Municipal bond analyst Steve Wilson left the following message under the first part of my report of the McHenry County Board debate about the $10 increase for housing Federal prisoners:
How much are we losing each day per prisoner?
I have not looked at the Sheriff’s numbers in detail, so, to be perfectly frank, I am completely ignorant about them.
Of course, being ignorant doesn’t stop me from having an opinion.
And my opinion is: don’t trust their calculation of the “cost per day per prisoner.”
- After my long fight with MCC over the expansion, I have learned that government administrations are perfectly willing to go to great lengths to hide their mistakes:
- to make up numbers
- attribute expenses for one program to another
- leave out overhead, and
- use very rosy forecasts of demand, even in the face of a long-term declining trend, so the projected denominator bears no resemblance to the real denominator, meaning the cost per prisoner is actually higher than they say and rising ever year that demand goes down.
(I remember many years ago, when the Chicago Board of Ed included every employee with a teaching certificate in with their teacher numbers, even though many were administrators and never taught a single class. It greatly reduced the number of “administrators” and made their teacher:pupil ratio look much better than it was.)
Is this true in the Sheriff’s case?
We don’t know, and that’s not our fault.
The reason we don’t know is because they’ve have been very careful not to release the information that would be needed to independently verify their claims.
So, as I said, I’m ignorant.
But that’s not my fault, and I sure as heck wouldn’t take it on faith that any numbers the Sheriff gives me are anywhere near accurate.
Perhaps the County Board will ask McHenry County Auditor Pam Palmer to conduct an audit to obtain the cost figures.
Maybe County Administrator Pete Austin will consider recruiting CTA whistleblower Casey Loop to join his staff to replace retiring John Labaj.
If Austin does not, maybe the County Board elected in 2016 will decide they want someone of Loop’s talents to cut through any curtain the first County Board Chairman elected at-large puts up to hide what he/she is doing. (You can read the article here.)