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Local Labor Leaders Speak Against Using Coronavirus Money For New Jail at Sups Meeting


More than a dozen Woodbury County residents spoke out against using federal coronavirus money to build the new Law Enforcement Center at yesterday’s supervisor’s meeting. Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett has more.  

Members of the group United Today, Stronger Tomorrow argued against using more than 15 million dollars in American Recovery Plan Act money, meant to offset costs from the coronavirus pandemic, for the new Law Enforcement Center.  The UTST and labor leaders held a press conference and described their concerns last week. 

Supervisor Mathew Ung began the meeting with a statement that ended up angering more than one of the evening’s speakers.  He described the long road to finally getting voter approval for the more than 50-million-dollar bond issue to build a new LEC.

“We scheduled dozens of public hearings on design, making every advisor, consultant completely available to answer public questions.  Everyone saw that except apparently UTST. This organization held an August 19th news conference at the courthouse and suddenly feels themselves qualified to host a teach-in on the project.”

Winnebago tribe member Manape LaMere rebuked Ung for his attitude towards those present who had concerns about the use of ARPA Funds.  LaMere is the son of the late Native American activist Frank LaMere. 

“I found the presentation that you made to be very disrespectful, uncouth, and patronized everybody here.  I have some concerns about his approach and I hope that his approach does not speak for you, other men.”

Speaker Mathew Okane even offered Ung some unsolicited advice for clearing his mind.

“I’m very glad you were able to get everything off your chest, its important so we can process them. I don’t agree with you, but I understand that there’s some hurt there.”

There was no reply from Ung after that advice, and the meeting wrapped up after about 45 minutes of testimony from those in attendance. No action was taken at the meeting. 

For Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett. 

You can hear more from that Woodbury County Supervisor’s meeting today at noon on The Exchange. 

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