Palm Beach County administrator: We’re not a sanctuary county

trumpsanctuaryOn Thursday night — around the time the mayor of Miami-Dade County relented to pressure from the Trump administration about Miami-Dade’s designation of “sanctuary county” — Palm Beach County commissioners received an email from a “tax paying, registered democrat voting citizen” who urged them to follow the lead of their neighbor to the south.

There’s one problem.

“We never considered ourselves a sanctuary county,” Deputy County Administrator Jon Van Arnam said. “The board of county commissioners never took any action to make ourselves a sanctuary county.”

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said in a statement that it’s Sheriff Ric Bradshaw’s policy “to follow Federal law as it relates to federal immigration detention requests. Furthermore, ‘PBC never has been or will be a sanctuary county’, per (Bradshaw.)”

Trump said earlier this week sanctuary cities — locales that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities — could lose millions of federal dollars. Many cities are vowing legal action, arguing the threatened punishment would be unconstitutional.

“Right decision. Strong,” the president tweeted Friday morning of the Miami-Dade action.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Ex-prosecutor: Palm Beach County government should pay criminal panel salaries

Van Arnam (Eliot Kleinberg/Post Staff)
Van Arnam (Eliot Kleinberg/Post Staff)
BarryKrischer052316
Krischer (Eliot Kleinberg/Post Staff)

Salaries for the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission should come out of a special taxing district or the general county budget, not from trust fund dollars that could be spent on crime prevention, former State Attorney Barry Krischer said Monday.

The commission’s proposed $3.63 million 2016-2017 budget – which the board preliminary approved at its meeting Monday — includes $531,383 in paychecks for Executive Director Kristina Henson and the CJC’s eight other staffers.

Of that, $241,970 comes from the Crime Prevention Trust Fund, a fund criminal defendants pay into as part of their penalties.

Krischer, who’s the commission’s treasurer, said that “for us to be taking crime prevention dollars and spending them on salaries  is unacceptable.” He said this is happening “as we have seen these grant dollars shrinking, and shrinking, and shrinking.”

Krischer said after the meeting he’s been lobbying for the special taxing district for close to two decades.

Deputy County Administrator Jon Van Arnam, sitting in at Monday’s meeting, told members the county is just now starting to assemble its 2016-2017 budget but noted that a combination of county taxes, grants and trust fund dollars will fully pay for next year’s drug court and criminal re-entry programs.

“You may not be totally pleased, but I think the budget picture is a little brighter than you portrayed it,” Van Arnam said.

“So,” commission Chair Lee Waring said, “our message to Jon and commissioners is, ’Thank you for your efforts, and keep it going, because we do need the help.”

Also Monday, the CJC voted to recommend Kevin Jones, assistant pastor at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, as its clergy representative. County commissioners make the pick.

Palm Beach County tweaks down its figures for cost of jailing minor pot offenders

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
Van Arnam
Van Arnam

County managers now say the cost of housing people caught with small amounts of pot is less than a third of what a study previously had concluded.

In an overview provided last week to Palm Beach County Commissioners, deputy county manager John Van Arnam said a Criminal Justice Commission review showed the county spent $1.1 million over the last seven years to jail people caught with 20 grams or less of marijuana.

But in an update sent out Monday, Van Arnam said Palm Beach County Sheriff’s officials challenged the math, saying the county should examine only the cost of housing people arrested just for misdemeanor possession. Using that calculation, the total came to only $322,245.

County commissioners passed an ordinance last year that would mean a fine or community service instead of jail time for those caught with 20 grams or less. But the PBSO  said it

Taylor
Taylor

would continue to enforce tougher state laws that make possession of small amounts of pot a criminal offense.

County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, who ordered the review, has argued the money spent jailing people picked up for simple possession be pulled from PBSO’s budget and come out of its pocket.

Annual jailing costs — calculated down from last week’s figure of $159,000 to $46,035 — are a tiny fraction of PBSO’s massive budget, $560 million in the 2016 budget year.

Palm Beach County’s legislative lobbyist one of 3 new assistant administrators

Todd Bonlarron, Palm Beach County’s lobbyist to the Legislature for 15 years, is one of three new assistant county administrators, current administrator Verdenia Baker confirmed late Wednesday.

Also selected: Nancy Bolton, the county’s director of risk management for 12 years, and former St. Lucie County Administrator Faye Outlaw, a West Palm Beach native.

They replace Vince Bonvento and Brad Merriman, both of whom retired earlier this year, and Jon Van Arnam, whom Baker in September promoted to the deputy administrator post she’d vacated when she was picked to replace the retiring Bob Weisman.

“With change comes opportunity for different perspectives and renewed energy,” Baker said in an email to county commissioners and county staff. “All of these individuals are well qualified and possess unique qualities that will serve the residents of Palm Beach County well.”

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Bonlarron
Bonlarron
Bolton
Bolton
Outlaw
Outlaw
Baker
Baker

Palm Beach County to move deputy public safety director to top spot

Sejnoha
Sejnoha

Palm Beach County’s Deputy Public Safety Director, Stephanie M. Sejnoha, has been tabbed to take the top spot, replacing Vince Bonvento, who retired Monday after 44 years in county service.

County Administrator Verdenia Baker wrote commissioners Monday afternoon to ask that at Tuesday’s meeting, they ratify Sejnoha’s promotion.

Baker
Baker

Sejnoha, a graduate of Florida State University, started in the county’s financial sector in January 2001 and later was director of finance for the Public Safety Department in 2010 before being named its deputy in June 2015.

In the last year, she’s been a key player in talks to work out how to regulate Uber and similar app-based ride services, and determine how they compete with traditional for-hire vehicle services. She also worked on a recently-enacted set of rules for home caregivers.