The commissioner replies - Jay Maynard

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Wednesday, 23 August 2006


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1207 - The commissioner replies

Among my other stops this morning was the Martin County Library. I found my letter in last Friday's Fairmont Sentinel, along with a few others over the last few days of last week. I also found a reply from Commissioner Steve Pierce in Saturday's paper. It's so much BS that I feel compelled to take it apart here.

Recent letters in the Sentinel have criticized my stance against the current Safe and Sober grant application.

Yes, and with good reason.

To tie in the killing of babies by drunk drivers with the Safe and Sober grant is totally missing the point.

I can't think of a better point to make, though.

Also, to suggest that our local law enforcement people are not doing their job without the grant is an insult to them.

You're the only one suggesting that, Commissioner. None of the letters in the Sentinel, and no other comments I've heard, suggest anything of the kind.

We have very adequately staffed law enforcement agencies serving us that put in something like fifty thousand patrol hours a year including a very substantial amount of overtime already.

That doesn't mean we couldn't make use of someone else's money to do more.

Why do we need to stack on top of that a few extremely high cost overtime hours to do what is being done already?

If someone else is paying for it, why not? That money is going to go somewhere; why not here?

The extra efforts are not so much about keeping drunk drivers off the road as it is about making arrests. There is a difference.

Oh, really? How would you suggest we get drunk drivers off the road? Take them home and tuck them in bed with a teddy bear? That would do wonders to convince them they shouldn't do it any more.

The grant specifically states "increase the number of DWI arrests."

That's what law enforcement does with those they catch driving drunk.

Patrol cars have been observed hanging out in the vicinity of establishments that serve liquor waiting to follow someone who leaves so they can be stopped for swerving in their lane or because of a license plate light that is out,

If you want to stop drunk driving, you go where the drunk drivers are. You're much more likely to find them at 1 AM near a bar than you are at 9:30 in the morning in front of Hy-Vee.

but we don't see the officers in the establishments making small talk with patrons to keep an intoxicated person from getting behind the wheel in the first place.

Of course not. Even assuming that anyone in the bar would talk to them, if they did that, people like you would be howling about cops hanging out in bars instead of being on the street where they belong.

Do we give criminals loaded guns and then follow them around waiting for them to shoot someone?

No, and we don't give drunks car keys, either.

The fine citizens of this county do not deserve the reputation of being a bunch of drunks as the St. Paul Pioneer Press suggests when they refer to Martin County as having one of the state's highest arrest records per capita.

If we do have more drunk drivers in Martin County than average for Minnesota, then that's not something we should try to sweep under the rug; it's a problem that needs fixing, and the fix is more enforcement. I care a lot less about whether we have a reputation for drunkenness than I do about whether someone will have to scrape me up off the side of Blue Earth Avenue after a drunk clobbers me.

Statistically speaking, speeding deaths far outnumber deaths where drunk driving is listed as the cause, yet we don't see Safe and Speeding grants.

Actually, we do have grants for stepped-up enforcement of speed laws, even if they haven't trickled down to Martin County.

We enjoy very fine police protection in Fairmont and the County.

No thanks to attitudes like yours.

I will continue to have differences of opinion with law enforcement from time to time

Many of us do. Few of us have differences with them over the appropriateness of trying to get drunk drivers off the road.

but at the same time will continue to back them as I feel is appropriate.

Damning with faint praise, eh?

My job as an elected official is to represent my constituents in seeing that we have reasonable government at a reasonable cost.

Yet when someone waves a check for $17,000 under your nose, you say "no". Sure seems like a funny way to do that job. Yes, I know that money has to come from somewhere. I also know that, should Martin County turn it down, it wouldn't go back where it came from; it'd just go to some other county for the same purpose.

I will continue to stand against this program as it exists as I feel it extends beyond the boundaries of reasonableness.

As long as you do, I will continue to think you're a twit of a politician who opposes getting drunks off the road.

Damn. I'm going to have to find his opponent's campaign and send money.

current mood: [mood icon] irritated
current music: Steve Earle - Copperhead Road

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:cinnamonbite
Date: - 0000
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He can probably drink Ted Kennedy under the table! LOL
[User Picture]
From:kazriko
Date: - 0000
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Have you thought perhaps that he didn't want to inflict more overtime on his police officers because of a silly grant? It could be that they're catching everyone who is drinking in that county too, and that money could go better in a place where they're failing to catch their drunk drivers and thus have lower DWI arrests. 17k isn't enough to hire a new cop, so they would essentially be forcing their cops to work longer hours, or they could waste that money on bureaucracy like most branches of government do.

If you made that money available to any cops who wanted overtime state-wide to catch drunk drivers, that's an entirely different thing than forcing it on the cops of one county because they've already proven that they're doing their jobs.

And as far as sending it to another county, it'd probably do more good there if it is as you say, that county having more arrests than others. The other counties are probably underfunded and filled with lazy cops. ;)
[User Picture]
From:serenadesha
Date: - 0000
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Hey, you don't really know me, but every once and a while, I check up on your LJ, since you're the other Schlocker in the area (I'm the crazy kid from Granada who works at ShopKo), and I just wanted to thank you for posting this. I find it difficult to keep up with the political craziness in Martin County when I'm home, and now that I'm at college, I'm really out of the loop. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for posting this, and bravo for having some very good points. I'm going to have to do some more looking into this, though it seems like I'm inclined to agree with you - Martin County does have an intensely high number of drunk drivers, and if this is something that will try to help fix that problem, I'm definitely for it.

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