When Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi finally got around to talking about Florida’s opioid crisis, the hot air was suffocating.
In parts of Florida, opioids have overtaken homicides and DUIs as a cause of very premature and utterly unnecessary death. That is not breaking news to anyone who has been paying even a little attention. In a time when reporters are in short supply, almost every newspaper in Florida has made a noble, front-page attempt to assess the grievous impact of the opioid epidemic on their local communities.
The truth is out there, along with plenty of supporting data. Much of it comes from Palm Beach County, where “sober homes,” operated by insurance fraudsters and human traffickers, have proliferated like pythons in the Everglades. A relentless newsroom at The Palm Beach Post prodded the community to confront the mounting death toll, and to come up with evidence-based strategies and solutions.
And that’s exactly what the community did.
There’s a grand jury report full of strategies and solutions courtesy of Bondi’s hand-picked pill mill czar Dave Aronberg. There’s a Sober Homes Task Force Report. There’s a Heroin Task Force trying hard to get a second vote for a good plan of action that starts with joining states like Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia in acknowledging opioid addiction as a public health emergency that can be significantly ameliorated by public health professionals.
But who cares what an army of experts and affected citizens and taxpayers think?
Not Scott, whose brother’s unspecified addiction “taught” him that “In the end, it’s always going to come down to that individual and that family is going to have to deal with this issue.”
Not Bondi, who brings to President Donald Trump‘s Opioid Task Force insights such as “No short-term fix is going to help this problem,” as if anybody on earth had suggested a “short-term fix.”
Scott and Bondi will be sending a multiagency Kabuki Theater Touring Company around the state to hold “workshops” and “generate ideas.” That news did not go down well in Palm Beach County, where beleaguered taxpayers, addicts struggling to recover, and grieving families of the dead are stocking up on torches, pitchforks and rotten tomatoes.
Excellent ideas are all over the place. It’s leadership that’s in short supply.