Tag Archives: Jail Levy

Voices From the Crowd: Columbia County at a Crossroads

There was a time in America when partisan politics had limits. Republican President Ronald Reagan lay motionless in his hospital bed after losing half the blood in his body from an assassination attempt that had pierced his lung, leaving the bullet lodged an inch from his heart. The first person the President received was Speaker of the House Tip O’Niell; a Democrat and staunch liberal. Taking the President’s withered hand, O’Neill knelt at the bedside and recited the twenty-third Pslam, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” as the President whispered the words along with him. Once finished, the Speaker kissed the President on his forehead and left the room; tears welling up in the big man’s eyes. It’s sad to admit this, but it’s unlikely such an encounter would happen today.

Columbia County is at the crossroads of an issue swept under the rug for almost a decade; public safety. This is an issue that should unite both sides of our partisan divide. Voters have repeatedly denied the funding necessary to operate a safe and effective sheriff’s office, including the jail. Each time the levy has failed, no one who voted against it has stepped forward to provide solutions. I respect those arguments claiming money is already in the county coffers to pay for the jail; however, you must explain “where” and “how.”

We all knew this preverbal can was being kicked down the road; now it’s reached the dead end. Our jail will close by early summer. What exacerbates the problem are the employees who currently work there, leaving, to seek stable employment. Having to refill those positions by removing patrol officers from the road makes us less safe and creates more issues.  Read More

An Opinion: No Support for Sheriff…Again

Another Columbia County public safety levy has failed, this time with a lowly 39% voter turnout. “Get a gun,” is the answer that echoes from the very bottom of the intellect barrel. This is nothing more than a short-sighted remedy, mostly from angry Face Book trolls who waste hours of their lives posting tough-talk rhetoric with gun graphics depicting these grand scenarios of just exactly what could happen if thieves dared enter their home.

Frankly, this is a tired, ill-witted response based on pure ignorance. I own a gun — actually a few of them — and yet this still doesn’t make me a crime fighter or you either. If owning a gun is a substitute for a competent sheriff’s department, then owning a garden hose is a substitute for the local fire department. It’s no secret that criminals who break into homes also have guns that are just as powerful as the gun the home owner carries.  Perhaps at that point, it just might not be a bad idea to have a few of those deputies they insist on not supporting, respond to their calls while they attempt to defend themselves?  Read More

An Opinion Pass the Jail Levy

On November 5, Columbia County residents will be asked to vote in a special election.  On that ballot will be Measure 5-234 which proposes a tax levy to raise funds for operation of the Columbia County Jail.

In 1998 Columbia County voters approved funding for the construction of a new jail with a 225 bed capacity.  The jail had no corresponding funding for operations.  The county  has depended on renting beds space to the federal government which is an undependable source of revenue.

The County meanwhile has had to cut bed space they fund due to a General Fund deficit, leading to space shortages and the early release of prisoners.  Right now Columbia County is only able to fund 25 beds in their own jail.

The proposed levy of  $0.5797/per $1,000 of assessed value would provide funding to restore 75 beds for local use as well as funding additional staff for the jail.

Columbia County residents have been notoriously unwilling in the recent past  to support funding for the Sheriff’s Department,  twice rejecting  levies that would have provided additional patrols on our county roads.  This levy is somewhat different as it directly impacts city police as well. Read More