Today's Buffalo News story related to the accusations of Niagara County Sheriff Tom Beilein allowing violations of state regulations to continue in his jail, even after inspectors had been assured the problems would be fixed, must be throwing shock waves through political circles in Niagara County this morning.
Four current and former jail employees are alleging that inmates in the county jail sometimes are held in nonsecure areas when parts of the jail are overcrowded, a problem that state inspectors cited in 2005.
The allegations come as both the Republican and Democratic parties in Niagara County mount their campaigns to replace Beilein.
If the allegations are legitimate, they are serious, and must be addressed. But the timing of these four employees coming forward, albeit anonymously, sheds a very ominous cloud over the allegations. One has to ask, why now? With Beilein's appointment to head the state Commission of Correction weeks away, why bring these allegations forward now?
Are these four individuals truly concerned about the conditions at the jail or are they simply trying to put out a political hit on Beilein's appointment?
As recently as last week, it was alleged by a candidate for office that Senator George Maziarz was holding up the Beilein appointment. Now these developments come to light. Did the four employees bring their concerns to Albany, and if so, are these allegations the reason that Beilein has not yet been confirmed?
Either way, this situation is going to get more interesting as we move forward. If this is an indication of things to come, it could just turn out to be a pretty exciting election season.