David Greene to run for City Council president

Retired professor proposes dispensing drugs to addicts

January 06, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

A retired Towson University physics professor announced his candidacy yesterday for Baltimore City Council president, calling for the federal government to dispense drugs to addicts.

David G. S. Greene will be the Democratic running mate of A. Robert Kaufman, a civic activist who announced his bid for mayor last month. Greene, 64, lives in the Penn Lucy section of the city and is a member of Kaufman's City Wide Coalition.

The father of four with a trademark long white beard announced his candidacy standing on the West Baltimore corner of Fayette and Monroe streets, a former open-air drug supermarket featured in the 1997 book "The Corner, A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood" by David Simon and Edward Burns.

In proposing his drug plan, Greene noted a government drug maintenance program in Switzerland, which police credit for reducing violent crime there by 60 percent. A similar program in Baltimore would reduce the city's murder, drug addiction and prostitution rates, Greene said.

"It is for addiction to be recognized as a medical problem, not a criminal problem," Greene said. "It is rather for addicts to be given their drugs through safe clinics with care and concern for rehabilitation."

Baltimore recorded 314 homicides last year, an increase of two over the previous year. The nation's 10 largest cities boasted a 12 percent drop in murder during the same period. Police blame the violence on drug addiction. City health officials estimate that 59,000 Baltimore residents are addicted to drugs, about 9 percent of the population. Other surveys show that 85 percent of city jail inmates have a drug addiction.

The Johns Hopkins University is considering starting an academic study to look at legally distributing heroin to city addicts. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who gained national attention a decade ago for advocating the decriminalization of drugs, balked at city participation in the program, calling it too controversial.

Greene disagrees.

"The value of drugs would be brought so low that there would be no profit in illegal street sales," Greene said of the plan for a government-sponsored clinic. "No need for addicts to rob, vandalize and prostitute to earn their next fix."

Asked what experience his running mate has to be City Council president, Kaufman replied: "If Dave Greene can learn how to teach physics, he can probably learn" to be council president.

In addition to the drug proposal, Greene and Kaufman promote reducing auto insurance rates in the city by 20 percent through establishing a co-op. They also pledge to lobby the state legislature to allow the city to create a commuter tax.

Greene ran for governor two decades ago, winning 25 votes.

The city's primary will be held Sept. 14, followed by the general election on Nov. 2.

Pub Date: 1/06/99

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