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Local Government Manatee BOCC Workshop Summary


BRADENTON -- Manatee County Commission Workshop 2/14/2012

1. Food Service at County Facilities --  Elliott Falcione, Director Convention & Visitors Bureau, gave an update on the work at the Convention Center. He said the Longboat Key Room will be very appealing to Corporate meetings and revivals, small trade shows and conferences, weddings, receptions and proms. 

The challenge is to food services and drinks. Falcione said we have to be able to handle two or even three events in the same day. In house services are nice, but costly to keep the crew at hand throughout the year. Last year, the center came in $40,000 under what was spent on expenses. Beverages made up for the money lost on food, but if there were multiple events, there could be levels of performance that might be compromised, therefore tainting the experience of the client. Falcione suggested going "third party" on the services, where the center could still get a piece of the action and dodge many of the liabilities. 

Sean Walter, will be running the services show, coordinating third parties and the new crew. He will be focusing on sales, marketing and effectively recruiting and training what's needed to handle multiple events. The feelers are out to attract a hotel close to the center.

At Tuesday's workshop, the big story was Ordinance No. 12-14, which attempts to tackle what has become one of the largest problems plaguing society: "Pill Mills." There are many times more people addicted to pharmaceuticals drugs than all of the other drugs combined, at any point in history. Oxycotin has become America's peanut butter and jelly, taking the lives of loved ones, celebrities, the elderly and anyone else that spends any time with it. Big Pharma knows this, and it may take a countrywide boycott of their stocks to force them to be responsible for their product. Meanwhile, Manatee is starting with a law.    

2. Pain Management Ordinance -- The main event. No one works harder to protect, improve and facilitate a better life for those who are suffering from the many types of substance abuse, then the wonderful assembly of professionals and caregivers at the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition (MCSAC). It is not just those that are trapped in a life plagued with addiction, but they assist the families that suffer too. MCSAC has championed the struggle to harness the overwhelming number of "pill mills" masquerading as pain management clinics, and a new ordinance was the discussion at the BOCC workshop Tuesday. 

a. Introduction -- Draft 11 of Ordinance No.12-14, was introduced at the workshop after much tweaking and edits by county attorneys and concerned organizations, with hopes of a consensus to bring it before the board for approval next time they meet. If the ordinance is not there, it is real close.     

b. Power Point Presentation -- Sharon Kramer, M.Ed., CPP, MCSAC's Executive Director and Rita Chamberlain, MBA, Coalition Coordinator for MCSAC, sat before the commission and glided through their Community Snapshot presentation. They had read through the proposed Ordinance No. 12-14, and felt it was getting much closer to an ordinance that would help curb the number of pill mills troubling the county. Hillsborough County and Sarasota County have recently adopted ordinances that have outlawed pill mills. Manatee County was the broken link. 

Both Kramer and Chamberlain, along with MCSAC Drug Task Force Chair Ruth Lyerly, had previously met all of the stakeholders: state attorney, sheriff, doctors and concerned groups, in a number of meetings to assist in the crafting of the much needed ordinance. The MCSAC presentation revealed many of the reasons such an ordinance is essential. In a 2010 study of the top 100 doctors who dispensed the most Oxycotin, 90 of them were Florida doctors. They added, that now only 13 of those are still in business. They spoke of how many pregnant mothers who are addicted to opiates have babies that must be treated with methadone in order to stay alive. Otherwise, these babies could suffer convulsions and other life-threating complications that will plague their health for much of their life. Cost associated with babies born to drug addicted mothers could run as much as one million dollars for treatment.

The work that those at MCSAC accomplish, along with the assistance other professionals like Florida Department of Health Administrator, Jennifer Bernice M.D. M.S.A., is what maps out a future with promise for those that have none. MCSAC supports Ordinace No. 12-14  

c. Presentation of Ordinance -- Manatee County Chief Deputy County Attorney Jim Minix presented the revised version of Ordinance 12-14. His notations nearly concluded what is to be the final article. There is going to be some give and take in the final submission that goes before the BOCC for a vote. Doctors that disperse pain medication, whether it be the writing of prescriptions and/or dispensing, will have to report monthly. These reports will be submitted electronically or hard copy, and code enforcement will be playing an active role performing inspections, but there was a consensus that whatever it takes, the pill mills must be closed down. 

Kim Lott, a concerned citizen, spoke to the room full of those involved in the crafting of the new ordinance. She said, "My son just died in October. He was loved by all. He was only 24 years old, and he started taking pain pills for a dental problem. This madness has to stop. These pills choked the life right out of him. He died homeless, in a box, behind a store."

Last November, when this ordinance was first being discussed, Lott came before the commission. It had just been a few weeks after her son died. Then too, it was hard to hold back the tears. Our hearts go out to her and to the family and friends that must miss him so. 

Fred Leonard, Executive Director of Healthy Start Manatee, reiterated the importance of focusing on soon to be mothers and the irreversible problems that spawn from these pill mills. He said, "If a woman is pregnant and having a drug problem, she will go to a less reputable doctor to get drugs."          

3. Commissioner Comments -- Commissioner Robin DiSabantino confirmed the importance of women taking a pregnancy test when seeking pain medication. Commissioner Carol Whitmore mentioned that methadone clinics operate by a different set of rules and something has to be done about that. All were humbled and seemingly understood well the need to try and fix the problem.

4. Adjourn


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