OUR OPINION: State should release complete financial data

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 12, 2007

The announcement yesterday that the State of Alabama has decide to sell Farqhar Ranch comes as no surprise.

The Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed last month that they were considering a sell of part of the ranch, saying that the proceeds would be used to fill budget shortfalls in Corrections.

Since that time, state officials from Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen to Gov. Bob Riley have been silent on the proposal.

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The Demopolis Times has sent two requests for financial data relating to Farquhar Ranch, but so far we have received no data, save what was released during yesterday&8217;s press conference in Montgomery.

The release showed only line items for total revenue and total expenses for both cattle and catfish operations. No where in the documents did they provide a detailed breakdown, which is what we have requested.

Furthermore, neither Allen nor the governor have granted permission to the warden at Farquhar to speak with The Times. All we want is to get a ground-level opinion of the operations.

Perhaps the inmate-run facility in Hale County is losing more than $100,000 per year and would require approximately $300,000 for adequate improvements. If that is the case, then the state is wise to release the property.

And if that is the case, then the state should have no problem releasing the records and granting our interview request. Until then, we won&8217;t be satisfied. It sounds a little like the state is using one-time revenue to plug ongoing expense holes.

If that is the case, then it is bad government and poor leadership.