Mt. Vernon Register-News

January 4, 2013

Explore all possibilities

Staff Report

MT. VERNON — Dear Editor:

An open letter to the Jefferson County Board —

Windows of opportunity occur with infrequency and the window usually opens for a very brief time. I would suggest that the ICE population departure from the Jefferson County Jail is just such an opportunity. The board must examine past failures and future risks from the true perspective of best outcome, then hopefully a direction can be determined that will yield stability forward for the taxpayers and the employees of our county.

Everyone by this time should realize that the jail as a profit center is a total and extremely costly failure. Political office holders have no business being involved with ventures of business. The outcome of failure as is apparent from reflection of jail performance has poor outcome only for taxpayers and employees. Politicians are generally inept as business people; they do not possess the skill sets necessary to run large business with competence. Positive outcome is even harder when the foundational premises are laid with false calculations and projections, as was the case of the jail.

Going forward the board must examine the risks (more taxes, bankruptcy, inefficient and ineffective services) they will be placing on the citizens. This must be done absent the agendas and soothsaying prophecies of an officeholder and the insatiable and blinding ego of any board member. Every county board member must step forward as a leader not as an ignorant follower or imperial wizard. This process will involve procurement of knowledge by each, hard work in digesting information, followed by keen judgment in decisions. If the foundational information is solid and the outcomes are not skewed by unrealistic projections or hidden agendas then it follows that a practicable and sustainable outcome (not necessarily pleasant) will be forthcoming.

The past course going forward is unacceptable. The national election further changed the scenario and a real possibility of this outcome is the number of individuals now considered illegal will rapidly fall from a torrent to a trickle. If this projection holds validity what impact will continued ICE dependence have on the fiscal outcomes of the jail (county)? Might not the best outcome be one in which Jefferson County takes care of Jefferson County? Will this not yield the greatest stability? County Board, please explore all the possibilities resulting from the open window opportunity and move us forward for best outcome which is not the path past traveled.

Dexter Edmison

Belle Rive