Development Action Grant, which provided grants to inner-city employers; and General Revenue Sharing, which allowed cities in Texas and elsewhere to fund programs of their own choosing. Congress will likely push for more money in the drug war package. But don’t necessarily count Congress as more committed to the fight than the president. In early October, it independently knocked out $555 million in the immigration assistance program. Immigrants are not a major part of the drug problem, but these funds will have to be made up by states diverting resources from other areas, including drugs. Even when legislation designates drug war money, Congress has a habit of authorizing billions but appropriating very d AllwA THE TEXAS se rv er Available at the following locations: Bookstop 6406 N. 1-35 Austin Crossroads Market 3930 Cedar Springs Dallas FW Books and Video 400 Main, at Sundance Square Fort Worth Bookstop 2922 S. Shepherd Houston College News 1101 University Lubbock Daily News & Tobacco 309-A Andrews Highway Midland Sun Harvest No.2 4904 Fredericksburg Road San Antonio Student Center Midwestern State University 3400 Taft Boulevard Wichita Falls little. In 1987, Texas got $10.5 million for local law enforcement agencies. The following year it dropped to $2.3 million, before jumping to the current $6.3 million. Not surprisingly, John Coffel, Texas Narcotics Control Program Manager, says he is delighted by current talk on the Hill, but he’s holding his applause until the money comes through. These law enforcement funds are especially important in depressed, and increasingly drug-infested small and medium-sized towns. In Nacogdoches County, for example, Sheriff Joe Evans faces as much as a 30 percent cutback in his department. The cuts stem from tax cuts designed to stimulate the local economy. At the same time, the area has seen a marked increase in crack abuse. Ninety five percent of his jail is occupied by drug-related offenders, Evans said. Federal funding is vital to him. On the treatment and education side, funds from the federal government have steadily risen to $34.8 million in fiscal year 1989, according to the Texas Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission. But Texas has nonetheless been given the short end of the stick due to a complex formula, sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy and included in a 1984 appropriations bill. While Texas is the third most populous state, its funding has ranked as low as ninth. Dallas Congressman John Bryant and other officials contend too little is spent on treatment. According to Bryant, waiting lists of several weeks are common at all Texas detoxification centers. The waiting lists prevent many from receiving treatment. “Telling someone to come back in three or four weeks is like telling him he never should have come there in the first place,” Bryant said. ” I think a lot of people are lost in the shuffle and continue to buy controlled substances.” Both the Bush plan, and plans under consideration in the House and Senate, would increase funding for law enforcement, treatment, and education. The appropriations are likely to come through as long as the war on drugs remains an important political issue. But as long as the issue remains high on the public agenda, Congress is likely to do a fair amount of grandstanding. EVEN SUCH a veteran drug warrior as Congressman Charles Rangel, the Democrat who represents Harlem and chairs the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, looks wearily on some proposals now being considered. “You can’t turn the war on drugs to a waron the constitution,” Rangel said. One such bill, introduced by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has met full Senate approval as part of a defense bill. The bill would provide Customs, Immigration, and Drug Enforcement Agency officials the powers to shoot down airplanes that act like drug carriers, do not respond to requests for identification, and drop packages while in flight. San Antonio Congressman Lamar Smith found out on a plane trip from Marfa, where he had helped launch an anti-drug surveillance balloon, just why this is such a dangerous strategy. The airwaves were full of talk of a suspect plane being hunted down by law enforcement officials. As it turned out, Smith reports, the airplane had turned its radio off and had landed in Del Rio. “That was an instance where a suspect plane turned out to be a legit flight,” Smith said, adding that he would favor safeguards before “we get to the point where we are shooting down airplanes.” As one of three Texans on the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees law enforcement, Smith’s participation in the drug war isn’t drawing rave reviews from civil libertarians. A Smith proposal backed by Bush would grant INS officials the powers of general arrest “for any offense against the United presence or view . . . if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such a felony .” Currently INS agents may only arrest suspected illegal aliens. The bill would also grant INS agents the right to serve any order, warrant, subpoena, summons, or other process issued under the authority of the United States. Smith says this expansion of powers is needed to win the war. “If this is a war on drugs, we’re going to have to take actions that do offend some individuals’ sense of propriety,” he argues. “We’re going to have to take actions we would not take in normal circumstances.” Even Bryant, the liberal Dallas Congressman running for Texas attorney general, is beginning to sound like a general. Bryant is calling for 10,000 new police officers in Texas \(with no indication of how they would be funded by the cities and counties that make it easier to use federal troops in the war. \(The Pentagon is said to have created a drug task force with elements of the 5th according to Bryant, is that a number of cities in Texas have among the highest drugrelated crime rates. His proposals are the painful cure. But pain seems to be something Washington is trying to avoid. Strapped for funding and unable to resist adding to its own financial woes by moving to grant capitalgains tax breaks for the wealthy and repealing a self-supporting catastrophic health insurance fund, little of substance can be expected out of Congress. Though drug abuse and the crime it spawns are repeatedly at the top of the list of issues people consider important, it is not at all clear that what will come out of Washington over the next few years will be either effective or wise. 14 OCTOBER 27, 1989
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