By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"In 1976, I thought nothing of the idea, if somebody said, 'Why don't we go out to a movie and talk about my drug problem?', I would never think, 'Maybe it's a setup.' I've gotten a little more paranoid, suspicious, self-protective and conservative. Which I think most people do as they get older.
"I still work with kids a lot, in the community on a macro basis, and I still work one-to-one on a micro basis. At any one time I've got several mentorees."
Klahr, whose r‚sum‚ lists years of volunteering for and contributing to programs that aim to help troubled youth and young adults, adds that one of his current mentorees is working on his campaign.
"I've always been interested in juvenile delinquency and crime, ever since I was a kid," he says.
But youth-treatment officials contacted for this story raise troubling questions about Klahr's run-ins with mayhem. Without identifying Klahr, New Times described his history of victimization to several professionals who work with troubled teens. One deemed Klahr's pattern of violent confrontations with clients or "mentorees" as "aberrant" and "inappropriate." Another called the episodes "bizarre." The standards of the treatment industry generally prohibit any extraclinical contact, says one administrator. Similar standards exist for lawyers. "I care about these kids," says Klahr. "I work with them. I do it openly and if people want to talk about me, if they don't want to elect me county attorney . . . then they'll just have to do it. In other words, I am what I am and I do nothing wrong and I have nothing to apologize for."
[As county attorney] I'm not going to go into people's private lives. We'll do plenty of stings, but the stings will be the classical situation where there's evidence of pre-existing crime. Drugs, stolen property. I've talked to insurance agents. I've talked to stock brokers. You could sting almost any profession in this town if you try hard enough. Take the analogy of Buckeye Road. If you went down there right now, you could talk half the people into committing a crime. To what possible purpose? If people are on the edge, we want to pull them back from the edge, not push em over. If someone wants to know the biggest difference between Gary Peter Klahr and Rick Romley, it's that little analogy. That if--not literally, of course, but the analogy is fair--the guy's on the ledge, he'll push him over and maybe have a net underneath. Maybe. I will pull the guy back.
Naturally, Klahr has positions on important issues, but the late-starting nature of coverage of this campaign (the mainstream media only started to show interest after Klahr excoriated Romley in front of the county bar last week) has kept discussion of issues to a minimum.
AzScam, for example, would not have happened under a Klahr administration. "I would've brought some misdemeanor charges and maybe ethics charges," says Klahr. "I would probably spank them with a misdemeanor and turn the stuff over to the legislature's ethics committee. And recommend they be somewhere between suspended and expelled. But I don't want the people to get the idea I approve of the attitudes displayed by Bobby Raymond and Carolyn Walker."
Romley's Do Drugs/Do Time program would be dismantled. Klahr's approach to the drug war is increased education and better treatment and diversion programs. Klahr, who says he tried pot once but had trouble inhaling the smoke, is no longer in favor of marijuana decriminalization. "Drugs are a very serious social problem," he says. "Law enforcement has a role in it. It has its role, but not the role. Most of it is education, like we've done with cigarettes. . . . You understand, I can't stop the police from busting people. But if they know I won't prosecute, they won't spend the money. It's all one public relations thing. When I pull the zipper on it, that's the end of it."
Klahr says he'll beef up the office's prosecution of elderly abuse, environmental crime and consumer fraud. He even has a position on abortion. "I will enforce the law, but I will not prosecute women and doctors if Roe v. Wade is overturned," he says. "I will use the state constitution, which provides an explicit right of privacy, and if that fails and the Supreme Court overrules me, I will resign. . . . I will not be the instrument of oppression."
There are so many situations where I have put forth an interesting idea and nobody gives a goddamn. It's discouraging.
It's a socialization of news. . . . That's worth a sidebar or something, or maybe just a press-club discussion. But what has happened is, Romley has been sending out nothing. He has no program, no plans, no defense. I wouldn't say he's hiding. He's responded to queries, but he's not doing any major campaigning. I have put out, I think, some of the best releases I've seen. Let's suppose that there was no presidential race. If this was the only race, I'm sure it would demand attention. But the news holes are limited, TV holes especially, and because there are so many important races--presidential three-way race and all that--I'm not getting the attention I deserve. Nothing. Almost like a blackout. It'd be nice to say it's a conspiracy, but it's simply what I call socialized press. Like socialized medicine. It wouldn't hurt if it wasn't for the fact that I'm the attacker and I've got a lot to say.