Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 8, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: Pike, Buys and Those Jail Guys

Hello Loyal Readers,

It is that time again for Friday Odds and Ends. Sometimes my tidbits for the end of the week unintentionally organize themselves into neat little themes. This week’s them is fighting fights that have already been lost.

Dan Pike

Dan Pike

First up, former mayor Dan Pike criticized Mayor Kelli Linville’s negotiations with the Port while speaking as part of the Huxley Distinguished Lecturer series (you might remember, I did that earlier last year with Kathy Kershner). I’m glad to see that Dan Pike is keeping busy these days.

On the other end of the political spectrum, Rep. Vincent Buys sent out an email recently toting his anti-women’s choice credentials.

Abortion to be included in your heath insurance costs. This week legislation was introduced that would require you to pay more for health insurance and support abortion. The bill requires all private, state-regulated health plans to provide coverage for abortions if the plan provides maternity coverage. Under Obamacare, all health plans are required to provide maternity coverage; therefore, if this bill passes, all plans will be required to cover abortions.

Not only would this law take more money from hardworking taxpayers, it’s also a direct attack on religious liberty and freedom. I oppose this legislation and will be working to stop its passage.

Now you, my loyal readers, know better than Rep. Buys because you read my article earlier this week in which we discussed this bill, the Reproductive Parity Act. You know that this bill would not require insurance customers to pay any extra since every plan in Washington state already covers women’s health choices. It is bad enough that Rep. Buys wants to stop women from having access to the health care they need, it is just disappointing that he has to stretch the truth to defend his position.

Constantine Papadakis

Constantine Papadakis

Finally, Constantine Papadakis of Bill Elfo’s Public Safety Now group wrote a letter to the Cascadia Weekly trying to do damage control. He was furious that I had exposed his organization as a front group and criticized their efforts. You should read it because in his attempts to “correct” the “misinformed accusations,” he actually confirms my reporting. For example, Papadakis writes that he wants to debunk a claim:

. . . that our “group was formed almost entirely of Elfo’s former campaign committee and employees.” Actually, of the 15 total members, there are less than a handful of former committee members, myself included. We are the pioneers of PSN.

So not only are there several members of Elfo’s campaign committee in Public Safety Now, but they are the leading members as well?

The real crux of the issue, the point that Papadakis continues to miss, is that his group is not advocating for the 500-700 beds that the Jail Planning Task Force recommended. His group, according to their website, is advocating for “600-750 beds.” You say that is close, right? But, the difference between 500 and 600 beds comes to about $800,000 of taxpayer money. That is a ton of money we don’t have and don’t need to spend. You can accuse me of bias or an “individual agenda” but when it comes down to it, I’m advocating for a jail that we can afford and is the size we need, while your group is trying to waste the county’s time and money building something too big for our needs.

I apologize for the somewhat grumpy tone of this week’s Odds and Ends. It will be cheerier next week, I promise.

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Responses

  1. A man who says he loves you more than all the stars in the sky is stretching the truth.
    Mr. Buys is just a plain old liar because that’s the only talent his narrow base requires.
    Speaking of the truth,
    if it wasn’t for J. Riley Sweeney, I’m not sure anyone would be reporting reality.
    The Jail Front Boys and their Whiny Protestations being one of the strongest examples of mendacity in print and testimony unearthed by a Blogger and ignored by everyone else.

  2. I thought one of the more interesting things about Constantine’s letter was towards the end. No doubt he is a well-meaning individual but the entire point Riley has made regarding whether or not Sheriff Elfo turned over campaign funds to this group is that such a transfer WOULD BE ILLEGAL. In the letter Constantine writes that they haven’t done that yet ‘however, we welcome funds from that campaign.’

    The ‘Public Safety Now’ group is pushing for a jail of 600 – 750 beds. This is too big, too expensive and much larger than what many of the very same people agreed to while serving on the Jail Planning Task Force. I’m not sure how they vote one day for 500 – 700 beds and at the same time, in a different meeting, vote for 600-750 beds.

    The giant jail that Sheriff Elfo pushed forward 2 years ago was 844 beds. That was conservatively estimated at $150-million+. Moving from 844 to 750 beds won’t change that price tag much and both are much too large. In this economy, we shouldn’t build – and then pay to keep mothballed – sections of a jail that we won’t need for 30 years. Let’s build a jail that can be expanded in 30 years, if we need to do so. After all, our current jail is just 30 years old and no longer suitable.

    The SCORE jail serves as a good example of a safe, new jail. In fact, it’s the example his group uses. SCORE serves a population of 340,000 and has 822 beds and officials have stated it will serve for 20 years. If we follow that formula, we would build a jail of 475 beds. I absolutely support that and encourage Constantine and others in supporting a safe, new jail that’s the right size.

  3. I must question just WHY anybody wants such a large jail. It seems to refute any of the more conservative thinking about it – which include the economics of the County, the actual NEED, and forecasting for the future growth of the County. Lisa McShane’s comment – “Let’s build a jail that can be expanded in 30 years, if we need to do so. After all, our current jail is just 30 years old and no longer suitable.” Building a jail that can be expanded in the future is just good planning. So, what else is influencing those planning people? Hmm. Could it be the privatizing for profit motive? Seems to be something that is sweeping the country, especially for prisons. I may be naive and probably don’t have ALL the information about this issue BUT I do question the motivation behind building such a big jail.

  4. What should also be of concern to the citizens of Whatcom County is the appointment of Papadakis to the 3 person Sheriff’s Office Civil Service Commission. Why? you may ask. First, a brief history lesson:

    Civil Service for Sheriff’s Offices in WA State began with a citizen initiative to the WA State Legislature in 1956 and went to the People in the 1958 general election where it passed with a 65.1% majority vote. It’s stated purpose, “to establish a merit system of employment for county deputy sheriffs and other employees of the office of county sheriff, thereby raising the standards and efficiency of such offices and law enforcement in general.”

    The origins of the first “civil service” system dates back to the passage of the Pendelton Act by the US Congress in 1883. It’s purpose was to move away from political patronage appointments to that of a merit based system.

    In other words, it was designed to protect against a “political spoils” system whereby certain employees were rewarded (i.e. hired or promoted) for behavior or characteristics their supervisors found to be favorable, while others were punished, in many cases unreasonably and unilaterally based upon subjective decisions made by elected officials or bosses.

    Here in Whatcom County, our Charter exempts Sheriff’s Office employees from the personnel system established for [most] all other employees and defers all matters of selection, appointment, promotion, transfer, reinstatement, demotion, discipline, suspension and discharge to the Civil Service Commission.

    So, what would be the first order of business of Mr Papadakis (an admitted Elfo campaign committee member, et.al) as a new Commissioner? To hear an appeal from a Deputy Sheriff terminated shortly after the 2011 election, who “cooincidentally” contributed to a Facebook page entitled “Boot Bill Elfo”.

    • Good history lesson.

      The CS Commission had a clear purpose of removing political favoritism and preferential treatment from the hiring, firing and disciplinary processes.

      That only works though until the people in power manage to hand pick appointees favorable to them politically, which Louws has clearly also facilitated.

      Let’s not forget the second CS Commission appointee, Paul Meyers, who by all appearances is politically aligned “with Elfo” and also sits on the Public Safety Now committee with Papadakis. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

      The WCSO currently has a Deputy Sheriff Guild president that was a big supporter of Elfo’s during the past election AND a Civil Service Commission with at least 2 of 3 seats favorable to Elfo and McEachran.

      Now that the game is rigged, where does a railroaded deputy turn for justice now?

      As an aside, I was at one time a very big supporter of Elfo’s and very vocal about it. That was apparently okay. However, during 2006-2007 things happened and my opinion changed as it became clear where Elfo’s true intents were. I turned from a clear supporter and became opposed to Elfo.

      In this past election I became politically engaged, well within my rights and WCSO policy mind you, to do my small part, along with others, to inform citizens about why it was time for a change. Elfo aligned people internally to make sure I paid the price for adhering to my oath.

  5. My understanding was that the estimated cost of 100 inmate beds was $8 million not $800,000.

    We can sort that out later. Excellent post.


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