October 1, 2014


Judge Burge orders county to hire security for Adult Probation facilities

County judges want the Probation Department moved out of the old county courthouse because of poor conditions. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Judge James Burge has ordered the county commissioners to provide funds for security at the Adult Probation Department, which is houses at the old Lorain County Courthouse and the old Columbia Gas Building. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge has ordered the county commissioners to provide $124,953 to cover projected security costs for the county’s Adult Probation Department for the final three months of the year.

The money is to be turned over to county Sheriff Phil Stammitti by Sept. 13 so he can begin providing security at the entrances to the old Lorain County Courthouse and the old Columbia Gas Building, where the Probation Department has offices.

Burge said he expects the security would be in place around Oct. 1.

Stammitti has estimated that it would cost $396,356 per year to hire four full-time deputies and three part-time deputies and buy equipment to provide security at the two locations. The cost would drop by about $8,000 after the first year once the equipment is purchased.

County Administrator Jim Cordes said the commissioners have asked him to talk with their lawyer about seeking a delay in the imposition of Burge’s order. The commissioners have asked the county’s General Division judges, who oversee the Probation Department, to consider consolidating the two Probation Department offices at the old courthouse.

By merging the two offices at one location, Stammitti estimated the cost of security upgrades and the number of additional deputies he needs could be cut roughly in half.

Burge said he expects the commissioners will ultimately combine the two offices under one roof, something he acknowledged would reduce the amount of money the commissioners would have to provide.

Commissioner Lori Kokoski said she doesn’t think the commissioners would win if they mounted a formal legal challenge to the court order.

“It’s a shame,” she said. “If we’re going to add deputies it would be better for them to be on the road rather than for the Probation Department, where the employees carry guns and can defend themselves.”

Burge has previously said the firearms carried by probation officers pose a risk inside the building, and once the security changes are made, the probation officers will be required to check their weapons at the door.

The judges have been locked in an ongoing feud with the commissioners over where the Probation Department should be located. The judges want it moved to the unfinished fifth floor of the Lorain County Justice Center, something Kokoski and fellow Commissioner Ted Kalo view as too expensive.

The judges have offered to offset all but $900,000 of the projected $2.4 million to $2.8 million price tag for such a move, arguing that the conditions inside the old courthouse are unacceptable and unsafe.

Cordes, Kalo and Kokoski have said the problems, including lead paint, asbestos and mold, aren’t as bad as the judges contend and those issues can be addressed.

Kalo said Burge’s order was premature. He said the county has yet to hear back from the judges on the commissioners’ offer to combine the Probation Department offices at the old courthouse, which he believes is the best location.

“I am still under the belief that the best place to keep them is the old courthouse,” Kalo said.

Commissioner Tom Williams, who backs a move to the Justice Center, said he believes the judges are trying to force the commissioners into the fifth-floor plan by driving up the costs of bringing the old courthouse up to their standards. It’s a fight, he said, the commissioners are unlikely to win.

“Right now all we’re doing is racking up huge attorneys fees,” Williams said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.

  • stillsleepyeyes

    Wow and the whining goes on………….sure hope someone is running against him this election…………if you want security for your probation departments then the courts should pay for them hence you judges are the ones filling them up ……….you should charge the people on probation for the usage of them and this would be another deterrent from them coming back and take the burden off the tax payer………..just saying

  • Tonythetiger

    Burge is a term limited idiot and crazier than the criminals in his court room. Mr. I only made 43 mistakes, can follow instruction well, have reckless abandonment, and yeah I call people racial slurs but it’s OK cause I have a Mexican wife really needs some serious help. But more so the other sheep judges that keep empowering him. What a bunch of morons and to think they sit in a very high position of authority…

  • Tonythetiger

    Sorry, ” can’t follow instructions well”……

  • Otter

    And the pissing contest continues….or does someone just feel the need to get their name in the paper?

  • GreatRedeemer

    These judges are out of control. As a citizen and taxpayer of Lorain county, I find this behavior unprofessional and disturbing.
    Judges are here to apply the laws of the land, find common ground amongst parties mediate and generally act in the best interests of the public good.

    • Bill Love

      Which he doesn’t do he needs to go

    • Tomas Pane

      GR and TonytheTiger, these judges should’ve had the common sense not to have elected Burge as Administrative Judge. Conduct a search on Burge via the Chronicle’s search engine and any person with a shred of, dare I suggest…common sense, a glaring truth emerges: something is not right about this man. Controversy litters his path while a pattern of deception, division and destruction leap from the pages despite his remarkable ability to drive the narrative.
      His relentless usurpation of duties and responsibilities allocated to the executive branch of our county government, such as demanding funds from an exhausted public treasury, is just another tiresome example of him feeding his own ambition and ego at the expense of we the common citizens and taxpayers. Worse is the fact that his actions further erode the delicate state of our democratic republic. Separation of powers and not Rule by fiat (insert Burge’s most recent order), lawful or not, is irresponsible and unresponsive to the needs of the security of our county. And most importantly, to the needs of the citizenry. The security of our citizens is empowered to the police departments of our cities, towns and villages dotting our county. And countywide security and safety, particularly within county jurisdiction should be the province of the sheriff. Common sense says the duly elected sheriff would be the expert in security measures and not Burge. And common sense says the commissioners know how much coin is in the public purse and where best to apply those funds as they kibbutz with the sheriff about the county’s most pressing needs. More road deputies would seem a better investment rather than Burge and the judges disarming our trained probation officers in an amateurish maneuver to manufacture a crisis and in the process sweeten up their clumsy attempt at concealing their true motives.

      Someone once said, “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this
      consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the
      We need to heed those words as we step up and cast our votes in our elections. As we have sowed, so have we reaped.

      • Tonythetiger

        Well said and spot on….!!!!! Thanks….

  • jz

    Move probate court back to where it was and put probation in the Justice Center. Or leave it as is. The idea of needing security in a building where the probation officers carry weapons, or having them lock their guns at the front is just ludicrous.

    • Tonythetiger

      Burge is ludicrous. .. no doubt whatsoever….

  • Joe Flabetz

    Time to lead, defy the court order and let’s lock up the commissioners. I think once the Cleveland, state and national news media gets a handle on the incarceration of elected officials doing their jobs, you’ll see the judges back away from Burge and leave him out to dry. Bathe other Judges do have to run for reelection.

    • Tonythetiger

      Love it…..

  • Awoon

    Collect the money owed the courts from the criminals. One person has $1200.00 in fines and the judge puts her on probation again. Collect that money or put them in JAIL, Judges. Gas and Electric companies don’t give probation for past due bills.

    • jz

      Oversimplified. Probably not real familiar with courts, probation and parole, prison operations and costs, circumstances of each case. And I,m not talking sympathy for convicted felons either. It’s just not as simple as that.

      • Awoon

        And the criminals know it. All they get is probation for their felonies and deadbeat child support. But when a Judge needs a name in the paper they make a big deal out of how they hand out justice. Does the black man who had six kids ring a bell? 30 days in jail. Why not put the white woman deadbeat Mom who owes 12 grand in child support in jail?
        Just look through the Judges schedules and read the cases of unpaid fines, repeat felons, deadbeat parents owing money.
        Seems all the deadbeats and felons are indigents, yet they can be seen robbing the mall and drinking at the bars and getting intervention and probation. Put them in PRISON.

        • jz

          You hit a nerve with the child support. I don’t like deadbeats any more than you do but those are absolutely stupid laws, like some others, where the cure is worse than the ill and creates more problems than the act of not paying child support in the first place. Period. Non payment of child support is a Tort, despite what the courts have ruled. No different than the English Common Law debtors courts. Prisons are for rapists, robbers, burlgars, child molesters, thieves, assault/agg. assault, behaviors that directly victimize people. Also, from a common sense perspective most of those offenders, {Non support} don’t have a pot to piss in and the ones who do, wages can and always have been garnished. An argument can also be made that they ursurp one of the roles of the extended, family where that particular social ill is best dealt with in the first place. Send them to prison so now we pay to house them while they certainly will not be driving to work then now will they? Non support felony laws are a great example of the stereotypical politician pandering to the masses and passing “feel good laws” which at most that is what they accomplish in the long run. And what about so many of the idiots who get impregnated by these near do wells? And what about the fact there are college graduates across our country who can’t find jobs in their field of study etc? Again, no sympathy at all for the irrresponsible men and women who put themselves in this situation. Deadbeats without the means to financially support any children they bear. Government policies, WAR ON POVERTY, which largely enabled this social ill, and now the solution is what? Government builds more prisons to lock up a group of people for basically being irresponsible, poor providers for their children. Flat out stupid I say.

          • Tonythetiger

            Perfect argument for mandatory sterilization not incarceration. …

          • Awoon

            I would like to see the newspapers Print the names of the deadbeats who owe fines and child support, just like they print the names of real estate tax dodgers. Indigents have drug and beer money but no fine or child support money. As for tax payers paying for the deadbeats in jail, well we are already paying for Judges and law enforcement now chasing the indigents around who are breaking the laws and getting nothing in return.

      • Tonythetiger

        Not as simple as that – true but it’s also not as difficult as the black robed Mushroom heads make it out to be

  • Larry Crnobrnja

    Take the guns away from those officials trained AND PAID to protect, just so the county can pay others to protect them?


    • Tonythetiger

      You said it… reckless bungling Burge at it again while the other sheep judges hide in their chambers…

  • Peter Aldrich

    Best Judge at County Level…..since Tom Janas. We are blessed with two great ones at Elyria Muni!

  • unknown

    How many of you are forced to work in a building that has toilets that are full of feces and all you boss does after the newspaper and TV point it out is lock the door so no one can use it. I’m sure if this would have happened at any business in the county there would have been numerous health violations and the business would have been shut down until it cleaned it up, not to mention the fines.

    I suggest rather than continue to bicker Burge should have the health department and such assess the building and if it is a danger to the employees working there…send them all home until their landlord (the commissioners) fixes the issue(s). Maybe Burge is going about it wrong, but if your landlord would have ignored your house as much as the commissioners have ignored that building he would be sitting in jail.

    • stillsleepyeyes

      Again where is the reports????………..only second hand info here…….

    • Tomas Pane

      Unknown, the facts you suggest in your query are a bit muddy. You asked, “how many of you are forced to work in a building that has toilets that are full of feces and all you(r) boss does after the newspaper and TV point it out is lock the door so no one can use it.” I can’t say I have, but I do have a few questions for you:

      A. Whose bathroom is clogged with feces? The employee’s restroom? The restrooms the lab uses when probationers drop in and unload their stream of urine into a cup while an officer lurks over their shoulder? Are these the public restrooms made available to the general public who’re waiting to see their probation officer? If so, here are a few common sense solutions:
      1. Assuming it’s the employee’s restrooms, Burge could immediately institute a remedial training program for employees: defecate, wipe, and flush. Flush twice if the officer had a long lunch.

      2. If #1 fails, Burge could demand that employees grab a plunger. He could order that plungers be hung next to the fire extinguishers and hand dryers.
      a. Of course, Burge will order that officers first be certified in the usage of said plungers, his own plungered extraction from the suction of the mire of his 43 mistakes, amid other questionable legal and ethical probes and investigations, an inspiration to plungers and those with the courage to stir up their own feces and then flush it into oblivion; the only evidence of its existence the stink it leaves on its wielder.

      3. If #1 and #2 fails, Burge could urge employees to contact maintenance. Maybe even put in a work order for it.

      I don’t know. It just sounds like common sense to me.