Friday, March 16, 2007

Terry Goddard is a great A.G. He's also a great guy.

This week I've been incredibly busy (which is why I have only put up one posting since last Saturday.)

The high point of the week politically was a reception in Winslow for our Attorney General, Terry Goddard. Like many other politicians, he was just elected to another four years this past November. Unlike many other politicians, now that he is out of campaign mode he is taking the opportunity to travel around the state and actually talk to people, both to let them know what his office is doing and to hear what their concerns are.

I've had quite a few opportunities to talk to Terry, and he is the same unflappable mixture of wit, class, charm and a good listener that he has always been.

What I'd like to do is pass on some of the things he is working on.

He is making fighting hard against both meth labs and the drug itself a top priority. Meth labs in a neighborhood are a hazard, not only to the occupants of the lab (which distressingly often includes the children of the meth cooks or of other residents of the domicile). The fumes from its production are toxic, and an explosion can start a fire which quickly consumes a trailer and everyone inside, and possibly spread from there. In the last legislature, Goddard and others pushed for a bill that would require stores to limit the amount of pseudoephedrine they sell at a single purchase and keep it under lock and key. The pharmaceutical industry worked behind the scenes to defeat it (Senator Barbara Leff will always have meth labs in your neighborhood as part of her resume). So since then, many cities and local jurisdictions have circumvented the legislature and passed the law themselves. Goddard met earlier on Tuesday with the Navajo county board of Supervisors and urged them to put together such a bill that would cover unincorporated areas of the county (and he was joined at the reception by supervisor Jesse Thompson.) But getting rid of meth labs is only a small part of the battle. After all, it is true that most meth here comes from Mexico and as long as there is a market, it will continue to come.

I noted in the post on my Grand Jury experience about how about half the cases we saw were drug cases, and the large majority of those involved methamphetamine. Meth is also very dangerous because people who get jacked up on meth don't just get mellow or go to sleep (like marijuana) or even get hyper but mainly a threat to themselves (like cocaine.) Meth users get paranoid, and imagining they are in danger try to 'protect' themselves, often by lethal violence. I was living in Moriarty, New Mexico in the mid 1990's, when not even a mile from my home there was a man who had been using meth that was driving on I-40 and when he imagined that his son was the devil, he stopped his van, cut off his son's head and threw it out onto the freeway and then drove on with the lifeless body in the van. That's what meth users do-- not just ordinary hallucinations, but hallucinations that often cause them to attack and murder other people. So the Attorney General found a hard-hitting program that he likes called, 'Montanameth' run by the state of Montana where they describe exactly to school age kids what meth is and what it can cause, and doesn't sugar-coat it at all. He is in the process of adapting it to Arizona so we can start whacking at the addiction rate here.

He also discussed his work on educating kids about on-line sex predators and on consumer fraud issues.

As I said before though, it was really nice to have a politician come to town AFTER the election and talk with people about what he is doing and what they think he should do.

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