Third world city.

Another OID story breaking this morning: The Detroit city crime lab, closed two years ago for egregiously sloppy operations, continues the tradition in limbo: Although its contents were supposed to be transferred to the state police, not all were, and case files, bagged evidence, live ammunition and much more was left in the building. What’s worse, like all abandoned buildings in the city, it was eventually penetrated, and when the Freep investigated, found it standing open to anyone with the wherewithal to walk past the collapsed fence and through the front door. They could help themselves to anything inside. Mind you, these are not crimes of ancient history; as many of those quoted in the story point out, files from 2008 are still very much in play in an appeals timeline. Wonderful. You don’t find quotes like this every day:

“It’s incomprehensible that any law enforcement agency would not be mindful to preserve evidence,” Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny said.

This reminds me of the open-abandoned schools story, a few years back, when the district was closing public schools the way you close your house in the morning when you go to work — with a locked door and absolutely no attempt to secure, preserve or otherwise protect the extensive contents within. The scrappers, urban explorers, vandals and others got in almost immediately, and had big fun looting and destroying them. Jim at Sweet Juniper had a heartbreaking post about finding recent records in there, complete with photographs and Social Security numbers, terrible stories of abuse and neglect. He wrote about his fruitless efforts to get anyone in the city school administration to care. He finally took the initiative to burn the files himself.

That’s the problem: A story like the crime lab shouldn’t remind you of anything. Regrettably, it’s all too common here. Sigh. This is why I cannot watch police procedurals anymore, especially the gore-porn variety that’s so popular now. Even in functional cities, the idea that today’s tea-party civic environment would allow Marg Helgenberger to noodle around with gunshot testing, “just on a hunch,” makes me nuts.

OID, dark-humor division: Head of an agency that spent $200K in federal money earmarked for the poor on office furniture says, What are you looking at me for? Speaking of quotes you don’t see every day:

“I, Shenetta Lynn Coleman, do not order furniture. I do not order equipment. That was not my job. I have a staff person who was responsible for that. If I don’t know about it, then there’s nothing I can do about it. I cannot be in 29,000 places at once.”

I’ve never trusted people who talk about themselves in the third person, or who feel the need to remind you of their name. No, Nance doesn’t like that one little bit.

When Al Gore’s son was ticketed for speeding, going 100 in his Toyota Prius, I’m sure some enterprising soul at ToyMoCo spent some time wondering if there was a way to monetize the news, or if they even needed to bother — just putting “100 mph” and “Toyota Prius” in the same sentence without a negative was probably worth a few hundred more sales right there. At least.

So I wonder what the folks at Ford are saying as they pass this photo around world headquarters today. On the one hand: Narco-traffickers. On the other? God damn.

I’d best shove on out of here, what with the holiday weekend comin’ down and all. Yes, we’ll be at Movement for part of it. If you’d told me in January that I’d be sitting in my living room on May 27, listening to my furnace run, I wouldn’t have believed you. But there it is. Have a pleasant long weekend, and a solemn Memorial Day observance, if that’s what you have planned. I’m just hoping for a thin glimmer of sunshine.

Posted at 10:15 am in Detroit life |

38 responses to “Third world city.”

  1. Mark P. said on May 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Furnace? What’s that? After a “cold” front passed last night (not much damage from that one), it’s supposed to be a pleasant 80 degrees today. We’re headed into the 90s for much of next week.

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  2. coozledad said on May 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

    In a few years, there’ll probably be a National Armored Vehicle Association protecting our god-given right to rip up the pavement with a Dodge Kampf-Wagon.

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  3. Judybusy said on May 27, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Re: Coleman: Y’know, I’d like to think that if some very expensive furniture showed up literally under my butt in my county cubicle, I’d notice. I’d also, for example, wonder why the hell the county is spending so much money on a inlaid mohgany table for my computer. But then, I only have about three things to do at any given time…

    I can not add anything more eloquent than Nancy’s “damn” or Cooze’s comments about the narco trucks. I am having a hard time seeing how Mexico’s going to get out from under that mess. The minute anyone tries to address it, they and or their families are just eliminated.

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  4. Kim said on May 27, 2011 at 11:10 am

    That OID story about the crime lab blows me away, esp. considering the shuttered schools investigation of a couple of years ago. Totally incomprehensible how anyone could let this happen. Doesn’t anyone in charge care?

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  5. Julie Robinson said on May 27, 2011 at 11:13 am

    50 this morning with a high of 62, and the forecast for Monday is 90. Couldn’t we strike a happy medium?

    For many years I have maintained the part of south Florida where my sis lives is a third world country, but Detroit may win the title back. Did anyone lose their job over the school breaches? Will anyone for this?

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  6. brian stouder said on May 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Well, in addition to the folks in the HQ at Dearborn, one must wonder what the folks at General Dynamics (et al) think of that light armored vehicle. There’s an un-tapped, cash-long market, baby!

    Aside from that, here’s something BP won’t tell us about, in their glossy commercials; although one supposes that the $10,000,000 research grant that this fellow utilized came from them….so that’s something, I guess.

    More than 150 bottlenose dolphins have washed up on Gulf coasts since January, including 65 newborn, infants, stillborn or those born prematurely. Only a tiny percentage of dolphin bodies actually reach shore so the actual deaths are likely several times higher, Graham said. Graham’s study focused on dolphins off Florida’s coast.

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  7. beb said on May 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Between the home-made narco tank and the home-made narco submarine it’s beginning to look like the drug dealers are putting together a military force to rival any south of the US borders.

    In the comments at Yahoo is the note that the truck isn’t an F150 but an F350. But still, “Built Ford Tough.” And the “tank” isn’t designed to go up against a real tank. It’s an armored personnel carrier intended to hold off small arms fire and maybe the occasional rocket propelled grenade. The Green Hornet’s Black Beauty would have a hard time stopping it.

    Only in Detroit. The thing about securing a crime lab or a school is that it costs money. Money that the city doesn’t have. It is shockingly incompetent that crime scene evidence isn’t moved to some currently secure location, but the people who couldn’t run a Crime lab properly (It’s not that hard: chains of custody, standard operating procedures for all tests, valid quality control process, certificates of training for chemists…) were fired to quickly to properly put things away.

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  8. Sherri said on May 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Out here in the Seattle area, we really are starting to look like The Killing, with some real downpours lately. Worse than that, though, is that we’ve had only one day above 70 degrees since last October. Today we’ll only make the upper 50’s.

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  9. moe99 said on May 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Sherri, I’ve begun to think that Seattle resembles that drizzly planet on Battlestar Galactica where the survivors settled for a short time before the Cylons found them again.

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  10. Bitter Scribe said on May 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    That Coleman woman is absolutely nauseating. The most infuriating aspect of the story to me was how her office didn’t open an emergency warming center for people whose heat was cut off until the city released $150,000 in emergency funds.That’s $50,000 less than she (sorry, her autonomous, undetectable, unsupervisable underlings) spent on furniture. At least she didn’t play the race card.


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  11. mark said on May 27, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Ticketed for speeding? I guess understatement is best when discussing the foibles of the offspring of Liberal icons.

    And beb,the degree of incompetence and corruption covered in Nancy’s links is a little too large to slough off on budget cuts and people fired too quickly to lock the door behind them.

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  12. Dorothy said on May 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Love your new gravatar, Moe!

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  13. brian stouder said on May 27, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    And beb,the degree of incompetence and corruption covered in Nancy’s links is a little too large to slough off on budget cuts and people fired too quickly to lock the door behind them.

    Mark – agreed. The negligence and malfeasance on display is certainly criminal. Imagine if a hazardous waste site owner simply locked the door and walked away; or for that matter, any other property owner. Even leaving aside property taxes or stored (and abandoned) toxins and the like, it is not as if the government of Detroit, or Wayne County, or the great state of Michigan simply ceased to exist. Ditto for the police departments within those governments. This is nothing less than a breach of faith. The people who knew this was happening should have stood up and said “HEY!! LOOK HERE!!”

    But when our blogmistress politely says this is an “only in Detroit” issue, I disagree with her; it is not.

    This story strikes me as a dispirited-human story; or maybe it’s a spiteful-human story; but whatever else it is, it is not an “only in Detroit” story.

    This is the point where Mark may disagree with me, too – but I think we – ALL of us – are whistling past the grave yard if we think this sort of bad-magumbo is an isolated OID-thing, especially as one of our major national political parties endlessly (and loudly) invests in an oxymoronic crusade to take political power, specifically on the platform that government cannot ever do anything, and should be hacked to pieces.

    edit – And Dorothy is right – Moe’s new pic is marvelous!

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  14. coozledad said on May 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    You know that old joke about dogs sucking themselves off because they can?
    Paul Ryan has become the latest in a string of Republican fops to demonstrate his yoga skilz and give himself a sloppy one.
    Ryan, in essence, intends to be Churchill and Thatcher as the debate over Medicare’s future intensifies. And Ryan thinks this is his moment.

    “I was made and wired for this type of thing,” he said in an interview from his Capitol office late Thursday. “We are on the right side of history. We are ready. I talked to at least 100 Republican members in the last two days. They all told me, ‘We gotta go, we’ve got to defend this.’ They are not queasy. They are all saying, ‘Put me in coach.’ Our members are comfortable.”
    For some reason I’m not reminded of Churchill so much as Napoleon. (Or maybe Icarus.)”

    Ryan’s member isn’t comfortable unless he’s got it up some peon’s ass.

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  15. Bitter Scribe said on May 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Oh, by all means, Coach, put them all in. Hand the Democrats more clubs to beat you with. I’m lovin’ it.

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  16. brian stouder said on May 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    And Dick Cheney “worships the ground” Ryan walks on.

    So after all this crap from the right about how Obama thinks he a “Messiah”, it turns out that our wing-nut friends were really just engaged in “projection” and/or Messiah-envy.

    They must really, really be hard-pressed, if Eddie Munster-Ryan makes them swoon

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  17. John G. Wallace said on May 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    high five to Moe! Have often thought I was the only BSG fan here. That would be dreary New Caprica, a wetter version of Vichy France. Always wanted to recruit a few viewers here – a truly dark and twisted show with so many allegories to the War on Terror, such strong themes of faith and redemption, but alas, an ending that made the Sopranos or Lost seem carefully crafted. It jumped the shark, but not until the final 30 minutes.

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  18. moe99 said on May 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks all. Glad to have the hair coming back, even if it’s lots more gray at the roots now.

    By the way, we should all rejoice that we are not seismologists in Italy. More evidence that the Amanda Knox trial was rigged:

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  19. Dexter said on May 27, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    My, tempus do fugit. About fifteen years ago I was unloading a box off a big rig truck, just one little box sent along with a big load bound for somewhere else.
    When I got to the dock, the truck was docked, the door open, and I set the loading ramp and took the little box off, then I noticed the main cargo.
    A brand new armor plated Mercedes Benz sedan. Thickest glass I ever saw , anywhere. The assistant driver was guarding the car, so I asked him where it was bound for. He didn’t know. They were just hauling it to the next depot, out west somewhere.
    My crew all came in for a look, and later we speculated where this car was headed. Consensus: Big Drug Honcho in Mexico or Central America. Now they need these personal tanks? Yes they do, and we know it because we watch the news.

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  20. Dexter said on May 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Lookin’ good, Mo. Here’s some hometown news about Defiance flooding…I also noticed a byline for a story by another Derringer, Jenny Derringer of the Defiance Crescent-News.

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  21. Connie said on May 27, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Great story on “All Things Considered” about Detroit techno and Movement.

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  22. Crazycatlady said on May 27, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Can’t wait to get to Movement.

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  23. brian stouder said on May 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Dog Whistle Alert!! Dog Whistle Alert!!

    This article, from a middlin’-small town newspaper, upset me, and then the more I thought about it, the more it angered me.

    This is where “polite” racism is born and nurtured, if you ask me

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  24. prospero said on May 28, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Detroit does not suck. It’s on the rebound. The Obama cash did the trick, and even asshole Republicans will have to admit it. Not the whole dime paid back, but pretty damned close and putting lots of workers back on the line. I’ve worked the line, in Ann Arbor. It sucks. But it’s way better than unemployed. And people’s general idea about what production line people get paid is a crock of shit, configured with health care. Why do Republicans insist on lying their asses of about what people get paid? How about those CEOs that get paid 300 times what anybody else does? Frequently to screw the company over, like Carly Fiorina? Nobody thinks golden parachutes for abject failure that costs all sorts of stockholders serious bucks is obscene?

    And Brian. There is no such thing as polite racism, as I’m fairly certain you wanted pointed out. Expecting the Israelis to act like decent citizens of the world, when they were given a country in somebody else’s, and practice apartheid on their minority, We listen to these moral assholes? I don’t think so, particularly the Bernie Madow of Israel, Binyamin? A flat out crook. So Binyamin, that used to be Benjamin back when you were a ridiculous crook,, shut the fuck up you fucking crooked piece if shit.

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

    John G. — you’ve gotta give it to them for making “All Along the Watchtower” a cosmic universal. Otherwise, yeah, it ended weakly. For weeks.

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  26. Bob (not Greene) said on May 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Brian, what am I missing? I read the story and it seemed pretty straightforward. Stores illegally selling prescription drugs. Those interviewed spoke Spanish, which was noted, because they were, by the looks of it, stores catering to the Spanish speaking community there. Unless this is happening at other locations where Spanish is not the language spoken, that’s an important detail.

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  27. prospero said on May 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    JeffMMO, Why are peope so enthralled with Jimi’s version when Bob’s is so much better? I like covers, a lot. But if you want to listen to a Dylan cover, I’d say listen to any version of highway 61 by Johnny Winter. Better song and screaming exactly what the guy meant.

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  28. Deborah said on May 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I barely survived my business trip yesterday. Of course I’m being over dramatic but it was an ordeal and I became ill during the experience. I had a throat issue that started in NC but now I have a bad head cold and a hacking cough. At the end of my first meeting, after my presentation I had an embarrassing coughing fit that wouldn’t stop. I ended up leaving early, flying back on an earlier flight. Then as I was standing in the middle of the security line at the Minneapolis airport I had another coughing fit. People around me were trying to be helpful, but you can’t have water with you so I was miserable. I’m spending the day in bed today, mostly. I’m just glad I don’t have to go anywhere on this holiday weekend.

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  29. cosmo panzini said on May 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Al Gore’s son. Is he Al III? I thought the only way to get 100mph from a Prius was to drop it off a cliff.

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  30. prospero said on May 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    It’s them Sponnish people forcing hillbillies like Limbaugh to woof down Oxy and push it down down the throats of rill Murricans in Appalachia and Ozarkania. Clearly. Degorah, I wake up with a bad cough every day, no, don’t smoke. Alka Seltzer cough and cold does the trick. And it doesnt contain Oxy, far as I know.

    Who made the deficit and the debt? This entire issue is astounding. People are apparent cretins. I think that’s one down from maroons.

    Wow, that’s clever Cosmo. Was W driving, or Laura? I think cops said that was the speed. But you know, they’re union workers, so ya can’t trust a thing they say, since they get union wages stolen from those of us that pay taxes and provide everybody’s jobs because we’re benevolent.

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  31. prospero said on May 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Seriously, let’s hear how Al Gore said he invented the internet. (Trick question. He never said anything resembling that. On the other hand, S. Palin could spy Russia from her porch.)

    If a Prius is incapable of 100mph, doesn’t the kid have a valid defense?

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  32. prospero said on May 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Brian, nobody of those detained was arrested? So how’d they round up all the Sponnish spikking pipples? They must be the culprits?

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  33. Bob (Not Greene) said on May 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Prospero read the article. The stores were ones that catered to the Spanish- speaking community. They i’m guessing are staffed with Spanish speaking employees. That’s why those people were questioned. I have no idea why no one was charged. I’m guessing some of those people may be later. If this kind of thing happened in my neighborhood, where Spanish speakers outnumber English speakers, and where drug investigations are routine (judging by the police chief’s own statements, they don’t normally deal with these kinds of cases and probably don’t have lots of Spanish speaking officers), the immediate outcome would probably have been different. I think the puzzling outcome to this point has to do with a police force unaccustomed to conducting such investigations. It appears clear that these stores were selling prescription drugs without being licensed to do so. Also, it’s not an isolated incident. I found another story from an Indy TV station about a mercado there where the same thing was happening. That’s a serious public safety issue if prescription drugs are being sold out of back rooms. Also I’m also guessing (the story doesn’t say) that the kind of drugs being sold are not oxycontin or vicodin, but antibiotics. People who may have illegal immigration status or who don’t have insurance may not want to go to a doctor or hospital. They want penicillin for their kid’s strep throat. But it’s no less dangerous if the kid is allergic to penicillin. It amounts to a black market, and guess what, it needs to be shut down.

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  34. prospero said on May 28, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Read and reread, Bob. It still seems extremely unlikely the store owners and the people behind this aren’t anglo-speaking anglos. It’s like back in ’68. Those ‘local’ stores in Detroit were owned by rich people in the Grosses. And they burned. It’s also like Nestle contributing powder formula in African places with no water free of dysyntery anaerobes. White man’s burden.

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  35. ROGirl said on May 29, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Prospero, I can’t speak for other store owners in Detroit in ’68, but I had an uncle with an office supply store in Detroit that he had started as a newstand back in the ’30s. He wasn’t rich and he didn’t live in the Grosses. He and my father stayed at the store during the riots and it wasn’t burned down. I suspect that a lot of other store owners were similar to him, small business people who were just trying to make a living in a community they had been a part of for decades.

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  36. Bob (not Greene) said on May 29, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Now THAT response, Prospero, is gold-plated bigotry! It ain’t like 1968, Prospero; let go of your nostalgia trip. I don’t know where you live, but if you had any sizeable Mexican population around where you live, what you’d find is that Mexican immigrants are incredibly entrepreneurial. Restaurants, small grocery stores, clothing stores, realty offices, insurance businesses — they line the main streets around here. In places like Cicero and large swaths of Berwyn (two adjacent cities in the Chicago suburbs with a combined population of more than 120,000 people — about 70 to 80 percent of whom are Hispanic — not the fraction of an 18,000-person village in the hinterlands like Logansport, where I’m sure they are a very reviled minority, what with their uppity business-starting propensities with business signs, no less, in an unintelligible language) they are THE economic engines of the community. And the businesses are not Anglo-owned, my man, they are (at least around here) Mexican-owned and cater to a Spanish-speaking clientele. I know them and their kids personally, because my kids go to school with them and they are my neighbors. I wondered where the hell you were going with whatever the hell argument you were trying to make, and I can tell you that I’d bet my bottom dollar that those businesses have no Anglo involvement whatever. Sometimes you don’t know everything, Pros, really.

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  37. prospero said on May 30, 2011 at 8:59 am

    That’s too easy to take that cheap shot, Bob. We ive in Beaufort Co., SC, Hilton Head Island. The County pop is easily 35% Hispanic. If I were mean-spirited, I’d point out that true bigots I encounter always use ‘Mexican’ as a catchalll for Latino. These people are my friends and neighbors, because my condo is in a place that actually has many fairly affordable rentals. Many of these folks are in the USA without benefit of formal immigration, and jobs in landscaping, construction and at the hotels and restaurants are most common. The county’s policies and fees for business licensing and operations make it highly unlikely that Latino-owned businesses get started. There are a few multi-service businesses that sell money orders, do payday loans (equal opportunity usury), sell prepaid cellphones.

    I’ve got no feeling of nostalgia for the riots in ’68, but anybody that was there at the time could see what happened to the white-owned groceries that had been price-gouging a captive consumer base with $5/gallon milk for years. My only point about the perscription drugs was that there is a massive, if loose, apparatus for selling perscription drugs illegally in the Eastern US, and it is a hillbilly game.

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  38. brian stouder said on May 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Also I’m also guessing (the story doesn’t say) that the kind of drugs being sold are not oxycontin or vicodin, but antibiotics. People who may have illegal immigration status or who don’t have insurance may not want to go to a doctor or hospital. They want penicillin for their kid’s strep throat. But it’s no less dangerous if the kid is allergic to penicillin. It amounts to a black market, and guess what, it needs to be shut down.

    ding ding ding ding!! I think Bob encapsulated precisely the same initial reaction I had.

    Indeed, quacks dispensing antibiotics is not a good thing.

    But the second thoughts immediately crowd in after that. The tone of the article is that the police wanted to find oxy (and all the rest); so-called “recreational” drugs; the sort of thing that those heavily armed and dangerous ferriners who drive armored Ford F-150’s smuggle in, when they’re not runnin’ guns the other way.

    The local-yokel Police go in lookng for stacks of cash and guns and opiates and all the rest – and what do they find? They find that lots of people aren’t getting adequate health care; that lots of parents face go-to-hell “health care”, or else the risky avenue of seeing the guy in the backroom at a small shop, who can give you the “pink stuff” (our children, when they were younger, seemed to go from one ear infection to the next, which that pink stuff knocked down).

    So then, the police intercept delivery trucks, and find….nothing. And then they sic the Board of Health onto the small shop owners.

    OK, fine.

    But meanwhile, there’s that headline about small shops with Mexican-sounding names, and drugs, and (penny ante) arrests.

    And comfort-zone people can peruse that article and murmer something along the line of “No news there; Mexicans = illegal = drugs”.

    A second thought might make a person wonder – how many children in their town need a simple check-up and $5-10 worth of an appropriate anti-biotic? And why aren’t they able to obtain this the way their children might?

    Non-sequitur – here’s hoping all y’all had as pleasant a weekend as we had!

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