A good man with a bad problem

I’m going to go way out on a limb here and wish former Fairfield City Councilman John English good luck.

And I’m going to go even farther out on that limb and tell you that John English is a good man, albeit a good man who had a bad drug problem.

A popular city councilman, John English was dedicated to his constituents, to the community’s youth and to protecting the victims of domestic violence. Ironically, he knew Fairfield had a crime problem and he wanted to do something about it.

What John English didn’t know when he became a city councilman in 2001 was that his life was about to be turned upside down by methamphetamine, a treacherous drug that has destroyed thousands of lives and continues to destroy lives from coast to coast.

Arrested for methamphetamine possession in Sacramento and Yolo counties in 2004 and 2005, English adamantly denied knowledge of the drug. He represented himself in Sacramento County Superior Court and continued to claim innocence even after a jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to four years probation and 30 days in jail.

Before turning himself in for his Sacramento jail sentence, he was again arrested for methamphetamine possession, this time in a Yolo County casino.

Again, English denied any knowledge of the drugs.

By then, English’s life had become a train wreck. He’d lost his council post, his business was suffering, people were avoiding him and family members had become alienated. John English’s life was lost in a methamphetamine nightmare.

To his credit, he eventually rose above the drug and admitted his addiction to the court and to the public.

“I’m a methamphetamine addict and I’m admitting that in this court,” English told Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette last fall. “It’s time for me to get on with my life and I cannot do that with the perpetuation of this lie.”

English has since served his time, paid his fines, participated in a Sacramento County drug rehabilitation program and, last week, was placed on three years probation on the Yolo County meth charge.

Some people think English got off easy.

Don’t believe it.

John English was most certainly not a career criminal and he lost just about everything he had to a drug that has proven incredibly destructive to people in all walks of life – from cops to computer programmers, politicians to plumbers and the occasional soccer mom.

It’s remarkably addictive and can trash an otherwise productive and blameless life in a year or two – sometimes less. It’s a nightmare from which some victims never awaken.

I spent a lot of time talking with John English during the course of his trial, and I believe the former councilman is a decent man capable of keeping clean and sober and doing good in whatever community he chooses for his home.

So I say good luck, John. I wish you well.

Originally published February 12, 2006

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