Cecil County, Town Cops Enlisted in Animal Control; Two Amigos Flunk Reading Test

September 19, 2012

News/News Commentary

Cecil County Sheriff’s deputies and Elkton town police have been enlisted into the county’s “interim” animal control plan, responding to calls to the county’s 911 center and referrals from the County Commissioners’ office, according to logs presented to the commissioners on Tuesday.

In addition, County Commissioners James Mullin (R-1) and Diana Broomell (R-4) complained loudly about “blogs” reports on the submission of two responses to a Request for Proposal by two vendors seeking to provide long-term animal control services to the county. (We think they meant Cecil Times, but their comments didn’t match either the time frame or actual content of our 9/17/12 published report. We’ll provide a reading comprehension and Journalism 101 tutorial below.)

The logs—from the county administration building, the 911 call center, and the county’s Health Department—covered about a week or so portion of the period since the Cecil County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. (CCSPCA) terminated its animal control contract with the county on 8/30/12. The county administrative office log showed 20 calls with animal issues through 9/6/12; the 911 center listed 24 calls from 9/4 through 9/11; and the health department, which oversees animal bite complaints, reported 15 calls it dealt with through 9/8.

During that brief period, the logs show that the Sheriff’s department was dispatched by the 911 center to 6 incidents, Elkton police were dispatched to 3 incidents, Maryland State Police were dispatched to 2 incidents, and the state Department of Natural Resources was summoned in 3 cases. The logs did not show how much time and specific police manpower was diverted from crime-fighting duties to handle the animal calls.

Emergency Services director Richard Brooks told the commissioners at a worksession on Tuesday that the county has used its pest exterminator/trapper contractor to transport two dogs to a private kennel, with which the county has a separate interim contract—one Lab dog that initially was thought to be in medical distress, but wasn’t, and a dog that Sheriff’s Deputies thought posed a danger to the public.

Most of the callers to the county commissioners were advised, according to the logs, that there was nothing that could be done for their problem—such as stray dogs running at large, animal abuse or neglect cases, animal noise problems, found dogs, lost dogs, etc. The county is only responding to “emergency” situations under its interim animal control plan. The county logs state that many of the callers were referred to “rescue” groups.

Jeanne Deeming, executive director of the CCSPCA, told Cecil Times that the group’s phones have been “ringing off the hook” and staff has had to explain to callers that since it no longer has the animal control contract with the county, the organization cannot provide the services it previously did. Many callers were referred by the 911 center or the county offices, she said, but other people were unaware of the current situation and simply turned first to the CCSPCA.

“One of the most difficult situations for us is that we cannot go out and pick up strays and bring them into our shelter for care and medical treatment,” Deeming said. But without the official contract, the CCSPCA– or any animal “rescue” group– could be legally liable if they took in a stray, and adopted it out to a new family, but then the original owners showed up demanding their pet back. The contract with the county specifies holding periods for the official animal control contractor, she noted, after which the pets become legally available for adoption.

During the commissioners’ worksession, before Brooks had much chance to speak, Commissioner Broomell brought up to the witness table Gerald Hawkins, a former CCSPCA animal control officer whom she has frequently mentioned as consulting with her on animal issues. (Hawkins put in a bid to provide animal capture services, at the rate of $10,000 a month to be paid by the county, during the “interim” period, as the Cecil Times has reported based on documents obtained under the Maryland Public Information Act. County officials rejected his proposal.)

Under prodding from Broomell, Hawkins recited sections of state law, which generally only specify that cats must have rabies shots. Including regulation of cats in the county’s animal control ordinance “would be very costly,” Hawkins said, as Broomell smiled.

The new animal control ordinance passed several months ago by the usual 3-2 Three Amigos coalition vote (including Broomell) covered cats for the first time, especially with regard to nuisance animals and odors. But a newly proposed revision, whose authorship is unclear, last week proposed deleting references to and regulation of cats.

Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) who supported inclusion of cats in the ordinance, has pointed out that Mindy Carletti, a Perryville veterinarian who operates a cat “rescue,” opposes regulation of cats. Carletti took over control of the re-write of the animal ordinance after all other members of a citizen task force had resigned. However, Hodge ultimately voted against the new animal ordinance, saying it was unenforceable, costly and too burdensome on county residents.

A Carletti-linked group, A Buddy for Life, Inc.—a Delaware animal rescue group with no dog shelter of its own, no paid employees and no facilities for cats—has applied for the long-term animal control contract. The CCSPCA has also applied, according to the public announcement of the names of the bidders last Friday in the county purchasing office.

Cecil Times was present at that announcement, as were several county senior staff employees. The bid packets were only displayed in sealed envelopes and county purchasing staff followed normal protocol to record the time of the submissions and announce the names of the bidders. However, no financial or other data or information was disclosed.

Nevertheless, Mullin and Broomell were apparently upset about what Mullin called “blogs” reports on the RFP responses. He claimed that the RFP bids were “splashed on the blogs” on “Friday afternoon at 1: 30 p.m.” and he indicated he wanted to launch an investigation into “who did what in the purchasing department.”

Broomell intoned that she thought the independence and confidentiality of the bidding process had been compromised. After the meeting, Cecil Times asked her what the issue was and she briefly responded, “details” were reported.
News Commentary:

Although the Maryland reporters’ “shield” law protects news reporters from disclosing confidential sources, Cecil Times is more than happy to stop Mullin’s witch hunt in its tracks.

No, Mullin, no one in the county purchasing office, and no county employees, gave Cecil Times any confidential information. Our brief presence in that office, for the Friday 9/14/12 public announcement of the names of bidders, was also witnessed by several county employees. Our published report the following Monday, 9/17/12, did not include any bid numbers or confidential data from anyone.

Our report—READ IT HERE: [ http://ceciltimes.com/2012/09/cecil-county-gets-2-animal-control-bids-cecil-spca-and-de-rescue-tied-to-carletti-author-of-new-animal-ordiance/ ] relied upon public documents, websites, Facebook postings, past county government proceedings, federal IRS filings, interviews and common sense. That’s Journalism 101. We do independent reporting, not stenography of what some commissioners want us to write.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Hodge observed at the worksession that there was nothing in county law or procurement rules to prevent a bidder from exercising their First Amendment rights to speak to the public or press.

However, Commissioner Tari Moore (R-5) declared, “I’m concerned that those details of those RFP’s are out there” and said such information could “violate the entire process.”

At one point in the worksession, Broomell demanded that she should be involved in the review of the qualifications of the two bidders, along with a temporary committee of senior county employees that has been overseeing the interim plan. Hodge said that the reviews of the RFP responses should be “independent” and that the county commissioners would have “another bite of the apple” when it came time to actually decide which vendor should get the contract.

Eventually, Broomell backed down slightly, saying she would only insist that she be allowed to ‘watch the process” and “sit in and observe” the review of the proposed animal control contractors. No other commissioners responded to her revised demand.

[Disclosure: The editor of Cecil Times has adopted several pets from the SPCA and in the past served as an unpaid volunteer board member.]

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12 Responses to Cecil County, Town Cops Enlisted in Animal Control; Two Amigos Flunk Reading Test

  1. Too Much Government on September 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Tari Moore may be sipping too much of Broomell’s witches brew. Accusing the purchasing dept of compromising the RFP process.? I’ve perused all of the gossip websites and I found absolutely nothing specific other than ramblings on the dog lovers facebook page. I’m very disappointed at Tari Moore’s flip flopping on various issues lately.

  2. Mike R on September 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Broomell wanted to be on the review committee, OMG. Talk about trying to screw the results of these two proposals. She just doesn’t give up, she’s got to go. We don’t need any more puppets governing our County. Tari Moore seems to be blowing in the wind, I guess she’s been around the 3 Amigos too long. Thank you Cecil Times for keeeping those of us who have a real job apprised of what really goes on in the county. This entire animal control process is a sham. We all know that they are setting this up for Carletti and her friends. Think we don’t understand the process here– yea let’s get this done so that so called “rescue” of Callahan’s and Carletti’s can get the contract before the Amigos lose their majority vote after the election when Mullin will be gone.

  3. TopDog on September 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Wake up Cecil County! Even a moron can figure out what is going on at the commissioners level. It’s all about personal vendettas. This entire animal control ordinance issue has been going on for almost 4 yrs. Meeting after meeting with the commissioners and the county directors and the lack of organization and loss of control over the task force is so obvious, even a blind person could see it.

    The dramatist who so called “wrote” or cut and pasted this Ch. 209 always has had an agenda. Why do dog owners need to be penalized and yet she wants to allow the cats to run the neighborhood, urinate and defecate in peoples gardens and lawns and tear up their screens and chairs, etc. We all know she does cat rescue,

    Don’t let these 3 Amigos run this county into the ground. They have done enough damage as it is and now the dog owner and their dogs have to suffer at the hand of the Amigos, Broomell, Dunn, Mullin and maybe Tari Moore.

  4. concernedcitizen on September 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    well, we *do* have an ethics committee, no? 😉
    Or does that one only answer to Commissioner Broomell as well?

    Maybe a lawsuit is in order.
    I will gladly donate.

  5. A Word to the Wise on September 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    The SPCA should take legal action against all involved in this animal control circus. They should be watching this process very closely. Experience and housing, equipment, vehicles and trained personnel needs to be in place as a bidder prior to choosing the group, and not provided by the county for one group and not the other after the bids are read and decided on. This process has a fox in the chicken coop, but remember the dog always gets the fox.

  6. Too Much Government on September 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Well I think Mullin. Broomell, Dunn and Moore should look in their own backyard for leaks regarding the bids. Buddy for Life facebook would be the first place to look. By the way, what does this mean (straight from the Buddy for Life facebook page): “We are committed to the no kill ethic, and as such, even if awarded the contract, no healthy, happy animal will be euthanized.” So if a dog is unhappy and doesn’t wag his tail enough they get the needle?

  7. Read Between The Whines on September 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    That’s funny, since when did “blogs” actually become an authentic news source? I find it interesting that no concrete evidence of bid information is present in this article. As Mr. Hodge stated, if a vendor wants to put out their own information, they can very well do so. Don’t blame your employees.

  8. Phyllis Abbott on September 20, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Folks, if the integrity of a RFP process has been compromised, that’s a major problem. Not saying that it has – but if there’s a concern raised, I would be furious if my elected officials DIDN’T ask questions.

  9. Brian Lockhart on September 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Does anyone else think it is funny Jim Mullin is worried that something leaked out of the County office building when he was the one who leaked minutes of a closed meeting during negotiations of a contract and gave them to Mike Smigiel?

    • Too Much Government on September 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

      Well it is quite obvious that Smigiel is still involved in all this now. Most of the county commissioners are obviously dazzled by Smiegel’s ****. He’s another one that has to go. He’s cost the county way too much of taxpayers money. 2012 may be an im ortant election but 2014 will be even more important for Cecil County with him, Broomell and Dunn up for re-election. Hopefully good candidates will come forward and run against them and win.

      • Smipless 2014 on September 24, 2012 at 11:51 am

        Agreed. Vote out Smigiel, Pipkin, Broomell and Dunn in 2014. Stop the War on Cecil County. Elect Moore, Hodge and McCarthy in 2012.

  10. Maria Wilson on September 21, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Phyllis, I am quite concerned about the obvious consultation and perhaps collusion between Commissioner Broomell and some of the individuals that have bid, and probably are now bidding as part of this Delaware group’s effort. Why did she bring up to the witness table Mr. Hawkins who put in a bid on animal control? And Broomell says she wants to interject herself into the review process well before it reaches the full county commissioners board. Intimidation? Collusion? Integrity of the process is not a concept many normally associate with Commissioner Broomell.

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