Wednesday, March 4, 2009

CITY: Sue Schmitz & Rhonda Bogus

CITY stands for Community Intensive Treatment for Youth. There are currently 11 such programs in Alabama, a cash-strapped state that uses the words "budget pro ration" with the same regularity teenagers spout the word "like."

The idea behind CITY is certainly commendable; youths who have not finished school, but who have been in trouble with the law, are given a second chance at an education. I doubt that anyone would find fault with that premise. What the average Alabamian should find fault with is the misuse of his or her tax dollars.

Each CITY program employs a coordinator. In Decatur, it was Sue Schmitz. In Florence it is Rhonda Bogus. If the name Sue Schmitz is familiar to most readers, it's not because of her work with CITY. Ms. Schmitz boasts of attending meetings, making speeches, and instigating publicity for the Decatur CITY program, but little else. During her tenure as CITY coordinator, a period of 45 months, she was paid $177,251.00, an amount in addition to her salary as a state legislator. Now Ms. Schmitz has been convicted of not fulfilling her role as coordinator for the Decatur CITY program and ordered to repay the State of Alabama her salary. Ms. Schmitz is currently appealing her conviction, but if the charges are true, there is apparently little supervision in the CITY programs.

In Lauderdale County, Rhonda Bogus coordinates the CITY program, while Judge Jimmy Sandlin is listed as the overseer of the project. When the State attempted to shut down the Lauderdale CITY program, Sandlin personally travelled to Montgomery in order to save the project. CITY currently serves 33 troubled youths in Lauderdale County and has an outstanding record since its inception.

Whether it be Lauderdale County or any of the other ten CITY locations, it would be advisable for taxpayers to keep close watch on this program due to the problems related to the Decatur office. We work hard for our money; those in government should also.

Tomorrow: The real CASA.