Paul Anderson: The sheriff wants a 'nice place to hang his hat.' Staly responds:
Have you noticed how the narrative has suddenly changed concerning the Flagler County Sheriff's Operations Center? First we were told there had to be medical waste or radioactive material. No proof of that. Somebody said the building was built on a known flood plain. Wrong! Then it was old wood and bat poop. That theory fizzled, too. Turns out it's just mold, just like other buildings throughout Flagler County, including many after the hurricanes. But this mold must be different from that mold, right?
The narrative now, since the others have failed, is that there is no way that remediation could possibly be a fix at this building.
"The fact that some decided to not let a good crisis go to waste is highly suspect."
Then the County Commission decides we must either sell or demolish the Ops Center within 90 days or, or, or — what? What could possibly happen in the next 12 or 18 months that hasn't already happened? Is the building going to create a super strain mold pandemic? If that was true, why the heck are they still using it for storage?
This whole incident smells of a con job, not mold! I'm not saying the employees weren't sick, but the fact that some decided to not let a good crisis go to waste is highly suspect.
Does anybody really believe that this building is going to be any different from the other buildings that have been remediated? I don't remember hearing any calls for demolition when schools had mold remediation in the past 10 years. There are a whole host of private businesses and homes that haven't been demolished because of mold, either.
So I say, why don't we find out who did the renovations on the schools and hire them to fix the Operations Center? Even if it cost $500,000, it sure as heck isn't $15 million.
But fixing what we already have isn't what this is all about. It is about giving the sheriff a nice place to hang his hat like he's always wanted.
I, for one, say no. I am a fan of the work that has been done by Sheriff Staly and the Sheriff's Office, but if they haven't noticed, we have no money. We are already in debt for the current Ops Center until 2035; we're tapped out. So if Sheriff Staly wants fancy new buildings, I suggest he move to St. John's County and run for sheriff there. In the mean time, our county commissioners need to realize that the con has run its course, the jig is up, and it's time to do their job. The solution will not be found in destruction.
Editor's Note: As is our standard procedure, we asked Sheriff Rick Staly for a rebuttal. He sent the following:
First, I would like to thank the letter writer for recognizing that crime is down 36% and traffic fatalities are down 67% since I became sheriff. While we can all be angry with the situation of “mold” ops, his anger is misplaced. When I ran for sheriff, no one talked about the Operations Center. We all thought we had a “new” and safe building to use from our county government. It was also the last issue I thought I would be dealing with as sheriff.
"I will not allow our dedicated sheriff’s employees to be human petri dishes on a science experiment."
SHERIFF RICK STALY
The former county administrator steered former county commissioners to purchase an abandoned building and then denied there was a problem, even after overwhelming evidence established this irrefutable fact. As sheriff, it is my duty to protect and serve the community and ensure our employees have a safe place to work.
The studies referenced in the writer’s letter have so many asterisks, qualifiers, and unknowns that no one can guarantee the safety of sheriff’s employees or anyone else or the actual cost. I don’t ever see anyone who suggests using this building volunteering to work in it. As sheriff, I will not allow our dedicated sheriff’s employees to be human petri dishes on a science experiment. In my opinion, pouring more money into this building would be would be like going to Vegas and gambling with the lives and health of your Sheriff’s Office employees and likely wasting millions of dollars more in the process with no guarantee of a win.
Finally, since the county has not finalized the selection of the architect, no one knows what a new building will look like, including me. I am in the crime-fighting business and all final decisions made on this or any other county building are the sole responsibility of the county government. As sheriff, all we need and all I want is a functional and safe building.
As an individual who owns three properties in Flagler County and paying my share of property taxes each year too, I don’t like this situation either but the current county commissioners and current county administrator are trying to clean-up a major mess that was dropped in their laps. That is leadership no matter how distasteful the options may be.