Saturday, December 19, 2009

Representative Smith Knows Who Votes

Representative Ken Smith has apparently found a way to appease the NIMBY crowd in Dunmore (where apparently no one suffers from narcotics additions) by suggesting that there should be an immediate moratorium on new Methadone clinics across all of Pennsylvania.

Link Here.

Call me a cynic, but the following things come to mind:
  • Rep Smith is not exactly the "star performer" of his class in the Legislature.
  • Rep Smith is regularly getting skewered for being behind in his property taxes at Smith's Restaurant (a great place to eat, by the way). He once (in)famously blamed his wife for the accounting lax. Smooth.
  • Rep Smith knows that the crowd that opposes the Methadone clinic is loud.
Throwing logic and proportion to "sloppy dead" (with apologies to Jefferson Airplane's great song "White Rabbit"), what better cover to oppose an unpopular drug rehabilitation clinic than to say "we need to study them all?". What better way to get some positive PR from a loud crowd and alienate who? A bunch of dope-fiends? Hell, do "those people" even vote anyway? Besides, asking the Pennsylvania Legislature (a body known across the universe for gross inefficiency, graft, and general disregard for anything that doesn't enhance the re-election on incumbents) to study anything is like asking someone to go on a scenic cruise to Somalia: just not a good idea.

Look, I'm a realist. I know that having a Methadone clinic in a residential neighborhood is not a great thing, which is why the one proposed would be located in an Industrial Park. I also realize that many who oppose this clinic are probably acting out of ignorance than anything else, their minds filled with visions of 70's cop shows like Kojak, where drug-addicts litter gutters and steal fruit. But I also try to use logic to think there things through; and a logical place to start would be to look at where a clinic like this already operates and evaluate its "threat" based upon that review. Lucky for us a similar clinic already exists in Wilkes-Barre, where again (as I understand it) there have been very few problems.

In case this hasn't been loud and clear enough, I think a Methadone clinic located in an industrial park near the interstate is a great idea. There are drug-addicts in this area. There are drug-addicts in Dunmore. The people who would use the services of this clinic are people who want to get off of drugs. The clinic can be structured such that there is no loitering allowed. What's the harm here?

Let me answer that last question: the harm is to the idyllic vision that some folks have of their home town. They don't want to believe that there is a need for this; and if there is a need, it probably exists someplace else, you know like in Scranton. These folks use things like traffic studies and legislative action as excuses to oppose this clinic when the real reason is that it simply offends this idyllic vision of Dunmore that has never really existed anyway. How very sad, for both them and their communities.

As a final note, someone could respond to this posting by saying: "Dear Idiot, would you want a Methadone Clinic next to your house?". Fair enough. The problem is that I live near a school (JFK Elementary in Scranton), not an industrial park. Locating such a clinic in a residential area does create a few legitimate issues of concern, but that's not the case here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi There

Enjoyed your comment and you are right on about everything. The only disagreement I would have is the need to locate a clinic in an inductrial zone. For too long MMT has been in the medical ghetto, so to speak. These are not monsters from under the bridge, they are human beings from all walks of life. In fact, the majority of pts at most clinics today are there for Rx opiate abuse, not heroin addiction. Relegating them to an industrial district is based on what, exactly? Fear they they will saunter out of the clinic and snatch children off the street? Head into the nearest church building and offend the Lord with their presence? It amazes me that people have absolutely no problem with AA and NA meetings taking place in churches, schools, libraries, etc even though these meetings are attended by people in all phases of recovery including quite a few in active addiction, who may be drinking and driving, etc, dealing drugs at the meetings and so on, yet no one complains. Such methods of treatment are FAR less effective than MMT yet they are not questioned nor feared in any way. There is no reason at all to relegate patients to industrial areas to receive medical treatment when they then get in their cars and drive to work, home, school, etc--all the places we supposedly were keeping them away from by isolating the clinic in a far away area.

Other than this I agree completely and I thank you for your great post!

Stephen Albert said...

I appreciate your comments.

While I didn't dwell too much on it in the posting, I had two reasons for thinking that an Industrial Park offered a good location for the clinic:

- Access...Industrial Parks are typically located near an interstate, which makes for easy access, especially for those that need to travel a distance for treatment.

- Parking...Industrial Parks typically offer a lot of available parking.

What I didn't mean to imply was that they should be relegated to an industrial park as some form of banishment. I would have no problem with one being located in a downtown or commercial district either.

I would oppose having a treatment facility in a purely residential area, but I'd also oppose having any medical facility in a purely residential area as well. Your point about NA and AA meetings at churches is well taken though, and one that I've never considered.