Sept. 15, 1997 - To The Mayor From The Executive Director
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive DirectorSeptember 15, 1997
In Chicago this week, the USCM Task Force on Drug Control met to prepare strategy recommendations for our Summer Leadership Meeting in Fort Wayne next week. Mayors Coles of Boise, King of Gary, Box of Rockford, Mullins of Palatine, Daley of Chicago, and Harmon of St. Louis spent considerable time discussing what we need to do this year in our continuing effort for drug and crime control. Conference President Paul Helmke of Fort Wayne joined the mayors at the end of our meetings, and the mayors all feel we are ready for a good discussion and strategy session with our leadership in Fort Wayne.
Just about 12 months ago we went to Idaho to hear Boise Mayor Brent Coles brief us on the methamphetamine crisis he was experiencing in his city. We were all surprised to learn of the new development and many were concerned that the drug, which can be made in the most elementary lab, would spread across the country west to east. In January at our Washington Winter Meeting, Mayor Coles brought to our podium at the Capital Hilton the basic ingredients to make ďmethĒ, as it is called on the street.
This weekís meeting here in Chicago came one day after USA Today ran, as its cover story, an incredible story entitled "Meth: Drug Choice in Midwest." The warning we got from the Boise Mayor just eight months ago has unfortunately come true. Once again, our mayors have alerted our nation to a serious challenge. The USA Today story points out that Missouri now leads the nation for meth lab shutdowns. There were 235 shutdowns in Missouri this year; California is second with 155. In the report Ms. Shirley Armstead of the DEAís St. Louis office, says of meth, "Itís totally overwhelming us." Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey says that meth is "the crack of the 90s."
Mayor Harmon, the former St. Louis Police Chief, briefed the mayors on the difference between crack and meth. One of the scary facts is that meth causes a more violent form of behavior than crack and methís effect can stay with a person for 7 to 8 hours, whereas the rush from crack averages, according to our police departments, 15 to 20 minutes.
As USA Today and U.S. Mayor have reported, meth is made by adjusting the hydrogen and oxygen molecule of ephedrine. Heat is used and as USA Today reports, "The process is as easy as baking a cake."
We have also learned that meth recipes are available on the Internet. These ingredients described over the Internet are the same ingredients Mayor Coles presented to our mayors last January at our Washington Winter Meeting.
No lab shutdowns have occurred so far in 14 east coast states but there have been 12 in Pennsylvania. Mayors this week in Chicago predicted that the meth problem will soon be in every state. Discussions here centered on how we can help those mayors not yet hit. Itís coming east and coming hard. And unlike cocaine, meth doesnít have to be planted and grown in sunny climates and shipped in. As Ms. Howlett writes in USA Today ó again ó itís as easy as baking a cake. Itís bad news, for mayors, police officers and the public. And itís especially bad news for our young people, a population group in which we have seen increased drug use over the past few years. Congress and the Administration must focus on this epidemic now.
Our Drug Control Task Force will bring this issue up front and center at our Leadership Meeting in Fort Wayne next week. Mayors assembled here believe we must reach out and strengthen our coalition of state, county and city elected officials to bring our law enforcement officers with us as we educate Congress, The White House and the public to help us unite in response to the latest demon on the drug front.
CDBG/NCDA and USCM
In Newport, Rhode Island last week, Rockford Mayor Box and I represented Conference President Helmke before the Executive Symposium of the National Community Development Association to announce we are forming a CDBG Week Task Force for the purpose of strengthening CDBG week next year. Concern has been expressed that the participation of CDBG week last year was not as strong as in past years. We are all aware that we must not take CDBG funds for granted and we must show Members of Congress what CDBG funds do for their districts and states. It was recommended that we bring together a group of mayors and community development directors for the purpose of developing an action plan to be presented at our 1998 Washington Winter Meeting.
The Conference of Mayors has the strongest relationship and connection with the National Community Development Association than any subsidiary in our history. Itís over 25 years old and that close relationship of NCDA members and mayors has resulted in ideas that have produced wins through the years. This year we want to make it even stronger. Thatís why Conference President Helmke, formed the CDBG Task Force.
We will need all mayors and community development directors to focus on this task force and its recommendations. We thank Mayor Helmke for his emphasis on making an old tried and true federal initiative one of his top priorities in 1997 and 1998.
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