John Hammerand, the County Board member who first pointed out (twelve months ago) that the county was losing big bucks by housing Federal prisoners, spoke next:
“You cannot manage what we don’t measure.
“I’m thinking of [the need to] swear people in when they come before the committee.
“One year at a loss is more than enough.”
Tina Hill started to say something, but County Administrator Austin interrupted to declare,
“It doesn’t bind us in any manner after October, 2015.”
“We really need to have strong information,” Hammerand rejoined.
“That will be answered in the next year,” Hill assured Hammerand.
“We need a cost-benefit statement on this and many other [proposals],” the Wonder Lake representative continued.
“Explain to us why we can’t get the figures.”
Austin fell back on what I would call the “constitutional officer” defense. [Having been County Treasurer in 1967 with a Finance Committee Chairman who didn’t think computers were here to stay, I know the argument well.]
The Sheriff is elected under terms of the Illinois Constitution and has immense power to manage his office.
Passing Keith Nygren’s budget is perhaps the only really strong power the County Board has over him and the other countrywide elected officials.
“So, we’ll have to ask our constitutional officer to provide that before [the contract is extended].
Nick Provenzano was next to be recognized.
“Eight and a half years.
“It’s an embarrassment in this day and age that we can’t measure the cost.
“We haven’t forced ourselves to ask that questions.
“It’s high time.
“If we can’t find out how much it costs to house an ICE detainee in eight and a half years, how are we going to [in the next year].
“It’s kind of like trying to measure the costs of the hotel down the street.”
Then, Provenzano said something that provoked Austin.
“They’re blaming me for the level and tone of the discourse related to the Sheriff’s office and the ICE contract [or something close to that],” the County Board member quoted the Administrator.
“I did use those words,” Austin admitted.
He said using the Federal application forms, the cost was found to be $116.
“The exercise was to get the most money we could.
“It’s on us now.
“I haven’t more analysis than that.”
“Let’s not act like we’re asking this question for the first time,” Provenzano replied.
Democrat Nick Chirikos asked what the alternative uses for the ICE floor were.
“What are the alternatives?
“If we don’t take it, we end up with empty space.
“It seems much ado about nothing.
“Granted they are not as transparent as they could be.”
Joe Gottemoller was the next at his microphone.
He pointed out that the 3-year contract being considered “sits on top of the capacity agreement [the ten-year contract expiring the October after next].”
“There’s very little to say,” he explained referring to the $10 a day reimbursement increase the resolution would authorize.
“We lost $1,560 today,” Gottemoller said, meaning there were only 156 Federal inmates incarcerated Tuesday.
“I don’t believe this board will support a continuation of the contract,” he concluded.
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