For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Rob Douglas: Practicing gutter politics

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Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Douglas here.

By threatening the health care benefits of county employees in a transparent attempt to gain political leverage against Sheriff Gary Wall, the Routt County Board of Commissioners is practicing gutter politics.

As readers of the Steamboat Pilot & Today know, there has long been a war between the commissioners and the sheriff. Unfortunately, during the latest skirmish the commissioners have sunk to an unimaginable low by using rank-and-file county employees as cannon fodder.

Commissioners blundered April 1 by enacting an ill-conceived, across-the-board 10 percent pay cut for all county employees, without a commensurate furlough plan reducing work hours. Commissioners now are in the process of trying to right that wrong by enacting furloughs via a resolution to be considered Tuesday. In the midst of this retreat from the April Fools' Day fiasco, Sheriff Wall lobbed a grenade into their foxhole by publicly challenging the commissioners' legal authority to unilaterally cut the pay of employees of departments overseen by other elected county officials, absent the officials' agreement.

Perhaps suffering from battle fatigue, the commissioners revealed how low they're willing to go to maintain their belief that they are entitled to totally dominate other elected county officials. The commissioners placed language in the furlough resolution stating that if any Routt County elected official does not accept the commissioners' already enacted pay cut, "the board reserves the right to exclude the employees working in that elected official's department from employment benefits : including : retirement plan coverage and medical insurance coverage."

The obvious strategy of the commissioners is: a) Scare county employees into believing that if they or their family becomes ill, they won't have medical insurance unless the elected official atop their department kowtows to the commissioners, and, b) Having incited fear, pressure employees to tell all elected officials - specifically Sheriff Wall - to acquiesce to the pay cuts.

That strategy is beneath the dignity of Routt County and should be stopped. Now.

On Tuesday, the commissioners will argue that absent the sheriff retroactively agreeing to the 10 percent cut, all county employees will face layoffs. That argument is untimely and specious.

The commissioners have not demonstrated that other programs and departments that do not impact public safety have been reduced as far as possible. By way of comparison, the Steamboat Springs City Council exempted police, fire and emergency medical workers below the administrative level from pay cuts and furloughs, recognizing that one-size-fits-all cuts may disproportionately impact public safety. Additionally, the commissioners have more than adequate reserve funds to maintain an already understaffed sheriff's department.

As an aside, it is sadly ironic that the very commissioners who happily vaulted $400,000 from their initial budget for the downtown courthouse renovation seem satisfied to have only two sheriff's deputies guarding the entire jail complex far more often than should be publicly acknowledged.

At the heart of the longstanding dispute between the sheriff and the commissioners is the fact that Wall has consistently attempted to exercise the independent authority of his office in order to provide law enforcement services to the county consistent with the philosophy he campaigned upon. The commissioners are arguably constrained by law from interfering in the daily management of Wall's department and can't micromanage the department's funds beyond the gross amount budgeted - with some exceptions. If the commissioners weren't restricted, they could unduly influence the department's role as an independent law enforcement agency headed by an independent elected official answerable to the citizens - not the commissioners.

Realistically, the potential for political tension between the commissioners and sheriff of every county in Colorado is baked into the legal structure that defines and separates the two political offices. The legal separation between the two serves as a mechanism to prevent either one from thwarting the function of the other.

That's as it should be.

But, it also is expected that the individuals elected to any office should act as adults and keep the politics above board.

For the commissioners to threaten county employees with the loss of medical insurance - given what health care means to all county employees and their families - opens a sad chapter in Routt County politics that should be closed immediately.

If not, Wall should move this dispute into court and out of the gutter where it currently resides.

To reach Rob Douglas, e-mail Rob.Douglas@Comcast.net

Comments

steamboatsprings 4 years, 11 months ago

Let's face it Gary Wall's actions continue to be embarrassing and it is hard to fault the county commissioners for responding to his complete lack of professionalism in the only manner that he might understand. Time is money and Gary's actions will require even deeper cuts to make up for lost time. Gary is not fighting for honor, he proved long ago that he doesn't understand the word and applies inconsistent service standards to Oak creek vs the rest of the county not to mention being a great role model for our community.

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ybul 4 years, 11 months ago

If Wall takes this to the courts then has assured himself that future budgets cuts will be even larger. What an ego he has, can he not look to find 10% in reductions elsewhere? If not as in the other thread his budget will come out much smaller next year, so he better look to find ways to cut today, in order to stave off even more draconian cuts next year.

Sheriff, taking this or any issue to the courts will almost assure you of a smaller budget in the future. Use some common sense as opposed to throwing away the "commons" cents.

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goremtn 4 years, 11 months ago

Granted, the one-size-fits-all cuts didn't make sense, but this has gotten out of hand. We don't need Wall and the BoCC to turn this into a nasty civics lesson.....we need reality-based budget decisions and some clearheaded thinking.

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JLM 4 years, 11 months ago

Wall was wrong initially and now the Commissioners have placed themselves in the wrong also.

Throw them all out of office and get some adults who will work FOR the people and not for THEMSELVES.

Personal vanity and ego has no place in public service. A pox on all their houses!

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Duke_bets 4 years, 11 months ago

steamboat and ybul - Did either of you read the article, or just choose to spout off about Wall? Wall doesn't agree to wage cuts within his department. He's doing what he can to prevent wage cuts of an already thin staff.

How many officers do you think it takes to run a jail? 2 or 3 seems scary in a town the size of Steamboat.

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carlyle 4 years, 11 months ago

From what I know, half the county's revenue comes from property taxes and the other half various fees. From what I see on other blogs, property values would need to fall 40% from current trades (not listed prices) to reduce that revenue stream. Further, the county has, I believe, a 15 million reserve. While Sherriff Wall is a controversial figure, he does have the support of other law enforcement officals across the state, irrespective of political allegiance. To JLM...Did you ever have a chance to greet a congressional delegation while you were in VietNam? I did it twice, once with the J3 and once with MACSOG. No people in the world possess more vanity or have bigger egos than professional politicians or public servants.

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RandS 4 years, 11 months ago

Comment to SteamboatSprings and ybul-Do you think that all this only affects the sheriff? He is an elected official and the 10% cut did not affect him. The staff members are the employees being affected. 10% pay cut, furloughs, no medical benefits, no retirement, hiring freeze...what do you want the deputies to do? Work for free? You may not like the sheriff or his politics but don't take it out on the deputies. They deserve much better! I would invite the BoCC to see what they have done to the employees at the jail! All it takes is one incident and the county gets sued.

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Scott Berry 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, well, ybul and steamboat, like so many, you have let your feelings about Gary Wall cloud your judgment. You are no different than Doug Monger, our illustrious commissioner. His animus toward Sheriff Wall is so obvious and overwhelming, he is carrying the county toward the courts.

First, Sheriff Wall is an elected official and by design is to be separated from the whims of the county commissioners. Mr. Monger and Nancy Stahoviak want to micro-manage every department, including that of the elected Sheriff. Their egos are detrimental to good governance. Instead of prioritizing programs and cutting them according to importance, a la the city council or private enterprise, they sit on their bully pulpit and browbeat county employees and department heads.

Second, Monger and Stahoviak cannot legally cut insurance benefits in the Sheriff's without cutting the same benefits of the entire county. In short, they cannot discriminate!

Third, Monger and Stahoviak approved this budget but now want to blame Sheriff Wall.

Fourth, this is a great diversionary tactic. Wasn't it Monger and Stahoviak who thumbed their noses at the voters and built the Justice Center after we voted against it. And what about the $ 400,000.00 over-run they incurred on their watch? Why are Monger and Stahoviak exempt from responsibility? They have spent millions of our tax dollars just because they wanted to!

Isn't it about time to recognize who the real problem is? If this goes to court, Monger and Stahoviak are responsible for incurring unnecessary expenditures, not Sheriff Wall!

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steamboatsprings 4 years, 11 months ago

Politics and Wall's special qualities aside his actions and lack of context for what the consequences will mean to both his staff and the rest of the county employees is what bothers me the most to the point I don't even think about what else he has done to get us to this point. I have tremendous respect for law enforcement and know several people in the Sheriff's department that I think highly of. The problem is that there is only so much revenue right now so it can be a 10% cut now or a larger one later. The Sherriff's budget has gone up dramatically since 2004 or 2005 as stated in a recent article so while it may not be pleasant basic needs have not gone up nearly as fast as the budget. My comments are out of concern for employee jobs and pay cuts not malice towards the people.

While a 10% pay cut may be painful I know that the vast majority of business people, waiters/watiresses, ski shop employees etc have taken a minimum of 20%, 40% is not uncommon and 70-90% is not uncommon. I am over 50% off of average earnings myself. Everyone feels for our friends at the city and county but the untold story is the people with far less secure income streams based on our tourism, construction or other industries. The funny thing is that I hear very few of them wining about it most work even harder to bring in whatever then can.

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tcb 4 years, 11 months ago

Hey, what we're missing out on here is the manner in which the City went about taking care of their similar dilemna. Kudos to the City employees and even Council for being able to deal with the financial issues and then moving along. Notice how they didn't fight their battles in the news, unlike Wall and the BCC.

Seems to me JD Hays and his staff found a way to get things done for Fire and Police. Why can't Wall and the BCC? Sadly, the employees of Routt County get to be the pawns in a battle of stupidity. Wall can't expect to get any sympathy when he only tries to cut $30,000 from the budget. Cut till it hurts and then go to the BCC with a solution. This is all ridiculous.

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JLM 4 years, 11 months ago

@ Carlyle ---

I was too far west to see too many of those folks. I didn't even own khakis at that time.

My last assignment was as an ADC to a 4-star (Forestall Bldg in L'Enfant Plaza --- you may know what that means if you spent any time in DC) and it absolutely was the tipping point in my decision to get out of the Army. I had more than enough contact w/ the political establishment to truly despise the workings of government at that level. As an aide, I was sitting in the shadows observing with great interest and it was not a pretty picture.

Funny thing is that I had and still have a very, very high opinion of the general officer corps --- perhaps the fiercest meritocracy out there. I could never understand however how so many low lifes --- politicians --- were able to get elected to high office.

I had the opportunity to meet many of the big names in the biz when they were fairly junior field and company grade officers and was always a bit favorably surprised to see how many made it to the top. I went to a course w/ Petraeus when he was a LT (WP '74). He was a sharp guy even then. I was a bit older and went to the WP of the South --- VMI.

When I handed in my resignation, I had one pretty pissed off boss and got one hell of an ass chewing but I have rarely regretted it. Soldiering is a very honorable profession and I enjoyed it. It was great training for life.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 11 months ago

The county says that the Sheriff's dept budget has gone from $3.1M in 2004 to $4.6M in 2009.

If that is true then it is hard to believe that there can be only $30,000 in cuts.

And while the BCC does not have the right to micromanage the Sheriff's dept budget, they almost assuredly have the right to reduce the Sheriff's dept budget by a proportional amount of the shortfall of revenues received vs projected revenues when the budget was created.

The county has long had a policy of having a healthy reserve that serves as both a reserve and a means to finance projects without issuing bonds. But they are already using a chunk of their reserves and they'll have to cut deeper next year or risk having no reserve in a couple of years.

This recession is not like the other recent ones. This area went hog wild into a real estate bubble. When the rest of the nation was starting to decline, this area went up another 20% on the speculation of unlimited wonderfulness caused by the ski area being purchased by Intrawest.

The oversupply of housing for sale is unbelievable The most important number regarding the state of the real estate is how many months supply of housing is for sale. It is calculated by dividing the number of houses for sale by the number of sales. Nationally, it is currently about 11 months while 6 months is that of normal times (it had gotten to about 3 during the boom). For Routt County, it is currently 66 months. And during the boom it was around 4 months.

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aichempty 4 years, 11 months ago

J,

This is way off subject, but I had similar experiences with Navy and USMC flag officers, as well as foreign flag officers, as a Lieutenant Commander stationed at one of the think tanks shortly before peace broke out when the Berlin Wall came down. In one case, a politician (appointed Secretary of the Navy) instructed us to try out a pet tactic of his in a war game without any operational or engineering data to support it. We were told, "assume it works, and see what happens." Well, it was a huge success in the "simulation," and so SECNAV goes running around to everybody claiming what a huge success his idea was with no proof at all that the assumptions were correct. Fortunately, the Soviet Union went bankrupt and we never had to try it out on them, but I learned a lot about the way Washington works. It still brings tears to my eyes when I see Top Gun or Flight of the Intruder because of the satisfaction of having worn the same uniform and Wings of Gold as the men who saved us from the Japanese Navy in WW-II, but as for the Bozos in charge, well, they can all kiss my a$$.

Back on point, it was County reserve funds that were spent on the Kangaroo Kourt House. The folks who spent that money should be whipped. $400k fixed the old court house, and that's what should have been done. It was an elitist retiring judge who pushed that unlawfully ordered project, and it would only be appropriate if all the county employees took their "day off" to go roll his house with toilet paper every week, or at least sit outside with signs thanking him for the time off from work.

These people abuse our money becasue they CAN, and because we LET THEM, and what we really need are commissioners who don't work in resort businesses and real estate to look out for the best interest of the voters.

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 11 months ago

I think the commissioners performed well on the court house. First it is too conjested downtown to impose this entity on top of the existing campus. Talk about overruns, if the county did not have to spend an extra $739,000 to satisfy wetlands, imposed by those wishing to sabotage the location, they would be under budget. Money is no object when it comes to satisfying an agenda devoid of reality. It was time to move forward and I like leaders that can make common sense decisions. The old location had no parking and no willingness to address traffic. One reason it was popular at the time, was planners desire to remove all parking and force everyone onto public transportation. This was a big piece of their puzzle. The $739,000 would be real sweet about now. One of the reasons we are in the economic problems now, stems from the past where money was no object. Agenda trumped reality. I'm not sure that we have learned anything, but our future depends on getting bang for the buck.

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JLM 4 years, 11 months ago

Flying for the Navy, that's about as good as it gets. I am here today because some Squids who could really fly were not afraid to deliver the goods "right on the freakin' deck." I was debating what color smoke to mark our positions with and one of those hot shots said: "Don't worry we're coming down low enough to see you. Just point." Glad those hot dogs were on our team. Thanks!

I was in Germany in the mid-1970s and it's a damn good thing the Russians did not cross the border because the American military was a paper tiger in the post-VN era.

I am a Bonanza driver these days and take my BFRs from a retired Navy Captain and I still get a kick watching him fly my plane --- I always think the AI is malfunctioning because its locked on the pipper. My landings are understandably firm and spot on the same mark. LOL

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JLM 4 years, 11 months ago

One of the funny things about real estate supply and absorption is that it often goes right to ZERO in bad times. During the S & L crisis there was reportedly a 30 year supply of single family lots in the SW and two years later there was not a lot to be had. While I don't think this recession is going to come around so quickly, the economy will return. The big problem is going to be the exact nature of the real estate --- huge, big, energy wasting homes may never return and thus the value equation may never right itself.

The big dilemma --- what is something worth when nothing is selling at any price? This is what SBS may well face for the next couple of years.

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Matthew Stoddard 4 years, 11 months ago

I can actually say I agree with Fred on the Courthouse issue. Way I saw it back then when nobody listened, had the City and County been talking together when this was in talks on each side (about the same time as Centennial Hall), the City should have explored the option to buy the Courthouse and move the City offices into it. They then could have sold the 10th St. office building, or kept it for storage or overflow. One of the courtrooms could have been for City Council meetings.

Then, the County could have moved on the New Courthouse, with money in their pocket specifically for it. Simple enough solution, had it been explored.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 11 months ago

JLM, I'd be stunned if the local market recovered in two years. The S&L crisis relatively quickly sold off the bad holdings at whatever price and in areas where the overall economy was good that allowed the market to reset and then continue forward.

Places like Austin took at least five years to recover because they were also hit with layoffs in their tech companies.

I think the local market is going to take longer to recover because there is still widespread complete denial about the state of the RE market. Houses are still coming onto the market 30% above similar existing houses that have not sold after numerous price cuts. Homeowners have a price in their mind and are making that the asking price.

What is going to happen are many foreclosures and once that sets the market price then the market can go forward from there. I think the foreclosures will go through two stages, first will be the spec homes and liar loans, and I think the second phase will be a number of contractors and RE agents losing their primary homes which they can no longer afford.

I do not think this area is doomed or such because it is an attractive place to live and technology keeps making it easier for a greater variety of people to work here.

But there will be a wrenching process because way too much was built at too high of a price so the construction industry and RE agents are going to have to sort sharing a smaller pie and part of that will be people not making it and moving away.

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JLM 4 years, 11 months ago

I did not mean to suggest that SBS would "recover" in 2 years but rather that recoveries are often just as quick as going into the ditch. And the obscured information which drove a decline may be just as obscured on the recovery side.

It is pretty clear now the national economy began to go into the ditch in Dec 2007 and began to free fall in Aug-Nov (in part exacerbated by the campaign rhetoric and the Paulson Panic). There are already signs of recovery in selected industries --- those which "will" recover and are truly cyclical but there is a lot of uncertain info in industries which may not recover (eg autos). A bit of Darwin will be required and the UAW and Obama will have to find their sea legs before this will be sorted out.

I suspect that we are not yet even at the "end of the beginning" --- but not too far off. Interestingly enough, low interest rates are now almost irrelevant. Once upon a time a guy could not get a loan at 8% and now he can't get a loan at 3.25%.

Market declines are like a parallel family of curves --- you may fall more than one curve and while the future gets back to the same pricing w/ the passage of time, you may never really get back to the higher curve. I think that is what we will experience as the Nation does not return to its debt financed ways.

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JLM 4 years, 11 months ago

The S & L crisis was a bit more commercial real estate and there was a lot of liquidity in the marketplace as the damage was not as pervasive. I know the Austin market intimately and it was 4-5 years behind Houston, Dallas. It was primarily a "dirt" problem (as well as the commercial real estate which was statewide and nationwide) and the tech bubble was coincident rather than complementary. Both hit the economy in a negative way but the tech bubble did not really hit the real estate biz.

The other thing about Austin is that when the prices hit bottom there were plenty of buyers at those lowered prices and in the most desirable neighborhoods (Pemberton Heights, Tarrytown, Rob Roy, Barton Creek) there was very little real price loss. It will be interesting to see what happens this time around.

Extraordinary supply --- from all sources --- is a "price discovery" dynamic as product will sit until it hits the point at which it will trade. This is what is happening in SBS today. In the hands of the owners, that will be a tentative and timid exercise --- understandably so. When the property gets into the hands of the banks, it will be a free fall and the pendulum --- as it always does --- will swing too far. I suspect that will be this time one year from now. Resort property always bottoms after the "season".

Just like those huge homes out at Lake Travis (Costa Bella), people discovered you can live well in less than 9000 SF the last time around, folks will find you can really enjoy SBS in a lot less house.

SBS will be just fine if it can find a way to govern within the new funding paradigm and as folks learn to save for their luxuries rather than borrow for them. There is a huge difference between saving and even leveraging up liquidatable assets and pure, raw, optimistic debt. SBS will learn that lesson as will the rest of the country.

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ybul 4 years, 11 months ago

common and duke, I have zero feelings for the sheriff and probably went off too hard on the sheriff (because I am fed up with the endless outstretched hand of the government. The attempted pinnacol raid has made me more aware and vocal). The problem does not just lie in his department but probably is in all departments. As such I apologize to the sheriff. However, going to court and procuring attorneys to resolve the issue will only throw money down the drain that could have been used to solve the problem.

The roads and the sheriffs department are the two highest priority departments in the county. The rest should face steeper budget cuts, as they probably have accumulated more fluff. The review of all aspects of the government and wether or not each department functions can/should be accomplished internally or externally, should be high on the BoCC agenda. Two deputies at the entrance to the courthouse seems like overkill, maybe some hours justify it and others that second body could be fulfilling other duties.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 11 months ago

JLM, I don't know Austin well. In San Jose I worked with a guy from Austin whom kept trying to figure out how to get a job there so he could live in his house there. And work sent me on trip there and I got lost biking one afternoon and it seemed like the banks owned about a quarter of the houses there in the 1,200 to 1,800 sq ft neighborhoods.

The recovery will be interesting here. The upscale stuff was built to appeal to the younger end of the baby boom both as a lifestyle and investment. Suddenly the road to wealth and a comfortable retirement is not paved with debt and leverage. So that group has been hurt and will be less willing to extend themselves financially, but they are a big group and SB is a small market.

The local/regional housing for locals in the better jobs probably has a clearer path to recovery. The market in Stagecoach and such will have to come down to what these people can qualify to get a mortgage. But it will be slowed because these people will have to save for awhile to get a down payment because the days of 95+% financing is probably over.

Meanwhile, not a whole lot of housing was built aimed for the group that will probably lead the recovery. The work anywhere type of person that is probably younger, more likely to have children and is doing well, but also has a budget.

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peace 4 years, 11 months ago

It would be of enlightening revelation for a comparison of ALL Routt County Elected Officials, and the time they do or do not spend doing the job they are paid well to do and elected to be compelled

. It would not surprise me a bit to find a Bernie Madoff type mentality, of other elected officials were their time in office be compared to their time away from official business.

Wall is most likely an exception. Police like teachers can never have enough assistance while someone else in charge of the mighty dollar may clearly have other economic agenda's and motivations. It often makes little difference which way monies flow, as there is always someone else to make monies on whatever direction that money flows.

Rob Ryg rightly reserves privacy for money matters as pertaining to the county. This is his right and choice. Just like the Sheriff.

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RandS 4 years, 11 months ago

Ybul stated,"Two deputies at the entrance to the courthouse seems like overkill, maybe some hours justify it and others that second body could be fulfilling other duties." Here is one for you... Two deputies at the court security station. There is a panic alarm in probation, one deputy responds (leaving one at the station). So everyone that goes to the justice center is happy right? Wrong! The offices in the new justice center are Court, DA, and Probation, do you think that the people who go to these offices are happy? There is always potential for a situation. Courts around the country are not the safest places to be. Think about it like the volunteer fire department. They are there because we need them to be there! What if your family memeber was a vicitim in a case and had to go see the DA and the defendant was there and started something...wouldn't you like to know that there is someone there to help? Come on public safety is not a joke and we do not live in a bubble! There is real crime and who know when it will strike.

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ybul 4 years, 11 months ago

Yep there are instances that could require two people. Maybe having a desk for another officer to do paperwork in case of a need for assistance.

I sure would like to know there is someone to help. I think that trying to kill two birds with one stone would be more cost effective though.

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RandS 4 years, 11 months ago

Ybul, if I may ask, what is you law enforcement experience? May I also add that last time I checked the security station at the justice center is a desk. Did you know the the justice center is staffed with detention deputies? Detention deputies are people managers. There is little paperwork that they do. THEY ARE THERE TO MAKE SURE NOTHING HAPPENS! Where would you place the second deputy? In the jail? Do you know what kind of response time you would get if the second deputy was at the jail and needed to run to the court house? The judges, victims and staff could be at risk. Oh and how about the children that are at the court house for juvenile diversion, you know that is conducted in the probation office. How about the case in Lodi, Ca where a judge was attacked by a defendant with a shank during his murder trial. Bohn states," Paradiso was still attacking the judge when Lodi Police Detective Eric Bradley shot and killed him. Fox was taken to a hospital, where she received stitches to wounds on her arm and upper neck."(lodinews.com) Do you know that Lodi California is central northern California, wine country...Meth? That was what the defendant claimed the reason for stabbing a girl and killing her. Oh that's right we live in the impenetrable "Steamboat Bubble!" We don't have any meth here. Nothing will ever happen here, because it hasn't happened yet, please do not be that naive. Look outside Ybul, I know we live in a beautiful place but it has some crappy people in it. As I have stated before anything can happen.

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ybul 4 years, 11 months ago

Yep anything can happen, I admitted that there quite possibly is a need for back up. Sorry I am not in law enforcement. That second deputy could have an additional desk installed for not too much money, with a glass office that locks when it closes. As for being a detention deputy, maybe a real deputy could use the desk to fill out reports (maybe there are no reports to be filled out).

I DO NOT KNOW, I am simply asking questions as a citizen should do. I am not an expert within the sheriffs department, though looking to others for suggestions might be good. Sometimes someone on the outside looking in can see something that those inside can not, I know outsiders have helped me.

Maybe as in other business' if someone comes in with an idea to save the department money (or any county department) and it is a procedural change, they receive a portion of those savings for its first year.

I do not know, you obviously work in the department and probably could come up with some money savings ideas, I probably can not as I really have little interaction except my one visit to the courthouse.

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RandS 4 years, 11 months ago

I do have law enforcement experience. First, let me say, I am a friend and an advocate to all public safety members. It is not an easy job and I know this from experience. Long hours, shift work, etc... I know we choose this work so do complain about it, but we choose to help others.

As far as I can see there has been several changes that save money. What the public needs to understand is when you cut things like training the risk for law suits goes up. Failure to train is a huge liabilty. Not having the appropriate number of staff is another huge liability. The sheriff's office is not on-call after hours like some of the other departments. Arrests, domestic situations, juvenile situations, mental health, and detox situations can happen at anytime . It is a shame that there are people who do not see the work that "real" Deputies do. ALL DEPUTIES ARE REAL DEPUTIES. The only thing that is different is the job they do. When a "real" deputy arrests someone they bring them to a "real" jail where a "real" deputy processes them. Maybe you should see if you can take a tour of the jail and the justice center. Then you can see first hand what the situation is. I am sure that the sheriff and his employees would like the public to have a better understanding of the work they do. Once you have a grasp of the entire situation then see if your opinion changes.

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ybul 4 years, 11 months ago

My grasp of the situation is that there are always ways to improve efficiency. Maybe, if someone within a department comes up with a way of improving how an office functions on less they get a portion of the savings for the first year.

Yep, anything can happen we can be hit with swine flu an earthquake at anytime. Does that mean we should prepare for everything. There are marginal returns in preparing for all possible situations and the cost of doing so greatly outweighs the risk (not that the value of a life could be quantified). However, we try to protect everyone against everything and as such we waste far too many resources in doing so.

Maybe the sheriffs dept can look to how they are dealing with Oak Creek in providing some insight into how some things could be cut. Heck the cost of fuel has fell through the floor and the budget still probably increased this year.

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RandS 4 years, 11 months ago

I would like to know that my friends and family are safe at all times while working. Adequate staffing would prevent a single deputy working alone.

I agree that there are ways to reduce and cut so that we do not waste. The deputies are not fixing pot holes, doing construction permits, or office type of work. (not said to offend any other county employees) The problem is that there is a minimum number of staff that needs to be present at specific times and that standard it not being met. This county needs to me more proactive instead of reactive. No we can not prepare for everything but we can at least operate a jail with the right number of staff members.

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jerry carlton 4 years, 11 months ago

Rands, you did not outline your law enforcement experience. I was a corrections officer for 5 years at the Yakima County Jail in Yakima Washington before moving to Steamboat 11 years ago. I was not a "real deputy" as I was not qualified to do street patrol or carry a fire arm. As you say, I was a people manager. This was a 600 bed jail with a huge drug problem in the county. We had 6 to 10 murders a year, a drive by shooting every other day, and a bank robbery every other month. All this in a town of 50,000. I had my life threatened numerous times, was assaulted once for which the inmate recieved one year in state prison. All that said, I agree with 99% of what you said. My problem comes with the lack of professionalism of Gary Wall, his personal conduct (dwai) and then accusing the State Patrol of "setting him up" and his hostility towards the county commissioners. As I have said before in this forum, I do not know Wall or any of the county commissioners, But if what I read in the newspaper is true, Wall is a pathetic excuse for a sheriff.

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ybul 4 years, 11 months ago

So Rand what about the state patrol officers driving? Should we put two officers in every car, so they are safe all the time. How about those pilots who fly and face the possibility of a mechanical failure? How about the mine workers who go into the twenty mile mine to provide coal to light your house and power the jail, how do we protect them from every possible problem?

There is no way to insure that every minute of every day your family and friends are going to be safe from everything. They could have a weekend immunity and come into contact with a visitor to the jail and contract the swine flu and die. There are so many possible problems that addressing them all will cause a systemic failure as every day a new problem that needs money thrown at it, will arise.

I understand the concerns for friends and family. But at what point are we spending too much to make sure those in the sheriffs department are safe and thus endangering others because a road is not maintained and someone dies because of it or some other problem?

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ybul 4 years, 11 months ago

Rob's article today states the argument very well and that outside objective opinion really is needed.

Though I do believe that with some creativity, that some additional staffing could be found by utilizing patrol deputies to help out the detention deputies (while they are in the office, though that should have been designed into the facilities to maximize this potential).

As I said before I do not know what can be done with interdepartment cooperation. However, having done this in my business to achieve a more productive business than others in the same field, I think that looking into how to better accomplish a duty with the same number of people should be looked into.

Also, it should not stop with the sheriffs department as other departments may find they can accomplish more also. This is why I suggested offering a bonus to those who come up with changes that save money. As those who actually preform the duties are the ones who can come up with the best ideas for making a job more efficient. Though there should be some protections for those who come up with ideas as some of those will eliminate jobs and others will not be happy with those changes.

(i.e. Building inspection being made a contracted job with a bonded structural engineer preforming that function.)

In reality what jobs do we want, need the county to preform. Public Safety is high on that list, but are there ways to do the same job for less?

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