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Eckstein: Deputy for commissioners is wasteful

November 26, 2012 News Extra

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A deputy sheriff still has not been stationed inside the Butler County commissioners' offices, something one commissioner wants to remain that way.

Commissioner James Eckstein said this idea, which was set in motion Nov., 19 by a court order, would be a waste of the $65,000 a year.

But before taking further action on his opinion, Eckstein said he'd like to meet with President Judge Thomas Doerr who issued the order.

Initially, during the commissioners meeting this morning, Eckstein talked about asking his fellow commssioners to vote to ask the judge to rethink his order at the commissioners meeting on Wednesday.

But commissioners Dale Pinkerton and Bill McCarrier said they would like to talk to Doerr, who is on vacation until next week, before solidifying their opinion. Eckstein then agreed with his fellow commissioners' opinion after the meeting had ended and he learned that such a meeting has been proposed by the judge.

When reached by telephone today, Doerr said he hopes to meet on the topic during a public meeting with the commissioners and the Butler County Safety Committee, which includes Sheriff Mike Slupe, chief clerk Amy Wilson, assistant court administrator Tom Holman and court administrator Candice Graff.

Doerr said there was no request, incident, threat or person in particular that prompted his decision. However, Doerr said it was his belief that the atmosphere deteriorated to the point where there is a potential for violence.

But Eckstein said if there's been no violence and no threats, there's “no justification” for the deputy.

Eckstein alleges this use of a deputy is not only a waste of $65,000, but also the judge overstepped his jurisdiction by placing security in the executive branch.

Eckstein alleges he was told by someone that the court order targets him for political reasons “to make it look like I'm not rational person or a good person.”

Doerr denies that accusation, saying “if the court wanted to target him (Eckstein), the court order would have named him specifically. Or, I would have addressed him in my public comments afterward. He was not targeted.”

Further, Doerr said the court order does not overstep his authority because “this will not interfere with the operations or decision making duties of the executive branch... nobody could reasonably interpret otherwise.”

Doerr said he would revisit this decision if a majority of the commissioners asked him to do so. Otherwise, the order calls for the deputy to take the post “be implemented as soon as practical,” and continue indefinitely.

Slupe said it's likely the deputy will not take the post until after the proposed meeting of officials.

County records say the average annual cost of a full-time deputy is $52,000: $37,000 in salary and $15,000 in benefits.

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