Minnehaha County Commission’s response to a flat economy; Screw Public Safety

Aaron ‘Goo’ McGowan laying out the facts.

Wow! I have seen our state legislature and city council make some really f’ing stupid decisions when it comes to taking money from the feds, but when the county is offered $240,000 from the feds to improve public safety and all the county has to supply is a desk and a cubicle it would seem to be a no-brainer to accept the money. Right?

But, McGowan says there are no hidden costs, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make sure there’s more prosecution of DUI cases.

“There aren’t any strings attached to this. There’s no local match, I offered to house them in a cubicle in our hallway because we don’t have any office space like other offices in the county,” McGowan said.

But our bone-headed CC thinks there is something nefarious about this. Barth was the only commissioner willing to accept the money. Does anybody else find it suspicious that the biggest opponent, Pekas, is a private practice lawyer? Gee, I wonder why he is opposed to more prosecutors? Him and Hajek shouldn’t even of been able to vote or comment on the issue because of conflict of interest. CC candidate Nesiba sums it up best in a press release;

Commission Candidate, Reynold Nesiba,
Disappointed with County Commission’s Inaction
Sioux Falls, SD—On Tuesday the Minnehaha County Commission rejected a federal grant.  It would have paid for a special DUI Prosecutor.  Today Reynold Nesiba, Candidate for Minnehaha County Commission, expressed his disappointment with this decision.
Nesiba said,
Aaron McGowan, our State’s Attorney, came to the commission with a federally funded renewable grant.  It would be used to fund a special prosecutor for DUI cases.  The commission simply needed to vote to accept it.  Yet the commission failed to act.  In Minnehaha County we have over 1,500 DUI cases annually.  There are four pending vehicular homicide cases.  If the commissioners cannot act given current conditions and when the federal government is picking up the bill, when will they act?
In an earlier statement State’s Attorney, Aaron McGowan, said, “We need this position.  It’s free money to the county for a free prosecutor we need.”
Nesiba went on to conclude that
Overseeing public safety may be the most important responsibility of the county commission.  More than half of the Commission’s $64 million budget is spent on costs related to public safety through funding areas related to the Sheriff, State’s Attorney, County Jail, and Public Defender’s offices.  If I were serving on the commission today I would have been enthusiastic to make the motion (or the second) to accept Mr. McGowan’s request and to vote in support of it.  We all benefit from keeping drunk drivers off of our roads.  I hope that when Commissioner Kelly returns, that Mr. McGowan will bring back his request.  If it doesn’t pass then, I hope the people of Minnehaha County elect commissioners on November 2 that will support the State’s Attorney request.


11 comments ↓

#1 Costner on 09.16.10 at 6:59 am

Pretty much the same thing I said on the Argus. This just baffles me. Truth be told, having this extra prosecutor on staff could actually SAVE money but reducing the backlog of cases and drastically cutting overtime expenses.

Pure lunacy – and I also commented on the apparent conflict of interest by Pekas. I guess if the prosecutors are overworked, people like Pekas know they won’t be able to spend as much time in court and are more willing to take plea deals whenever possible.

All this was is a slap to lady justice.

#2 anominous on 09.16.10 at 8:57 am

Yeah, you really wouldn’t want old South Dakota to start taking federal monies for its subsistence. I mean, how would our local teabaggers ever get over it? Self reliance, fellow Dakotans! Woo hoo! We pay so much already! Now how about a state run liquor store?

#3 Dukembe on 09.16.10 at 10:02 am

I’m sure we all have our opinions about taking federal $; but wonder how often the county commission turns it down? Didn’t they just get a grant to … put decorative awnings on the old coliseum? If so, nice priorities.

#4 scott on 09.16.10 at 10:26 am

if bush was president, they would be falling all over themselves to spend the money. since obama is the root of all evil, this money comes from the devil himself.

#5 l3wis on 09.16.10 at 10:37 am

That’s just it, the money comes from you and me, and as McGowan points out, if Minnehaha doesn’t take the money another county will get it.

#6 John on 09.16.10 at 12:32 pm

Didn’t the Commission vote to say Minnehaha County is a disaster zone? Where are the MADD people?

#7 Ghost of Dude on 09.16.10 at 2:24 pm

I wonder if the backlog in DUI cases has anything to do with people who have more than three still on the road and getting pulled over for DUI first offense when they should already be convicted felons.

#8 DDC on 09.16.10 at 5:04 pm

How far behind are they in prosecuting DUI cases right now?

The problem with taking grant money is that it will only pay for the prosecutor for 3 years. What happens when it runs out? I’d bet my house that they don’t fire the guy and he becomes a permanent county employee.

If they really need another prosecutor, why not just tack on an extra $50-100 in fines for people convicted of DUI? If even 800 of the 2300 DUI cases result in fines, $100 would more than pay for the salary.

I guess it’s asking too much to expect that something like this gets handled on a local level. Better to beg for federal money.

#9 l3wis on 09.16.10 at 8:29 pm

DDC – What’s more important? Punishing drunk drivers properly so they don’t drink and drive again and keep us safe, or pissing and moaning about spending some coin on a prosecutor? Don’t you think it is pretty fucking obvious why Pekas was against it? Conflict of interest. Huge conflict of interest.

#10 DDC on 09.17.10 at 9:08 pm

Well, Pekas is a moron then. Less plea deals would equal more court time and more billable hours for him.

#11 l3wis on 09.17.10 at 9:14 pm

Lawyers love settling out of court.