Editor, Times-Union:

Remember when the “Good Old Boy System” was the enemy?

Take a journey back with me just a few short years ago, when the 2018 sheriff race was going on with the two main GOP candidates, Rocky Goshert, and Kyle Dukes. I remember when the Dukes’ camp was using the slogan “Fresh Start.” Dukes was on the campaign trail continually saying it was time for a change from the “Good Old Boy System” and how he was going to change that system. Now come back to present time, after Dukes has been in office three years. Did Dukes make changes?

After the recent article about the raise that Sheriff Dukes has given himself, I started thinking about how else he has served “Community First.” Promptly after taking office, Kyle Dukes started fixing the “Good Old Boy System” by hiring two of his friends from Noble County. Not just hiring them as deputies, but bringing them in to positions of power, disregarding the qualified merit deputies that had been with the department already serving our community. Obviously, this was not a great move for the morale of a new administration.

However, there was one more move to an even higher position. Kyle Dukes promoted his brother-in-law, to chief deputy, second in command of the entire Sheriff’s Department. Along with being the second in charge, guess who else has made lucrative gains? You guessed it! Last year, the chief deputy brother-in-law made just shy of $100,000. Dukes gave the chief deputy position a raise and changed a common practice at the Sheriff’s Department of who could claim overtime.  

In my 17 years of working at the Sheriff’s Department, it was known that people in ranking positions were not to claim overtime. This change allows high ranking deputies to earn money above their salary. Some might say that there is nothing wrong with this, which may be true. However, the overtime is now being run through the pension. What does this mean? The pension for a merit deputy is based off a percentage of their three highest years of pay. Let’s say a deputy works overtime for a construction company as traffic control. The deputy gets paid by the construction company, but instead of the company paying directly, the money is run through the normal county payroll adding those wages toward that deputy’s highest three years of pay. The taxpayers are responsible to make keep the pension solvent, so the taxpayers are getting duped for a county deputy making outside money from overtime.  

So back to the original thought of Kyle Dukes fixing the “Good Old Boy System.” I guess in looking at this small part of how he has hired and promoted his friends and family, Dukes has changed the “Good Old Boy System.” Kyle Dukes expanded what he claimed needed fixed and then gave those involved more money. I guess when Dukes said fix it, he meant improve it, and maybe now it should be called the “Great Old Boy System”!

J.D. Ayres

North Webster, via email