Center not in the cards for Crete
SouthtownStar editorial June 12, 2012 8:54PM
Updated: July 14, 2012 6:32AM
As Kenny Rogers famously sang, “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” Rogers was singing about poker, but his words apply to Crete officials in ending the controversy over a proposed immigrant detention center in the village.
In the end, local residents’ opposition to the center was too strong to overcome. Village trustees acknowledged that, voting unanimously at Monday night’s meeting to withdraw from federal consideration as the site of the center, which would hold illegal immigrants awaiting deportation.
In explaining the village board’s decision, village administrator Tom Durkin didn’t refer to the community opposition. He emphasized instead that village officials came away from a meeting Monday with representatives of Corrections Corporation of America, the company that was to build and run the center, without sufficient financial assurances — resulting in a lack of a “comfort level” regarding the project.
Durkin didn’t get specific about what the village sought and didn’t get from CCA, but we’re left wondering why such a key issue was still unresolved nearly a year after the village and CCA pitched Crete to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Make no mistake, Michael Einhorn and key village officials supported this project. They sold ICE on the idea, envisioning the jobs and property tax revenue the center would produce, and downplayed concerns over security and lowered property value.
The village issued a news release in July about ICE’s tentative approval of a Crete site, but the plan somehow drew little attention until the fall when opponents began organizing against the project. Crete leaders never seemed to get ahead in framing this debate and were kept on the defensive. A recent riot at a CCA prison in Mississippi didn’t help their cause.
We initially saw some positives in the center plan but also had reservations and thought it would be a tough sell. That proved true, and the village board wisely followed The Gambler’s advice.