Monday, December 10, 2007

Lost Posts: Cows, Colleges, And A Buncha Kids On Smack

By Michael Haas

Editors Note: Deep from the AH! vaults comes this unfinished gem from July 2007. We thought we'd drag it out as is today, because the saga (at least media wise) seems to be over. Gary Smith announced his resignation from his post of Northfield Police Chief last week. Here's what Haas wrote when the firestorm has just started.

The cute small college town of Northfield has been up in flames over allegations that every single one of its residents abuses heroin. The whole thing started on July 3rd, when Northfield Police Chief Gary Smith called all the media from the Twin Cities to tell them that he has a juicy nugget and he's holding a press conference. At the press conference, Smith claimed that every single resident in the town of 17,000 is on heroin. He went on to declare that the Guns n’ Roses song, 'Mr. Brownstone' would now be the official high school fight song as well as the official tune of Northfield

I used to do a little but a little wouldn't do it so the little got more and more...

Well he didn't actually say anything about the Gn'R song (except a plea to Slash and Axl to reconcile their differences and throw away Chinese Democracy) and he didn't say that all Northfielders are abusing the drug. but what he did say was almost as surprising. He claims that numbers numbers numbers. the story blew up and just wont go away. it was even on the front page of the Strib on July 4th. The small town just can't get heroin off it's mind. But I believe that this is a story not because of the drugs, but because of egotistical Minnesotans not sharing our positive stereotypical Minnesota values.

- Me-first attitudes and career minded stuff.

- Abuse of the press - In the media, when reporting on an accident or murder, it is traditional to not 'release the name of the victim(s) until family has been notified' The 5 o'clock news or the morning paper is hardly the place one wants to find out about a loved one being killed. The same is true for many citizens and leaders of a town crisis. Subscribers to the Star Tribune in Moorhead and Duluth heard about the heroin problem in Northfield the same day as most Northfieldans. People who genuinely care about and work toward a better community were shocked to hear of this problem…

- Lack of collaboration between people and organizations- Perhaps I am biased here since I work with people in rice county who are involved in both short and long term drug prevention, but i think that if Smith had checked with the school superintendent, the hospital and the organizations around town that deal with youth, he would have been able to paint a more fair picture of the overall drug situation. It's just a police perspective, so its obviously going to be horse shit. And he wouldn’t have been torched by those same people after he broke the news.

- Government infighting, speaking through lawyers - Among those other reasons that smith decided to call a press conference, is that I think he and the media both believe that this is a story because it's drug use in a town that people would never expect.


TwinsWin83 said...

I always thought this was a good article and Im glad it has finaly been posted. I have a lot to say on this matter, particularly as a person who came into Northfield as an "outsider" in 1999 and has been gone for the past 4-5 years, but instead of going off on a tangent I will wait and see what some of the other responses are before laying down the proverbial "hammer."

All I will say is that this conversation never even would have happened had these events taken place anywhere in suburbia other than Northfield. The picturesque image of a quiet, peaceful utopian college town being invaded by drugs is what made this a newsworthry story in the first place. The numbers were blown out of hand in the first place but the fact that this was taking place in Northfield was what made it a story. Drugs are a problem everywhere in the Twin Cities but you never hear about it like you should.

soup said...

everyone is on drugs. we all have AIDS. we are all shooting our classmates. we are killing polar bears. the sky is falling.