Anaheim mayoral candidate Ashleigh Aitken signed an online petition in December 2017 to support the operation of the OC Needle Exchange Program in Orange County, which distributes free hypodermic needles to drug addicts – giving a clean syringe for every dirty one, plus 20 more syringes. The petition was sponsored by the militant homeless advocate Mohammed Aly following Santa Ana’s decision to terminate the program over public health concerns such as used needles being discarded in public spaces such as parks and libraries. Aitken signed the petition six months after declaring her candidacy for Mayor of Anaheim.
She was joined by other progressive-Left activists such as Ahmad Zahra – who is running for Fullerton City Council in District 5 – and north OC left-wing-activist-at-large Mirvette Judeh.
Aly is the homeless advocate who tried to install porta-potties in the massive Santa Ana River Trail (SART) homeless encampment, opposed clearing the SART encampment, believes the homeless have a constitutional right to live on public property, and accuses those who support enforcement of anti-camping and anti-vagrancy laws of “hating the homeless.” He strongly supports Aitken’s candidacy.
Having been booted from Santa Ana, the OC Needle Exchange obtained state sanction to operate a mobile exchange program in Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange and Costa Mesa. They would still exchange needles on a one-for-one-plus-20 basis, capping each addict at 200 needles. They propose giving out 1 million needles a year, but admit at they’ll be unable to recover at least 250,000 used syringes – meaning they’ll be strewn about the above cities.
Progressives love plans and programs like needle exchanges that look work in a white paper but fail in the real world of human nature. Needle exchanges sound reasonable: give drug addicts clean needles to prevent the infections associated with sharing syringes and re-using hypodermic needles.
But needle exchange programs also enable drug addiction – they enable drug addicts to keep sticking hypodermic needles into themselves, albeit with a theoretically diminished chance of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C. They also feed the problem of used and discarded syringes posing a health hazard to the innocent.
San Francisco operates a generous needle exchange program – and now has 10 city employees who full-time occupation is to walk the streets of San Francisco picking up used hypodermic needles.
Nonetheless, progressive politicians and activists are undeterred. Ordinary folks, on the other hand, operating on the basis of common sense, strongly oppose needle exchange programs. They know these programs perpetuate drug use and create more problems than they might solve.
10 days ago, Anaheim Blog contacted the most high-profile Anaheim mayoral candidates seeking their position on the OC Needle Exchange operating in Anaheim. As we reported, we received responses from Harry Sidhu and Lorri Galloway, who stated they oppose allowing the OC Needle Exchange program to operate in Anaheim. Mayoral candidates Aitken and Cynthia Ward have not responded.
At a recent mayoral candidate forum, Aitken indicated her support for needle exchange programs but opposed the OC Needle Exchange program as currently structured – which would seem to contradict her earlier support for keeping the needle exchange program going in Santa Ana.
There is no substantive difference between either incarnation of the OC Needle Exchange program – both involve giving drug addicts 20 needles for every 1 dirty syringe. Both fail to recover large numbers of numbers of used syringes, which then turn up in parks, libraries and on sidewalks. The only real difference is supporting a needle exchange program is more obviously a political liability six weeks before the mayoral election than it was in December 2017.