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8.31.07
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NOW Transcript - Show 335
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Transcript - 8.31.07

BRANCACCIO: Welcome to NOW, this week from the banks of the Yellowstone River.

It's the kind of scene that comes to mind when you think "Montana." But there's another reality here and it's not pretty. Montana has a devastating problem with methamphetamine abuse. Just a couple of statistics: the illegal drug is behind 50 percent of the prison population here and about half the kids in foster care.

Until recently, public officials didn't talk much about meth—which can be concocted in garages, basements, and kitchens—and few Montanans were even aware of the problem.

All that changed when a billionaire named tom Seibel - he calls himself a venture philanthropist - threw both his money and his marketing prowess behind a campaign to drag meth abuse out of the shadows and up into the faces of the kids of Montana. His graphic ads have also caught the eye of politicians and the public. The ads, along with some new state programs like special meth treatment prisons is putting Montana on the national map when it comes to fighting meth. William Campbell produced our report.

Methamphetamine. Crank. Ice. Some even call it the devil's drug. It costs a lot less than cocaine. And as addictive as cocaine can be, meth is much worse. Its distribution has evolved from motorcycle gangs and makeshift home labs, to Mexican drug cartels that use the interstate highways to courier the drug into rural America. States like Montana have been dealing with the effects of meth for more than a decade.

Mike McGrath is the attorney general of Montana.

MCGRATH: I've been involved in law enforcement for 35 years. I've never seen anything like meth. It's—it's highly addictive.

CLEM: They can't believe that you know, someone like me would use that but everybody I knew and everybody I was associated with for a long time you know were just like myself.

BRANCACCIO: Carren Clem's father retired from the Los Angeles police department and moved his family to Montana to get away from gangs and drugs. Twenty years later, he found himself writing a book with Carren about her meth addiction and their rocky road to recovery.

CLEM: I resorted to selling myself because I needed my drug.

First time I used we used great amounts. And I started using it every couple of days and then it went to every single day, I had to have it every single day, and then every single day wasn't enough. I needed to use it five, six, seven times a day.

SIEBEL: If you look at the issues associated with methamphetamine in the state of Montana, it was an enormously critical social problem. Affecting, you know, lots of people's lives and families and communities. The human costs were staggering.

BRANCACCIO: Tom Siebel was born and raised in suburban Chicago, but he's lived part-time in Montana for more than thirty years. He pioneered software to carefully track customers, so big companies know who they're dealing with when a customer calls. In 2005, he sold Seibel systems to the software giant oracle for 5 point 8 billion dollars.

SIEBEL: I happen to be unusually fortunate in that I have the resources and maybe some talent and experience in marketing. And I thought I might be able to apply those resources and those talents to make a difference.

Video begins-girl prepares to shoot meth

BRANCACCIO: He'd already produced a documentary for cable TV's HBO that takes a long, hard look at meth in Montana.

If you're squeamish, be warned: ugly images, like this one where a young woman shoots meth into her jugular vein, were meant to strip away the stupid but pervasive idea that meth could be used casually, like other drugs.

Girl: I was a perfectly fine person. Skipped ahead in school and join the military. I did everything right. First day I was back in Montana from the military, first person I met offer me it. And that's when I started.......it's a head rush I can't even describe.

BRANCACCIO: Seibel's growing conviction that kids wouldn't try meth even once if they knew the dangers, led him to invest 20 million dollars of his own foundation money to kick off the Montana Meth Project.

SIEBEL: We made the association to the work that the American Cancer Society did over the last three decades as it related to cigarette smoking.

BRANCACCIO: And then you looked at this notion of kind of a public health campaign, raising people's consciousness, perhaps another way forward would have been to share that idea with government, with cops, with the—court system, and sort of push them to do this. You weren't satisfied with that. You wanted to—to—to be more directly involved in the—in the solution.

SIEBEL: Montana was gonna be our test bed. Montana has a situation that was representative of the methamphetamine problem in many states, although it was more critical. Montana has slightly less than a million people.

So looking at a marketing problem, this is a place where you could afford to test the idea. Beginning in September of 2005, we sustained a messaging campaign as the largest advertiser in the state of Montana.

BRANCACCIO: Kids get so bombarded with ads that they often seem immune to them, but the anti-meth message is impossible to ignore. It's in your face on roadside billboards and student art projects across Montana.

Montana Meth commercial.

GIRL: Yah, my parents think I'm sleeping at your house. Yah, I'm just jumping in the shower. Ok, bye.

BRANCACCIO: A series of paid ads on local TV stations has shocked both kids and adults.

Girl: Don't do it. Don't do it.

McGrath: This is a program that couldn't have been done by government, it couldn't have been done by committee. Number one these ads are very, very edgy, they really get your attention. I can't imagine a school board or a legislative committee that would have put together an ad campaign like this.

COOK: I've seen the girl in the corner of the showers with skin all picked apart.

BRANCACCIO: The ad campaign seems real enough to Montana singer songwriter tom cook, a recovering meth addict.

COOK: It was appealing at first. The problem is that it quickly changes course on ya. You start chasing your tail in a circle.

Sun comes out and begins to sign and reminds me, I'm living on borrowed time.

You don't sleep so you are constantly in need of supply. It got to the point where I would do whatever it took to get more meth. Including stealing from my parents. Stealing from my employers.

BRANCACCIO: Crime connected to meth, strains the resources of small cities like Livingston, 50 miles north of Yellowstone Park.

Darren Raney is a native and now Livingston's police chief.

Raney: people addicted to methamphetamines are often times either unable to work or aren't willing to work. They need to support their habit financially somehow and it quite often leads to often leads to criminal behavior. Theft, forgery, fraud schemes, and selling meth as well as other drugs to support their own habit.

Linneweber: Would that mean because the effect that methamphetamine has on the individual as well as the community.

BRANCACCIO: Brett Linneweber also grew up in Livingston. After law school he returned home to serve as park county attorney. An astonishing number of his child welfare cases involve meth and at least 20 per cent of the crimes he prosecutes are meth related. Today he's present at the sentencing of a former high school class mate for selling the drug in Livingston.

Linneweber: That drug itself, methamphetamine is a poison and he clearly he needs treatment and the community needs protection.

Brancaccio: You're a prosecutor. Presumably you have seen it all. Yet when you talk about methamphetamine use, I can see it in your face. You, yourself are horrified.

Linneweber: You can see the physical changes when they are using it. It is not very hard. You can see the open sores. The tweaking behavior. Were they have uncontrollable body movements. The paranoia.

BRANCACCIO: You can see what Linneweber means in these before and after mugs shots of repeat offenders from the Multnomah county sheriff's department in Oregon, a state with a similar problem.

The target of the Montana Meth Project is very focused —twelve to 17-year-old kids who have never tried the drug. The project takes the anti-meth campaign into Montana schools to start discussions and get feedback for future ads.

Siebel: We did a lot of research on this on this in terms of what young people were willing to listen to. And we learned that you have to be credible, you cannot talk down to them.

If you look at them close they are gripping, they are very MTV like, I mean they are a little outrageous.

Student 1: I really don't, like, know the person very well but I know who they are. And I think it is disgusting what they are doing. Pretty much the same as what they are showing on the TV.

Student 2: The entire thing affecting the entire family and it's true which is a good thing to show people.

McGrath: There are a lot of good things happening in Montana now to address the problems related to meth. We've had a couple of very good legislative sessions, where the legislature has made commitments to do some things in terms of treatment, drug courts—secure treatment facilities, programs for mothers with young children, things like that. None of that would have happened but for the high awareness levels, because of the meth campaign.

BRANCACCIO: Seibel is more than a money man, he's a hands-on guy who works the halls of Montana's legislature, to focus attention on the meth problem. One result has been more support for special meth prisons, like this one that opened in the spring.

RUPPERT: Because we are a separate facility we can focus exclusively on treatment and don't have to worry about the prison culture.

BRANCACCIO: Meth is much harder to kick than cocaine or alcohol, and it requires more time to change bad habits.

RUPPERT: Meth is difficult, because—chronic users—suffer brain damage. And it takes a long time for the brain to repair. And once it's repaired, then the treatment is no different than it is for anybody else. But you need—usually, nine to—nine to 12 months worth of treatment for—for chronic meth users. Just—to be able to deal with the repair of the brain.

BRANCACCIO: Treatment in traditional prisons rarely works—something this prisoner learned the hard way.

PRISONER: Even though I was locked up for three and half years I was still pretty deep into my addiction. We I first got my parole and I only lasted like a month of two on the streets and then I was locked back up

This is my chance. This is—this, right here and right now is the only—I have to give it my all, so that I can stay sober. I have to.

BRANCACCIO: The meth project has spawned community outreach programs like this anti-meth trail ride on the crow Indian reservation.

CROW ELDER: You are here to show them that meth is a bad thing.

FLORES: The people that lead our tribe and our nation are showing their support in this fight against meth and they are uniting with our youth.

SIEBEL: The results of the campaign are substantial .....80 per cent of kids believe in their heart of hearts, that first time methamphetamines use causes brain damage.

And even more importantly it's becoming very uncool to be around meth.

BRANCACCIO: While it may be too soon to tell for sure, Montana officials think the meth project is also contributing to a real drop in meth use in the state.

In a report issued in early 2007, the attorney general's office found that workers testing positive for meth fell nearly 70 per cent between 2005 and 2006. That's almost twice the trend in neighboring states, and five times the national average. And crimes committed under the influence of meth, dropped by 36 per cent.

McGraft: For somebody that has been trying to deal with issue for as long as I have it is absolutely stunning where we have come and where we are today.

BRANCACCIO: The larger challenge for Siebel was to develop a project that could sustain itself in the long term and be replicated in other states. But to expand, states would need some federal funding.

Siebel: In the course of the past few years I think we have briefed over 80 United States senators on the Meth Project. We've briefed many members of the house. We've briefed many people in the white house.

BRANCACCIO: After two years of full funding, Siebel turned the Montana Meth Project into a public non-profit with some financial help from his foundation to help spur private and corporate support.

SIEBEL: So we are announcing an award of a challenge grant to the Montana Meth Project in the amount of 5 million dollars.

BRANCACCIO: It was important to you that the meth project be just not about Montana?

SIEBEL: We wanted to develop this in a way that it could be replicable to any other state. We've already founded the—Arizona Meth Project which is up and running full speed. This fall we'll be—launching the—the Idaho Meth Project. We're involved in the Illinois Meth Project. Later this year we'll be—kicking off the—the California Meth Project and the New York Meth Project. And so we've gone from being in the product development business to now going in the franchising business, if you will.

BRANCACCIO: Cause the thing with franchising is someone's developed a model. And if it's proven to work, you can set it up fairly quickly in a different place.

SIEBEL: Yeah. So we provide all of our research technology, all of the messaging that we've developed—to the organizations that are being formed in these other states.

BRANCACCIO: Montana's congressional delegation introduced a bill to guarantee that meth gets 10 percent of the white house drug czars 100 million dollar advertising budget. As a result, this September the Montana meth project ad, along with media from the partnership for a drug-free America, will roll out in 9 states.

SIEBEL: The federal government is now—channeling—resources and funding into methamphetamine prevention work. So, that might be the most significant thing that would've done, is we've changed national policy. We've changed it in a pretty big way.

BRANCACCIO: For more on the Montana Meth project and efforts to combat the drug in other states, go to our website, Pbs.org is the jumping off place for that.

Now, before we go, let's take a moment to look at this: Citifresh is a successful startup business in the heart of Boston's inner city. But this enterprising idea is facing some major growing pains. Maria Hinojosa has our story.

HINOJOSA: This is camp Harborview in Boston, a place where inner city kids can come to experience some fun and sun

They also get three healthy meals a day made and delivered by a catering company called Cityfresh.

CAMPER: I like the rice and the chicken, and all the things we're getting.

HINOJOSA: In little more than a decade, Cityfresh has proven it can make good food...
The struggle has been turning an inner city start-up into a successful business.

Every weekday, Cityfresh opens its doors before dawn in the Dorchester area of Boston.

DILLON: I'm the gatekeeper - 4, sometimes 4:30

HINOJOSA: They specialize in ethnic cuisine, delivered hot, not frozen.

LLOYD: What's up Tobes. This is Russian for tomorrow?

HINOJOSA: Glynn Lloyd is the CEO of Cityfresh, which caters to charter schools, day care centers and the elderly.

LLOYD: So we are preparing the food every day, packaging it and delivering it.

HINOJOSA: Lloyd employs 65 people...nearly of all whom live in the neighborhood .... Every day they make an average of 4000 meals

WORKER: It's a chaotic atmosphere, but it's controlled chaos, know what I mean.

HINOJOSA: Finding economic opportunity in this run down area of Boston required some creative thinking

Lloyd was working as a teacher helping neighborhood kids finish high school when he got the idea for Cityfresh

LLOYD: I said, "You know what? We need to create our own opportunity here in the community for employment and—and—and wealth creation."

HINOJOSA: So in 1994 Lloyd decided to create a company with a double bottom line - one that could provide a neighborhood service and make some money. With his own funds and a grant, he started his business in a tiny kitchen in nearby Roxbury.

In the beginning the company catered meals to neighborhood businesses using local vendors and local produce...then Glynn got a call from central Boston elder services - the local provider for meals on wheels

LLOYD: And—you know, they were—at the time, it was a kind of a plain Jane mashed potato and meat type of menu going out to these elder folks. And we came in there with roast con pollo, plantains, and—blew—blew them away. And—you know, elders talk to each other, too. And they said, "Oh, wow, how can we get more of this?"

HINOJOSA: Cityfresh not only serves a multicultural community, it also hires from one.

LLOYD: You know, we have a lot of—Cape Verdian population here, Latin Dominican, Puerto Rican.

HINOJOSA: Lloyd has made it his mission to give opportunities to people who don't get many promising employees are encouraged to climb the ladder

Like Dillon, who's been with the company for 11 years. He started as a dishwasher and worked his way up to kitchen manager

LLOYD: You know, Dylan, we—we're pushin' him, you know, get him on the computer understanding how, you know, tha—that side of the equation, and also on the management side.

HINOJOSA: Lloyd offers his employees decent salaries, health care ...even profit sharing...but it's been a struggle to afford these benefits. To keep Cityfresh successful he has to manage cash flow down to the penny.

Three years into the business Lloyd found that getting credit was nearly impossible. He wanted to expand but banks refused to give him a loan
LLOYD: I set out to find some money. And let me tell you something. I talked to a lotta people, a lotta banks. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.

HINOJOSA: After knocking on many doors Lloyd found Boston community venture fund. Elyse Cherry is president.

CHERRY: I think they had an annual revenue rate of about $300,000 at that point. And they had lost money in each of the prior three years. And—we're not a charitable organization.

HINOJOSA: Cherry wants to support community businesses like Cityfresh...but they do have to make a profit. Cherry worked with Lloyd to restructure the company. Lloyd had to make some tough decisions, like using less local produce these days

Then in 2006, Cityfresh took on a new partner - a big one. Unidine manages institutional food service throughout the east coast. With a deal sealed late last year, Cityfresh jumped to a $5 million dollar business.

LLOYD: And we've retained 51 percent. So, we still run this company. We control this company.

HINOJOSA: Now Cityfresh will continue delivering hot meals from their home base but also set up shop in hospitals, businesses and schools across the region.

Their first big commission together? Camp Harborview.

But with success comes a new challenge. As Cityfresh grows rapidly, they're being forced to look outside the neighborhood to fill some higher management positions.

LLOYD: We're almost a $5 million company now. And to—to—to have the ability to—to manage a section of that company, you have to have certain skill levels and certain—unfortunately, certain educational levels to be able to do certain things And—and that's sometimes where we have some—some tension.

HINOJOSA: Finding the balance between sustainability and social commitment has been a hard lesson to learn

CHERRY: At the end of the day, if you don't have a successful business, then you don't really have anything. And so, the idea of a social return isn't available. If—if there isn't enough cash to pay for—workers, for example, they don't get a salary. So, you have to have a business that is sustainable. And—and that means they can function at a scale that makes sense for that business.

HINOJOSA: For Lloyd, it's only the beginning of a goal he set out to prove thirteen years ago - innovative business can thrive in the inner city

LLOYD: I consider Cityfresh right now like a teenager in life, you know, hopefully getting ready to go off to college



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