Penobscot County Commissioners' Minutes from April 30, 2019
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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes April 30, 2019 2236 9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Andre Cushing & Laura Sanborn 43°
Approval of Minutes -
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve April 16 and 23, 2019 meeting minutes. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
DA Update -
DA Marianne Lynch updated the Commissioners on her first 100 days in office as the new district attorney.
Marianne provided background information on crime statistics her department has processed.
o 2016 – 6,294 cases o 2017 - 6,392 cases o 2018 - 6,650 cases o 2019 – so far 1,939
Marianne states in the jail prospective, the more cases that are processed the more likelihood that they will include incarceration. Marianne said the jail is a default for drug treatment and mental health. The evidence is if they are in court and are in severe mental health issue or not competent they have a Title 15 exam. Last year we did 36 Title 15 exams, whereas this year we have done 131. Sometimes while those cases are pending those people are at the Penobscot County Jail. Based on the numbers we’re seeing, it produces challenges for the Jail.
One area Ms. Lynch is spending a lot of time looking at are the class E misdemeanor theft charges. These typically are for shoplifting in which we’ve had a recent explosion. Marianne’s opinion is that self-scanners that are now located in many stores are providing an easy opportunity for stealing. These are not always being monitored. Marianne states that once you are caught stealing, it is a life time ban and it is difficult to get a good job. It is a vicious cycle with these cases because the “stealer” goes to court, issued a $250 fine, if unable to pay the fine, get arrested on a warrant for unpaid fine and end up spending time in the jail which is a poor use of the facility.
Marianne is trying to address these thefts in a meaningful way. She has started a diversion program. This program includes drug education, health care, support services (such as recovery coaches) & employment information. In collaboration with the BARN and the City of Bangor who have donated education staff. Marianne took 17 people that were first time shoplifters and offered this program. Of these 17, 16 were able to get their case dismissed with no criminal record of conviction. Marianne is going the program again in June and keep data collection of its success/failure. Marianne stated that when it comes to the jail, if you build it large, you can always fill it. Our jail, however, has gone past its expiration date. Whether you like it or not, we have to treat people with mental health, addiction issues. We have to prepare them to go back out into the community. As she sees the numbers creep, some are felonies and some will be shorter term stays. Marianne states that some bail revocations are public safety concerns. Marianne feels that we have to provide services as something must be done since society has decided that we are the default. Looking at our number of cases we are going to continue with placement of people in the jail.
Marianne reports that she has a wonderful relationship with Maine Pre-Trial services. We are working together to keep people out of the jail. Maine Pre-Trial have been invited every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with a member of her team to screen cases that are going to be seen in arraignment. This way when they go before to court, we are able to identify which people can utilize this program.
Marianne states they are also using the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program. This program connects people with help in the community.
Marianne reported that opioid deaths have slightly decreased in our State to around 300. However, there is a rise in methamphetamine use. It is highly addictive and has no treatment available to the users. It is very difficult to treat and deal with and is going to be a challenge going forward. Other drug use can be treated for the withdrawals, but unfortunately, methamphetamine cannot. Also there is no age discrimination on who is using substances as she has found the older population are still very involved in these activities.
Marianne notes that when people are offered a fine or to be placed in treatment, more times than not, the fine is chosen.
Sheriff’s Update –
Sheriff reported that today’s jail population is 176 (134 males, 42 females) with 41 boarded out to other county jails. There is one county swap, no federal marshals and 82 inmates in Pre-Trial Services.
Sheriff stated he received confirmation that the first and second OUI offender program is set for May at Camp Roosevelt and we will divert 50 inmates to this program.
Commissioner Cushing made a motion to approve a purchase of a 2017 Grey Hyundai Tucson with 26K miles for $19,470 for the Civil Division. Commissioner Sanborn seconded it. Motion passed 3-0. Sheriff reports that his deputies were involved in the after actions in the Piscataquis officer involved incident this week.
Sheriff reported that he is still waiting on the proposal from Norris and MTI for services for the electronic door system for the control room.
We are aggressively trying to come up with a plan to address fingerprinting issues with SBI. This problem not only impacts our law enforcement, but all law enforcement across the State. This will be another burden forced upon our correction officers to fingerprint everyone that walks through the doors. If local departments do their own fingerprinting it would relieve some pressure of our already taxed correction officers.
Sheriff states that the fingerprinting issues with the State of Maine program upgrade have been resolved with but a few minor issues.
We are still in the process of hiring a patrol officer for the Town of Carmel.
Sheriff had a lengthy discussion with the Town of Orrington regarding their community policing program.
Sheriff recognized his officers for the good they do in community outreach. Unfortunately, sometimes these good acts are overshadowed with negativity that is in the press.
UT Update –
Barbara Veilleux reported that George is attending the MRRA conference today.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the snowmobile municipal grant application for Bowlin Matagamon Snowmobile Club. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0. Signed.
Barbara presented the renewal contract for Argyle and Greenfield with the Bangor Humane Society to the Commissioners for their signature. Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the contact. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion passed 3 - 0. Contract signed.
Barbara reported the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will hold a confirmation hearing on our LUPC nominee, Peter Pray next Tuesday at 1:00 p.m.
Tracy Scheckel of OTELCO and Barbara have begun working on the pre-certification list for the broadband planning grant for Argyle Township. They need to hold a public meeting sometime between now and June 7th in Alton. The deadline for filing is June 12th.
Barbara reports that LD 261 to limit the authority of posting of roads was defeated in committee last week. PRCC Update –
Josh Lilley reported that PRCC has dispatched 107 K calls year to date.
The spare microwave has arrived and is currently being bench tested to make sure it is in working condition.
Josh reported there are still four positions open in the Center and will be advertised. Once all positions are filled, a Supervisor position will be posted.
Commissioner Cushing requested to have PRCC provide an equipment inventory spreadsheet to better understand what we have available.
Wellness Center Update –
Tracey Erickson and Judy Alexander provided information for replacing the DVR system in the Wellness Center. Discussion was held on the two systems recommended by Kevin Brokaw from the IT department. Commissioner Cushing moved to approve purchasing the Swann System which will be paid through the Health Council. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.
Tracey thanked the Commissioners for moving forward to build the showers. Tracey reports that there has been a lot of positive feedback on having them.
Administration Update –
Aaron Newcomb is moving right along on his projects within the building. Probate Judge Amy Faircloth’s office is completed and it looks phenomenal. The ladies room is near complete and will be ADA compliant.
Reminder that on Monday the mandatory pre-bid for the RFP will take place at 9:00 a.m. Proposals are due on May 20th.
We received communication via certified mail for both the Commissioners and EMA in regards to a fall that occurred in front of the post office.
We received a request the Town of Orono asking that the interest invoice on the late payment of taxes be waived or reduced.
Deeds and Probate internal job announcements have been posted. Applications close this Friday.
Following last week’s meeting, Mr. McCann forwarded information he received from the Secretary of State in regards to the Penobscot County becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary.
Mr. Dansinger sent communication regarding drug rehab vs prison to the Commissioners.
Commissioner Sanborn has been added to the Penquis Finance Committee. EMA Updates via Bill to share:
o EMA has a booth at the GE Health and Safety Fair tomorrow
o NWS will be at the County Complex next week for a hydrogeology workshop. NOAA plans to talk about their products (warnings/advisories, etc.) and how it all relates to rivers
o EMA is prepping for two exercises this month; BIA Functional and Glenburn full scale
o EMA is working with UMO on an Active Treat training, tentatively scheduled for the end of May
o EMA has been included on the conference calls with Aroostook County and State partners in regards to the potential for flooding specific to Aroostook County. A lot of planning has been completed to date with all agency partners “just in case”
o Bangor Fire Chief Tom Higgins was recently recognized and given an award for Maine Key Partner through NEMA in Augusta
Payroll Change Notices signed for: NONE Payroll Warrant to be approved for: $ 237,917.78 Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for 4/30/19: $66,156.50 Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for 5/1/19: $311,066.98 UT A/P Warrant to be approved for: $6,936.35 UT TIF Warrant to be approved for: -NONE-
Public Comment -
Larry Dansinger wanted more information on the ad he saw placed in the Bangor Daily News on the RFP/detailed study phase on a 300+ bed facility. Commissioner Baldacci explained it was the next step in the process. What is being requested is a more detailed design plan. What it would cost for the architects/engineers to come up with their design. This is not a final decision to build. Before we proceed, we need to know what the costs will be. We had to open up this process as we only have information provided us from WBRC. We need more proposals to make an educated decision. At the recommendation of the Jail Committee we are looking at a 300+ bed facility.
Commissioner Cushing stated that we must proceed since this would be the only way to see hard cost estimates. This is not just a jail, we are looking for a corrections facility. Larry thanked DA Marianne Lynch for answering questions he had provided to her previously. Larry says that he hopes more people understand that it is more of a public health issues that need to be resolved and not criminal issues.
Sheriff Morton answered question from a Melissa Berkey on recidivism rates. Sheriff explained any number would not be accurate as everyone has their own process of recording. Arrest information does not follow and inmate from County to County.
Executive Session---Commissioner Cushing made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:30 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (A) Personnel Matter. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve 3-0. Present were: Bill Collins, Cap Ayer, Erika Honey and Judy Alexander. Session ended at 10:39 a.m. No votes taken.
Executive Session---Commissioner Cushing made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:40 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (A) Personnel Matter. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve 3-0. Present were: Bill Collins, Cap Ayer, Erika Honey and Judy Alexander. Session ended at 10:49 a.m. No votes taken.
Executive Session---Commissioner Cushing made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:50 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (D) Contract Matter. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve 3-0. Present were: Bill Collins, Sheriff Morton, John Hiatt, Erika Honey and Judy Alexander. Session ended at 11:45 a.m. No votes taken.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:46 a.m. with no further business on the agenda. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Moved to approve passed 3 - 0
Certified By: Administrator, Bill Collins Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Andre E. Cushing, III, Commissioner