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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

the editorial part IV

I changed the name of the former county commissioner so neither him or any of his buddies can do a search on his real name, only to have this pop up. I changed the acronyms for our local programs on this post, for the same reason.

Just a little necessary background: ROCK is an acronym for a pay-as-you-stay weekend jail for non-violent offenders. The HC is an acronym for an organization of rich, powerful people who volunteer their financial expertise to make recommendations to the county commissioners. These recommendations were always followed when "Mr. Roman" was one of the county commissioners, but since he was voted out of office last election cycle, the current batch of commissioners are a little more leary of the HC, even though the HC exerts quite a bit of influence over a large percentage of the electorate here.

In black, is the latest editorial which was published Monday of this week. It's really a zinger to the rich folk around here, who view public servants as bumbling fools who aren't smart enough to realize that taking into consideration the needs of the rich at the expense of everyone else is the only way to go - or so they think. They really do think that if the elected officials don't become their lapdogs, the public officials aren't exhibiting character, they're just stupid, and that's the end of the story.

One other thing: my wife bumped into a newspaper reporter from our local paper, and he told her that the editorial editor is taking alot of heat from her boss for publishing my editorials, and her career at the paper has one foot in the grave, and the other on a banana peel. He also said about half the staff members of the paper think I'm a genius, and the other half think I'm nothing more than a rabble-rouser who likes attention. Oh well, at least I'm batting .500!

The HC wants the ROCK to reopen - this time, as sort of a local, country-club jail so rich folk don't have to lose their jobs while doing their sentences. They think making the rates affordable so that poor people having access to a program like this is simply ridiculous. See why I'm so involved?

Regarding Saturday’s front-page article, “Tax critics silent now, county says.” I was interested in Mr. Roman’s opinions, given that he’s a former county commissioner and now a member of the HC.

He said that closing the ROCK was a mistake because it’s a “revenue stream.” Unlike members of the HC, I sat in the meetings of the criminal justice committee. The question of whether or not the ROCK is a “revenue stream” has been asked and answered to my satisfaction as a tax-paying citizen. Here’s the explanation in accordance to my understanding; simply put: you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.

The average income of clients of the ROCK is very low. If you make clients pay upfront, the number of people who could afford to participate would be so few, the ROCK would have to significantly raise their rates to compensate, which would in turn, exclude even more potential clients, which would drive rates even higher, making it easy for opponents of alternative sentencing to accuse the court system of favoritism, with “elitist” sentences which only a select few could participate.

On the other hand, if you allow clients to pay in monthly installments, the county is forced to extend credit to people who are generally non-creditworthy to begin with. Most of their income is “under the table,” which is tough to track. For example, these people can’t afford to pay their bills, but Privacy Manager screens their incoming calls and they don’t answer calls they don’t recognize on their caller ID.

The HC wants the county to seek more efficiencies, which in my opinion is administrative-speak, euphemistically calling for a hostile take over, so the city and county can combine their “duplicate services,” [eliminating checks and balances] thus realizing these “elusive” efficiencies.

Who do you want as the ultimate law enforcement authority in the county: an appointed police chief, or an elected sheriff? When you realize efficiencies, you can’t have both.

“I guess I never knew that Findlay wasn’t part of Hancock County.” – Mr. Roman, HC member.