Bangor City Council will lose to Metro and at a high price

In ruling not to allow Penobscot Metro Treatment Center to expand, the Bangor City Council behaved like a bullied child who is fed up but lashes out at exactly the wrong person.

And it likely did so without adequately seeking legal counsel.

Upon learning of the counsels ruling, anyone even vaguely familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act immediately had the same thought:

“Metro will sue under ADA and they will absolutely win.”

They may also be awarded a judgment for damages and legal costs.

Kudos to Nick McCrea of BDN for getting to the heart of this matter:

” At the center of this lawsuit is Chapter 93 of Bangor’s Code of Ordinances, which sets rules and regulations for “chemical dependency treatment facilities” in the city. Included in that ordinance is a set of conditions that a methadone clinic must meet before it can increase its capacity. The clinic must prove it has adequate space and staffing, and that treatment is needed in the region and can’t be met without increasing the number of patients in the existing locations.”

Metro, by any reasonable standard more than met the City’s regulations. Further, they are correct in saying that the City is behaving in a discriminatory manner by singling out Methadone clinics for this scrutiny.

In the coming days, water cooler discussions and BDN comment sections will overflow with debates about whether or not Methadone treatment is:

– Really beneficial to anyone

– Is medically sound

– Constitutes a legalized addiction

– Too great a burden for Bangor to bare

– And so on…

Here’s the real issue – did the Bangor City Council practice due diligence in seeking legal counsel on the possible repercussions of their decision? I cannot fathom any attorney indicating that they were not opening themselves up to a lawsuit.

It may well be that those who voted against Metro’s expansion felt they were representing their constituents but even this cannot occur at the cost of violating federal law.

I own my bias – I am a supporter of any path to recovery. As a provider of “chemical dependency treatment” I and my organization must comply with all local, state, and federal regulations. I expect our elected leaders to do the same.

As a recovery ally, I appeal to folks to check out the facts on Methadone treatment like this piece from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency. A huge part of perpetuating stigma is believing that what you hear in water cooler discussions is necessarily factual.

 

 

 

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.