How Not to Pick a Sheriff
The local Democratic Party's attempts to chose a new sheriff grew more bizarre by the hour. Roscoe P. Coltrane never did show up, but even if he did, the security guards probably would have shut him out, as they did to Warren Turner, who saw his two-day candidacy thwarted when he wasn't allowed into the chambers to nominate himself. I wonder what would have happened if Clint Eastwood had showed up on a horse, rifle in hand.
The end result of all the shenanigans is that our new sheriff is a guy named Nick Mackey. He was a cop for thirteen years before resigning under a cloud. He won't release his personnel records from that time, and he won't even say whether or not he's married. As far as I can tell, he's managed neither a staff nor a budget, and if he has, it's certainly hasn't been on the scale of the sheriff's department, which has over 1,400 employees and a $104 million budget. He does appear to dress well, and according to the Observer article, he checks his cell phone a lot and knows how to work a room.
That’s not to say I think he’ll make a terrible sheriff. I have no idea what kind of sheriff he’ll make. That IS to say that he doesn’t appear qualified. But all he did was take advantage of a screwy political process.
The entire process, frankly, was absurd. It revealed a local Demcratic party fractured at its core, with much of the split apparently along racial lines. From the newspaper coverage of the process (by the way, kudos to The Observer for its extensive coverage. Well, except for the columnists. I'll get to that in a moment), it became apparent that Bailey vs. Mackey quickly became a white vs. black issue among many of the party faithful. As media continued to reveal unflattering details of Mackey's past, his supporters grew more staunch, even accusing the media of launching a smear campaign (news flash: media don’t launch smear campaigns; politicians do). Meanwhile, Bailey was caught entirely flatfooted by the entire process. He and Pendergraph apparently thought that because Sheriff Jim said so, the job would be Bailey’s. Not quite.
Like I said, the Observer did a good job reporting the news on the whole affair. The two metro columnists, meanwhile, dropped the ball. Mark Washburn and Tommy Tomlinson each took a bemused “well, isn’t democracy messy” stance. Yes, democracy is messy. But this wasn’t democracy. Our sheriff was chosen by about 300 people, all from the same political party. At least one of the columnists should have shown some outrage. I’m sure that, more than once, the reporters covering the scene muttered under their breath, “this is ridiculous.” They needed one of their columnists to say so. Because it was.