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December 10th, 2008 By | News | Posted In: News, Community, Public Policy

Sheriff's Spending Finally Scrutinized

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Dictionary.com defines “synchronicity” as “the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality.”

Or maybe people just sense when something smells wrong.

This week’s issue of CityBeat features a Porkopolis column that focuses on Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr.’s whining about budget cuts proposed by county commissioners. It points out — as other Porkopolis columns have in the past — that Leis spends money on questionable or unnecessary items like a tank and high-powered speedboat, and uses staff time to march equipment in local parades.

The column hit newsstands today but, due to deadline schedules, was written earlier this week. Also today, The Cincinnati Enquirer published an article that includes a computer analysis of spending by the Sheriff’s Office during the past decade that reveals its budget has increased 57 percent while the county’s population remained flat. During the same period, the county’s general fund budget rose only about 11 percent.

Also, the analysis reveals that the Hamilton County Sheriff'’s Office spends more per capita than any other sheriff's department in Southwest Ohio or comparable counties statewide.

It’s no secret among county officials that the Sheriff’s Office includes spending that could be cut without unduly jeopardizing public safety. The topic is rarely discussed publicly, though, because Leis is considered “untouchable” — a longtime office-holder who somehow maintains unusually high favorability ratings, making some people fearful of backlash if they criticize him.

As a result, Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou has recently taken to defending Leis on his blog and spouting half-baked rhetoric about the county’s budget crisis. Triantafilou alleges the Democrat-controlled county commission doesn’t care about public safety, and its actions are responsible for creating a fiscal mess.

Alex seems to forget that, except for the last two years, Hamilton County government has been under the solid control of Republicans since the early 1960s. The current situation wasn’t created overnight, but was the result of years of bad policy decisions by a party that had grown too comfortable with its dominance.

If they’re truly concerned about how best to serve the public, the sheriff and local GOP chairman should take note of recent comments by Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and one-time Republican presidential candidate.

Dishing a slice of down-home wisdom while in town for a book-signing event, the plainspoken Huckabee recently said, “You hear these Republicans bragging about not raising taxes, when they’ve been spending out of control, racking up huge deficits and then kicking the can down the road,”

Huckabee added, “If you advertise one thing and you deliver another, people are going to start reaching for another product off the shelf.”

 
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