Barry Vogel Interviews Richard Johnson — Part 2

Radio Curious
Originally broadcast February 19th, 2008
Transcribed by Dave Smith
Parts 1|2|3|4
[Full Interview on MP3 available for download here]

A Revolutionary’s Memorial In His Own Words (cont.)

Richard: The more we environmentalists fail to hold [our local representatives] responsible for their votes, then we have failed to get electoral power. Now, as fully-realized spiritually-liberated beings, a lot of us think that going for political power is evil or selfish or bad. All we have to do is get rid of that idea and instead replace it with the idea that political power would be good if it were in our hands, and what we need to do is get some and exercise it… and what we need to do is select environmentalists. That would be a good half-way step I would like to see accomplished in my lifetime… to elect at least three, if not five, supervisors to the Board of Supervisors.

Barry: When you say “fully-realized spiritually-liberated beings” who did you have in mind?

R: (laughing) I was being facetious. Some of us think that we are fully-realized spiritually-liberated beings but we are not, as you know. I’m thinking of the left, the environmental community, the pot-smoking, back-to-the-land folks.

B: In your estimation, what percentage of the electorate does that community make up in this county?

R: Not enough. What we need to do is register more to vote, and a lot of those folks out in the hills are not registered to vote and we need to register them.

B: In terms of the population of the county of approximately ninety thousand, what would you say that percentage would be?

R: Let me give you the example that in the year 2000, Measure G passed with fifty-eight percent of the vote. I think that’s the percentage of the voters at that time that smoked or didn’t think that smoking for personal use was that bad. They tolerated the idea of marijuana smoking. We will have another test of that in June with Measure B.

B: For listeners outside of Mendocino County, you were involved in the drafting of Measure G. Could you describe it briefly?

R: There are five points to it. The main thing to remember about Measure G is that it was the expression of the voters in Mendocino County that marijuana should be decriminalized at the state and federal level… completely decriminalized, and that there were five different provisions. One major one is that the sheriff and district attorney are forbidden from arresting, investigating, or prosecuting a case of 25 or fewer plants… and the sheriff and DA to make marijuana the lowest possible priority of their enforcement and prosecution activities. Another that the Board of Supervisors are required to lobby state and federal governments for the decriminalization of marijuana.

B: This was an expression of the voters as opposed to establishing an ordinance in the Mendocino County collection of ordinances.

R: Actually it is established in the Mendocino County ordinances.

B: But that was done last year by the Board of Supervisors.

R: It should have been done right after the vote but it wasn’t done.

B: Many people say that Measure G became an invitation for people outside Mendocino County to come here and grow Marijuana because it would be a freer, less prosecuted area to do that. And as a result many people say that there are foreign influences — foreign being outside Mendocino County as well as from other nations — where people will grow plantations of marijuana of several thousand plants… which has brought a lot of violence and untoward behavior in the community. Would you accept that as an assumption?

R: Absolutely not.

B: Where do you distinguish that?

R: Measure G provides for personal use.

B: I’m talking about the result of Measure G, not the provisions of it.

R: Blaming Measure G for the excesses and abuses which are reprehensible all the way around. All that is reprehensible and not condoned by Measure G and I personally condemn it… and people shouldn’t be doing that stuff. On the other hand, Measure G is not to blame for it. In blaming Measure G, those who propose Measure B, the proponents, are stigmatizing us as a culture… when I say us what I mean is, those who approved Measure G, or who are likely to approve Measure G in the future… those who approve of personal use.

B: Addressing some of the problems that have occurred in the past seven and a half years here in Mendocino County related to marijuana, what would you say?

R: I’d say the Board of Supervisors need to create a marijuana agricultural zone.

B; Just like a timber production zone?

R: There you go.

B. Describe what you have in mind.

R: The Board of Supervisors would create a medical marijuana production category of zoning under the county zoning ordinances that would specify how far away marijuana production should take place separated from private residences; that it not be visible; that the supplying infrastructure like the water trucks, the employee housing… all of which is easily regulateable, for example, in the agricultural code, and that would solve the problem… but the powers that be around here don’t want that. They want marijuana to be a problem so they can stomp on those who approve of marijuana. That’s exactly what’s going on.

B: Who are the powers that be?

R: I would start with John Mayfield, Jr. and I would follow with Richard Selzer and I would follow up with the Central Committee of the Republican Party, the Builder’s Exchange, the Employer’s Council, all the bankers in town and the real estate agents.

B: What powers do you allege that they wield?

R: Well, they own a majority of the property, they have a majority of money… the individual who owns the Savings Bank of Mendocino is a billionaire. He has crushed whole families and generations of people that have borrowed money from his bank and can’t repay… he has taken their property.

B: That’s a very strong statement. Can you justify that with specifics?

R: Well, there you go. (laughing)…

B: Where?

R: They’re wild accusations, Barry.

B: That’s right. So therefore I want to get to the gist of the wild accusations because many people in this community say exactly that: Richard Johnson makes wild accusations.

R: It’s true, it’s true. Wild accusations are my stock-in-trade.

B: Are they true accusations?

R: Irresponsible email statements too.

B: What do you mean?

R: Oh, for example I criticize people in my email messages, and then I get ostracized.

B: I’ve seen that, and at other times I’ve seen you make impassioned, very well-presented speeches like a week ago at the Ukiah City Council that prompted this invitation to Radio Curious. Let’s talk about wild accusations about the President of the Savings Bank. Are you affirming those or withdrawing those?

R: Oh, I affirm them, but as wild accusations only. I don’t know if they’re true or not…

(To be continued…)
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