Once again the city is attempting to resolve longstanding issues with the District Attorney’s office by calling a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21 and inviting representatives of the Governor’s office to attend.
Kim Kilkenny of Petersburg Mental Health Services, said she would work to get citizens to attend the meeting by getting copies of the mayor’s letter to as many people as possible.
According to a draft letter in the council packet for the Feb. 1 meeting, the mayor cited lack of support by the D.A., related to, “the dismissal of a high number of charges, extraordinary plea bargains and in all honesty, a seemingly lack of concern on the part of the District Attorney’s office.”
The mayor and city council have discussed the matter at prior meetings, and in January sent a letter to Governor Parnell concerning their stance on the District Attorney treatment of Petersburg cases.
According to Mayor Dwyer’s letter, “District Attorney Brower made a trip to Petersburg for the purpose of conducting trials, and arrived without apparent knowledge of the cases he was to prosecute, and with evidently no intention of seriously meeting with local authorities to work out a solution. The City and community of Petersburg find this unacceptable,” according to Dwyer.
Brower met with officers of the Petersburg Police Department and Police Chief Jim Agner on Sunday, Jan. 22 to discuss assorted cases. That evening, according to the mayor, the D.A. indicated he wanted to talk with the Chief about the high rate of dismissals on Monday.
At about 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday, D.A. Brower called the PPD to say he wanted to speak with the Chief, but had court at 1 p.m. and said he was leaving town at 3:40 p.m. on the plane.
At about 2:20 p.m. the same day, Brower called to check on the dismissed cases and again stated he was leaving on the afternoon plane and asked to be sent a list of the cases by email, a second time.
According to the mayor’s letter, legislators, the acting attorney general, D.A. Brower, the local media and citizens are invited to the council chambers to discuss the ongoing issues and possible solutions.
“We encourage someone from your office to have a representative present at the meeting to hear directly from some of your constituents on their feeling about the lack of service received by this community,” the mayor concluded.
The city council approved the draft letter and heard from Police Chief Jim Agner that due to weather, D.A. Brower was forced to spend another day in Petersburg when his plane was cancelled, and still did not take time to contact Agner.
Local attorney John Hoag told the city council that the D.A.’s office is understaffed and grossly underfunded and thus pressure needs to be applied now, during the legislative session to increase funding for the office in next year’s state budget.