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CDCR can Mobilize over a Fence Story but Ignores Sick Prisoners

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Message B. Cayenne Bird
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Here we have people suffering and dying in prisons, families being broken apart by out-of-state transfers and we're taking the time to talk about two fences built at the California Department of Corrections headquarters. But since the story has mobilized CDCR officials into contacting editors to deny an expense so massive that it probably is beyond measurement, I think that exposing yet another cover-up by this agency who has broken our hearts and our budget is important.

My original column, which appeared on the national news wires and here at Op-Ed News, caused highly paid CDCR public relations employees who are never available to help with real emergencies to contact editors:

I simply asked questions about ALL the costs and wasted dollars on fences which close off a large breezeway between two buildings on two streets which brings a prison-like appearance to downtown Sacramento. And for what good reason are these cold steel fences suddenly necessary after years of offices being at this same location? Are CDCr officials afraid of releases of those whom they have abused in prisons? Are they simply doing this to keep out the homeless? Wouldn't the money have better spent on helping the homeless find shelter? Funny how just asking sensible questions of what is done in our names, paid for with our tax dollars can cause such defense.

Anyone with building experience can see that the cost of these gray, metal fortress walls was far more than the $30,000 that CDCr is claiming.

This agency's employees are masters at hiding expenses across several budgets, even if someone were so naive as to believe any reports that they gave, and this instance is no exception. CDCR claimed that the landlord is "paying for the fences" as if this would hide and justify the expenditure. The Landlord might be paying for them through a tenant improvements specification in the lease but I have yet to see any evidence of this. But the tenant pays EXTRA RENT. You pay one rent for a building as-is, considerably more if you require alterations.

The taxpayers ARE paying for the improvements. The landlord is NOT just a nice guy tossing the State a freebie. Regardless of how the deal actually worked, their landlord is still paid with our tax dollars. A half million a month at this one location is an outrageous amount of rent. No telling how many "deals" and "kick-backs" are taking place there.

And CDCR plans to do more "re-decorating" than just building these two eyesore fences, such as remodeling offices, buying new furniture and more. Who knows how many locations they have outside of Sacramento where they are planning to spend more of our taxpayer dollars.

I believe that the fence expenditures are a statement to everyone that CDCR employees are above the law and can do whatever they want whether anyone likes it or not, even when our state is broke.

I made no absolute statements in my op-ed as to the cost of the fence, because it is so immense that no one could trace it due to the unbearable incompetence and routine records manipulations of the horribly mismanaged agency. CDCR employees are never going to track labor costs like that, let alone give honest figures to journalists. We veteran scribes know that their dealings are secret and not to be believed. The media is so restricted in California prisons that we have a difficult time finding out about disease outbreaks, riots, prisoner deaths and more, which is why I do a daily newsletter to keep communications flowing.

I have personally witnessed how CDCR does business. Many highly paid employees are called to meeting after meeting to discuss the most inane issues while ignoring those that are important.

No telling how many of these meetings were held over the two fences and for how long. The landlord certainly didn't pay for that labor and all the attendant costs.

There are still many questions left unanswered which I believe the public has a right to know. Here are a few:

How much more rent was paid on the headquarters because improvements were needed?

Who ordered the fences and gates?

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B. Cayenne Bird is a 45-year veteran op-ed journalist and publisher. A descendant of Mary Todd Lincoln, and General Andrew Porter, she is passionate about human rights and criminal justice issues. A mother and grandmother with advanced degrees in (more...)

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