County Legislature President Jeff Adair has scheduled a special meeting of the Legislature for tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. — that's not a typo — so representatives can again vote on borrowing for the county's yearly capital plan. Democrats blocked the measure last week.
It's hard to see Adair's action as anything other than a tactical move. Democrats are holding up the borrowing to try to get Republicans to agree to a Legislature-led internal probe into two county-linked local development corporations. The probe right now is being led by the administration.
Republicans reject the idea and have been trying to pressure Democrats into supporting the borrowing measure. That whole tangle is explained in this blog post.
Democrats say they weren't asked about the timing of tomorrow's meeting.
It's unlikely that Republicans have been able to peel away the single Democratic vote they need to pass the borrowing measure, which includes funding for many county projects in 2014.
Adair is including another item on the agenda: legislation that would authorize an additional $9 million in borrowing to finance a project relating to the county's children's detention center. The legislation, submitted by County Executive Maggie Brooks, doesn't contain many details. The legislation says that the project "involves the renovation of approximately 20,000 square feet and an addition of approximately 15,000 square feet to premises to be acquired or leased for use as the Monroe County Children's Detention Center."
That legislation will add an additional project into the political battle between Democrats and Republicans. This afternoon, Democrats sent out a press release with this statement from Minority Leader Carrie Andrews:
"We’ve been asking for information about the Children’s Detention Center for more than a year. As recently as last week, this administration refused to share any information about the project with the legislature. But today, with their hysterical claims that MCC downtown campus would be delayed having been proven false, Republicans sunk to a new low. They are now intentionally putting this project in jeopardy by injecting these kids into a plan that has already been defeated and is currently in dispute.
“It appears the Children’s Detention Center does need to move forward soon in order to safeguard the children and create jobs for our community. We support this project and don’t want to see it entangled in the battle currently being waged over the county executive’s ability to investigate her own actions. As such, we will make a motion at the special meeting tomorrow to allow an up or down vote on that project alone. If the Republicans are truly interested in doing what’s best for this community and not playing politics to protect their allies from investigation, then they must vote in favor of our motion to separate this project from the capital budget and approve it as a stand-alone resolution."
The county has planned to replace the juvenile detention center for a few years. County and law enforcement officials have a number of safety and security concerns with the current building. The existing detention center is located on Westfall Road and county officials say that encroaching development in the area has made it increasingly difficult to meet privacy and screening requirements.
In fact, the detention center's future has become an issue
in the proposed CityGate project at Westfall and East Henrietta roads. Earlier this year, project developer Anthony J. Costello & Son Development said that Costco had approved the site for one of its stores. But it needs the land occupied by the detention center for its plan.
County officials have said they're working with the state to find an acceptable solution. One potential solution, which has reportedly been discussed, would be for the county to take over unused space at the state's Industry Residential Center campus in Rush for the detention center.
Spec. Mtg. and File No. 13-0371 MOU by jmouleatcity