Brewing fight in Gwinnett.

Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway and Commission Chairman Charles Bannister have been arguing about immigration enforcement. Bannister wants the Sheriff’s Department to participate in an US Immigration program that trains deputies to begin the deportation process on illegal immigrants.

Conway says…

he doesn’t have the resources to designate the five or six deputies needed for the task. Last year, there were 60 deputy vacancies, and a request for more than 40 additional deputies to fill staffing needs in 2008 was shot down by commissioners due to budget constraints, Conway said Wednesday.

“At this point, I just don’t have the personnel to do it, even if I want to,” Conway said.

As the Sheriff admits, illegal immigration is going to be a big issue in this year’s race. Bannister’s proposal will be popular with voters upset about Gwinnett’s rather large illegal population. Recently Bannister’s opponent Lorraine Green attempted to craft an ordinance punishing county contractors who hire illegal immigrants. A Federal Judge got involved and the ordinance may be changed.

The Commission Chairman race in Gwinnett will likely be a hot one.

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  1. StevePerkins says:

    It may not be as “sexy” of a political issue as illegal immigration or Harry Potter in the public libraries, but I’d love to see more attention bestowed on the Commission’s plans to set up a government cartel for solid waste management. That issue had a few Gwinnett Republicans hopping mad and exchanging emails for a few days, but then just as quickly died down again in favor or more Iowa/NH talk. “All politics is local”, my butt!

    When I moved to Gwinnett 4 or 5 years ago, it was for responsible government, low taxes, and good schools. Since then the schools have fallen in the toilet, I’ve had to buy a gun for the house on account of the home invasions in my area, and local politicians can’t wait to locate a subsidized train line right along Emory Morsberger’s property. The Commission’s answer for our problems seem to be running Gwinnett just like DeKalb, only without any good pubs.

  2. BobG says:

    Bannister isn’t being completely honest on this issue. Sheriff Conway submitted a budget that included funds for new positions and pay parity with the PD to fill currently vacant positions. Bannister refused to honor the Sheriff’s request.

    At yesterday’s Commission meeting, the district Commissioners united to reinstate the Sheriff’s funds. If the Sheriff is able to fill vacancies, he might be able to seriously consider participation in the federal 287(g) program.

    It is disingenuous of the Chairman to criticize the Sheriff for not enrolling in 287(g) when he refused to provide the required financial support. Bannister’s new-found concern for illegal immigration is likewise a sham; he opposed Commissioner Green’s employment ordinance in July. The fact that the ordinance now needs to be tweaked is irrelevant; Bannister opposed the concept of employment eligibility enforcement.

    What Bannister also doesn’t tell you is that the county has benefited for over a decade from two ICE agents who are stationed at the jail full-time in a pre-287(g) arrangement. If the county enrolls in 287(g), we might lose the two agents.

    In other words, the county has had BETTER than 287(g) for many years. Bannister should have known that and probably did.

    Bannister issued two childish and deceptive press releases last week attacking the Sheriff and questioning Green’s motivations for supporting the Sheriff’s funding requests. Now there is a question about whether or not he used public monies and resources to support his re-election campaign, which would be a clear (albeit minor) ethical lapse.

  3. Mark Rountree says:

    Actually Buzz, this is the full and verbatim press release sent out by Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway:

    ” Gwinnett County Sheriff

  4. Bill Simon says:

    Solid waste management? Bob Griggs knows all about that. He’s been full of sh*t for so long it is a full-time job for him to manage that task.

    Happy New Year, Bob!

  5. BobG says:

    Bill, if you have a problem with the substance of my submission, fine… let’s talk about it. But I have never understood why, without any identifiable motivation you turned on me, David, Mark and others– some of whom you had counted as friends for years.

    Some wrote it off to the fact that your Gwinnett “sources” had become Dunn, McKinney, Bannister et al… I had tried to give you credit for being a slightly more independent thinker than that.

    If gratuitous, personal attacks on contributors is what the Peach Pundit is known for, then perhaps I need to start reading a little more (or much less).

  6. davidinflowerybranch says:

    First of all, Bannister didn’t oppose Commissioner Green’s Ordinance. He voted for it. What he was opposed to was the methodology for enforcement due to the fact that both he and Green were told by D.A. King that it wasn’t going to be enforceable. And here we are. With an ordinance that is not only unenforceable but one that is now costing the Gwinnett County Tax Payers money because it has brought a law suit.

    Second. Bannister didn’t “refuse the Sheriff’s request”. He offered up another option that would have helped hire additional personnel without the added extra cost of paying EVERYONE in the Sheriff’s department more money. Tell me. If a 10 year veteran in the Sheriff’s office who has been promoted appropriately according to his/her ability and should likely be then at a pay level commensurate with their activities and abilities is paid more money going forward because his/her position is Sgt and the Sgts on the Police happen to make more money, how it this going to help get more hires to fill vacancies in the Sheriff’s Department?

    Did you know….the Sheriff received over 9000 qualified applicants during the years 2004-2006 for positions in the department? Did you know that less than 5% of those applicants also applied for jobs with the Police Department? Hardly sounds there is a great difficulty with getting applicants or that he’s competing with the Police Department for the same people does it? Also, the average age of those applicants was 35 verses an average age of 29 for the Police Department. Hardly sounds like the same crowd is looking for jobs in both places.

    Sounds to me like the Sheriff is the one playing politics. He’s the one that said in the paper last week that his support was going to Green in exchange for her support of giving his entire staff a raise.

    Bannister’s proposal to help the Sheriff fill vacancies was to offer a $4,000 signing bonus to new hires. $4,000. Not the $2,000 that they will receive in having their positions brought to parity with the Police Department. Maybe it’s just me but it sure seems that that would get even more applicants than paying some 10 year veteran more money.

    Bannister’s plan was also more fiscally responsible. His plan would have cost the County $320,000 as opposed to the across the board increase passed by the commission that will cost the county $1.5M. Even if parity were brought in next year, this year’s savings would be ~$1.2M and new hires would make $2000 a year more than under the plan passed!

    Additionally. Bannister had considered bringing the salaries of those more senior members of the Sheriff’s staff to parity that had positions that were similar to Police positions, i.e. the more front line type positions in the Civil and Field Operations Divisions.

    Why spend $1.5M when you can spend $0.55M?

    Ah. More fun with the budget as well:

    The Sheriff’s authorized positions (those that were budgeted for) have increased from 421 in 2003 to 686 in 2007. So he doesn’t have much complaining to do that he hasn’t had the positions authorized. He just difficulty with pick out of the over 9,000 applicants I guess! I know, I know. A big chunk of those were new positions for the new jail. However, the number that really hit me out of all of the numbers is that Gwinnett County is now paying over $50/day per inmate while in 2000 we were only paying $34/day….. before you say that that is because of the new jail… 94% of the growth in inmate per day cost was Salary growth! Adjusting the $34 for inflation (~3% is high) would bring us to $41.80 per day.

    What’s the other ~$8.00 a day for? Having a Deputy to fluff their pillows?

    Shouldn’t the new jail have made the Sheriff’s efforts MORE efficient given the new technologies? Why is it that even with 265 additional positions allotted, that overtime per Employee has ballooned from $1,870/employee in 1996 to over $6,100 in 2007?

    With over 9,000 applicants you’d think he could have maybe filled one or two additional positions of the 60 open positions. Wouldn’t you?

    Now for the most delicious part of the answer to Mr. Griggs. The Sheriff said in the paper on December 28th that he had 360 deportations out of Gwinnett in the last year. Cobb had 748 ICE pickups IN THE FIRST 6 MONTHS of their 287(g) program and had an additional ~600 on hold by ICE.

    Help me out here but Cobb appears to be doing 150 ICE pickups a month. About 4 times that of Gwinnett. How again is Gwinnett

  7. Bill Simon says:

    By the way, Bob,

    You did make a comment in your post regarding a veiled threat to perhaps file ethics charges against Bannister using his office resources for political campaign purposes.

    Thanks to Mark Rountree’s post from Butch Conway, it looks like Sheriff Conway is doing the same exact thing you accuse Bannister of engaging in.

    Where’s your outrage on THAT move, Mr. Fair and Objective?

  8. Bill Simon says:

    Oops! That should be worded as: perhaps file ethics charges against Bannister that accuse him of using his office resources for political campaign purposes.

    For the record, I don’t think press releases sent out by elected officials constitute a “contribution in kind” from the office they hold.

    AND, I’ll bet any amount of money you want to bet, Bob, that the State Ethics Commission would agree with my conclusion.

  9. davidinflowerybranch says:

    Hello! Bob…..

    No response to numbers? Just emotional name calling like childish and accusing people of not being honest!

    Tell me Bob. How is 748 in 6 months not as good as 360 in a whole year!

    Let us know Bob.

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