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State Directs Meehan to Close Drug Centers

May 28, 1986|TOM GORMAN | Times Staff Writer

ESCONDIDO — State licensing officials have told drug counselor Bob Meehan, himself a former drug user and an ex-convict, to close down his three drug rehabilitation operations because he is not fit to operate them.

The state will not license Meehan's controversial SLIC Ranch, a companion therapy program and a teen-age out-patient clinic because "his dealings with the state have been less than honest and responsible," said Kathleen Chambers, a licensing supervisor for the state Department of Social Services in San Diego.

The letter, sent last week to Meehan, denied his license applications because of his "failure to provide satisfactory evidence that he could meet or conform with the licensing requirements," Chambers said. "The specific statute requires an applicant to satisfy the department that he is reputable and of responsible character. His dealings have been less than that."

She declined to elaborate except to note that Meehan had asked that his SLIC Ranch be licensed to work with people between the ages of 18 and 30 even though state investigators visiting the Sober Live-In Center have seen people there who were under 18 and Meehan previously has publicly acknowledged that some clients are as young as 13.

Meehan has appealed to Sacramento the decision not to grant him licenses to operate, Chambers said.

Meanwhile, Department of Social Services attorneys in Sacramento have not decided whether to file a complaint against Meehan for conducting his programs without a license, a criminal misdemeanor. That decision may be made in about a week, attorney Anne Pressman said.

This is the second time the state has attempted to close Meehan's operation by denying it a license. In 1985, Meehan was told his SLIC Ranch on Oakvale Road could not be licensed because it failed to meet fire safety, water and sanitation standards. Meehan closed that facility and moved his SLIC Ranch operation to a house on Quailridge Road, where state licensing officials learned of its operation only a few months ago.

It was then that Meehan agreed to seek a license to operate the program, but he couldn't pass muster. Authorities ordered Meehan to close the home on Quailridge Road, an accompanying "adult day-care" therapy and counseling center on 8th Avenue, and his teen-age drop-in center on Valley Parkway near downtown Escondido. The drop-in center had a client roster of about 150 youths.

Meehan's SLIC Ranch program calls for clients to pay $5,000 a month in exchange for room and board at the home on Quailridge Road, and therapeutic counseling at the 8th Avenue location.

The daytime drop-in center on Valley Parkway was intended by Meehan to serve as a peer-support program in which sober teen-agers congregate for mutual support. Meehan charges each teen-ager $10 a day to use the drop-in center, which was staffed by counselors of the defunct Freeway program, a nonprofit, community-based peer support and counseling center for former drug and alcohol users.

The Freeway program was disbanded by its board of directors after a spate of negative publicity last month, brought on by former participants and staff members who charged that Meehan's brand of sobriety was anti-social, including the use of "fun felonies" such as vandalizing restaurants and reckless driving as an alternative to drug and alcohol intoxication. Critics also complained that Freeway and SLIC Ranch were cult-like.

Meehan also operates SLIC Ranch homes in Arizona and Texas.

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