Utahn's Roots Help in Job With Drug Czar 

Utahn's Roots Help in Job With Drug Czar 
Posted by CN Staff on January 27, 2003 at 08:02:52 PT
By Christopher Smith, The Salt Lake Tribune 
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Washington -- Traveling around the country with a long bureaucratic title and the proverbial "I'm-from-the-government-and-I'm-here-to-help" introduction, Scott Burns has come to expect a lukewarm reception from local officials.   "Before I can open my mouth they are saying, 'You don't understand what is going on in rural America and you have no idea of the issues we are facing,' " says the deputy director for state and local affairs at the White House Office of Drug Control Policy. "It's helpful to say, 'Yes, actually I do.' " 
From counseling county commissioners on budgets and garbage contracts to busting drug runners and meth labs, Burns' previous 16 years as Iron County attorney in Utah gave him a breadth of rural field experience. He even is an expert on prosecuting people who drill holes in other peoples' heads.   "That one pegged the weird meter," Burns says of the widely publicized felony convictions he won in 2001 of two men who performed a "trephination" head-drilling procedure without medical licenses on a woman to allegedly relieve her headaches for a TV newsmagazine. "That's the life of a rural prosecutor. You work 50 to 60 hours a week doing hundreds of cases and then you do one weird one and that's what you are known for."   There were some longtime associates of Burns who wondered whether he himself had holes in his head when he left his comfortable life and practice in southwestern Utah last May for a new job with White House drug czar John Walters in the nation's capital. Burns directs the $226 million High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which administers federal funds to local law enforcement to help intercept drug shipments in 28 key transportation corridors, including the Rocky Mountains.   In the past eight months, he has traveled 27 times to as far south as Bogota, Colombia, and to as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as meeting with local law enforcement and prosecutors across the country to beef up counter-narcotics efforts. In the office, he and his staff write business plans for the narcotics industry, studying how the products are produced, marketed and distributed at the wholesale and retail level.   "We look at ourselves as anti-CEOs," says the former GOP candidate for Utah attorney general. "It is our intent to wreck those narcotics trafficking organizations."   Perhaps it was an omen to his future federal calling that one of the last cases Burns filed as Iron County attorney was against Dennis Peron, the San Francisco man who authored California's 1996 "Compassionate Use Act," which legalized medical marijuana use.   He and his staff write business plans for the narcotics industry, studying how the products are produced, marketed and distributed at the wholesale and retail level.   Peron and two associates were arrested at a Cedar City motel in 2001 with nearly a pound of marijuana and $7,500 in cash. The three are awaiting trial on third-degree felony possession with intent to distribute charges.   "He showed me his prescription for alcoholism that allowed him to smoke dope and I thought he was kidding," says Burns.   Burns praises Walters for "weighing in" and helping to defeat marijuana legalization initiatives in Arizona, Nevada and Ohio in the past election.   Last month, Walters announced that a survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health showed use of illicit drugs by eighth- and 10th-graders is at the lowest level since 1993 and 1995, respectively, while marijuana use by eighth-graders is the lowest since 1994.   "This survey confirms our drug prevention efforts are working and when we work together and push back, the drug problem gets smaller," says Walters.   Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was responsible for wooing Burns away from his native Utah to join the White House's special drug policy program.   "Scott has been a good friend and I'm proud of the work he's doing at the Office of National Drug Control Policy," says Hatch. "I've received numerous comments from the administration complimenting Scott for his efforts.   "He has really been a shining example for other Utahns who want to make a significant positive contribution on a national level."   Burns says Hatch framed the new job "in very patriotic terms" while at the same time making it clear that it would be service and a sacrifice for Burns and his family.   "To some degree it has been a sacrifice," says Burns. "When you move your family out of a comfortable environment and start looking at the financial aspects, well, I don't want to whine, but when I first saw the house prices here I just started laughing."   His less-than-a-minute commute from home to work in his Jeep in Cedar City has grown almost as dramatically as the size of his house has shrunk, even if the mortgage has taken the opposite tack.   While he works late and travels extensively, his wife Alice, who left her job as city attorney for Cedar City when the family relocated, now must allocate hours to ferry their 11-year-old daughter Carly to violin and swimming lessons -- trips that used to be a block or two away in Cedar City.   There have been moments when the Burns family has fleeting second thoughts, like the day barely a month after they arrived in Washington when they woke up to find their car had been stolen.   "Every one of our neighbors came by to say how upset and sorry they were that our car had been stolen, and contrary to what I had been told, I have found people here to be very friendly, engaging and welcoming," says Burns. "It's been a challenge but it's exciting and rewarding, even if I have to have an ID badge, elevator key and code word to do anything."   Above all, Burns now knows what it is like to be one of those federal paper pushers he periodically maligned during his days as a rural Utah elected official.   "One of my favorite lines used to be blaming some nameless, faceless bureaucrat sitting in a windowless office back in Washington," he smiles.   "Other than I have a window, I'm now one of them. And I have a great deal of respect for how hard they work."  Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)Author: Christopher Smith, The Salt Lake Tribune Published:  January 27, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Salt Lake TribuneContact: letters sltrib.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:Marijuana.org Group Responds To US Drug Policy War Taking a Ridiculous Turn Francisco Trio to Get Utah Trial on Pot Charge
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Comment #3 posted by malleus2 on January 27, 2003 at 12:23:16 PT
Some questions need to be asked of these people
before they get into a position to wreak their havoc on society.Questions like: "Do your religious views guide your public service activities?" If someone from an obviously extremely religious conservative background NOT shared by many other Americans believes that they have a Heaven sent mandate to win the War on Drugs by lying as this man obviously has, then we have a serious problem.Too bad not enough people are asking those kinds of questions before these wannabe SS-types get into a position of power. It would save the nation tons of grief from the efforts of these Typhoid Mary do-gooders.
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Comment #2 posted by elfman_420 on January 27, 2003 at 12:10:35 PT
Too bad Utahn's don't remember all of their roots
Everybody knows that Utah is filled with Latter Day Saints, or "Mormons". Here is a quote from the second leader of their church."Brigham Young commanded the faithful in conference to 'seek out the places most suitable for flax and hemp and there let them be grown.' -1861"
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Comment #1 posted by Dark Star on January 27, 2003 at 09:13:00 PT
Already Infamous
This clown is the same "good old country boy" whose "talking points" letter to DA's around the country has been the rallying document of lies opposed by NORML. may be proud of being a prevaricating propagandist, but deserves our scorn and contempt.
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