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Yes, Virginia, there is a parking lot

There’s absolutely no truth to the rumor that county officials forgot to put inmate cells in the new jail.

Yes, they forgot a radio tower. And no, they didn’t exactly take care of the street they tore up. Minor things like that. But they did provide for a few inmates, adjacent to a whole bunch of offices and conference rooms — plus, of course, 29 nifty new parking spaces and a massive concrete drive that would be the envy of any fast-food restaurant.

Courthouse Square, after all, has only 101 parking spaces as is — roughly the number needed for a 40,000-square-foot Wal-Mart. That’s hardly enough to house all the county-owned vehicles.

With more parking spaces, offices, and conference rooms, perhaps the myriad employees who could have asked how radios were going to work once the new jail was built might have met and had a few all-day planning sessions to figure it out.

Regular reader William Payer — his friends call him Bill — notes that by not having a single individual in charge of all public-safety issues we get to pay to have totally separate offices for the sheriff, emergency management, communications, and emergency medical services spending much of their time pointing fingers at each other, as well as architects, commissioners, and city officials, when things like radio towers get forgotten.

That same comfort level of finger-pointing job security also comes in handy when there’s extreme fire danger. Perhaps with enough parking spaces, all volunteer firefighters in the county could descend upon the Courthouse at once and demand that someone — anyone — consider imposing a burn ban like other counties before they have to risk life and limb battling two dozen fires.

Meanwhile, Bill suggests, if the county doesn’t want to buy enough land and cable so that its 92-foot tower won’t fall on someone else’s property, it could at least try to bribe the city by paying for more of the repairs to the streets it tore up.

Of course, if we didn’t have so many different governmental units arguing with each other — things like having five separate school superintendents, costing close to half a million dollars combined — perhaps we wouldn’t have to worry about all these costs.

Then again, that would put a serious crimp in our biggest industry: government jobs.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified July 12, 2012

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