I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

No Opinion Coming from Attorney General's Office on Escambia's LETF Process

This is discouraging....

                We have been waiting with great anticipation for the Attorney General's Office to provide an opinion on several aspects of our local process for distribution of proceeds from the County's Law Enforcement Trust Fund.

                There have been embarrassing articles and cartoons about this subject locally 
                We have had citizen complaints about the process that have resulted in the State Attorney's Office weighing in on the process-- and I've been asked by constituents whether or not some recipients of these funds were actually even eligible under 932.7055 Fl. Statutes. 

                We voted to request this opinion from the AG as a board-- because we needed the answer to improve our process and to insure we are acting within the boundaries of the law in light of this letter from the State Attorney's office locally.  We were being proactive.

                So back on October 16th, County Attorney Alison Rogers sent this letter to Attorney General Pam Bondi's office seeking the opinion--with specific questions.

               The questions in the letter were ones many of us had asked;  we were all anticipating that the answer to these questions would help us improve our process for approval of expenditures from this fund.

                In particular, these portions of the request letter to AG were of tremendous significance:

"1)  May the Board of County Commissioners appropriate the total revenue available to the Sheriff for expenditures from the LETF on an annual basis and delegate approval authority for the Sheriff's specific expenditure requests to the COC or must the Board appropriate LETF proceeds for each expenditure?

2)  May the Board of County Commissioners transfer LETF proceeds to the Sheriff's general revenue account as reimbursement for LETF expenditures the Sheriff previously disbursed or must the Board authorize each requested expenditure before the funds are disbursed?

3) Is it within the Board's discretion to scrutinize funding requests from outside agencies that the Sheriff has certified are in compliance with the requirements of the statute when the agency's program bears no apparent relationship to any purpose for which funds may be authorized under the statute?

4)  Is the Sheriff authorized to use LETF proceeds to fund the purchase of advertising media for the purpose of marketing the Sheriff's Office and promoting crime prevention strategies, drug prevention programs, or other law enforcement purposes?"

But instead of receiving an opinion (that many thought would be coming soon given the length of time since the initial request was made) Today we were told that no opinion would be provided.  This email, below, was the explanation.  It is back to square one again..... 

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