Talk is cheap, councilwoman

Our advice to Kasey Reynolds based a recent missive she posted online

“Trust the experts.”

“Trust the experts.”

That’s our advice of the week, and it goes out to Chico City Councilwoman Kasey Reynolds.

At issue is Reynolds’ criticism of the Northern Valley Harm Reduction Coalition (NVHRC), the local group helping opioid addicts who’ve fallen through the cracks. We’re not talking about the soccer moms who got hooked on Vicodin—after, say, a surgery—but have health insurance to pay for expensive treatment. We’re talking about poor folks who in many cases live on the streets and have little to no support to pull themselves out of the depths of dependence.

NVHRC volunteers have been helping these people via state-approved giveaways of Narcan—a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose—and a new program in which injection-drug users are given clean syringes. Like this newspaper, they believe that all humans—irrespective of social status—deserve the opportunity to change their lives.

Reynolds maintains the group’s syringe access program is “enabling.” That’s part of the missive she posted as a public official on social media, along with a photo of the pop-up tent NVHRC uses during its weekly outreach at a local greenway (see Healthlines, page 12).

In an interview with the CN&R, the freshman councilwoman said she’d like to see people get treatment. “Let’s deal with the root of the problem,” she said, positing that addicts have issues stemming from childhood trauma.

We agree with Reynolds on the importance of addressing core needs, but talk is cheap. Frankly, what she posted online is ignorant and divisive.

For one thing, NVHRC is working to accomplish the very things Reynolds says are needed. Reaching out to and earning the trust of addicts is a proven way to get them connected with resources to battle dependency. That was just one of the takeaways from the Butte County Public Health representatives, including the county’s public health officer, a medical doctor, who last month at the City Council’s regular meeting gave a presentation on the merits of such programs. Among other things, they cited data showing syringe programs do not increase drug use or crime. They unequivocally recommended one for our community.

Reynolds was there—presumably listening, although it certainly doesn’t appear that way. So, what exactly is she accomplishing by spewing misinformation? Playing to her base, it seems, and riling up those who didn’t hear from the experts. What a disappointment.