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Opening Arguments

Needle park

Who could have guessed that this wouldn't work out?

They tell us he was steaming, but San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom shouldn't have been too surprised when The Chronicle reported that Golden Gate Park was littered with used drug syringes.

After all, his own Public Health Department spent $800,000 last year to help hand out some 2 million syringes to drug users under the city's needle exchange program -- sometimes 20 at a time.

Although Health Department officials say 2 million needles were returned, the fact is they don't count them and can only estimate how many are coming back.

And from the looks of things, a lot of them aren't.

Mary Howe, director of the Homeless Youth Alliance, which operates a needle exchange program near the park with the help of city money, said her group gets back only about 70 percent of the needles it distributes.

"People lose them or the police take them,'' Howe said.

And it's not just the city handing out needles.

Under legislation passed in 2005 by the same Board of Supervisors whose members now decry the needle problem, anyone over 18 can walk into a Walgreens or Rite Aid and buy as many as 10 needles -- no questions asked.

One idea to fix the problem discussed in the story is to put biohazard boxes in the park where people can just drop their needles. But a parks spoksman said -- no kidding -- "some people think that sends the wrong message."


Bob G.
Wed, 08/01/2007 - 9:10am

Only in Frisco.....