Sheriff Clarke Goes Extra Legal Again

Speaking of county government, how about that Sheriff Clarke.

Having been thwarted in his repeated efforts to privatize health care at the county jail, Sheriff Clarke decided to rely on a court decision on his rights to control prisoner transportation to extend to prisoner health care as well. The county board has continually denied his request to privatize that health care as recently as the 2013 county budget. But again the Sheriff has decided to go his own way and contracted with Armor Correctional Health Services of Florida to provide health care services at the jail.

Needless to say the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee and the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin are in court to oppose the Sheriff’s unilateral decision and now Milwaukee County has entered the fray. You can get the rest of the details from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. Everyone but Sheriff Clarke believes he is overreaching his legal authority here. We’ll let the lawyers hash that out for now.

But this does shed some light on issues with Sheriff Clarke and privatization of government services.

The Sheriff felt hiring Armor was necessary because key positions in the health care unit at the jail remain unfilled. Why? There are two very disturbing reasons why I think they have remained unfilled. One is a crisis in management at the jail, where the Sheriff and his staff just don’t have the skills to recruit, hire and retain qualified staff. In other words, plain old bad management. A very good reason to elect someone else as Sheriff in the next major election cycle. Sheriff Clarke just can’t do the job.

The second issue would be far more troubling and I would consider it dereliction of duty in public office…the Sheriff just ‘neglected’ to fill the positions to force the board to accept privatizing the health care services at the jail. I really hope this isn’t true, and it would be a dangerous precedent to set.

OK…now one last thought on this. I haven’t seen nor heard any name for the outsourcing firm other than Armor Correctional Health Services. As I wrote above they are from Florida. We couldn’t find anyone further away from Milwaukee County than that [sarcasm]? So, did the Sheriff talk to anyone locally? Anyone in the state? Armor is it? Really? No one?

The governor hires a deer czar from Texas. We got so lucky with Logisticare Transit! Can we really expect decent service from an agency without ties to the community or local experience? I think this is a another disaster waiting to happen.

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