Mad Priorities: Topeka, KS Cuts Crime Fight, Spends on Golf

Another city makes unbelievable budget priorities:

Cash-strapped Topeka, Kansas, has decided to stop prosecuting domestic violence casses in order to save money. The City Council announced the proposal Oct. 4, after the Shawnee County District Attorney’s office announced it could no longer prosecute misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases. The city’s maneuver may even require repealing the part of the city code that bans domestic battery. Mayor Bill Bunten told the Topeka Capital-Journal city officials take domestic violence seriously, and it would be “dead wrong” to assume offenders won’t be prosecuted. But the dispute is over who would pay for it, he said. Shawnee County has already dropped 30 domestic violence cases since it stopped prosecuting the crime on Sept. 8. Some 16 people have been arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery charges and then released after charges were not filed.

The prosecutions of misdemeanors, including domestic violence, would allegedly cost $350,000 per year. The city of Topeka says it cannot afford that, yet in its adopted budget for 2011 the city spends:

  • $796,000 on golfing activities;
  • $504,000 on athletics facilities and activities;
  • $267,000 on “Old Prairie Town” – a tourist attraction; and
  • $1.5 million on administration of the Parks and Recreation Department.

It might be a good idea for the elected officials in Topeka to take a closer look at their own priorities. Golf and tourism activities are not parts of the essential functions of government. Enforcing the law and bringing justice to criminals are.