flap. Several days ago, some Madison cop wandered into a restaurant where the powerful downtown Alder was having a chat with the owner of the joint, when she claims she detected the odor of the highly addictive and extremely dangerous mind-altering weed….and, for reasons which no one seems to be able to understand, quickly did an about-face and high-tailed it out of the joint. Her sergeant made her write it up, so it became an “official police report” at that point.
The morning paper reported the incident on the front page, and the Alder, who sits on the city’s potent Alcohol License Review Committee, and is an Assistant Dane County District Attorney, says he did nothing wrong, smoked no weed, and didn’t smell what the officer did.
Sly is no pot-head. Says he doesn’t like the stuff. His demons, as his listeners know, came in the form of pain pills and vodka, a problem he beat several years ago. As I recall, the only time he talked on-air about smoking pot was getting stoned in the back seat of a former Madison mayor’s car. (NO, not THAT one - the female former mayor.) So when he got Mayor Dave to talk about the Verveer incident, Cieslewicz said he thought marijuana should be legalized and pooh-poohed the whole Verveer incident as a tempest in a teapot. Madison de-criminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in the past century.
Channel 3 TV picked up the story, and that’s how I found out about it - and they ran audio tape from Sly’s chat with the mayor and acted like the mayor’s offhand comment was a real scoop. They ran the story on the local news yesterday morning, complete with an officious quote from some city hall flack about how the mayor’s “opinionated statement” about legalizing marijuana did not signal the advent of a new initiative from the Cieslewicz administration and did not reflect official city policy. (Too bad!) No doubt the next salvo will be one of those famous Neil Heinen editorials on Channel 3 about the recklessness of the mayor’s comment and the horrible effects of the gateway drug.
We’re so hung up on this 1930’s mentality about killer weed. For heaven’s sake, we now have a PRESIDENT who admits he did cocaine when he was younger. Could we mellow out a bit about the offhand comment of a mayor who reflects the predominant attitude of his community?