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LaRocco: I'll Be Czar

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Shortly after Idaho Drug Czar Jim Tibbs released his 90-day report on what Idaho needs to do to remedy its drug problem, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor chimed in to say: Been there, studied that.

When Larry LaRocco announced he was running for lieutenant governor, he made the eradication of methamphetamine a top priority, and released a four-point plan to that end. Later this past summer Gov. Jim Risch, who is also running for his old job, named Tibbs as Idaho's first drug "czar," a title Risch pulled from popular headlines about America's war on drugs. Tibbs earns $98,000 for the job.

Last week Tibbs checked in with his progress report. He's found that Idaho has 133 separate programs for fighting drug addiction and its related problems. But he's not quite ready to say any of these programs should be eradicated.

"If there's duplication, we need to deal with that," Tibbs said.

One way to do that, Risch now suggests, is to codify the drug czar position, something he'd like to see the next Legislature do.

"We are best suited to do that coordination through this office," Risch said. Such a post, Risch said, would not necessarily override the state agencies that carry out anti-drug programs. He doubted that Idaho's agency leaders would engage in the sort of turf wars that, he said, have hampered federal drug efforts. Tibbs said his 90 days of traveling, meeting and discussing the issue didn't provide many big surprises, he said.

"What it did was it validated what I already believe," Tibbs said.

To LaRocco, it all sounded like a johnny-come-lately approach to the issue.

"The report issued today by Jim Risch has no substance and no direction," LaRocco said in a prepared statement. "He could have easily saved the taxpayers of Idaho $98,000 by having someone else put it together." Do we hear a volunteer?