LETTER: ‘Major Historical Issues of Crime and Methadone Clinics…’

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Waterland Blog nor its staff:]

Letter to the Editor:

Several weeks ago, while driving past the Woodmont School and lines of parents and neighbors with signs protesting the the Woodmont Recovery Center’s proposed Methadone Clinic, I decided to write of my experiences and also provide web sites of other cities facing methadone clinics and crime.

Historically, methadone clinics started to treat heroin addicts in New York City in the mid 1960s and affiliated crimes became a major city-wide issue. Then and now, the crimes have to do with the rampant drug marketplaces that operate nearby. Crimes are concentrated in the trading of patients methadone doses for illicit street drugs including crack cocaine, heroin, marijuana, morphine, methamphetamines and others. In recent years, adding such prescribed drugs as Oxycontin, Oxycodone and Adderall for example, provided by local as well as out-of-town drug dealers and drug cartels has led to continued drug overdoses. On occasions when these criminal drug dealing issues go bad, there were and there continue to be major stabbings and shootings taking place on neighborhood streets within the five boroughs of New York City. Methadone patients, street drug dealers and innocent passers-by were and are injured and killed.

In New York City, I have personally walked through drug marketplaces operating right outside methadone clinics on the street where I would transfer from a suburban commuter train to a N.Y.C. subway to the south Bronx and my position as Director of Clinical and Rehabilitation services of a large mental health clinic for mentally ill substance abusers.

In Spanish Harlem in 1970, as the Program Director of The East Harlem Center of the Children’s Aid Society, I supervised social workers who concentrated their assignments on providing services to substance abusers returning from the Vietnam War. Shortly thereafter, I was appointed by the N.Y.C. Bureau of the Budget to a position of Senior Consultant for the N.Y.C. Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services, where I served for eight years.

During my seven years as an Assistant Professor in the Social Work Program at Pacific Lutheran University, I was appointed to a Prevalence Study Work Group for the Pierce County Chemical Dependency Program, where we evaluated the major cities of Pierce County for substance abuse issues and plans for recovery.

There are times when drug dealers operate in front of or close to a clinic and there are times when they choose nearby areas to carry out transactions. I submit several websites as examples.

  1. Methadone Clinic’s Move is Blocked/San Mateo County’s Residential Area had been intended new site (CA)
  2. NYPD Lacks Resources to Battle “Drug Market” Outside Clinic (Methadone)
  3. Probe Confirms Dealing of Drugs near D.C. Clinics (Methadone)
  4. Drug Dealers Target Clients of D.C. Methadone Clinic
  5. Drug Market Thrives Methadone Clinics
  6. Neighbors say Methadone Clinics Bringing in Crime (Orange Co., Florida)

These websites help to focus our attention on our concerns about the opening of a Woodmont Recovery Center Methadone Clinic in Des Moines, especially near the Woodmont School and the Woodmont and Redondo neighborhood homes. There have already been dirty needles found on the corner of 16th Avenue and 272nd Street near to the Woodmont School, the Public Library and other places where local children play. The proposed Pacific Highway location in and of itself is a dangerous idea in its proximity to already existing crime. Our Des Moines Police Department needs our full support if and when these additional criminal behaviors arrive.

Dr. Alexander Szabo
Candidate, City of Des Moines, Council Position No. 2

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll consider publishing it.]


18 Responses to “LETTER: ‘Major Historical Issues of Crime and Methadone Clinics…’”
  1. AB in DM says:

    I had no idea Dr. Szabo already occupied Position #2.

    Another Kooky Kaplan Klan appointee? Did X-Mayor (Boss) Sheckler approve of this?

    • RedondoRick says:

      At least someone on or running for the council, has stood up to express his or hers opinion. Don’t fault someone for showing his or hers beliefs. Especially since we haven’t heard on this blog or any other form, from any council member, on their feelings…Rr

    • NOTE: We have revised the signature on the Letter to reflect the fact that Szabo is a Candidate, and is NOT currently on the council.

      Scott Schaefer

    • Dr. Alexander Szabo says:

      AB in DM

      No, I am not “another Kooky Kaplan Plan appointee.”
      No, X-Mayor (Boss) Sheckler did not approve of this.

      I am simply a non-partisan candidate running for Council Position No. 2 with no endorsements.
      I will appreciate your vote.

  2. RedondoRick says:

    Thank you Dr. Alexander Szabo for telling it like it is. This only proves that what we’ve said all along, this is NO places for a Recovery Clinic, period. I’m tired of the all pro VC people telling us crime does not enter in or around a methadone clinic. Even our police chief, believes that nothing shows a higher crime rate when associated with a clinic, when we see stories all the time that differ. We can only get the real source of the truth by talking to professionals who work around these facility’s on a daily bases. I haven’t seen anything here or other, that says different. We must STOP this clinic now! This state or any other state, has never seen such a large conglomeration inside a neighborhood, regardless of a School and Library next door. Please take time to let your legislators know your feelings on building this recovery clinic…Rr

  3. Erin E. says:

    So Dr. Alexander Szabo, are you in support of the Valley Cities building there? You are not a Councilman yet, I feel it’s very presumptuous of you to state your seat. With all that you know and have experienced yourself, I would think you would of reached out long ago as just a concerned citizen that this facility does not belong next to a community library, grade school and neighborhood.

    • Dr. Alexander Szabo says:

      Erin: I am not in support of the Valley Cities building at its proposed location, near a school, residential neighborhood, and library.

      As I said in my letter to the editor, I am a CANDIDATE, City of Des Moines, Council Position No. 2
      Hope you’ll vote for me on Election Day!

  4. Greg says:

    Classic example of NIMBY! And of course the “I know a guy” argument based on way outdated experiences and more articles loaded with anecdotal info. How about the reduction of crime resulting from moving so many from active addiction? There is a lesson here. Good arguments weigh both sides, the pros and cons, they don’t just through out info they want to hear to the exclusion of anything else!

    • Dr. Alexander Szabo says:


      Sorry you feel that way. I am not saying that I am opposed to the clinic, just its location. As a past Clinical Director of a mental health clinic for substance abusers, I clearly understand the benefit of reducing active addiction.

      Vote for me on Election Day.

  5. Jeffrey Paczkowski says:

    I could list 20 different websites and articles which proclaim the pyramids were built by ancient aliens. Does that mean it’s true?

    • BirchCreek says:

      Jeffrey Paczkowski, you seem to miss the main point of the letter. The Dr. has extensive professional experience with this situation. What more do you want? Your statement about pyramids is senseless and appears to be a feelbe effort to distract from the solid content of the editorial letter.

  6. Jeffrey Godbois says:


  7. Kristy says:

    So where have you been Alex? This fight has been going on for months and you are just now saying exactly what the public wants to hear. Looks like a blatant political move to me. A day late a dollar short. Also if I remember correctly the city council held a special meeting to discuss this issue. Doesn’t look like anyone is hiding out, be it good or bad the council has been actively participating in the conversation.

    • RedondoRick says:

      Where have you been Kristy? The council kept the Recovery Clinic quite for months! Only now are they as you say,” actively participating in the conversation” . Only because they got their hands caught in the cookie jar. We’ve been lied to all along with this council. They’ve run this city into the ground. Their now looking for a short period loan, just to pay their employee’s. Wake up people, Des Moines is in dire financial needs. Raising taxes is their easy way out! How much longer are we going to stand for this? Insolvency is near!…Rr

    • Alexander Szabo says:

      Firstly, I am not a politician and never have been one. I wrote the article after I saw the lines of parents on both sides of 16th Ave protesting the Methadone Clinic and spoke to me of their fears of crime at the proposed location.I am not just saying what the parents want to hear but am speaking from a long history of professional mental health and substance abuse practice. I have not accused anyone of “hiding out” nor would I. I have carefully examined my own history in the issues and I have researched facts in Medicaid Clinics in other cities, which is the way to present any interpretation of the relevant issues.

      In university teaching or mental health and substance abuse administration, we always teach from factual books, research and journal articles, not opinions.

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