Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The jail probe

Inevitably, the investigation into cost overruns in construction of the new Ulster County jail facility has led to a special grand jury.

The largest capital project in county history -- even before it came in years late and millions over budget -- the new jail, as it's familiarly known -- seems to have been a disaster waiting to happen right from the get-go.

All that's left is to pick up the pieces and determine once and for all how this sad story came to pass.

A legislative committee completed its thorough, but expensive ($90,000-plus) probe Monday by, among other things, pointing fingers at several prominent public figures. Today, the district attorney set the grand jury process into motion.

Some critics will not be happy unless the proverbial pound of flesh is extracted and one or more people are in prison. I don't feel that way.

Don't get me wrong. If there is criminality proven in this matter, I want the guilty parties behind bars. I just hope the facts prove otherwise. I'd prefer to believe this jail project suffered from poor oversight and human error (from which the county hopefully can learn valuable lessons), not a deliberate attempt to profit at the expense of beleaguered taxpayers.

It's hard to say when we'll know for sure. It no doubt will take a while for grand jury to do its work. And if there are indictments, trials and jury verdicts would be months away.

Perhaps a grand jury could have been seated a long time ago, but it wasn't. So here we are, on the verge of the most important investigation yet into the ill-fated project.

Clearly, the final chapter hasn't yet been written.
comments powered by Disqus

<< Home