Saturday, December 15, 2012

Can we stop the massacres?

No doubt there was a string of gun laws that were broken by Adam Lanza during the commission of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. It was reported that the two pistols and assault rifle he used were purchased by and registered to Lanza's mother. That he had access to the guns is most likely a law broken. Walking out of the house with them may be another law broken. I haven't seen it reported whether Lanza had a permit to carry, but if he did, he broke a number of laws that go along with that license.

One aspect of these school shootings that we tend to overlook is that we have created safe places for mass murders to commit their crimes. Lanza could assume that the school, or any school for that matter, would be void of people who could take action against him. Firearms are prohibited on school campuses, so there is no hesitance by a criminal to enter such a place, knowing that there will be no resistance; no trained personnel with access to weapons designed to thwart such an attack.

Five minutes of uninterrupted shooting would seem like an eternity; more than ample time to kill dozens of defenseless people before law enforcement's arrival. This is the other side of the double-edged sword that is created by outlawing guns in publicly-owned buildings without providing for the security of the unarmed occupants. We passed these laws with the intent of making places safer that, in reality, put innocent people at risk.

What can be done to stop senseless killings? It is very difficult to defend against someone who does not value his own life. Lanza wasn't planning to be arrested or to get away. He knew he would be one of the fatalities, either by his own hand or by law enforcement.

I have received several emails since the school shooting pleading for something to be done about these heinous incidents. I am asking you to weigh in with your suggestions and commentary.

My deepest sympathies go out to all of the families in Newtown who have been affected directly or indirectly by this despicable act.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Will Deval Patrick appoint our next Massachusetts senator?

Prior to 2004, the Massachusetts governor had the power to appoint a U.S. Senator or Representative to serve the remaining term of a congressman who left the job early. With the certainty of John Kerry's election to the U.S. Presidency in 2004, the law was changed to strip the governor (Mitt Romney) of this power, replacing it with a special election to occur within 160 days of the vacancy.

That strategy turned out to be premature when Kerry didn't "report for duty" after all.

In 2009, the Democrats were faced with Ted Kennedy's death and wished they hadn't pulled the trigger so soon. As a compromise, the law was again changed to allow for an interim appointment by the governor, though Deval Patrick insisted that the appointee agree not to run for the seat in the special election. A rare, but appreciated, moment of rising above the political fray.

Everything changed, of course, when the Democrat's shoe-in, Martha Coakley, failed to win the special election and Scott Brown took a 5-point win straight to Washington, D.C.

The well-organized Democratic Party ousted Brown this month and normalcy is soon to return to Massachusetts; that is, all Democratic U.S. Senators and Representatives.

Not so fast.

Now we're contemplating Senator Kerry being appointed to President Obama's cabinet, possibly in the role of Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State. If that happens, Governor Patrick will be able to appoint an interim senator. Will he add the stipulation again of the appointee not running for the open seat? Don't count on it. As George Bush once famously said, "Fool me once... Shame on you. You can't be fooled again."

The state Democratic Party leaders would rather see the 2004 mistake reversed by the legislature, putting the appointment of the unexpired term back into the hands of the governor. In fact, if we passed the law with a toggle option, with Democratic governors getting the appointment power and Republican governors not, we'd be heroes.

Once again, not so fast.

Joining the conversation is Senate President Therese Murray, whose spokesman said: "We're not changing it [the current law]." When she conveys something that straight forwardly, count on it.

Governor Patrick will make the interim appointment and allow that person to run in the special election. By necessity, that person will be forced to campaign for the entire 160 days and will have zero time to be our interim senator, but that's an issue for another day.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Voice recognition: Snot purr feck jet

I have an XFinity phone line at the house which has a neat feature where it emails you the voice mail audio file when someone leaves a message. A few months ago, I found out that you can also have it transcribe the voice mail for you. That's turned out to be pretty entertaining, a real hit and miss on the transcriptions. Here are a few with the transcription in italics and what the person actually said right below it.

The caller left a voicemail, but due to the quality of the message, the voicemail was unable to be transcribed. This may be a result of too much background noise or the message was left in an unsupported language.

This is what I get every time my wife, Mary, leaves me a message. Apparently her Texas accent is considered an unsupported language. I can see that.

--------------------

Oh Randy it's it's D one thirteen. I got your the Excel list. It's stuck(?) so on and I will reseed(?) accordingly.

Hello, Randy. It's 1:13. I got your Excel list. It's excellent and I will proceed accordingly.

--------------------

I'm responding to a Yahoo call couple days ago.

I'm responding to a call a couple days ago.

--------------------

You take out-state-farm(?) Road take go left on Pop pills and take them down take a right on Spruce Street.

That's in Country Farm. You take Snake Pond Road. Take a left on Uphill and take a right on Spruce Tree.

--------------------

"Hey Randy it's Dad. Saturday morning quarter to eleven your time. I need your address. So call back. Talk to you later."

My only comment on this one is that my dad died in 1996.

--------------------

I'm calling little early here. I'm trying to throw up... Give me a call back when you have a chance.

I'm calling a little early here. Sorry, my number is... And you can call back when you have a chance.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Care packages for the troops

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2012

CONTACT: Susann Koelsch, Legislative Aide
508-888-2158


REPRESENTATIVE HUNT ANNOUNCES CHRISTMAS & HOLIDAY CARD DRIVE FOR MILITARY SERVICE MEMBERS

SANDWICH - Today, State Representative Randy Hunt (R-Sandwich) announced that he will be collecting Christmas and Holiday cards for our military troops serving overseas. Working in conjunction with Cape Cod Cares for Our Troops, Representative Hunt's office will act as a collection point and forward the cards directly to our military service members.

Everyone is encouraged to drop off unsealed Christmas and Holiday cards addressed to "American Service Member" at 297 Quaker Meeting House Road in East Sandwich (02537). There is a 24-hour drop box located there and the office is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm.
The last day for the collection is Friday, November 16th. Cape Cod Cares for Our Troops will be packing boxes for shipment at the Trowbridge Inn & Tavern on Trowbridge Road in Bourne on Saturday, November 17th from 10am to 4pm and Sunday, November 18th from 10am to 2pm. Volunteers for the packing effort are needed.

Representative Hunt said, "I believe it is important to express our gratitude for the sacrifices our armed forces make to protect our country and I am privileged to be able to help Cape Cod Cares for Our Troops with their annual Christmas and Holiday Card Drive."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Solutions for drug abuse and working across the aisle

Here's a short clip from the Chris Boyd Radio Show recorded yesterday where we discussed the drug abuse problem on Cape Cod and how I've worked across the aisle to pass needed legislation. Voices in the clip are Chris Boyd, Jeff Perry and me.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Attack demand side of drug abuse

I'd like to take a few minutes of your time by describing how we can, and why we need to, fundamentally shift the paradigm relative to dealing with the problem of prescription and illegal drug abuse in Massachusetts.

Cape Cod has seen a surge of criminal activity in the past ten years that is almost universally tied to drug and alcohol abuse. Nearly every burglary is motivated by the "need" to purchase drugs and alcohol. Nearly every domestic violence situation is linked to drug and/or alcohol addiction. Nearly every act of violence on our streets is traceable to the sale or abuse of mind-altering substances.

Every major societal issue has a component of supply and demand, and I have a long-standing belief that problem solving should be focused on the demand side. The "war on drugs" has been largely an attack on the supply side of the problem. How well has that worked to eliminate drugs on the street? How well did prohibition of alcohol accomplish its goal of creating a nation of teetotalers?

In the arena of addictions, focusing on the demand side of the issue falls into the two broad categories of education and treatment. Teach people to steer away from substances that can trigger addictions. Treat people with addictions knowing that it is a chronic condition that requires lifetime followup, just as a diabetes patient requires lifetime monitoring and care.

We have two new treatment programs in Massachusetts that are showing positive results. By no means do I intend to convey that these are the only programs showing progress. They are, however, taking us in a new direction.

The first is a five-year federally funded pilot program called Mission Direct Vet. It is for military veterans who have mental health challenges, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a drug or alcohol addiction. Additionally, those in the pilot program have legal issues; that is, they are facing jail time for their crimes.

Participants receive probation with the stipulation that they remain in Mission Direct Vet. Each is paired with a counselor and a peer and receives intensive treatment for their mental health and addiction issues.

Preliminary results from Mission Direct Vet are good. Recidivism is significantly lower than for veterans who do not get this level of care. Counselors have also reported that a number of patients have chosen recovery over suicide. How can one put a price on that?

The other treatment program is one happening right here in Barnstable County. Based on a pilot program in New York City I learned about as a member of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the county sheriff has adopted a model that combines counseling with an opiate blocking drug called Vivitrol.

Inmates who qualify are given the first dose of Vivitrol before leaving the Barnstable County Correctional Facility and are enrolled in counseling at Gosnold Cape Cod, where Dr. Robert Friedman operates a treatment program utilizing Vivitrol to aid patients with managing their cravings.

At Rikers Island, the longer standing program overseen by Dr. Joshua Lee of New York University has shown excellent results: reduced recidivism, people back to work, families back together.

People ask me what the expansion of these programs would cost. I cite a precedent in the state of Texas where emphasis on treatment since 2005 has resulted in the closure of a state prison, the lowest crime rate in 40 years, and the savings of billions of dollars.

This paradigm shift is not only possible, it pays for itself, and we are on the way to seeing it happen in Massachusetts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hunt/Ellis debate emphasizes differences

The Cape Cod Times and League of Women Voters debate last night provided an opportunity for State Representative Randy Hunt and challenger R. Patrick Ellis to air out their differences.

You can watch the debate at the Sandwich Community TV website: http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01161&video=132974. By the way, the Therese Murray / Tom Keyes senate debate is the second half of the video at that link.

One weird situation came up during the debate when Patrick claimed that I had signed the Grover Norquist pledge and wanted me to explain why I would do this. I replied that I hadn't signed the pledge. This morning, I went back through my election file and found the two letters from Americans for Tax Reform (Norquist's organization) that I had received in 2010 and 2012. I had written on each that I did not submit the pledge, and the attached pledge from each letter is blank. See the scanned images here.

It's not the first time I've run into incorrect information posted on the Internet. I'm sure my opponent or someone on his campaign staff read my blog post about this issue (read it here) where, in the comment section, "Anonymous" asked if I signed the Norquist pledge and I responded that I had not. That should have been a clue.

Anyway, we had a good time and I look forward to any comments about the debate that you care to share.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Obama's deficit plan: Even he can't believe this stuff, can he?

I just blew a gasket watching an Obama commercial describing his four-point plan for America. I don't care if it comes from the "Right" or if it comes from the "Left," I hate insincerity and downright distortion of the facts. I'm constantly emailing back to my conservative friends that the 3.8% Medicare tax will not be levied on the sale of a $100,000 house. Stop sending me this ridiculous email.

In this case, President Obama's direct appeal to the voters, looking right into the camera, is second only to the "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" comment for its apparent sincerity and truthfulness. This guy is a master of making us believe things that are so obviously distortions... If we would only think about them for a minute.

I'll focus on Point 4 of his plan, which is so deep in male bovine manure that my boots started filling up while watching this ad.

Here it is:

"A balanced plan to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. On top of the trillion in spending we've already cut, I'd ask the wealthy to pay a little more. And as we end the war in Afghanistan, let's apply half the savings to pay down our debt and use the rest for some nation building right here at home."

Let's start with the $4 trillion. The fact is that reducing the deficit by $4 trillion over a decade will not even overcome the amount of deficit spending this president has racked up in less than four years at the helm: $5.2 trillion, pushing the national debt to over $16 trillion.

The model for this $4 trillion deficit reduction effort comes from the Simpson Bowles Commission. Its report was released in December 2010 and has been gathering dust ever since, other than becoming the basis for baseless campaign fodder.

Here's the first gross distortion: "On top of the trillion in spending we've already cut, I'd ask the wealthy to pay a little more." Has $1 trillion already been cut? No. That's a lie. The so-called sequestrations ordered as a result of the failed "Super Committee" negotiations surrounding the debt ceiling deal last summer call for $1 trillion in reduced government spending over ten years.

Is that likely to happen? Apparently the President doesn't think so, because the White House issued a memorandum to government contractors advising them not to issue WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act notices to their employees. If the sequestrations do go into effect and there are mass layoffs, these contractors have been told that the taxpayers will pick up the tab for violating the WARN Act provisions; that is, the contractors will be able to pass the fines through as a reimbursable expense.

So the White House is betting on Congress doing something to stop or mitigate the sequestrations, meaning that they're hoping that the $1 trillion doesn't come to pass even though the President said, and I'll quote again: "On top of the $1 trillion in spending we've already cut."

Blown gasket number one.

Here's the second gross distortion: "And as we end the war in Afghanistan, let's apply half the savings to pay down our debt and use the rest for some nation building right here at home."

Ten more blown gaskets on that one.

How disingenuous can he be? The President and his ad writers are counting on us to be complete nincompoops to swallow this B.S.

How many times has President Obama and his surrogates pointed out that a big contributor to the national debt has been two unfunded wars? A hundred times? A thousand times? By the way, I agree with the statement.

Think this through with me here. Why would unfunded wars run up the national debt?

Perhaps because we're borrowing the money to pay for them?

Bingo!!

Then how the (insert profane word here) are we going to use half the "savings" from not borrowing more money to pay down the national debt?

Blam! Another blown gasket.

Apparently, he must believe that we can borrow half as much and use it to pay down, well, what we just borrowed. Let me save you some time, Mr. President. Do nothing. There. Same result.

Aaaaaaaggghhh!!!

Now let's take the rest of the money we're not borrowing for the war in Afghanistan and borrow it to spend on rebuilding America. Over ten years, that would be about $500 million, essentially negating half of the $1 trillion in sequestrations.

Does any of this make sense to you?

I suppose it makes sense to people who accept anything as the truth as long as it's said over a New Age piano track.

Come on, America. Wake up!

Monday, September 24, 2012

2012 candlelight vigil: Lisa Murphy's opening comments


Lisa Murphy organized Parents Supporting Parents, a support group for parents of children with drug and alcohol addictions. PSP has chapters in Mashpee and South Yarmouth and meets weekly. Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parents-Supporting-Parents/186663034743781.

Lisa also organized the candlelight vigil, which was held on the Hyannis Village Green. Here are her opening remarks:

Parents Supporting Parents and the Aids Support Group of Cape Cod would like to welcome you to the 2nd Annual Cape Cod Candlelight Vigil.

The banner that is to the left of me that reads “Mourning the Loss” held 102 names of those family members who are not here with us today due to the disease of addiction that ultimately took their lives. Many more of our loved ones’ names have been added. Their names are a representation and a celebration of the lives they once shared with us. Through this banner, cards, letters, and the memories of happier days, they continue to speak to us and through us. We are here today to remember them. Janis McCrory, a parent and Harwich High School teacher will share her and her daughter Liz’s life with us.

“Supporting families” is also included in our banner. The Parents Supporting Parents group mission statement is: We’ve come together as parents and family members coping/dealing with our child/loved ones’ addictions. Our mission is to support, strengthen, and educate ourselves, as well as each other, as we share our lives. Our goal is to help our children find recovery and for all to live healthy lifestyles.

My name is Lisa Murphy. I formed the Parents Supporting Parents group after my siblings, mother and I suffered the ultimate loss in our lives, our sister Sherry to drug addiction, years later my young family and I would again be thrown into the trenches of our own daughters’ addiction. Thankfully, today we celebrate her recovery.  It was at that time I saw the need to help another parent. No one understands best the life a parent lives when their child is addicted to opiates, except for another parent who has been there. Our first group formed in 2010. Every Monday night at 6:30, we meet at the Mashpee Senior Center. This past year we formed a second group that also meets each Monday at 6:30 at the South Yarmouth Senior Center. We’ve called upon Linda Decker from the ASGCC to train parents in the use of Narcan, and in doing so one of our parents was able to save her son’s life after administering 2 doses. If not for Linda and the ASGCC, we may have been telling you a far different story.

Parents who find our group often come in the doors feeling hopeless, by the end of their first meeting, they begin to have hope. They have begun to find their own recovery, giving strength and support to one another is what PSP does. Recently, we met a parent who came to her first PSP meeting, holding our flyer in her hand. She said, “I’m not sure why I’m here, but my son said I need to come here and learn what enabling means, so I’m here”. This mom has continued to come and takes notes. We all were amazed one night when she spoke of being able to make decisions that she could not have made not very long ago. The growth in her was amazing and we were all overcome with joy to be part of it. This is an example of the strength and empowerment that these parents give one another.

We have requested many speakers and they cordially accepted. Shortly, you will hear from two very important men who have helped to combat the prescription abuse wave in two very different ways. Mass. State Representative Randy Hunt is one of them. Rep. Hunt is the voice for so many here on Cape Cod. He has been very busy at the statehouse, advocating on our behalf. The other is Dr. Robert Friedman, who is one of the most amazing doctors we have ever met. Dr. Friedman treats many young people in addiction, with the belief that family members are and should be included in part of the recovery process. We don’t know of any other doctor who freely hands out his cell phone number to patients and family members. To our amazement, he answers his own phone 7days/wk at any given hour.

Lastly, on our banner, we want to acknowledge those seeking recovery, and celebrate those who have found recovery. It is your commitment to yourselves and your efforts that have helped our children to find recovery with you. Often times many of these programs are anonymous and, without jeopardizing who you are, we want you to know that the support you give to one another is powerful, and has made a difference in the lives of so many, including many of our children.  We also want to acknowledge Ray Tomasi and the staff at Gosnold, our sober houses, and many of the organizations who are dedicated and committed to our families seeking help. We humbly thank you.

I want to share some thoughts with the students here today. A man by the name of Rick, who was one of the first members of the Parents Supporting Parents group, passed away last year. Rick believed that not enough education and reinforcement of the dangers of drug abuse are available to you students, that making a not-well-thought out decision could potentially lead you to the road of addiction. One of the last wishes he shared with his wife was to make a donation to the PSP group in hopes that we would utilize that to educate all of you. We hope this will do just that for you. Rick’s wish was our goal. We have answered his request.

In closing, I want to tell you about a mom who came to our group with a heartbreaking story that, for many of us, we hadn’t even considered, until we met her. As she kissed her son goodbye, not knowing if she would ever see him again, she remained hopeful that her son would come home alive. Her young son had enlisted in the service, a graduate from one of our high schools on Cape Cod. He had many friends through the years, a very intelligent young man, with goals and dreams of, one day, coming home and enrolling in college. Her son returned home, injured. His mom was very excited to have her son home safe - home alive. What mom didn’t expect was that her son would come home addicted to drugs. His hopes and dreams had all but slowly diminished. Mom would later say, “I left my son at the airport, proud of him. I went to pick my son up at the airport and greeted an addict.” We know of many of these young men and women who are struggling with addiction. They have already fought the war to change others’ lives for the better and now face the struggle to save their own lives. We want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank you.

2012 candlelight vigil: Janis McGrory speaks about her daughter's addiction

On September 23, 2012 at the 2nd Annual Cape Cod Candlelight Vigil, Janis McGrory shared the tragic story of her daughter's struggle with drug addiction.

Liz’s Journey

Good evening.

My name is Janis McGrory.

We are all here at this vigil tonight because all of you have either lost someone to drug addiction or know of someone who is suffering from addiction.  We all share this pain but we are gathered here to comfort each other.  This comforts me to be here.

We are also here to offer HOPE to those suffering and HOPE to their families who suffer along with them.

My daughter Elizabeth LeFort died last year of a drug overdose.  She was 23 years old. She was killed…..by drugs.   She was killed.

I will tell you about Liz. I know this will sound familiar to you because we all travel that same road with addiction.  We walk together in this journey.

Liz was brought up in Hanson and attended Whitman Hanson HS.  She was an honor student, a cheerleader, a youth cheerleader coach, a dancer, a gymnast, a soccer and basketball player.  She had a great group of friends.  Liz was on the National Honor Society and she graduated 10th in her high school class.  Upon graduation, she was awarded a scholarship to college.

She was a loving daughter…..kind, considerate, thoughtful. She had it all….beauty, talent, smarts….a bright future.  She mattered to her family and to her friends.

 Her drug journey started 7 years ago while a junior in high school.

For two years she kept her drug use hidden.  First signs of trouble….an arrest at a hockey game for possession, later followed by a trip to the ER for cocaine use.  She went to a drug treatment center and returned to high school.  Problem solved right?? Kids dabble in drugs, get caught and punished, learn a lesson from their mistakes and move on in life.  I knew my daughter and she was raised with “the drug talk”.  We openly discussed the dangers and Liz understood the risks.  I THOUGHT!!

Her behavior improved for awhile but then she relapsed.  Back into a program she went.  Soon after she graduated from high school, a friend of Liz’s contacted us and said she was worried that Liz was shooting heroin….HEROIN???
 
I was terrified…..my daughter putting a needle in her arm??  That only happened in the big cities,,,,to kids who did not have a caring family…not someone like my daughter.  But my daughter had NOT ONLY graduated from high school, but she had graduated from using oxys and cocaine, to shooting heroin.
I sectioned her….she went into a holding/detox tank for 30 days. 

I delayed Liz’s college start for 3 months until she became drug free.  She was tested regularly….again I hoped she learned her lesson.  Off to college she went to fulfill her dreams.  She even made Deans List while there.  Little did I know she continued using drugs.  She could not stop.  Looking back, I had no idea what I was dealing with, what she was dealing with.  I did not understand ADDICTION.

Liz returned home that summer, along with drugs, followed by detox centers and programs, another section, court which eventually led to prison and probation.  This cycle continued on and off for the next 6 years.

Liz attended programs in Hopkinton, Westborough, Foxboro, Lynn, New Bedford, Fall River, Boston, Amesbury, Brookline, Brockton, Georgetown, Haverhill, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Liz always did great in a program,  She had hopes and dreams and looked forward to the future when we could  spend Xmas together again and we could go to the beach together and  talk nightly over dinner.    We had hopes.   She had hopes.  But every time she got out, she relapsed and the cycle would start over.

Her journey also included loss of a boyfriend from an overdose, car accidents and broken limbs, multiple overdoses and trips to hospitals.  It continued to abusing other prescription drugs as well.   But Liz never gave up trying….never did until her dying day.

 My hope never faltered….my daughter could beat this.  She was the most self disciplined, hard working person I knew.  She would reach her bottom and THEN pull herself out.  But I did not know the depth of her addiction.  I did not know what to do to help her other than to encourage her and  support her in anyway I could….I loved her. 

My mantra became “I will hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.  This was my beautiful girl, my daughter and I could no longer protect her. , I had to rely on her to help herself…..I prayed for her to  reach “her bottom” so she could begin her recovery and find her way back home.

You see, Liz always thought that she could beat it….but IT, the drug, was bigger than she was.  The drug became more important to her than her family, than her love for her family.  It was more important than her health, her friends…..It  WAS bigger than her. 

Liz would say “I wish I never took that pill” referring to Oxycontin.  So Kids…..Make the right choice.  You are playing Russian Roulette when you play with drugs.  Don’t do it…because the chamber might be full and you will be on the road to addiction.  It happens that fast and without warning.  So I am warning you.

Make the right choice….your life depends on it.

I have talked to several student and parent group and I mention that
Kids unknowingly and innocently get hooked on drugs.  A student of mine told me last year, after she heard me speak, that after she had some minor surgery that the Doctor wrote her a pain prescription.  My student asked “Is this a narcotic”??  He answered Yes….and she said, I don’t want them.  I was so so proud of her and her decision !!    So Parents  BEWARE of what Docs are giving your children….whatever happened to Tylenol??

I really didn’t know much about drugs available to kids today in the school….furthermore I knew my daughter would never do them.  Oxycontin I knew nothing about.  I never heard of it, I never knew how addictive it was.  I did not understand the true meaning of ADDICTION.  Oxy was a medicine prescribed by physicians right? How bad could that be. ?!!!

I was IGNORANT….with a Capital I .  HEROIN ??  That was a street drug, only people who lived on the street in big cities took that.  Who would ever dare take that drug??  I was so IGNORANT.

Drugs robbed Liz.  They robbed her of the life she deserved.    They robbed me the joy of watching my child grow and prosper.  Drugs stole my daughter away even before her death.  She was not my daughter most times.  I was usually talking to the drug not Liz.  They changed her personality, weakened her body to that of a 50 year old, weakened her mind and her spirit.

Liz died on January 6…..life will never be the same.

Her life mattered – to me, to her sister, to her relatives, to her friends, to society. It still matters.

A vigil by definition is a demonstration in support of a particular cause.  Our cause is not only to pray and offer support and guidance to those suffering, but to stop this madness.  We as parents need to be vigilant.  We know when our children are not acting right.  We know in our hearts that something is off even though we don’t want to accept to fact that our child might be trying drugs, after all, we taught them right??  They could not be so stupid.  But they are, and they will experiment and it is our job to make sure they don’t.  If they do, then we must be able to offer them help. 

You see, we parents are born with special gifts. Instinct and Intuition.  Moms especially are blessed with a strong intuition when it comes to our offspring.  DON’T DENY IT……use it.  If something does not feel right, trust your gut.  Act on your gut.  Trust your heart.

My Liz was an Addict.  Addicts don’t want to be addicts.  They made a bad choice in the past by taking a drug offered to them.  The word Addict should no longer bring to mind a derelict living on the street.   That was my vision 8 years ago.  We have to change that picture.  Look at this picture of my daughter……this is the picture of an addict today.  If it can happen to Liz, it can happen to anyone.  Liz once said to me, “Mom, I would rather have cancer”.  Addiction is a disease just like cancer and should be treated as such.  Do you know that if my daughter wanted help, she had to shoot up before a treatment facility would take her??  Really??  Do we shoot up cancer patients with more cancer to help them recover?  There is something very very very wrong about that process.  One which has to change !!  Addiction is an illness!

We have to hold vigil.  We have to protect.  We have to stop drugs from coming into this country, into our communities, into our school, into our homes.

We have to stop pharmaceuticals from knowingly producing highly highly addictive drugs like Oxycontin for the sake of making money and at the expense of our children.  We are all fighting back.  We have to.

We are at war with drugs.  We have to beat this war.  We cannot let the drug beat us and take our children.  The drug knows no boundaries, no town is spared, no socioeconomic status is spared, no school is spared.

Many people in the community are attacking the drug epidemic.  Lisa Murphy formed Parents Supporting Parents to support families of addicts.  That started at least    years ago with    members and now has     members.  Parents of middle schoolers are now attending these meeting.  Middle schoolers !!!!

My daughter, Amy, speaks to middle and high school students about making RIGHT CHOICES.

It takes a village. This village of the Cape.  Together, all of us.  We can make change.  We must make change.  We will make change.  It takes all of us…our community, the school, police, friends…all of us to watch…to be vigil.  This problem is way too huge to be silent…that would be a deadly silence.

 Liz and all others who have died because of drugs are here with us tonight in spirit.  She never gave up trying to beat the addiction and she whispers to me “Mom, don’t give up.  Keep trying”.  I will because she matters.  WE will win this battle.

The expression “undying love” has new meaning to me.  I loved my daughter from the moment she was born and I continue to love her while she is gone. Where there is love, there is hope. Love is powerful and the human spirit is remarkably strong. She lost the battle with drugs, but she would want me to continue the fight.  Liz says to me “Mom keep on trying, you can do it”.  She would want US to continue that fight.  And we, together, will win this battle.

In closing, this vigil tonight is a sign of making change.  It is an act of keeping watch of something….it is our children.  We need to do whatever we can to stop the drug and help our children.  It is a good thing. It is the right thing.  It is our only alternative.

By being here tonight, you are taking action.  We are comforting those struggling and praying for them and we are honoring those lost and praying for their families. By holding those candles, you are holding onto the light and bringing hope and promise of a bright future for those now struggling.  It brings ME great comfort and hope.

I thank you for having me tonight and I thank you all so much for coming.

2012 candlelight vigil: State Representative Randy Hunt's remarks

A group of individuals who have been affected by an opiate drug overdose met in Hyannis on the town green to remember those who died and those who continue to battle their addictions. Lisa Murphy, organizer of Parents Supporting Parents in Mashpee and South Yarmouth, led the candlelight vigil, called "Mourning the Loss, Supporting Families, and Celebrating Recovery."

Speakers included Dr. Robert Friedman from Gosnold Cape Cod, Janis McGrory, who lost her daughter last year from a drug overdose, Linda Decker, an instructor in administering Narcan, an overdose antidote, and Rachel Murphy, Lisa's daughter, who shared how her sister's addiction affected Rachel's teenage years.

I had the honor to deliver a message of a way forward, my most important objective for the next session of the legislature:

2012 Candlelight Vigil - A Way Forward 

I thank everyone who came out this evening to participate in this vigil.

To remember a loved one who lives with or who has died with an addiction.

To keep the scourge of drug addiction not only on the radar, but front and center in the minds of everyone in our community.

To educate others so that they may recognize symptoms of drug addiction early and seek help for their loved ones.

To call for more resources to be spent on prevention and treatment of addicted individuals.

To provide hope for those who have given up.

At the risk of interrupting the solemness of this vigil, I must take advantage of our collective attention on the issue at hand to frame the problem we're facing and list some of the measures we're taking to improve our chances in this fight against drug addiction.

This past February, the Drug Enforcement Agency raided two Florida CVS pharmacies for illegal distribution of opiate drugs. Mark Trouville, special agent in charge of the DEA's Miami bureau, said at a press conference, that last year the two pharmacies, located only 5.5 miles apart in Sanford, Florida, ordered 3 million doses of the painkiller oxycodone. That compares to an national average of 69,000 doses per year per pharmacy.

Trouville said the pharmacies either knew, or should have known, that a large number of the prescriptions filled were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose. Red flags the pharmacies should have recognized included misspelled drug names, irregular dosing instructions, and phony telephone numbers on prescriptions.

In some instances, four or five people dropped off identical prescriptions from the same doctor at the same time, paid for by one person.*

The distributor of these oxycodone pills, Cardinal Health Incorporated, had its license suspended by the DEA a day before the pharmacy raids. Cardinal immediately obtained an injunction from a judge, reversing the license suspension and allowing their facility in Lakeville, Florida to resume shipments.

CVS Caremark Corporation said in a press release that it was "disappointed" in the DEA's action.

Disappointed?

Disappointed?

What else can a manager of the Cardinal Health distribution facility or one of these CVS pharmacies be thinking is going on, besides the obvious truth?

Two months later, the DEA searched six Walgreen's pharmacies and a distribution center, all in Florida, looking for evidence of more illegal distribution of opiate drugs. One of the Walgreen's stores had sold 80,000 oxycodone tablets in 2009, but in 2011 sold 1.7 million pills. Another of its pharmacy's sales jumped from 96,000 to 2.1 million.**

We know what's going on here.

The DEA knows what's going on here.

CVS and Walgreens know what's going on here.

The pharmaceutical companies know what's going on here.

These millions of pills are heading right up Interstate 95 from Florida on their way to every city on the Atlantic seaboard and into New England. Onto Cape Cod. Onto Main Street in Hyannis and every other Main Street in the fifteen towns of Barnstable County.

Some prescribers of pain medications are only now waking up to the fact that thousands of addicted persons here on Cape Cod got their start in a safe and professional health care services office.

A physician who didn't consider that too large a prescription of a highly addictive opioid drug could be the difference between adequate pain control and the beginning of an addiction.

An oral surgeon who failed to emphasis the danger of addiction to a teenager's parent after the removal of a wisdom tooth.

The average person assumes the safety of prescription drugs.

This is the backdrop that we worked with in developing Senate bill 2125, the prescription drug abuse bill that passed and was signed into law by the governor in August.

As the DEA continues to crack down on the Florida pill mills, there is a surge of people attempting to skip around the Interstate 95 pipeline by bringing forged and fraudulent prescriptions directly to Massachusetts pharmacies. Senate 2125 prohibits the filling of prescriptions for opiate drugs coming from outside the contiguous states to Massachusetts and the state of Maine.

Senate 2125 also requires the use of tamper resistant prescription pads, which are already in use for all Medicare and Medicaid patients.

For prescribers of opiate drugs, there is the requirement that they register in the Prescription Monitoring Program over the next three years and begin to consult the PMP database when accepting a new patient in order to curtail doctor shopping.

Also for prescribers, patients, court personnel, and others, there is a strong educational component aimed at raising the awareness of these drugs and their propensity to trigger addictive behaviors.

Between this bill and the repeat violent criminal legislation, also known as Melissa's Bill, we recognized the value of adding Good Samaritan protections for people reporting overdoses and of making Narcan, an overdosing antidote, more available.

Where do we go from here?

We must break the current paradigm and start focusing our efforts and resources on prevention and treatment. Massachusetts should take a look at "tough on crime" Texas to see what this shift in focus can do.

In 2005, Texas began reforming drug sentencing and shifting money to drug rehabilitation and prevention programs, which has saved the state billions of dollars and reduced crime, according to the Washington Post. Such reforms have earned the praise of unlikely bedfellows: NAACP President Ben Jealous and conservative activist Grover Norquist. The NAACP argues that sending people to jail for nonviolent drug offenses turns young people into hardened criminals and disproportionately affects black people, while Norquist argues that states waste taxpayer money locking up people who could be rehabilitated more cost-effectively.**

In August of last year, the Texas governor announced that the state would, for the first time in its history, close down a prison due to a reduced prison population and the lowest crime rate since 1973.

Currently, out of all the money spent in Massachusetts dealing with drug and alcohol abuse--for local, county and state police, for the court system, for the prison system, for the parole system--only 2 cents out of a dollar is spent on prevention and treatment.

Two cents.

Every dollar spent on effective treatment programs saves five to seven dollars spent on law enforcement, courts and prisons, according to a number of studies conducted over the last twenty years.

This is the direction we need to go.

And this is my message to you tonight.

Help me and all of your legislators convince leadership in both parties that the priority must shift from punishment to treatment for nonviolent drug offenders.

We can turn the corner on drug and alcohol addiction with the efforts of everyone here and the thousands like you across the commonwealth.

Thank you.



* DEA raids 2 CVS pharmacies in drug abuse probe - Reuters, February 6, 2012

** DEA Continues Corporate Responsibility Drive - Jesse C. Vivian, RPh, JD,, May 22, 2012

*** DEA raids 2 CVS pharmacies in drug abuse probe - Yahoo News - Liz Goodwin, August 3, 2011

Friday, September 21, 2012

11th Annual Capt. Gerald F. DeConto 5K Run-Walk

See my interview below with Dave DeConto about the 11th Annual Captain Gerald F. DeConto, USN, Memorial Scholarship 5K Run-Walk taking place in Sandwich on Sunday, September 23, 2012.

Preregistration is from 9am to 5pm on Saturday, September 22, 2012 at the Super Stop 'n' Shop Plaza on Route 6A at Merchant Road in Sandwich. Day-of-race registration begins at 7:30am at the race starting point (Route 6A at Jarves Street in Sandwich - Russell's Corner).

Complete information and registration form is available at: http://www.geralddeconto5k.com


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2012 Summer Survey

I invite you to participate in this year's Summer Survey which covers aspects of health care reform, prescription drug abuse, and the economy. Please add your comments about the topic areas within the survey (limited to 500 characters) or by commenting below (no limit).


Click here to see the results so far.

PARTICIPANT COMMENTS

Health Care

We are self-employed and my health insurance is our biggest monthly expense...more than our mortgage.

The problem is government involvement, not the lack thereof. Anyone who was alive before medicare was started can tell you how cheap healthcare was back then.

If our congress isn't "well versed" on ObamaCare how are the citizens supposed to be. Randy, it would be great to get an a-political explanation of exactly what the Act will/will not do.

I am on Medicare and Tricare, having served my country honorably, and have had pretty good luck on the Cape with doctors and treatment. Thank God I am healthy. But Obamacare promises to destroy all that and put us on the health care level of a third world country. Looks like Obama wants to diminish health care for seniors so he can give it the crack dealer down the street.

Is there a new mass legislation?

Has anyone actually read the entire Affordable Care Act?

I feel that I am not a good person to be asked the first two questions. I've been on Cape for 11 or so years, found a great primary care physician soon thereafter and have never left her. I think if I tried I would feel the impact of question # 1. I have lots of friends who would strongly agree with it. As for the 2nd question, I am a very healthy person who needs very little medical care. I basically see my doctor once a year and rarely need to see a specialist. Maybe once in my 11 years.

I feel we need to address the lawyers and insurance companies causing increases that don't control their charges.

I believe that health care is not a right.

There is no straightforward and short explanation of these that has been published in the press.

Gov't should stay out of my life.

My daughter was transported by ambulance at 1:00am to a Boston hospital on a Saturday night/Sunday morning because there wasn't a single Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist available anywhere on the Cape to examine or admit her for further testing. She spent 36 hours in the Boston hospital and left with medication. The issue could have been easily handled at a Cape hospital if someone was available.

I need to learn more yet.

Anyone opposing the Affordable Care Act is either stupid or a political hack for the right-wing extremists.


Prescription Drug Abuse

Rehab vs jail should be either/or. Either you go to rehab or you go to jail. After the third time to rehab, you go to jail.

Druggies know what they're doing. Throw them in jail and have them share a cell with Big Bruno. Most come out of so-called "rehab" programs and start using again anyway. It's a sob sister sham.

Rehab should be required as well as jail time.

Just legalize all the drugs and tax them. if no one needs a prescription, all this just goes away, and the state gets a legitimate new income source.

The last question should include an increase in punishment for following offenses, much like OUI and the drivers license except that actual jail time should be included. Jail time for this type of offense MUST be community services to towns. For each offense...up to a point (3 strikes?) more hours of work required. Not easy work. Perhaps landscaping jobs around town, cleaning town buildings, etc.

They should receive jail time also.

Rehabilitate tor first offence. Jail any additional offences. If you wont learn yhd first time and you endanger others lives by your self indulgent dangerous behavior then you should go to jail

We have friends, in fact a Sandwich family, whose son's life and theirs were ruined by Oxycontin beginning with a legit prescription by the boy's MD following surgery for a broken bone. If he had been REQUIRED to enter rehab early on, after committing several crimes, their collective outcome might have been far better.

Control drugs at mfg. level not retail. Make it illegal to give free samples to doctors.

Jail time does nothing to address the addiction. Sending people with no other criminal record to jail or putting them on probation for possession of illegal drugs only clogs up the system and doesn't address the individual's problem.


Economy/Unemployment Rate

There was a time in this country when Unions were needed. Today, I feel there are enough whistleblower laws in place that Unions are no longer necessary. They are nothing more than a sanctioned mafia.

Get rid of public unions.

It is just pure dumb luck. There are certainly small businesses making some type of difference, but our economy is still garbage, just not as big a pile of garbage as the rest of the country. Not having a full time job is not having a full time job, and I have not had one in years, and I have not found one with a reasonable pay check in 8 years.

Perhaps MA is lower unemployment than the national average - but on the Cape - it is still very, very difficult to find a good job. Been unemployed now for six months - and not looking better.

Being unemployed in the IT field for over two years and having gone to CCCC to get an AS in IT hasn't helped! I'm no longer on unemployment but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be counted as unemployed. I think more people are in my position or worse yet; taking two minimum wage jobs to survive that look like two jobs being filled. We need to get an accurate count of the unemployed and the under employed to have an realistic perspective as to where our economy is going. We need higher paying jobs!

In my view The unions and the gov. work hand in hand to create work projects that the tax payers are paying for in the long run. I believe that the private sector would do a much better job and get more done and would hire workers to keep the unemployment down.

NE (Boston) is "Mecca" for health care, both treatment and research, for the entire planet.

Union laws such as prevailing wage should be banned.

The Cape continues to be a wasteland in terms of jobs for most professionals. The money lost to our local economy that is spent off Cape is no doubt staggering. This impacts not only for profit businesses, but non-profits. Both have a difficult time accessing professionals who make purchases and often support charities near where they work because of the convenience.

The right-wing propaganda about government being the problem grows tiresome, as it's pure baloney. And the obscene taking out of context the comment by Obama that "You didn't build that," which referred to roads, bridges, and other government-funded infrastructure, is simply unconscionable. That Hunt can still call himself a Republican shows he has no integrity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hunt raises $30K in first reporting period for 2012

Campaign sets a strong pace in advance of three major fundraisers

EAST SANDWICH - August 20, 2012 - Incumbent State Representative Randy Hunt of East Sandwich reported today cash and in-kind contributions totaling $30,312 for the reporting period from January 1 to August 19, 2012.

"I am very pleased with the strong financial support our campaign continues to garner, especially in a year when we have opposition in the general election and plenty of competition for fundraising dollars," commented Hunt. "It takes a great deal of resources to get the word out to over 40,000 residents of the 5th Barnstable District. Although hundreds of people visit my blog and state rep website every day, it is still the old school advertising, door knocking, mailings and telephone calling that will carry the day."

The Committee to Elect Randy Hunt is particularly pleased that the $30K has been received prior to the campaign's three major fundraisers:

Saturday, August 25th - Texas BBQ & Trap Shoot4pm at the Monument Beach Sportman's Club

Monday, September 17th - "Slice & Ice" Golf Outing & 19th Hole Social, noon at the Ridge Club in Sandwich

Saturday, October 13th - Jazz Concert featuring Tony Lujan Quintet6:30pm at the East Sandwich Grange Hall

Hunt added, "With $17,000 in cash heading into the height of the campaign season and our biggest three fundraising events still in front of us, we are in great shape to accomplish all that we've planned right down to election day, Tuesday, November 6th."

Find out more about the campaign by visiting http://ElectRandyHunt.com.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

MassDOT funds Quaker Meeting House Road sidewalk project

UPDATE: WBZ ran a news story on the QMH Road sidewalk grant. See it here:

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/08/13/state-program-helps-communities-fix-infrastructure-problems/

Aesop taught us a thing or two about perseverance in the fable The Tortoise and the Hare. That lesson was applied to the long awaited project to build a sidewalk on the entire length of Quaker Meeting House Road in the Town of Sandwich and, as was the case in the children's story, the project/tortoise made it across the funding finish line five years after it was pitched by a citizens' group to the board of selectmen.

The source of the long delay in funding was the project's timing. Proposed just prior to the economic collapse and Great Recession, it quickly took on a low priority when even high priority projects were not getting funded.

This changed last year with a big effort by the offices of both Senate President Therese Murray and myself. The economic recovery provided some breathing room and MassDOT created a funding mechanism to deal with smaller projects that never seemed to rise to the top of the priority list. Murray and I wrote letters of support for the project and assign staff to "dog" the project through the approval process. Personnel at MassDOT were also very helpful along the way, seeing the value of this public safety project.

All of this effort moved the project within eye shot of the goal line, at which time the Senate President made a personal effort to complete the process. The contract between the town and MassDOT is for $960,000 and DPW Director, Paul Tilton, indicated that work should start this fall and, with luck, can be concluded before next summer.

See the press release about the project by clicking here.


Here are my comments from today's press conference:

I am very pleased that this key project for the Town of Sandwich has been funded. This road is home to three of the four public school buildings in the town and has been too congested for school children and other walkers to negotiate it safely for years now.

Someday, someone will not be injured or killed by a passing car because of the sidewalk that will run the length of Quaker Meeting House Road. We'll never know when that person's life won't be ended, or significantly changed, but I assure you that moment will happen.

Shortly after assuming my job as state representative in 2011, I came to the realization that a project with an earmark and five bucks will buy you a latte at Starbucks. The real work is in generating the plans, promoting the project, getting it in front of the proper decision makers, and making sure that the merits of the project are understood.

My thank you's go out: 
To the people who created a grassroots effort to bring the project to the forefront, who displayed both passion and research at a 2007 selectmen meeting, and who penned more than a twenty letters that were filed with MassDOT;

To the selectmen and our town manager and assistant town manager who embraced the project and made it a priority;

To the people that designed the sidewalk system and handled the details of filing plans, writing letters of explanation, and following the progress of the project hearings, our Engineering Department & DPW, led by Paul Tilton;

To my legislative aide, Susann Koelsch, for being relentless in keeping this project on the political radar and moving forward;

To Jackie Horigan, the Senate President's Director of Constituent Services, who helped us decipher the approval process and who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the project on track;

To the Secretary of Transportation, Richard Davey, MassDOT Highway Administrator, Frank DePaola, and all of the staff in District 5, who supported this project from the beginning and found a way to make it happen;

And, finally to Senate President Therese Murray, who wrote multiple letters of support, committed the resources of her office to help us move the ball down the field and into the red zone, and personally took the actions that ultimately resulted in the funding of the Quaker Meeting House Road sidewalk project. Without you, Madam President, we would not be here today, and you have my sincerest appreciation for being a dedicated and effective proponent for your senate district and for the entire commonwealth. It is my pleasure to serve with you in the Massachusetts legislature.