Earlier in the week the federal government announced grants for community programs to combat the increased use of heroin. As reported by WTRF and a number of other West Virginia media outlets:
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) granted additional funding for West Virginia’s designated High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas to address recent surges in heroin trafficking and overdoses in the Mountain State.
A total of $2.5 million will fund the Heroin Response Strategy, a partnership among five regional HIDTA programs — Appalachia, New England, Philadelphia/Camden, New York/New Jersey, and Washington/Baltimore — to address the growing heroin problem through public health-public safety partnerships. The Appalachia HIDTA, which serves communities in West Virginia, will also receive an additional $400,000 for a range of drug use prevention initiatives.
Notably absent from the list of media that covered the announcement are the Intelligencer and News-Register. Why wasn't this covered in the news section or applauded on the editorial page? If I had to guess it would be because the money came from the White House Office of National Drug Policy. (Despite the use of the words "White House," I doubt that the president personally had anything to do with this. Who receives grant money is determined by the ONDCP's designation of HIDTA counties.) Still, can you recall either paper editorially praising anything in the last six year that came from Obama's "White House?" Suggesting that West Virginians might benefit from a federal program in the Obama administration, even if the president had nothing to do with it, simply goes against the newspapers' world view and consequently, it will not be covered. On the other hand, if we can find a way to blame the White House -- that's a different matter.
This morning's editorial, "Battling Drugs With Little Help," does just that. The editorial describes the drug problems of Steubenville and then wonders why it can't get any help from Washington:
But Washington seems to have little interest in the local city. Just this week, the federal government awarded $265,000 in grants to fight drug abuse in Ohio. It will go to 13 counties, none of them in our area.
Why? Because the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is sending money only to places labeled as "Ohio high-intensity drug trafficking areas."
Nice job. If you limit that first paragraph to just Ohio, the statement is factually correct. If you include West Virginia, however, there are a number of nearby counties in the Steubenville area. Among counties that will receive ONDCP grants are Brooke, Hancock, Ohio and Marshall. (I guess drug traffickers don't cross rivers.) And the second paragraph suggests that it is the White House Office that is responsible for who gets the federal anti-drug money. No, if you check the ONDPC website, it's a bureaucrat with input from various sources including Ohio Governor Kasich. From a ONDCP website:
HIDTAs are designated by the Director of ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy), in consultation with the Attorney General,
Secretary of Treasury, heads of drug-control agencies, and respective governors.
Maybe the Intelligencer ought to complain to governor Kasich.
Just a thought: a fairer editorial might have praised the ONDCP for funding local WV efforts to deal with the heroin problem and then argued that ONDCP ought to review its criteria for grants because Jefferson County ought to have been included. This is an Intelligencer editorial, however.