The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 1998 · Page 83
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 83

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 29, 1998
Page 83
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2E THE PALM BEACH POST SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 F The Palm Beach Post TOM Gll'FFRIDA, Publisher EDWARD SEARS, Editor LON DANIELSON. M Afamww TOM O'HARA. AWiitf fitftor RANDY SCHULTZ. fitftor o fitoi Page JAN TUCKW'OOD. j4ssooVj' 'tor THE BOOMERS LARRY KLINE. VP Advertising LARRY SIEDUK. W & Treasurer GA1.E HOWDEN. Director, Community Relations TOM HIGIIFIELD, VP Circulation LINDA Ml'RPHY, Director. Human Resources BOB BALFE, Director, Production KEN WAITERS, Director, Marketing and Research P ' " " ' Crist does fast shuffle on tobacco settlement The Senate ethics committee chairman wants to grill Gov. Chiles about the money - the same money Sen. Crist didn't want Florida to get. mm 'jail-the-abusers' trip There may be a bigger hypocrite in Tallahassee than Sen. Charlie Crist, but not one as eager to do his tap dance in the spotlight. : Sen. Crist, R-St. Petersburg, has appointed himself to uncover the "good old boy" deal in which Gov. Chiles chose Bob Montgomery of West Palm Beach and other lawyers to represent Florida in the state's tobacco lawsuit. Two things to begin: 1) Sen. Crist is running for the U.S. Senate. He needs this tap dance because he has nothing else to show off such as legislative accomplishments. 2) When he had the choice, Sen. Crist chose to defend tobacco companies at the expense of Florida taxpayers. Sen. Crist, so outraged that lawyers are getting a cut of the $11 billion tobacco settlement, didn't want Florida to have any of that money. Here's the tap dance: Sen. Crist, as chairman of the ethics committee, has called on Gov. Chiles, Attorney General Bob Butterworth and various aides to explain how the state picked lawyers to handle the lawsuit. He implies that Gov. Chiles chose Mr. Montgomery and the others so they could cash in on easy money. Sen. Crist told the gullible folks on ABC's 20120: "There must have been something to keep secret in order for it not to have been done in the open." Anybody who half knows the history knows Gov. Chiles used stealth tactics because tobacco companies have spent millions to buy protection from state and federal lawmakers such as Sen. Crist. He was in the majority that voted, in 1995, to kill the anti-tobacco bill that the governor had slipped through the Legislature a year earlier. Gov. Chiles' veto saved the bill, but in 1996 the Senate almost found the two-thirds to override . - Sen. Crist says the lawyers got a political payback. But Mr. Chiles re- The vampires move in quired the lawyers to put up their own money hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the lawsuit. There was a good chance they'd lose the whole investment. The law might have been found unconstitutional, the Legislature might have been successful in killing the bill, or the jury might have sided with the tobacco companies. Besides that, it's obvious that Gov. Chiles' main goal was money for Florida, not the lawyers. As everybody knows by now, Gov. Chiles is under attack from those very lawyers because he has backed a settlement that keeps them from claiming 25 percent. Compare that with Sen. Crist's motives. In the past two years, the Republican Party of Florida has received about $400,000 from tobacco companies and lobbyists. The national Republican Party, which will try to help Sen. Crist win the Senate seat Bob Graham holds, collected $3 million from tobacco companies last year. Even if the worst happens, and lawyers get 25 percent of the $11 billion, Florida still will be better off than if Sen. Crist had given tobacco what it wanted with one exception: without the tobacco dollars making this year's budget so easy, Sen. Crist wouldn't have had the leisure to play in the spotlight. Gov. Chiles says he will answer Sen. Crist's questions. Maybe Sen. Crist will answer this one: Why have you danced to the tune of tobacco companies that hook Florida's kids? Changes in health care force South Florida's not-for-profit community blood banks to compete like private firms. nity to buy and sell blood nationwide. Dr. Charles Rouault, president of the Community Blood Centers of South Florida in Broward County, hopes to start a for-profit Internet Resource Sharing Exchange within months. It is patterned after stock exchanges. "The problem now is finding patients who need blood products when you have an excess and vice versa," he says. "Another advantage of the service is determining what our services are worth. Before there was a market, no one knew. Some blood products sell for $80 one place and $40 in another." Most blood banks promise donors that their blood will go first to local hospitals for local needs. That's what should happen. It's also what banks must say if they want people to continue giving blood for free. Dr. Rouault thinks his plan will make people more willing to donate because their blood is being used more efficiently. "We tell them," he says, "that friends and neighbors will get blood first, then perhaps a transplant patient in New Rochelle." Few in blood banking thought market competition would come to their industry. "But health care has changed, and blood banking has changed to keep up with that," Mr. Flynn says. "The old ways in which local blood served just local facilities are gone." Could a private approach ensure a safe, stable blood supply for a fast-growing state with millions of visitors? Sure, if you think managed care makes health care better. November is when Palm Beach County had planned a sales-tax referendum to build needed schools until Schools Superintendent Joan Kowal's about-face, along with a majority of the school board. Neither they nor state lawmakers are talking about the money the schools really need, much less who would supervise all those charter schools in all those split districts. Instead, self-congratulatory school district officials applaud their "paradigms" and "pursuit of excellence," while frustrated parents, seeking any help for their children, are being tempted with non-soluMons. Get off the ne of my favorite Lawton Chiles-isms goes like this: "If you keep thinkin' what you thought, you're gonna keep gettin' what you got." Translated, that means changing how we think is the first step toward getting a different result. It comes to mind in connection with drug and alcohol addiction. Despite increasing evidence that we can reduce crime and its costs to say nothing of family heartbreak by changing our thinking about treatment, we're not doing it. Last week, dueling studies pointed out this contradiction. In one, experts said medical treatment for the disease of chronic drug addiction works Fran Hathaway as well as medical treatment for chronic diseases such as diabetes. How well people comply with treatment also compares favorably. Less than half of diabetics stick with their therapy, less than 40 percent of substance abusers and less than 30 percent of people with asthma and hypertension. Relapse rates are also about the same. The other study, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says public support for drug treatment dropped from 65 percent in 1990 to 53 percent in 1996. About 85 percent think the solution is tougher criminal penalties. If diabetes or asthma were responsible New book Historian Alan Brinkley gives the many critics of those who wear the scarlet 'L' their due, then celebrates liberalism's many accomplishments. o is the country better off because liberalism has suffered so many blows and endured so much deri sion that even ardent liberals avoid describing themselves with the L-word? This term is so loathed that it cannot be used in polite company and deserves only an initial. It's easy to get impatient with liberals. As historian Alan Brinkley notes in his new book, Liberalism and Its Discontents, the old doctrine of FDR and I lubert Humphrey fell on hard times because it "suffered from some of its own internal weaknesses and incongruities, and from the unwillingness or inability of many liberals to look skeptically or critically at their own values and assumptions." EJ. Dionne Jr. Liberals are especially vulnerable for an arrogance they showed from the 1940s to the early '60s, when their ideas were dominant. They barely noticed the intellectual challenges from the right, and they dismissed even anti-Communist radicals to their left. Mr. Brinkley, a proud and honest liberal, takes his own profession to task for often treating conservatism "as if it were a kind of pathology." There was also a powerful strain of elitism within a certain kind of liberalism that mistrusted popular movements, dismissed middle-class morality and failed to see that unfashionable groups (whites of modest means and fundamentalist Christians, for example) might have legitimate grievances. Mr. Brinkley. in his quiet, fair-minded way, rebels against putting down those outside the mainstream as defined by liberals. He says candidly that it's difficult for nonreligious intellectuals "to accept that fundamentalists can be rational, stable, intelligent people with a world tip phrenia and depression. We must use this new knowledge to change our attitudes about them as well. : In January, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University said 80 percent of adults in U.S. prisons are there because of criminal activity linked to drug and alcohol abuse, Last week, the first national survey of probationers, conducted for the Bureau of Justice Statistics, found nearly 47 percent had used alcohol, drugs or both at the time of their offenses. .'' As with diabetes or heart disease or, for that matter, the flu, no one is immune. Nor does every person respond to treatment the first time. Last week, William Cope Myers, eldest son of television commentator Bill Moyers,' told a congressional panel that crack addiction nearly killed him. "Had I not gotten the chance for treatment several times,", he said, "I would be stone dead today." r : Listening, I wondered whether his dad ever thought, as so many parents do, "Not my kid." Maybe Mr. Moyers will tell us in Moyers on Addiction: Close To Home, a: three-part series that starts tonight at 9; p.m. on WXEL-Channel 42 and WPBT-Channel 2. i I hope it prompts more people to think, along new lines about treating addiction. If we don't, as Gov. Chiles' aphorism predicts, we'll keep gettin' what we've got And that's not acceptable. Fran Hathaway is an editorial writer for The Palm Beach Post. Be not shy Kennedy's shortcomings, personal or po-; litical. Yet he shrewdly sees why Mr Kennedy's brief term in office still in- spires nostalgia. "It reminds many Americans of a: time when it was possible to believe that -politics could be harnessed to their highest aspirations for themselves and their, country, that it could be rooted in a sense; of national community, that it could speak to America's moral yearnings," he writes. "And it suggests, too, that per-J haps politics could be that way again." t Similarly, Mr. Brinkley sees the New Deal, warts and all, as "a stumbling,,-chaotic exercise in political and economic ' self-preservation, unconnected to any philosophy or moral vision." ) He quotes President F'ranklin Roosevelt's economic adviser Raymond Mo-ley's acid critique: "To look upon these programs as the result of a unified plan' was to believe that the accumulation of stuffed snakes, baseball pictures, school flags, old tennis shoes, carpenter's tools," geometry books, and chemistry sets in a " boy's bedroom have been put there by an r interior decorator." Mr. Brinkley usefully reminds to-' day's conservatives that precisely be- cause he did not have a grand plan,; Roosevelt did not "transform American (' capitalism in any genuinely profound way." Yet the New Deal's achievements; were large nonetheless. Roosevelt's ad- : ministration gave life to "a broad set of political ideas," "revolutionized economic policy," created "innovative forms of , social assistance" and "sketched a vision , of government that would compensate for rather than challenge the limitations of capitalism." And for all the complaints ' of Sun Belt conservatives against Wash-, ington, Mr. Brinkley notes helpfully that the South and West got rich in significant ' part because federal spending under FDR laid the groundwork that made,, market growth possible. Liberals had sins to atone for, and a period of sackcloth and ashes was a necessary penance to certain arrogance " and smugness. But now, after a long " conservative era, it's the opponents of liberalism who are smug. Perhaps it's time for liberals at least to dare speak their name again. E.J. IHonnc Jr. is a political columnist for The Washington Post. America is in denial that we can cut social costs from drug use just by treating addicts, yet evidence mounts that we can. for putting millions of people in prison, we would race to treat the diseases and empty some cells. But there is a shortage of drug treatment programs. Only 15 percent of people who need treatment get it. This, says former Assistant Health Secretary Philip Lee, despite evidence that one dollar invested in drug treatment can save $7 in social and medical costs. Our antiquated attitudes about brain illnesses are keeping us from adopting policies that will save lives and money. Ladies and gentlemen, this makes no sense. Much of the prevailing view, I think, comes from ignorance. Breaking an addiction to cocaine or alcohol or cigarettes is still considered a willpower issue. Yet Yale University researchers recently described in detail the biological process that occurs in the human brain when it is repeatedly exposed to an addictive drug. "This research shows again that people don't stay addicted because they choose to or are weak-willed," says John Schwarz-lose, president of the Betty Ford Center, "but because they have a brain disease. They need treatment." We are also learning more almost daily about other brain diseases such as schizo tells liberals: view radically different from their own." He also defends populist and progressive critics of modern industrialism. They were not, as so often described by consensus historians, simply backward-looking romantics worried about how a new economy endangered their status. They were grieving changes that "cut off large groups of Americans from the economic and cultural moorings that had given meaning to their lives" and worried about the real problems of monopoly, inequality and corruption. And it's here that one begins missing the robust and unapologetic liberalism that historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. described nearly five decades ago in his book. The Vital Center. As Mr. Brinkley makes clear, the liberal tradition, for all its problems, has given voice to some of the most honorable impulses in the American character: the rebellion against racial segregation and oppression, the attempt to correct the inequities of a competitive economy and spread the fruits of economic growth above all, the belief that public action can improve our national life. In a fine essay on John F. Kennedy. Mr. Brinkley gives President Kennedy's critics their due and proves that he harbors no illusions when it comes to Mr. U&&rS LA lood banking has become a business. The Palm Beach Blood Bank must compete or die, like IBM or the neighborhood McDonald's. That fact is central to understanding why Palm Beach County suffered a Severe blood shortage last month, and to preventing more. Blood and blood products shouldn't be just one more commodity. But in a market-driven health-care system, they are. Most people donate blood out of a desire to help others facing medical emergencies. They think the blood they give, usually for free, stays in their community and isn't sold elsewhere. . When the supply of blood and blood products dropped to a dangerous low last month, at the height of the tourist season, hospitals had to postpone elective surgery. "There is no blood in South Florida," said a "very, very worried" Palm Beach Blood Bank President John Flynn. Officials blamed persistent bad weather nationwide and seasonal shortages. But another factor was the blood bank's expansion into Dade and Broward counties in 1995. At that time, hospitals were cutting costs. They demanded lower prices for everything, including blood. Blood banks, despite being not-for-profit, felt pressure to cut prices to survive. Today, the Palm Beach bank sells blood to half of all hospitals in Broward and Dade counties and is changing its name to South Florida Blood Banks. ' But blood is a perishable commodity. The market varies, as it does for any product. When supply what people donate lags, as it did recently, demand can't be met. When supply exceeds demand, banks must sell excess blood or throw it out. Enter the Internet, and the opportu- No break for students rn Tom Warner. R-Stuart f-3 til-A nr fir an antwpr fiU breaking up school districts. The Constitution Revision Commission wouldn't put the proposal on the November ballot. So Rep. Warner wants the Legislature to do so. Lacking the 72 votes he needs, however, Rep. Warner has postponed his resolution that would allow voters to let 140,000-student I'alm Beach County split into as many as nine districts. Meanwhile, the Senate Ways and Means Committee has voted to double tlie number of charter schools eaih district may allow to 1 1 in districts with or more students.

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