Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jim Lewis' legacy to McLennan County taxpayers -

Corporate welfare unceasing, aimed at jail

This is a picture of the actual document that authorized the latest round of band-aid financing of the “outside care” of McLennan County's prisoners held in a building financed and paid for by taxpayers of McLennan County.

The bottom line:

Doesn't sound like much when you say it fast. Just trips off the tongue in tones of fluffy souffle du lucre a la law and order, anti-terrorism, and the war on drugs.

Hey, who could oppose a lineup like that, huh? I wonder if it's on the commissary list! Microwaveable? Does it get any better?

More than 40 years ago, Judge Jim Lewis began his long career of public service as a turnkey - a jailer - at the McLennan County Jail. 

Through adroit manipulation of the system, Sheriff Larry Lynch and County Judge Jim Lewis, both of them departing their offices in the near future through retirement, have already managed to exceed the budget for such foolishness by $2 million during fiscal year 2012.

You are looking at the latest “budget amendment” of $370,000 funneled to the “outside care” of McLennan County's prisoners, a function that is mandated by the Texas Constitution, one of five outlined in the document, which are law enforcement, court security, serving process, conducting seizures and forfeitures, and – last and certainly not least in this case – the detention and custody of prisoners.

Administrative Captain Paul Wash called the situation a “perfect storm,” which is partially true if you believe in the fairy tale that perfect storms rain cash on corporate schemes and dreams such as the contract with CEC, Inc., to operate the Jack Harwell Detention Center and the “downtown” jail.

If the downtown jail were not closed in order to supply prisoners to the Jack Harwell Detention Center, the corporation would have no claim of a $370,735 war bill to pay for the “outside care” of prisoners in the custody of McLennan County to answer for offenses in the courts of McLennan County.

If the downtown jail were opened, would there still be a need for paying for "outside care" of prisoners? Probably not. What's the holdup? No one knows. The "best estimate" obtained, not from the responsible entity, CEC., Inc., but from County Building Supervisor Sammy Sykora, is that it will still take "between $100,000 and $200,000 to open the jail after a $1.1 million remodeling job ordered not by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, but by the Commissioners Court, which later was hard pressed to remember why they ordered such an expenditure. Must have come through the "budget amendment" process. 

County Budget Officer Adam Harry has described the budget as a "living document," one in which it's not so much the budgeted items, but the expenditures that dictates day to day exigencies.

Nevertheless, the downtown jail still has an operating permit plan in place. All it would take would be for the officials of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to do a "walk through" and it would be back in force. CEC would be off welfare, but, hey, like the fella said, the object is to cut spending, not supply corporations with easy money. 

But, wait, there's more!

Sheriff Lynch has lately been seen squiring a television “news crew” around the Highway 6 jail, showing unto the folks in TV-land that there is really no problem with electrical wiring to support the use of microwave ovens in prisoner cells, since there are only seven of them on the premises.

An inside source at the jail said at last count there are 52 such microwave ovens in use by prisoners in their cells, prompting a need for an $85,000 project to upgrade the wiring and circuit breakers to handle the strain.

Either the wiring was substandard when the building was certified for occupancy as a jail, or the policy of allowing microwave ovens in prisoner cells for their use is unwise and never planned.

On the other hand, microwaveable items on the commissary list increases the revenue realized from the sale of items prisoners buy to tide them over from meal to meal provided at the expense of their friends and neighbors, the taxpayers of McLennan County.

I wonder if the "commissary" takes food stamps? Just asking. I mean, like, remain calm, if you can. I'm just saying, that's all. 

Yes, sir, yes, sir, that sack's full. Three bags full, sir. Aye aye.


A deputy writes to The Legendary - ...He told me that th co gas cards were maxed out and th transport officers were going to have to use their own money for gas ... went almost to houston, th other transport guy went down past corpus. Lots of gas. They were on th phone all day with ideas. They were told that it would last thru th next week. They asked if they could turn reciepts on friday if they could get a check on monday to keep going. Co comm said no. Later in th day th guys had decided to call in sick because they couldn't afford it. Low n behold it was fixed later that day. REALLY... maxed out gas


  1. What will the private corporation do without there leader,looks like take his million and get out of town.

  2. So Larry Lynch lied again??? He's starting to sound more like Eric Holder in front of a Congressional hearing. There is a big difference between 7 and 52 microwaves. Oh course my question would be, how would he know in the first place, since according to my friends that work at the jail, this was the first time they had seen him out at the jail in their careers?

    I guess the corporate ticks will have to find a new dog to suck the blood out of now. There is a new Sheriff and a new Judge. No more free handouts for CEC!!