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1991 The Message of Self-Directed Change Rubs the Old Guard the Wrong Way

Adversarial Disruptions

From 1991 through 1994, our program was plagued with adversarial disruptions emanating from Alcoholics Anonymous, New York State's Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the Village of Hagaman, NY, Montgomery County and Saint Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam, NY.

In 1990, the initial program and study was conducted at the Baldwin House in Glenville, NY. Keep in mind that the Baldwin House researchers throughout 1990 were conducting the initial study of "recovered" versus "once and alcoholic, always an alcoholic." This difference in messaging created a massive pushback from the local members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Nevertheless, at the end of the study year, December 31st 1990, 75% of the research subjects were drug and alcohol free. Even though the Baldwin House closed in 1991, the success rate remained at 75% throughout 1991, the year The Baldwin Research Project of 1990 was published. Then in early 1992, the Baldwin researchers purchased what would become the Hagaman Guest House located in Hagaman, NY. Many of the Baldwin House subjects moved to the Hagaman Guest House to continue to enjoy their social ties that they had established at the Baldwin House. Additionally, a few new faces were added to the study that was conducted and reported on for 1992, yielding a 78% success rate. But, by the end of 1992, tumultuous problems descended upon the Baldwin researchers from all sides.

Alcoholics Anonymous accused the Baldwin researchers of all sorts of nefarious things and published these baseless allegations in their area-wide newsletter for which the Baldwin researchers sued Alcoholics Anonymous for libel and defamation. The case was dismissed two years later by a Schenectady County Supreme Court Judge who eventually admitted that he was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Another problem that plagued the Baldwin researchers was the Village of Hagaman Mayor's contention that the Baldwin researchers' use of the property was prohibited by the Village's Zoning Ordinance. Of course, Baldwin researchers' use of the property wasn't in violation of any Village Ordinances, but it took two years of conflict with the Village and finally the inauguration of a new Mayor for the conflict to subside. In fact, the Hagaman Guest House later became the Twin Rivers Retreat and is today a showplace for the Village of Hagaman.

Still another problem was the 7 year long clash with the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). OASAS's initial "investigation" of the Hagaman Guest House was that the Baldwin researchers were conducting a business that was under OASAS's regulatory authority and as such required a license issued by OASAS. At the time and maybe even today, OASAS' staff were predominantly members of Alcoholics Anonymous. OASAS's attacks were most onerous during OASAS's first two years of "investigation," 1992 and 1993. OASAS's tactics emulated the tactics used by former United States Senator Joseph McCarthy's hearings on un-American Affairs (communism). OASAS claimed in their news releases that they, OASAS, were "investigating" the Hagaman Guest House. OASAS's Commissioner was apparently relying on the public to conclude "where there is smoke, there is fire." That didn't happen; and, like Senator Joseph McCarthy, ultimately, OASAS's tactics and OASAS's inability to substantiate their claims resulted in OASAS abandoning their harassment of the Hagaman Guest House and the Baldwin researchers. Today Baldwin Research Institute owns and operates Retreat Houses in the State of New York, none of which require licensing by OASAS according to the findings of OASAS.

Still, another assault on the Hagaman Guest House and the Baldwin researchers was initiated by the Town of Amsterdam and Montgomery County. It was the contention of these municipalities that Baldwin Research Institute, Inc., owner and operator of the Hagaman Guest House, was not a legitimate not-for-profit corporation. This, of course, was not true. Baldwin Research Institute, Inc. was then (1992), and is now, designated a 501(c)(3) corporation, not-for-profit charity, by the United States Department of Treasury's Internal Revenue Service, by New York State's Department of State and by the New York State Attorney General. Nevertheless, year after year the Town of Amsterdam and Montgomery County illegally levied real property taxes against Baldwin Research Institute, Inc.'s property(s). Finally, in 1997 Baldwin Research Institute, Inc. initiated a lawsuit against the Town of Amsterdam ordering the Town of Amsterdam to remove Baldwin Research Institute, Inc.'s property(s) from the Town's tax roll. And each year thereafter, until 2009, the Town of Amsterdam and Montgomery County were forced to comply with the Court's order to remove Baldwin Research Institute, Inc.'s real property from the Town of Amsterdam's and Montgomery County's tax roll and return any taxes that were paid. This conflict with the Town and the County was finally settled in 2010 when Baldwin Research, Institute, Inc. initiated a lawsuit to recoup Baldwin Research Institute, Inc.'s legal fees from the Town of Amsterdam, Montgomery County and the Greater Amsterdam School District.

As if these were not enough problems, the local hospital, Saint Mary's Hospital, operated a drug and alcohol detoxification program and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in the City of Amsterdam, NY. The Village of Hagaman is located just a few miles away from the City of Amsterdam and Saint Mary's Hospital. The Director of Saint Mary's detox program and rehab was an oldtimer of Alcoholics Anonymous. Initially, Baldwin researchers made multiple honest attempts to peacefully co-exist with Saint Mary's drug and alcohol programs by recommending Saint Mary's detox program to the Hagaman Guest House guests who required detoxification services. After two years of trying, it became clear that no amount of good will by Baldwin researchers was going to stop Saint Mary's Hospital's venomous attacks on the Hagaman Guest House and the Baldwin researchers, personally. In the end Baldwin researchers were forced to recommend detoxification services far removed from the influence of Saint Mary's fallacious attacks on the Hagaman Guest House and the Baldwin researchers.

The Baldwin researchers were besieged from all sides from 1992-1994. During these three years the success rate fell from 78% in 1992 to 54% in 1993 and 53% in 1994. This was a classic case of "when you're up to your waist in alligators, it's hard to remember that you came here to drain the swamp." The reason the Baldwin researchers purchased the Hagaman Guest House was to create and study a social/educational program that helped people with drug and alcohol problems. Prior to the Hagaman Guest House, research was conducted at the Baldwin House during 1990, the year in which the second study was completed. The Baldwin House was a 3,900 sq. ft., five bedroom, 2½ bath residence with a 38' in-ground swimming pool and park-like grounds in an up-scale community. During that first year, there were a few minor complaints from neighbors, but nothing serious and no community problems on the horizon. Still, it was far too expensive and too small to conduct the social/educational research program on which the Baldwin researchers were about to embark.

In February 1992 Baldwin researchers moved its operations to the Hagaman Guest House in the Village of Hagaman. In 1992 the Village of Hagaman's population was about 1370 made up predominantly of middle to low income wage earners. Although the Baldwin researchers anticipated continuing conflicts with Alcoholics Anonymous, the researchers were totally blindsided to the vitriol stirred up in the municipalities. For the next couple of years, 1993 to mid-1994, the Baldwin researchers had little time to spend helping their guests and working on research, and the aforementioned problems accounted for the precipitous decline in success rates for the years 1993 and 1994. As time went on Baldwin researchers learned to cope with the constant barrage of harassment and redirected their attention to their original mission, creating solutions to help people with drug and alcohol problems, providing those solutions to guests who came to the Hagaman Guest House, and studying the results.