May 4, 2007

Introduction to County Government - CG101

In Barry County, Michigan, the county government consists of an Administrator, a County Board of Commissioners, five Standing Committees, and assignments of Commissioners and others to an array of regional, etc. boards and commissions.The best way to observe and discuss this county government is in light of the County Budget. The Budget has a General Fund that is the main topic of conversation and is understood by most ordinary observers to be "The Budget". It is similar to the family checking account.

The search for the "whole truth" requires that we also consider the family "savings account" as well. This is the Special Revenue section of the Budget and is frequently ignored. It represents millions of taxpayer dollars.

In addition to the checking and savings accounts, the Commissioners are assigned to various outside boards as representatives of Barry County. Many of these boards manage budgets far in excess of the County Budget.The General Fund Budget has about 80 accounts. The Special Revenue Funds also have about 80 accounts. Each account represents at least one "issue". The number of issues could easily surpass 200.

May 1, 2007


Basically, I hold with the position that nobody needs to be incarcerated unless they are a threat to society, and only a judge can make that determination. The length of sentence should run until such time as the person no longer represents a threat to the rest of us (if that means that a dedicated drunk driver spends the rest of her life incarcerated, and crime-of-passion-killer gets out in a week, so be it).

This leads to a number of different conclusions than we are currently experiencing. For one thing it throws out the notion that punishment has ever been an acceptable solution to any behavioral problem. It also suggests that jails and prisons may not need to look like dungeons. As long as he plays golf on the inside of the walls, I have no problem with an inmate living out his life in a country club. Some of those who play on the outside now are a greater threat.

We have evolved at least to accepting that incarcerated people can learn soft skills and learn the behaviors that will help them re-enter society.

At any rate, Barry County is having a discussion regarding a bigger new JAIL, so weigh in, if you want to.
The first dozen comments are historical, but I've retained them for your pleasure. If and when a new discussion materializes, I will drop them to give easier access to new material.