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Don’t let NYC become San Francisco

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This recovering addict has some advice for our new mayor: Don’t let New York City become San Francisco.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed — the liberal leader of the country’s most liberal metropolis — recently declared a state of emergency to combat the heartbreaking opioid crisis in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Tenderloin is the hardest-hit area in a city that, with fewer than 900,000 residents, suffered more than 700 drug deaths last year.

Despite reservations about criminalizing addicts, many of whom are homeless, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved the declaration. The convincing, 8-2 confirmation vote speaks volumes; after all, this is the same city whose leaders are so progressively nonsensical they tried to redesignate high schools named for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln for flunking their woke historical purity tests.

The national opioid crisis escalated, creating a state of emergency in the Tenderloin district.

As both an addict and a progressive, I understand the hesitancy to employ strict policing measures to combat drug addiction. Arresting an addict might further hinder his chances of recovery, since he then has a criminal record atop an addiction problem.

But I understand that a mayor must protect the safety and public health of all constituents. Because addicts don’t just abuse substances — they also abuse fellow citizens to feed an unquenchable, expensive illness.

“This is necessary . . . to reverse some of the deaths from overdoses and the assaults and attacks happening in this community,” said Breed. “When people walk down the streets of San Francisco, they should feel safe. They shouldn’t have to look over their shoulders; they shouldn’t have to be punched in the face randomly; they shouldn’t have to see someone sticking a needle in various parts of their body.”

Vending machine
New York city health officials plan to install 10 vending machines that dispense clean needles and Naloxone.

San Francisco’s warning signs are already flashing red in New York. Between March 2020 and March 2021, almost 2,250 NYC residents died from opioids alone. This was a horrific 40% spike from the previous 12-month period and the deadliest yearlong stretch in the city’s history.

While this undoubtedly partly reflects the mental-health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reason is less important than our new reality: New York has markedly more narcotics addicts than just a few years ago. It’s so bad the city is introducing vending machines to dispense the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

The similarities to San Fran are stark. In September, drug users shot up in the open right on midtown Manhattan streets. This past spring, Washington Square Park descended to drug-den status as Mayor Bill de Blasio shrugged his oh-so-tolerant shoulders.

New York also is experiencing outlandish, violent drug-related incidents. Last year, a man carrying drugs randomly punched a police officer — right outside a Bronx police station. Just last month in Queens, a man high on a “controlled substance” murdered his girlfriend with a sword.

The point: Many addicts are desperate and therefore unpredictable and dangerous. Unlike cancer or heart disease, addiction is an illness whose symptoms include debauchery and chaos, including potentially criminal acts.

San Francisco’s failure shows the limits of hands-off progressive policies, which can ruin neighborhoods one broken window — or, as Breed put it, one random punch in the face — at a time.

London Breed
Mayor of San Francisco London Breed wants to reduce the number of overdose deaths and crime in the Tenderloin neighborhood.

While having social workers coax addicts toward rehabilitation is ideal, I speak from experience when I say such efforts take time. There’s a wide gap between a perfect world and the real one. San Francisco is succumbing to the reality that its streets must be cleaned up — even if that means jailing a nonviolent drug user.

“I know that San Francisco is a compassionate city,” Breed said. “But we’re not a city where anything goes.”

She’s right. Late, but right.

NY Mayor Eric Adams
There are high hopes for what New York Mayor Eric Adams can do for the city.
John Roca

Mayor Adams: Your candidacy represented a refreshing pivot from the progressive-at-all-costs policies of your predecessor. There’s a reason de Blasio left office with approval ratings in the 20s. And there’s a reason New Yorkers elected you to replace him.

Reasonable people don’t want to eliminate gifted and talented education programs; they realize life is meritocratic. Nor do they want police to sit back and do nothing as homicide rates soar.

And they don’t want addicts, however sad their sickness, shooting up on streets, mugging passersby or committing other crazed acts of violence.

Mayor Adams, despite cries from the wokerati, during the primaries you opposed decriminalizing small amounts of hard drugs. Keeping this promise will help both the general public and addicts themselves because the longer an addict is enabled the shorter his route to potentially serious criminality — or even death.

We’re a city of laws, Mr. Mayor. It’s time someone leads like it. Don’t make New York the new San Francisco.

Christopher Dale is a New York writer with an addiction-recovery book pending publication. Twitter: @ChrisDaleWriter

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