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Broomell to be Removed from Drug Panel for ‘Disruption;’ Claims Foes ‘Lying’ and ‘Profiting’ from Crisis

July 2, 2014
By Nancy Schwerzler

(With Exclusive Cecil Times Video)

The Cecil County Council is taking steps to remove Councilor Diana Broomell (R-4) from the county’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council, at the request of health officials, after a recent meeting of the panel was abruptly adjourned after Broomell and some allies loudly challenged the proceedings.

Broomell restrained her anger at the move during a County Council worksession on Tuesday morning, as two Sheriff’s Deputies were posted in the back of the meeting room to keep order. It was the third time that deputies have been called to attend Council worksessions out of concerns that Broomell would disrupt the proceedings.

Nevertheless, she was gaveled as being “out of order” twice by County Council President Robert Hodge (R-5). At one point, Broomell glared at Hodge and said, “You’re lying.”

Hodge initiated the steps to remove Broomell, citing the county Charter that would allow him to remove Broomell and appoint another Council member as the County Council’s representative to the panel, which includes multiple state and local agencies and groups dealing with the drug abuse problem. But Hodge said he chose to act via a resolution that will be voted upon by the full County Council.

“I could do it unilaterally,” Hodge said. “But I think it’s fairer to do it by resolution.”

But there was little doubt that a three-vote majority of the Council will agree to oust Broomell from the panel, since Broomell has frequently attacked the majority on a wide range of issues and made accusations of impropriety against them individually without factual substantiation. Broomell’s days on the County Council are numbered anyway, since she lost last Tuesday’s Republican primary to hold on to her seat and she will be out of public office in early December.

Broomell’s political loss was cited in a letter to Hodge from the county’s health officer, Stephanie Garrity, asking that Broomell be replaced by County Councilor Alan McCarthy (R-1). (Hodge admitted to Broomell that he had drafted the resolution before receiving the letter on Monday 6/30/14.)

McCarthy, a veterinarian, has used his science background to ask detailed questions of drug experts, such as doctors from Johns Hopkins University who have briefed the County Council on the physiology of addiction and substance abuse problems. His County Council term has two more years to run.

In her letter, Garrity said that “in light of the results of the recent primary election” she was requesting that Broomell be replaced as the County Council’s representative to the drug and alcohol panel.

“Because of the many multi-agency projects either in full swing or in development that, hopefully, will stem the tide of substance abuse and overdose deaths in Cecil County, collaboration and collegiality are necessary in order for the DACC to function as it was originally intended by Maryland statute. Disparate opinions are always welcome, but must occur in an atmosphere of mutual respect. That is not happening now,” Garrity wrote.

Last week, a meeting of the DACC was adjourned prematurely after Broomell interrupted and challenged its leaders whom she accused if not following proper procedures. Similarly, several weeks ago a drug symposium sponsored by the Maryland Association of Counties that was held in Cecil County was interrupted by Broomell and allies, until Sheriff Barry Janney stood up and warned that continued interruptions would result in people being escorted from the room by law enforcement officials.

Broomell has made some valid objections to the ways the DACC has operated in the past two years, such as not having properly approved bylaws and holding few meetings even as the drug crisis in the county has escalated. She has also complained that too much unilateral power has been given to Ken Collins, a health department employee who was named by County Executive Tari Moore as her special advisor on drug issues—a “drug czar.”

But, as is often the case with Broomell, the substance of what she is trying to say gets lost in the over-the-top rhetoric and loud name-calling against people who disagree with her viewpoint.

The presence of two deputies at Tuesday’s Council worksession clearly miffed Broomell, who suggested it was an attempt to intimidate her. But the police presence did tamp down the volume and number of interruptions of other Councilors even as she made sharp accusations.

“You’re lying,” she told Hodge at one point. The she accused him of an “orchestrated” effort to silence her and asserted that Hodge did not want to solve the county’s drug abuse crisis because he was aligned with people who “profited from” drug abuse.

Cecil Times video-recorded some of Broomell’s retorts at the worksession and the video can be seen on our YouTube channel here:

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22 Responses to Broomell to be Removed from Drug Panel for ‘Disruption;’ Claims Foes ‘Lying’ and ‘Profiting’ from Crisis

  1. Joe C on July 2, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    This action is not surprising given that the “Free spending three”, received financial support from the Cecil Business Leaders for Better (Bigger)Government, yes the same group that sends all those flashy glossy mailers at election time and who received campaign contributions from those associated with methadone clinics. Everyone I talk to agrees that the drug problem escalated in this county with the increase in methadone clinics.

    • Rick O'Shea on July 3, 2014 at 8:08 am

      Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

      Having lost two successive elections. Broomell continues her negative behavior. Everyone disagreeing with her is painted as corrupt. Judging from the results of the most recent election, it seems that the voters are tired of negativity as evidenced by rejection of the candidates who specialized in negative attacks.

      “Everyone I talk to agrees that the drug problem escalated in this county with the increase in methadone clinics.” Causation shouldn’t be confused with correlation. There is no evidence that the increase in methadone clinics caused an escalation of the “drug problem”.

      • Joe C on July 3, 2014 at 6:07 pm

        The only negative ads I saw during this campaign were from the Cecil Business Leaders for Bigger Government, who sent pictures of dirty shoes into my home! Just shows that dirty politics still work. I guess they have the corner on dirt. There may be no direct correlation, but the I do know that “Birds of a Feather flock together”, especially when it comes to drugs. Funny that the sheriff candidates all cited the methadone clinics as part of the drug problem during forums that I attended. I guess you were not in attendance.

        • Bob Laird on July 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

          C’mon Joe.

          You’re asking us to put our heads in the sand here. Voters were tired of the negativity that has been prevalent since Diana took office – you know this to be true even if you never personally thought she was being negative or if her negativity was caused by others. I didn’t like the dirty boots ad either but to say that the ad was the only “dirty politics” and this is why voters chose not to bring her back is just silly.

          On the Methadone clinics, it sounds like they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing with what is a proper treatment protocol. I don’t know a lot about it so there could be other things but I really don’t think that our heroin problem increased BECAUSE of the clinics. I think we gained awareness of the heroin problem – in part – because we gained awareness of the clinics.

          • Joe C on July 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

            Bob,
            As you know I am at nearly every council meeting, my comments were directed towards the latest campaign, not past events. Diana Broomell never went negative in the last campaign, the negativity was all the by the CBL for Bigger Government! While Diana was not perfect, who is not let them cast the first stone. Hodge wound up his puppets before the meetings and then allowed them to unleash on Diana during the meetings. When she tried to respond she was gaveled by Hodge and painted as much worst than she was. Well the CBL for Bigger Government got their wish, let’s see how their “Free Spending Five” govern.

        • Bob Laird on July 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm

          OK, in the “latest campaign,” the only ads OF ANY KIND (that I am aware of) were the dirty shoes from the CBL. So that single mailer constitutes dirty politics?

          Now, if you wanted to say that “since Diana announced her candidacy, all [Joe C] has seen and heard is negative comments at Council meetings coupled with the negative ad campaign from the CBL in recent days”, I would have had nothing to argue with.

          You would have, however, had to acknowledge that Diana has still been herself in these past weeks as well.

          • Joe C on July 11, 2014 at 5:38 pm

            She was fighting for what she felt was right, like it or not! I would rather had someone willing to fight for the taxpayer, then be a puppet!

    • NJR on July 3, 2014 at 8:09 am

      Joe, no one is more familiar with the root causes of the county’s drug problem than I. I have seen its effects up close for the past seventeen years. Methadone clinics are an accepted form of treatment. To say that Cecil County’s drug problem escalated with the increase in the number of methadone clinics is like saying that disease increased as Union Hospital expanded. It’s nonsense.

      What is true is that average citizens only began to notice the drug problem when the methadone clinics opened as a response to the growing epidemic.

      • Joe C on July 3, 2014 at 6:14 pm

        It may be if done correctly, but from testimony I have heard at public forums it is not being done. There is no plan for a slow steady reduction in dosage levels, because this will reduce profits of those pedaling “legal” drugs. The ultimate goal should be to be drug free, not a lifetime of drug use, either legal or illegal. I hope whoever is affected recovers fully.

        • NJR on July 3, 2014 at 10:16 pm

          I don’t want to get into a medical debate on the physiological aspects of methadone and when it is appropriate to reduce dosages. Suffice it to say that drug addiction is a medical problem. Methadone maintenance is a recognized treatment for opiate addiction.

          The Office of the State Opioid Treatment Authority (SOTA), not county government, regulates the establishment and ongoing operation of methadone treatment programs statewide.

          To cite methadone clinics as the problem is putting the cart before the horse. Their presence is merely a reflection that Cecil County has an opiate addiction problem, not the reverse.

          • Joe C on July 4, 2014 at 8:15 am

            I do not think that Cecil County should have to take care of addicts from other states. I feel it is inherently dangerous to let this addicts drive after receiving treatment especially during prime times when school buses are on road. Close the clinics and incorporate them into hospitals were other diseases are treated.

  2. patricia bouchelle on July 3, 2014 at 7:33 am

    i feel diana broomell had a point and she shouldnt be remove.its a shame,i agree with her 100%.

  3. NJR on July 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Joe, Following your logic Union Hospital should only treat Cecil County residents. Should that also be true for Harford Memorial and Christiana Hospital? Should they only treat residents of their counties as well? Now you know that is absurd.

    Regarding these clinics operating only in hospitals, medicine is well beyond the point that patients are treated only in “hospital” settings. Outpatient clinics are mushrooming because of cost and convenience. Moreover, clinics well away from the hospital are necessary especially in Cecil County where transportation is such an issue.

    The truth of the matter is even if all the methadone clinics were operated by a hospital that wouldn’t change that fact that you and others would oppose them.

    • Joe C on July 6, 2014 at 10:24 am

      NJR,
      What I against is people driving, especially across state lines after receiving a legal narcotics that must affect their driving skills and that they are given “take home doses” which are easily sold to the druggies that flock to this clinics. Yes, you are right that clinics are mushrooming, only because the taxpayer is bearing the cost, not the individual who created the problem to begin with. Why do we need separate clinics?? Answer: Because big money is being made on the backs of the taxpayer! First, change: Ban any doctor who prescribes pain killers from having any interest in these methadone clinics.

      • NJR on July 6, 2014 at 7:47 pm

        Joe I think you missed the point. Methadone clinics aren’t the problem; opiate addiction, however, is. Whether certain individuals agree or not, methadone maintenance is a recognized treatment, one that has allowed numerous former heroin addicts to lead normal productive lives.

        Most of these former addicts may well be on lifetime methadone maintenance regimes. But, then so are other patients with other illnesses on lifetime regimes of their prescription drugs. (Or don’t you think opiate addiction is an illness?)

        We need separate clinics because hospitals both in terms of location and cost effectiveness aren’t necessarily the best option. Outpatient clinics for general medical needs, for example, are mushrooming across the country because of this fact.

        There are numerous drugs besides methadone which may impair driving many of which are available over the counter. So yes, no one should drive impaired, whether it is from methadone or the countless other medications which can cause dizziness, etc.

        Finally, Cecil County has a terrible drug problem, per capita, as bad as Baltimore city. Methadone clinics as well as other drug treatment programs are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Yes, they must be well managed. Their professional supervision and oversight is the responsibility of the state, not county government.

        However based on my professional experience, the NIMBY attitudes of certain ill informed individuals have inhibited the development of other effective anti-drug rehabilitation programs in this county.

        • Joe C on July 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm

          What about drug prevention? Why concentrate on rehab? Stop the problem before it starts, lock up all drug offenders, dealers and others profiting on illegal drugs. Bring back personnel responsibility. Do you really believe that Annapolis cares about Cecil County? If they did we would not have an $8 toll on the Susquehanna bridge or more superfund sites than any other county in the state.

          • NJR on July 8, 2014 at 8:49 am

            Joe now you are being totally irrational. First of all the 2009 Community health survey indicated that nearly 30 % of Cecil County young adults used illicit drugs. Do you honestly believe we can lock up every one of them ? Talk about taxpayer expense!

            HHS studies indicate about 7 per cent of Marylanders used illicit drugs in the past year. The number is obviously a lot higher for Cecil County. Even if you could catch everybody which of course you can’t, do you really think it is cost effective to build a county jail that could hold 7000 inmates? Of course, it isn’t.

            Yes, Drug prevention is the key and enforcement is a most important part but it isn’t the only tool. Education, counselling and rehabilitation are also important parts of a holistic approach to the drug problem. And whether you like it or not methadone clinics are also part of an effective anti drug abuse strategy.

            You simply can’t arrest everybody and lock them up and think that will solve the problem. It just isn’t realistic.

          • Rebecca Demmler on July 8, 2014 at 11:41 am

            Joe, my friend, you seem to be cut from the same fabric as your comrade, Diana. That is, once your mind and belief is set, you refuse to accept any logical argument to the contrary. You stick solidly to your views giving every argument you have gleaned from listening to others (themselves often lacking in solid background and expertise in the topic of debate) who have the same unyielding mind-set as yourself.

            When you feel your defenses may be weakening a bit, you invariably attempt to change course by throwing in other concepts (in this case tolls and superfund sites). Your thinking seems to be that if you can broach topics with which others will likely agree, then this somehow provides a means of agreement with your original argument. It is a sly tactic, but it seldom works.

          • Joe C on July 8, 2014 at 9:06 pm

            Yes, I am glad you agree that it is a multi-facetted approach, but it seems all we have seen is meth clinics. I have seen basically open air drug marts right under the nose of law enforcement, if I can see why cannot others see it! Put pressure on the users and roll them over on the dealers.

          • Joe C on July 8, 2014 at 9:24 pm

            Becky,
            Sorry not cut from the same fabric, but nice try! Yes, I do stick to my positions, I am not a wishy-washy politician who sends out flashy mailers paid for by special interests and filled with information meant to tell the voter what they want to hear, but lacks the backbone to follow through. I also try to attend a wide variety of public meetings and talk to many folks.

            Unfortunately, I have not seen you out and about at any of these meetings since you left office, so it puzzles me how you can claim to know who I talk to or what my opinions are. What I know is this county is going downhill quick because of drugs. We need to stop talking and starting doing. P.S. I am not a communist, I am Republican who sticks to my party and does not change it when it suits me like others we know.

  4. Rebecca Demmler on July 9, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Joe, you have previously mentioned not seeing me at meetings. So true; not because I am not interested, but because I’m keenly aware there are other ways to remain current and to make my opinion known. You surely can’t believe that being out and about and communicating with like-minded others gives credence to one’s opinion?

    Everyone has an opinion on this or that. But, I’ve always had problems with those who refuse to consider other factors, holding doggedly to that original belief despite any added data that just might be credible. I’m not ashamed to admit that when given data and information that I had not known, I can change my mind. After all, I never considered that I know all there is to know about any issue. Of course I have opinions, but others, who have expertise and pertinent background, just may know something that I don’t. If my original view was wrong, I will admit it.

    As for the mention of “flashy mailers” and the telling voters what they want to hear, if you think about that for a minute I think you’ll recognize the irony as relates to those you have supported.

  5. Kelly Frost on August 25, 2014 at 12:44 am

    NJR – It’s 2014 not 2009.

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