Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Politics of Confrontation Over Jail, Courts, Cronies



When they drop the gavel this morning at the McLennan County
Commissioners' Court meeting, the war of nerves will
continue in confrontations between Tea Party watchdogs,
individual commissioners and constitutional officers.

As late as May, the 816-bed Jack Harwell Detention Center
remained empty in a bleak situtation that left taxpayers
supporting the entire debt service on the $49 million
facility.

Now that the privately operated jail is housing prisoners,
it's still nowhere near full and the dollar sink is sucking
the green down the drain.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Joe Mashek is on record accusing
County Judge Jim Lewis of ethics violations and violations
of anti-trust laws, County Sheriff Larry Lynch receives a
$12,000 per year salary "supplement" paid by the county from
funds it receives from CEC, Inc., the jail's operator, and
there is a history of jail culinary contractor Jack Madera
being indicted on 15 counts of corruption in Dallas County
for precisely the same kind of things officials have been
accused in Waco.

All that leaves Judge Jim Lewis on the hot seat. He
promised in May that the jails would be full within a few
months and the budget would be back on an even keel.

Not true. As of today, McLennan County is losing money left
and right on a jail operated by a corporation whose bottom
line is the bottom line.

That decision has already cost two Commissioners their jobs.

No doubt, the floggings will continue until morale improves.

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