ChadwickIt's time to ban whatever she's smoking

COLUMBIA, Mo 9/26/14 (Op Ed) -- If you're a student, parent, teacher, or police officer, you might have heard about the resident heroin dealers at Rockbridge High School. 

You might have heard that Columbia school district higher ups look the other way (bad PR for the next tax levy) or how prevalent drug use is among our Columbia kids, starting at roughly the 7th grade. 

You might have heard how, like pizza, the dope dealers deliver -- to house, work, parking lot.   And if mom and dad are helicoptering, how these aggressive, customer-service obsessed sales people pick up their underage addicts at home, get them high, and maybe bring them back -- or maybe not. 

You might have heard how the drug dealer community functions like a cult, embracing their child-addicts with the loving arms of a caring "family" while doping them with heroin, meth, synthetics, cocaine, hash, and marijuana, the "cool okay drug" that is anything but, especially for anyone under 25.

Finally, you might have heard about a Columbia-based outpatient program called Crossroads that replaces drugs with cigarettes among its teenage charges, as they complete what many consider the most successful drug treatment program in rehab history. 

So why, you might be asking, does First Ward Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick want to ban cigarettes for people under age 21, just like she wanted to ban alcohol at Douglass Park, a favorite African-American hangout?   Why has she teamed up with a Columbia School Board member to tackle tobacco use instead of heroin abuse?  Or even (*gasp*) teen pot smoking? 

As a wannabe mover-and-shaker, it may be that Ms. Chadwick has adopted the prevailing posture of the administrative class hereabouts, which is to look the other way at serious problems that are bad for publicity, while inventing non-existent crises that keep you and me looking the other way, too.

Unfortunately, every breath we waste talking about cigarette sales at a convenience store is a breath we don't take talking about heroin deals on school grounds.  

It could be that in the Councilwoman's naive interpretation of Columbia's "progressive" ethos, she thinks Nanny State ideas that target politically-weak constituents (the black community, young people) are a way to get attention -- and get ahead.

Ms. Chadwick -- and fellow smokes ban supporter Jonathan Sessions, whose perch on the School Board should have better enlightened him by now -- have approached their public tenures more as social climbers than public servants.  They will support bad ideas if doing so moves their social needle.

Mr. Sessions was a chief supporter of Blighting over 60% of the community for a developer bonanza that included tax breaks and eminent domain authority.   He's been elected twice to the School Board via well-funded campaigns based on forgettable platforms but strong establishment support.
Chadwick, Sessions, School Board member Helen Wade

So why do we repeatedly elect people with such shallow conceptions of themselv
es and the community?  
For one, they continue to run for office.  

But more importantly, they face few, if any, well-funded challengers -- a real puzzler in a city that can generate not one, but two valid petitions against the controversial Opus project.   No question, folks want to retake their town from the bad actors -- and their delegates -- who've controlled it for decades. 

But how to do that?   

Part of the retaking must include raising money for quality candidates who value moral and ethical governance and who are willing to tackle serious problems like drug use.   But fundraising seems the exclusive purview of the good ol boys.  The good guys & gals think campaign volunteerism and their vote is enough.

But it's not.

As Mayor Bob McDavid's "tax your prop for another cop" property tax hike hits the November ballot; and another wolf in sheep's clothing -- Michael Trapp -- kicks off his April City Council re-election campaign, people who want their community back should start now:  raising money, recruiting candidates, and preparing to say "no," the only word social climbers understand.  

"No," you can't come into our exclusive club.  "No," you can't come aboard my yacht.  "No," you're not returning to public office or getting one penny more of my hard-earned money. 

As for Councilwoman Chadwick, it's time to ban whatever she's smoking, too.   

-- Mike Martin

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