Monday, September 11, 2006

Meeting with Bill McReynolds

I met with Bill McReynolds today. My purpose was to seek information on the bumper (see previous posts) issue, so that I could make up my own mind as to whether McReynolds acted properly.

If I had my way, politicians would avoid doing business with the government. By my way of thinking, if a government official is engaged in private business transactions with government, one may well wonder whether the primary purpose of said transactions is to benefit the public or to benefit the politician. My purpose today was to detirmine whether his public obligations were compromised by his private pursuits.

I can find no evidence to suggest that the citizens of Racine County were shortchanged as a result of McReynold's business dealings with the county. I reach this conclusion based on the evidence which includes documents provided by Bill McReynolds as well as the conversation that I had with him.

McReynolds, as County Sheriff, became aware of a need for the push bumpers. The company that they had been purchasing from had recently gone out of business. McReynolds had a friend who he thought might be interested in producing the bumpers. McReynolds, his friend, and one other person (I didn't think that it is necessary to name them) formed a company that would produce the bumpers. McReynolds maintains that his involvement was limitted. He was 1/3 owner and he contributed $2000 for start up costs. McReynolds told me that he was involved in sales calls to the sheriffs departments of other counties, but that he did not make any effort to influence the decision at the Racine County Sheriffs Department. He acknowledges that the patrol captain who made the purchasing decision for the RCSD was aware of McReynolds involvement with the company. The company, Force Engineering, sold a small quantity of bumpers to RCSD and other Sheriffs departments. McReynolds stated that the bumpers were of good quality and that the prices were fair. The citizens of Racine County did not overpay for the bumpers.

Now I would be very interested to hear from anyone who is willing to challange Bill McReynolds' version of events. But at this point, there is nobody challenging his narrative. Instead, what we have are politically motivated people, and a local newspaper, also politically motivated, who would like very much for McReynolds to be guilty of wrongdoing. But unless and until they can provide actual evidence of wrongdoing, it is reasonable to conclude that they are merely engaged in election year maneuvering.


Anonymous said...

I have wondered about this subject as well. With all I have read, it seems to be legit. I am glad you are looking into this.

Denis Navratil said...

Thanks anon. While I am not keen on politicians engaging in business with the government, I do not think that it is fair to presume guilt, as the JT and McReynolds' political opponents are happily willing to do. Of course McReynolds could avoid this problem in the future by limitting his business ventures to the private sector.

Kathy said...

In an earlier post on one of your previous blogs on this matter I beckoned anyone to "Prove it" that Mr. McReynolds was guilty of any wrongdoing. Thank you Denis, for clearing this up.

Denis Navratil said...

To Kathy; In this mornings paper, it was reported that there will be an investigation. I wonder how this matter will be reported if no wrongdoing is found. My guess is that any coverage will be buried. Anyway, while "proving it" would be nice for Mac's opponents, I am sure they are content to have multiple damaging stories about Mac's business dealings. Politics can be very disgusting and disheartening.

RacineRacer said...

Conflict of interest is conflict of interest....pretty simple.

Most corporations would fire an employee who did what Bill Mc's dirty deed....they have a conflict of interest policy, and it doesn't matter if you make money from it or if you overtly pressured other employees to buy.

I doubt that Bill understands what is wrong with what he did, and that is what he said publicly. It is so sad that he doesn't "get it."

I'm not in politics, and issues like this only reinforce staying out of politics.


Denis Navratil said...

Racineracer: Suppose you had a financial stake in a corporation, with Mac as CEO. Mac has a side business which supplies needed materials for the corporation. The materials are of good quality and are sold at a competitive price. Do you fire Mac for having a conflict of interests, or do you thank him helping the corporation?

Regarding your comment about staying out of politics, I agree, to a point. But I have concluded that ignoring politics is like ignoring tumors. Things will likely get worse. Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

I think that one thing keeps getting overlooked in this topic that is very, very critical. There are other companies that produce the type of push bumpers needed by police and businesses. What were their bid prices? Was bidding made public? I have a big problem with no bid contracts for any government agency........need I say Halliburten? They had to repay the government millions! And, that's just what the auditors picked up on.
another point is that just because there was no law broken that was clearly defined doesn't mean that ethics weren't pushed to the brink! There is a lot of really shady business going on that just barely falls within the legal limits but when it comes to a Sheriff, or any law enforcement official, I demand they keep themselves above any sort of connection to ethically so-so behavior.