Wag the Dog

Politicians are good at distraction. When they don’t want the voters to pay attention to what they’re doing (or in this case, not doing) they put the latest crisis or shiny object front and center.

Funny how both of these are being communicated from the Hampshire Sheriff’s Office just as hard questions are being posed about management there and the present administration is being called to account. When it comes to Covid and the jail, the question the voters should be asking is “How many positive tests have there been, among both staff and those in custody? Show us the DPH statistics,” and not accept the answer to how many cases are inside the facility. At the height of the pandemic, we had staff testing positive left and right, but the reports to the public of how many cases of Covid inside the jail were always very low. Why? Because as soon as someone tested positive, they were sent home—therefore no longer inside the jail. We all have to ask more and deeper questions, and not accept the pat answers. Show us the data, don’t give us alternative facts.

And when things are rough at home, a slick politician will try to draw the public’s attention to something further away. When you can’t or won’t fill the potholes, start talking about a bigger policy issue. Hitching your wagon to the state legislature’s business isn’t appropriate for a county officeholder unless everything is perfectly buttoned up and working well at home. Since county Sheriffs don’t vote on matters in Boston, taking a position on a matter in front of the legislature is irrelevant to this job. Preaching to the choir at home on a matter completely outside one’s purview to affect or administer won’t work in Hampshire County. Most of us here likely already support the Work and Family Mobility Act; jumping on that bandwagon will not distract us from what is not happening right here. We’re too smart, too educated, and we DO care about what’s going on in our own backyards. How about we have the Hampshire Sheriff’s Office handle matters here, and we let Boston deal with statewide issues? Let’s talk about why staff morale in our county correctional facility is so low, why both new and senior staff are leaving faster than they can be replaced, and what services are being provided to those in custody, whose care it is the Sheriff’s job to provide? How many justice-involved individuals received individualized mental health services by licensed providers? How many were placed in jobs with family-sustaining wages upon release? How many students in custody earned high school equivalencies or industry-recognized credentials in vocational trades? How many individuals with substance use disorders were assisted in their recoveries, and what are the statistical outcomes? Show us, don’t tell us. And don’t wag the dog. #KnowYourSheriff #KnowYourNextSheriff #YvonneForSheriff