Monday, May 2, 2016

Palm Beach Post: Sober Home Invasion

(Mod: What follows is my edit of an article from the Palm Beach Post in Florida. This was forwarded to me by a reader concerned about what may be going down on W. Carter. It goes into some detail about the pitfalls of the "Sober Home" invasion in Florida. There is little press on the topic locally from any of the usual California sources, though such things are now apparently well established here as well. You can view this article in its entirety by clicking here.)

Palm Beach Post: Sober Home Invasion
On Riviera Drive in Boynton Beach, frustrated homeowners joke that they live on "Rehab Drive" — because three of the 14 houses on the cul-de-sac are sober homes. But those homeowners aren't laughing; some walk around with pistols — protection, they say, after shouting matches with people in the sober homes.

In Palm Beach Gardens, some longtime homeowners in the Garden Woods neighborhood used to leave their garage doors open and front doors unlocked. Now, they're locked shut, they say, because a sober home opened weeks ago on Bayberry Street.

Less than a block from the ocean in Delray Beach, Ray Jones aims a security camera on his $1.7 million house directly across the street — at an upscale sober home full of wealthy drug addicts and alcoholics. "If anyone relapses," Jones said, "I want to know if they're coming on my property."

It's a delicate balance — the rights of homeowners to live without worry vs. the civil rights of addicts trying to get clean. Welcome to the suburban front line in the national heroin epidemic.

It's right outside the living room window in neighborhoods across Palm Beach County, where homeowners say they're living under siege from a clandestine invasion of sober homes — an incursion spawned by the gold rush of the lucrative addiction treatment industry.

From a gated development in Wellington to the oceanfront in Delray Beach, they say they're finding needles near their driveways, staying up nights because of lights and sirens and, in worst cases, watching the medical examiner wheel corpses from the house next door.

Some people won't walk down their streets at night or let their children ride bikes during the day. Others buy houses just to prevent them from being turned into sober homes.

Most are damn angry.

They say their local governments, handcuffed by federal law, aren't doing enough. So, they vent on social media, protest at neighborhood meetings and complain to anyone who will listen.

"It's frustrating," said Joe Onimus, who has complained about noise and traffic from sober homes in his Boynton Beach neighborhood. "It's how I have to live. The only way to stop them is to let them know I won't put up with them."

'Not all sober homes are the same'
Also known as halfway houses, "three-quarter houses" and recovery residences, sober homes are the final step in treatment for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. Living with others trying to kick addiction helps them transition into sober living.

Plenty of well-run sober homes, which closely supervise recovering addicts, blend into neighborhoods without attracting attention. But that doesn't always happen.

Horror stories about poorly supervised sober homes — including drug use, fatal overdoses and, in one case, accusations of addicts being prostituted — have clouded public perception of all sober homes.

"People are scared," said Lisa McWhorter, chief executive of Wayside House, an addiction treatment center for women in Delray Beach. "They hear about addicts and the bad things that are happening. But not all sober homes and recovery residences are the same."

Many homeowners overreact when they hear about a sober home moving in down the street because they don't understand recovery or the fact that addiction is a disease, say addiction treatment experts.

"You can't presume they're a bad neighbor," said Jeffrey Lynne, a Delray Beach attorney who represents sober homes and treatment centers. "It's a stigma because 'we don't want those people living next to us.' It's fear."

Homeowners probably already are living among drug addicts and alcoholics — neighbors who aren't in recovery — but don't know it, experts say.

"A well-run sober house could have the least drug use in the neighborhood," said Andrew Rothermel, president of Origins Behavioral HealthCare, a drug and alcohol treatment center.

While some recovering addicts don't blame homeowners for being afraid, they also say it's not fair to assume that people trying to get clean are a threat to the community.

"To think they would judge me is kind of sad," said Eva Derrickson, 26, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict from Philadelphia. "We are just regular people trying to get better."

'Why can't you do anything?'
No one knows exactly how many sober homes operate in Palm Beach County because they are unregulated. And since addiction is a disease protected under federal disability laws, the mere act of counting them could be viewed as discrimination.

Of the 199 sober homes across the state that voluntarily registered with the Florida Association of Recovery Residences, the vast majority — 118 — are in Palm Beach County, known for decades as the addiction treatment capital of America.

But the actual numbers are much higher because many sober homes don't register with FARR. For example, 15 are registered in Lake Worth, but city officials say the actual number could be as high as 75.

"I constantly hear the same thing: 'Sober homes are taking over the city. Why can't you do anything?'" said Lake Worth City Manager Michael Bornstein.

Palm Beach County is the U.S. mecca for the addiction treatment industry. Of 199 sober homes registered in Florida, 118 are here. "The simple answer is, we can't. It's out of our control. As long as they are in treatment, they are protected."

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects addicts in recovery. The federal Fair Housing Act bars housing discrimination against the disabled, essentially trumping local zoning laws that would bar businesses from neighborhoods.

And many municipalities are wary of cracking down after the city of Boca Raton years ago spent $1.3 million in a losing effort to ban sober homes.

But homeowners don't care. They just want their elected leaders to get rid of the sober homes, echoing the "not in my backyard" cry more commonly heard in opposition to strip clubs, landfills and gas stations.

"We are frightened," said Debbie Finnie, a board member of the North Shore Neighborhood Association in West Palm Beach."These people are dropped into neighborhoods where people have lived for 35 to 40 years. It has turned our neighborhood upside down."

No solution is easy because it's a delicate balance — the rights of homeowners to live without worry vs. the civil rights of addicts trying to get clean.

"I get an email or a phone call every day, from different people, or I am stopped on the street. And the conversation is difficult. People just don't understand. We as a city are handcuffed in every direction," said Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein.

Glickstein, whose city is ground zero for sober homes in Palm Beach County, with a count estimated at several hundred, said one gun shop owner told him sober homes are good for business.

"I don't know of any other disability that is pushing people who never owned a firearm to now own one because they are concerned about public safety in their single-family home," he said.

Meanwhile, some residents in the city's Osceola Park neighborhood are beyond exasperated.

"This is supposed to be zoned 'single-family residential,'" said Gary Wulf. "It should be zoned 'heroin outpatient."'

(Mod: I found the following website from Costa Mesa last night. Link to all of it here. 


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

73 comments:

  1. Quit your complaining. Esperanza got the 66 low incone state funded units, now your area gets the drug addicts. What a great trade. Just think, more people, more UUT taxes, copoca got to love it.

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    1. There are no more UUT taxes than if a family rented the house - in fact less, because it's a transient population, and they probably won't be filled to capacity all the time. It's a loss to the city financially, because the police will be up there more, the neighbors will lose their property values, so the tax base will decrease. It's not good financially.

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  2. Just another case of failure in our government. Very reminiscent of the war on poverty started by LBJ in the 60's that's resulted in trillions of dollars being spent and the poverty rates are virtually identical to what's they were decades ago. Pathetic. Throwing money at a problem rarely addresses the source issue. Now we have epidemic drug problems with the "solution" encroaching on upscale neighborhoods, because once again, the federal government is in a dark room looking for a light switch on the issue.

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    1. Yes medicare is so horrible,so are public retirement programs (social security) maybe you have a fat Calpers plan?

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    2. 6:45, the government has done the opposite of 'throwing money at a problem'. They've turned the rehab from a medical thing to a free market business.

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    3. You're absolutely right 6:45, throwing money at a problem never works.

      Take for example going to the moon. We did it using the same amount of money budgeted for rocketry and space in 1961. ... Wait, what's that you say? We couldn't possibly do it with the amount budgeted in 1961? You mean we had to throw billions of dollars at the "getting to the moon problem" to accomplish it?

      Well OK then, never mind.

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    4. That was just about weaponizing the planets and the solar system. Nothing to do with any direct benefit to humans on planet earth. Except for the secondary benefits to science and research that boosted the technology revolution, the medical discoveries and the satellite data observation of earth sciences and geology that allows us to watch ourselves go extinct.
      http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/

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    5. I hate to bring the news to you but let's face it: families who can afford to spend >6,000 USD for one person per month come probably from a considerably upper scale than upscale Sierra Madre, where the median household income is only 88K. There would be nothing left for the rest of the family.
      http://maps.latimes.com/neighborhoods/income/median/neighborhood/list/

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  3. If these homes are receiving money for the services they provide, then they are a business. All home businesses in Sierra Madre are subject to paying a business fee. I wonder if these businesses are paying their proper fees to the city.

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    1. I don't think Carter is zoned for rehab facilities. Hopefully the Planning Commission confirms that.

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    2. The city can only work within the state regulations, which allow for this "business" to happen.
      You can only stop this if you are prepared to fight Sacramento.

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    3. So, who besides Ken Goldman will have to recuse themselves from this conversation?

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    4. Since the commission is writing code and not a particular project, NO ONE needs to be excused.

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    5. The Planning Commission will be working on code for facilities that have 7 residents or more. They will not be working on code for the business at 22 West Carter.
      And 8:57, every place in Sierra Madre could be a drug business center, except if there is another center within 300 feet. That's the only limit.

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  4. People have to understand that this comes from the state and federal government, and Sober Living Facilities are happening all over the country. Given that constraint, what can we work on to make it better? The Planning Commission is talking about this Thursday. If you care, attend.

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  5. These facilities belong in a commercial zone and not a single family home zone. They are a business pure and simple.

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    1. Right 7:03, better to put them in warehouses, or maybe you'd prefer stores, with nice window displays for you to view what they're doing.

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    2. I thought rehabilitation centers were a medical endeavor, so I was wrong about that, and I also thought they were in dense parts of cities, close to restaurants, transportation, markets, public gathering places - to bring the addicts back into social contact - but I was wrong about that too.
      Maybe one of the reasons rehabilitation has such a poor record is because they put the centers in quiet neighborhoods where everyone around them hates the risks they bring with them.

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    3. 10:58, sort of an extreme reaction you had there.
      So what function do you fulfill at Sierra Madre's newest business?

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    4. None there, but I do recognize that many adults, including people who read this blog, partook of substances in high school or college that were not legal, but had the good fortune of not becoming addicted. I just think addicts should get another chance. And I also think the notion that they should only get that chance in low income neighborhoods, which is the strong subtext here, is small-minded and elitist.

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    5. So addiction comes down to luck.
      Have you ever been in Sierra Madre - do you really think having group homes be closer to the business center of town would be a punishing experience?
      Your generosity is great - but I doubt it would hold true if you lived next to 22 West Carter.

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    6. You really want to take issue with the colloquial use of the term "luck" 11:52? You must really need a hash mark in the win column.

      OK, let me clarify it for you: From an individual perspective, addiction would certainly seem to be a function nature (biology) and nature (environment). But from a population (macro) view, addiction certainly appears to be a matter of chance (colloquially "luck").

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    7. 12:06, what's your motivation in advocating for a "treatment" center in a single family home neighborhood?

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    8. I don't know what 12:06 is motivated by, but I would think that compassion could be a strong motivator. Individuals, who have seen a daughter or son or brother or sister or father or mother develop an addiction might not want them to be outcast. Individuals, who have their hearts in their right places and care about their neighbors whether they are healthy or sick. Doctors, who have treated patients and know how inadequate our healthcare system is for treating addiction, might also advocate for a somewhat normal environment rather than a literal 'leprosy center' on the outskirts of town.

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    9. Oops, wrong geography 12:42. You really are an out of towner....in Sierra Madre, the area more suited to a business like this one is smack dab in the middle of town. It's the single family homes that are in the outskirts.

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    10. 12:42 wants to turn this into an issue of good vs.evil. Guess who are the bad guys?

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    11. I have a lot of experience with addicted relatives, so actually the compassion for that segment of the population is somewhat tapped out....

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    12. 12:42 I found a way to not get addicted in high school. Didn't do drugs or alcohol. No luck involved.

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    13. Thank God that you are not a middle-class, middle-aged white woman who went to her doctor for her acute or chronic pain and got hooked up with prescription drugs. For various reasons, including but not limited to lower metabolic rates than their male counterparts, this is the most vulnerable group to become heroin drug addicts.
      "According to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, opioid painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet increase your susceptibility to heroin addiction, and the report found that the vast majority — 75 percent — of heroin users started out on prescription painkillers."

      http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/09/10/heroin-addiction.aspx

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    14. I don't think middle aged middle class women addicted to painkillers is the concern here. Though the idea that physician prescribed painkillers are gateway drugs to heroin addiction is an interesting one.

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    15. This is not an interesting "idea". It is a well-established fact, which is specifically associated with the overprescription of Oxycodone by some trusted physicians:

      http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1874575

      Ironically, Oxycodone (OxiContin) was initially marketed as being non-addictive, just as heroin was when it was initially introduced (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin.)

      There have been indictments against the company because of false advertising. Three executives plead guilty to avoid jail time:

      https://www.elementsbehavioralhealth.com/drug-abuse-addiction/makers-of-oxycontin-concealed-its-addictive-nature/

      As a result they brought out a newly formulated, "abuse-proof" version of the same drug, that has pushed many into heroin use, after they have been 'safely' using this prescription drug for many years.

      http://healthland.time.com/2012/07/12/new-abuse-proof-oxycontin-formula-pushed-addicts-to-heroin-and-other-opioids-survey-finds/

      This may be new to you, but it has the attention of the US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Tomorrow, he talks on this subject: https://www.washingtonpost.com/pr/wp/2016/05/02/the-washington-post-to-explore-nations-opioid-crisis-during-event-featuring-u-s-surgeon-general-vivek-murthy/

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    16. This is a facility for middle aged white women?
      Isn't that a racist policy?

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  6. Can you say Agenda 21?

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  7. The biggest advantage the Dedicato Treatment Center gets from opening up on Carter is that they'll get to charge a lot more money. It is quite the location for a rehab.

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    1. I agree the location looks pretty good, but do the "doctors" really inspire that much confidence?

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    2. Why would anyone who has that much money or insurance that covers such an extravagant price tag go to a facility run by someone who got their degree online?

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    3. I'm a Doctor of Love. Where do I apply?

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  8. You have no control over who lives next door to you, never did, never will, never should.

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    1. Let me know where you live, 8:00. There's a crack house looking for space and next door to you sounds good.

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    2. 8:00 am you are partially correct unto "never should" because the state government should not be in the business of mandating that rehab facilities have the "right" to be in residential areas

      by your logic, a pedophile recovery center has every right to be next to my grandchildren's home



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    3. 8:00 is one of those guys who believes that homeowners have no rights, and developers & rehab hustlers should be allowed to do anything they want.

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    4. 8:00, please submit your address to the state as a candidate for anything the state may want to do all around your property. It needs such selfless volunteers.

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  9. This is a perfect example. Carter and Esperanza. Is you do not live next to these business it does not effect you. By the way, Esperanza is a low cost living facility and pays no city business license. Cheers

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  10. I don't live right next to the house, but within a short run by a fleeing rehabber....what are the city's recommendations for dealing with this?

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    1. It's very kind of you to think the city will do anything at all.

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    2. They have doing nothing down to a science.

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    3. The people on Carter have the right to ask for increased police patrols.

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    4. You mean Sheriff's patrols if its 6 PM to 6 AM

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  11. This "fair housing" tripe is just a ruse to dump tremendous numbers of people into residential areas where they're not a legal "problem" that requires funding. It's US public policy because the "war on drugs" has not only failed, but has created a massive underclass of people who are forced into substandard living arrangements funded with tax dollars and our so-called health industry because of involvement with proclaimed illegal substances. No government at any level can afford to "treat" all of these people who would otherwise be living their own lives if it weren't for the drug labels created by US policy. Therefore the impact of these policies gets officially dumped into the housing sector least able to protect itself, single-family residential.

    The eventual result of these policies will be to decimate communities that are largely residential because there won't be kids attending the local schools - the "homes" are full of rehab patients - there won't be local residents who are active in the community and the schools, there won't be community volunteers or residents active on the local commissions. Except for those who get something in return from their influence on these bodies.

    Being a resident and owning private property will become pointless as these institutional and political forces undermine community cohesion and self-determination. Once that happens the community will cease to exist as something that makes decisions that benefits its residents; it all goes to patronage, and it basically turns into the City of Bell, or the City of Industry.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Bell_scandal

    Which is tragic because that's the basis of law in our constitutional republic, the representation of local people invested in the common good. That's individual property owners who participate in their local institutions and have families that are part of the community. When it's all foreign investors and mini-institutions, they erode the community fabric until it collapses. We're near the tipping point now. We may simply go the way of Mexico or China where there's no actual rule of law because the government doesn't represent the residents, just the corporations, institutions and gangs. It's regression to primitive governance; all payola. No people.

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  12. It seems as though the "creative class" (or "upscale class" if you will) is indeed consuming more drugs than the lower classes are.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2009/08/drug-use-and-class/23027/

    What shall we do with them? Treat them or dump them?

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    1. That's why US policy is blatantly racist, and that's what's coming out of the dialogue for this election. The impact of drug policy is disproportionately on the black, hispanic and poorer people in our communities, and so we see the outmigration that results, as well as the big economic disparity that results from it.

      http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0501-renn-reverse-great-migration-20160501-story.html

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    2. Why do people take drugs? Does racism make them do it?

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    3. 11:00, "What should 'we'do with them?

      What do you mean "we"? Personal responsibility and all that.

      That's the same logic that 'we' are responsible for the people who are here illegally. Or that "we' are responsible for the student loan "crisis".

      I wasn't there when:
      1. The addict took the drugs

      2. The person crossed over the border illegally

      3. The student signed to pay back $40,000 of student loans.

      Not so secret answer: 'We' don't have to 'do' anything. It's up to them and/or their families.

      PS: Regarding addiction, everyone has health insurance now, remember the Affordable Care Act? It's the law of the land.

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  13. Does anyone know what a place like Dedicato legally requires? Does the doctor have to be licensed from a med school, or is there a state evaluation process for safety, or what? It sounds like they can set up shop wherever & however they like with no supervision.

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    1. They have to have a bank account.

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    2. Maybe not. They'll take cash.

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  14. If rehab centers worked, this conversation could be different. But they are failing. They tend to have a 30% success rate.

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  15. Since their website says they treat mental illness, what categories exactly are they including?

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    1. Civility Party Recovery

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    2. Calling 911 and increasing Sierra Madre City costs

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  16. People have got to understand that they are obligated to sacrifice themselves for addicts.

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  17. Maybe a little bit more education about addiction science would help this discussion here:

    https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science

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    1. Yes, because the reason people would oppose their neighborhoods supporting addiction treatment centers is that they are uninformed.

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    2. According to the troll with us today, if you don't like this new "neighbor", you are unformed, small-minded, and hard-hearted. (But they'll be happy to move here anyway)

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    3. You forgot one major component 1:30: Always fearful.

      Maybe a carry permit will make you brave enough to stroll, er, swagger, through Kersting Court.

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    4. Slick, 1:57! And entertaining. Demonizing the non-addicted.

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    5. 1:57 is a hoot. Always with the rightwing references, too. Maybe he's George Lincoln Rockwell.

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    6. 1:57, welcome to Kalifornia, where the Second Amendment doesn't apply. Only state of 50.

      I believe you're confusing swagger with "walking without fear of scumbags.

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  18. Does anybody have the financial information? How much does this place cost?

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    1. Who cares? Insurance pays for it -- and there lies the way these places make money.

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    2. Funny that a pretty ruthless money-making machine presents itself as motivated by compassion.

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