Sunday, June 14, 2015

Drug Problem? Take the Money and Shun

As a starting point...Here's a weird headline for you:
Group builds on national poll momentum to examine illegal drug use in Port Angeles
Now, personally, I love that the "Best Town EVER" boosters have taken what they see as a positive ("We're number two!") and linked it with something that pretty much everyone agrees is, at best, a real bummer ("We're number one! In opiate-related deaths!"). That seems like a weird and unnatural link to me, but okay, whatever.

As commenters here have pointed out, again and again, the way the City of Port Angeles and the City Council of Port Angeles have responded (no response at all) to the painfully obvious drug problem in Clallam County is, in and of itself, a problem, as well as being shameful, cowardly and cold.

The article in today's PDN about the drug abuse forum put together by the Revitalize PA crowd is an interesting one - especially if you know a little about what's going on behind the scenes, or are able to read between the lines.

First, the drug problem is a County-wide problem, right? It's not just Port Angeles. The go-to person for substance abuse issues at the County is Leeann Grasseth, prevention specialist and grant coordinator. You'll notice she's not mentioned in this article at all. Hmmm...

Leeann, among other things, leads the Port Angeles Healthy Youth Coalition, the group trying to raise awareness of the drug problem in Clallam County, and trying to find solutions for said problem. But again, no mention of Leeann in this article. And, if you check the PAHYC website, you'll see that there are no elected officials - not a one - on their steering committee or involved in any way. Big problem, official Hmmm...

In this article, the sensible Martin Shaughnessy is quoted as saying, "I'm inclined to put my money on the Boys & Girls Club" as a likely venue for successfully addressing local drug abuse problems among young people. And Martin, whether he knows it or not, is on to something.

That's because, Leeann Grasseth, frustrated by the County's lack of concern about or commitment to this issue, has been working behind the scenes to take the multi-million dollar Federal grant that currently funds her efforts away from Clallam County, and transfer it to...the Boys & Girls Club.

Now, let me make something absolutely clear here. We are talking about the County essentially giving away a Federal grant that addresses drug abuse. This grant costs them nothing. It not only pays for Grasseth's salary, but the County is even able to scrape many thousands of dollars off here and there to partially fund other staff positions that do not directly deal with this issue. In other words, this Federal grant could be seen as a money maker for Clallam County. It is cash flow positive.

And they are willing to let it go. Which, to my eyes, takes the official silence and indifference we've seen from local elected officials to a whole new level of "We don't care."
Think about that for a minute. Free money, addressing a pressing need in your community, and giving you some (unearned) cash on the side...And you just don't care. From what I've heard, this move has already been OKed by the higher ups at the County. The higher ups who just don't care. So I guess the three Republican Commissioners aren't the fabled "compassionate conservative" types.
Is this denial? Blind stupidity? A desire for a lack of accountability on this issue? Hey, who knows? And who cares? Not the County, apparently.
But if you care, or are just interested in this issue, the next Port Angeles Healthy Youth Coalition meeting is next Wednesday, the 17th, from Noon to 1Pm in room 115 at Port Angeles High School.

(By the way...My apologies for inserting SO MANY charts here, but...I'm just trying to demonstrate that this is an issue that has been an issue for Clallam County for years and years. There is no way for the people in charge of things to have any deniability on this issue.)


  1. No, these three county commish Republicans are the type who want to privatize everything, apparently. Let the Boys & Girls Club, and Revitalize PA, and anyone else who wants to, handle the drug problems. That way they can focus on important things like funneling money to the EDC, giving away money to the city, bickering among themselves, etc.

    1. With the attitude presented by this post, it is no wonder we have the very situation that the post describes.
      Bitch, bitch, bitch, pop open another fortified beer and tune into the Jerry Springer Show.

    2. Go ahead and put your head back into the sand and continue to troll troll troll since you don't feel like facing reality.

  2. Clallam County? Dereliction of duty, pure and simple.

    Good for Ms. Grasseth for wanting to do the right thing, no matter how difficult, and no matter how little institutional support she got.

  3. I was talking with a friend of mine last night about the post I read here, where heroin was described as "easy suicide". They jumped up and applauded at the description.

    This person is a long time, front line substance abuse counselor who has had to counsel a number of families who have lost children to over doses. Who goes to schools and does programs with children. Who talks with children, every day, about these issues and their views.

    Sure. As your post points out, agencies are formed, grants given out, "free money" pays for salaries related and unrelated. Year after year.

    Any changes? After the millions spent, after all the meetings, after the years of salaries spent, are we seeing any improvements? Or, has the situation gotten worse?

    What did that young woman say to the city's leadership that night?

    Why is there is great disconnect?

    Oh! We're going to use the long standing problem as a PR stunt to make our heartless group look like it actually cares? PA CAN? Can what? Impress itself? Try to absolve itself of it's otherwise selfish views and attitudes?

    The young woman, who sounded like she actually cared, actually interacted with, and actually had empathy for the drug using culture in Port Angeles said what? "Give us hope". " Don't sell us out".

    It seems that the years of funding these agencies and groups has NOT resulted in Port Angeles youth having hope about their futures. They are neither stupid, nor blind. They see the very same things we talk about here, on this blog. And, they feel hopeless. They feel that the leadership of this town is selling them and their hopes for a future, out. They see the stupid politics. They see the focus of our leadership on logging and destroying the environment.

    I have heard this, too. Young people saying to me "What is the point? They've so screwed things up, there is no hope. There is no future".

    It is insensitive and stupid to characterize the situation as a "drug problem". It isn't a "drug problem", it is a societal problem where people feel there is no hope. If there is no hope, no future, then why be concerned about risks taken while anesthetizing oneself? And what is done? Rather than addressing the real problems in our community, we focus on the people REACTING TO the problems! You would be "crazy" NOT to be upset about what is being done, and what is happening all around us.

    But, who really does care? The boosters, who are like air-head cheerleaders saying inane foolishness to make THEMSELVES feel better?

    Have another meeting. I'm sure the hopeless in our town will feel a LOT better for it.

  4. I honestly would be surprised if the county lets that grant money go. It doesn't matter how ineffective they are, it's money that won't be in their pocket.

    I am very skeptical of PA CAN. Perhaps they'll do some good, perhaps it will just be another series of useless meetings with no end result other than to make a select group of people feel like they're doing something.

    Unfortunately drug abuse is not an easy problem to "solve". I put that in quotes because I don't believe one can "solve" drug abuse, merely lessen the impact. There will always be homeless, people will always go hungry, there will always be substance abuse. The only question is "how much?" How much are we willing to allow before we take action?

    I also believe "taking action" is largely ineffective. I really can't see our council "giving the children hope" but hope is a large part of this. Drug abuse tends to be lesser in healthy, prosperous communities. Port Angeles is not healthy, not prosperous and arguably not a community. Like other areas with these problems, drug abuse is high here.

    Meetings about drug abuse is fine, talking about it is fine, taking "action" is fine, but if you actually want to "reduce" substance abuse (and homelessness and hunger), we need to make Port Angeles a community, we need to make it prosperous and we need to make it healthy. Anything else is just grandstanding.

    Given our track record so far, I don't have much hope in this.

  5. the people who need to engage in the conversation are not the "experts" or the ones treating addicts now. The focus should be on how we make this town more hopeful, how we can stop seeing people as worthless, and ignorable.
    yes, we need to become a community. That is the bigger issue, always has been, always will be. Just because you LIVE here doesn't mean you are choosing to be part of the community.
    Being part of the community is a choice, just like drugs.
    And, for the record, I don't see that drugs = addict.
    Damn good excuse, and most use it that way as a big excuse. But really, the truth is, most users are spoiled, lazy, shithead, poor excuses for human beings, in the first place. And, these peole just use drugs as an excuse to not give a shit about anyone, or anything, other than themselves. A big fat easy excuse.
    "Oh, look I can't be decent, I have a big fat excuse. Poor me, waa-waaa."
    Before drugs were criminalized, there were some very upstanding citizens who were regular opiate users -- Beat writer William Burroughs (heroin) , John Keats (opium), Elizabeth Barret Browning (morphine)., and more, but who cares, it doesn't fit the stereotype. The only reason we know any celebs use, is because a few of them overdose. Oops.
    In the 1830's the UK imported 22,000 pounds of opium, used (mainly) for recreation and in pain relief products. Heroin was invented by the Bayer company (1895), and sold legally. The philanthropic Saint James Society in the U.S. mounted a campaign to supply free samples of heroin through the mail to morphine addicts who are trying give up their habits (supplied for FREE by the Bayer company...yep, those same people that gave you aspirin).
    1900's many businessmen, and leaders, as well as common folk were addicted to heroin, regularly used opium and morphine. It was LEGAL until 1923, from there it all went downhill...the mafia got involved, and blah blah blah. (I assume Bayer gave up their patent.)
    Now, the point is, if upstanding citizens could be users but still work and be responsible (which many, many were), how is it now such a "oh my god, it destroys people", and it is so demonized. Hello...the drugs aren't the problem. It's the idiots who want an easy excuse. Not all users are losers. but all losers are users with an excuse, and they get a lot of attention, unless they screw up, then we just say "oh what a waste" (which is all we could say about them in the first place).
    Same thing can be said of alcohol.... some people can take a drink now and then without becoming drunks. Some people were born to become drunks. And, it's a waste, they waste their lives. And...?
    What's the difference?.

    1. @ Anon 1:26 You make very valid points.

      The issue, as you point out, is not the "functional users". There always have been, and continue to be in every community, people who use alcohol and other drugs without destroying their lives. Not all people are the same. Not all people react to the same situation the same ways.

      But, we know that when people feel hopeless, they can do all kinds of unhealthy things. We have witnessed and talked about the many problems in Port Angeles. The really stupid actions taken by the leadership in this town. Millions spent on Cutler' Turd Tank, the Graving Dock fiasco, HarborWorks and so much more.

      Who thinks the youth in this town didn't see or hear when the then-mayor of this town threatened to turn off the water to residents, in order to force them to vote the way the city wanted them to?

      How did the youth (or anyone else) feel when the city sued little old ladies who circulated petitions to not have fluoride put in the drinking water? If the city does these things, what hope is there of voicing an opinion, or being heard?

      Or, the downtown merchants who complained because of youth that were "hanging around" down by the waterfront, and who lobbied to have the police remove them, harass them, and find ways to keep them away. Is downtown only for tourists, and those wanting to shop in the downtown merchant's stores?

      What kind of demonstration of concern for people needing assistance did the downtown merchants, and Revitalize group in particular show by publicly blaming the needy for their lack of success downtown, and wanting the police to remove them?

      And then quickly called to have the Lee Hotel shut down. Again, demonstrating the Revitalize group seem to think the only real people are those that are going to shop n their stores.

      One third of residents need help paying the high utility rates in the city. The city then goes on to raise the rates, and discontinue the assistance programs.

      Yeah, yeah. We know all this. But, the city continues to show it doesn't have any ability to look forward. Look at the water situation. The entire town is threatened with the most serious problems it has ever faced, and it doesn't even acknowledge it! Is that supposed to make people hopeful???

      As with so many of the issues, the EDC will continue to meet. The Council will meet. The Revitalize group will meet. PABA will meet. The Downtown Association will meet.The Commissioners will meet. It all will roll along, business as usual.

      What is one more group, meeting?

    2. Oh boy, don't I agree with you.
      We need to vote out all incumbents, rinse and repeat. Keep doing it until we get a majority of real people, not the "connected" old farts that were in bed with Cutler and followed Rogers.
      We need some forward thinking that includes this town. With the internet, we can connect, and meet, and start causing problems -- that is why have more group meetings.
      Alone we complain, together we can demand.
      Lets take over this town.

  6. The charts you've posted here tell the whole story, CK. Where hope goes down, drug use goes up.

  7. We're so rickety here that some balloons can black out a big chunk of the city. No wonder we're having problems with the water.

  8. Mylar balloons have caused a lot of outages, everywhere.