The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, January 04, 2018, Page 3A, Image 3

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Sessions ends federal policy that let pot flourish
push back
Associated Press
ney General Jeff Sessions has
rescinded an Obama-era pol-
icy that paved the way for
legalized marijuana to flour-
ish in states across the coun-
try, creating new confusion
about enforcement and use just
three days after a new legal-
ization law went into effect in
President Donald Trump’s
top law enforcement offi-
cial announced the change
today. Instead of the previous
policy, Sessions’ new stance
will instead let federal pros-
ecutors where marijuana is
legal decide how aggressively
to enforce longstanding fed-
eral law prohibiting it.
Sessions’ plan drew imme-
diate strong objection from
Republican U.S. Sen. Cory
Gardner of Colorado, one of
eight states that have legalized
marijuana for recreational use.
Gardner said in a tweet
that the Justice Department
“has trampled on the will of
the voters” in Colorado and
other states. He said the action
would contradict what Ses-
sions had told him before the
attorney general was con-
firmed and that he was pre-
pared “to take all steps neces-
sary” to fight the step including
holding up the confirmation of
Justice Department nominees.
Political leaders in Oregon
and Washington state also con-
demned the shift.
Gov. Kate Brown said roll-
ing back federal marijuana pol-
icy will disrupt the state’s econ-
omy. She said over 19,000 jobs
have been created by the mari-
juana market in Oregon, which
was the first state to decriminal-
ize personal possession in 1973,
legalized medical marijuana in
1998, and recreational use in
Washington state Gov. Jay
Inslee said the state will vig-
orously defend the state’s laws
against federal infringement.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an
Oregon Democrat, said the
move ignores the will of a
majority of Americans. “Trump
promised to let states set their
own marijuana policies,” the
EO Media Group
The Trump administration has changed the federal gov-
ernment’s approach to marijuana.
senator said in a statement.
“Now he’s breaking that prom-
ise so Jeff Sessions can pur-
sue his extremist anti-mari-
juana crusade. Once again the
Trump administration is dou-
bling down on protecting states’
rights only when they believe
the state is right.”
Sessions rescinded the
policy by president Barack
Obama’s Justice Department
that has generally barred federal
law enforcement officials from
interfering with marijuana sales
in states where the drug is legal.
“In deciding which mar-
ijuana activities to prose-
cute under these laws with the
department’s finite resources,
prosecutors should follow the
that govern all federal prose-
cutions,” by considering the
seriousness of the crime and
its impact on the community,
Sessions wrote in a one-page
memo to the nation’s federal
The move by Trump’s attor-
ney general likely is sure to add
to confusion about whether it’s
OK to grow, buy or use mari-
juana in states where the drug
is legal.
It comes just after shops
opened in California, launching
what is expected to become the
world’s largest market for legal
recreational marijuana and as
polls show a solid majority of
Americans believe the drug
should be legal.
While Sessions has been
carrying out a Justice Depart-
ment agenda that follows
Trump’s top priorities on such
issues as immigration and opi-
oids, the changes to marijuana
policy reflect his own con-
cerns. Trump’s personal views
on marijuana remain largely
Sessions, who has assailed
marijuana as comparable to
heroin and has blamed it for
spikes in violence, had been
expected to ramp up enforce-
ment. Marijuana advocates
argue that legalizing the drug
eliminates the need for a black
market and will likely reduce
violence, since criminals would
no longer control the marijuana
The Obama administration
in 2013 announced it would not
stand in the way of states that
legalize marijuana, so long as
officials acted to keep it from
migrating to places where it
remained outlawed and keep
it out of the hands of criminal
gangs and children. Sessions is
rescinding that memo, written
by then-Deputy Attorney Gen-
eral James M. Cole, which had
cleared up some of the uncer-
tainty about how the federal
government would respond
as states began allowing sales
for recreational and medical
The marijuana business has
since become a sophisticated,
multimillion-dollar industry
that helps fund some govern-
ment programs. Eight states
and the District of Columbia
have legalized marijuana for
recreational use, and Califor-
nia’s sales alone are projected
to bring in $1 billion annually
in tax revenue within several
But the Sessions Justice
Department believed the Cole
memo created a “safe harbor”
for marijuana sales that are fed-
erally illegal, Justice Depart-
ment officials said. Sessions in
the memo called the Obama
guidance “unnecessary.”
Sessions’ policy will let
U.S. attorneys across the coun-
try decide what kinds of fed-
eral resources to devote to mar-
ijuana enforcement based on
what they see as priorities in
their districts. Officials couldn’t
say what the ultimate impact
will be on the legal industry or
whether it will lead to more pot
Seaside apologizes for tsunami false alarm Hammond fisherman
Some feared
a potential
The Daily Astorian
SEASIDE — Residents
and tourists were left confused
and startled Wednesday morn-
ing after hearing a tsunami
warning alert instead of the
regular monthly test siren.
A malfunction in the sys-
tem replaced what was sup-
posed to be a test message
with an alert that advised a tsu-
nami was approaching in four
“For years, the city has
been running monthly tests of
the system on the first Wednes-
day of the month,” said Jon
Rahl, the city’s public infor-
mation officer. “While evalu-
ating the system in December,
the server that runs these warn-
ings crashed. Early morning
testing today led us to believe
the system was back online
and would operate correctly.”
The usual procedure was
followed when conducting
the test, Rahl said, but reports
indicate that one of the pre-re-
corded messages the city has
to warn of an actual emer-
gency pre-empted the usual
“this is only a test” message.
“We regret the error,” Rahl
said, “but it’s also a reminder
of why we do these tests and
run them throughout the year.
Tests give us the opportunity
to evaluate what’s working,
and in this case what’s not.”
About 15 minutes after
the alarm, the Seaside Police
Department sent email and
text notifications explaining
and correcting the error.
But Rich Trucke, owner of
Trucke’s 1-Stop, said panic
had already set in for some of
his customers.
“‘It’s 11 a.m. on a Wednes-
day,’ I assured the pan-
ic-stricken tourists. ‘They test
regularly,’” he wrote in a letter
to The Daily Astorian.
A moment later, he wrote,
pleads not guilty to
sex abuse crimes
someone hastily drove up,
demanding gas to leave town.
They told Trucke the system
warned that a wave was com-
ing in four hours. Another per-
son told Trucke it was a mis-
take, but when he called the
Seaside police non-emergency
line, he was faced with a busy
signal and no answers for all
of the customers calling asking
him questions.
“We never heard another
report from the public warn-
ing system saying, ‘This is just
a test,’ or any follow-up at all.
Now I am answering phones
and calming visitors. One cus-
tomer had me dial his 95-year-
old mother to let her know not
to worry anymore, since he
had called her earlier to have
her pack her things for evacua-
tion,” Trucke wrote. “Reaching
only her answering machine, he
left quickly. Were this an actual
tsunami, how many would fail
to get the true message?”
City management and the
Seaside Police Department are
working together to continu-
ally improve the system, Rahl
charged with
13 offenses
The Daily Astorian
Dennis Lee Sturgell Sr., a
well-known Hammond fish-
erman, pleaded not guilty
Wednesday to multiple
charges involving alleged
sex crimes against a young
woman in 2015.
Sturgell, 65, was indicted
in November on seven sex
abuse charges, four counts of
first-degree sodomy and two
counts of first-degree unlaw-
ful sexual penetration. He
was arrested and released on
$500,000 bail.
Sturgell allegedly coordi-
nated with James Lee Cun-
ningham, 46, of Astoria, to
commit several sex crimes
against the woman while she
was incapacitated one day in
August 2015.
ham, who is
serving time
for a sepa-
rate case and
has not been Dennis Lee
s c h e d u l e d Sturgell Sr.
for arraign-
ment, has been charged with
several sex crimes, including
one count of first-degree rape.
Sturgell faces a minimum
of 62 1/2 years in prison if
Oregon Assistant Attor-
ney General Erin Green-
awald, who has expertise in
domestic and sexual violence
crimes, is prosecuting the
case, along with the Clatsop
County District Attorney’s
Office. Sturgell has been
scheduled for an early reso-
lution conference in May.
Investigators: Hayes
violated ethics laws
Capital Bureau
Former Oregon first lady
Cylvia Hayes violated sev-
eral state ethics laws when
she used her public position
and state staff and resources
to win a paid fellowship
and contracts for her envi-
ronmental consulting firm
between 2011 and 2013,
state investigators have
Investigators with the
Oregon Ethics Commission
and the state Department of
Justice outlined their find-
ings in an ethics investiga-
tion report released early
The Oregon Ethics Com-
mission will consider the
report Friday to deter-
mine whether it agrees with
investigators’ findings and
to determine fines of up to
$5,000 per violation.
Hayes and former Gov.
John Kitzhaber have been
under an ethics investigation
since July.
They had been under a
federal criminal investiga-
tion for more than two years
before that, after Willamette
Week reported the first lady
may have used her position
to win several consulting
contracts. The scandal even-
tually prompted Kitzhaber
to resign from office in Feb-
ruary 2015 and led to for-
mer Secretary of State Kate
Brown’s succession as
Federal prosecutors ulti-
mately filed no charges
against the couple. By the
time the federal investigation
had concluded, the statute of
limitation had run out for any
state charges.
In November, the eth-
ics commission rejected a
proposed settlement with
Kitzhaber in which he agreed
to pay $1,000 for ethics vio-
lations related to conflicts of
interest and accepting gifts
with value of more than $50.
A majority of commissioners
said they felt the settlement
was too lenient.
The ethics commission
will reconsider his case next
Lisa Hay, Hayes’s pub-
lic defender, said that her cli-
ent was in an unprecedented
position when she took pub-
lic office because she was
an unmarried partner of the
governor, was not supported
by him, kept her own res-
idence and had to work to
support herself.
“Cylvia attempted in
good faith to define her role
as both the first lady and
as a consultant in order to
understand the boundar-
ies of each,” Hay wrote in
a response to state ethics
investigators’ findings. “She
frequently sought advice.
Any errors in adhering to
state ethics rules or statutes
were the result of confusion
within the administration,
mistakes and the lack of clear
guidelines for an unmarried
partner and not due to crim-
inal intent to commit fraud.”
Google Maps
Area of speed reduction.
Gearhart lowers speed limit near golf course
The Daily Astorian
GEARHART — Golfers in
a hurry to get to the course?
It’s understandable in a
city where golf is a tradition,
the mayor is a PGA profes-
sional and the Gearhart Golf
Links is the oldest in the
On Wednesday night,
city councilors lowered the
speed limit from 35 mph to
25 mph on Gearhart Lane
between U.S. Highway 101
and Marion.
“Nothing against golf-
ers, but there are some peo-
ple who come out of Marion
like a bat out of hell to Pacific
Way,” City Councilor Kerry
Smith said in support of the
lower limit. “It’s a residential
community. Twenty-five mph,
period, from the get-go when
you enter Gearhart.”
Alder and Maple Saw Logs & Standing Timber
Northwest Hardwoods • Longview, WA
Contact: John Anderson • 360-269-2500
The request came after
Daniel Lane, chairman of
the Clubhouse Condominium
Association, submitted a peti-
tion in September signed by
33 nearby property owners
as a result of cars “whipping
around the blind curve right at
our entrance.”
“Seems like as soon as
drivers hit that 35 mph zone
they accelerate through that
curve,” Lane wrote. “I have
had a few close calls myself.”
Golfers crossing Gear-
hart Lane from the first green
to the second tee of Gearhart
Golf Links have also reported
near misses, City Administra-
tor Chad Sweet said.
Police Chief Jeff Bowman
had no issue with the change,
Sweet said, and speed reduc-
tion was consistent with city
transportation plan goals
to increase safety for cars,
pedestrians and bicyclists.
Signs, flagging and postings
After 57 years Astoria Health Foods has incorporated into one store at their Seaside location.
Enjoy the Benefits
Expanded Inventory • Juice Bar
Mail & Phone orders
Plenty of parking
Astoria customers - phone orders can be delivered to
Erickson’s Floral for pick up!
• Anxiety • Carido Health
• Artritis • Depression
• Cancer • Epilepsy
Seaside Health Foods
144 N. Roosevelt Seaside, OR 97138
10 %
if ad is off
would “probably be under
$1,000” and could be paid for
from the current budget.
After discussion, Mayor
Matt Brown and councilors
unanimously supported the
“When you come into
Gearhart, you kind of go,
‘ahhh,’” Councilor Paulina
Cockrum said. “It’s a relax-
ing feeling. That kind of goes
along with the 25 mph. It’s not
a place you need to speed.”
Clatsop Post 12
with Salad & Bread
4 pm until gone
8. 00
“Karaoke Dave”
Clatsop Post 12
1132 Exchange Street