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Can kicked | Editorial
The city of Bremerton kicked the methadone can down the road. They did it successfully too – it looks like the ACLU shelved a anti-discrimination lawsuit against city actions to stop the one provider willing to treat local low-income opiate addicts.
Clear to many, but publicly unsaid, is that the Bremerton City Council used the only mechanism possible to answer a political call loudly proclaimed by a few ill-informed business owners seeking to stop the clinic from entering their blighted neighborhood.
Though many on the council claim to respect the directions of the planning commissioners, the Feb. 1 vote to corral clinics into the auto zone, or the hospital area did not follow the commissioners recommendations, which would have allowed the originally sought location or many other centers to become home to the much needed service.
Ironiclly, the city benefits from the very system that created many of the opiate addicts living and struggling in the county. One of the largest employment sectors in the county is the local medical industry which prescribed the synthetic opiates that left many hooked. Those pharmacy sales are taxed and the medical companies prescribing pills pay Business and Operations taxes.
Now, as those former Oxy addicts switch to heroin for economic reasons, the county will pay a much higher price in terms of crime, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and overdose deaths.
More concerning is the fact that several returning members of the Board of Health, who are also elected officials, this week said they did not understand the impact and scope of opiate addiction in the county they serve. Considering the eight months of public debate, and total column inches of newsprint spent on the need for and possible affects of a methadone clinic, a deer-in-the-headlights response by any local elected official at this point is inappropriate. It’s an almost unforgivable response for a returning member of the BOH.
Scarier still is the idea that the chair of the BOH thinks that opiate addiction is not a protected disability and that perhaps the state, the City of Bremerton and the director of public health has the designation wrong.