Anyone who watched the Frederick County Council meeting on July 23 was treated to a litany of reasons why the council believed it could not fulfill its responsibility to conduct proper oversight of the sheriff’s office. First of all, they said they had limited budgetary oversight. (Fact: They have the power to question Frederick County Sheriff’s Office operations and budget allocations, but refused to let their members ask questions under a facade of council time limits.) Questions submitted in writing by Councilman Hagen have not yet been answered but have been acknowledged as received personally by the sheriff, who did so in a very unprofessional manner.
Second, the council statement said that the 287(g) expenditures are embedded in the sheriff’s other line items. (Fact 1: inferring that they had no power to have the FCSO to break out those costs and put them in a line item, which both they and the executive could request through their control of the budget process and financial staff.)
Third, it appears that the council is ignoring its duty to not only encourage openness and transparency but to encourage the sheriff to continue to break the law on these requirements by denying information even to them. (Fact: The sheriff has no special right to deny information that is properly requested by our duly elected officials, or citizens. Simply taking the sheriff’s word that ICE will not permit it, without the council seeing the contract is enough for immediate contract cancellation.)
Fourth, the council, on advice of counsel, states that because of a lawsuit they will have nothing else to say regarding this issue. (Fact: They do not state on which of several issues they will be exercising silence because of a lawsuit against the sheriff and specific deputies. The law suit was regarding performing unconstitutional acts. They now seem to not realize that since the county is being held liable financially for those actions, they may well have legal right to correct the county policies on contracts. Specifically those they have not signed or negotiated but puts the county taxpayer at fiscal risk, either through settlement payments or increased insurance rates.)
Perhaps securing an outside legal firm well versed in Maryland law (as was done in the Montevue case) would provide better guidance to the council and our executive.
Point of Rocks