Month: December 2004

Another Shorter Year 

We’re at the end of another year and the halfway mark for the Oughts decade. Time flies and I now realize the old folks who warned me that time speeds up were speaking the truth. To an 8-year-old each year represents 1/8 of his or her life. From the perspective of life experience it is quite a bit. To a 37-year-old each year adds a smaller and smaller fraction of life experience to the total. Here’s to you experiencing a shorter year.

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Bringing Home the Bacon 

Idaho’s Congressional Delegation makes sure we get our share of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Idaho’s Congressional Delegation makes sure we get our share of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill

The Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by Congress every year always includes the pork projects near and dear to all state’s representatives in Congress. Idaho is no different. Senator Larry Craig and Congressman Mike Simpson both serve on their respective house’s appropriations committees, so we should get a little more than most states, right?

Many taxpayers are uncomfortable or downright pissed when find out their taxes are paying for a weather museum in Punxsutawney, New York, or mariachi education programs in Las Vegas, Nevada. But when the money comes home, it means jobs. It means our congressmen and senators are working hard for us.

According to Citizens Against Government Waste (www.cagw.org), Idaho ranked 14th this year in pork per capita at $57.05 per person. In 2003, our congressional representatives helped Idaho achieve a sixth place ranking. While we did better this year than 51st place New Jersey ($11.70 per person) we were beaten by Alaska ($808.13 per person), Hawaii, District of Columbia, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota, Nevada, Vermont and Iowa. The average pork per capita for the entire United States was $31.

So what did Idaho’s Congressional Delegation bring home? While the state garnered approximately $77,943,000, according to a press release from the Idaho Congressional Delegation, Southwest Idaho received $31,939,000 for projects–40 percent of the state’s share.

The biggest projects include:

• $500,000 for Idaho’s strategic plan for managing noxious weeds

• $1.2 million to manage Idaho’s burgeoning wolf populations

• $400,000 for The Peregrine Fund.

• $110,000 for slickspot peppergrass conservation.

• $1 million matching dollars for Boise foothills conservation.

• $1.3 million for a tri-state predator control program.

• $425,000 for the NW Center for Small Fruits Research

• $829,000 for technology improvements for safety and extension of shelf-life for Idaho agricultural products.

• $750,000 for Idaho’s participation in the Criminal Information Sharing Alliance Network

• $4.5 million for Idaho’s share of the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery fund.

• $495,000 for the transfer of remote sensing and GIS technology to local water delivery.

• $3.75 million for rural water projects.

• $4.5 million for a Boise Airport control tower.

• $3.5 million for various transit projects.

• $500,000 for expansion of St. Luke’s Children’s Health Services.

• $400,000 for the Boise State Center for the Study of Aging.

• $900,000 for the Boise State Center for Environmental Science and Economic Development.

• $3.2 million for Boise State research on multi-purpose sensors.

• $650,000 for the water system for the town Castleford.

8 Days Last Year 

Our look back at the what we think are the eight most significant days of 2004.

Monday, January 19

Played nearly 700 times on national radio and television stations in the days after it is uttered, Howard Dean’s maniacal scream changes the course of the Democratic Primary. Nary a month and a half earlier he was 20 points ahead in the polls. But after coming in third in the Iowa primary, the speech, delivered on Martin Luther King’s birthday, becomes known as the I have a screamspeech. It almost immediately attains cult status in America. Officially printed as “Yeagh!” in most media, the Drudge Report printed it the next morning as “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!,” which is closer to how it sounds. The sound clip has since been remixed into many songs, including Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train (Dean’s Aboard), “Welcome to Dean’s Jungle” by Guns & Roses, “Deansane in the Brain,” and a “Dean Twilight Zone”(listen to them online at http://politicalhumor.about.com/b/a/059035.htm). Dean’s scream is also rumored to be included as a human death scream sound clip in the popular Xbox video game Halo 2.

Sunday, February 1

Janet Jackson upsets the karmic balance of the universe by allowing Justin Timberlake to tear off a portion of her clothes during the final moments of the Superbowl XXXVIII half-time show. Although Jackson claims it was a wardrobe malfunction (who wears nipple jewelry like that and doesn’t expect it to get seen by someone?) the damage is done. The event launches a feeding frenzy by the Federal Communications Commission looking in to anything and everything possibly offensive on television and radio resulting in numerous fines for corporate media. Howard Stern, of course, complains in his narcissistic way that he is being singled out.

Tuesday, April 13

“Coalition forces have encountered serious violence in some areas of Iraq. Our military commanders report this violence is being insticated by three groups.”

–George W. Bush, Washington D.C.

This quote could be made on any day, but what makes it unique is our leader’s choice of words. He may not be as stupid as most think. Many of his words over the last few years are entering our daily vocabulary and may, one day, become “officialized.” Here are a few “Bushisms” with their generally accepted definitions.

Misunderestimate–to seriously underestimate.

Embetter–to make peoples lives gooder.

Foreign–handed–ruled by a foreign power

Subliminable–acting in a sneaky way

They–already a common word, but the definition broadened after the President said, “You are either with us, or against us.” It now refers to anyone who disagrees with the current administration.

Compassionated–increasing the amount of compassion one has via a third party or product.

Internets–the secret number of additional computer networks beyond the one the world knows about.

Mexican–the language spoken South of the border.

Hispanically–pertaining to Hispanics. Also can be used with other ethnic and nations. For example: Luxembourgly and Canadianly.

Hyporhetorical–referring to two or more rhetoricals at the same time.

Is–definition now broadened to include the third person plural of the verb “to be.” Used by Bush when he said, “Is your children learning?”

Strategery–strategic planning of one’s strategy.

Uninalienable–not inalienable, as in, if you are not an American you may have uninalienable rights.

Tacular–a new word combining tactical and nuclear as in “tacular weapons.”

Wednesday, April 28

Most historians mark today as the day the United States lost the war in Iraq. CBS News broadcasts the first photos of American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison abusing Iraqi prisoners. The images show naked prisoners subjected to humiliation and psychological torture involving the threat of death, electrocution, dog attacks and even actual physical torture. In time, the International Red Cross and other human rights organizations outline abuses at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and the discovery of secret CIA prisons around the world where torture is alleged to have happened and presumably continues. It is also reported that in closed door hearings before Congress, the Pentagon has presented evidence of further crimes by U.S. soldiers including the raping of female detainees and the sexual abuse of minors.

Tuesday, September 21

Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, is denied entrance the United States when his plane is diverted from Washington D.C. to Bangor, Maine. He is questioned and deported back to Britain after officials claim he was on the government’s terrorist “no-fly” list. A few days later it was reported by Time magazine reports that Islam shouldn’t have been deported because there was no Yusuf Islam on the list, but there was a Youssouf Islam. It’s nice to know that those guarding our borders from terrorists can read.

Wednesday, October 27

The Boston Red Sox eighty-six the 86-year-old “Curse of the Bambino” and win the World Series. Appropriately that it also marks the first time a total lunar eclipse has occurred during the World Series. Now Boston Red Sox fans have nothing to whine about. The devil will collect now.

Wednesday, November 3

Most Americans wake up to find that George W. Bush won the presidential election by a margin only slightly larger than his “win” over Vice President Al Gore four years earlier. Despite continuing efforts by conspiracy theorists, sore losers and lawyers, what voting fraud that has been found is not big enough to overturn the election.

Thursday, November 11

Every year famous people die. Today Palestinian Authority President Yassir Arafat passes away. We chose his passing as the most significant of the year because of his ongoing influence in the politics of the Middle East. Winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, he also led a violent struggle for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Other significant deaths this year include: Richard Avedon, Marlon Brando, Richard Butler, Ray Charles, Julia Child, Alistair Cooke, Rodney Dangerfield, Spalding Gray, J. J. Jackson, Rick James, Estée Lauder, Janet Leigh, Russ Meyer, Helmut Newton, ODB (Ol’ Dirty Bastard), Jack Paar, Johnny Ramone, Tony Randall, Ronald Reagan, Christopher Reeve, Pierre Salinger, Peter Ustinov, Fred Whipple, Paul Winfield and Fay Wray.

Honorable Mentions

• The day that a barrel of oil topped $50.

• The day Mayor Bieter was sworn in.

• The day that the 10 Commandments monument was moved by the city of Boise.

• The premier of Fahrenheit 9/11, but we couldn’t decide between the Los Angeles or the New York premier which were one week apart.

• The day Google went public.

• The premier of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ which surprised the hell out of Hollywood.

Chasing the Dragons 

Boise Police are alarmed at increasing heroin use among area teens

BINGO BARNES

Sixteen-year-old John started taking prescription opiates like Vicodin and Norco when he was 14. He got the drugs from a friend who had a large supply. John had only smoked a little pot before, and this was a good high so he kept doing them.

“I got hooked on these pills,” he said. “Then one day I ran out and I said ‘Shit, what to I do now?’ You’re already balls-deep in addiction and you don’t know where to go. So this guy I was getting pot from introduced me to a drug called OxyContin. It’s pretty much like synthetic heroin. Tenth grade was all OxyContin, every day in the bathroom at school snorting lines. Then not going to school at all, just going and getting all messed up all the time. It’s a pharmaceutical, so it’s hard to get. You’ve got to find someone who’s really ill–on the brink of death–or someone who knows somebody like that to get a prescription. Then you have to wait for the prescription to get filled … all that bullshit.”

John’s 17-year-old friend, George, is a rehabilitating heroin user as well. His story mirrors John’s. He used prescription drugs all his life for a medical condition and found it easy to begin taking recreational drugs in pill form.

“It had a snowball effect,” he said. “We were doing small-time selling to pay for our habits. It got bigger and bigger. It all started to get really shitty. Our addiction took us to some really deep places. We were getting really deep into debt because we needed those pills to stay normal. We had to be high all the time.”

John continues, “So one day I was going to hook up some Oxy from a buddy. He had some black tar [heroin] and he said ‘Here, try this, it’s opium, it’s just like OxyContin. You take three hits of this shit and you’re good to go, just like Ox but cheaper and better.’ So I started doing that every day. It was easier. You just had to make one phone call. Ever since then, from that day on, every day, I smoked it. But a lot of my friends around me were shooting it up. At school I would bring a couple of balloons [a heroin dose] with me. I had to have my dope at school or I’d freak out. I’d go in the bathroom for a half-hour, maybe more, then go back to class and fall asleep.”

One balloon used to last both George and John a couple days when they started. Quickly, they progressed to smoking six balloons a day, then more. John had a $200-a-day habit before rehab, but for George, smoking heroin wasn’t cutting it, and he progressed to shooting up.

“I didn’t need as much because of that,” said George. “I was only spending $100 a day.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Household Survey on Drug Abuse anywhere from 1.5 to 1.8 percent of the population has tried heroin once in their lifetime. The National Institute for Drug Abuse cites that among 8th, 10th and 12th graders that average ranges between .3 and .6 percent of teens use it at least once every 30 days. A 2003 Partnership for a Drug Free America teen usage survey found lifetime heroin use remained steady throughout the 1990s at about four percent. Between 1993 and 2003, those same teens showed a five percent increase in knowing a close friend who had tried it; about 16 percent of teens. Looking at heroin incident statistics (including arrests) from Ada County, one might think there isn’t a problem here at all–there are so few arrests. According to the Statistical Analysis Center of the Idaho State Police, there were just 82 incidents involving heroin in Ada County from 2000 to 2003 with approximately 346 grams seized by police.

Boise Police Sergeant Mike Harrington with the Boise Area Narcotics Drug Interdiction Task Force (BANDIT) said not to pay too much attention to those incident statistics, they are very misleading and subject to the nature how heroin is distributed and used.

“What we have seen, and what scares us right now is an increase in our schools, ages 16 to 18, sophomores, juniors and seniors in high school. It’s pretty heavy in the schools. In our particular unit we are learning of more of an increase in our community,” Harrington said.

“Especially among juveniles,” added an undercover officer we interviewed with Harrington. “I don’t recall 10 to 13 years ago dealing with juveniles and heroin at all. An occasional case here and there. It seems right now I’m hearing more on the juvenile side of things.”

“One of the reasons we’re seeing that is because the price of heroin has gotten really cheap,” Harrington added. “A bag, or balloon, is typically $10 to $15–which is pretty cheap for a first or second-time user. They’re going to have a pretty good high for a while. They’ll use one, maybe two a day. After their tolerance goes up they need more–four a day. That’s why were seeing it in kids. It’s a cheap drug for them.”

“All of it is coming out of Mexico,” he said. “There are organizations out there much like in the other drugs we deal with. There’s a head cheese, he has four or five underlings, they have four or five underlings. There’s 40 people out there involved with selling heroin or whatever drug. Our job is to go out and get as many people as we can. So when you look at the stats, we may have only made seven arrest this year, but at that same time we may have 40 people in line to be indicted two years from now, especially with heroin cases.”

Harrington said that single heroin arrests do not happen very often because the balloons containing heroin are so small that users, and small-time dealers, can swallow them or be hide them easily. Also, by the time they buy it, they’re needing it and use it quickly.

“They shoot it up as quick as they get it,” said the undercover officer.

“An investigation we did years ago took two years and had over 40 indictments,” said Harrington. “They had wire taps, the DEA was involved, interpreters–the whole works. That’s when we first learned about these organizations. It’s just a big business. The dealers aren’t as diverse as you think they are. They’re mostly coming out of Mexico where the drug comes from. The majority of those 40 people were illegals. They all got sent back to Mexico or were prosecuted here. That hasn’t changed since then. It’s pretty much the same.”

In Ada and Canyon counties there was a statistical peak in the mid 1990s with a lot of heroin related arrests, the result of a two-year investigation. “As soon as we do that,” Harrington said, “those people are replaced. They go to jail and there’s a group of people back in Mexico that come in again. They do it all over again. Our heroin problem, 90-95 percent, is from organizations like that.”

Boise High School Principle Ken Anderson knows there is a problem with kids using heroin, but says “It is cyclical, it comes and goes in waves. A group of kids will come through that are using heavily then a year or two later it will lighten up. We seem to be in a cycle of use. When we suspect a student is under the influence we’ll check it out. Sometimes we’re wrong, but we do it.”

Today, the school has programs for teens and parents when students are caught at school or during sponsored events. If students are involved in extracurricular activities such as athletics, then those activities may be suspended for off-campus incidents reported to school officials by police.

“We didn’t have a set district policy 17 years ago when I came on,” Anderson said. “There was no education program going on. Over the years we’ve tried to add remediation to teach kids and parents about substance abuse.”

A first offense for a student caught at Boise High School, whether for drugs, alcohol or tobacco, involves various options including a combination of home suspension, drug assessment, alcohol and drug classes and student/parent classes. Students involved in extracurricular activities face stiffer punishments including suspension from activities in addition to the other penalties. Second offenses are much stricter. Other area high schools feature similar programs.

“Parents need to understand that they need to take a significant role,” Anderson said. “We provide drug education for teachers and kids, but teachers are not drug recognition counselors. We have counselors on campus but parents need to know where their kids are, what they’re doing. It’s a responsibility of the community.”

The problem may be bigger than police and school officials realize, according to John and George. “The problem is huge,” John said. “This town is full of junkies. Literally chock-full of junkies. High school is huge. There are 15 to16 year old kids out there saying ‘Hey, lets get some heroin tonight.’ ”

It’s not just one school. John and George said they know of 40 to 50 area teenagers kids doing heroin. “It’s at Boise High, Borah, Capital–all over. There’s plenty of it too,” John said. “You know the right person, you can get as much heroin or cocaine as you want.”

“We know two kids who have overdosed in the past week,” said John. “This guy cooked up a real thick shot and before he knew it, he woke up in an ambulance and they were pumping him.”

While they both John and George consider themselves recovering addicts, the negative effects of their drug addiction are not over. Continued struggle with avoiding a relapse is not the only demon they face. Both John and George still say they owe their old dealers large amounts of money.

“I got, like, $4,000 under my belt,” John said. “Some of these drug dealers I know are big mean motherfuckers. They are scary–pay someone to chop off your fingers scary.”

“The only way to support our habit was to sell,” John said. “We had tons of customers, tons of kids.” They estimate they were selling 30 balloons a day and doing 15 on their own. They said they stopped doing everything. All day they sold heroin and did heroin. They stopped drinking, smoking pot, biking, drumming … everything. They even lost their closest friends.

Ultimately, it took an intervention by those same friends they had lost to get them to realize they had to go in to rehab. John’s parents had no idea the depth of their son’s drug usage. They assumed he was perhaps smoking a little pot, maybe a little more, but nothing to worry about. They thought he had quit smoking pot on his own because they didn’t smell it on him anymore. Kids experiment sometimes, right? They had no idea he was a junkie.

To come: Addiction, rehabilitation and Boise’s lack of detox centers. If you have information regarding heroin, are an addict yourself, or wish to comment on this article please contact editor@boiseweekly or call 344-2055.

BW Changes 

You may notice a change on the masthead this week. Colleen Cronin,Boise Weekly’s A&E editor for the past year and editor for Idaho Arts Quarterly has moved on to greener pastures and taken a wonderful writing position with Healthwise. We’ve been having farewell lunches, dinners and parties leaving nary a dry eye in the house. We’ll miss her smiling face a lot.

Shifting in to her still-warm seat will be Cynthia Sewell, Boise Weekly’s managing editor for the last two years (and longest tenured employee other than Stan the Man). But what will happen to Cynthia’s old seat? For that answer, we must delve into the Twighlight Zone … (Cue music). It will be yours truly.

The changes have been mostly internal until now. We’ve exchanged desks, flipped e-mail accounts, swapped phones and have redesigned business cards to reflect our new roles and titles. Some changes have been external. You may have noticed slight changes to the news. A new column called “8 Days Last Week compliments our “8 Days Out Calendar” with a look backwards at unique and obscure news events of the city, state and world. Beginning in Janurary, we’ll reestablish our legislative coverage with a weekly look at bills and personalities that are making a difference. Also in January we’ll be adding “Citizen Calendar”, offering hot tips on where you can make a difference politically and socially. If you have a suggestion, event or protest notice, send it on to editor@boiseweekly.com (my new e-mail). If you have a nice cigar or jar of organic nuts, you can send that to us too. Boise Weekly happily accepts holiday gifts of all kinds.

BONES FOUND NEAR CEMETERY 

In a field next to Morris Hill Cemetery, the fill-dirt excavated to make graves for the nearby cemetery forms one giant pile. The area is the perfect kids’ playground, ideal for playing hide-and-go-seek and the surrounding open field is one of the only spaces for neighborhood residents to let their dogs run. One such neighborhood resident, who prefers to remain anonymous, claims to have found coffin handles and hardware he believes are from caskets. Two weeks ago he found what he thought was a human bone on top of a fill-dirt pile while walking his dog. The man reported the find to the police, who then contacted cemetery management. While the bone was not officially authenticated as human, it was assumed to be so by the police and Jack Wilkerson, the cemetery manager.

“It has happened once or twice,” said Wilkerson. He explained that the 1967 widening of Emerald Street resulted in many graves needing to be moved in a “quick fashion.” These graves were some of the oldest in the cemetery, dating back to the late 1800s, and it is assumed that some of them were missed. Wilkerson said that today, when an empty plot in that part of the cemetery is excavated for a new grave, the older graves which may have been missed in 1967 are encountered.

“We dump the fill-dirt out on the pile in the field but diggers with a backhoe don’t notice pieces in a half cubic yard of dirt,” he said. “Modern coffins are required to use vaults, concrete or fiberglass, but those older coffins were wood and have rotted away. They’ve had the same problem over at Pioneer Cemetery with old graves exposed in erosion.”

Without any way to determine whose grave the alleged human bone may have belonged to, it was reburied in the general area of the cemetery from where cemetery officials think it may have come.

After Thanksgiving 

One week after Thanksgiving and I’m ravenous. My stomach, stretched to medicine-ball size, has not shrunk since the gorge-a-thon that took place at the compound last week. Just last night I finished off all the leftover mashed potatoes, almost an entire quart. But that wasn’t all. I smothered it in the leftover congealed gravy and threw on a couple of pats of butter for good measure. The corn bread is still moist and hasn’t molded yet, so a couple of squares are good to go for a midnight snack, again, saturated in butter. I’ve stayed away from the leftover yams, but the pies were gone by Saturday. Tonight we’ll make creamed turkey-stroganoffsumpin’ over pasta and try to finish off the green bean casserole. The yearly weeklong feast has resulted in another notch in my belt and lost ground from last year’s Atkins episodes.

We took the dog to get groomed on Friday out near the mall. Big mistake. Traffic was horrible and parking even worse. As a diversion I let the kids wander through Toys R Us to get an idea of what they might want for Christmas. If you ever want to see a good excuse for medicating children, just visit a Toys R Us the day after Thanksgiving. Actually, my spawn behaved rather admirably and didn’t even cry when we walked out of the store without spending a single dime. A word of warning though: Walking out of a Toys R Us on the biggest shopping day of the year, two kids in tow, without a single purchase may get you looked at as if you were an alien. Returning to the North End from consumer central took a cool 45 minutes. We tried not to venture forth again.

Four days in the house with the spawn was enough to drive us all raving mad. The only abuse I was able to conduct legally was destroying them playing video games. Virtual child abuse using video game weapons may still make them cry when you blow their ass away, but occasionally they’ll get their revenge. They’re sneaky little demons that way. When you least expect it they’ll run over you with a jeep. It’s humbling when a six-year-old kicks your butt on the Xbox.

I did manage to escape the mayhem for a few hours, though. Saturday I joined the neighbors for their annual tour of Idaho’s wineries. A sip here, a sip there, a sip in the car, a sip in the tasting room, sip sip sip. Ohhh, a winery snack. Cheese! How yummy. We returned to the casa to watch BSU smash Nevada, drink the spoils of our tour, and then roasted ourselves in the hot tub–nekkid of course. If you haven’t done that with the neighbors, you should. On the other hand, we probably learned more about the neighbors than neighbors should know, and vice-versa.