I decided to attend the September 7 Beaufort County Jail Committee meeting as a spectator. I am glad I did. Most of the meeting had to do with the building of a new jail. Will these people never give up.
These are the facts as they stand today. Since the reopening of the jail, after a major renovation about two years ago, the State of North Carolina Jail inspector has given us, on at least the two most recent occasions, a completely clean bill of health. He says there are no issues with the jail. Another fact, the jail is only about half full. We are permitted for 87 inmates. We only have about 50 inmates at any given time. We have had as many as 120 inmates in the same jail. So, why do we need a new jail?
Frankie Waters and Sheriff Coleman made a big mistake when they fabricated the issue of jail doors and used it to shut down the jail without informing the entire Board of Commissioners. This deal cost us more than two million dollars. But, with the jail shut down, we made every repair that could be made and corrected the two or three minor things that did not pass inspection. The jail re-opened in pristine condition, completely in compliance with all applicable State regulations. Then along came Covid and decisions were made to only have people in jail who needed to be there. Some other help came from the District Attorney’s office that resulted in speedier trials a dramatic decline in jail population to the present day approximately 50 inmates. What started out as a black ops operation by Waters and the Sheriff backfired.
This round of jail building fantasy started when Stan Deatherage and I made a motion to use about two million dollars of the so called Covid relief money to build out the remainder of the court house basement for jail services. The architect prepared sketch plans and they were approved by the Jail Committee.
These geniuses decided to use the basement build out as an excuse to consider “all alternatives” (i.e., what Fake Frankie wanted in the first place.) They have been all over the ball park with a new jail always being discussed at every Jail Committee meeting. They went from the basement to increasing the footprint, to installing a sally port, to adding a floor at ground level. Then they looked at adding another floor and more offices. They decided moving the magistrates into the new building with all of the sheriff’s offices. This version would cost about 15 million dollars.
Again, geniuses at work. Their latest reasoning, at the September 7 meetings, is “Why spend fifteen million when for 25 million we could have a new jail. Actually, the cost of a new jail at today’s prices would be about 35 million dollars.
What started as 2 million dollars that would provide State-approved jail facilities for as far into the future as anyone could see has evolved into a new jail at a cost of 35 million dollars. There is also the problem of where to build it, because the committee said it could not be built behind the court house.
We are going from a very efficient jail to a jail that would be remotely located, and we would have to haul prisoners to court. More and more money. More and more taxes.
This meeting was videoed and is on the Beaufort County Web site. If you watch it, please listen to the last 30 minutes carefully. Fake Frankie Waters is advocating for the new jail, even suggesting that we go to the State to see what they would be willing to contribute. The committee discussed what advocacy consultants they could bring in.
These guys always have an architect with them when they meet. He was licking his chops at the prospect of getting that approximately two million dollar fee for designing a new jail. If you remember the same genuses paid 1.6 million to the architect for the jail we did not build a few years ago. Disastrous as that event was, all of the commissioners who voted to waste the 1.6 million dollars got re elected. Are the voters in Beaufort County really awake?
The members of the Jail Committee are: John Rebholz, Frankie Waters, and Jerry Langley. All they need to move forward is one more vote.
So just to spell it out in simple terms, if Frankie Waters is re-elected, we will get a new jail. If he loses we will not spend 35 million on his Taj Mahal Jail. So this election in November is actually going to boil down to a vote on whether the voters want to borrow 35 million dollars for a jail that is not needed.
Frankie Waters has been on a spending binge this year. He got 4 million of County money for his old company, the Tri County Telephone survivor, to build underground telephone lines for the internet. He increased spending on this year’s budget by 5.6 million dollars and now 35 million for a new jail. Remember, the way these geniuses use “continuation budgeting” that 5.6 million will be there next year, and be added to again, and the next and the next until Fake Frankie is dumped from the Commission.
If Frankie gets re-elected we will have another huge fight over building a jail we do not need. This is an election year. Vote f or Stan Deatherage or Tandy Dunn. Stop Fake Frankie’s spending! We cannot afford four more years of Fake Frankie Waters and his increased spending every year.
Remember what happed to Tri County Telephone. It ran out of money with Fake Frankie in charge.
Given the uncertain economic times we face, now is not the time to borrow a boatload of money for something we don’t need.
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