DRUG DEAL AT THE CAPITOL
Under the guise of helping the mentally ill, Washington legislators may actually be preparing to pad the pockets of a couple of major national drug manufacturers. House Bill 1574, partially drafted by pharmaceutical companies Eli Lilly and Pfizer, proposes spending $2 million on anti-psychotic drugs for mentally ill homeless people, jail inmates, and working poor who don't qualify for Medicaid.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) and Rep. Gary Alexander (R-Olympia) -- who has received political contributions from Pfizer -- would set up a voluntary testing program for a new, and supposedly improved, generation of drugs, including Clozaril. The new drugs are due to replace anti-psychotics like Thorazine, which is said to cause severe side effects. Between 3,000 and 4,000 people would participate in the study.

Opponents of the program wonder how safe the new medications are, and point out that they'd be pushed on vulnerable people who are often not in a position to refuse. "Clozaril can cause seizures and agranulocytosis, a fatal blood disease," says Keith Hoeller, Director of the Center for the Study of Psychiatry Northwest. Hoeller's concerned that it would be hard to monitor homeless people for side effects. And he questions the push to administer drugs above other treatments.

"If the legislature is really so concerned," he says, "they ought to find jobs, welfare [money], and homes for them. But they want to drug them into a fog instead." He pauses, then adds, "And why should the state of Washington be a marketing agent for Eli Lilly?"--Trisha Ready


TEEN DANCE ORDINANCE ON THE ROPES?
You probably remember that last fall the Seattle City Council passed a resolution to set up a Music and Youth Task Force, meant to work on changing the much- hated Seattle Teen Dance Ordinance. But you probably had no idea that the task force was actually meeting. Well, it is.

It's an eclectic group comprised of promoters, club owners, music activists, and members of local government Most have strong opinions about the TDO. "This is archaic, ineffective legislation," laments Task Force member Kate Becker, who runs the Old Firehouse, a successful all-ages venue in Redmond. "It's embarrassing to live in a city that has such a restrictive law against young people."

The task force will cover a specific piece of the Teen Dance Ordinance each time it meets. At the most recent gathering, the focus was on age restrictions--liquor laws forbid anyone under 21 from attending a concert where booze is being served, and the TDO keeps all patrons under 15 or over 20 out of teen dances or shows. Task Force members put on their thinking caps and suggested some fixes, including setting up beer gardens at shows and implementing "over 21" wristbands.

The next meeting--at 6:30 pm on April 27, on the 11th floor of the Municipal Building (600 Fourth Avenue)--will deal with security in and around all-ages events.--Min Liao


COP KILLER TO FILE SUIT
When Sap Kray, the Cambodian immigrant who shot a police officer two years ago in Tacoma, was officially sentenced to life without parole for first-degree murder of a police officer, one door closed but another opened. Kray's sentencing means that he can go ahead with a federal suit alleging that the police violated his rights during the shoot-out. Kray's attorney, Tim Ford, says the city of Tacoma had requested a stay while the criminal suit was going on.

The shoot-out occurred after Kray, who does not speak English, blockaded himself inside his estranged wife's house and demanded to speak with her. He had threatened her earlier, and had an assault rifle. Police arrived on the scene in SWAT vans, and cut off Kray's phone line. When Kray came to the door, unarmed, to speak with a police officer, police fired two rubber bullets and went in to arrest him. Kray then grabbed his gun and fatally shot a police officer.

Kray's relatives claim he was trying unsuccessfully to call his brother to translate because he didn't know what was going on. They say he fired in self-defense because he thought he'd been shot, and was particularly panicked due to his experience fighting the Khmer Rouge. Ford says the police seized the house without a warrant, arrested Kray's family members without cause, and held Kray under guard in the hospital for a month without allowing him access to a lawyer.--Samantha M. Shapiro

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