Dog Bites

Drug Trip to S.F. General
GHB, the quasi-legal euphoric drug popularized by body builders in the late '80s and more recently touted by smart-drug aficionados and pleasure-seekers, broke out like the plague among clubbers at the Endup's Sunday morning "T-Dance" in February.

Over the weekend of Feb. 4, at least nine partiers suffered adverse effects from GHB; seven accepted ambulance rides to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment of their symptoms. The drug is relatively safe in low, controlled doses, but in combination with other drugs, especially alcohol, users can find themselves on the floor, spasming like fish in temporary comas. In short, it's ugly.

Jo Ellen Dyer, a Pharm.D. with S.F. Poison Control, blames the drug's surge in popularity on several recent magazine and newspaper articles on the compound, including the one that ran in this paper (see "Drug Story," Nov. 29, 1995).

Endup owner Carl Hanken says the GHB incidents constitute "a very serious problem," especially since most of the bum-trippers said afterward that they didn't know they'd ingested the drug, which means they might have slugged off a dosed water bottle passed between dancers or shared a loaded drink. "We've seen it off and on for three to four months, but we were not sure what we were dealing with," Hanken says. "Now we know we can't control it, but we can minimize it."

On Feb. 11, Hanken and staff passed out 5,000 GHB fliers warning of the drug's knockout punch. Besides the printed material, a few DJs have taken the mike to warn dancers, and the security staff is zealous with pat-downs and snaking water bottles. So far, the Endup is winning in its mini war on drugs -- the staff hasn't witnessed an adverse reaction since the infamous weekend.

Frank's Revenge
It's Mayor Willie Brown's town now, and he wants to run everything. But the juvenile justice system still belongs to Frank Jordan.

Brown intends to supplant standard probation and incarceration with community-based rehabilitation programs. But he faces a huge roadblock. The city charter invests the six-member Juvenile Probation Commission with the last say on the department's budget, and the commission is still stacked with appointees of the former mayor. What's worse for Willie is the commissioners' terms don't expire for another two years.

Using the power of the charter, the commission will be able to block the funding of Brown's reforms until the mayor can appoint his own people to the commission. Under the city charter, the mayor can only cut from the budget the commission sends over. So if the Jordan appointees reduce funding for community programs like drug rehabilitation, job training, and life-skills courses (parenting and the like), Mayor Brown can't say boo.

This isn't in the realm of the hypothetical: Two weeks ago the commission slashed $150,000 from the budget of an after-care program that assists offenders after they complete their sentences at the Log Cabin Ranch detention facility. The commission pumped that money back into the department's budget. Then they hacked another $150,000 from the budget for other community groups and moved it into a project to evaluate the efficacy of those groups. It's a classic sandbagging routine: Slash someone's budget so they can't do the job and then spend the money to determine that they aren't up to par so you can shut them down for good. Advocates of juvenile justice reform are biting their foreheads over the political nightmare and are considering putting an initiative on the November ballot to make the commission serve at the pleasure of the mayor.

By Jeff Stark, George Cothran

 
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