White House To Nominate Kerlikowske as Drug Czar

White House To Nominate Kerlikowske as Drug Czar
Posted by CN Staff on March 11, 2009 at 05:16:56 PT
By Jennifer Sullivan, Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Source: Seattle Times
Washington, D.C. -- The White House today will announce the nomination of Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a position otherwise known as the drug czar, sources close to the appointment have confirmed.The announcement will be made in Washington, D.C., the sources say. Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb confirmed Tuesday night that Kerlikowske is in the capital.
The White House has refused to officially comment on Kerlikowske's nomination, but a Washington, D.C., source with knowledge of the administration's plan confirmed last month that Kerlikowske has accepted the post, which has been a Cabinet-level position.The administration will remove the job's Cabinet designation  reversing an elevation of the office under President George W. Bush  although one senior official said that Kerlikowske would have "full access and a direct line to the president and the vice president," The Washington Post reported.Kerlikowske, 59, who has led the Seattle Police Department for more than eight years, told the department's top commanders recently that he expected to leave to take a top federal position.In the weeks after his name surfaced as a front-runner for the position, Kerlikowske has remained publicly silent on the prospect of leaving Seattle.However, The Post said concerns over the nomination surfaced recently when Kerlikowske's son from a previous marriage, Jeffrey Kerlikowske, was arrested last week for a parole violation in Broward County, Fla.The younger Kerlikowske has a criminal record that includes arrests for marijuana possession and distribution and was released from prison for battery in March 2008, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.In his remarks accepting the nomination, Kerlikowske is expected to reference his family struggles with drug abuse, The Washington Post reported."Our nation's drug problem is one of human suffering," according to his prepared remarks. "As a police officer, but also in my own family, I have experienced firsthand the devastating effects that drugs can have on our youth, our families and our communities."Kerlikowske, who was appointed Seattle chief in 2000 by then-Mayor Paul Schell, had worked the previous two years as deputy director of the Justice Department's community-oriented policing division during the Clinton administration.Sources said Kerlikowske established ties in Washington, D.C., and has a strong relationship with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton years.Kerlikowske began his career as a street cop in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1972 and went on to serve as chief in two Florida cities, Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie.He led the Buffalo, N.Y., department in the 1990s, and left there for the deputy-director position in the Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.In Seattle, Kerlikowske won credit for stabilizing the Police Department after the stormy departure of Norm Stamper as chief in the wake of the 1999 World Trade Organization riots, as well as the department's initial failure to unearth a detective's alleged theft of money at a crime scene.Crime rates dipped during his time as chief, reaching historic lows in recent years.But his tenure has at times been rocky, marked by controversy over allegations that he was too soft when it came to disciplining officers in misconduct cases.Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels' spokesman, Alex Fryer, said Tuesday night that the mayor would not comment until the White House makes an official announcement.When asked last month about Kerlikowske's possible departure, Nickels said "it would be important that we have a strong interim chief quickly and then we take our time and look at a permanent selection so we make sure we make the right choice."Councilmember Nick Licata, who serves on the public-safety committee, said last month he would like to see someone from inside the department given serious consideration for both the interim and permanent jobs if Kerlikowske were to leave.Among the names that have surfaced as a candidate for interim chief is that of John Diaz, deputy chief of operations.Kerlikowske's possible role in shaping drug policy for the Obama administration was applauded last month by local medical-marijuana advocates.In 2003, Kerlikowske opposed a city ballot measure, approved by voters, to make marijuana possession the lowest law-enforcement priority, saying it would create confusion.But in doing so, he noted that arresting people for possessing marijuana for personal use was already not a priority.Joanna McKee, co-founder and director of Green Cross Patient Co-Op, a medical-marijuana patient-advocacy group, said Kerlikowske knows the difference between cracking down on the illegal abuse of drugs and allowing the responsible use of marijuana.Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle attorney and advocate for medical-marijuana patients, said Kerlikowske would be a vast improvement over past drug czars, who he said used the office to carry out the so-called "war on drugs."President Obama has looked to the Seattle area for three appointments.Along with nominating Kerlikowske, the Obama administration has tapped King County Executive Ron Sims for deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former Gov. Gary Locke for Commerce secretary.Information from Seattle Times staff reporters Emily Heffter and Steve Miletich and Times archives is included in this report.Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author:  Jennifer Sullivan, Seattle Times Staff ReporterPublished:  March 11, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: Articles: Under Obama, Drug War Tactics Poised To Shift Find Hope for a Shift in Drug Policy To Name Seattle Chief Drug Czar
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #7 posted by FoM on March 11, 2009 at 10:17:57 PT
Biden Announces Seattle Police Chief as Drug Czar
Excerpt: Seattle activists who work on drug-reform issues called Kerlikowske smart and reasonable, and noted his police department has largely abided by a voter-approved initiative that made marijuana possession the city's lowest law-enforcement priority.Even at the city's annual Hempfest protest and festival, police arrested only a few people despite the open-air pot smoking, said Vivian McPeak, director of the event.Douglas Hiatt, an attorney who defends medical marijuana patients, said the chief has tried "to do the right thing on medical marijuana. He's trying to get it across to his officers not to hassle patients."Kerlikowske told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in December that if he joined the Obama administration, "At my age, at this point in my career, I'd want something where you feel like you could make a real impact." URL:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by fight_4_freedom on March 11, 2009 at 10:14:45 PT
If that's so FoM
Then it sounds like a great move to me!!!Obama! Obama!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by FoM on March 11, 2009 at 10:12:19 PT
I think it means is the Drug Czar's position isn't as important as it has been over many years.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by fight_4_freedom on March 11, 2009 at 10:03:28 PT
So bringing it down from a 
cabinet position to a non-cabinet position means what? There is less importance for the position now?This guys seems like a good pick for the job.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by FoM on March 11, 2009 at 09:46:13 PT
White House Nominates Kerlikowske as Drug Czar
By Jennifer Sullivan and Steve Miletich, Seattle Times Staff ReportersMarch 11, 2009The White House today announced the nomination of Seattle police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, putting him in position to become the nation's so-called drug czar.With Kerlikowske at his side, Vice President Joseph Biden made the announcement during a ceremony in the Executive Office Building next door to the White House."There is no one more qualified to take on this job than the chief," Biden said.URL:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 11, 2009 at 05:48:06 PT
Obama To Name Seattle Police Chief as Drug Czar
Obama To Name Seattle Police Chief as U.S. Drug Czar March 11, 2009 
 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will nominate Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to be U.S. drug czar and remove the job's Cabinet designation, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kerlikowske would head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which was elevated to Cabinet level under former President George W. Bush.The nomination of Kerlikowske would end a long search for a candidate to oversee U.S. efforts to fight illegal drugs. Kerlikowske was long speculated to be the front-runner, but revelations about his stepson's arrest on drug-related charged complicated the nomination process, the Post reported.In formally nominating Kerlikowske, Obama -- who admitted using cocaine as a teenager in his memoir "Dreams from My Father" -- would offer a vote of confidence for a nominee who could face uncomfortable questions during the confirmation process, the newspaper said.Editing by Vicki AllenCopyright: Thomson Reuters 2009
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 11, 2009 at 05:19:14 PT
Good News 
My mind can't sort through all the spin we have seen in the news lately so this news means soon maybe we will know the direction the Obama Administration will go!
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment