Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

January 28, 2013

What had happened to reason and reality

MT. VERNON — Editor:

As I sit at my computer and remember the days when most of us could differentiate between profit and loss, I wondered what had happened to reason and reality.

I read the article in the Register-News this morning concerning the problems with the ICE contract between Jefferson County and the Federal Government. I then went to coffee with some locals who solve all the problems of our county, city, state and federal government on a daily basis.

The Sheriff, in his self investigation, found that someone was responsible for the problems we are facing and has taken action to terminate that individual. I wonder if all elected officials should be responsible for investigating discrepancies within his or her area of responsibility. Just think, if the treasurer at Dixon had performed the investigation into the loss of $52 million in her office, would she have found herself culpable?

The county board has known for years that the medical personnel at the jail were not performing three “sick calls” per week, because the hours spent at the jail were not sufficient to do so. This was given to the board monthly, and at times the medical doctor and assistants would perform as little as six or seven hours per month. The county was paying $2,000 per month for the doctor and $2,000 per month for the P.A. This could be as much as $700 per hour. By the way, these facts were from the Sheriff’s Report.

Were there written instructions for the doctor to follow, and if so, would the sheriff please furnish copies of all written instructions and policies to the board?

I have talked at length with the present chairman of the board, and we do not agree on the means by which we figure costs. He is using the same “phony accounting” that got us into this situation in 2002. The chairman tells me that we should not include major expenses such as payment on the jail bonds, that is being paid by the Public Safety Tax. Mr. Chairman, are you treating the several levies pertaining to employee benefits, such as IMRF, Social Security, Medicare and the very expensive Health Insurance costs in the same manner? How about the very inflated, Workermens Comp and liability costs that do not appear on the jail budget? Mr. Chairman, are not these costs coming out of the excessive taxes this county is paying? If these are not costs of housing prisoners, would you and the board please discontinue these regressive taxes?

The article also made reference to the county hiring several new employees. Each employee is an increase of at least $60,000 to the county budget and the cost of each prisoner will increase as well. At the present time, the cost per prisoner, our prisoners, and out of county prisoners, i.e. ICE, is above $80 per day. Would you please tell the taxpayers of this county how we can make any profit at $60 per day? These figures show me and anyone who understands Accounting 101 that we are subsidizing the federal government. Mr. Chairman, it is my belief that I send enough to the federal authorities without sending more money to them through the mismanagement of our property taxes and levies of this county. I was told that you made the statement at a recent committee meeting, “The ICE agency was not in favor of a local unit of government making a profit on the housing of their detainees.” If this is the case, then we do not need this contract.

It is my belief that the desire to pattern our spending after the federal government’s wastefulness, the State of Illinois debt caused by legislators that only understand how to spend, and even local units of government that are taxing and spending at an alarming rate, would be making a grave error. Where and when do we return to reality?

Ted Buck

Mt. Vernon

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