Mica Squares Off With White House Anti-Drug Chief

Mica Squares Off With White House Anti-Drug Chief
Posted by FoM on October 15, 1999 at 07:36:10 PT
By Tamara Lytle, Washington Bureau 
Source: Orlando Sentinel 
Rep. John Mica, with help from an Orlando mother who lost her son to heroin, lit into the nation's $1 billion anti-drug advertising campaign in a hearing Thursday.
Tinker Cooper, a Central Florida teacher, said ads such as the one with an actress smashing up a room with a frying pan don't show the grim results of drug use. Nor, she said, do they give parents the sort of information they need.Mica, R-Winter Park, chairman of the congressional panel that oversees anti-drug programs, criticized the White House-run ad campaign for being overly bureaucratic and not accountable in how the money is spent.White House drug-policy adviser Barry McCaffrey fired back at Mica, accusing him of "unprecedented oversight and interference" at a hearing of the Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources.McCaffrey accused Mica of burying his office in requests for 12,000 documents. Pulling them together for Mica cost $10,000, McCaffrey said."We have brought my agency to a halt for the better part of two weeks," McCaffrey said.But Mica said he merely wanted to make sure taxpayer money was being spent effectively. For instance, he asked, why was more than $150,000 spent by one subcontractor on entertainment?"I now see a very tangled web of contracts that appears overly complicated, expensive, bureaucratic and untested," Mica said. "Congress presently does not intend to create a bureaucratic monster to fund, study, plan, contract, coordinate, evaluate and chat the anti-drug message to death."McCaffrey said Mica was miss-ing the point that his efforts are working to reduce youth drug use.Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland defended McCaffrey and took exception to Mica's criticism. "I don't know whether it's a case of micromanaging or not," he said.The ad campaign, coordinated by McCaffrey's Office of National Drug Control Policy, is aimed at young people and the people who influence them, such as parents and coaches. It features ads, efforts to get Hollywood to portray the consequences of drug use realistically and community efforts.The budget for last year was $185 million. The money pays for advertising production and air time, although media outlets also donate advertising time and space.McCaffrey said the campaign is complicated because the drug problem is different in each region and ads must be carefully targeted. In Orlando, heroin use is the problem, he said. In Boise, it's methamphetamines."We don't have a national drug problem. We have a series of community epidemics," McCaffrey said. "It's not just buying Seinfeld 30-second spots."But Cooper said the ads don't give parents enough information about the current drug scene.Sherrie Lee of Longwood, who attended the hearing with Cooper, agreed. A seemingly innocent shopping list of gum, water and light sticks should tip off parents to the use of Ecstasy, she said. The drug causes dry mouth and stimulates senses so those items are popular with users.Cooper said that when her son, Joe Stephens, first started attending rave parties in Orlando, she thought it was just typical youth bar-hopping. She said she had no idea the clubs were filled with illegal drugs such as Ecstasy.Stephens, who left behind a young son when he overdosed, had Ecstasy, heroin and cocaine in his system when he died in 1996 at age 26, she said."The ads today are not strong enough to get to the kids," said Cooper, who formed a group called Families Against Drugs. Cooper's group and the Orange County Sheriff's Office have put together a video for youth groups that includes crime-scene footage of her dead son and other young people ravaged by drugs."The information has to be pretty much in your face and reality," she said.Lee, whose son died of a heroin overdose, said one of the new national ads urging parents to talk with their kids instead of getting on the phone with friends, will not help. She did talk with her son about drugs. Kids need to know one experiment with heroin can be deadly, she said.Published in The Orlando Sentinel on October 15, 1999U.S. Drug Head: Operation Snagged - 10/14/99
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Comment #3 posted by RoMan on October 15, 1999 at 14:31:03 PT
Barry says
"We dont have a national drug problem"Ummm  Ahhhhh wwwwelllllllll urgh Barry you want to come into my office...Yes sir.Here have a cigar.Yes sir.That's not quite the spin I had in mind.OOPsWonder what he'll say next.]R
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on October 15, 1999 at 12:18:21 PT
Fighting Each Other
I thought that was good too Rainbow! We might just be able to sit back and watch them spin themselves right into the ground! That would be nice!
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Comment #1 posted by rainbow on October 15, 1999 at 11:01:40 PT:
This is great
Interesting, we have the prohibitionists fighting each other now.Trouble in scantimoniuos land.CheersRainbow
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