Town meetings a success
Published 8:48 am Wednesday, February 20, 2002
I recently had the opportunity to return to south Alabama for a series of town meetings in all six counties of the First Congressional District.
I was very pleased at the tremendous turnout and want to thank everyone who came out to share their opinions and suggestions on the problems facing the nation today.
And, as is the case with all of the nearly 300 town meetings I've had since first entering Congress, the suggestions and comments you had were thoughtful, insightful and very helpful.
Many of you had numerous questions about the current war on terrorism being waged in Afghanistan, and about the direction the conflict will take in the future.
The comments and support I heard throughout the district in support of President Bush and his administration mirror quite closely the tremendous degree of support he has consistently received from individuals across the country. In my several meetings with the president since he first took office, I have always been proud to tell him that my district is very much behind him n and I will be glad to tell him when we next meet that this support is still strong.
I was visited by many members of the senior community who are still very concerned about the provision of a Medicare prescription drug plan. This is certainly still a priority in Washington, and the president in his recent State of the Union address listed this as one of his goals for the coming year.
The recent bankruptcy of Enron and the loss of billions of dollars in employee investment in company 401-K plans was also a hot topic, and many of you were concerned over potential new legislation that could affect the manner in which retirement and pension plans are administered.
In addition to these major topics, there were also a variety of other concerns brought to my meetings, including issues involving the Army Corps of Engineers, proposed increases in the budget for the Department of Defense, and the recent redistricting efforts underway in the state legislature.
I was very impressed with the scope of concerns you raised during these meetings, and again I am grateful for the hundreds who came out to visit with my staff and me. I will certainly be glad to keep all of your constructive comments in mind in the weeks and months ahead and hope you will not hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of any assistance to you.
New anti-drug plan released
Late last week, President Bush unveiled the administration's new plan for continuing the war on drugs in this country.
This plan, the National Drug Control Strategy, is centered on three main focus points: ensuring that drug use is prevented before it begins; providing assistance to those recovering from addiction; and disrupting the illegal drug market.
As many of you know, the war on drugs has been a priority of each president dating back to the early years of President Reagan's first term in office. During the ensuing twenty years, the increase in drug use by Americans has leveled off, but there is still a long way to go before it is eliminated.
Recently, the University of Michigan released the results of the Monitoring the Future Survey that provided some startling statistics on how far we still have to go. For example, one out of every two teenagers will have tried some form of illegal narcotic by the time they graduate from high school, and 26 percent of eighth graders surveyed responded that they have already tried drugs.
These are indeed frightening numbers. But the administration, as it does with every challenge, intends to take the battle to the front door of the producers and distributors and to provide help for the users.
The president's strategy establishes ambitious, but very realistic, goals for winning this war. The plan calls for
a reduction in the use of illegal drugs by 10 percent over the next two years, and 25 percent by 2007;
a $10 million increase in funding for the Drug-Free Communities Support Program and $5 million for a new Parents Drug Corps;
As with the war on terrorism, the drug war is one being fought against an unseen enemy. It will require a great deal of money, time and effort on the part of numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
I am confident, however, that it will ultimately be won through the hard work and prayers of the entire nation.
Until next week, take care and God bless.