Sep 212021

Capitol Weekly wrote an article about the death of Scott Lay.

Scott Lay was a good dude, a democrat, but a good man. He ran a publication that aggregated articles and was widely read by insiders. I knew that Scott had an off and on problem with substance abuse. I knew that Scott had a big heart but he was a lost soul who was always trying to do good but could not chase his addiction.

That generosity and passion was evident in much of Scott’s pursuits. I know from experience the amount of hours he would dedicate to a new passion project, not because he expected some big financial reward, but simply for the sake of doing it. Of course, he was motivated at least in part from some of the rush that comes from putting something out into the world that other people read and react to. For all of his talents as an advocate and budget guru, Scott was a generous spirit who lived to publish. His biggest rush came from informing and entertaining others.

But he also struggled with demons that created distance with even his closest friends. While he would post enthusiastically on social media about his latest score from the farmers market, or the taco stands in front of Southside Park on Sundays, those who knew him best knew that Scott was sick.  Over the years, many of us tried to support him in efforts to confront some of those demons. We failed.

Like anyone who passes too soon, it is impossible not to look back on Scott’s life with some sadness and regret. But it also demands celebrating his generous spirit, his willingness to help others, and the role he played in helping shape and inform the Capitol community.

The people at the Capitol Weekly pretty much told people that Scott’s death was related to his substance abuse and possibly suicide.

The author wrote: Over the years, many of us tried to support him in efforts to confront some of those demons. We failed.

To the folks at the Capitol Weekly – I want to share something that is part of the “How it Works” portion of the AA Big Book

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

I’d posit that Scott missed something in his program. Alcoholism is self-diagnosed. Only Aaron Park can admit he is an alcoholic. Only Aaron Park can ask for help and weather or not that help is effective is contingent upon Aaron’s ability to be honest.

I know this does not make it hurt any less. I can not imagine what my father in law felt when he found my Brother in Law dead at age 46 in a halfway house. My wife still cries occasionally for her brother Casey. But, when she and I talk (Jodie is also public about her sobriety of now 16+ years) about it we are reminded that Casey never surrendered his will to his higher power nor was he able to be consistently honest.

So to those of you at the Capitol Weekly – you tried to help. Many people try to help addicts and alcoholics. I am closing in on 19 years of sobriety without a relapse. The odds of reaching 5 years without a relapse are 1.4%. It is a tough road for even the strongest among us.

Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!

It is not your fault, Capitol Weekly. Please let go of Scott, he is gone now. Please move on without guilt, Alcoholism/Addiction kills without regard to much of anything and only God has the power to stop it.

IN Honor of Scott Lay, Mike Spence and a list of others I have known in politics, I am linking

This link will be on the blog permanently. Help is out there but you have to want it and be willing to do whatever it takes to stop using or it won’t work.

Feb 012021

Pictured, Jorge Riley from his social media at the Capitol

I was sent a copy of the 10 page charging document from the Federales related to Jorge Riley. He is facing 20 years in prison.

I have known Jorge Riley for almost 20 years. He was one of the first people I met in CRA that embodies the bad image CRA has as a haven for wackjobs. My memories of Jorge are him carrying around a flask at conventions, nipping on it and more than once where he told me “Jesus Loves You” with the strong scent of alcohol on his breath. There was usually so much of it, I could not tell what type it was.

I never drank with Jorge at a convention as I quit drinking November 1, 2002. But, I always saw him literally with a siphon in hospitality suites in the conventions he was at. I also know that he hated me and I wondered if my sobriety had anything to do with that.

The real story as I see it with Jorge Riley were the number of people around him in political groups enabling him. Coddling an alcoholic-addict is actually cruel as it extends the misery and extends the pattern of devastation. In the case of Jorge, he always had a chorus of people making excuses for him or helping clean up his messes.

I knew he smoked weed because of PTSD. I knew he drank because of anxiety. It was really hard to stay silent as I heard this stuff because I know what I overcame in my own life while I was getting rid of alcohol and tobacco. I surrendered my will to the Lord and I also had a lot of opposition around me in my early days of sobriety that gave me clarity of the stakes.

Alcohol takes years to wreck someone. The sensational DUI accidents are the rarity. I remember early in sobriety when someone in a meeting with 16 years of sobriety relapsed and ironically killed someone in a head on DUI collision on Highway 16. That has stuck with me forever as a reminder that I am never cured and no one else can fix stuff for me – weather I lost everything or died was 100% up to me and I needed God to save me from myself every day.

I believe Jorge Riley knows God. I don’t believe Jorge Riley ever surrendered his will to God. He would not do what he is doing.

Jorge Riley’s addiction is taking him to the brink of prison. I know anectdotally that he has lost children (or had custody issues) over his drinking and drugging, lost jobs, lost family, etc. All of this is second hand, but is 100% consistent with hundreds of stories I have heard in AA over the years. I sincerely wish he’d turn his will over to God and stop. Only Jorge can admit he has a problem with alcohol, marijuana and whatever else it is.

Alcoholism also has an area effect. Other people get hurt, I mentioned family, but also the CRA was dragged in to the headlines over his behavior at the capitol. I was told that within the CRA’s board many of Jorge’s remaining enablers were arguing against forcing him out of the oganization. Then he got arrested. I’d lay odds that the several weeks he has been incarcerated is the first extended period he has had without drugs or alcohol in years. (unless he got some in prison)

Right now, I am working on the campaign of a candidate for a Republican Party Office. In the course of that campaign, I have been able to re-connect with many people within the CRA. I feel for them having to deal with this issue. The CRA is a volunteer group and this should never happen. I respect the leadership of the group for finally prevailing and for holding a hard line against Riley’s bad behavior.

I will be turning 50 in just a couple of weeks. I can’t believe I have lived to be 50 given what I did before I quit drinking. I have seen over the years that Politics attracts extreme people and am presented with examples of the destruction and havoc of addiction as a result. It happens more often than I can imagine. Two people have lost kids to addiction in the last couple of years. Another former Republican leader died in a flophouse. DUI’s are a dime a dozen.

God’s will is what is best for us. I learned that as a kid. I had to believe that as an adult when I was dazed, sick, wrung out, confused, angry, bewildered, demoralized and trembling from the alcohol leaving my system. Finally, somehow I made it through to work the 12 steps of AA to put the pieces back together.

I don’t want Jorge Riley to go to prison. I also get zero joy out of seeing the CRA, an organization that banned me for life over garbage issues, get dragged in the press because of Riley. I do hope the people that have been close to Riley wake up and realize that when they thought they were helping him, they were enabling him to have his addition get worse. Pray for Jorge, when he gets out of prison in 5-10 years, perhaps he will have had a real chance to connect with God. The only God that can save him from himself.

We Do Recover
When at the end of the road we find that we can no longer function as a human being, either with or without drugs, we all face the same dilemma. What is there left to do? There seems to be this alternative: either go on as best we can to the bitter ends—jails, institutions or death—or find a new way to live. In years gone by, very few addicts ever had this last choice. Those who are addicted today are more fortunate. For the first time in man’s entire history, a simple way has been proving itself in the lives of many addicts. It is available to us all. This is a simple spiritual—not religious—program, known as Narcotics Anonymous.

Today I have 18 Years and 3 Months Sober and Counting.