When you challenge the tired establishment, the tired establishment lies about you. It’s what they do.

The old-line Polk County establishment continues to lie about my positions on many issues. National drug policy, which will never be an issue for the Polk School Board, is their favorite lie.

Here is my actual policy, as I’ve written several times:

It’s worth laying out the precise nature of Hunt’s lie on my views of national drug policy. He’s relying on a piece I wrote in 2011, five years ago. Because Hunt doesn’t know anything about drug policy, he doesn’t understand the difference between “legalization” and “decriminalization.” I have never, to my knowledge, advocated or even thought out loud about “legalization” of anything but marijuana. It is certainly my position today. To say that I want to legalize cocaine and meth is simply a lie.

Five years ago, I did contemplate the idea of “decriminalizing” simple methamphetamine possession — but not the manufacture of it. The idea is that it would make treatment easier. But I came to believe that is a bad idea, for environmental and social harm reasons. So, for a very long time, my position has been to “legalize” marijuana and move toward general “decriminalization” of drugs other than meth — similar to Portugal. Hunt has never once asked me about this position. But this is it. I do not use drugs or condone their use. I believe, based on thousands of hours of research, that these policy changes would save many lives and strengthen communities.

The do-nothing Polk County establishment continues to lie about this through word games with a five-year-old essay. It does this because it covets its power; and it fears new ideas. It is very afraid of this campaign. I expected this. I’m surprised it waited as long as they did. It must think it’s losing.

Jerry Hill, in particular, decided to lie about me in several ways this morning. I’m going to spell that out in just a second. But even Jerry’s dishonest, chopped up rendering of my five-year-old writing repeats a lie, on its face. That’s because he doesn’t understand the difference between the word “study” and the word “advocate”; the word “legalization” and the word “decriminalization”; and the past tense and the present tense. He suffers some reading comprehension problems. I’m going to publish the full, unedited, passage of that 2011 piece below.

I am in the fight for my community — always. And that brings consequences

But first, I want to talk for a second about what it means to live a public life engaging with big, difficult ideas.

When I decided to jump into this campaign in May, I knew that my greatest strength and greatest weakness as a candidate would be all the millions of words I’ve written and shared over the last eight years on LakelandLocal. I could have avoided all of this by not running. But I’m in the fight. I’m willing to be lied about by the establishment if it will help my community.

LakelandLocal was and is my intellectual diary. I study; I write; I revise, with the hope of shaping my own thinking on important ideas — and pushing important conversations in my community. If I win, I will have LakelandLocal to thank. If I lose, I will also have LakelandLocal to thank. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because I am in the fight for my community — always. The people I’m trying to defeat are in the fight for themselves. Always. They’ve proven it.

I was Jerry’s Batman, when he most needed it most

It’s ironic, but not surprising, that Jerry Hill has decided to attack me now to protect the do-nothing establishment of Polk County.

A couple years ago, Jerry Hill trusted my voice, writing, and integrity implicitly. His pursuit of former Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack was going poorly. Virtually the entire Lakeland government establishment was fighting him. And he was losing. Then I made the moral, political, and ethical case, over and over again, for fundamental reform at LPD. I took the heat for Jerry. I forced the issue into the Lakeland mayor’s race through sheer force of will and writing ability. Jerry Hill knows this very well. I heard from his investigators how much he appreciated it and how much they respected my work. None of that mattered to me. Improving my community mattered to me.

Now, his establishment buddy is in trouble, and I’m a dishonest enemy. I have to say, this is consistent with everything I have ever understood and observed about Jerry Hill’s character.

So it’s not surprising to me that he would lie in the Ledger about me.

What follows is the entire passage from the 2011 essay, which is enormously long. Hill cuts up this passage into little bites and edits out key words.

Also, as I have repeatedly noted, my position on all of this has evolved and refined since 2011. I am not a stagnant thinker. But here’s what I wrote in 2011, five years ago, which Hunt Berryman and Jerry Hill have decided to make the core of our race for Polk School Board.

1) It’s time to treat marijuana like alcohol. Tomorrow. Allow people to grow for personal use. Allow agribusiness or pharma to produce it — with certain potency standards — for sale in liquor stores or other specially designated shops. Allow it be used in the same ways and spaces as alcohol.

It’s not enough to decriminalize it. We must create an actual market that makes cartels and grow houses irrelevant. I heard someone say once, “Drug gangs don’t plant grapes.” Yep. That’s right. For all its murderous violence and ruthless impunity, the Klan failed miserably to win the war bootleggers. It took Bacardi and Anheuser Busch and Robert Mondavi to do the job. Big agribusiness can win the war on drug cartels. It certainly has a better shot at winning it than the DEA.

Marijuana profits form a very large portion of the Mexican cartels financial structure — up to 60 percent in some estimates. Let’s take that blood money away from them. Also, Judd himself once told me – five or so years ago — that most of Polk’s meth trade comes from Mexico, piggybacking on the existing marijuana networks and routes. Wiping out half their profits — almost overnight — and disrupting their networks organically would strike a greater blow for drug enforcement than anything in my lifetime.

2) Study the best approach for going after the cocaine market, with serious consideration given to selling it at pharmacies. Decriminalize possession. Ditto for meth. And assess the effects of marijuana market creation.

[2016 note — Notice the bold. The “ditto” is for “decriminalize possession”. Jerry Hill’s letter completely edits out “decriminalize possession”. That’s a lie. Also note the word “study.” “Study” does not mean “advocate.”]

3) Focus policing of neighborhoods on public behavior in public spaces. Legalizing drugs is not the same as legalizing robbery or fighting or disorderly conduct.

4) Review prison sentences carefully, but do not just indiscriminately release people. Unfortunately, our prisons have become places where borderline guys tend to become hardened criminals. Stopping that process from happening is hugely important to the future of the country. But we can’t pretend the process hasn’t been ongoing for a long time and doesn’t present big potential risks for the neighborhoods that take in these men.

Please compare it to Jerry’s letter, which says this:

“Study the best approach for going after the cocaine market, with serious consideration given to selling it at pharmacies;” “Ditto for meth;” and: “Assess the effects of marijuana market creation.”

That’s a corrupt moral compass at work.

A conscience completely at peace

My LakelandLocal essays are very, very long and closely studied pieces, which I continually revise, and share with the public at no charge.

I knew that Polk’s small-minded and dishonest establishment would probably try to comb through them and pick out little nuggets to use on attack mailers. I did not want to make that easy for them. So I took a lot of the essays down. I’ve been proved entirely right in that tactical decision. I make no apologies for knowing how much bad faith my opponent and his friends would likely show.

But, I’m going to put this one back up. You can access it at this link.

Again, it’s very, very long. It’s also from 2011. It’s five years old. From time to time, I’ve tweaked and revised it over the years. I do this with essays all the time.

So, there you go, the tired, self-dealing Polk establishment, which has no positive agenda for education, has decided to fight out a School Board race on a 2011 essay they have to lie about. Tells you all you need to know about why we need change.