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Oakland City Attorney John Russo on Marijuana, Oscar Grant, World Cup Soccer



On Wednesday, Oakland City Attorney John Russo sat down to talk about the need to legalize marijuana use, the Golden State Warriors, the Oakland A's, and World Cup Soccer. The result is this 14 minute video interview, the latest in a string of nine videos Russo has done with this blogger, and friend.

In this one, John Russo talks about his support for the legalization of recreational marijuana use in California. The vote to cause the legalization of marijuana use is on the November ballot in California. According to a recent poll, 37 percent of potential voters use marijuana.

John Russo is the first elected official to openly support the legalization of marijuana use in California.

Why does Russo support legalization? "Well, Russo said, first, number one I think marijuana prohibition has been a demonstrated failure at this point, no different than alcohol prohibition in the 1920s." Russo says it's also "cooler" for the young to use marijuana and that's it's time for us to get out of "this collective denial" of the situation.

Russo said the only people at parties who don't want to be around people who are using "weed" are elected officials like him, "who see someone in the back using marijuana and make up an excuse to go (leave the party)."

Russo's other "main reason" for legalization is that 60 percent of the revenue gained by drug gangs operating in America and across the boarder is from marijuana. He believes that legalization of the drug will cut off their revenue stream. "I don't understand why we would continue to give large bags of cash to those who would buy sophisticated weapons to use against our law enforcement," Russo said. The Oakland Lawyer believes legalization will lead to a drop in drug-related crimes.

On the FOIA, Oscar Grant, the Warriors, The A's and The World Cup

This blogger filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the City of Oakland, and really it was at the behest of John Russo. Not suprisingly, Russo's office and the City of Oakland have been responsive for the most part - I'm still waiting for the Office of Economic Development's latest communication. But the idea really in truth came from John Russo. "We're the office that's supposed to guard transparency for the public, Russo says.

Russo just got a FOIA request from KTVU Channel Two, "extensive. Asking for my personal calendar, ..because it's budget time. That's what the press should do." (Note: His personal "city" calendar, not his actual personal calendar.)

Something else, the press is doing is covering the Oscar Grant trial. I asked Russo for his take on the trial, which is being held in Los Angeles, even though it happened in Oakland.

"Well, the officer who's being accused (Johannes Mehserle) is being defended by some very sophisticated and aggressive defense lawyers. It's Mike Raines, who was the lawyer for Barry Bonds and has been a lawyer for many police officers around the state (of California). Mike's style is to try to politicize every trial. He's very combative, and it will often work with a jury. You throw enough mud around and you can confuse the jury," Russo said.

Such confusion can cause enough doubt to prevent Johannes Mehserle from being convicted of murder in the killing of Oscar Grant. "The (Alameda County) district attorney has charged the officer with murder, Russo said, "and with murder you have to show intent." Russo says he agrees with the DA's decision, but has a tough effort in proving intent to murder. Translation: Johannes Mehserle may not be convicted of murder.

Russo says the possible protests that could happen shows that most of the people out there are concerned about the inappropriate use of police force. But he says there are a lot of "knuckleheads from San Francisco" who came to Oakland to riot last year.

On the Warriors and The Oakland A's

Russo has not been contacted by any of the competing groups interested in buying the Golden State Warriors Basketball Organization. But really it's an Oakland / Alameda County Joint Powers Authority issue. But if the ownership team wants to move the Warriors to San Francisco, they would have to pay off the remaining bonds issued to pay for the new Oracle Arena in 1998.

On the Oakland A's Russo's still looking for the report from the "Blue Ribbon Committee" that Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig formed to evaluate the Oakland Athletics' stadium issue. Russo says "we're still in limbo. Why that is, I do not know." Russo speculated that perhaps the reasons are due to economics, the 49ers stadium issue, and the overall declining popularity of baseball. But whatever the case, MLB has not issued their report.

On World Cup Soccer

Russo's rooting for Italy, even though he knows they will not win. I think it could be England, but that's my head, not my heart. It would be cool to see the USA win.
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