Sheriff publishes puff piece

Wed, May 6, 2009


We all know that local government is in crisis, right? Thanks to the recession, not to mention the unavoidable constraints imposed by TABOR, our elected officials are finding it difficult to fund even the basic needs of government, right?  No money for frills-it’s just meat and potatoes at the city and the county, right?

So how, pray tell, does El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa justify paying for an expensively produced, 36 page, glossy magazine titled “2008 Special Edition Annual Report?”

The mag, printed on heavy, glossy stock, with color on every page, masquerades as a report to the taxpayers.  It’s not an annual report,-just as Congressman Doug Lamborn’s equally slick and glossy “newsletters” have little to do with news.

To read the “Annual Report” is to find out that all is well in the Sheriff’s department.  According to Sheriff Maketa, “Every component of our organization achieved higher levels of performance” and “The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office continues to carve a path of creativity, resourcefulness and commitment toward serving our great community.” 

In subsequent pages, every part of the office is singled out for embarassingly fulsome praise.  The mag contains no fewer than 115 color photographs, as well as a smaller number of (largely uninformative) charts and graphs.  There’s a single page of financial information, which consists only of a couple of bar charts and a pie chart. 

Let’s call this “Annual Report” what it really is: a taxpayer-funded campaign piece for Sheriff Maketa.  At least, I assume that it’s taxpayer funded-if it isn’t, if it was paid for by anonymous private contributors, that’s even worse, since it pretends to be an official government document.

In any case, it, along with Lamborn’s taxpayer-funded mailings, are both deplorable.  We don’t need glossy P.R. pieces from our elected officials, telling us how noble, selfless, and dedicated they are – we need the unvarnished truth.  And if times are as difficult as our leaders tell us, how can they afford to squander thousands on fancy print jobs?

To quote the legendary Sergeant Joe Friday of the LAPD “Just the facts, Ma’am.”  Forget the color, forget the pics, forget the puffery – just the facts, Sheriff.

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. es Says:

    Glad that you (that SOMEBODY) finally addressed this!!

  2. Heidi Says:

    That is total BS. We’ve cut some many depts and jobs from the city and county. I will never agree with Doug B but this does make you wonder…

  3. Susan Says:

    I wonder if John bothered to investigate further… all those “assumptions” he makes may or may not be true.

    An annual report typically DOES sing the praises of the organization — it’s a showcase as well as informational piece for the public and anyone else interested. As a consumer, investor, philanthropist, parent, taxpayer, etc., I am interested in such reports from business, educational institutions, non-profits and yes, government.

    Until the “facts” prove otherwise, I’m going to assume that Sheriff Maketa — who seems to have an endless well of creative approaches to problem solving and is simply doing a good job for our community — has spent money wisely. Further, if the publication has been “sponsored” by an outside party, anonymous or not, I say great. What’s the big beef with that, John?

  4. John Hazlehurst Says:

    Susan, you’re right-I didn’t investigate further. But it seems to me that such an extravagant piece of puffery-you should read it!-is inappropriate in these days of straitened city/county budgets. I have no particular beef w. Maketa-I agree with you that he’s done a pretty good job by & large. But he ought to take a leaf from the city’s book. The city budget is available for free as a PDF on the web, or you can buy a printed copy. That’s sensible and economical. And as far as having such a document funded by private donors-I think that would be highly inappropriate.