Hugh’s taking a few weeks off to soothe his fevered brow before things really start getting politically and budgetarily serious around here, so I will do my best to fill the void. It will be tough to match the master. Here we go!
Hey, Mr. Sheriff and Mr. Comptroller, can’t we all just get along? What are you guys trying to do, upstage the presidential debates? Seriously, though, it seems to this observer that the rather thorny and heated to-and-fro between Comptroller Auerbach and Sheriff Van Blarcum is, besides a rarely-seen horns-locking between two sovereign-ish local elected officials, a microcosm of a process Ulster’s been going through the last decade or so. That is to say, the age of informal arrangements for convenience’s sake is giving way to a more “trust but verify” age of doing things by the book and showing your work. Everybody likes things to be easy-peasy, and it does seem that URGENT’s past arrangements were fine with all parties. (Or at least no one publicly griped about it.) But Ulsterians and Kingstonites have intimate and fresh knowledge of how casual oversight can return to haunt, and cost: the jail, Tim Matthews, the Kingston Fire Department. So, given the possibility that those who come after the current holders of office might actually be dishonest, a system for splitting up the ill-gotten gains police recover that’s up-front, transparent and auditable is needed.
That said, I think Auerbach went too far to hold up that money. (Say what? Are you not undermining what you just wrote?) No, just weighing the potential negative outcomes and making a judgment. The potential negative outcome of allowing the system to continue as is until fixed is that money could be improperly allocated or, heaven forbid, go missing altogether. If this was taxpayer money, that’d be really bad, but it’s not — it’s drug money recovered from drug dealers, a form of “found money” as it were. The potential negative outcome of holding up the money until the system is fixed is stalled investigations (this cash is used as buy money in undercover work) and crack and smack dealers not getting caught. Kingston isn’t nursery-school safe, but it’s better than either Poughkeepsie or Newburgh, and should be kept that way.