Pubdate: Tue, 12 Sep 2000
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2000, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Jeff Tuttle


BANGOR  The City Council's Committee on Opiate Addiction at tonight's
meeting will discuss the status of a proposed referendum on a controversial
methadone clinic planned for the city.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers.

City Councilor Nichi Farnham, chairwoman of the committee, said tonight's
discussion of the referendum was designed to be informational for Acadia
Hospital officials.

"We want them to know what the council is doing," Farnham said. "We're just
running it by the committee and looking for some feedback."

The citywide vote, if approved by the council at its Wednesday meeting,
would appear on the Nov. 7 ballot. The referendum would be non-binding
because the state has the sole power to locate a methadone clinic in a

On Monday, the fate of the referendum was unclear as the city's legal
department considered several versions of the order that could go before the
council Wednesday. As of Monday, a council vote on whether to allow a
simple, up-or-down vote on the clinic was considered close.

The special committee, comprising three members each from the City Council
and Acadia Hospital, was formed after the hospital, at the request of the
state Office of Substance Abuse, applied to operate a methadone clinic in
the city.

A group of residents suggested the vote as a means of gauging public opinion
on the clinic, the prospect of which has divided the community in recent

Methadone is a synthetic narcotic used to treat heroin and opiate addiction.

State and hospital officials have questioned both the timing and
appropriateness of a public referendum on what addiction experts consider a
clinical  not political  issue.

The special committee is scheduled to issue its findings in December, a
month after the proposed referendum.

Also on the agenda at tonight's meeting are interim reports on law
enforcement from Bangor Police Chief Donald Winslow and education and
prevention from Lynn Madden, vice president of administrative services at
Acadia Hospital.
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