Monday, October 23, 2017

Sunday Globe Special: Addicted to Power

"Mixed reviews for Walsh on handling of opioid crisis" by Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff  October 20, 2017

Nine months after he took office, Mayor Martin J. Walsh faced a calamity: He had to evict hundreds of people from a homeless shelter and several addiction treatment programs on a harbor island, after the city abruptly condemned the rickety bridge to the mainland.

A crisis like the one in October 2014 would dismay any politician. But Walsh, openly in recovery from alcoholism, had been seen as a beacon for others who have struggled with addiction. Now here he was rousting 225 people from their treatment programs.

Three years later, Walsh’s handling of the closure of Long Island hangs over any discussion of his response to the opioid epidemic.

The city and state worked with private agencies to replace the island’s treatment facilities. But some of the treatment beds ended up in Stoughton, and it’s not known how many people dropped out of treatment during the time it took to restore the beds. 

Is that where the stuff is coming from?

Officials with two programs once located on Long Island praised Walsh’s efforts to make them whole again, but others blame Walsh for the crowds of people, clearly in the throes of addiction, who have become an increasingly visible and troubling site near the intersection of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue.

Less visible, they say, is the mayor himself.

Jack Kelly, an advocate and the founder of a smartphone app that connects people in recovery, faults the mayor for not appointing a high-profile go-to person to address addiction. The Long Island closure, while not the mayor’s fault, “was not the time for a sort of quiet bureaucratic response,” Kelly said.

“I can’t identify anyone anywhere that is in charge of this,” he said.

Kris Perry Long, who runs a Facebook support group for people struggling with addiction, said that she has not seen the mayor at grass-roots community events surrounding recovery. “I have never seen Marty Walsh,” she said. “He needs to get down in the trenches and he needs to show his face and take his suit and tie off.”

Related: "Mayor Martin J. Walsh was met with laughs from the audience when he addressed the building’s look in his comments....."

The opioid overdose crisis deepened just as Walsh took office. In 2012, state health records show, 70 people died of opioid overdoses in Boston. By last year, that number had increased to 202.

Statewide data suggest a slight drop in opioid-related deaths in the first half of this year, and incomplete data from Boston hint that the city has seen a similar trend.

Walsh, who faces City Councilor Tito Jackson in the Nov. 7 election, said he’s taken numerous steps to address the epidemic, and ticked them off in an interview last week.

Thomas L. Bierbaum, president and CEO of Volunteers of America Massachusetts, sees the loiterers in the Melnea Cass area from his office windows, some openly shooting up on the street. Although some people blame their presence on a loss of treatment programs previously offered on Long Island, Bierbaum said he doubts that’s true. More likely, he said, the opening of a homeless shelter on Southampton Street to replace the one on Long Island led to a higher concentration of needy people in the neighborhood.

Representative Nick Collins, whose district encompasses Long Island and other Boston neighborhoods, said he thinks Walsh has done what he could to cope with the epidemic.

“The mayor understands this issue probably better than any other mayor in the country,” Collins said. “No one can say the mayor hasn’t put his money where his mouth is.”

State Representative Daniel J. Ryan, whose district includes Charlestown, agrees, but Kelly, the advocate and app creator, questions whether the mayor’s programs add up to much. Although Walsh created an Office of Recovery Services, Kelly hasn’t seen any impact.

“People ask me, what does that even do? The Office of Recovery. What do they even do?” Kelly said. “It doesn’t seem like anything’s changed.”

It's called image perception management and it is typical in politics and the pre$$.

Equally unimpressed is Jim Stewart, a founding member of the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee. Such programs as the 311 line are meaningless when people still can’t get into treatment, he said.

Yet GE, Amazon, and others get how much tax loot?

“If there are no services for people to get to, it doesn’t matter how easy it is for them to access someone with a computer screen,” he said. 


Don't dump on our economic foundations!

Dr. Jessie M. Gaeta, chief medical officer of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program , declined to comment on the mayor’s response to the Long Island closure. But she praised his other efforts.

“I really appreciate that Mayor Walsh has paid so much attention to, and increased resources for, people who are struggling with addiction,” she said.

She said she is also encouraged by a recent development: the opening, in August, of an “engagement center” link works behind the Southampton Street men’s shelter, an air-conditioned tent for people from the neighborhood with nowhere else to go during the day. The center provides computers, phones, coffee, water, snacks, television, books and magazines, and portable restrooms, as well as a nurse to manage routine health problems or refer people who need more care.

The center opened after conversations with residents, health care providers, and “people on the street,” said Devin Larkin, director of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Bureau of Recovery Services. “The common theme we got was people need a place to be during the day,” Larkin said.

Gaeta said she hopes the center will become an entry point to treatment, but Stewart, of the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee, said he sees no point in a “clubhouse” for people with such dire needs.

“It appears to me the tent was erected in order to have a place to herd people so the Newmarket business community won’t have to see them,” he said.

After an outcry, yeah.

Walsh defends himself against such swipes with a trace of exasperation. He said he was criticized because people were on the street and is criticized for creating a place for them. 

He has a point there.

“Absolutely we want to get people out of sight,” he said. “We want to get them out of sight in a safe space, to try and use interventions to get folks into treatment.”

What do you plan to do now that the cold weather is coming?

In the end, Walsh said, government alone is not going to solve the age-old problem of addiction.....


Then what is with the tooth-and-nail fight against pot?


I hate to say it and it sounds awfully evil, but the only solution may be to legalize it all.


Marty Walsh dominates Tito Jackson in new Globe poll

He da' man and it's going to be a laugher.

Well, there is always the race card.

Remember how campaigns used to be?

"Barnstable police officer charged with drunken driving after crash" by Jacob Geanous Globe Correspondent   October 21, 2017

A Barnstable police officer was charged Wednesday with operating under the influence earlier in the week after he crashed his Toyota pickup truck into a utility pole off Route 6A, according to a statement from police.

The crash occurred shortly after 8:30 p.m. in the area of 151 Main St. near the Barnstable and Sandwich line, according to a statement from the Barnstable Police Department.

Officer Christopher Challies, 46, of Sandwich, was also charged in a citation for operating to endanger and failure to stay within the marked lines after the crash that shut down a section of Route 6A for approximately 15 hours, according to the statement.

He was taken to the Cape Cod Hospital with “obvious injuries and possible internal injuries,” according to the statement. Challies was treated and released from the hospital later that night, said Barnstable police Sergeant John York in a phone interview Saturday.

Challies’s vehicle traveled 75 yards off the road before it hit the pole. After the crash, Challies told officers that he had been distracted by his cellphone, but the damage to the vehicle and distance it traveled off the road were not consistent with a brief interaction on a cellphone, according to the statement.

Barnstable police officers responded to Cape Cod Hospital for a follow-up investigation and to check on Challies’s injuries. Upon investigation, Barnstable police Lieutenant John Murphy believed probable caused existed to charge Challies with OUI, according to the statement. Challies was issued the criminal citation on Wednesday, the statement said.

Challies is the husband of the Barnstable police lieutenant in charge of executive services, which includes internal affairs, but she is not involved in the investigation, according to York.

Chailles was on administrative leave at the time of the crash, York said.

The Cape Cod Times reported that Chailles was on paid administrative leave from the department for leaving a loaded handgun in the restroom of a Bourne restaurant in September 2016.


Doughnuts didn't get it done for him, huh?