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Fresno Sheriff's Lawsuit over Layoffs to Cost Taxpayers Thousands

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Fresno County Sheriff is days away from filing a lawsuit against the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. No officers have lost their jobs, and no additional inmates have been released early from the jail. But that could quickly change as the battle between the supervisors and the sheriff heats up again.

The Sheriff has been clear she feels the Board is violating her constitutional authority. Later this week the Sheriff is expected to ask a judge to enforce the layoffs she handed out. It's the same 23 the Board rescinded Friday.

The conflict that's been brewing for months between the County Board of Supervisors and the Fresno County Sheriff will likely cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. The price tag for Sheriff Margaret Mim's attorney is $225.00 an hour.

Union Representative Tom Abshere said correctional officers are frustrated with the cost, but just relieved to return to work Monday morning. Many expected to be in unemployment lines.

Abshere said, "They feel good. They don't trust the Sheriff unfortunately their own boss but they feel good about what the Board did. They feel good that their job is now secure."

The showdown has the Sheriff planning to file a lawsuit against the Board later this week. The question at hand ... who ultimately controls the Sheriff's budget and what she does with the money she's allotted.

Late Monday the Sheriff issued a statement saying quote, "However well meaning it may be, the Board's insistence on managing the Sheriff's Office to the degree that it wants, sets a very detrimental precedent. Not only today, but also on the future operation of the office."

Supervisor Henry Perea said he's confident the judge will side with supervisors who laid out two priorities for the Sheriff ... to keep deputies on the street and inmates in jail.

"I think what she's doing is seeing this as a test of power. Elected power versus what's more important for the safety public, I think that's where it gets a little disappointing from my perspective," said Perea.

Since correctional officers are not being laid off as anticipated, the jail population is quickly beginning to rise. As of Monday afternoon, the number of inmates is 2,029. But just over a week ago it got down to 1,921 in preparation for fewer officers. Before the releases began in early January, the jail population was 2,521.

Friday, the Board also ordered layoff notices for two office assistants in the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff said she did not approve, nor ask for these positions to be cut.

The Sheriff also added in her statement that it is her responsibility to set priorities within her budget, not the Board of Supervisor's.

Her attorney told Action News Monday afternoon, she has a strong case.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
fresno county sheriff department, fresno county board of supervisors, court, budget cuts, local, sontaya rose
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