Baker Co. commissioner reaches out to McKinlay on opioids

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

Baker County Commissioner Cathy Rhoden reached out to Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay for tips on how to start an opioids task force, an email exchange between the two commissioners shows.

“Our county, Baker County, is heavy into meth addiction and now we are seeing heroin move in,” Rhoden wrote to McKinlay.

But Rhoden has a more personal motivation to get involved in the fight.

“With a daughter who is a heroin addict and a grandson who is in prison from meth addiction I would like to do whatever it takes to educate and help our community about this issue,” Rhoden wrote.

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The daughter of a former aide to McKinlay died of an opioid overdose in November, a day before The Palm Beach Post published a series of articles on the devastation the crisis has brought to the county.

McKinlay has become a vocal advocate for more state and local action to combat the crisis, which has not only devastated families but wreaked havoc on local budgets.

The commissioner pushed for Gov. Rick Scott to declare a public health emergency, a move he ultimately took. And McKinlay has asked the county attorney to research the possibility of bringing suit against pharmaceutical companies, whose potent products are at the heart of the crisis.

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Delray Beach has decided to file suit against Big Pharma, a decision McKinlay shared Wednesday with other elected officials as they participated in a joint meeting between the Palm Beach County Commission and the Palm Beach County League of Cities.

Responding to Rhoden about forming a task force, McKinlay reached out to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Capt. Houston Park.

“He led the charge,” McKinlay wrote. “I’ll ask him to call you.”

McKinlay invited Rhoden to Palm Beach County to attend an opioid task force meeting and offered sympathy for her family’s struggles.

“Thanks for sharing your story,” McKinlay wrote. “I am so sorry your family has been dealing with this.”

Resident says PBC has failed to control mosquitoes

Palm Beach County has not done enough to control a burgeoning mosquito population in rain-soaked northern neighborhoods, says a resident who claims the pests are more numerous now than they have ever been in her 38 years in the Caloosa subdivision northeast of Bee Line Highway.

Jean Bacon said the large lots of her neighborhood are dotted with standing water from recent rains that have spawned a bumper crop of bugs that are posing an increasing health threat to her and her neighbors.

» RELATED: Why do mosquitoes bite you, but not your friend?

(Getty Images)

“These are, like, totally uncontrolled,” Bacon said. “There’s just no intention from the county in spraying. Nothing’s been done.”

Environmental Resource Management Director Rob Robbins said the county has attempted to attack the mosquito population but has been stymied by the weather.

» PHOTOS: Palm Beach County Mosquito Control Workers Hunt Down the Pests

“We were able to get a partial aerial spray in on Tuesday, June 13, covering approximately the northern third of the county before thunderstorms closed in,” he wrote in an email to The Palm Beach Post. “Since then, we haven’t gotten the weather window we need to fly and spray. Believe me, we have been wishing for it.”

Robbins said the mosquito numbers are, indeed, on the rise.

“We monitor the mosquito population, and we see the numbers climbing,” he said. “Weather looks more favorable this weekend beginning tonight. So, hopefully can get airborne and knock their numbers down.”

While Bacon has been critical of the county’s effort to combat mosquitoes, another resident, Anne Kuhl of West Palm Beach, has raised concerns about the type of chemical the county uses when it does spray.

“While I understand that a high mosquito population can pose health concerns, the unintended consequences of aerial sprayed chemicals and pesticides such as Naled may pose a greater risk to the population living in the area,” Kuhl wrote to county commissioners. “In the interest of public safety and transparency, I urge you to put an immediate hold on all aerial spraying for mosquito control until safety concerns of Naled or any other chemical used for aerial spraying in Palm Beach County are fully disclosed to the public and addressed.”

Robbins, directed by County Administrator Verdenia Baker to respond to Kuhl’s concerns, wrote that the chemical Dibrom, for which Naled is an active agent, has been approved by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Still, Robbins said, “by spraying well below the determined safety rate and still maintaining effective disease vector control, we are delivering the best balance of public safety available.”

After ripping Trump, Frankel meets with local mayors

Lois Frankel speaks to the media on March 6, 2017. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, held a discussion with mayors in her congressional district Wednesday, when they complained about a lack of mental health resources and sought her help in getting more federal funding.

Frankel started her day by ripping President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. But that hot topic gave way to more municipal concerns when the congresswoman met with nine mayors in her district, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay.

Frankel reminded those in attendance that a recent federal funding bill includes money for local governments that have incurred security and roadway management expenses during President Trump’s many trips to Palm Beach County.

“The burden is spread out among the taxpayers,” Frankel said before joking that the county could see fewer presidential trips now that the weather is warming.

“All I can say is thank goodness it’s summer,” she said.

Frankel told the mayors Delray Beach is working on an ordinance to regulate sober homes. The mayors said more beds need to be available for the mentally ill and told the congresswoman they’d like to get more federal funding to help with community renovation projects, tearing down abandoned buildings and youth programs that could steer young people away from drugs and make a dent in the opioid crisis.

PBC wants Trump administration policy change on animal breeders

Palm Beach County is expected to discuss a resolution Tuesday calling on the Trump administration to resume posting information on animal breeders who violate standards monitored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In an effort to shut down so-called pet mills, which critics contend house and breed animals in inhumane conditions, the county banned the sale of puppies and kittens at new pet stores. But existing pet stores were allowed to continue selling the animals as long as they were obtained from breeders who are licensed and not in violation of USDA standards.

» Trump administration’s policy change undercuts county puppy-sales law

In February, however, the USDA under the Trump administration removed from its website information on breeders with violations. That means neither the county nor pet stores know which breeders have violations.

The USDA change, along with concerns about the treatment of animals at Star Pups in Royal Palm Beach, has led to calls for the county to revisit its policy of allowing existing pet stores to sell puppies and kittens.