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Narcs for Needles
How influential is the California Narcotic Officers' Association? Besides exerting a substantial negative influence on the state's municipalities with its anti-medical marijuana stance, which reads like something out of the film Reefer Madness, the organization for years has opposed efforts to distribute clean needles to drug addicts, such as the needle-exchange bill, AB 547, authored by First District assemblywoman Patty Berg, D-Eureka. Statistics have proven that such programs help dramatically reduce the spread of AIDS and hepatitis C, but thanks to opposition from the narcs, Berg's bill languished in the Legislature for two years and was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year. This year, Berg relented to demands that the program be reviewed on an annual basis, and the Narcotic Officers' Association has now reversed itself, coming out in full support. The bill now must clear the Legislature and the governor. "I believe this will save lives and slow the spread of some terrible diseases," Berg says. "We can all be very happy about that."
Things are heating up at Lake Berryessa, as the contracts for six of the seven concessionaires with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation approach their 2008-2009 expiration dates. For the past half-century or so, the concessionaires have provided visitors with recreational services at the lake, but they've also allowed approximately 1,500 trailer owners to become permanent residents, even though they're on public land. To address this and other issues affecting public recreation at the lake, the bureau initiated its Visitors Services Plan in 2000, but states on its website, "It is still too soon to say what types of significant changes will occur at the resorts." However, it is not too soon for the American Land Rights Association, which opposes the plan, to read the writing on the wall. "The bureau is largely closing down what may be the best waterskiing and recreation lake in Northern California," the association states in a faxed press release. The plan "cuts boats from over 3,000 to just 700, gets rid of most motorized watercraft, cuts docks from 1,400 to 600 and eliminates all 1,347 mobile homes and trailers" Not exactly true, but scary enough to encourage your average property-rights supporter to write their local congressperson, which is what the association is banking on.
--R. V. Scheide
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From the July 6-12, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.