So the county has exhibited a small level of brilliance. They’ve moved Martha “I know where the bodies are because I helped bury them” Wapenski to a position to oversee the sheriff’s office implementation of reforms. One of the least trusted people on the fourth floor, whose integrity has been called into question again and again, a known member of the sheriff’s star chamber meetings to target specific deputies — now protecting the sheriff from herself by being put in a position to specifically direct people away from the worst of the results from the sheriff’s failures. The woman who has been the oversight to the Inmate Welfare Fund that has now shown flaws in reviews in 2014, and more recently by the BRC in 2016. To be clear, these audits were not for accounting practices, which the fund passed, but in the intended and efficient use of the funds — there is a legal difference there and it appears the county has worked that difference to their benefit in some reviews. Comparing the two reviews, nothing had improved in the year and a half between, yet she’s going to oversee an even bigger reform project now. These accounts are, were being managed by a woman who ducked questioning by not having materials with her during her presentations in front of the BRC and claiming to not know the meaning of simple words. Great! Promote her to bigger and better things!
Many repeatedly stated the county really needed to ensure that an individual independent of the sheriff was put into any position of oversight or review or the deputies would never trust the program to be real. There you go, that’s how much the Dr. Jeff Smith cares about ensuring this process happens from a place of perceived honesty and integrity. Then again, the CPOA elections and the recent NIC report show there are a number of people who have taken control of the situation and endorsed the continued oversight of Laurie Smith, so I really have no business addressing the concerns brought to the reforms by Ms. Wapenski.
So enough about the jails. They are what they are at this point, recently endorsing the sheriff at multiple levels. I wish them the best of luck with Martha and hope that those who have the years of experience with her are wrong.
Let’s move on to Martha’s replacement. Juan Gallardo. An interesting story to say the least. A man who suddenly jumped from literally being the low-ranking help desk guy who shows up to fix your computer, install software and make sure you plugged it in when you call because the circa 1998 system is failing yet again to Director of IT after conveniently changing his story to benefit the sheriff in a highly questionable situation. Later, he’s the man who was in charge when the “Box of Rocks” email bashing a number of people seeking promotion was conveniently “deleted” so the sheriff could say there was no such email (whoops!). Now he’s been promoted to a position that again leaps any number of middle positions, because he steps past his ethics and does these kinds of favors for the sheriff.
He won’t look at the money and say, hey wait! He will nod his head and do as he is told, right or wrong, because doing so has gotten him from Help Desk Tech to the highest non-enforcement position in the office of Director of Administrative Services in less than 3 years.
Right now it’s my understanding there are a number of concerns about what the sheriff is doing with county money. Rumor has reached me from inside the county that because the sheriff has failed to fill many of her budgeted positions in the Sheriff’s Office for 5 years or more, the county is considering cutting 30-50 of those positions — in a time where the sheriff’s office is in desperate need of bodies, many saying more than 80 deputies short in the courts alone right now. There is speculation as to why from a number of sources on this — some are telling me it’s to put further professional pressure on the sheriff, others are saying they believe it is because the county is simply trying to “save” money on the backs of an already struggling office yet again and expect to be cut to the bone like the jails have been. Other speculation is that the county is concerned that the sheriff is being handed this money every year and they don’t know what she is actually doing with the money since she is not hiring people, so they’re taking it away in a bid to protect it since they have little control over the sheriff herself as an elected official.
All which begs the question — why is the county still not seeking a forensic audit, or an audit of any kind at all regarding the sheriff’s spending? They can’t fire her, but if she is questionably handling the money they give her every year, they do have a right to seek answers there.
There have been ongoing internal allegations of questionable uses of various grant funding, academy money, asset forfeiture funds, and other monies for years now — the county and the media have refused to dig in that deep. It’s a lot of work. We’ve been told the sheriff has lost oversight of at least one countywide program to another county agency due to possible financial discrepancies under her supervision. If the county is moving on this because they feel that the sheriff may be using funding for needs other than allowed, they should feel obligated to follow through and find out exactly what has been happening to the funds under concern.
Or maybe they really are just looking for funding for their next Happy Bill and finding the “savings” in the budget on the backs of deputies now that they can’t cut the jails anymore. Hey, wait, maybe she used all that position funding back in the last election season to run all the gun buy back days that the individual supervisors wanted. Who knows at this point, whatever the reasoning here, this won’t help the deputies already being forced to mandatory overtime in the guise of threats to their assignments.
This won’t solve the growing problems, particularly if she wins another election. It will only make things more dangerous, more stressful for the deputies who will be the target of administrative frustrations in the growing failures. Which leaves me to ask deputies again, “Are you looking for a new job yet?”