No Supervisor John Leopold, The Community Doesn’t Need To “Check The Cynicism” –YOU Need To Listen To The Community!
At the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting on June 6, 2017, Supervisor John Leopold actually had the audacity to tell the community to “check the cynicism people have” regarding the County’s needle giveaway program (“Syringe Services Program” or “SSP”). He then went on to bash our all-volunteer team, which for years has presented data and the community’s concerns about discarded needles to the Board of Supervisors. Ironically, just a few weeks after he made these statements, the Grand Jury released its report blasting exactly this type of arrogant and dismissive attitude from County Representatives: “A lack of transparency between the SSP and the public has created an atmosphere of distrust.”
OUR RESPONSE TO LEOPOLD’S DISMISSAL OF COMMUNITY CONCERNS
We have compiled some of Leopold’s statements (see video), along with our responses:
Leopold: “I really appreciate community concern” about discarded needles.
• The numerous folks (especially those who live in the Emeline neighborhood) who have contacted Leopold regarding the discarded needle problem will beg to differ. Leopold consistently refuses to respond to emails from concerned citizens about discarded needles, or simply cuts and pastes decades-old data on needle exchanges.
Leopold: “To the extent that the SSP is contributing to the problem (of discarded needles)…we really don’t know.”
• Discarded needles are very frequently found with other items from the SSP, as documented in the numerous photos provided by members of the public. How does Leopold explain this? Does he think the public is blind?
More direct evidence here (pics previously sent to Supervisor Leopold in our monthly reports.) Needles in Public Spaces: Where are they coming from?
Leopold: Some of the data from the needles team is “not rigorous.”
• First, bear in mind this comes from a public official who actually directed County Health to fudge its own numbers on dirty needles by taking the weight of debris in its collection kiosks and dividing it by the weight of a syringe to come up with a fictional number of drug needles “returned.” In contrast, most of the citizen needle reports in our Log have corresponding photos where the number of needles can easily be visually counted.
Leopold: The needles team needs “public health training.”
• In reality, the needles team actually includes a public health researcher. We also have a lawyer, a firefighter, a former drug user with over 25 years recovery, public safety advocate, and a mother whose child stepped on a needle. In contrast, the Grand Jury criticized the County for failing to have regular community members on its SSP Advisory Team.
Leopold: “The only thing I would ask is to check the cynicism that people have…”
• The community has the absolute right to be “cynical”, given the County’s past behavior. We have written numerous reports on the County’s lack of transparency. Despite Leopold’s wish that we simply “check” that cynicism, the truth is that a Grand Jury has unequivocally found that this cynicism was the direct result of the County’s “poor communication and lack of transparency.”
Want to talk to Supervisor Leopold about your “cynicism”? Feel free to email him at email@example.com.
Want to see a real leader in action? Check out this video of Supervisor Zach Friend sticking up for the community.