It's time to rethink Independence's reputation.

Independence's rap as Meth City USA needs tweaking 

It's time to rethink Independence's reputation.

Page 4 of 4

"We've actually made drug dealers out of a college kid who just wants some beer money," he says.

Last year, Gov. Jay Nixon asked Missouri lawmakers to make pseudoephedrine a prescription drug. The pharmaceutical industry, however, wants to keep physicians out of the mix. In all but two states — Oregon and Mississippi — drug companies have been successful in keeping pseudoephedrine available without a prescription. Nixon's proposal died in the state Senate.

Boyer believes that drug companies are putting profits ahead of public safety.

"The pharmaceutical companies are getting rich through the legal sales of pseudoephedrine," he says. "But they're doing it with a conscience."


If you ask him today, Don Reimal, the mayor of Independence, will tell you that the Rolling Stone article was a bunch of bull. "I don't know how you describe it," he says. "It's just stupid."

Reimal says the magazine was careless when it identified Jackson County and, by extension, Independence as a "methamphetamine capital." Echoing the chief's "meth-busting capital" comment, he suggests the city was punished for its vigilance.

"The more aggressive you are," Reimal says, "the more people pay attention to what you're doing." He ticks off the names of other cities that have been dubbed "meth capitals" at one time or another: Philadelphia, Fresno, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fort Worth — it's a long list. Of course, cities the size of Los Angeles can more easily absorb the slur.

Reimal and others in Independence feel that Rolling Stone needs to make amends for suggesting that the community was choking on meth. "There have been some people that have tried to get the Rolling Stones to retract that statement when they made it," Reimal says, sounding a little unsure about the distinction between the magazine and the band that recorded "Satisfaction."

Still, he acknowledges that there was a problem. He credits the citizens for being alert and reporting suspicious activity to the police.

"The drug dealers thought they could move into Independence," he says. "They found out very shortly that they couldn't."

Alas, "meth capital" has proved to be a stubborn label. It has become shorthand, a caricature and even perhaps an explanation for one's bad business decisions.

The aforementioned 2010 New York Times story with an Independence dateline described the condition of the four houses where Truman once lived. One, of course, is the Victorian mansion on North Delaware Street that the National Park Service operates as a tourist attraction. Times reporter A.G. Sulzberger classified the other three as "decaying," "unable to sell" and "foreboding."

A heating-and-cooling repairman named Charles Evans owns the "decaying" Truman home on South Crysler Avenue. The house is cut up into apartment units that Evans, who paid $79,500 for the house in 2004, has had trouble renting.

Evans told Sulzberger that he regretted buying the house. He wasn't about to blame himself for buying a flimsy piece of property during a real-estate bubble, however.

"Independence is the drug capital of the world," he said. "It's just real hard to get decent renters."

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