From: Deb Roschen
Wabasha County Commissioner
Recently, Wabasha County’s Safe Driving Class has been receiving a lot of press. While the articles center on the financial benefits a Safe Driving Class brings to Wabasha County, we are missing the critical question of the Department’s conduct. The sheriff is not legally authorized to conduct the class and collect the fees, according to the State Auditor, who has repeatedly cited Wabasha County for running an illegal diversion program. The sheriff has intentionally ignored state law, ignored state-wide legislatively established policy, and ignored his responsibility to abide by the law through unlawful actions.
The legislature established the method and means for diversion programs and collection of fees that benefit the county and the state. It is not for the Sheriff’s Department to redirect fees due to the state, which ultimately affects millions of taxpayers. Like it or not, it is the law. If the Sheriff’s Department doesn’t like the state policy, then seek to change it as every other citizen must — through the legislative process. Importantly, has the sheriff, through acts of civil disobedience, committed a criminal act or other civil illegality by redirecting revenue the Department is not entitled to?
If the Sheriff’s Department can disregard the law, why should citizens obey the law? Where’s the trust? Should a person refuse to pay a parking ticket because he needs the money to feed his family, claiming it as an act of civil disobedience to protest the enforcement of parking laws? Can a citizen refuse to pay the fee to Wabasha County for an illegal program without fear of prosecution of the underlying ticket?
The Sheriff’s Department doesn’t make policy; it enforces it. If it wants to change the policy, then act within the law and the process like everyone else.