Transparency at PBSO – the Challenger’s View

At various times over the last two years, we at TAB have raised the issue of transparency regarding the Sheriff’s half billion dollar budget. Much of what goes on at PBSO is hidden from public view, and the budget is no exception. The only way to see how the agency spends the taxpayer’s money within the three “silos” of Law Enforcement, Corrections, and Court Services, is to file a chapter 119 (open records law) request and wait months for a partial answer. By contrast, the Martin County Sheriff puts all of his budget data right on his website for all to see. (see MSO Budget and Finance ).

Sheriff Candidate Joe Talley

Ethics also are not transparent at PBSO, and we believe that the Sheriff should voluntarily execute an interlocal agreement with the Office of Inspector General for oversight services equivalent to what we have for the county departments, the Solid Waste Authority, and the municipal governments. Commissioner Marcus pursued this avenue last year and was rebuffed. (See Should the Sheriff be Subject to the Ethics Ordinances and the Inspector General? ) “No way, no how” was the answer.

The County Commission created the Office of Inspector General in part to address our reputation as “corruption county”. The voters overwhelmingly voted to place the municipalities under her jurisdiction, and the SWA, Children’s Services Counsel and Health Care District came voluntarily. The Sheriff however, continues to resist.

Since Ric Bradshaw must stand for re-election to a third term this year, we wondered what his challenger Joe Talley had to say on these issues. Joe has recently announced his bid to lead PBSO, and brings a full career of law enforcement experience to the race, including 22 years in the Baltimore County Police Department where he attained the rank of major, and 5 years with the PBSO reserves. With this background he speaks from a position of authority on these matters. Here is what he had to say to us (emphasis is ours):

“… it is my view that the Sheriff is elected by the people. The Sheriff’s budget is money from the people. He is to administer that budget and the Office of the Sheriff as directed by the people…..the laws and the expressed wishes are from the people.

If the majority of the people vote to create an Inspector General, it is for a very good reason. To resist is like saying: “I am here now and you cannot touch me…I don’t care about the wishes of the people and I sure am not going to let the people see how I am spending their money”. What part of that kind of attitude works for a thinking citizen/taxpayer?

Is not the average taxpayer now thinking that perhaps there may be some very good reasons (or bad reasons) why they are being kept in the dark and the Sheriff is being defiant?

Perhaps, if we could see all the documents that have been requested over many months (and few have surfaced and then wrong ones or partial ones) the public would be less than pleased at the reckless and undisciplined spending inside the PBSO..

If elected, I will shine the bright light of day on the PBSO budget and answer all concerns of the public or the County Commission or special interest groups or students or anyone – because the citizens deserve answers. The budget will get a review by the County Commission and I will invite the Inspector General into PBSO warmly. I will have nothing to be afraid of and nothing to hide.

There is so much dysfunction inside PBSO and the employees are so distracted by the need to keep looking behind them, the citizens are getting short-changed at the moment.”

We think this is a refreshing attitude from one seeking the job of County Sheriff, and we hope his candidacy begins a public dialogue on these issues. A Sheriff should cooperate with the County Commission and the other constitutional officers and be a responsible steward of the public trust. Maybe the dialog of the 2012 elections can move us in that direction.


One Response to “Transparency at PBSO – the Challenger’s View”
  1. del says:

    I would like to know why PBSO allows two take home vehicles and the Sheriff states the budget cannot be cut unless officers are taken off the street? Taxpayers deserve a better answer before we go the route of Stockton, CA.

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