I have NEVER supported privatized misdemeanor probation. I have advocated against the concept since Ada County first contracted for the service a dozen or so years ago. Law enforcement and corrections activities fall within the limited role of responsibilities that government should fulfill internally, not contract out. I have lobbied heavily to get the necessary second vote on my Board to do away with privatized misdemeanor probation but have always been unsuccessful in the past.
About a year-and-a-half ago, my colleagues did agree to put out a new Request for Proposals (RFP) to open the misdemeanor probation contract up to competition. I had hoped the Ada County Sheriff’s Office could provide the service; however, because the county was soliciting proposals only from the private sector, they were compared to each other and not to the service that could be provided through the Sheriff’s Office.
With the enthusiastic support of the judiciary, Nancy Cladis and her company “Ada County Misdemeanor Probation Services” (ACMPS) rose to the top during the selection process, so a new two-year contract was awarded to her by the county. We are right now in the middle of that two-year term but the contract can be terminated for cause. I would like to see a thorough investigation take place so my colleagues and I can determine whether there is – or is not – cause to terminate the contract, before the agreement for the second year is signed on Tuesday.
I have been asked what I have done to try to address the numerous concerns that are being raised about the county’s private misdemeanor probation contractor. First, I tried to put an end to privatized misdemeanor probation a few years ago; second, I tried to get at least one of my colleagues to agree that we should turn it over to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office; third, realizing that there was not going to be a second vote to bring the service in-house, I suggested we put the contract out for competitive bid, which we did. At that time, an evaluation committee was formed to review the proposals obtained through the RFP process. Some of the judges were quite outspoken that they thought Nancy was doing a terrific job and they wanted the county to continue to contract with her to provide the service. At that time, I resigned myself to the fact that there was nothing further I could do to change the situation.
More recently, I have been reviewing all available information to try to find out what is going on with ACMPS. I met with several of Nancy’s former employees, who have documentation to support a number of allegations they have made. I have also brought this information to the attention of the Ada County Sheriff’s Office and suggested other avenues through which these people could have their complaints investigated.
I have begged with, pleaded with and argued with my colleagues to try to get them to agree to an investigation – but so far, to no avail. (During these legal staff discussions, Vern Bisterfeldt routinely indicates that Nancy is a good friend of his.) Individually, I do not believe that I can legally walk into Nancy’s private business and start making demands, but I believe if the Board requested Nancy’s cooperation with an investigation, she would have to provide it or face early termination of the contract.
The contract renewal is on our Open Business Meeting agenda tomorrow morning. I assume my two colleagues plan to approve it, given that they have already signed the document. (I don’t sign documents until decisions are made on them in open meetings, as required by Idaho law.) Until a formal investigation of the numerous allegations regarding ACMPS takes place, and ACMPS is exonerated, I will be voting “no” to the continuation of the contract.