-{Ed note: I wrote this post a loooooooooong time ago. Over a year ago, in fact. I know this because when I think I want to spike a post I forward-date it a month or a year. Well, a year later and it was still sitting in my queue and it slipped by me. So anyway, this was mostly a venting session aimed at the failings of democracy. Not sure how interesting you will find it. Click “More” to see the content of the post.}-

On the subject of irritating yardsigns, there were a bunch of signs that irritated the crap out of me. Not because it was somebody that I opposed, but rather it was somebody that I did support.

Several years ago I covered the State’s Attorney race for Colosse County. Our incredibly popular SA was retiring and it’d be an open race for the first time in my politically cognoscent life. I interviewed all six candidates, including five Republicans and a lone quixotic Democrat.

By far the most interesting candidate was former Deputy Mayor Jeff Harrod, who was prepping a run for statewide office when he was disgraced by a series of scandals. The most interesting thing about Harrod was what a good politician he was. I went in thinking he was a sleezebag and yet he came across so well I constantly had to remind myself that he was a Sleezebag. I’d never heard of Dan Wharton, a former police constable and judge, but he struck me as being along similar lines: charismatic, but a real jerk (and not a jerk in the way that would make one a good SA). Deputy County Attorney Jeff Fleetwood boasted on his campaign literature that he was “uniquely qualified”, but when I asked him how he was uniquely qualified considering that he had no experience in criminal law, he didn’t have an answer. Uniquely qualified meant completely unqualified. Interestingly enough, he’s the only one of the candidates that currently holds political office. I was most impressed by Mike Green, a former prosecutor who became a defense attorney, but I rightly figured he was too fair-minded to win any political office. The then-SA’s chosen successor, Kyle Goldberg, was almost certain to win, but the guy struck me as a bit of a dimwit. Nonetheless, when the run-off featured Goldberg against Wharton, I crossed my fingers and hoped that Goldberg would win. The more I got to know Wharton, the less I liked him.

Goldberg won and proved to be an embarrassment to the county and his tenure started rocky and never really recovered. Goldberg oversaw a serious scandal in the SA’s office and the Colosse Police Department that may or may not have resulted in innocent people being convicted. He was considered vulnerable by the county’s Democratic machinery and they went out in search of a candidate with enough of a name to take him down. They Democrats pounded and pounded and pounded away at Goldberg for the scandal calling it one of the worst cases of misconduct since the whole Adam-Eve-apple thing. As this was happening, they found themselves a candidate in former Colosse Police Commissioner Sam Barber. He was an odd choice for reasons I will explain, but he was probably the best they could do.

Then, in an unrelated scandal investigated and brought to light by Jeff Harrod (the sleezy former Deputy Mayor), Goldberg was suddenly forced to resign. Almost immediately Dan Wharton (the too-political and jerkly constable and judge) announced his candidacy, as did Mike Green. Harrod, having been convicted of a felony since, is ineligible. In the vacuum came star prosecutor Eric Reilly, who is known for never having lost a murder conviction case and having won many that no one expected that he would.

As it turned out, I had some experience with Reilly as he was the prosecutor in a case where I was a jury candidate. Reilly went after me pretty hard because he thought that I was an American-hating peacenik anarchist, but I nonetheless came out of it with the impression that he was a man that was passionate about his job. Even though he hurled some rather unkind accusations my way to get me dismissed from his jury, I came out of it with a better impression of him than I’d had with any of the previous candidates except Green.

It’s Reilly’s signs on the side of the road that make me mad. He was defeated in the primary by Wharton, a man that has never tried either side of a criminal case. Wharton pounded away at Reilly with Goldberg and the SA-CPD scandal that Goldberg had managed to survive before the stories of his alcoholism began to accumulate. Reilly, having worked with Goldberg though having had nothing to do with the scandal, was incapable of coming up with an adequate response.

So the result is a race between Barber and Wharton, neither of whom have any relevant experience. Now, of course, all of the pounding away that the Democrats did on Goldberg about the SA-CPD scandal is coming back to haunt them because the Commissioner of the CPD at the time was… Sam Barber. Neither Goldberg nor Barber had done anything wrong in the whole mess, but both were seen as demonstrating insufficient oversight. There isn’t much that the Democrats had said about Goldberg that couldn’t also be said about Barber. That wasn’t as big of a deal when they were going to be running against Goldberg, but since Wharton has no relevant experience with anything he is completely untainted.

How often must we prove how ill-equipped for democracy we are?


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