Sunday, November 23, 2008
You may want to read the previous posting below taken from the county website as well as the Sunday Idaho Press Tribune before you dive into this tome..
County Commishes have turned a deaf ear to voters for years with a "we are the Decider's attitude" on their new county jail project. It started with the constitutionally illegal lease-purchase of the Jerome property and failed bond election. No plan, no input and no approval has been the net result of their efforts to date from the public. They also have a citizen inspired lawsuit over their latest jail efforts.
Commishes have yet to figure out their job is to build consensus on big dollar capital projects and let the voters give their approval via a bond election. Their efforts have been met with opposition at every turn due in part to their heavy handed tactics and unchecked spending on just about everything.
Consensus building amongst the electorate has vanished with our County Deciders. For years they have been riding a wave of cash on new construction property taxes and have more or less thumbed their noses at voters. The economy is now at a stand still and their cash flow has dried up. The future looks bleak for all of us and tax funded major projects will have to reflect well thought out plans and voter approvals.
The Commishes look very much like the auto executives showing up in their private jets to beg Congress for a bridge loan and no business plan for success. THE GUARDIAN would like to offer the following as a guide (that has not been followed as yet) on seeking voter approvals for a new jail:
1. Define the problem
2. Define all possible solutions to the problem
3. Pick the best solutions that will satisfy price, value and quality limitations.
4. Implement the best solution by building consensus with those you are asking to pay for the project.
What has happened is a closed door approach to just about everything at 1115 Albany Street. "We are the DECIDER'S" and public input and opinion is not wanted or needed. This attitude was demonstrated in the IPT editorial piece in the post below.
To date taxpayers have paid for land, engineering services, plans for a 2,000 bed jail city and a "temporary holding facility", all at a cost of $3.5 million of your tax dollars. Taxpayers know nothing about projected total costs, how much it will take to staff, maintain, operate and transport inmates to the current project site, costs for additional vehicles and manpower to shuttle inmates from the courthouse and new jail site. We all deserve a whole lot more transparency than we have been getting out of the Bunker on Albany Street.
Additionally, Commishes took the fiscally brilliant step of raising work release fees to $25/day this past spring. This move resulted in the vacancy rate going up to around 150 empty beds. Fees have recently been reduced to $12.50/day in an effort to make it more affordable for sentenced people to exercise work release as a alternative to full time incarceration for minor offenses. They discovered rather quickly the laws of price/demand economics really do apply to this irresponsible move.
Empty beds in the Work Release facility should be used for short term non-violent inmates. How does this happen: by simply applying for a modification of the special use permit issued by the City of Caldwell. City officials have indicated they have no objection to this plan if asked to do so.
County Commissioners will quickly embrace the ACLU when it fits their agenda. The ACLU may declare the jail full and are concerned with Article 8 of the United States Constitution relating to cruel and unusual punishment. The fix is up to the commissioners whereby they need to embrace Article 8 of the Idaho Constitution when incurring long term debts and obligations. In short, they get to ask and we get to decide how our tax money is spent.
The public has every right to be informed and participate in everything the Commishes are doing when spending our tax dollars. Nobody elected them KINGS.
Kudos to the IPT for getting involved and sharing information with their readers.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 10:16 AM