New York Mayor Ed Koch wants the fight against drugs - the No. 1 enemy facing America
to be federalized."Totally, deputize local and state law enforcement, use the (.S.) military - it is the only way," he told the Deseret News Monday.
Later Monday, Koch addressed the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Salt Lake, and his drug theme complemented that of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and other officials who spoke to the mayors.
In a Deseret News interview, the flamboyant mayor said he's glad that public officials throughout the United States are now coming to realize what he touted four years ago: that drugs are the scourge of America, it's greatest threat.
"People say we should use the military only against foreign threats. If the Russians were pouring drugs into America, would we use the military? Of course. Just because the drugs are coming from South America we shouldn't use the military? No," he said.
Koch said he and other mayors already know that the battle against drugs has been lost locally. "Whole neighborhoods have been taken over by drug dealers and users. Local officials don't have the resources to deal with it."
That is why only the federalization of drug enforcement will work.
Koch wants the punishment and reward theory applied with vigor. "My mother taught me about punishment and reward. It works if it is tough."
All drug abusers should be sent to rehabilitation or jail, and all drug dealers to jail.
"We don't have the jail space, either local jail cells or state cells. What do you do? In the (estern) des-erts you build huge tent camps. Surround them with barbed wire. Local officials will pay a third to build the camps and a third of maintaining the prisoners. I mean, where do they escape to? There is nothing there."
Any drug user who accepts rehabilitation but doesn't complete the program is jailed. "You're very tough. Take away their driver's license. For the dealers, take away their property."
The so-called zero-tolerance now applied in some areas - for example, confiscating a luxury boat if a singe marijuana cigarette is found - is not the only answer, Koch said.
"The federal laws are tougher than state laws, but we don't use the federal laws as much as we should."
To pay for the massive federalization of fighting drugs, Koch suggests a one-time, three-year surcharge on all income taxes - federal, state and local.
That would only be accepted, he warned, if the people are guaranteed that the surcharge will end after three years - not continue - and if all the money "and I mean all of it" goes to fighting drugs.
"If you ask a citizen, `Will you pay $10 to get another cop on the beat?' He'll answer, `Why only $10, why not $20 if I get two cops.' This is the same thing," he said.
All the surcharge money goes to law enforcement, jails, therapy, prosecution and education against drugs. "If it goes to any other social program, the person who diverted it goes to jail himself, that's it," he said.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson will address the mayors later this week. Koch had a well-known spat with the Jackson forces during the New York Democratic Primary this year.
"I took a lot of flak for criticizing Jackson. But I told the truth. I didn't treat him like a black candidate, I treated him like a presidential candidate and questioned his stands. To treat him like a black candidate would be racist."
Does Dukakis owe Jackson the offer of the vice presidential slot on his Democratic ticket? "Of course not. When you finish second you are owed the second place prize - applause. That's all," Koch said.
Two years ago, Koch told a group of Soviet students that their "government is the pits." Today, he said, there are improvements under the leadership of Mikail Gorbachev, but still far from perfect.
"They're better, but I wouldn't turn my back on them," Koch said. Comparing Gorbachev to Joseph Stalin, the mayor said that the newest Soviet leader isn't killing his people, but he hasn't given them any freedom, either.
The new openness in Soviet society introduced by Gorbachev can be attributed to what Koch termed the miserable shape of the country's economy. The Soviet's economic woes will help the U.S., the mayor said, because they will force cuts in military aide to such countries as Cuba and Nicaragua.