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Friday, February 3, 2006

Smokey Briggs

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs

Did the Chamber sell the
“Citizen of the Year” award?

Okay, let me get this straight.

First the County Commissioners propose a new addition to the County-owned prison.

The new addition will be a full-partnership with Geo Group, with Geo Group footing half the bill.

Then, the County Commissioners give the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Jimmy Dutchover, a $40,000 / year consulting job to advise County Judge Jimmy Galindo regarding the newly proposed prison expansion.

Next, the Chamber of Commerce names Geo Group “Citizen of the Year,” along with hosting what was for the most part a Reeves County-Geo Group-Chamber of Commerce love fest at the annual Chamber banquet.

Well, it is nice to know that the “Citizen of the Year” award can be bought.

Now, lets get a few things straight.

First, I’m glad Geo is running the County’s prison. The County was making a mess of the whole deal which is not surprising as it is a government entity and government’s usually make a mess of anything they touch.

Geo is a private enterprise and that is good. Private outfits like to make money and that means more efficiency. More efficiency means less government silliness and handing out jobs to your buddies and cousins.

Second, having a representative of the biggest employer in the county as the keynote speaker at the annual chamber banquet is not all bad - a bit boring perhaps, but not out of bounds.

Wayne Calabrese of Geo Group was the keynote speaker and did a nice job with a tough speaking assignment.

What bothers me is Chamber/County connection.

This whole deal looks like a bunch of corrupt, brother-in-law, back scratching on the part of the County and the Chamber.

It looks like a not-so-subtle plan to drum up a lot of goodwill for Geo and the County and the prison expansion on the part of the Chamber - in exchange for a $40,000 / year job for the president of the Chamber.

That is what it looks like.

If that is the case, then this stinks to no end.

It stinks because it is corrupt, and it stinks because it belittles the “Citizen of the Year” award - an award that has been earned by no small number of deserving private citizens who have gone above and beyond their duty as citizens to improve our home.

And, what if this was not a blatant attempt to buy the “Citizen of the Year” award and drum up a lot of goodwill for the County, Geo Group, and the new prison deal?

Then this really stinks because any mental midget would have known that these facts added together would create the perception that something stinky was in the works.

If a moron could have figured it out, one would hope that our Chamber and County could have figured it out as well. Obviously, they could not.

So, is corruption afoot, or are these people morons?

Either option spells trouble for Pecos and Reeves County.

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