This article is one of a series of editorial articles that express personal opinions and views. They are written with no pretensions to be error free. I will gladly correct substantial errors of fact. My opinions can change, depending upon my awareness of changes in factual information. It is my intent to remain focussed on specific public issues, regarding the personalities involved. For all I know, all the characters are saints, concerning their private lives and other public business...
Changes may be requested by E-MAILing the details to
In my opinion, Tom Kitzman is a viable and preferable alternative to Gary Maddox. He has the professional credentials and experience for the job. Tom has worked well, and is at ease, in the necessary rigid disciplinary environment of law enforcement and jail house operations. He understands why the Sheriff, or department employees, cannot make up and modify the prevailing work rules and policies, day to day, according to personal whims. He understands the necessity to be candid and honest, though it may hurt. He understands that politics should take a back seat to the responsibilities of the Schoolcraft County Sheriff Department, and those of its personnel. He understands that prevailing deceit, evasion and improvisation of inappropriate policies has broken a bond of trust between many in the community and the Sheriff Department.
I have no reason to believe or expect any substantive changes in Schoolcraft County Sheriff Department policy with the current sheriff and undersheriff. Neither one has expressed any inclination to change the existing policy and supervisory environment. Denial, evasion, and personal gain is what current department supervision is all about. Please keep in mind that the following is what I know of, and likely represents a fraction of what is.
At the candidate forum, of 07/15/04, in the Schoolcraft County Courthouse, I offered the following questions to be asked of Tom Kitzman and Gary Maddox. The candidates were asked none of my questions.
'To Mr. Kitzman:
As a retired Michigan State Police officer, what credentials, accomplishments, and intentions, do you bring to this election that might inspire me to vote for you instead of the incumbent sheriff?
I found an answer, later, here:
To Mr. Maddox:
You have chosen a different set of "professional" standards, over the years, regarding your responsibility for certain Sheriff business, in particular, but not exclusive to the following:
retaining, for years, a $37,000 a year jailhouse cook, to heat frozen meals
a variety of officers allowing prisoner access to department telephones
using prisoner labor for personal chores
lying to citizens concerning the whereabouts of yourself, or your officers, when a citizen inquires by telephone
officers lying about your whereabouts, when inquiries are made in person
claiming that 2 department employees must always be alert and present at their posts, when it has been witnessed by many that one, or more, is just as likely to be taking care of personal business, such as chow runs, hobby activities, errands, automotive checkouts, sleeping, etc...
conducting local government business, and meetings, in a manner unlike any other local government body
Given the "Brown Wall" of denial and evasion I have witnessed, regarding all of the above, and more, why would I choose you over Tom Kitzman, a competitor with considerably more professional training and credentials, whose main deficit is little more than his failure to politic 24/7/52, behind a "good ol' boy" facade?'
As has been questioned a number of times, including at the candidate forum of 07/15/04, the department has an enviable record of racking up overtime. Candidate Kitzman stated that he would institute 12 hour shifts, to eliminate the overtime financial burden to the county. Sheriff Maddox replied that the union would not allow it, without any reference to why the union obtained the power to dictate such policy to the department. He never said he attempted to bargain with the union for scheduling flexibility to eliminate overtime. He never mentioned how, generally speaking, the Delta County Sheriff Department personnel "love" their 12 hour shifts.
The most outrageous lie of the 07/15/04 candidate forum was told by Sheriff Maddox, in his sparkling uniform, as an official representative of the Schoolcraft County Sheriff Department, in his typical smiling, sincere and disarming "good ol' country boy" style. He spoke to an interested audience in the Schoolcraft County Courthouse Circuit Courtroom, while his words were broadcast by WTIQ and WCMM. He told the world that inmate use of Sheriff Department phones was "...discovered by the great detective work of Undersheriff Mike Gray." Actually, the bill for the calls was questioned by County Clerk's Office accountant, Patti Huddleston, who, with Commissioner Erickson, determined where the calls were made, and by whom, before making the sheriff department aware of its lapse of security, unknown at the time; and yet to be acknowledged.
Candidate Kitzman, then pointed out that the problem was not the prisoner who made the calls, but the lax security and telephone use policies that allowed the prisoner to make the calls.
Sheriff Maddox countered that the problem was failed telephone company "traps", granting no recognition to the actual relevant reasons of absent, failed, or ignored policy that allowed department telephone access to a "trustee" prisoner known by his extensive "rap" sheet to be a completely untrustworthy "lowlife".
As the top representative of Schoolcraft County Sheriff Department policy, Sheriff Maddox evaded the real issue of failed security procedures, completely, and lied about the discovery. He spoke as if he knew the listening public were a herd of ignorant and stupid sheep, that would believe anything he said.
Had Patti Huddleston let the sheriff department's telephone bill be paid, unquestioned, I suspect it might have been discovered by the sheriff department, and acknowledged, in the next millenia...maybe.
No one touched on the ~50% decline in jail house telephone revenues, after the installation of prisoner accessible phones brought in approximately $4,000 a year, to the county. The ~$2,000 a year decline implies far more than one untrustworthy trustee making calls on sheriff department phones.
Cell phones? E.S.P.? Magic? Sideline business? Mute inmates? Inmate poverty? Phone cards?
Anyone wanna dance with that phenomenon? Candid answer; anyone? Entertaining shuck 'n' jive? ...
The Schoolcraft County Sheriff Department is a tight knit group with some 30% of the personnel blood related, and several others related by a strong political alliance.
Based on my awareness of the obvious, and not so obvious, Sheriff Maddox's 25 year employment pin gives him the right to conduct business in almost any way he chooses. At times, I suspect that he has Schoolcraft County working more for the Sheriff Department, than the department works for the county. I have learned that, like a notable few others in local public 'service', Sheriff Maddox has earned my constant mistrust.
Regardless of my past differences with Tom Kitzman, I consider him a trained professional lawman, suitable for the position of Schoolcraft County Sheriff. He brings no family baggage to the position. He has a clear understanding of required policy and discipline. His choice of undersheriff is a professional lawman. Unlike some in the law enforcement business, I have no reason to consider him a professional deceiver.
As far as I am concerned, a change in command, at the Schoolcraft County Sheriff Department, is long overdue.
I have included the following e-mail and response on two web pages, as the topics considered are part of both pages.
On 28 Jul 2004 at 7:33, Ms. ??? wrote: Alright, what I find to disbelieve is that you think that just because it is his mother that cooks, that is something that is looked down upon? What makes you think that she cooks them frozen dinners? Sharon Maddox is a wonderful, wonderful women, and a great cook might I add. What other "family baggage" are you refering to? No offense intended, but I think you lack the highly recomended sense of Judgement! Good morning. No offence taken, Ms. ???, and thank you for providing a reason to be more specific, from the position of one that pays a great deal of attention to the specifics of some local government processes and individuals. The issue is not about Ms. Maddox. I know nothing about her, and have said nothing about her. What I have said is that she is paid $37,000 per year in wages and benefits, derived from county tax revenues, to heat frozen meals, and do laundry when the inmates do not. She is costing the tax-payers some $35,000 a year, above competitive services and related savings, because she can be replaced with a prison meal service and a laundry service that is far more economical. The only reason she has her job is because Sheriff Gary Maddox has been dragging his feet, for years, regarding the meal and laundry issues, and lied about the reasons. Gary's responsibility to the general tax-paying public is first. It is his responsibility to provide the best law enforcement services for the tax-payer's dollar. His first responsibility is not to ensure that his mother retires with the highest retirement benefits possible, at the expense of other goods and services to the general public, and I might add, at the expense of more complete and nutritious meals to the jail inmates. Inmates, employees, witnesses, grocery store personnel and food bills, provide all that is requires to say, with great certainty, that Ms. Maddox's cooking is mostly frozen meals and canned soup related. "Family baggage" is the nepotistic reality of treating family related employees more favourably than non-related employees, or in a manner that fosters corruption of government processes, at public expense. Some 30% of the sheriff department is related to Gary Maddox by blood, and are very much a part of a sheriff department run on principles of anarchy as much as peer reviewed law enforcement policy. The special treatment of Ms. Maddox is a single symptom of a department wide problem, for which Sheriff Gary Maddox has the sole responsibility, and cares not, because it is "Maddox's Way". As for me lacking judgement, I am sure you are correct. Local media reports little beyond "feelgood" news. "Feelgood news" keeps the advertisers happy, and maximizes revenues, but provides a completely distorted perspective of a "Shangri La" Schoolcraft County community that does not exist. "Feelgood news" provides little objective basis on which any resident voter can base a voting choice. Without "bad news", there is little basis for choice, beyond personalities and social bonds. My lack of judgement concerns dealing with issues in a manner that provides me, and others that may care, with reasons to vote and/ or take an active interest in local politics. In the process, I have striven to separate public personas and business from those that are private.