If you’re Mike Sanders, Jackson County Executive, your life has to be a little stressful right now.

The economy is sinking into further disrepair daily. At the 50,000-foot level, large financial firms are being bailed out, cornerstone foundations are seeking government assistance and state lawmakers are finding their budgets squeezed tighter than yours truly in too-small spandex. Simply put, a lot of people are going broke.

Here in our neck of the woods, Sanders and Co. are stuck between heaven and a jail cell. On one end, the county will get some much-needed greenbacks by welcoming some of Kansas City’s least law-abiding citizens to the Jackson County Detention Center. Sure, that’s effective governing, but the blunt end of the problem comes when Jackson County needs extra confinement space for its own jailbirds. Then what?

Some want to shift county offices around to make space at the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City. Fat chance. However, look closer.

In the giant chessboard of local politics, Sanders has placed the Jackson County Legislature and the public in check. Our county executive has been a vocal supporter of a regional jail in Eastern Jackson County. With the possibility of dwindling jail space at “the county” and the half-hearted suggestion to house inmates at the courthouse – an idea even Sanders calls “a short-term option” – the populace has few options to consider but one.

Yup, that would be a new regional detention center to house the growing number of thieves, molesters, vandals, assault mavens and other groups likely to increase due to our shoddy economy.

Politically, Sanders has made a strong play. When you want someone to make a tough decision in favor of what you want, simply give them a horrible alternative. For example, yours truly looks like a wonderful option for a romantic rendezvous compared to the possibility of spending time with Bobby the Foul-Mouthed Boozer. Sanders knows you won’t sit idle while he crams mistake-prone bad guys into some less than desirable venue.

Will you? That’s why Sanders should be sweating.

Like the governments we serve, our families are feeling the buzz saw of a tight economy. As a result, many of us are less than sympathetic toward a government that wants to spend money on a big money project, even when it’s something we need. And thanks to Uncle Sam and his giving ways, the little guy sure doesn’t want to give money to his big brother.

In the short term, as Sanders says, the county has a solution for an overrun of inmates. He’s betting that by time the situation goes stale, you’ll let him build a new jail, likely in the nether regions of eastern Independence. I wouldn’t bet against him.

But if I was Mike, I would be sweating.