By What Standard Should One Evaluate A Drug Czar?


June 09, 1991|By Candy Thomson

Huntley Cross, the county's drug czar, is moving on.

I don't knowif Cross is moving back to his old job in the school system because he wants to or because the Neall administration put him on rollers and tilted the floor toward the door.

I've put in a call to Frank Robinson, leading expert on the transition phase of employment, but Frank hasn't gotten back to me yet.

My gut feeling is that all is not well in czarland, and Cross was infected by the same disease that took the professional life of his Annapolis counterpart, Eric Avery.

Neither man should have been surprised by his weakened condition. Both were victims of a change in administration.

Cross had the plug kicked out of his life support system by Neall's transition team, which was unkind in its evaluation. The team said Cross did a good job as a cheerleader and glad-hander butwas somewhat shaky on getting anything done.

Mayor Al Hopkins andCounty Executive Bob Neall had every right to shape the direction oftheir administrations. But how do you measure the accomplishments, or non-accomplishments, of an anti-drug agency?

How do you determine if a program is hitting the mark? Look to see if drug arrests are up? Down? If folks are wearing "Just Say No" T-shirts? If kids are flocking to the banks of the Severn to toss away their stashes and paraphernalia?

Cross put out a newsletter, attended rallies, arranged anti-drug programs in schools and got the private sector involved. What more would the transition team have him do? And, by the way, who onthe transition team was qualified to judge Cross' office?

Cross' spot on the anti-drug roster is being taken temporarily by David Almy, a nice-enough guy who happened to be Neall's campaign manager. Tellme what he knows about drugs.

Bob Neall was a drug czar himself. Ran the program for the governor. Held lots of meetings around the state. Handed out

awards. Received a truckload of publicity. Got elected county executive.

Were his efforts any more effective than Cross'? I guess they were. He got elected.

How about Bill Bennett, who was the drug czar supreme? Tell me what he did besides mouth off and, with John Sununu, constitute the Bush administration tag team of big, fat jerks.

Anti-drug crusades are last year's news. They've been pushed off the cover of Time by AIDS and evil and Kitty Kelley.

We barely notice the phrase, "drug-related shooting," as it rolls off the lips of TV newscasters. Nancy Reagan stiffed a drug program inLos Angeles that was counting on her support to raise money. Annapolis has de-emphasized its commitment, and it appears the county is following suit, moving the anti-drug staff into the Health Department instead of maintaining its status as a separate agency, and slicing $28,000 from its budget.

Unlike the gulf war, we can't tell if we're winning the war on drugs. And Americans have little patience for things that don't come with a score card.


Speaking of job unrest,why won't the school board or superintendent Larry Lorton step in and settle this silliness at Northeast High School over the firing of athletic director Bob Grimm?

Grimm, a popular administrator, was canned by Principal Joseph Carducci for insubordination and for not thinking like Carducci (that's what philosophical disagreements are, right?). For good measure, Carducci sacked assistant athletic director Bart Rader.

It's tough to imagine what philosophical disagreements could crop up between a 15-year athletic director and a principal whohas held his job for four months. Maybe Grimm wanted to add Jell-O wrestling to the sports program. Or have the track team mix it up withthe bulls in Pamplona.

Carducci says both men would be consideredif they reapplied for their old jobs. If they're qualified, why ax them in the first place?

Grimm is a fixture at Northeast. His teamshave won state championships. Did he get stupid and rude all of a sudden?

It's not as if school officials are in the dark about the controversy. Students and parents have made public their displeasure with Carducci.

So where are the people who are supposed to provide leadership in the school system? School board members are doing their best imitation of Darryl and Darryl. I guess that makes Dr. Lorton, Larry. How about breaking the silence, Larry?

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