Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When an Ordinance Becomes an "Umbrella"

I've been thinking alot lately about Ordinance 10-3...the one that pretty much says that the Commissioners may pick from an "approved" list of vendors, in lieu of using the recently scrapped RFP ordinance of 1998.

The new ordinance states that all vendors for the County...ALL vendors, must first be approved by the commissioners, and by commissioners, I mean J-Huff and Jimbo. That means that the coroner must first have the commissioners approve an outside vendor for forensic work, the Sheriff's department must use approved vendors for their safety equipment, and the DA must use approved vendors for lab work, fingerprint analysis, and for expert witnesses who may very well put a bad apple in prison...every last one must be approved.

Let's revisit the last one, the DA's office.

If the DA is working on a case, and they have to go before the county commissioners to hire the services of an expert who will be providing valuable information and technology to both arrest and convict a known criminal, wouldn't that tip the hand in the favor of the accused, as they pretty much will know what's coming at trial. The DA cannot be hamstrung like that, and should be allowed to contract for their own services, outside the county's approved vendor list.

This brings to mind one example that makes me wonder if the ordinance was written exclusively to obstruct such investigations. Say, for example, that a forensic accountant is required by the District Attorney's office to (hypothetically, of course) investigate some kind of financial fraud? If one of those being investigated happens to be an official who is friendly with one of the two controlling commissioners, couldn't said commissioners approve a forensic accountant who contributes to their campaign account may not be so inclined to count every penny?

It makes one wonder, doesn't it.

DA Risa Vetri Ferman is taking steps today to make sure this doesn't happen by asking the commissioners to repeal and rethink Ordinance 10-3, or be subjected to yet another the commissioners (the two in power) can't afford for the county to fight and, again, lose.

The commissioners should very well be visiting this issue as this is published, download a very interesting letter sent to them yesterday here.


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