3 Amigos Aim to Give Cecil County Animal Control Contract to “Buddy” Group in Final Hours Before Charter Govt.; Settling Scores?

November 27, 2012

In a final swan song before Charter government begins next Monday, the Three Amigos faction of the Cecil County Commissioners late Tuesday suddenly scheduled two “special” meetings so they can award an animal control contract to A Buddy for Life, a Delaware dog rescue group with no animal shelter and no experience in animal control, by the end of this week.

A few minutes before 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, an email alert and posting on the county government website announced that there would be a “special meeting” of the Commissioners tomorrow, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday 11/28/12, and another “special meeting” at 10 a.m. Friday 11/30/12, “regarding the animal care and control contract between A Buddy for Life and Cecil County.” There was no public mention of such meetings, no details of a contract or pending action at the regular, public worksession of the County Commissioners held Tuesday morning. That worksession was previously scheduled as the last official meeting of the Commissioners before they go out of existence upon the onset of Charter government on Monday, 12/3/12 at noon.

The Cecil County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. (CCSPCA), which had bid on the contract but withdrew its bid citing a “tainted” bidding process, recently filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against award of a contract to the Buddy group and a court hearing on the injunction is currently scheduled for late December. The CCSPCA has handled animal control under contract with the county for decades, and has its own fully equipped and licensed animal shelter, with a full-time staff veterinarian, in Chesapeake City.

Despite the pending litigation, the Three Amigos faction—which will be losing one of its leading members, Commissioners Board President James Mullin (R-1) as of Monday— is seeking to push ahead anyway in the last few days of the Amigos’ control of the county board.

The same faction has indicated for months, through public comments and proposed changes to a new animal control ordinance, that it favored the Delaware group that is aligned with Mindy Carletti, a Perryville veterinarian who unilaterally re-wrote a proposed animal control ordinance for the past year and a half after a broad-based task force submitted a significantly different ordinance in late 2010. (The Buddy group was not licensed to do business in Maryland at the time it submitted its bid to provide animal control services but subsequently filed an application with the state, listing Carletti as its “resident agent,” sources said.)

The sudden move by the Three Amigos faction of Commissioners came several hours before the county’s Board of Appeals was set to hold a public hearing Tuesday night on a request for a zoning variance by the Buddy group on an Appleton Road warehouse that the group wants to rent to convert into an animal shelter. It was unclear how the county could plan to move ahead with a contract with the Buddy group without an approved shelter facility, or if some commissioners believed they could predict—or ignore– how the Board of Appeals would rule on the variance request.

Local residents have hired an attorney to oppose the variance, sources said. Board of Appeals decisions are subject to appeal to the county Circuit Court. The Buddy group filed its request for the zoning variance in early October, after the deadline to bid under a county Request for Proposal (RFP), which required bidders to have a plan in place for sheltering homeless animals as a condition of a bid proposal.

[UPDATE: The Cecil County Board of Appeals voted to deny the zoning variance request by the Buddy group Tuesday night. Commissioners Diana Broomell and James Mullin attended the meeting but did not speak, according to attendees. Although the zoning variance was applied for by Crystal Litteral, the president and only listed officer of the Buddy group, Jenn Callahan– a longtime friend and employee of Mindy Carletti– appeared at the zoning hearing to present the Buddy group’s case.]

The last-minute push by the Three Amigos raises numerous questions about procedure as well as legality. There are no formal, evening “business meetings” of the Commissioners before the Board is abolished upon the establishment of Charter government—with a County Council and a County Executive—on Monday. And current rules for the Commissioners specify a proposal, including actions on RFPs or awards of contracts, must be submitted at a formal “business” meeting as an “introduction item” before it can be listed on the agenda as an “action item” two weeks after introduction.

But the fine points of the law appear to pale against the agenda of the outgoing Three Amigos faction, all of whom are aligned politically with Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36), a longstanding foe of the CCSPCA. Commissioners Diana Broomell (R-4) and Michael Dunn (R-3) both previously worked for Smigiel as aides. And Commissioners Board President James Mullin (R-1)—who is out of a job as of Monday, after losing his bid for re-election—ran as a member of a Smipkin slate of candidates endorsed and financed by Smigiel and his political ally, state Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36). (Broomell and Dunn will be carry-over members of the new County Council.)

Unclear at this point is exactly how much taxpayer money the Buddy group would get from the county, although sources indicated it would be substantially more than the current budget year’s contract with the CCSPCA.

And it was also unclear how the minimally funded Buddy group—which had less that $6,000 in its bank account according to its most recent filing as a non-profit group with the federal IRS—would come up with the costly infrastructure, such as cage-equipped vans, computer software to track lost or stray animals, renovation of its rented warehouse to provide indoor kennels, etc., or if the county taxpayers would be paying money up front to build the infrastructure for the Buddy group.

It was also unclear how or when the Buddy group would obtain necessary state and federal licenses for animal drug dispensing, including highly regulated animal sedatives and euthanasia drugs. State environmental agencies also showed no applications for needed discharge permits for kennel run-off/washdown discharges that could impact the environment.

The CCSPCA already has a fully equipped, state-licensed shelter facility and animal hospital, as well as appropriate environmental permits and state veterinary and federal drug licensing.

[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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20 Responses to 3 Amigos Aim to Give Cecil County Animal Control Contract to “Buddy” Group in Final Hours Before Charter Govt.; Settling Scores?

  1. Too Much Government on November 28, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Well isn’t that the frosting on the cake. Bold move on their part, and they will probably get away with it. It was mentioned at the Planning meeting that Carletti would be their veterinarian. Ok let me see, Carletti wrote the Ordinance, Carletti is the resident agent for Buddy for Life, Inc., Carletti’s employee Jenn Callahan, aka under various other names on Facebook, made the appeal in front of the Board of Appeals. Broomell and Mullin were in the audience very intent and Hawkins, a former SPCA dogcatcher was slouched in his chair next to Callahan and Broomell.

    Do I think collusion, tainted process, conflict of interest? This needs to be stopped now. Running Buddy for Life doesn’t mean they are qualified to run animal control.

    • Broom666 nutcase on November 29, 2012 at 8:47 am

      I’m not sure, but wasn’t it Broomell that said, “We need to pass the bill in order for you to see what’s in it” ? lol

  2. MikeR on November 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I attended that Planning and Zoning meeting last evening and I must commend the members of the board. They listened to the individuals both in favor and in opposition to putting an animal shelter in a bare warehouse, in a residential neighborhood, and turned down the request for the variance.

    Callahan said that “no” feces or other animal matter would be going down the drain. How in the world do you pick up urine? Would they not be washing down the floor daily particularly since the animals coming into a shelter are potentially dangerous, carrying diseases? Where are these dogs going to urinate and defacate since they cannot put in outside runs.

    They say they are all for the animals, sounds more to me that they are all for the tax payer dollar and this was the three (3) amigo plan from the beginning to screw the SPCA.

  3. Concerned Citizen on November 28, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Let me see now –
    Carletti – appointed member of the Animal Control Task Force put in place by Hodge
    Carletti – becomes only member, self appointed, to revise but does a complete do over of the ordinance
    Carletti – involved with bidder on animal control RFP
    Carletti – resident agent of Buddy for Life
    Carletti – veterinarian responsible for care of animals in animal control

    Callahan – employee and personal friend of Carletti Callahan – presents information to zoning board but is not the applicant for the variance
    Callahan – AKA Nicole Green on Facebook blasting other agencies, handling herself in a very unprofessional manner with false accusations and nasty comments.
    Hawkins – former SPCA animal control officer who has handled himself in a very unprofessional manner with the public at large…

    This is certainly not a group that should be working on behalf of the animals of Cecil County. And taxpayers have the right to know– right NOW– how much we will have to pay for this amateur hour. And is it true that the county will be buying them the equipment and vehicles and paying them way more money than they were willing to pay the SPCA?

    This has got to stop – our taxes are going up, we have less to spend but Cecil County is going to pay more because of a bond between Carletti and the 3 Amigos. Seems like the taxpayers always get screwed.

  4. Concerned Citizen on November 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    The Buddy for Life contract was made public this morning at the “special” session of commissioners. Moore was absent, Hodge on speaker phone, meeting delayed 15 minutes for Broomell to arrive. They are going to pay Buddy for Life $720,000 per year, ($60,000./month) plus an additional $10,000 up front for equipment, plus the county is purchasing two fully equipped animal control vans for $40,000+ each and leasing them to Buddy for Life for $1.00 a year. This is not a typographical error. YES – taxpayers money.

    The SPCA asked for one new van two years in a row and was denied even though according to public record both had over 150,000 miles on each.

    AND although the contract requires the Buddys to have a facility in place before the contract is signed, they were denied the variance required for the Appleton Rd. building. So they have no place to put the animals!

    The 3 amigos seem to think this is a minor issue. Where are the animals going? They are in breach of contract before the contract is even signed.

    They say they want to lease some space at Rainwood Kennels in Elkton and full service boarding, grooming, training facility. I can’t imagine that Rainwood Kennels would agree to this since the new animal control ordinance forbids stray animals to be housed in same building as the boarding animals. Can you imagine boarding your animals at a facility that takes in dangerous, sick, animals with no history of vaccines?

    I think Rainwood wasn’t informed of those rules of the new animal control law. I can’t imagine Judge Dexter Thompson’s wife (owner of Rainwood Kennels) not abiding by the laws pertaining to animal control.

    Don’t forget the meeting set for Friday at 10AM is to actually go ahead with the contract signing. This is total insanity.

  5. concernedcitizen on November 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    …This is about principle more than anything. It is time that the process to award this contract is investigated by law enforcement.

  6. Topcat on November 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Well how interesting now. It seems that Cecil County has left the backwoods politics behind and moved on to the Chicago thug style politics. It was interesting to watch [at Wednesday’s special meeting] the smirk on Mullin’s and Wein’s faces as they again pulled off a big joke on the people of Cecil county and to laugh under their breath while Hodge was on the phone asking questions. The look they gave each other when Hodge asked if the new facility had been inspected, but no one knows where the facility is located except the Amigos, said volumes about the lies behind this whole thing.

    What a sham of a board– one can only imagine what other surprises there are in this contract and further dealings with Buddy could prove costly to the residents of Cecil county.

    he county buying 2 vehicles that they will lease to buddy for life for $1 a month sounds like a big cash donation to Buddy. Didnt the RFP require vehicles be owned by the vendor and now the county is into being a leasing company to the vendor. Will the cost of the vehicles be deducted from the money that they are paying to Buddy? We still have not seen the RFP bid and their proposal. …Now Buddy is getting more money–$720,000– plus other funds but the SPCA got much less.

    I cant wait till all the cronies involved in this start trying to get their slice of the cash. I expect that they will start their own infighting especially after the prior hearing with them all claiming that they needed money to do their own thing.

    Stay tuned as this heads to court and better hide your wallets because this looks like it will be a big Christmas for lawyers. Time to think about relocating to a more friendly county that respects laws and procedures and doesn’t view their citizens as rubes and piggy banks.

    • Too Much Government on November 29, 2012 at 11:04 am

      This gets more intriguing by the day. Rainwood Kennels as their alternative facility. That kennel leasses space to a grooming and spa facility for dogs and cats. Wonder how those clients will react to having to walk in to a facility with stray, sick, aggressive dogs with no vaccination history. Business is bad enough in this economy, can’t imagine anyone wanting to bring their “kids” (pets) to this facility with all the barking and growling going on in the kennels. ..

  7. Read Between The Whines on November 28, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I honestly cannot believe this may get approved. What kind of requirements are in place to make sure the vendor is providing adequate care?

    If the County is paying them startup fees, and outrageous salaries, why didn’t we take over the Animal Control on our own? We are buying their vehicles, paying their rent and all associated costs, and what happens if they back out of the contract like the SPCA? Or worse, if they are not performing as hoped?

    It sounds like their plan to throw animals in a warehouse has fallen through, so how can this organization logically perform the scope of work?

  8. Worried 4 Future on November 29, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I am very worried for the future of Cecil County if this blatant abuse of power is allowed to go ahead in a last minute scam. Where is County Executive Moore on all this? Isn’t this just a look into the future for the next couple years if the amigo group gets another one of their crowd to fill her seat on the County Council?

    Many of us voted for charter government because we were sick and tired of all the political garbage going on in Elkton. But now we are getting more of the same, and even worse!

    Mrs. Moore, step up to the plate, speak out and show the leadership we expected from you when we voted for you for county executive. Put your foot down, tell the Amigos this end run around the taxpayers will not be allowed. And if they do it anyway, on Monday when you take your oath the first thing you can do is cancel this improper “contract.”

    • Russ on November 29, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Wein could delay/stop this if he wanted. There are ways and he has been around long enough and knows the “process” tricks. Good point about Moore. Where are you Tari? Wein is YOUR pick. Leadership is required!

      • Topcat on November 30, 2012 at 11:31 pm

        Dont expect Wein to step in. He appears to be the fourth amigo now, claiming they met all the requirements but showing no proof even to the point of denying Hodge a copy of the paperwork. I guess on Monday he will get his reward when he keeps his job [as the new Director of Administration] under charter government.

  9. Frank J on November 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    So the commissioners are fine with this contract proposal yet they would not fund or support any proposal to solve the problem of ambulances in the county. The amount they are giving to this group could easily fund three of more paid and fully staffed ambulances.

    Then again with the way this contract sounds, they may very well solve the ambulance problem by recruiting a few interested individuals from a first-aid course and buying them vehicles.

  10. dog gone tired on November 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Three commisioners –Mullin, Dunn, Broomell– on November 30th changed the contract for animal control from 18 months and over 1 million dollars to now to 3 years and nearly 3 million dollars and gave them cash and the contract. Buddy for Life still does not have a property, facility,or equipment at the time of signing.

    It is illegal to do this . But now Buddy for Life and their Vet Mindy Carletti have the millions and even $10,000 in cash today and two autos in addition– plus $60,000 a month to control our animals and our money. WE must stop this !!

    Email TMoore@ccgov.org or call 410 996 5201 and tell her on her first day to terminate the contract and start the bidding again…

    Buddy for life has til January 1st 2013 to take over and be ready.
    Nearly 3 Million dollars to two people and a vet, yet they have no building or kennels or all of the things needed to safely take care of our stray, lost, dangerous or sick animals.

  11. In shock on December 4, 2012 at 12:04 am

    This is so unreal to imagine that a “rescue group” from Del. would be awarded a contract for animal control duties without a shelter, properly outfitted vans, and more importantly a properly trained and experienced staff that is certified and trained to handle complaints and the enforcement of animal laws. These are issues that will come back to bite this county in the long run…

    Maryland law requires that all strays be held for a stray hold period, giving the owners a chance to find and reclaim them. What if the animal is extremely dangerous, will they be capable of providing for its needs during the mandatory stray hold period or will their lack of experience result in human or animal injuries or worse? Do they have Euthanasia certified employees ready to go and are they capable of staffing such certified individuals full time at their facility?

    These and so many other questions must be addressed before they are approved as capable of meeting the most basic requirements of an animal control contract. It appears to me that while this county has before it an opportunity to come out of the dark ages where their Animal Control commitments to its citizens is concerned, but instead this administration is taking it even deeper into the hole of archaic Animal Control practices.

    While the rescue group may be well intended, it is not well enough organized to take on a task this great and to attempt to do so is foolish at best. If the county is unwilling to establish a County owned and run shelter and an animal control agency staffed with certified officers, they should only consider renewing their relationship with the CCSPCA, who are set up to handle these duties properly and humanely.

    To do anything less is being grossly negligent with the tax payers money, and taking a gamble that this rescue organization can pull together a plan out of thin air and actually provide the county citizens the animal control agency that it has long been asking for. This is one of the biggest political train wrecks I have ever seen!

    • Rick O'Shea on December 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

      This decision requires a do-over.

  12. Animals Need to be Protected on December 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    I cannot believe that the 3 Amigos are allowed to get away with this animal control contract. Tari Moore can stop this, but she seems to have taken the position that she is willing to give this out of state group the taxpayer money for what is really a gamble.

    Look at the players in this group – talk about conflict of interest. Mindy Carletti, her pal and employee Jenn Callahan, and others who we don’t even know about because they are not publicly disclosed.

    Oh please, if this is really the group that will be responsible for the animals of Cecil County, just remember these individuals are only interested in control and don’t give a rat’s a** about the animals.

    • Take The Money and Run on December 13, 2012 at 12:17 am

      Well if this goes through the myopic Republican voters of Cecil County can congratulate themselves for allowing a majority of thug style politicians to gain control of their county and their tax money. Well done! You know what they say: as ye reap so shall ye soweth.

      … A veritable overnight success story: poor girl and her girlfriend get rich quick by hitching their star to the corrupt and powerful Oz and learning his sneaky political ways! Would make a great trashy novel.

  13. Rick O'Shea on November 28, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Seems unethical to me. Perhaps the Ethics Commission could issue an advisory opinion.

  14. Broom666 nutcase on November 29, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    I assume you’re talking about the Broomethical Commission.

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