How frustrating that Democrats in the Chautauqua County Legislature sidetracked a sensible resolution because they did not trust Republican legislators to relay information from the sheriff.
At issue is acceptance of a $30,000 grant from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services to set up a video phone-conferencing system at the jail. It will be used so that, for a fee, people can visit inmates by phone-conference over the Internet rather than actually traveling to the jail in Mayville.
As we reported last week, although video conferencing will be monitored by staff at the jail, county Sheriff Joe Gerace notes it is easier to manage than are in-person visits. By law in-person visits have to include physical contact and so the staff at the jail have to monitor for contraband.
The sheriff can't accept the grant without permission from the County Legislature and so has already explained the project to the Public Safety Committee as well as the Audit and Control Committee - whose members approved the project unanimously.
When the issue went to the full legislature, Democrat Legislator Keith Ahlstrom of Dunkirk said he had questions about the proposal. But the sheriff was not at the meeting and so Ahlstrom refused to even divulge the questions - even when it was suggested that Legislator Doug Richmond, a Republican from Westfield and a member of Audit and Control and chair of the Public Safety Committee, might have the answers.
Instead, the legislature sent the authorizing resolution back to committee, where Gerace was once more asked the same questions he had already answered the first time around.
Now, after the Democrats have thoroughly jerked the sheriff's chain - and that is puzzling since Gerace is a fellow Democrat - the proposal is going back to the legislature once again for approval again.
This is ridiculous. The easy things should not send the legislature scurrying in circles.
Is it any wonder legislators struggle so much with the difficult issues that come before them?