So now that we’ve settled the newsroom dynamic that drives reporters to unerringly seek out the most far-fetched other side of a story and thus, slowly lose their capacity to tell the truth, (see my previous blog post) let’s move on to my main point. And that point is, when it comes to Kane County Sheriff Don Kramer’s self-inflicted $2.5 million budget deficit – a feat he single-handedly accomplished in less than 30 days in office – there is no other side of the story.
And those local reporters who are doing their damndest to pretend there is are only doing themselves and their ever dwindling readership a massive disservice. It may be somewhat rare in this existence, but some things really are cut and dried.
If you recall, Sheriff Kramer unilaterally sent about 100 U.S. Marshal’s prisoners packing the result of which is the aforementioned $2.5 million corrections budget hole. In a massive case of closing the barn door long after the horse got out, the Sheriff attempted to justify his malfeasance by claiming the Kane County jail is unsafe.
In an effort to be “fair,” the papers are giving this blatantly bogus excuse credence despite the fact that it holds even less water than another California drought. Should you require more details, please avail yourself of this blog post.
Meanwhile, here are the facts:
1. The Sheriff had no right to terminate the U.S. Marshals contract
…Which was signed by former Chairman Karen McConnaughay. And this indisputable fact means the debate should end right here. Let me say it again! Sheriff Kramer had no legal right to end the contract.
Whatever after-the-fact excuse he’s managed to come up with is utterly immaterial because nothing on the planet can mitigate this illegal action.
2. If the jail is “unsafe,” the Sheriff shoulda brought it before the Board
Because that’s the way it works. Aside from the Marshals, the only group with the power to cancel that contract is the Kane County Board. Not even the Chairman could terminate the contract. Provided the opportunity, perhaps the Board could’ve mitigated any potential safety issue.
3. But the Kane County jail is not unsafe and it never has been unsafe
If the jail was unsafe, it wouldn’t have passed every single annual Illinois Department of Corrections inspection. If the jail was unsafe, it would not have passed every single U.S. Marshals inspection. If the jail was unsafe, the Marshals would never have signed the contract to begin with.
If the jail was unsafe the problem would’ve appeared somewhere in the last eight years of Judicial and Public Safety Committee meeting minutes. If the jail was unsafe, the past Chairman and members of the Judicial Committee would’ve said something.
If the jail was unsafe, corrections officers would’ve been attacked far more than once or twice in eight years. If the jail was unsafe Kane County wouldn’t be the beneficiary of 250 regular volunteers who minister to the inmates right there in the pods.
And lastly, if the jail was unsafe, Sheriff Kramer would never have attempted to reinstate that contract before the Marshals told him exactly what he could do with his piece of paper.
4. It never pays to aggravate a U.S. Marshal
Apparently Sheriff Kramer never watched The Fugitive with Tommy Lee Jones. Obviously irritated by his surly attitude and flip-flopping ways, the Marshals decided to remove all of their prisoners which increased that deficit from $1.4 to $2.5 million. Sheriff Kramer may prefer to call it a “federal drawdown,” but the truth is, it’s the Marshal’s not-so-subtle way of saying “fuck you!”
5. Other counties covet these federal prisoners
In the words of Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird, who’s making a play for these prisoners, “This will generate revenue for the county. Our intent is to work with the federal government and maximize our resources here in Kendall County.”
6. The Sheriff is solely responsible for his budget hole
Having been in office for only two weeks and utterly failing to comprehend the consequences of his action, Sheriff Kramer illegally terminated a contract and, by doing so, dispensed with $2.5 in revenue. The fact that he’s blaming everyone but himself doesn’t change anything.
7. Kane County doesn’t have the cash to cover this
For argument’s sake, let’s say we’ve slipped into some sort of parallel Universe where Sheriff Kramer actually has a leg to stand on. The current $1.6 million Kane County contingency fund ain’t nearly enough to cover a $2.5 million hole.
And that contingency fund is never supposed to go to just one department. So should Chief Judge Brawka and State’s Attorney Joe McMahon be forced to cut their budgets to cover the Sheriff’s inability to understand the concept of subtraction?
8. It took me just 20 minutes to get three sources to tell me the truth
Sheriff Kramer, who has a well-known penchant for speaking his mind in the present moment, essentially said, “I’m going to get rid of every last vestige of Pat Perez and it starts with the Marshals’ contract.”
And so he did!
Going back to Klosterman’s original contention, the fact that our local reporters, and especially their editors, consciously choose to give merit to the Sheriff’s ex post facto argument is beyond the pale and further erodes whatever credibility their papers may have left. Because no one within the sound of my voice could possibly interpret this series of events any differently than I have.
The sad thing is, it’s so simple to dismiss the Sheriff’s claim. All you have to do is call former Sheriff Pat Perez and ask if the jail was ever unsafe. But only one Courier-News reporter made that call and she couldn’t get the story straight if it bit her in the butt.
She’s already reported that the Judicial Committee has co-chairs and that no one from the Sheriff’s office attended the recent Finance Committee meeting when I was sitting right in front of two of ‘em – one in uniform. So I wouldn’t be holding your breath for that one.
Newspapers have got to start printing the truth and stop worrying about both sides of the story when one “side” is clearly pure and unadulterated BS. The least the local papers could do is run an editorial demonstrating they have a modicum of collective common sense in this case.
But that hasn’t happened either. We’ll see what happens going forward.