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Giorgio: Take Back Worcester

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

 

It appears that Donald Trump’s star is still ascending and that anger in America is also rising. But I am still not sure what we are angry about. In Worcester there is a Face Book group called "Take Worcester Back," but who are they taking it back from?

The Telegram & Gazette’s political reporter Nick Kotsopoulos penned an opinion piece this past Sunday, where he talked to the usual neighborhood activists, who echoed the anger in Worcester theme, claiming the city was becoming unsafe.

That is just not true. If you are not involved in selling or buying drugs and if you aren’t in a gang, you are still pretty safe in Worcester. We pride ourselves on being the second largest city in New England, but with that boast comes the fact that we are a large metropolitan area with all the inherent problems that the boast connotes. We have gangs and we have drugs and we have cars and we have traffic.

But we also have a great many good things, such as The Hanover Theatre and the Worcester Art Museum, and great restaurants and great colleges. On balance, things are going pretty good in the city. The naysayers aside, who only ferment bad news to suit their TEA Party political agendas.

However, there is an opioid epidemic and we need to deal with it. Young people are getting hooked on pills that are to easily prescribed by physicals. When they run out of Percocet, they look for a cheaper high-heroin.

Sunday’s Obituary

There was an obituary this past Sunday, of a young man from Grafton, Timothy Houston who was 23 and died this week. His very brave family did a public service because right there in his obituary was this line “another victim of the devastating opiate crisis that is stealing our children away from us.”

On Sunday in the previously referenced Nick Kotsopoulos column, he reported that the city of Worcester’s Department of Public Health has a person working 20 hours a week just to handle calls about needles being found. So far, they have collected 542 needles in parks, playgrounds and other public places, where children play. This is truly a sign of hard times. Our street corners are filled with desperate men and women looking for spare changes to feed either their heroin or crack habit.

But when we want to fight this epidemic, we are faced with the Neanderthal, head in the sand crowd, lead by people like Billy Breault of the “Main South Public Safety Alliance” which no one has ever proven has more than Breault as a member.

The Recovery High School

When Mayor Joe Petty bravely fought for a Recovery High School so we could fight the scourge of addiction, at a young age, people like Breault opposed it and started talking about taking our city back.

When the city’s Department of Public Health wants to put up needle disposal boxes, so addicts can do one responsible thing and properly dispose of their needles instead of dripping them in a park, there are people like Billy Breault who oppose it.

Billy Breault is Wrong

I am not saying that Breault doesn’t believe in his cause. I am saying his cause is wrong. “Just say no to drugs” the mantra of Nancy Regan during her husband’s presidency, was great bumper sticker material but bad public policy.

Drugs are here and have always been here. Heroin and marijuana were once confined to poor and minority neighborhoods, but the Viet Nam War changed all that. We need an aggressive plan to fight addiction. That includes educating physicians about over prescribing opioids. It involves treatment on demand and it involves education and intervention. We have far too many prison beds and far too few treatment beds.

The problems that Worcester is experiencing are caused by the opioid crises. Let’s recognize it, let’s treat it and let’s stop denying it exists.

We need to say no to drugs, but more importantly we need to say no to those who don’t want to give us the tools we need to fight this scourge.

We need to take back Worcester from those who want to “Take Worcester Back”.

 

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