Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

March 13, 2013

Confusion surrounds prisoner rate negotiations

By Leeann Akers- Editor
Journal-Times

March 18, 2013 — Carter Judge-Executive Charles Wallace disputes allegations that he has held up rate increase negotiations with the US Marshals Service.

In a letter addressed to USMS Assistant Director David Musel, dated Feb. 21, Wallace informed “pertinent individuals” that he had appointed magistrates Mary Ellen Greenhill and Clifford Roe “to work on the IGA agreement.”

Wallace said Tuesday that he asked Greenhill and Roe to bring facts to the Fiscal Court, not to actually negotiate a new daily rate for federal prisoners in the Carter County Detention Center (CCDC).

Although briefly discussed during the Feb. 19 Fiscal Court meeting that Wallace and Jailer R.W. Boggs would work together on the rate negotiation, no vote on the issue was taken, according to the official minutes recorded in the County Clerk's office.

Wallace claims that he and the magistrates are involved because Boggs has no legal authority to negotiate a contract for the county.

The judge-executive also disputed the claim that the Fiscal Court had voted to raise daily rates by $10 during a meeting in June 2011.

Yet, the official minutes of the Fiscal Court meeting of June 29, 2011, show that Roe offered such a motion and that it was seconded by Ronnie Greenhill and approved by unanimous vote.

During the 2011 meeting, Boggs said he would apply for a rate increase as soon as a freeze on those requests was lifted.  Wallace claimed he had been told there never was a freeze. 

Lynzey Donahue, a spokesperson with the U.S. Marshals’ Office of Public Affairs in Washington D.C. confirmed that no one was able to apply for rate increases at that time. 

“Rate increases were temporarily suspended in March 2011 for eight months,” Donahue said in an email.  “Since November 2011, rate increase requests have been reviewed and approved on a case by case basis, due to appropriation uncertainties.”  

Tim Goode, chief deputy U.S. marshal of the Southern District of West Virginia, said the appointment of Greenhill and Roe could affect the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and lead to federal prisoners being removed from the CCDC.

Although Greenhill and Roe are not technically listed as negotiators in the letter, Goode says that is what it means, since the Fiscal Court is the appointing body for the negotiator.

Donahue confirmed Goode’s statement in her email.

“Judge-Executive Charles Wallace is listed on the application as the negotiator. Wallace later appointed Magistrate Judge Clifford Roe and Magistrate Judge Mary Ellen Greenhill as the negotiators,” Donahue

 

“The relationship that we (U.S. marshals of the Southern District of West Virginia) have with Mr. Wallace and Mr. Roe is what I would call adversarial,” Goode said. “Mr. Roe cursed during a telephone conversation with my budget analyst, which I thought was very unprofessional. When he calls, my staff knows to send him to me, because I won't stand for people abusing my employees.”

Roe denied those actions during January's Fiscal Court meeting, stating that “...there has been no proof that I have cussed anyone.”

Goode said Roe's appointment is a bad idea because Wallace and the magistrates are unaware of the process involved.

“I have a quality jailer who is taking care of my needs as a consumer and we are very happy with his service,” Goode said of Jailer Boggs.

He went on to sing the praises of Boggs and the services of CCDC for federal prisoners.

He added that he felt Wallace’s letter was politically motivated.

Wallace said Tuesday that he had been involved in conversations with higher ranking officials in the U. S. Marshals Service in Washington. He declined to identify those persons.

At press time, calls to David Musel’s office had not been returned.

Wallace said there was no political motivation in the handling of the federal prisoner rate and that he and the magistrates are interested only in saving money for county taxpayers.

Even with federal payments, the CCDC operates at a loss and requires additional funding each year from the county general fund.

Rate negotiations for IGAs are done through an online process which can last several months, according to the U.S. Marshals Service website.

An application for rate increases must be submitted to the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee (OFDT).

Once an application is accepted and reviewed by OFDT, it is forwarded to the USMS for further review, negotiation and award.

Boggs had submitted the application in November but was blocked by Wallace in December.

During the January regular monthly meeting, Wallace insisted Boggs overstepped his legal authority in working with the Marshals Service to submit a request for a rate increase.

The Fiscal Court, Wallace insisted, must approve all monetary contracts within the county government and, to date, Boggs had not presented them with anything to approve.

Boggs said at that time that he was working on the application.



The jail now receives about $42 a day for housing federal inmates, which according to this year's jail budget, translates into more than $900,000 in revenue.

Boggs said he is concerned about what the appointment letter will mean for the taxpayers.

“I don’t know if it’s just poor decision making on the part of Wallace or if it’s an outright attempt to sabotage the contract,” said Boggs. “Obviously anyone knows Roe should be the absolute last choice for such a move because he has been very vocal about getting rid of the feds.”

“Each month that passes we continue to lose potential revenue due to Wallace's grudge against the jail and me,” Boggs added. “This already would be approved if Wallace had not stopped it in December. He can hate me all he wants but he is costing the taxpayers money over politics.”

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by telephone at 474-5101.