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It's Alway$ About The Money
January 19, 2012 - Joe Gorman
When Mahoning County Sheriff Randall Wellington told county commissioners Thursday that his decision to discontinue video arraignments for jail inmates charged in Youngstown Municipal Court was not about the money, I knew what he was really saying.
He was really saying his decision to discontinue video arraignments was all about the money.
Really, it was. That was not a misprint up there. When someone say's ``It's not about the money' they always mean it is about the money. It was true for Jim Thome when he left the Indians and it's just as true today.
Because no sooner had those words left Wellington's mouth, than he said he was short of personnel to run the program because the commissioners have failed to give him enough money to increase staff.
City officials are concerned, and rightly so, about the mess that would be created if video arraignments were halted and inmates had to make their initial appearances in the cramped confines of the Municipal Court, which was once compared in an official report to a facility in the Ukraine. To make such a comparisson (sp?) is an insult -- to Ukranians. There may not be a more cramped, decript municipal edifice than the city's Municipal Court, which has long since outlived any use it may have once had.
Municipal Judge Elizabeth Kobly said initial court appearances are often a voltaile mix because of the immediacy of the crime and the families of both victims and defendants and she fears what might happen if all three parties were in the same room together. I share those fears. I've seen family members who look like they want to jump through the screen to strangle an inmate being arraigned and I've seen the gang signs and dirty looks and mouthed obscenties between family members during an arraignment that attract the attention of court personnel.
Usually, these meetings drone on and on and no one really wants to say anything, so I was a little surprised that county commissioners voiced their displeasure at Wellington's decision. I was not surprised by his being rock solid in his decision. Whatever one might say about him, the man was a cop for most of his adult life and was by all accounts unbribable by the Mob. Someone may have influenced his thinking, but he does not change his mind on a whim.
This is also not the first time the sheriff's office has played by these tactics. Who can forget the laying off of corrections officers and the release of prisoners before sales tax campaigns to try and impress on voters the need for funds to keep those criminals locked up?
In truth, there is no easy solution, and probably never will be. The MCSO is bare bones as it is and yet can not keep up with a burgeoning criminal population. What we need is for this ``Shale Boom' to take off and take off fast and pump much needed sales tax revenue into the county's coffers, so they can call back those deputies who were laid off and more.
But until that happens, I do not think Wellington is going to budge. He does not have to run for reelection and can pretty much do whatever he wants because he has no one to really answer to. In the end, as it always does in government, it comes down to three things: The money, the money and the money.
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