Hello again…  Welcome to another great evening here on the Winnebago County Board!

Today we had a joint committee meeting for both our Finance and our Public Safety Committees, covering a lot of ground.  I’ll try to keep it simple and chat about the highlights, but honestly there was so much going on tonight that I may write about more of this evening later.

The biggest topic of the night was by far our 2017-008 budget amendment.  Essentially, thanks to a new mandate or “mandamus” from the Illinois Supreme Court (Rule 942),  the Juvenile Detention Center needs to have more people necessary to transport juvenile delinquents and to implement “no-constraint requirements” when transporting them.  Basically, the state is now forcing us to hire 4 new employees to babysit delinquents when our taxes are already abysmally high as it is!

I guess as a society we have now reached a new low saying that the shackling of juvenile delinquents in court is shameful and humiliating to them.  God forbid we don’t scar them any further – they might grow up to be criminals!  *sigh*

Unfortunately our state has long been a liberal safe zone and coddling these poor snowflakes who just “happened to have broken a few laws” is now deemed “unfair”.  To top it all off, many board members are particularly upset because we are essentially being forced to do this.  Again that magic word “mandamus” – we have no choice and they are requiring us to hire the extra employees.  So you can essentially say the  IL Supreme Court is forcing us to spend Winnebago County tax money, but not allowing us the freedom to choose what’s best in Winnebago County… ugh.

So what’s the point of it all then?

Great question!

While the county holds the purse strings to decide who gets county funds, our courts system can essentially ignore this because of the IL Supreme Court.   It’s a bit tricky, but the courts & court services are in fact state employees even though we here in Winnebago County actually pay them.  The Chief Judge can in fact order it via this “mandamus” action, rendering our vote irrelevant.

Could going with this actually HELP public safety in the county?

An even better question!

So there IS a silver lining to all of this potentially. Currently we are using the Sheriff and his deputies for the task of transporting juveniles to and from the courts.  This can take valuable hours of their time and in turn, that’s taking valuable boots off the streets to help protect you and me.   In case you hadn’t heard from my other blogs, we are in a major crime crisis right now in Winnebago County, so having lesser-paid court employees to do the transporting versus a Sheriff’s Deputy might not be such a shabby trade-off after all.

At the end of the day, we’re going to have no choice but to see the positives whether we like it or not, though there may be a bit more wiggle room.  We haven’t seen all the statistics of the transports, so maybe there’s a chance a few of us can roll up our sleeves and see if we can satisfy the IL Supreme Court’s mandate while potentially hiring less (or part-time) employees to do the work.  We shall see…

Whatever happens, we will do the best we can with the trust the tax payers have given us. Stay tuned!