Horse-sense, Nonsense and Bid Cents: Cecil County Commish Roll in Litter Pan Again Over Cats, Animal Control, Horses

October 3, 2012

The Cecil County Commissioners could have used a veterinarian to administer tranquilizers Tuesday as they bared their claws, yet again, over revisions to the county’s new animal ordinance, how many ‘experts’ should dance on the head of a panel reviewing the lone remaining bidder for animal control services, and conflicting concerns over horses.

And just when you thought one Old Gray Mare issue had been put out to pasture—a mandate for “health certificates” for animals such as dogs and horses crossing state lines to visit or attend events in Cecil County—Commissioner Diana Broomell (R-4) on Tuesday proposed putting the contentious certificates matter back into the new ordinance, which took effect on 10/1/12. It had been removed previously when citizens protested at a public hearing that putting the certificates into the county ordinance imposed an undue and unenforceable local burden that was best left to state laws covering transport of livestock and horses across state lines.

In another revelation, Broomell and Commissioner James Mullin (R-1) claimed Tuesday that they did not read the text of the animal ordinance before they voted on it in August. The Three Amigos majority of the commissioners, including Broomell, Mullin and Michael Dunn (R-3) voted for the ordinance while Commissioners Robert Hodge (R-3) and Tari Moore (R-2) voted no. “I’ll take responsibility for not reading the document the night we voted on it,” Mullin admitted.

And there were several intriguing hints about the plans of, and possible county communications with, the lone remaining bidder for a contract with the county to provide animal control services– A Buddy for Life, Inc., a Delaware volunteer rescue group with no shelter, no paid employees and no experience in animal control. The group is linked to Mindy Carletti, a Perryville veterinarian who re-wrote the animal ordinance after a multi-member Task Force resigned more than a year ago after submitting its own version.

The Cecil County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc., (CCSPCA), which handled animal control for the county for decades, withdrew its bid last week, citing what the group’s attorney called a “tainted” bidding process that appeared tilted to favor the Buddy group.

On Tuesday, Hodge hinted at the worksession that the Buddy group’s original bid proposal failed to address adequately where stray animals would be sheltered. (Currently, Buddy uses volunteer foster homes in Delaware, Maryland, and other nearby states to house dogs and it has no facilities for cats, according to its website and voicemail.)

And at another meeting last Tuesday afternoon, Broomell indicated that she had been advised that she should no longer consult with Gerald Hawkins, a former CCSPCA animal control officer whom she has brought up to the witness table at recent worksessions—an indication that he is now partnering with the Buddy group in its bid. (Hawkins, who personally put in an unsuccessful bid seeking $10,000 a month from the county just to capture stray animals but not house them on an “interim” basis until a new contractor is selected, sat in the audience at Tuesday morning’s worksession.) So now Broomell said she is “consulting” with John Kitchin, a former CCSPCA employee who has been out of the animal control field for at least five years.

One of the key bones (or is it kitty kibble?) of contention is a sudden proposal that surfaced a few weeks ago to delete most references to “cats” in the new ordinance. And questions have been raised about whether the Buddy group had been given advance information that costly cat services and regulations would be removed from the ordinance by the Commissioners.

On Tuesday, Mullin said he had directed county administrator Al Wein to inform bidders that the commissioners were re-considering cat regulations. Under questioning by Hodge, Mullin later backed down and said that such advice was offered after the Friday 9/14/12 deadline to submit bids.

“There is a perception out there” that the county is trying to “conform the ordinance to a bid” by one group, Hodge said Tuesday. “Now we are trying to make the ordinance fit the proposal.”

Moore said the proposed new ordinance changes to delete cats were “inconsistent” with the RFP and bidding process currently underway. “Why are we doing this now,” Moore asked.

Hodge questioned whether there was, in effect, an implicit advantage given to the Buddy group, which Wein said would submit a “final and best proposal” today that included coverage for all current laws, including the cats rules of the new ordinance. But with the public discussion for the past two weeks with a clear Three Amigos majority favoring deletion of costly cat regulations, Hodge questioned the process. “That’s why there’s a perception that there’s shenanigans going on here,” Hodge said.

Jeanne Deeming, executive director of the CCSPCA, told Cecil Times that the organization was never given any ‘wink, wink’ advice that a majority of commissioners would delete cats from the ordinance and the group’s bid always included the cost of providing services for cats. The CCSPCA bid on the ordinance as is, she said, but also suggested some potential cost-saving proposals, such as dropping a requirement to photograph and post on the Internet pictures, descriptions and further information about all stray animals it took in within 24 hours of admission.

Meanwhile, Broomell attacked Hodge and Moore, saying, “It just seems to me we’re delaying this on purpose” and “I’m just thinking this is being intentionally stalled.” And in a shot at Moore—who defeated Broomell in the Republican primary for County Executive—Broomell inquired if Moore was proposing “waiting until the county executive can choose” a contractor after the November election.

As usual, nothing was decided after the lengthy discussion.

In addition, the commissioners sniped back and forth over whether to add six outside advisors to a group of county senior officials that is reviewing the bid by the Buddy group. After multiple votes and multiple combinations of possible appointees, the commissioners eventually voted 4-1 (with Broomell voting no) to keep the county panel as is but provide the list of outside experts as possible resources for the panel to tap for advice.

The biggest issue during the advisers debate was Broomell’s adamant demand to exclude from the group Nicky Ratliff, Director of the Carroll County Humane Society, a recognized statewide animal control expert who also served on the original task force that wrote a different ordinance from the one currently on Cecil County’s law books. Ratliff’s organization handles animal control at a Carroll County-owned and maintained shelter facility. For many years she was the president of a state-wide organization of animal shelter employees and operators and she has also been a board member of the nationally recognized Days End horse rescue in Howard County.

“I don’t want someone who’s going to be inclined politically to support one group over another,” Broomell said. She also said no one who was involved in the original task force should be included on the bid review group. She wanted to put Kitchin, who currently works at a local fraternal group’s lodge, on the review group.

Hodge pointed out there is only one bidder left so Broomell’s argument made no sense.

In addition, Broomell had no objection to inclusion of Virginia DuPont Suarez—who also served on the original task force but stayed on briefly after the others left and supported many of Carletti’s revisions to the task force work

Meanwhile, a local horse rescue surfaced on Tuesday at the worksession and at the evening Commissioners’ meeting with petition signatures to ask for provisions to protect horses from abuse, neglect and cruelty under the county ordinance. The group was not visible at the public hearing on the new ordinance, when many other equine advocates testified.

A majority of the County Commissioners previously suggested excluding horses from some provisions that might require scooping horse poop but always intended toretain horses in cruelty and neglect provisions of the current ordinance.

Some supporters of the horse rescue group suggested that the county should regulate stables and other equine facilities. But it was pointed out that state law and agencies regulate, inspect and license stables, boarding facilities, and horseback riding facilities.

State law also provides standards and penalties for horse and farm animal abuse and neglect, and in the past the CCSPCA investigated cruelty and neglect cases. The law also specifies that a veterinarian must certify a horse or farm animal is physically endangered before a seizure can be made. State and local ‘freedom to farm’ laws also set high thresholds for inquiries involving farm animals.

Dr. Alan McCarthy, a Chesapeake City veterinarian who cared for some of the biggest names in the thoroughbred horse world, told the Commissioners Tuesday evening that he had assisted the CCSPCA in such cases and had testified in their prosecution of horse abuse and neglect cases in court. He noted that such cases are very “sad” and that they usually result from people no longer having the money to care for horses properly.

Dr. McCarthy is also the Republican nominee for the County Council in the November election in District 1. (If he wins, maybe he can bring his medical bag with him to Elkton to administer sedation as warranted.)

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

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17 Responses to Horse-sense, Nonsense and Bid Cents: Cecil County Commish Roll in Litter Pan Again Over Cats, Animal Control, Horses

  1. cats on October 4, 2012 at 8:20 am

    It is ironic that Commissoner Broomell doesn’t want anyone that she claims would be biased to one group, considering everyone she wants is a Carletti supporter. There also seems to be some sour grapes over Tari Moore beating her to run for county executive.

    Anyone that is not blind can see this is a shady operation on the Three Amigo’s side. I would like to know who is going to inspect The Buddy group when they start pulling in all the dogs, cats, etc. and end up with hoarder situations of their own. Where are they going to put all these animals?

    Is this whole process tainted? I would say so, led at the top by Broomell and Carletti.

  2. I know the truth on October 4, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Broomell and Dunn seriously needs to take a hike. They will not be getting my vote as well as the supporters behind me when she comes up for re election. I think it is time for the Amigos to start watching their P’s and Q’s. They have no idea what is about to go down and at the end, they will be left holding the “Don’t I feel stupid card”.

  3. Bob Amato on October 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

    The ONLY remaining RFP bid needs to be disqualified. There is a potential for legal action against vendors who did not submit a proposal based on the stated criteria. When the criteria change after the fact, fairness and credibility are lost. The county should first finalize the animal control ordinance and then advertise for a vendor.

  4. Alice in Wonderland on October 4, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    I fail to see where cats left in the 209 law will cost the county an extra million dollars. Supply the humane trap to the person complaining and pick it up after it has been captured. Tap your resources on how to do this, it is a simple procedure. TNR groups do it all the time.
    There is no need for any agent to go chasing a stray or pet left out doors to roan, breed and cause destruction to some one’s property.

  5. cats on October 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Has anybody been keeping track of the Cecil County Animal Lovers facebook page. Ms Broomell sounds so unprofessional, oh my god I thought she was a professional government worker it looks like she needs to start acting that way instead of like one of the Carletti cronies. How embarrassing for the Cecil County Government.

  6. Topcat on October 6, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Here we go again. Haven’t we been through this before? Hodge is worried about the appearance of the county trying to conform the proposal to the bid. Really! This isn’t going to do the county much good in the future. How many do-overs does any further proposer to the county get if their proposal isn’t what the county wants? It isn’t perception anymore, Mr. Hodge, it appears to be reality.

    There has still been no confirmation that the Buddies actually met the requirements of the RFP but who’s counting that “small” technicality. So now Buddy gets to submit endless corrections to their proposal. How many are we up to now?

    Now we are arguing over semantics of the inclusion of cats. Gee we have dog rescues covered and now it appears we are going to cover horse rescues– but where are the cat rescues? If you want to hoard cats Cecil County is the place to go. Dr Carletti has assured that that won’t be in the new rules since it is her sacred cow.

    We now are told it’s all about the money to include cats … according to Broomell. Broomell is now demanding, on Cecil County animal lovers Face Book page, that Hodge needs to be investigated because of conflict of interest. Well Ms. Broomell what is Carletti hiding about you that you feel the need to defend this fiasco to the extent you have? There is more than enough conflict to go around it seems.

    The county taxpayers are the loser in this and hopefully next year there will be a few extra losers on the unemployment rolls after November. This is no longer funny to watch and has become an embarrassment on the Internet to the good people of Cecil County. I don’t think the 3 Amigos realize how people are looking at this and the County. Maybe someone will do the honorable thing and fall on their sword.

    • Mr Miyagi on October 8, 2012 at 8:17 am

      “Cats in, cats out, cats in, cats out.” Personally, I prefer cats in. TNR creates a population of feral (WILD) cats that are left to roam. Calling the more social ones a colony (PACK) doesn’t change the facts. And you have to trap them every year to give them shots so they don’t harm the public health.

      Broomell’s pal/personal consultant Gerald Hawkins (former SPCA employee) submitted a bid for a $10,000 per month flat rate fee to catch animals covered under the law. Cats in, too much work? His pal Broomell invited him to the table to speak on the evils of including cats. Conflict of interest? Ethics violation? Bias? He warned of thousands of cats roaming the county. We never had that problem before TNR.

      • cats on October 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm

        TNR [Trap, Neuter, Release] will not work for ONE reason: people will continue to dump more cats everyday. Until they do something about Mr and Mrs Joe Blow allowing their animals, cats and dogs to roam freely un-neutered and un-spayed the problem will just escalate. If the Carletti crew wants to do something with laws they should spend their time working on this and leave law abiding citizens alone…

      • I know the truth on October 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm

        I would like to let you know that most if not all of those feral cats are trapped but one time– it’s impossible to re-trap a feral cat once it has been exposed to the trap. They get one round of shots and one worming only. Public safety issue????

  7. I know the truth on October 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    When reading the Chapter 209 Ordinance with a few educated people, we have come across several loop holes, allowing people to be cited and fined for things not clearly spelled out as to the specifications in the Ordinance– and there is a huge opening for possible lawsuits against the County. This law was put together poorly, specifically designed to fail, was rushed into and not deeply thought out. It is a shame that the Commissioners would allow this Ordinance to be written out by one sole person who is a biased party. I hope the Commissioners really think this thing out before acting, or things could blow up in their faces big time.

    We had the S.P.C.A, which if worked with in a professional manner and not BULLIED, could have worked for Cecil County in a positive position. They have the facility, the educated staff and the know how. Instead, now we have a non-workable Ordinance that will surely bring lawsuits, people who do not meet certain criteria for this law to work in the favor of all parties, and will not do anything for the animals as most can not be monitored 24 hours/7 days a week .

    There will surely be harassment charges due to biased parties sent to bully certain people for personal agendas. Commissioners be warned, think long and hard to clean up this mess of a law before it is set in stone, or you will surely wish you did when the crap hits the fan. Most people will not stand to be harassed and bullied and lawsuits will surely come….Please don’t make Cecil County more of a laughing stock than it already is. We need this law stripped to its raw form, reworked and reworded to be clear in all sections, by unbiased, educated people, so everyone know what their responsibilities are without a doubt.

    I am also appalled that a Commissioner can act so childish and unprofessional as Broomell on [Facebook] as well as in the Commissioners meeting, which I have listened to numerous times. I feel she is a biased party and something must be done in the name of good policy and ethics…

  8. concernedcitizen on October 8, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I know for a fact that lawyers are standing by and if it comes to law suits I hope they will include all involved parties personally, not just the county.
    This cesspool must be drained.

  9. Too Much Government on October 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    A group of responsible Cecil County residents who have no axe to grind spoke with the Cecil County SPCA Board of Directors and the Executive Director regarding the ordinance and the bidding. Clearly they were not informed of the possible changes in the ordinance regarding cats. They were emphatic about the reason for pulling their bid. There was collusion, and they were treated unfairly.

    So much emphasis was put on Buddys for Life that they felt that they were wasting their time and were tired of being bashed by Broomell, Mullin and Dunn. Nicole Green aka Jenn Callahan and her buddy Carletti are hell bent to continue to harrass and bully the SPCA and the SPCA has had enough of their lies and drama. The SPCA is the only qualified organization in Cecil County that can do animal control and they are being discriminated against because of personal vendettas.

    I also find it odd that Gerard Hawkins was considered the “expert” by Broomell when he was just the dog catcher, not a manager or someone with knowledge about cost matters. But on the other hand, Hawkins was seen many times coming in and out of Carletti’s Perryville clinic since February, driving the Cecil County SPCA truck. So tell me if there wasn’t some conspiracy going on between Hawkins and Carletti…

  10. MikeR on October 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    You certainly can tell it’s election time. What a dog and cat fight over who’s going to be in control. There are certainly 3 current ones that are certifiable and the other two are spineless.
    Put this RTFP off till December, make the changes, or not, put out a reasonable request for proposal and let’s get on with bigger and more important issues. It’s quite interesting that so few big mouths get all the time and energy when there are much more important issues to address in this county. These so called “animal lovers” are in this fight for the money, who’s kidding who.

  11. Hillary on October 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Broomell doesn’t want anyone from the former task force on the committee, HA! What about that Ginny Suarez. She was on the committee and attended the meetings and attended more meetings than Nicky Ratcliff. Just check the records. Broomell you are a JOKE! Dunn you are a puppet and Mullin you are a lame duck. Hodge has lost control and Moore is a waffler.

  12. Concerned Citizen on October 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Trash the Ch 209, and stop this favoritism BS. It’s time we the citizens start screaming as loud as those “animal lovers”. It always seems that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It’s time for reasonable people to push the squeaky wheel and make it clear to the commissioners that they are put into those positions by individuals who actually live in Cecil County. Not those “animal lovers” who live in Pa, Va, and other Md counties. Remember they can’t vote for Cecil County Council members. Give the SPCA back the animal control contract and move on.

  13. I know the truth on October 8, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Gerald Hawkins has been in Dr. Carletti’s Clinic several times since 2011. It’s easy to see, they are trying to set up their own twisted Circus, with all of their clowns pilling into their tiny car. Carletti is of course the Ring Leader. Commissioners, if your going to entertain this sideshow at least spare us some popcorn! When is this insanity going to end? Commissioner Dunn needs to jump off of this crazy train soon before his career goes up in flames from this train wreck in the making.

  14. cecilcountyfarmer on October 9, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Well to start with there are two people that need to find new jobs. Broomell and Mullin claimed that they did not read the text of the animal ordinance before they voted on it in August. There is no excuse for that, they were voted in by the people of this county to do a job.

    …I myself farm fulltime, have horses and cattle, and myself have seen and helped rehome abused and neglected animals. I thought this county was a farming county, and now I have to have a licence to spread manure, and god forbid if someone complains about the smell. Then I am being told where and how I can pile and store my manure and I am only allowed to spread it during certain times of the year. Yes we need animal control but I know people that had dealings with Gerald Hawkins [former employee at CCSPCA] because of one person’s complaint over a neglected horse. It was all nonsense and Hawkins and the person that complained had no idea what a 30 year old horse should look like. They had to pay for a vet check to prove that their horse was in good health. If it was me there would have been a lawsuit, to pay for vet and for the threats that Hawkins was giving to the horse owners. He did not even say sorry when he was proven wrong. ..

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