Opinion
OPINION: Warren County failing on opiod crisis management, EDA oversight
January 2, 2018
10

RE: Our County’s opioid crisis

Dear Mr. Stanley and the Members of the Board of Supervisors:

About a month and a half ago, possibly two months ago, I wrote to you and enclosed a copy of an article I reviewed while I was in a European airport. I believe I was coming back from Greece when I read the article. At that time, I requested that you all investigate taking action against certain pharmaceutical companies as many localities across the United States have done associated with heroin and opioid deaths. Apparently, the County has done nothing with respect to that. I have also learned that the County is continuing to take active steps in spending taxpayer money to supply NARCAN® and training costs associated with the administration of such. I am told that there is continuing pattern of such purchases because of the amount that is being consumed. I would like to know the cost of such. I find it unconscionable that you continue to demand that I and other law abiding taxpayers, are forced to pay for felons who decide to commit a felony, and voluntarily administer to themselves an illegal drug that is known to lead to an overdose and possibly kill themselves. I would like to know why these people are not being billed and forced to pay for such medications and why I as a taxpayer am forced to pay for their self-indulgence and selfishness. Bill their insurance or Medicaid for the medication like any hospital would. I would like a strong public policy argument as to why I should have to continue to pay for such. Can you provide such?

I find it rather shocking that the County still has not done something to start to recover the costs associated with the opioid crisis. Why you think the taxpayer should continue to fund such is baffling. Please explain to me why the taxpayers of Warren County should continue to have to fund this opioid crisis and treatment program which only encourages more use of such opioids. Your policy is wrongheaded. Your policy will only continue to encourage people to use illegal drugs that could result in an overdose knowing full well they maybe be brought back or saved.

Further, the County should be suing those that are selling the illegal drugs to pay for the mess they, have created. We know who some of the distributors are, they are those charged with distribution. Sue them. Not just pharmaceutical companies, but these felons. Make them pay civilly too, not just criminally.

Both the Town and County continue to allow certain businesses to operate in the Town and County that permit and maybe encourage such activity to occur. If the County and its EDA really wanted to improve our economic potential, they would get rid of all these crappy hotels that rent rooms by the week to opiate addicts. Buy the properties with the power of eminent domain and tear them down for redevelopment rather than building the most expensive “workforce housing” ever dreamt up. If you remove the ability and cheap place for these addicts to stay, hopefully they will move on and out of our community. Don’t you think it is high time that you re-evaluate your current game plan on how to address this crisis? I mean, clearly your current plan is an abject failure.

Your current EDA director absolutely is terrible. And at best several on the EDA board are ineffective at best since they retain her and elect as its chairman someone who hasn’t worked in the private sector for at least 15 years, if ever, and never in industry. You have an executive director that clearly does not understand the appearance of impropriety in dealing with family members and who has pushed an absolutely absurd position on “workforce housing.”

The County has continued to appoint people who have no idea what is going on outside of the Warren County economic area. I dare say, anyone, save Messers. Biggs, Blanton and Llewellyn know how to and have actually made “real” money and to work with large domestic and international entities on striking good business deals. At least three on the Board either do or did work for governmental bodies or a not-for-profit. How on earth does this make them the proper people to seek privately invested industrial and economic growth or as to what it takes to attract such? I very much doubt that most on the EDA are aware that just two counties away, in Loudoun, that their economic development team brought into their county in fiscal 2017 (ending June 30, 2017) $3.3 billion in business development. It shattered all previous records, not just in the Commonwealth, but for all counties the size of Loudoun in America. (See enclosure.) I wonder how many in our county actually how much “good” growth is occurring in counties immediately adjoining us as well as two or three counties away and of their marketing activities. These counties have done away with these crappy hotels that encourage criminal behavior and conduct and have developed plans to increase the quality of life to attract major investment. They get “business friendly.” It is a term that Front Royal really needs to learn.

Rather than continue to fund an ill-functioning EDA that creates taxpayer black holes, you should insist that the EDA develop a two, five, and ten year plan for our community and actually share it with the community. The secrecy associated with the EDA, which you all have by silence encouraged, is a problem. There is zero accountability of the EDA executive director and it seems that you all do not wish for there to be any accountability which is also a problem. The fact that our EDA is excited that a new fast food operation is opening up is telling. When Stephen Heavener was the director of the local EDA we had much more investment in our community. Maybe it is time to hire someone who has real world experience in such and has a track record of actual success.

I am sorry that I have to address this letter to you. I wish I felt pleased with progress in our community, but I do not. Rather than only being someone that criticizes, I am also someone who is willing to help, if called upon. However, I doubt that the leadership of the County has that capability to admit they need help.

Respectfully Yours,

David W. Silek, Esq.

Editor’s Note:  The above letter was mailed to Warren County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley and each member of the Warren County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 27, 2017. A copy was also mailed to the Royal Examiner.

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There are 10 comments

  • John Costello says:

    Having stewed for a few days before commenting, I am now ready!! David Silek wrote a letter to Doug Stanley, County Administrator and others a month or so ago without response. Finally, Silek sent another letter and this time it was published in the Examiner. Can you believe it? Stanley decided to respond. Why did he not respond a month or two ago?
    Stanley is not stupid but from all my years here in Front Royal, I can certainly agree that “politics” is his prime driver. THAT is why he finally responded, in my opinion. I too, have written to him and others in our local government previously and have never received a reply. Meanwhile, I guess Stanley responds if he looks bad to the public by ignoring the residents of the County.
    Okay, on to the meat of this post: Heroin. Stanley says that Narcan is free to the County and the ambulance and medical care at the hospital is billed to the individual from the hospital. Let’s look at this objectively! A stupid person decides to break the law by taking heroin. 911 is called and the ambulance or police respond and they administer the drug that the County received “free.” It is not free. Even though they receive the drug as a result of a “grant,” somebody is paying the approximate cost of the $1,100.00 per dose. If the local government doesn’t pay, who does? The answer is simple. We do through our taxes. Somebody has to pay but not the heroin user.
    They are taken to the hospital where they are attended to by the staff and ultimately the bill is sent to the patient. I do not know the answer but I ask you as a member of the populace to decide how many of these people do you think actually pay the bill themselves or through insurance. I’m willing to bet that less than ten-percent of these cases are even paid to the hospital.
    Meanwhile, why are we providing this service? My mother used to say that “You make your bed and now you have to sleep in it.” I suggest that if anyone is dumb enough to take heroin, they should be responsible for the outcome. Theoretically, one can buy heroin from a criminal seller, take the drug and immediately call 911 so that our taxes can send the emergency responders to their home to give them a drug that our society pays for to save their life so they can do it again sometime.
    I suggest that if someone takes heroin, knowing the potential consequences, then they should shoulder the outcome. If they die, they die. Would we be better off without these people in our society? You decide. I already have.

  • James says:

    Wow David you have Doug Stanley and the rest of the good old boys quaking in their boots with your dead on the mark comments “NOT “.

    Unfortunately we are dealing with a world that does not care any more about honesty , integrity and self sacrificing in helping others over themselves.

    Yesterday a report was released by several non partisan organizations that the President is averaging 5.6 lies per day totaling over 2000 lies in his first year in office. The most powerful man in the world lies so much and yet one one seems to care.

    There is not much difference between the President and what you outlined in your message above of the description of what is going on in Warren County, Town of Front Royal and the EDA.

    Thank you for being willing to lay out the facts publicly of what is going on in our community’s and like Mr. Costello commented, don’t hold your breath that anything is likely to change.

  • Billy Burke says:

    I agree with David on the fact of recovering the cost of Narcan. The problem is I’m not sure how many of these drug users are able to pay and if they can’t will Medicaid pay. I am not versed on the people inside the EDA but David is no dummy and I appreciate his honesty and forwardness on this issue. I say sign Mr. Silek up to help this county prosper in this great economic market we have in the country today.

  • Jim Hart says:

    Right on David. Perhaps it may be better for society if we negate the opioid treatment completely and let it run it’s course, that is don’t treat overdoses at all. It’s sort of a self policing crime, you overdose, you die. I know it’s cruel and heartless but eventually opioid usage will decrease to a level that will not be a drain on society.

  • Lori says:

    I suggest Mr. Silek put as much thought in educating himself about how addiction works as he has into economic and government policy. He might learn a thing or two that will advance his career. For those of us who do educate ourselves on the epidemic and actually want to make change for the betterment of our community, this commentary makes me quite embarrassed for him. His personality and spunk could make a huge impact in this arena if he chose to invest a little time on the topic (whether he is in Germany, Japan or Kathmandu…).

  • John Costello says:

    David, once again you have hit the nail on the head and once again, the County has failed to so much as acknowledge your letter. The hierarchy in our town and county operate with impunity and simply do what they please without being responsive to anyone but themselves. Will this change? I doubt it unless somehow, the State brings charges against those who perpetrate this type of behavior.

  • JB says:

    Bless your heart.

  • Amber Darr says:

    The entire Commonwealth is under a state of emergency due to the opioid epidemic (http://dbhds.virginia.gov/developmental-services/substance-abuse-services/revive). The availability of Narcan (Naloxone) is through the county health departments with training provided to not only healthcare professionals and EMS personnel, but the layperson. While Loudoun may have more economic growth, etc (as you describe) and may have a lower rate of overdose cases per 100,000 persons (not by much… http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/13/2017/12/ED-Visits-for-Opioid-and-Heroin-Overdose-November-2017.pdf)…the entire state of Virginia is battling this epidemic of great proportions. Hence, emergency protocols have been implemented across the state. If you really want to help, refer to the REVIVE program of the state of Virginia (http://dbhds.virginia.gov/developmental-services/substance-abuse-services/revive) or the Virginia Board of Pharmacy or Board of Medicine to further understand the protocols that have been written. Additionally, educate yourself further on the power of this addiction.

  • Nancy GALLAGHER says:

    I may be wrong, but I am under the impression that the NARCAN being purchased by Warren and Town of Front Royal is for First Responders which may accidentally come in contact with drugs.

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