City, county officials should state their own opinion on harm reduction program

Published 12:22 pm Monday, December 16, 2019

By Angela Jackson

Contributing columnist

In reference to the article titled “Needle exchange program met with skepticism”

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The first impression that I got from this article was that County-Judge Al Brock decided to take it upon himself to make a ridiculous, false, self-serving, nonsensical argument that will not hold water. His statement was nuts. Next, the judge had the unmitigated gall to give the impression that he was speaking for not only the fiscal court but for mayors Scott Madon, Rick Nelson and their respective councils.

If those mayors do not rectify his aspersions and let his false statements stand, then I believe history will show that they are full of “bliss.” Yes, I really mean bliss, look it up. It is an old saying. You could also go with what you may really be thinking.

If Judge Brock is speaking for our city governments as well as the magistrates, I cannot accept it. I believe the people of Middlesboro and Pineville and our county deserve the respect and honesty and intestinal fortitude it will take for our representatives to all, each and every one of them, to publicly state their honest opinions —instead of cowardly hiding behind a political mercenary county judge about this life vs. death matter.

I remind these unlustrious bodies that not all the people who voted for them disapprove of the Bell County Harm Reduction program, of which needle exchange is a very small, but an important part. I have personally collected 120 signatures from people who support this program. I have, so far, talked to 126 people, only six turned me down for a signature. These signatures include people from all over the county, not just Middlesboro.

One Middlesboro councilwoman had enough respect and sense of duty to show up at the Pineville Theater on Wednesday night for the public forum. One of the several important presentations was made by Greg Corby-Lee, an expert from UK about the harm reduction program. This education is needed for all to make an informed decision. Respect, honesty and a sense of duty, thank you Judy Grandey.

Mayor Madon and Representative Adam Bowling also represented but they ended up letting Judge Brock make them all look bad when he spoke for all political figures in our county. In my opinion, the rest of our county and respective city officials may have been hiding under a rock somewhere. I am curious as to why our newspapers did not interview Madon, Bowling and councilwoman Gandy in regard to their stance on this important issue at hand.

Judge Brock does not have facts to back up the irrational and irresponsible statements that he made concerning the program. I challenge the judge to debate me on this topic, mano-a-mano in the people’s forum, our newspaper — not the courthouse where he can filibuster and dismiss people at his pleasure.

In the meantime, people who are not for the program, please do not complain about seeing needles lying around parks, school yards and public streets. As one lady from Stoney Fork warned, needles are even at and in Cannon Creek Lake, our water supply.

Don’t complain if a child steps on a needle and contracts HIV or Hepatitis C, or if even you step on one. If you do complain because nothing is getting better, Judge Brock is the very bird to blame. I believe the judge is purposely spreading misinformation and hypotheticals to prevent the program from being supported.

In closing, I would remind our public servants…all of them, about the warning given to the elite, arrogant royalty in the novel “The Mask of the Red Death.” The upper class king and government in the book ignored the suffering of the poor and middle class, who were dying from the plague. The upper class entertained themselves with an enormous masquerade ball, believing they were protected from the plague.

This plague left sores and boils on its victims faces in the shape of red posies. However, unbeknownst to them, the “red death” as it was called, attended the elite’s ball, wearing its signature mask. Many of the elite later perished. Every May Day, we remember that no one is immune. Ring around the Rose, pockets full of posies, ashes to ashes, we all…fall down.

All Bell County Citizens who care enough to support the harm reduction program, you may go to our Bell County Health Department in Middlesboro and Pineville and sign a letter of support. Fact: Harm reduction programs in Kentucky, done through county health departments, have and continue to be quite successful.

Thank you for caring.