Albion mayor did right thing in disclosing apparent overpayments to Albion PD
On March 15, Angel Javier, Jr. was duly elected mayor of Albion. Angel is an upstanding citizen, a U.S. military veteran (Marine), and a longtime friend of mine. He and his family, through their own hard work and perseverance, are the embodiment of the “American Dream.”
It was recently reported in the Hub that Albion Police Department officers have been allegedly overpaid over the course of five years. This finding was the result of a forensic audit conducted by a respectable accounting firm, The Bonadio Group.
I make no claims here about whether APD officers should remit the alleged overpayments, or about whether law enforcement officers are paid adequately. But, whether the officers were overpaid, or not, is a knowable fact. The errant claims about “breach of a union contract” and “violations of public employee laws” are neither based in law, nor fact. There either was and continues to be an overpayment, or there was/is not.
Unfortunately, most of the public discourse surrounding the alleged overpayment has focused on the mayor, personally. It should not.
Mayor Javier is a proud Republican, and he does not believe in “defunding the police.” I know; we have debated the subject in the past. Mayor Javier should be praised for bringing this issue to light because the taxpayers have a right to know where their money is being spent.
Sweeping errors like this under the rug is exactly the kind of behavior that sows distrust among the public in their elected officials. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Transparency and the accurate accounting of taxpayer money are hallmarks of good government and good governance. Concealing errors, hiding relevant information from the public, sweeping things under the rug, and circling the wagons are all hallmarks of authoritarian regimes. This disclosure will likely hurt the good mayor politically; it should not. Make no mistake, Mayor Javier did the right thing.
At the very least, the error should be corrected so the Village books reflect the actual amounts paid to APD officers. Taxpayers deserve that much. Thank you, Mayor Javier, for being an adroit steward of taxpayer money.
Andrew “Drew” Remley
Oakland, California – formerly of Albion