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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

County Commission News

Com Bailey in the shadows - works to kibosh 100 million dollar fed project

Chairman Stephen BaileyIgnoring the wishes of the majority of the County Commission and the long standing support of this project by the Commission, Board Chairman Stephen Bailey has been working in the shadows to put the kibosh on the proposed federal prison, which would pump over 100 million dollars into the Columbia County economy.

 According to Ms. Lynn Bannister of United States Senator Bill Nelson's Office, Chairman Bailey was recently in contact with her regarding the proposed federal prison. 

A confidential source has advised the Observer that Commissioner Bailey asked Senator Nelson to help make sure that Columbia County is not selected for the proposed prison.

Links:
  • Bailey letter to Ander Crenshaw
  • Federal Register: Notice of Hearing
  • Harling's list of benefits
  • July 1, 2008 Board Meeting Minutes
  • June 30, 2009 - Fed. Bureau of Prisons wants to house 2500 illegal aliens in Columbia County
  • July 2, 2009 - Fed Bureau of Prisons listens to the public - 2500 bed illegal alien prison still uncertain
 • Com Bailey in the shadows - works to kibosh 100 million dollar fed project

Also, without the consent or approval of the County Commission, the confused Chairman Bailey, on November 3, 2009, sent a letter to Congressman Ander Crenshaw, asking for explanations that have been given over and over again.

The Observer gets answers to questions you may have.

In an effort to get answers to the concerns of many in Columbia County, your reporter spoke with Mike Harling, of the Texas-based Municipal Capital Markets Group, late yesterday afternoon, as he was sitting in an airport waiting to catch a plane.

Observer:     Mike, thanks for responding to my e mail. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions about the proposed federal prison.

Mr. Harling:  Sure.

Observer:     Is Columbia County still in the running for this project?

Mr. Harling:  Very much so.

Observer:     Some folks think that there is not going to be a net increase in jobs if the prison is located here.

Mr. Harling:  If people are leaving existing jobs to take these, it creates a vacuum. Somebody is going t have to fill those other jobs. There has to be a net gain one way or the other. I won't say you won't get any people from out of the county, but I would think, if history is on our side, you'll get seventy percent of them from the county.

Observer:     Is there going to be any impact on the schools?

Mr. Harling:  We are going to pay property taxes. We are not going to have any impact on the schools.

Observer:     There was some question whether or not they would be setting up housing for people who visit the prisoners.

Mr. Harling:      That is not going to happen...

Observer:     Why not?

Mr. Harling:  The population in this facility, as we told them all along and the Bureau of Prisons has told them – is the criminal alien population, which means they are people that are undocumented people that have committed a crime against the United States. If you use logic, the chances that a family will want to be in the United States and follow them – and if they do follow them and they show up at this facility – they're going to be arrested for being an illegal alien.

Observer:     Because the people that are being housed in the prison are illegal aliens, so their families, by all rights, shouldn't be here in the first place?

Mr. Harling:  Correct. And they are not in the facility for border infractions, they are there for crimes against the United States – whether it's drug running or anything else that has been through a Federal Court. The chances of somebody following these people are slim and none. We have these facilities in other parts of the United States.

Observer:     If the project is awarded, how long is the contract?

Mr. Harling:  The initial contract is for four years with three two year renewal options, for a total of ten, which is the maximum they can contract for.

Observer:     If it is not renewed after four years, what happens? I guess you guys end up with an empty facility.

Mr. Harling:  Right. It is the same as if Walmart built a warehouse and leaves. You have a big empty building. It isn't any different than any other commercial business. It is like the mall that is in the middle of town that is half empty.

Observer:     There has been talk about the impact on the Hospitals. What if somebody gets sick there?

Mr. Harling:  If somebody gets sick there the Federal Bureau of Prisons will pay whatever it takes for medical bills, so there is no impact – it is a benefit – they will be using your hospitals. These people aren't going into the hospital for indigent care. The Federal Bureau of Prisons pays all of those bills.

Observer:     Is there a clinic in the prison?

Mr. Harling:  There will be a doctor and dentist on call.

Mr. Harling:  I sent you a fact sheet on the prison. Did you get it?

Observer:     Yes. Thanks for speaking with me.

 

 
 
 

Prison Links:
  • Bailey letter to Ander Crenshaw
  • Federal Register: Notice of Hearing
  • Harling's list of benefits
  • July 1, 2008 Board Meeting Minutes
  • July 1, 2008 letter of support
  • June 30, 2009 - Fed. Bureau of Prisons wants to house 2500 illegal aliens in Columbia County
  • July 2, 2009 - Fed Bureau of Prisons listens to the public - 2500 bed illegal alien prison still uncertain
 • Nov 13, 2009 Com Bailey in the shadows - works to kibosh 100 million dollar fed project
 • Dec 15, 2009 - Debbie Boyd Calls Prison Powwow
 • Dec 18, 2009 - Prison officials address questions, concerns (from the LCR)