| || |
Democrats Delay Sheriff's Grant
December 9, 2011 - Dunkirk OBSERVER
Posted by Nicholas L. Dean
The Sheriff's Office has been awarded a $30,000 state grant.
However, before the agency can receive the money, the County Legislature must vote to accept the grant.
A resolution to accept the grant funding went before lawmakers last month. If accepted, the grant funding will go to create a video-conferencing system at the jail.
Democrats proposed delaying the resolution last month, sending it back to committee. Before Republicans went along with the idea though, some questioned: Why?
Doug Richmond, R-Westfield, volunteered to try to answer any questions which Democrats might have. Richmond chairs the Public Safety Committee. Prior to November's full legislature meeting, Public Safety Committee members and members of the Audit and Control Committee questioned Sheriff Joe Gerace about the grant -- with both committees passing it unanimously.
The transcript of the meeting can be read below.
Coverage from November can be read by clicking here.
A second story can be read by clicking here.
*Copied from the county's website.
Legislator Mueller: I like to make a motion to table this resolution.
Legislator Cornell: Second.
~The vote failed 12 to 12 with one legislator absent~
Legislator Ahlstrom: Is there anyone here from the Sheriff's Office to answer any questions on this?
Chairman Croscut: I don't see anyone here.
Legislator Richmond: I would attempt to answer any questions in reference to this. This was a Public Safety Committee reference. What might be the question?
Legislator Ahlstrom: No disrespect to Mr. Richmond, but, I believe the policy of the Legislature is and has been that there should be someone here from the department that wants it. I believe the questions that I have would best be answered by the Sheriff's Department.
Chairman Croscut: That may be true but if you ask the question, Mr. Richmond would still attempt to answer it.
Legislator Ahlstrom: Again, no disrespect to Mr. Richmond but an answer from Legislator Richmond on what was heard in committee and what the Sheriff could answer are two different things. I don't think that it is fair to Mr. Richmond to put him in that place to be answering or speaking for the Sheriff. I would like to, and I don't know if this is acceptable or not, but I would like to refer this back to committee.
Legislator Kindberg: Second.
Chairman Croscut: I assume that you don't want this passed tonight. O.k., that is debatable.
Legislator Barmore: The Republican Caucus is totally taken back by this and we don't know what the objection is. If Mr. Ahlstrom or others would explain to us why they want to table this, we might agree with them.
Legislator Ahlstrom: I would be happy to now that it's the correct time Mr. Barmore. There are some questions on actually what is going to happen here and how this all fits into the criminal justice system and if we are accepting a grant that actually in the long run is not going to do as the resolution says which will ultimately increase efficiency. There has been some discussion and some items brought to individual Legislators that the legal community might not be fully supportive of this and we may be moving in a direction that we're accepting somebody else's money but there are actual questions as to how this actually works the mechanics of it. And, is it is going to be bought into by not only the Sheriff's Department who certainly is very aggressive in going out looking for grants, but the rest of the criminal justice community. So, that in a nut shell, without getting into specifics is why I would like this to have the Sheriff be the one to answer the questions on it.
Legislator Richmond: I can only respond to the Sheriff's reply to that question from Public Safety. Primarily this particular grant is not an identify for – in lieu of prisoners appearing in court. This is a proposal to allow prisoners and their families to have a video conference, skyping type of situation, for lack of a better word. Families can sign up for visitation on this because of the difficulties' of space primarily for the visitation area, from what we have been told and also, the difficulty of family members arriving at the jail for visiting their loved ones. The purpose of it is only in that direction and it is the intent of the Sheriff's Department to set this up on a scheduling effect with some sort of a fee reference so that there would be some financial income to the Sheriff's Department for those families choosing to do this. At this point and time, there is not any intent of using this system for court situations.
Chairman Croscut: Any more discussion on referring back to committee.
Legislator Barmore: Can we just have a minute recess?
~Legislature recessed at 7:40 p.m. and reconvened at 7:42 p.m.~
Legislator Barmore: After a short intermission and we could have averted this had the Democrat caucus contacted us earlier so we understood where they were coming from, but, Republican caucus feels that there is no harm in referring back to the committee and getting some answer from the Sheriff. So, if you would like to take another vote, we would be happy to vote along with our Democratic caucus fellow members and send this back to committee.
No comments posted for this article.
Post a Comment