The City Council In Lewiston, Maine, has decided not to eliminate its local restaurant inspection program and not to withdraw funding from the city’s sanitarian positions. The votes was unanimous.

Lewiston remains one of three cities in Maine that, for the state, handles local restaurant inspections

The City Council took action after hearing much public support for the local inspection program and its inspector, Louis Lachance.

With those decisions, the City essentially ends a period of reaction to the temporary January closure of DaVinci’s, a popular Lewiston restaurant going through a cockroach infestation for almost a year.

After the closure, the city administration prepared a letter to the State of Maine terminating the city’s agreement to inspect local food service establishments. Had the letter been sent, the state would have been charged with inspecting Lewiston restaurants.

The  Council also voted down a resolution to rescind the budget for any Certified Sanitation Inspector/Code Enforcement Officers for the coming year.

These actions were proposed after a nine-day closure of DaVinci’s in January.

Lewiston’s restaurant inspector ordered the closure after DaVinci’s staff and pest control contractor worked on the issue since early 2023.

Cockroaches are harbingers of disease and pathogens. Their shed exoskeletons and feces can trigger asthma in otherwise healthy people, and a significant cockroach infestation can be incredibly unhealthy for people. Roaches also leave behind stains and nasty smells. If they, or their waste, come into contact with food, humans can develop food poisoning-like symptoms that may become severe enough to require hospitalization.

At the time of the closure, the City Immediately put its long-time and respected Code Enforcement Director David Hediger on administrative leave and prepared to rescind restaurant inspector Louis Lachance.

The union representing city employees, the Maine Service Employees Association, then held a “no confidence” vote on Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline.

The “no confidence” vote represented 60 city employees, including code enforcement staff. The union’s Adam Jones said Mayor Sheline had created a toxic work environment.

Sheline was elected in 2023 to a second term as Mayor of the second-largest city in Maine. He won by 122  votes out of 4,664 total ballots cast in a special mayoral runoff election

He said he was disappointed with the “no confidence” vote and has no power to hire or fire city staff, which rests with the City Administrator, Heather Hunter.

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