Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
During the meeting of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday, May 9, discussion ensued regarding grant monies being withheld from Madison County, due to Hillsborough County's status as a "sanctuary county." During the public comment portion of the meeting, Jim Catron, a member of the Madison City Commission, addressed the County Commissioners regarding the Edward Bryce Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The funds from this grant, amounting to $54,852, have been used to pay for a Communications Officer VII position with the Madison County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). According to a letter provided to the Commissioners by Catron, "On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, [US] Attorney General Sessions announced immigration compliance requirements for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant programs. Recipients for FY 2017 were notified of new conditions of their grants that will increase information sharing between federal, state and local law enforcement, ensuring that federal immigration authorities have the information they need to enforce immigration laws."
Although the Hillsborough County Commission has stopped short of officially declaring itself a "sanctuary county;" Tampa Mayor, Bob Buckhorn, has stated a reluctance to assisting federal immigration officials. In a report by Mitch Perry on the website, saintpetersblog.com, Buckhorn did not call Tampa a "sanctuary city," because of "other impacts." Buckhorn did express his reluctance to take a hard stand on illegal immigration. "I'm not interested in disrupting families and breaking up families, purely because they are of an undocumented status," said Buckhorn. "We are not Customs; we are not I.C.E. [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. We are not searching people who have chosen to live here and have not yet got citizenship," said Buckhorn. "That's not something that we believe in, and not something that I support."
"Since when do municipalities, counties and states get to choose which federal laws they will enforce?" asked Catron.
According to Madison County Undersheriff, Epp Richardson, Madison County operates in full cooperation with federal officials on immigration matters. However, because of the lack of cooperation with federal immigration officials by communities like Hillsborough County, federal funding from the Justice Assistance Grant program has been halted for the entire state, including Madison County. Madison County Commissioner Rick Davis requested the Commissioners to send letters to Madison's congressional delegation urging them to release federal funds to the communities, such as Madison County, that are cooperating with federal officials. "Sixty-six counties shouldn't be punished because of the actions of Hillsborough County," said Commissioner Alston Kelley.
"We [Madison County] are being held hostage," added Commissioner Ronnie Moore. The Board voted unanimously to draft a letter to that end.
In other business, the Board held a public hearing on the consideration of Resolution 2018-05-09. This was a bond hearing for Springhill Apartments, L.L.C., also known as Madison Heights Apartments. Madison County would not be indebted as a result of the bond issuance. There was no public comment and the resolution was approved.
There was a presentation by Mr. Keith Bowers of the Small Business Development Center. The Center operates from Florida A & M University and is designed to assist small businesses and potential entrepreneurs in opening and operating a small business. The services offered by the Small Business Development Center are provided at no cost to the user. Bowers expressed an interest in opening a satellite office in Madison County. More information on the Small Business Development Center can be found at www.sbdcfamu.org.
Madison County Property Appraiser, Leigh Barfield approached the Board requesting a new vehicle for the Property Appraiser's office. The current vehicle is "working, but limping." The request will be put on the agenda for the next meeting.
There was discussion regarding a request to waive Recreation Park fees for a benefit baseball tournament for Steven Williams and his family, whose home was recently lost in a fire. No date has been set for the tournament, but event organizers wanted to get the fees waived now in order to avoid having to wait until the next Board meeting. The Board voted to waive the fees.
The next meeting of the Board of Madison County Commissioners was scheduled for Wednesday, June 13, at 9 p.m. The meeting took place in the Board Meeting Room in the Courthouse Annex, located at 229 SW Pinckney St., in Madison.