Against it then, against it now


In the wake of reporter Tom Giambroni’s two-part story on issues related to the Columbiana County Jail, I’d like to remind the citizenry that privatization of the county jail was not a unanimous decision of the three-member county Board of Commissioners at the time.

I sat on that board and fought voraciously against privatization, expressing at that time 20 years ago the issues that have come to light in recent months. Despite the reported money-saving maneuver, a private company is a for-profit company, so one can anticipate corners would be cut somewhere.

Before the vote, I self-funded a full-page ad in the local newspapers showing details of the budget I recommended for the county to adopt to maintain control of the jail. Privatizing our jail — which no other county in Ohio has done — is akin on a much larger scale to privatizing the military of the United States.

When I lost the jail battle, I vowed to live with the decision and to “make it work” and did nothing to thwart the success of jail operations. Most remember Commissioner Mike Halleck spearheaded the privatization issue – the single most issue over which he and I “butted heads.” Commissioner Jim Hoppel was the other commissioner at the time, and he supported privatization.

In evidence of this not being an “I told you so” grudge letter, I publicly supported Halleck’s most recent re-election bid in a letter to the editor, saying I felt despite our differences in the past, he was the most qualified of the two candidates and gets things done.

This letter is not against Halleck – it is my continuing objection to privatization of what are historically government-run services.

Cathie DeFazio

Former county commissioner