Vote no on jail, courthouse

On Nov. 2, thoughtful voters have plenty of reasons to vote against the $33 million judicial complex that Curry County officials want.

We believe they should vote no on the two tax issues that will be on the ballot, for these reasons, among others:

• The jail’s poor construction is not why prisoners keep leaving in large numbers without permission.

Blame that on revolving-door management, poor hiring decisions, and too many inattentive and untrained jail guards and office personnel.

The eight violent prisoners who escaped in 2008 didn’t steal keys from the hollow cinder blocks used to build the facility; they stole them from a guard. Inmates have not been accidentally released or left unsupervised because security cameras don’t peer into some corners of the jail; county employees let them go.

• You can’t earn or demand trust through intimidation and keeping secrets.

Curry County leaders have a history of secret-keeping. Over the last decade alone they have refused to release salaries of public officials, refused to release the publicly funded jail safety assessment, and thumbed their noses at open-government laws. Now, to get this megabucks complex paid for, they declare an urgent need to spend 33 million tax dollars to replace buildings that were imperfect yet still safe enough just two years ago. Now they are suddenly so dangerous they put our families’ safety at risk?

Our county and judicial leaders have unleashed a taxpayer-funded video regaling us with building woes so we’ll support their taxes. They tout the video only as “informational” and not prejudicial. To believe that you must believe the smell of money only floats through the air outdoors.

This video shenanigan implies that if taxpayers reject their elected leaders’ wishes, we may have to stand outside the courthouse in long lines in the rain, or we should fear for our safety while in the courthouse, or expect to watch more prisoners escape from jail.

This shell game cost 20,000 taxpayer dollars to create fear. What it also has done is unmask the lack of vision by our leaders. Instead of solving festering internal problems created by failing to properly hire, train and supervise its employees, instead of employing creative thinking to overcome courthouse deficiencies in today’s tough economic climate, our county leaders have sunk to threats.

We urge county residents to reject the proposals to build a new jail and county courthouse. Both buildings certainly have problems, but responsible, consistent management must be demonstrated first. New buildings won’t make us safer.