Carson's meth problem won't be solved overnight

The meth problem in Carson City didn't develop overnight, and it's not going to be stopped with any quick fixes either.

The coalition headed by Mayor Marv Teixeira is hard at work on the No. 1 problem facing this city, although most of the effort is behind the scenes right now.

Dozens of volunteers from around the community are meeting to form strategies on five key areas:

n How to make people aware of the seriousness of the problem.

n Educate them on what they can do to prevent it.

n Make better use of the treatment and counseling experts who are dealing with these issues every day.

n Shape public policy wherever it's needed to toughen laws, and direct resources toward rehabilitation, counseling and law enforcement.

n And, of course, support the efforts of police who are working every day to get this poison off the streets.

Drug-addled zombies are living and working in Carson City (and Douglas County, and Lyon County, and Washoe County - no place is immune). Every once in awhile one of them explodes. When that happens, he or she is bound to take somebody else with him or her.

I can't emphasize enough how meth has stolen the souls of people in all walks of life. Don't think it's a drug for poor people. Don't think it's a drug for young people. Don't think it's a drug for Hispanic people. Because if you think any of those, you're wrong. It's everywhere.

It's also dangerous to lose sympathy for people addicted to meth. You can't think, "Oh, he brought it on himself. It's his problem. It's his life he's wasting." Because for every person under the spell of drugs, I can guarantee you there are at least half a dozen who are suffering because of it.

Spouses, children, parents, friends, co-workers. It's rather staggering to think how much of the vitality of this community is being sapped every day from the people who wake up realizing they're going to have to deal today with somebody else's drug addiction.

One more thing: Don't think meth in Carson City is a problem law enforcement is going to solve by itself. "Oh, if they would just stop all those drugs from coming here, our kids would be OK."

Stop kidding yourself.

Why do you think so many people are involved in this campaign, which you're going to be hearing about over the next weeks, months and years?

It's going to take everybody.

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Quite a bit has been said already about the deal Dick Campagni is making with the city to finance the purchase of land on South Carson Street to build a new car dealership, and some of it has been nasty.

But how can you blame Campagni for stepping up to accept such an offer from the city? He's be crazy not to do it, as would any car dealer who wants to expand.

Andy Barbano, a columnist for the Sparks Tribune, wrote that Carson City has reached a new low in government handouts:

"I had planned to lead off this week's screed with a rant against Sparks-Reno corporate welfare programs charitably euphemized as 'redevelopment.' But the capital city has just swiped the dishonor," Barbano wrote.

"The welfare payments will come from redevelopment area property taxes. What's next, condemning private homes so that some auto dealer may expand?"

Barbano rightly lays the responsibility at the feet of Carson City supervisors. If you want to complain, talk to City Hall.

But here's the other side of the coin. Had the supervisors done nothing, and Carson City woke up one morning to find its car dealers - a third of its sales-tax base - had stolen across the county line in the middle of the night, the screams would be louder.

They'd be accused of doing nothing. Asleep at the switch. Having no long-term plan.

Well, they're doing something.

Also, often lost in a debate like this is the amount of charity car dealers like Campagni donate to this community.

A lot of groups that help people stay afloat in this town exist mainly because of the money given to them or raised for them by businesses like Campagni's. Added up, it amounts to millions. Don't sneeze at it.

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I've come to the realization that the most difficult thing to throw away is a wastebasket.

A few months ago, I put an old, broken-down plastic wastebasket out on the curb. The trash-collecting crew dutifully dumped the junk out of it and returned it to its place next to my garbage can.

Now, every week I set it out there with some weeds in it or a pizza box or something, and it comes back empty. There's something existential about the whole process. If I put it out there empty, will it disappear?

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And, as long as I'm feeling philosophical, I'll pass this along from my wife, Jenny, who said the other morning "Life is a process of openings and closings."

She wasn't talking about new businesses or real-estate deals. She was talking about opening all the windows every night to let in the cool breezes and closing them every morning to keep out the heat.

Pretty deep, huh.

n Barry Smith is editor of the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at or 881-1221.


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