April 14, 2010 For a council with roots in 'transparent government,' it's probably fitting that there's a big blank on the page regarding Capac's 7-0 vote to retain their expensive police department.
It wasn't so long ago that angry taxpayers spearheaded a recall campaign targeting three councilmembers for what they deemed fiscally inappropriate when a village manager was hired to take control of the out-of-control spending. A condition of his employment was that he find money in the existing budget to cover his $48,000 salary. He did, but some people didn't like it anyway because he tried to reign in a police department that was wildly out of control, consuming over half of the village's general fund with unchecked overtime and other questionable expenses. That turned out to be a fatal mistake for the manager and the three councilmembers who tried to rein in the spending. They got the boot to loud cries of 'closed door meetings' and the 'friends and family plan.' Forget about the two-plus years proof that a full time police chief was not required; that spending had, indeed, been out of control and that Capac isn't a teeming hotbed of criminal activity.
Today's village council isn't like the one that was so vilified. They operate much differently, indeed.
After inviting Sheriff Tim Donnellon to work up a proposal for police coverage and listening to the sheriff's hard and fast numbers that reflect substantial savings over a three year period the cost saving measure is summarily dismissed and it never even makes the meeting agenda.
No apples-to-apples comparisons are made. No public discussion of the merits and pitfalls of the proposal. No hard and fast numbers from the current department. It's all just a big blank, but nothing is transparent except the council's 7-0 vote at their earliest opportunity.
A 7-0 vote from a council that hasn't stood unanimously on most issues in months. A 7-0 vote approving an unknown. No in-house proposals, recommendations, suggestions for savings reviewed or debated. No agenda item. No opportunity for taxpayers to speak publicly about what they do and do not expect with regard to police coverage. Lots of big blanks but no transparency in sight.