Wednesday, December 21, 2011

20 December 2011 Dearborn County Council Meeting Notes

20 December 2011 Dearborn County Council Meeting Notes

Present: Dennis Kraus. Sr., President, Dan Lansing, Jim Hughes, Liz Morris, Maynard Barrett, Bryan Messmore, and Bill Ullrich.

Also present: Gayle Pennington, Auditor and Bill Ewbank, County Coordinator and Andy Baudendistel, County Attorney.

Steve Renihan- DCRSD -Sewer Board- and Bob Hrezo, Engineer, passed out information to Council and an update on all projects and progress of DCRSD. He apologized for absence last month. He wants to get the contingency fund back up to $10,000. He gave an accounting of their expenditures and they only have $818 in it now. They need to have money available for things that come up during the year. Collected $99,000 from customers from Highridge Plant- so that is in a separate account at UCB. He thinks they should keep that money for future maintenance and repair on that plant. It is a county asset. They could turn it into the sewer account and then have to come back to council for it. Kraus said they can deal with that in January. $23,682 has been collected on Stewart road and Cole Lane. The West Harrison TIF is almost done. Hueseman Road is proceeding. Morris motioned and Ullrich 2nd to approve $9200 to that account. Messmore voted Nay- rest Ayes- passed.

Sheriff Kreinhop- wants to replace his civil process server. He wants the individual he has selected to be approved. He hadn’t even advertized it yet. Kraus said the committee recommends 7 days to advise council. No one backed Kraus up on this- and apparently the council doesn’t enforce the county policy to advertize positions and open them to the public. Council approved it anyway.

IRS requires an amendment to the police pension and it has no financial impact on the county. Baudendistel has reviewed- no problem. Merit board pres. And Kreinhop has signed. Council approved Kraus’s signature on these amendments.

Medical expenses for inmates- the fee schedule was amended and commissioners approved and now it needs Council president’s signature. Approved.

Liz Morris presented the 911 fee before in November and Pennington pulled off the fees for 2010. AIC (Association of Indiana Counties) suggested language for funding for gas tax revenues and 911 issues. Morris said this is asking our reps to approve legislation to addresses these issues. Council approved signing the 2 resolutions.

Pennington also asked Council to set their January organizational meeting for board appointments etc. . Council will meet the 3rd Tuesday at 6:30 in January.

Kraus said he will take the SEIRPC (SE Indiana Regional Planning Commission) spot now that they want an actual Council member and not Mark McCormack as before. Council approved Kraus Sr.

Council approved a 2.5% raise for county employees, with Bill Ullrich abstaining. [NOTE: Apparently he recognizes a conflict of interest since he is a county employee. Messmore-Victim’s Advocate Coordinator- did not abstain. Perhaps his and his boss’s positions are not paid by the county?]

Council approved the October Budget adoption minutes. Lansing and Hughes weren’t at the meeting so they abstained.

Andy Baudendistel- County attorney- searched ordinances- 1998- written motion indicating a 7-0 aye vote was to approve the riverboat savings. It was never passed as an ordinance.
Kraus found it reaffirmed in 2003 and 2006 minutes. It was also in newspaper articles.
You can change it even if it were in a written ordinance.
To change how it’s done now would be a simple vote. [NOTE: The county attorney also works in Judge Sally Blankenship’s drug court and his mother works in the probation dept. He’s juggling a lot of duties and allegiances here.]

Morris said- that even now we can vote to spend it as a simple majority.

Lansing said it was disrespectful to those who sat here for the last 15 years. Lansing doesn’t think it’s good to rely on the riverboat for everything.

Morris said that once we get economic development then we won’t be relying on riverboat. (Is she saying the jail expansion is economic development?)

Lansing noted ongoing yearly costs of the jail- what’s paying for that?

Morris said we can’t ignore the problem. It’s about safety.

Ullrich said the best case scenario you move the people thru as fast as you can. The judges are trying to do that. He said the programs to help people- we don’t have enough space for all of that. If they keep the sentences- then we can send them up state. We can house Ohio county prisoners again. We used to do federal prisoners. [NOTE: Ullrich works for the sheriff’s dept and transports prisoners. Should he be in this discussion or vote?]

Lansing brought up Gardner’s article and thinks that we are doing things differently than most other counties.

Morris said- we passed this last month.

Ullrich’s main concern is no additional impact to the taxpayers.

Jim Hughes would like to let the people vote on it.

Ullrich said the federal prisoners were the best ones you could have.

Jim Hughes said we shouldn’t be in the business of housing prisoners.

Messmore said the plan is not to house other prisoners. [NOTE: Then why do the sheriff and Ullrich keep bringing that idea up in campaigning and meetings?]

Ullrich said we need to do Ohio County.

Lansing asked RQAW rep what the 72 extra beds that would go to the empty shell built now would cost. He said a few 100,000s of dollars.

Tom Cheek former councilman of 12 years. He said at the bottom of every riverboat sheet at budget hearings the 7 vote requirement was written and signed. The charettes a few years back – the jail surfaced as the top project. The project was at $14 million. Now it’s whittled down. And it still says that won’t achieve the goal. He challenged Morris on why not put it to the voters? Why are we afraid to do that? There is a presidential election. He also said that 3 people are involved in these decisions that shouldn’t be- conflict of interest. [NOTE: He’s referring to Commissioner Shane McHenry, Councilman Bill Ullrich, and Councilman Bryan Messmore- all employed by the county sheriff and/or prosecutor. McHenry also has a mother (probation) and step- father (sheriff’s dept) employed there. He's also juggling a lot of allegances.]

Judy Howard- Aurora- Harmony Hills- spoke passionately and directly- I’m sick of hearing that it won’t cost the taxpayer. It’s a bold false lie and you know it. There is no such thing as a free lunch. I hope that if you learn nothing else- you learn that this is not the truth. Mr. Ullrich- you stated that this won’t cost anything additional to the taxpayer. What if you don’t have the base anymore? I’m 73 years old and I’ve gone thru hell and heaven in my life. I hope that you know what you are putting on the taxpayers. There a lot of inmates in this county. It isn’t free- that $15 million in the savings account- is the people’s money. It’s the citizen’s of this county. I want you to promise that you won’t lie again.

Liz Morris- I’d like the record to show that I resent being called a liar.

Stephanie Libbert- taxpayer. I have questions and I get now answers. Why do we have 2 bonds in this county? It makes it harder for people to get out of jail.

A surety bond is tacked on to cash bond when they are from out of county per Ullrich.

Libbert- why not show us you are trying something besides just adding jail space? What about first time offenders? What about crimes with victims?She told a story of a woman writing bad checks at several stores including hers and when she sought help with the prosecutor- it wasn’t done. You are not protecting us- and she was a victim at this point. Why did you not put it to a vote of the people? How can you represent us if you do not ask? I work every day- I pay taxes so that you can take them from me. Use survey monkey- and modern technology to get in touch with your people. Get your own blog. Grant money is tax money too. Government creates their own problem as you all demonstrate. I agree with the whole conflict of interest here.

Ullrich said he does not have a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is when you have a monetary interest and I don’t have one in this project. [NOTE: YIKES!!!]

Jerry Jacobsen- Greendale- we have bad economic times and the Riverboat Revenue is used as a buffer against these times. It’s very important that you keep it. If you bond it you get 90 cents on the dollar. Do we need the jail expanded? If you are going to spend your cushion I think you need to put it to the people. That would be the politically expedient way.

Cindy Luchow- I think you should stick to the 7 or at least 6 to decide. I would be interested to see the statistics on the jail. Once charged with a felony or ending up in jail – they will lose their jobs. I think the conflict of interest is a valid point- you need to think about that.

Harley Ohmansiek - Aurora- has there been any discussion of a federal mandate if they force building a jail? It hasn’t happened yet.

Tom Cheek- clarification- DLGF looks at Riverboat money as a tax- a gaming tax. But it’s not a property tax.

Morris reading from a prepared motion said the current jail is a maximum security facility built by federal judge’s mandate. We should take matters into our own hands. I would like to put it in the minutes that the county attorney said this should be in our minutes. Morris and Barrett motioned to make the simple vote to get it out of 197 savings. Four ayes- Morris, Barrett, Ullrich, and Messmore ayes. Lansing, Hughes, and Kraus, Nay.

[NOTE: Morris clearly ties the change in vote for 197 savings account to the jail expansion. In this vote and prior discussion are two people who ethically should not be part of the jail expansion decision. Their paycheck and their boss’s favor is part of the system. If ever there were an argument about county employees also being elected officials- this is it.]

The actual funding of the jail project will be on the January agenda. The council will decide how MUCH of the Savings account will be spent on this. They could do portions of the savings and a bond or tax. They could do all savings.

Meeting adjourned at 8:05 PM.

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township


Anonymous said...

The reason the gaming money required an unanimous vote was to protect these monies and to prevent this from happening. And since when is it not a conflict of interest for Ullrich Messmore or McHenry to vote on issues wanted by their employer or them for their working envirnment or benefit? NO ONE IS FOR USING THIS MONEY BUT THE FOUR WHO VOTED FOR IT. It is wrong!

Anonymous said...

I don't trust the 4 yea you think pockets are getting greased? Messmore, Morris and Ullrich were all part of the Vieste plan as well.

Anonymous said...

Agree with other comments. This was a vote displaying no respect for the taxpayer.
One big conflict of interest of those without integrity to recuse, who are jail proponents.
Thanks to Mr. Kraus, Mr. Lansing, and Mr. Hughes for your efforts to stop this.

This "easy money" for the jail will just provide another excuse to leave existing problems in place. We may need a jail, but this is a Hell of a way to get it by getting around the voters.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Mrs Morris is a nice lady but all you can say is that its all about safety? Really? Mrs Morris my truck broke down and I'm going to blame it on 9-11. Really? Get a clue. Mr Ullrich. Never met him but really? why mention Ohio county all the time? I dont live in Ohio county and dont care about what happens down there. I guess I should since he brought it up a couple times. Atleast Messmore and the other idiot kept there mouths shut. I'm only 35 and love my community very much but you 2 crossed the line with your ignorance. "oh the felonies" you are saying. Big deal. A D felony isnt dangerous. Go steal from Walmart and you are a D Felony. I was a republican voter now I'm not in local elections. Atleast Messmore and McHenery were smart enough to shut up. Ohio county? Who cares...this is going to reflect me and my kids for a long time. Ohio County? I almost came unglued. Idiots...I mean total idiots. Ohio County? who the hell cares what happens down there? Who put these people in office? I didn't vote for this..Go ahead Dearborn county waste my money. I can work to make it back. Go Dem in the local elections next time. I will.

Anonymous said...

A. Baundiset or how ever you spell it. Get out now. free advise and you dont have to pay me back. get out now. they"ll make it your fault. Miller's a good guy with new ideas and I'm a republican.

Anonymous said...

First, bravo to Kraus, Hughes and Lansing. Valiant effort.

Second, will someone explain the next step in this process? What if, in January, 4 instead of 3 council members vote to use little or no money from the riverboat savings account on the jail project? Then what?

Also, Morris using "safety" as an argument is disingenuous-a red herring.

Anonymous said...

Even Mr. Baudendistel knows much of what is done with his findings is wrong.
He looks sheepish and downcast when he presents his information used to take advantage.
Since we cannot say he is their pimp, we can at least say they seem to be using him as one.
Very unfortunate.

Chester said...

I gotta wonder if we can trust a fella to make decisions on millions of dollars when he apparently isn't even smart enough to be able to figure out what a conflict of interest is. It ain't that hard. Try out wikipedia if nothing else:

"A conflict of interest (COI) occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other...
...conflicts of interest can be defined as any situation in which an individual or corporation (either private or governmental(or Sheriff's Office)) is in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity in some way for their personal or corporate (or Sheriff's Office) benefit... Someone accused of a conflict of interest may deny that a conflict exists because he/she did not act improperly. In fact, a conflict of interest can exist even if there are no improper acts as a result of it."

So there you have it. You boys have a conflict of interest. You answer to the Sheriff/Prosecutor for your salary and you are voting to spend our money on what they want. Are we supposed to think your next raise or promotion isn't payback for this decision? You really think we believe you would tell your boss "Forget it. I'm not going to wasted tax dollars on this boondoggle" and do you think you would keep your job if you did? Does that lay out the problem here for you clear enough? It doesn't matter whether it is a good idea or not - you shouldn't be involved in it!

So figure it out - Ullrich and Messmore have a conflict of interest and should not be advocating and voting on this as councilmen. Same with McHenry. This is what all the hullabaloo was about at the last election when folks said he shouldn't even be running. Are they crooked or just stupid? Hard to say but they are working on turning a Conflict of Interest into corruption and a reason to vote them out. The only question now is will they have squandered our money on themselves before we can get rid of them.

Anonymous said...

I'll give a "thumbs-up" for Ullrich, Messmore and McHenry having a conflict of interest. It does not matter whether their decision about spending the riverboat fund on the proposed jail is correct or not correct. The 3 have a conflict of interest! Maybe the Council should vote on the conflict of interest of interest charge and police themselves.

Anonymous said...

Aren't the people in support of this (most with a monetary connection to a new jail) always using the casino as an excuse for needing more jail space because of increased crime? What happens when 30, 40, or even 50% of Hollywood's business is lost to the new casino in Cincinnati? Wouldn't that take care of the supposed "need" for more jail space?

Anonymous said...

No wonder that Liz Morris made the comment that she was offended by Judy Howard's accusations because she (Liz) was probably already feeling guilty due to her knowledge that she (Liz) already had a prepared motion to read concerning the change in the number of councilmen votes needed to use 'boat money' and already had no intention of listening to the people's objections.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous at 8:37: Let me get this straight. A politician comes prepared to a meeting, and reads a motion (presumbably so it is reported accurately), and you link it to her feeling guilty? About what? Ms. Howard accused the council of lying about the impact on taxes. As far as I know, neither Ms. Morris (or any other council member) has said there would be no cost to the taxpayer, as Ms. Howard claims (according to the reporting on this blog). The closest thing I have heard is that they have said there would be no increase in taxes. That is far cry from what Ms. Howard alleges. Regardless, though, Ms. Morris reading a motion has nothing to do with that. You people are really having to stretch to find fault. Grow up. You will have much more credibility if you do your homework instead of making pointless and irrelevant comments. BTW, the debate from the audience and others regarding the change in using money from the savings account is a valid one. There are good points on both sides of that discussion.

Anonymous said...

To:: 7:30 PM, December 30, 2011

That's the same old political "bump and grind" about a taxes . When all is said and done the taxes' INCREASE. The politicians thought was a "DECREASE in the proposed tax INCREASES" which to any practical individual is a tax increase.
Councilperson Morris CANNOT say or intimate there will not be a tax increase due to the jail building construction or the big point, paying for the interior equiptment and furnishings.
Running the jail with tax money is an other expensive, dollar issue. Just ask the Sheriff, Ullrich, Messmore and Mc Henry. They know what Morris is not discussing!
In the end, the issue is about reducing our riverboat (tax free?) operating cushin in dire economic times with a few well connected politicians hiding their conflicts of interest.

Anonymous said...

If a duck quacks it's a duck, if a cat meows it's a cat, if a dog barks it's a dog, if a cow mooooo-s it's a cow. Liz opens her mouth, it's a ....