Do any of you remember the movie Westworld? It was about a theme park designed to look and feel like the old west, complete with robot gunfighters for visitors to have duels with. In other words, it was a tourist destination with violence and death built into it as part of the attraction.
Port Angeles is starting to seem a little bit like that, frankly - a would-be tourist destination with death and destruction built into it. Let's call it Worstworld.
Here you have a sparsely populated county, which has the highest per capita opiate-related death rate in the state, higher than even densely-populated-and-grunge-loving King County, and yet the Jefferson and Clallam County's shared public health officer, Dr. Tom Locke, "doesn't speculate on the Clallam-versus-Jefferson disparity in heroin use. He is instead seeking to save the lives of overdose victims."
You're the public health officer, and you won't speculate? Isn't it possible that the insights gained from such speculation might "save the lives" of some of these people, sir? Or are you simply concerned about being the bearer of (even more) bad news, and fearful of losing your job on the Clallam County end of things? Amazing. I call this a dereliction of duty, Dr. Locke.
Meanwhile, one of your own nurses, Julia Keegan, reports that one out of five inmates displays symptoms of heroin withdrawal. At least that's what she's willing to state for the record, talking to the PDN. I know that when I last spoke with Julia before leaving, she told me it was one out of four. Either way, that's a pretty staggering number. But hey, why speculate about it, right? After all, it's only lives, families and entire communities utterly destroyed.
And how does this destruction manifest itself in the community? Well, another article in the PDN today gives a pretty good, and expensive, example of that. See the article headlined "Copper thief cuts power to 2,000 after damaging Clallam Public Utility District substation west of Port Angeles." In case you didn't know, Dr. Locke, it's very doubtful that this copper was stolen by someone who is just crazy about collecting copper. No, I'd speculate that it was stolen by someone who is...Hmmm...Addicted to drugs, perhaps?
And just this one little escapade could result in damages costing over $120,000, according to the report from the Sheriff's Office. All to net someone enough to buy probably $120 worth of smack or meth. That's some lethal math for a community any way you look at it. Oh, except, oops, I forgot, you don't want to look at it, do you Dr. Locke? Looking could be seen as a form of speculating, and we know how you feel about that, don't we?
But you know who does seem to be looking at this? The McDonald's Corporation, of all things. Per yet another article in the PDN today, "The international fast-food chain unexpectedly has delayed...plans to replace Port Angeles' golden arches with a new $2.5 million eatery." Per owner Brian Beaulaurier (who lives in Jefferson County, by the way), the existing restaurant is "old and tired."
Now, I don't claim to know what drove this decision by McDonald's to "delay" this long-simmering project. But if you Google the phrase "mcdonald's heroin," you'll find a veritable cascade of news stories about McDonald's workers selling heroin via the drive-thru window, parents overdosing at McDonald's, people selling heroin and shooting up in McDonald's parking lots, etc. In other words, a torrent of bad press linking McDonald's and heroin already exists. Maybe, just maybe, that came into play when higher-ups discussed the idea of investing millions in heroin-plagued Port Angeles?
So, could the Sunday news combo meal get any worse for Port Angeles? Yes, yes it could. Per the PA Police Department, they don't have enough officers to properly patrol the city.
High rates of drug abuse, and corresponding high rates of crime. A checked out public health "leader." Reluctance in invest further in properties in Port Angeles. A thinly spread law enforcement presence.
Yep, welcome to Worstworld. Would you like some (old and tired) fries with that smack?
And as if the above weren't bad news enough...Yes, thieves have stolen all the Christmas toys that the Salvation Army had in storage for needy children. I wonder if Dr. Locke would care to speculate on how much heroin you could get for a truckload of toys? Naw, probably not...
And it's true! Tom Locke is quitting - kind of. He's quitting his job as Clallam County's public health officer - but will stay on in that role in Jefferson County. (Poor Jefferson County!)
Meanwhile, he'll still live in Clallam County, and is taking a new job with the Jamestown Family Health Clinic in Sequim. (Poor Jamestown Clinic!)
So...Hmmm...So, you're not retiring. You're not moving. And you're not even partially retiring by quitting your job at Clallam County, because you'll be taking a new job at Jamestown. So...Hmmm...Gee, Tom, it sort of looks like you're jettisoning the underperforming portion of your portfolio, you know? Or like you're walking away from the big ol' public health liability that your own laziness helped create and foster.
But, you know what, Dr. Flakenstein? You're probably going to regret not moving away from the monster you helped create. Because, at the very least, you're still going to be living in the county where you're much more likely to have your house or car broken into by, you know, someone hooked on drugs. Now I realize that's just some of that nasty speculation on my part, but...
You might also find it a bit uncomfortable to be seen out and about in the county you just screwed over. I'm guessing that your woeful job performance, and the way you're just sleazing out of your duties here, won't sit well with a lot of people.
So, in an effort to help any and all of those pissed off people, here's a picture of "Dr." Tom Locke, so you'll know him on sight. Be sure to tell him what a stellar job he did before bailing out.