To the editor:
It troubles me to write this as I respect Don Grogg and appreciate his willingness to serve. With that said, I am forced to respond to his letter to the editor with claims of me speaking falsehoods, so I will respond with facts.
1. In a Monday Commissioner meeting that I attended the highway superintendent gave the report of a highway department building wall that was literally failing and needing immediate attention. He stated that he asked for bids from multiple contractors and only received one bid of $35,000 with none of the other contractors responding to him. He openly asked the Commissioners or anyone for help. At that meeting Commissioner Grogg offered no solution. After the meeting I approached the superintendent and gave him the phone number of a local contractor. This contractor immediately addressed the concern and gave a bid of $2,500 to repair the wall. The $35,000 bid ($32,500 more than the contractor I suggested!) was the only other bid the county had to repair the wall, so my help did save the county money because the contractor I suggested was the only one that would do a simple repair. Commissioner Grogg had the same opportunity as I did to make some calls and address such a serious issue, but did nothing other than approve the contractor I suggested. Without my help the county would have paid much more, or even worse, could have had a serious personal injury situation if that wall had failed.
2. Now, let’s look at then-President Commissioner Grogg’s false claim about doing his “due diligence” (and me failing to) concerning the jail and community corrections. He stated that he hired a jail professional from Pennsylvania. That person’s name is Rod Miller who spent two years building a study to submit to Mr. Grogg. Here are the words of Mr. Miller from October 19, 2016 as published by Dave Kurtz of the Star:
Describing the existing jail, Miller wrote, “The effects of the chronic overcrowding, combined with building design deficiencies and conditions, create liability, security and safety concerns for the sheriff’s office and the county.”
He added, “The facility has structural issues (settling, leakage) and is aging. The design does not facilitate effective supervision.”
In other arguments supporting a new jail, Miller writes that the current jail exposes the county to liability claims and poses security and safety risks to the staff, inmates and public.
Former Sheriff Don Lauer also gave his opinion in the same article:
“This report is the result of a great deal of time and energy spent on behalf of Rod Miller, our jail consultant, and the jail committee,” said DeKalb County Sheriff Don Lauer. “I believe this report comes to logical conclusions. I just hope we consider its conclusions before proceeding.”
It also says, “The new jail could be designed to facilitate operation of work release until separate facility is built. … The sheriff has indicated willingness to operate work release in a well-designed new jail. This will not cause crowding in the new jail, because the capacity should not be used for 15 or more years.”
Lauer said after reading the report, he was confused by Monday’s comment from a county commissioner who said the community corrections and work release center should be on the county’s “top burner.”
The complete story can be found here: https://indianaeconomicdigest.com/MobileContent/Most-Recent/DeKalb/Article/Report-calls-for-new-223-bed-jail-for-DeKalb-County/31/170/85648
Had Mr. Grogg followed the advice of the expert he hired and the sheriff at the time we would have built a new jail for $22 million with work release run by the sheriff in that building. Instead, we built a $4.5 million dollar building for Community Corrections and will now have to spend at least $30 million for a new jail as well. Mr. Grogg’s refusal to listen to the experts has cost us a minimum of $12 million in wasted taxpayer money. This does not include the millions spent to send inmates to other jails due to lack of capacity and repairs to our jail that would not have been needed had he followed the expert advice that Mr. Grogg asked for and then rejected. We also still have the very real possibility of being sued by an inmate for unsafe conditions.
3. Now that I have given hard facts that disprove Mr. Grogg’s accusations against me, let’s look into why a retiring Republican Commissioner would attempt to discredit another Republican candidate for Commissioner. The answer is very simple: My Democratic opponent is Mr. Grogg’s nephew who has openly approved of Commissioner Grogg’s untruths spoken of me. In an attempt to discredit me to advance his nephew’s campaign, Mr. Grogg has decided to attack my character. I am asking voters to reject the tactics used by Mr. Grogg and embraced by my opponent’s campaign. Instead, consider the facts presented to close this issue so that I may join Commissioner Hartman and incoming Commissioner Watson to solve the major issues we face using the fiscally conservative approach I have always ascribed to.
Todd Sanderson, Republican Candidate for DeKalb County Commissioner NE