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January 8, 2020

Back To You Mr. Bickel

Jason Miller

I feel compelled to offer some clarification to Mr. Karl Bickel's "corrections" to my article on Frederick County's 287(g) audit from last week. I would like to remind Mr. Bickel that Mr. Burrell was all for County Executive Jan Gardner's decision to conduct a 3rd party fiscal audit of the Sheriff's 287(g) agreement with Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in August of 2019.

Mr. Burrell had been calling for such an audit at both County Council meetings and in multiple letters to the Frederick News Post's (FNP) editor beginning in February of 2019.

Mr. Bickel begins with his defense of Mr. Burrell by claiming that...

"It was only after more details regarding the scope of the audit came to light that he (Mr. Burrell) and others have expressed reservations about the thoroughness of the review."

Strange. Mr. Bickel, himself; wrote a letter to the FNP on September 12, 2019 explaining what the 287(g) audit was and what it wasn’t.

Mr. Bickel wrote in September...

"As I understand it, what it is, is a narrow financial audit, an effort to determine the amount of local taxpayer dollars being spent on the 287(g) agreement. Nothing more. It is an attempt to uncover costs that have been hidden in the sheriff’s budget, hidden from view of those approving the budget and those providing the funds to pay for it. This audit will give the county executive and council a better understanding of what they have approved in the budget process and how much of the taxpayers’ dollars they have devoted to this agreement."

Here is the link to that FNP Letter to the Editor to read for yourself.

https://www.fredericknewspost.com/opinion/letter_to_editor/audit-of-sheriff-s-office-s-g-agreement-what-it/article_59f2a10e-0b43-5463-ae27-3e09c577987b.html

I wonder if Mr. Bickel can defend the three specific claims that Mr. Burrell later aimed at Frederick County's 287(g) audit attempt in his December 4, 2019 FNP letter to the editor? These three points seem to be the cornerstone for Mr. Burrell's mistrust of the 287(g) audit in its present condition.

Burrell's First Claim: December 4, 2019

"The county placed the audit implementation in the hands of the internal audit agency, whose track record since the days of the Board of County Commissioners has been perceived to help the county cover up mistakes rather than correct them."

Does Mr. Burrell or Mr. Bickel have any proof of any Frederick County audit cover ups? Food for thought before making such accusations. This seems a very shallow baseless argument for rejecting the 287(g) audit outright. It's also echoing the tired County Commissioners boogeyman distraction.

Burrell's Second Claim: December 4, 2019

"Many of the same staff for the county were involved with the county efforts to sell Montevue. Are we seeing more aiding and abetting in the 287(g) discussion?"

Has Mr. Burrell crafted a list of county staff that should be fired for their participating in Frederick County's effort to sell Citizens Montevue? Just curious because Mr. Burrell is suggesting nefarious behavior.

Burrell's Third Claim: December 4, 2019

"The county is simply recycling a current audit firm on the pre-selected list of the audit agency. Such a move again calls into question a conflict of interest and lack of transparency."

Mr. Burrell is reminded that a third party auditing firm is conducting the 287(g) audit in large part due to their own vocal objections to Frederick County doing its own internal audit of the program.

Mr. Bickel continues…

"Like many, Mr. Burrell, after receiving additional information seems to have concerns, concerns that will only be satisfied once the audit has been completed."

This logic might be why so many 287(g) and Sheriff Jenkins supporters see this an opportunistic ploy for several elected officials to smear our Sheriff in their own private political quest to demean and damage his reputation.

Mr. Bickel’s pontification on connecting Frederick County’s 287(g) audit to a newspaper journalist’s investigation of 287(g) accounting practices in Prince William County Virginia is the very definition of a straw man argument. There is no direct link between the Prince William County's and Frederick County's 287(g) programs. Each jurisdiction has its own memorandum of understanding with ICE.

Mr. Bickel also says that… "I have not heard Mr. Burrell or anyone else make accusations of conspiracy or corruption on the part of the sheriff or the sheriff’s office."

Mr. Bickel should have read the three claims.   Mr. Burrell made both conspiracy and corruption allegations about the 287(g) audit this past December. Here is the link.

https://www.fredericknewspost.com/opinion/letter_to_editor/g-impact-is-not-in-my-lane/article_3e0bafbf-dd64-514f-9e75-6eb7014def74.html

Mr. Bickel should also read Mr. Burrell's letter to the Editor in the FNP on October 10 2018 to jog his memory a little further. Mr. Bickel should remember that one anyway. Mr. Burrell endorsed Mr. Bickel for Sheriff in it over Chuck Jenkins.

"Apparently, the only oversight that the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office seems to have is the voters, and it is our duty to consider that after eight years of bullying, unresponsiveness, fake and apparently hidden public advisory committees, it is time to retire Chuck Jenkins."

Here is the link to Mr. Burrell's October 2018 FNP letter to the editor.

https://www.fredericknewspost.com/opinion/letter_to_editor/arrogance-is-costly/article_3134772b-d275-532a-b8dc-7cd85174f035.html

Will Mr. Bickel or Mr. Burrell ever be satisfied with a 3rd party 287(g) audit result? Will a private feud with the Sheriff dictate a perpetual waste of county money until the Sheriff retires? It just seems like there is no pleasing either one of them until the Sheriff is gone.

I'm not saying that Mr. Bickel's or Mr. Burrell's arguments against the 287(g) program lack conviction. My ultimate objection to Mr. Burrell's and Mr. Bickel’s various positions on the 3rd party audit is their lack logical consistency over time and the shifting emotional basis for their #NeverJenkins outrage.



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