Friday, April 11, 2014



Note: The failure of the federal govt. to control the border continues to be a significant burden, not to forget all the other issues, to AZ taxpayers.

County to feds: Make deal on prisoners or we're done
Supervisors tire of lack of progress on ICE contract
Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 9:27 am | Updated: 2:13 pm, Thu Apr 10, 2014.
By BRIAN WRIGHT, Maricopa Monitor

FLORENCE — The Pinal County Board of Supervisors issued an ultimatum to the federal government on Wednesday — either work with us, or we're done.
Supervisors voted to give the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — a division of Homeland Security — six days to accept the county's proposed changes to the existing prisoner contract or present an alternative offer. Otherwise, the county will send out a notice of termination letter at the end of the business day April 15, supervisors agreed.

The contract between the two entities requires that the county provide 100 days notice, in writing, of its intent to terminate the contract.
The letter would indicate the county's intention to end negotiations with ICE related to a restructuring of its contract for space in the Pinal County Adult Detention Center.
The contract, which was negotiated by former County Manager Stan Griffis and signed in August 2006, allowed immigrant detainees to be held at the jail. It also includes an agreement for a massive jail expansion.

The contract was a lemon from the start, many county officials say.
From 2009 to 2013, the contract resulted in the county losing more than $12 million, not including an estimated $3.5 million in annual debt service payments on the jail expansion.
Board Chairman Anthony Smith of Maricopa said the county loses more than $55,000 a week on the contract. On Wednesday, he said he couldn't ask the county taxpayers to foot the bill any longer.
ICE officials agreed to renegotiate the contract last May, but progress has been minimal, because of delays on the part of the feds. Supervisors sent a letter to ICE on Feb. 21 with proposed per diem rates for detainees, but it proved a fruitless effort, they say.
"It has been extremely frustrating for me during this past year to see these negotiations somewhat stall," Smith said.

At $55,000 a week, the contract — just since the letter was sent on Feb. 21 — will have cost the county $385,000 as of April 11.

"To continue to run this clock, costing the taxpayers, is something that I find unacceptable," Smith said.
Vice Chairman Todd House of Apache Junction said in the last few weeks he asked his constituents about sending a notice of termination to ICE. The feedback was nearly unanimous, he said, that the county send such a letter.

"They don't believe the federal government in good faith will come (negotiate) until they're challenged," House said. "Unfortunately, since negotiations (began), this discussion has completely broke down, so I would say we have no other alternative."

The only possibility to not send a termination notice on Tuesday is if ICE agrees to the county's proposed per diem rate before then or if the feds show a significant gesture of "good faith," supervisors agreed.
Supervisor Steve Miller of Casa Grande said it's going to take more than a phone call or an email on the part of ICE leaders.

"They need to send forth either their approval of our submittal or at least something in writing (that's) substantial that is negotiable," Miller said. "It needs to be an official recognition … I just don't want a phone call to Greg (Stanley) saying, 'Yeah, we're still looking at it.'"

Chris Keller, the chief deputy civil attorney in the Pinal County Attorney's Office and the supervisors' legal counsel, said the request will be for ICE to either accept the county's proposal or make a counterproposal.
When talks of terminating the ICE contract occurred last May at a supervisors' meeting, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu voiced strong opposition, saying nearly 200 people, mostly detention officers, could lose their jobs. However, at a county budget meeting three weeks ago, Babeu said if negotiations don't at least reach a point where the county can break even, the contract should be terminated.


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