Cecil County Drug Problems: Health Officials Cite Treatment Progress; Broomell Challenges Drug Panel but Cop in the Room Restrains Outbursts

March 25, 2014

Under the watchful eyes of a Cecil County Sheriff’s Deputy summoned to keep order at a County Council worksession on Tuesday, Councilor Diana Broomell (R-4) challenged, in largely polite terms, the efficacy of the county’s drug addiction treatment advisory panel while county health officials documented successes of “crisis” mental health and drug overdose intervention programs.

For months, Broomell has aggressively challenged the operations of the county’s advisory Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council and attacked the panel’s volunteer chairman, John Bennett. Foremost among her objections have been her contention that treatment of drug addicts with methadone and similar prescribed medications does not ‘cure’ addicts and she has claimed irregularities in the “bylaws” of the Council. She has also asserted that the drug council was packed with health officials serving in multiple roles as both county/state employees and advisory panel members, which she views as a conflict of interest.

At several past County Council worksessions, Broomell has been vociferous in her attacks on Bennett and the county’s health officer, Stephanie Garrity, to the point where County Council President Robert Hodge (R-5) has gaveled her as out of order. So Hodge summoned a deputy to provide security for the Tuesday worksession— just in case the County Council’s rules of decorum might require an escort of a misbehaving Councilor out of the meeting. He only had to gavel Broomell as being ‘out of order’ once during the meeting and her demeanor did not rise to the level of consideration by the full County Council of a censure and an official escort out of the session.

Garrity outlined several initiatives undertaken under the administration of County Executive Tari Moore—who attended Tuesday’s Council meeting—including a $100,000 contract in the current budget year with a mobile mental health intervention team, Sante Group, that has been operating out of free office space at Union Hospital in Elkton.

Carol Masden, Sante’s director of mobile crisis services on the Eastern Shore, reported that the group has far exceeded the terms of its contract in dealing with “crisis” mental health incidents and drug abusers on an emergency basis. Part of Sante’s mission is to intervene to prevent admissions to general hospital emergency rooms in a crisis and to ensure that patients receive appropriate follow-up mental health and addiction treatment.

“We’re really going like gangbusters,” Masden told the County Council. The group has been involved in the county since last October and she cited statistics showing responses to calls for help that were double the level required by the contract. Sante does not administer medications or treat drug overdose patients, she said, and in critical cases will call 911 and emergency responders.

But the Sante group’s trained counselors “calm” a crisis situation and also follow up with chronic mental illness patients and drug abusers to connect patients with appropriate treatment services, Masden said.

Meanwhile, Garrity addressed Broomell’s complaints about the drug and alcohol council, by citing state law and past County Commissioners’ actions and policies to transition a previous “task force” into a state required “council” to advise local officials on drug and alcohol abuse programs. Garrity questioned Broomell’s contentions that the panel was improperly constituted and said that state policies specified that various health experts should be included on the panel, so health department officials’ involvement was appropriate.

Garrity also presented an updated 2/1/14 strategy plan adopted by the drug abuse council that added a priority to “reduce the incidence of fatal and non-fatal [drug] overdoses in Cecil County.” The county had the highest one-year drug overdose death rate in the state several years ago and more recently has been second only to Baltimore City in drug deaths.

“I’ve been very concerned” about the drug problem, Broomell said. Garrity responded, “You’ve been very passionate in your concerns.” But, Garrity added, the drug council had tried to operate in a “collegial” and “collaborative” fashion without confrontation.

Taking a different approach, Broomell declared that “two and a half years have been wasted” because the drug council was not aggressively seeking solutions. “How can you say it has been effective,” Broomell said. She claimed that the drug council was now simply rubber-stamping the county executive’s initiatives.

As she routinely does at Council meetings, Broomell again tried to challenge the value of methadone treatment for withdrawal from heroin addiction, but Council President Hodge cut her off, saying the meeting was not the forum for a debate on the relative merits of various medical treatment options.

Garrity said that “medication” used in conjunction with counseling was a valid treatment option supported by “science” and “the science must drive policy.”

“We need every weapon in our arsenal” to treat drug addiction, Garrity said.

Then Broomell tried to bait Garrity, saying that “some people” think that Broomell should not serve as a member of the advisory drug council and asking if Garrity agreed that “I shouldn’t be on the council.” When Garrity didn’t respond, Broomell then inquired if the health officer had an objection to “me in particular” being on the panel.

“I’d prefer not to answer,” Garrity responded.

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38 Responses to Cecil County Drug Problems: Health Officials Cite Treatment Progress; Broomell Challenges Drug Panel but Cop in the Room Restrains Outbursts

  1. David on March 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Here’s an idea, Mrs. Broomell: Instead of arguing against the experts and constantly bad-mouthing them (as you always do), why don’t you try working with them! We are not going to solve this drug crisis by you trying to control everything.
    I’m sorry, Ms. Broomell, but you are not a queen!

  2. Joe MacDonald on March 26, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I find it to be embarrassing that the actions of one inept councilor requires the presence of a sheriff’s deputy to maintain order! Are you kidding? This childish, boorish behavior should no longer be tolerated! I’m not sure which constituency is being represented but it’s time to vote her off. Why don.t we have a recall election instead of allowing her to waste our time waiting for the general election?

    • Joe C on March 27, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Unfortunately, charter does not allow for a recall, gee I wonder why, otherwise I would push for the recall of T. Moore for deceiving the voters that she was a Republican and for taking significant financial support then turning her back on the very Republicans that donated money, so she could name her own replacement instead of following the intent of the charter and allowing the Republican Central Committee to do their elected job.

      • David W on March 28, 2014 at 5:45 pm

        Joe, we’re getting a little tired of you turning everything into a rant about Moore. Quite frankly, I understand and agree with the decision she made. The words and actions of Diana Broomell since we went to Charter have affirmed Moore’s decision was the right one for Cecil County.

        You have the right to your own opinion, but you don’t have the right to your own facts. It’s Maryland State law that doesn’t allow recall – not the Cecil County Charter. The Republican Central Committee DID their elected job by providing 3 names to the County Council. When the County Council failed to make a choice, the Charter REQUIRED the County Executive to choose her replacement.

        You wrote that Moore received “significant financial support” from Republicans. I Campaign finance records are pretty straightforward and easy to research. The reports I saw listed $1200 from the Republican Club of Cecil County out of more than $28K raised. While there were clearly individual contributions that were from well-known republicans, there were also a wide variety of contributions from others.

        • Joe C on March 29, 2014 at 2:26 pm

          David W,
          You are forgetting about the 40K in mailer support she received from the State GOP. I have the mailer if you would like to see it! The Central Committee only submitted three names because we were attempting to follow the rules as intended. Once she switched parties after being elected as a Republican, the Central committee was under no obligation to submit names. That’s the facts jack!

          • RED 833 on March 30, 2014 at 7:28 am

            The anti-Moore faction repeats the $40,000.00 story endlessly, without proof. Please provide proof. Your word should be your bond.

          • Joe C on March 30, 2014 at 11:09 am

            Red 833,
            I will be glad to post the mailer paid for by the state party. It went to every house hold in Cecil County. Where would you like me to post in on Facebook so it can go viral?

          • RED 833 on March 31, 2014 at 10:23 am

            Tari Moore is a Republican, as is her replacement. Old news and sour grapes.

          • Tari Moore on April 1, 2014 at 10:30 am


            For the record, I took NO financial support from the State GOP.

            I knew nothing about the mailer you keep referring to until the day it showed up in my mailbox. I wasn’t consulted on it, nor advised it would be sent. I don’t know who it was mailed to nor how much it cost.

            Joe, I’m focused on Cecil County’s future -not the past. I hope you will join me in constructive dialogue to continue moving Cecil County forward in a positive direction.

          • Jackie Gregory on April 3, 2014 at 1:45 am

            You can say something 10,000 times and it doesn’t make it any more true than when you said it the first time. If you have any kind of evidence of the cost of the mailer, then provide it. This rumor has been passed around without any evidence long enough. You fail to acknowledge that the mailer that was sent out included all of the Republican candidates running, so any $ spent would need to be divided six ways to even account for what would have been contributed to any one candidate included on the mailer.

            The money that Moore received for her campaign came from people who supported her for that office, and who also supported her choice to unaffiliate for a time, for the sake of the citizens even if it was not the easy or politically correct thing to do. The people made a clear choice when they fired Jim Mullin. It would have been a slap in the face of the voters to put someone back on the council who would continue his anti-property rights track record.

          • Joe C on April 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm

            Response to Tari Moore, Red 833 and Jackie Gregory:

            First, Jackie, your math is wrong. The flyer had three names (remember it is as easy as 1-2-3) on it not six as you state. The flyer had an authority line of Maryland GOP, which in itself is interesting given the fact that the party has struggled financially for many years and has even had troubles paying its rent. So why would the state party pay for a significant mailing event? They certainly would not have paid for the mailer if they knew one person (Tari Moore) was an independent.

            In any event it was REPUBLICAN MONEY not unaffiliated money! The money was “pass through money” donated from another campaign, a REPUBLICAN campaign. The local Republican Central Committee and its Chairman, with his own money, spent time and money to help elect REPUBLICANS, including Ms. Moore, but what does she do after being elected, she turns her back on the very people that helped her get in, in a selfish move, so that she can pick her own successor.

            From the results of the election she needed all the help she could get, since the election numbers were one of the closest races in that election cycle. Tari, for the record, you received “in-kind support” from the State GOP and that is the fact and you cannot change it. You used the Republican Party and its name to get elected then turned your back on it.

            If you want forgiveness, please ask for it, starting by refunding your fair share to the party and by printing an apology to local Republicans in the county newspapers of record, but I doubt you will do it because you feel”the ends justify the means”. I will not hold my breath, even though you would hope for that.

            You keep talking about “moving the county forward”, what exactly have you done? Have you told your “property rights” friends that all Tier III and Tier IV property (according to your map) in the county cannot be approved for subdivision by the local board of health and that duty has now been transferred to the MD MDE because you submitted a deficient Tier map? Did you tell your property rights friends that you testified for SB236 (with amendments), instead of standing up firmly against it. Yes, I saw the videotape, with you in your lovely green suit jacket. I have not heard the Director of the Board of Health report that this duty was removed from her by the MDE in her monthly reports to the council. Why not?

            Tari, as far as moving forward in a positive direction, that is becoming increasing difficult, if not impossible, when one’s word cannot be trusted. I do not trust you to keep your word since it has been broken several times. For example, when you ran for office you claimed you ran a business, ‘Moore Strategies”, yet no evidence of that can be found in public records, including the campaign accounts of local officials you claimed to have helped. So did they file a false report or did you not in fact have a business? Where the proper taxes paid to Maryland and Cecil County?

            You claimed to be a fiscal conservative when running, yet you and your partners on the council increased county debt by 50%, over $70 million dollars piled on the backs of taxpayers and rate payers. While you are at it please explain to the voters why you accepted $4000 dollars in campaign funds from a Harford County developer, AFTER THE ELECTION?? Then miraculously the council delayed implementation of higher sewer hook-up fees. These are all issues that severely erode trust, in my book and that of many citizens.

        • Joe C on March 31, 2014 at 8:43 pm

          Red 833,
          She switched back when no one was looking, but when it really counted she turned her back on the Republican Party after taking their support to get elected, just showing her true colors!

          • RED 833 on April 1, 2014 at 10:46 pm

            Exactly. She showed her true colors by taking a bold stand against the Smigiel-Pipkin machine. They would have appointed her successor via their puppet Republican Central Committee.

      • David on April 1, 2014 at 8:14 pm

        Joe C,
        The state of Maryland does not permit recalls. It’s a state, not local, law.

        • Joe C on April 5, 2014 at 4:03 pm

          Read “if”, I know that!

  3. Roger on March 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Broomell has made an important point at this meeting. That “science” as Garrity referred to is nothing more than double speak for drug manufacturers promotional literature about how their plan is to get addicts off heroin is with more drugs from their drugstores–I mean “treatment centers.”

    They don’t give alcoholics more alcohol. They don’t give criminals smaller guns. They don’t let pedophiles work in schools. You want off drugs then go cold turkey; if you want to stop throwing away tax dollars go cold turkey. Just quit believing the “experts”– or are they just paid turkeys?

  4. Joe C on March 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Diana has been out in front on this drug problem in Cecil county for a long time, it seems to me that the late comers are trying to take away this fact now that we are in an election season, what a shame!

  5. Bob Amato on March 27, 2014 at 10:32 am

    I cannot look into Broomell’s heart and determine if she has a sincere interest in solving our drug addiction epidemic. I can only assume that she does. I can, however, speak to her history of using community issues for political purposes.

    She always turns issues into personal attacks against political opponents and all who question her in any way. There is a common theme of accusing opponents of greed and corruption. She always disputes the opinions and positions of Doctors, Psychologists, engineers, educators, and others with decades of experience and advanced education in their fields.

    I agree with the following statement: “Fix the problem, not the blame.”

    • Joe C on March 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm

      Where there is smoke there is fire! There is plenty of smoke in Cecil County, glad someone is watching out for it, before we have a full fledge wildfire.

      • Bob Amato on March 29, 2014 at 8:24 am

        Shakespeare said ““Who steals my purse, steals trash, but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed.” Broomell routinely slanders opponents, attempting to enrich herself by pandering to voters. I would like to see her back up her words with facts.

        • Joe C on March 29, 2014 at 2:34 pm

          She probably has the facts to back up what she is saying but cannot finishing bringing them out because of staged “coughing epidemics”, tapping of chairs, grunting, gaveling by Hodge and strong arming by soviet style tactics such as having police at the council meetings to enforce “controlled speech”. Pretty sad for America and Cecil County.

          • Kelly Frost on March 29, 2014 at 7:07 pm

            I attended the Tuesday morning workshop and the only person getting loud was Mr Hodge. What’s that about? He gaveled Ms. Broomell mid question and then tried to speak for her, I mean he actually said “What I think Ms Broomall is trying to ask is this xxxxxxx.” And when she tried to say after his question was answered, she tried to ask her question before she was interrupted and was talked over again by Mr Hodge.

            He talks down and loud to her, is this acceptable behavior at the council level? This was awful behavior witnessed by all who attended. Agreed – we are in pretty sad shape in both America and Cecil County (which I call home).

          • Bob Amato on March 29, 2014 at 7:36 pm

            Broomell has never been silenced. She can provide her “facts” on her blog, to the Cecil Whig, or the States Attorney.

          • Joe C on March 30, 2014 at 11:14 am

            Thank you for documenting some of what I have observed. We have the 1st amendment for a reason, time to stop the Soviet/North Korea tactics!

          • Joe C on March 30, 2014 at 11:18 am

            Perhaps the FBI would be better, after watching the news last week, it looks like they are cleaning up government officials. Last week it was all Democrats, would hate to see Republicans added to that list.

          • Bob Amato on April 1, 2014 at 7:30 am

            Joe C,
            Disagreeing with Broomell and her anti-business associates is not a violation of state or Federal law.

          • RED 833 on April 2, 2014 at 7:15 am

            Kelly Frost,

            I invite you to visit the Cecil County Government website and listen to the audio of prior meetings. Broomell was on her good behavior at the meeting you attended The presiding officer should be able to conduct a meeting without her outbursts and spontaneous accusations.

    • Ron Lobos on March 28, 2014 at 7:14 am

      I believe that Broomell is sincere about Cecil County’s drug problem; however, with this woman it doesn’t stop here. It is clear from her past history that she is convinced that she is the only one who can solve the drug problem and that no one else is as dedicated to the cause as she is. She has made it clear in many ways that she must be in control of the situation in order to solve the problem. No one else is as capable, she thinks.

      She has an interesting history of taking control. Reference her accomplishments as leader of the 3 Amigos– ie., Buddies for Life, Artesian reversal of waste water treatment project, methadone clinic lawsuit, blocking of the Basell School property purchase resulting in millions being overspent to purchase property, etc., and her ‘accomplishments’ go on and on.

  6. Joe C on March 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I am so glad that we can agree that Diana is sincere and has been out in front on the huge drug problem now facing Cecil County, but we will have to agree to disagree on the other points, Buddies for Life has been doing a good job with the huge task of animal control, Artesian walked away from a bad deal, the drug problem in Cecil County has gotten worst since methadone clinics started popping up to draw in more “clients” and Diana voted against spending the money on Basell and did not negotiate the sales contract which over paid for a property no one else wanted but the over bloated School Board.

  7. Duct Taper on March 30, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Dear Mr.C: Do the math. The “Buddies” do dog control, period, making them overpaid. (Cats, anyone?) Artesian was chased away by a legal document (Smigiel’s)waving by a [certain] lady. Methadone is established treatment [for drug addiction] but not a fan.

    The Basell property was bought by an investment group for the purpose of flipping it–they were smart, we had the same opportunity, but [ignored it.] All these matters cost us more than they could have. There is a common conection/ person!

  8. Joe C on March 31, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Dear Duct Taper,
    Please take the time and go to Buddies for Life kennel and see for yourself in fact they do deal with cats. If you do not believe me, just ask Al Wein, when he visited, one of the cats tried to “adopt” him. No “legal document” would chase Ms. Taylor away from a good deal since she is a very good business person, they smelled a bad deal and had already gotten what they wanted, the county water system, so they did not walk they ran from a bad deal. Methadone may be a treatment for some but my point was that the amount of drug addicts walking around the county, especially in Elkton has gotten worst since all the meth clinics popped up. The Basell property deal was handled poorly and not properly negotiated. Why would any sane entity pay a significant premium for a property that was just recently purchased, in a down real estate market? Flipping only works in a rising market, which is not happening. The School Board and their cohorts in the County Government did not care what they spent because they wanted it and were not spending their own money; they spent the Taxpayers money with hesitation. This is the problem.

    • Lauren C on April 1, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Joe C,
      I usually have made it my practice to stay out of the fray of online commenting but in several of your posts above to make your point about the purchase of the new school of technology property, you made reference to “the over-bloated school board” and also referenced the school board’s so-called under-handed tactics simply because we wanted that property and didn’t care. We can agree to disagree about policy and politics, but I can no longer silently accept the disparaging of the school board.

      I proudly serve on that board with sincerely dedicated individuals who receive next to no compensation for many hours- hours often spent away from family dinners or attending school events of our own children. This is on top of our full time jobs. But, we do it willingly. We do it because 4 of us have our own children sitting in those classrooms, and we want to do everything we can to give them the best chance in life and we want those same opportunities for each and every one of their classmates.

      We do it because we live in this county and pay taxes in this county and raise our families in this county. We want the best for this county and for our neighbors and for our local businesses. That is our agenda. Really. That’s it. Believe me when I tell
      you, there is no glory in this position. No prize of power or politics. However, I can say that there is the unmatched reward of seeing all of the accomplishments of the students and knowing we play some part in making that happen.

      So, think what you may about public education and taxpayer funding, etc. But, to conflate that with the notion that the individuals on the school board or our actions come from a place of some kind of corrupt or greedy agenda is just plain false. As a Mom, I do everything I can for my children. As a member of the school board, I do everything I can for all 16,000 students.

      • Roger on April 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm

        Perhaps now is the time that Cecil County needs a full time publicly elected school board or just a whole new leadership. Spending more money is not the answer.

        Despite Cecil County budgets growing at alarming rates each year, I can easily see in these times of austerity, that our county still lacks discipline and employment opportunities. Cecil has a huge narcotics epidemic propelled by a black market and taxpayer funding. Widespread littering problems are caused by exorbitant landfill fees while our County Parks are used for feral cat litter boxes as granted to animal control organizations.

        The only groups succeeding here are special interests.

        It’s a shame that Government’s continued mindset is to spend more money while infant mortality is among the highest in the world and USA education is not even ranked near the top ten in the world.

        Those special interests are not in the best interests of taxpayers and citizens in general.

      • Joe C on April 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        I did not intend to demean any board members personally or in their official capacity. I realize that all have families and spend a great deal of time away from them in their service, however I feel that in the negotiations to buy Basell, the taxpayers did not received the best deal for their money. The property was unwanted by other buyers, yet we paid a premium. You must also realize that budgets that exceed normal inflation and increases in student size are questionable, since the taxpayers’ ability to pay is not increasing and therefore unsustainable. I would like to see the schools offer a course in gun safety and government finance; I believe it would be beneficial to the community. Thank you.

    • David on April 1, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      When I went to B4L, I think I saw about 80 cats up for adoption plus whatever kitties are in foster care.

      • Duct Taper on April 5, 2014 at 9:43 am

        How about the B4L get together with the C4L and build a shrine to Broomell.Then they can worship the most expensive commissioner/councilperson in Cecil County history.

  9. furmomma on April 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    David and others,

    The Buddies are turning people away, left and right, when they try to bring in stray cats and even stray dogs that people find running in their neighborhoods, but the citizens try to be helpful and put them in their yard and feed them while trying to get the animal control people to come out and take them. My cousin was told “we don’t have room” to take a dog and told to take care of it himself and maybe in a week or so the Buddies maybe would take it! That is not what my tax dollars are supposed to be paying for.

    • Politics for Dummies on April 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

      What Animal Control/ Buddy for Life is actually doing when you call about a stray is finding ways to get you to care for and feed said “stray” for 3 days. After 3 days of caring for the animal it is legally considered yours (e.g. “your problem”).

      The A Buddy for Life staff is so overwhelmed, and were so poorly equipped/trained to take over County Animal Control, it is becoming more and more obvious as numerous volunteers/fosters/adopters step forward with their horror stories regarding animal treatment, cleanliness, withheld medications, disease, etc. I think the time for questioning this group and giving them numerous opportunities to correct breaches of contract are over.

      Taxpayers need to file claims demanding a refund of their misappropriated tax dollars and demand answers as to how serious allegations were never fully and properly investigated (including a person being injured and a family pet killed by a dog they were fostering for the Buddy group under its county contract.

      To say what a great job this organization is doing is ludicrous. The 2nd floor of the building they are in was never approved for storing (hoarding) cats and dogs. There are no sprinklers (as there is no water supply to that floor) and not a fire extinguisher to be found.

      Handicapped individuals have no access to the cats available for adoption. These alone should be violations that should be investigated by a Fire Marshall and the county government for violations of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which is binding on county-paid programs.

      I will never understand how a group of very vocal, and equally misinformed, individuals have been able to take over a government-funded animal control contract. Who had their palms greased on that deal?

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