Bickering on Cincinnati’s Hamilton County Commission, newly under Democratic control, has created a rift so large that some say it could jeopardize the county’s biggest project in decades – a new jail, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Commissioner Pat DeWine, now the sole Republican on the board, said, “I’m not going to sit down and be quiet when they’re wasting money.” The county is paying about $500,000 a month to house about 300 inmates in Butler County’s jail.
DeWine believes the county can build a jail without raising taxes. He proposed a small-scale jail expansion with revenue from the sale of county property and budget cuts. The current jail buildings would stay open for at least 10 more years. The other two commissioners say DeWine’s plan is underfunded and would be a “Band-Aid” solution. They say the only way to fix the overcrowding problem is to impose a sales tax increase to build an 1,800-bed jail and fund related rehabilitation programs. Commissioners admit debates about the jail during public meetings have at times turned ugly. But they insist the infighting involves one isolated issue, and is not indicative of the county’s leadership.