Viewpoint: Jail transfer negotiations should be open to public

We are hearing that today’s meeting between Interim County Administrator George Touart and Chief Deputy Eric Haines and their staffs didn’t go well.

We have few details, and that’s the problem.

We have statements made in Board of County Commissioners meetings that we later find don’t quite match what is really happening behind the scenes. The administrator’s statements regarding the jail transfer change drastically from meeting to meeting. Oftentimes the report by the department heads in the same commission meeting conflict with what Touart has reported.

The county has 60 days to complete the largest such transfer in its history. The gamesmanship needs to end. Millions of dollars are at stake, not to mention the lives and families of detention employees and inmates.

We are calling for future meetings between the county and Escambia County Sheriff’s Office be open to the public and media. Then we can all hear what are the real issues and see how they can be resolved without rancor.

The daily newspaper has been all over the Greater Pensacola Chamber over its Executive Committee meeting in private. The jail budget is significantly higher than the few hundred thousand dollars of county funds that the chamber uses for economic development.

Open the doors and let the taxpayers see how their tax dollars will be spent.