March 1, 2001 PROBE

March 01, 2001

QUESTION: I got a letter in the mail signed by County Sheriff Harold Carter inviting me to join the California State Sheriff's Association.

For just 7 cents a day ($25 a year) I get a card, two bumper stickers and a magazine subscription. Can you tell me how my membership would help fight crime? — Crimes Fighter, Imperial

Carter said your membership fee will be used to lobby for tougher laws against crime in Sacramento.

The state's 58 county sheriffs want longer prison sentences, mandatory life sentences and generally tougher laws for criminals. You will have to decide if that's what you want.

The association was the primary backer of Proposition 172 that gave you the half-cent sales tax for public safety programs. So far that has brought $42 million to law enforcement agencies in Imperial County, Carter said.


QUESTION: It's my understanding the Imperial Irrigation District turned down a $5 million bid from IBM for a complete computer system to handle both the water and power departments.

IID declined the offer because it was too expensive and decided it could develop a system to do the same thing for less money.

As of now IID has spent $18 million for a system that doesn't work and may never work! — Better Idea, Imperial County

We don't doubt you talked to a high-ranking IID official who viewed the computer project with dismay. Computers do that to humans.

Nevertheless, your high-ranking IID official may have fed you some wrong information.

IID spokeswoman Sue Giller said IBM never offered to build a complete system for $5 million. IBM did the study to establish IID's computer system needs but it did not bid on the system, Giller said.

The bid for the software came in at $4.2 million. IBM bid successfully on a $1 million hardware package.

IID has spent about $14 million (not $18 million) on its new computer system. That includes staff time for IID employees who worked on the system and continue to work on it, Giller said. Staff training came to over $1 million.

The computer program still needs some fine tuning, she said.

This all goes to show computers can do some amazing things but they don't work for peanuts.

PETE'S GARAGE — Pete didn't have a garage in Plaster City. I was driving old Highway 80 through Plaster City in 1933.

About the only thing out there was a big billboard as you drove into Plaster City. There was always a cop hiding behind the billboard.

He never nailed me or any of my friends. We knew he was there so we slowed down before we got there. — Old-timer, Westmorland

He must have caught somebody or he would have found a new hiding place.

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