• The wrangling around Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr’s unilateral imposition of a cap on municipal inmates at the county jail continues as the Board of County Commissioners announced this morning it will break its trust with the public and endorse the cap.

    Last week five municipalities filed suit against the county and the sheriff’s office saying that the cap on inmates jeopardized public safety.  It was the latest move in a three-year battle in which Darr has ignored the pleas of city officials, chiefs of police and citizens.

    This morning the county posted to its website a notice saying, “The Adams County Board of Commissioners will, on Monday, pass a resolution placing a cap on the number of municipal inmates accepted at 30.”

    This move is shocking on a number of levels.

    First and foremost, the county commissioners are saying that they endorse a policy that has jeopardized citizen safety.

    The chiefs of police of area municipalities said last year the situation was a ‘crisis’ and it has not been resolved since then.  To see the board back Darr’s actions is almost beyond belief, particularly since they disavowed themselves of the cap last year.

    Second, it is interesting to note that per the resolution, the commissioners pass the buck for managing the inmate cap to the cities.  They write, “The municipalities will be jointly responsible for limiting the number of municipal inmates…”

    What?  Not only are commissioners endorsing an unjust cap, they are forcing the cities which do not agree with the cap to manage it.  Is it not the job of the Adams County Sheriff to manage the jail?

    Third, despite the fact the commissioners would have us believe they have restored ethical behavior to their offices, it is clear they have a long way to go.

    The fact the county announced that they ‘will pass’ this resolution before any public discussion on the issue and before the actual vote is reprehensible.

    The item does appear on today’s agenda however it is unknown when it was added and first appeared publicly.  Something of this high level of importance deserves – indeed demands – a full public hearing, something which the commissioners appear to want to avoid.

    I am dumbfounded at today’s news.  To see the commissioners endorse the sheriff’s actions is beyond belief.

    Update, 12:25pm – Board adopts resolution unanimously.  The audio from this morning’s commissioner meeting shows that there was a minimum of discussion highlighting that the outcome was predetermined.

    No questions were made from the board before a motion was put forth to accept the resolution.  Commissioner Erik Hansen moved to adopt it and it was seconded by Eva Henry and passed unanimously.

    In commentary Hansen said, “I will say that I’m not a big fan of this action to cap the number of municipal inmates at 30, but we don’t really have a lot of choice in my opinion because I don’t think it’s in the public’s interest to spend taxpayers’ money suing each other.  My hope is that the sheriff and municipalities can work together to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

    Henry added her own thoughts saying, “I agree with Commissioner Hansen that I really do not want to do this.  Unfortunately we’ve been backed into a corner and we have no choice but to be able to do this to stop a lawsuit so that way, hopefully, we encourage our municipalities and our sheriff to have a conversation so we can find a resolution in regards to this.”

    It is unclear how adopting this resolution will stop the lawsuit against the county and sheriff.  I would expect one of the commissioners or another insider will enlighten me and I will update the story accordingly.

    In the meantime I would simply say this: While the commissioners can say they hope the cities and sheriff work things out, the fact of the matter is that the jail cap issue has been going on for three years.  In that time zero progress has been made and taxpayers that pay for the jail have seen their safety compromised.  It is a complete and total failure of leadership at the county level at multiple county offices that has brought us here.

    Update, 5:00pm – Insiders have told me that the commissioners took this step to save the county the expense of defending themselves in a lawsuit.  The suit from the cities correctly asserted that state law says the board of county commissioners is the one that controls municipal access to the jail, not the sheriff.  Their hope is that by reinstituting the cap themselves, the lawsuit will be tossed by the courts thus avoiding the legal fight.  Commissioners did consider joining the cities in the suit against the sheriff but they felt that too would be expensive as they would be forced to allow the sheriff to hire an outside attorney to defend his actions.  My source told me the end solution is for voters to select the right person to lead the sheriff department in the November elections, one who will work toward a real solution.

    In my opinion, the reasoning behind the actions changes little.  Absolutely we never should have reached this point and Darr and the commissioners are to blame.  In the case of the commissioners, yes, the current board inherited a mess created by their predecessors but it is their job to clean it up.  I also believe Adams County voters share the blame as they are the ones that put Darr back in office three+ years ago despite the writing being on the wall.  Hopefully they correct that by making a wise choice in November.

    Update, 5:45pm – One last addendum. I apparently ruffled some feathers by questioning the ethics of the actions taken by the commissioners today.  That comment was not directed as much at the resolution itself but as to how it was brought up and the public notified.

    The resolution was only announced Sunday night in a media advisory.  A posting was made to the county website with today’s date (screenshot below) at some point before the meeting.  That posting said the commissioners ‘will pass’ the measure, this before anyone from the public could have their opinion heard.

    Even if a member of the public saw the media advisory on a Sunday night or the website posting this morning, they would have little time to plan to make an appearance and have their voice heard.  The outcome was obviously predetermined and the commissioners didn’t care if the public had anything to say about it.

    I don’t care if this is the way things are ‘normally’ done or not.  It is wrong and it is unethical to conduct county business like this unless an emergency and this clearly is not.  The public should have the opportunity to have its voice heard and the commissioners should have to weigh such comments before conducting votes.

    We do not like it when the president and Congress ramrod legislation through without reading it or giving us an opportunity to study and comment on it.  This is no different.

    February 24, 2014 – The county website announces the commissioners will pass a resolution before any public discussion or even a vote of the board.

    Update, 5:00pm – Insiders have told me that the commissioners took this step to save the county the expense of defending themselves in a lawsuit.  The suit from the cities correctly asserted that state law says the board of county commissioners is the one that controls municipal access to the jail, not the sheriff.  Their hope is that by reinstituting the cap themselves, the lawsuit will be tossed by the courts thus avoiding the legal fight.  Commissioners did consider joining the cities in the suit against the sheriff but they felt that too would be expensive as they would be forced to allow the sheriff to hire an outside attorney to defend his actions.  My source told me the end solution is for voters to select the right person to lead the sheriff department in the November elections, one who will work toward a real solution.

    In my opinion, the reasoning behind the actions changes little.  Absolutely we never should have reached this point and Darr and the commissioners are to blame.  I also believe Adams County voters share the blame as they are the ones that put Darr back in office three+ years ago despite the writing being on the wall.  Hopefully they correct that by making a wise choice in November.

    http://www.tonysrants.com/thornton/breaking-adams-county-commissioners-set-to-endorse-sheriffs-jail-cap/

    Posted by Dana West @ 7:23 pm for Adams County Politics, Editorial |

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