Monday, March 2, 2009

The Story Behind the Latest Courthouse Brawl

Leis’ wasteful policies finally exposed

Spending in Sheriff’s office finally gets scrutiny.

Much has been written about the new feud involving Simon Leis and his rapacious and endless grab for more tax money. COAST highlights a few of the recent developments.

The Cincinnati Enquirer did a more than (and quite uncommonly) respectable job of detailing the skewed spending priorities in the Sheriff’s office in mid-February. Behind the scenes of that detailed critique is a near-revolt from rank-and-file Sheriff’s deputies, who, facing layoffs, have finally developed the insight and gumption to question the wasteful spending decisions by the Sheriff. Most notable among these are the perks and privileges granted to the Sheriff’s inner-circle. Dissenting deputies are finally speaking to COAST and reporters behind the scenes about the practices of this Sheriff who has ruled with an iron fist, until now.

Part of that fight dealt with the use of between $3 and $6 million annually in drug forfeiture monies. For years – including throughout the fight over the Super-Sized Jail Tax – Sheriff Leis firmly insisted that it was absolutely illegal to use the monies to fund patrols or jail construction or operations. However, the conclusion of the recent dust-up was that Leis in fact is now spending those very funds for patrols. COAST wonders why our probing news hounds in the local media have failed to ask Leis how it suddenly became legal to so spend those monies, after years and years of insisting they could not.

Finally, the story behind the dust-up itself: Leis insisted that the County dip into its reserve fund to keep deputies on the streets. Todd Portune dutifully introduced a motion to do just that. Fortunately, Republican Commissioner Greg Hartmann and even big-spender Democrat David Pepper properly demurred, pointing out that it was fiscally irresponsible to spend the reserve fund for that purpose, and that the same would negatively impact the County’s bond rating.

Whether because he really is that foolish (we think he is) or for political posturing (not beyond him either), Portune persisted in pushing for spending the reserve funds over the course of several Commission meetings. Pepper and Hartman held firm. Finally, Leis relented, the reserve funds stayed right where they should be, and the drug forfeiture fund monies get applied to crime prevention, which is what COAST and the WeDemandAVote.Com coalition asked be done two years ago.

The bottom line: Si is losing control of his empire. His deputies have turned on him, the sole Republican Commissioner and one of his patron democrat commissioners cut his legs out from under him, and the media finally is willing to cover how he spends tens of millions of tax dollars (surprise!). Only Todd Portune is left defending the discredited Sheriff, odd bedfellows if there ever were.

COAST thanks the dissident Sheriff’s deputies, and Commissioners Hartmann and Pepper for standing up to the biggest bully in the County. Now, watch your backs.


  1. The reason this has come about is that both Mr. Leis and most of teh commisioners ran unopposed. There was no other choice. What we need are canditates to oppose EVERONE running for election. The republican are in bed with the democrats in this county and have divided the positions between them.

  2. Si lied! Come on Cincinnati Enquirer - do your job and call him on it! It should be easy to get the transcripts from the Commission meetings.


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