Commissioners ought to stop ignoring public concerns about ICE facility


Editor:

Notwithstanding my personal and moral opposition to the proposed ICE facility, I’m more concerned with our current county commissioners’ lack of judgment, arrogance and indifference.

Many valid concerns and pertinent inquiries were voiced during the meeting on Tuesday, Jan 21, and have been consistently mentioned at past commissioner meetings, including at the Roundhouse forum; questions that affect the county as a whole and directly impact the current infrastructure of Evanston.

Examples include, but are not limited to: what extent the commissioners had in attracting and seeking out the facility; the community’s obliviousness that the land was even available for sale and not openly or publicly offered to other private buyers or business ventures; the valued opinion that the land sale price is substantially less than market value; the lost opportunity to develop the adjacent land; the additional costs and coverage in agreements with the sheriff’s office, our EMS/fire/ambulance/law enforcement services, regional hospital and transportation requirements; the extra burden on our landfill; capacity of water and sewer facilities; and additional strain on our already-scant workforce.

The majority of these questions elicited almost zero response from the panel. These were not open-ended or rhetorical questions, but questions evaluating the level of professional research and insight gathered by the commissioners as to the potentially devastating impacts they will have on our community’s infrastructure. The only commissioner to half-heartedly respond, other than a belligerent response from Commissioner Eric South regarding being informed by a constituent of recently-altered government guidelines, was Commissioner Mark Anderson, who at the very least offered vague, unsupported input on potential litigation, insufficiently-resourced opinions of the current state of the landfill and our dated water treatment plant. 

What privilege is it to serve your community as an elected official if you fail to do your job? To unresponsively sit back and repeatedly absorb heartfelt inquiries and concerns and yet refuse any attempt to bring about any pertinent clarifying information or offer solid resolutions? Or to defiantly refuse to take part in civil conversation?

Aside from the people who have asked the hard and uncomfortable questions, there were four residents who spoke in favor, mostly offering CoreCivic praise for an opportunity to apply for employment that has a documented and publicly questionable history of making promises.

Additionally, the former county attorney offered personal opinions and zero facts, whereas our current county attorney also offered understandings as she responded to questions that the commissioners were unable to respond to.

We already know that they have little concern for the morality of such a proposition, as hypothetical money speaks much louder to them than any of the numerous humanitarian issues ever could. The consequences and legality of an ICE prison amidst our ever-changing national immigration policies during a presidential election year and, above all, the fracturing of a wonderful community, fails to appeal to the commissioners’ better senses.

I urge you to become better informed about the problems that other rural communities around the country are dealing with due to CoreCivic. The WyoSayNO group on Facebook has and continues to post numerous press releases and links to media reports of struggling communities — communities facing legal and financial issues that CoreCivic and other unwitting elected officials are directly responsible for.

We continue to believe that we are firmly on the right side of history.

Dave Black

Evanston

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