Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Deferral for Traffic Tickets

I never even knew about deferrals for traffic tickets until I began working at the Prosecutor's office but it seems clear to me now, judging by the number of pre-trial deferrals I process, that I was one of the ten people in the state who were not aware of this option.

Basically, with a pre-trial deferral, you pay a little more ($182 versus whatever your ticket would cost) and sign an agreement stating that if you don't have another violation for six months, your ticket will be dismissed and not appear as a conviction on your driving record. There are two kinds of people who leap at the opportunity for a pre-trial deferral - those who have never had a traffic ticket on their record and are determined to keep it that way and those who already have points against their license and don't want any more, mostly for fear of increased insurance rates.

I tell people when they call for information about deferrals that I need a copy of their ticket and a short note letting me know they are requesting to defer it. Often I get a lengthy letters in return. "Dear Most Honorable Ma'am" one of them started out, "I'm deeply apologetic for committing the offense of speeding in your county. If you will offer me forgiveness and a deferral for my ticket, I give you my solemn promise that it will never happen again."

We gave him the deferral but I couldn't promise him forgiveness, that not being part of my responsibility. And truth be told, he really didn't even have to promise that he'd never do it again, only that he wouldn't do it again for at least six months. Otherwise, when I run his driving record at the end of his agreement and see another traffic conviction on his record, I will terminate his diversion and he'll not only owe for his current ticket but the previous one besides, having wasted his $182.

People often try to convince me that they "deserve" a deferral or, more often, that their children do. "My son was valedictorian of his class. He works two part-time jobs to save money for college. He spends his free-time dishing out food at the soup kitchen. Please give him a deferral". And we do, but it doesn't really matter. They could have told me - "He's at the bottom of his class and may not graduate. He's never worked a day in his life. He spends every spare minute playing video games." He'd get the deferral just the same.

And, frequently, before making their request, drivers will lay out the case for why they shouldn't have got the traffic ticket at all. "I had my cruise control set at 57 but the officer said he clocked me at 69 so his radar must have been off." "I had to speed up to pass the semi in front of me" "I was going down a hill and naturally, my car automatically went faster - its the law of thermodynamics (or something)." "The two cars ahead of me were going faster than I was so I don't understand why the cop picked on me."

But those are issues that have to be dealt with in court. I don't certify radars or question an officer about why he chose the target he did and thermodyamics (or something) is beyond my level of expertise. Once your ticket comes to our office, its just a matter of doing a deferral. We don't require either justifications or explanations.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Memorial Day Deja Vu

If you are my age, in baby boomer territory, Memorial Day means not only the immediacy of Iraq but, far back in shadowed memory, Vietnam. Hard to believe now that the arguments and debates about Vietnam and whether or not we should have gone and whether or not we should stay swirled around decades ago as passionately as they do today about Iraq.

"We HAD to go - we HAVE to stay!" our leaders told us then, just as they are telling us now. They said that the fate of the free world hung in the balance and only the endless deaths of American soldiers could stop the catastrophe that would befall us if Vietnam fell to the Communists in what they called the Domino Theory, that Vietnam would be followed by another, then another. Communism then was the bogeyman that American leaders held over the heads of ordinary Americans to get us to buy into their war with our children as collateral, just as terrorism is today. The sacrifice was worth it, they said then as they say now. But then, as now, it was mostly our sacrifice. The sacrifice of young men whose patriotic fathers belonged to American Legion posts across the country - boys who were destined to work in the mines and on the farms and in the factories of America.

Back then, we had a draft and so presumably, everyone was at the same risk of being sent to Vietnam. Your number gets drawn, you go put your life on the line. But in reality, it didn't work that way. Does it ever? In reality, the George Bushes and Dan Quayles of the world, the sons of wealthy, prominent families, were able to wangle coveted spots in the National Guard. The Bill Clintons were saved by their intelligence. Intelligent enough to receive college deferments, intelligent enough to game the system later, intelligent enough not to want to take a chance on jeopardizing careers planned early on by getting killed or mutilated in Vietnam. The Dick Cheneys got deferment after deferment and by the time the deferments ran out, they'd made babies that saved them from being shipped to southeast Asia. If you had some kind of edge, you could generally find a way to dodge the draft.

But the edgeless boys went and tens of thousands of them died, and hundreds of thousands of them were wounded while the war dragged on and our leaders exhorted us to hang in there because we could not set a time table for withdrawal as that would only encourage the insurgents. Neither a Democratic president nor a Republican one could manage to find an exit strategy. We couldn't cut and run because that would make America look weak. Do any of those phrases sound familiar to you in 2006?

Eventually, America turned on the Vietnam War. There was a limit to how long we would would tolerate our young men being placed on the endless conveyor belt of war. The anti-war movement got most of the publicity with its parades and protests but it was really when the collective consciousness of mothers and fathers and girlfriends and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles reached critical mass that we forced our leaders to end it.

And the world went on. Communism fell of its own weight. We have trade relations with Vietnam. Do you now think that losing there had any real impact on your life today? Did the cataclysm our leaders told us to expect to happen if we left come about? Meanwhile, the heroes who died there are now simply names on a black wall in Washington and memories in the hearts of those who loved them.

And now we are in Iraq and it is deja vu. I watch the names of the dead scroll by on the bottom of my t.v. screen, so common now, they barely rate anything more than a generic, "three soldiers killed by an explosive device". I read stories of Marines, some of them in Iraq for their third tour, pushed to the edge of their endurance, going on a rampage and murdering Iraqi civilians including women and children in retaliation for the death of one of their own. I read "Haditha" but I hear "My Lai". I am told that the only reason that the ratio of those killed was higher in Vietnam is because of the enormous progress that has been made in trauma medicine and the speed with which we can now transport combat victims to modern medical facilities. It gives me only a little comfort that instead of coming back in body bags, now our soldiers return "only" grievously wounded.

And still, the men who started it, the powerful men who fancy themselves geopolitical chess players, cannot bring themselves to admit they were wrong. For the sake of the egos of the old, we give over the futures of the young. If I could wish for one thing for Memorial Day, it would be that in the future Americans would be more skeptical and less trusting about wars of "choice", as Vietnam was and as Iraq is. We should demand more than a few stirring speeches before we go running off to buy magnetic bumper stickers for our cars.

The Republicans have been in power in the White House and both houses of Congress since this war began. In case you're curious, here is the list of Republican leaders, promoters of the Iraq war, who found an "edge" when it came to military service for themselves -

Vice President Dick Cheney - did not serve
Karl Rove - did not serve
Scooter Libby - did not serve
Condaleeza Rice - did not serve
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - did not serve
House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert - did not serve
Tom DeLay - did not serve
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt - did not serve
Majority Whip Mitch McConnell - did not serve
Third ranking Republican in the House Rick Santorum - did not serve
Former Majority Leader Trent Lott - did not serve

And what about the cheerleaders for the war?

Rush Limbaugh - did not serve
Ann Coulter - did not serve
Sean Hannity - did not serve
Bill O'Reilly - did not serve
Bill Kristol - did not serve
Michael Savage - did not serve
Ralph Reed - did not serve

(Hat tip to Daily Kos for this list)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Speed wins

Speed Williams won his first race - yes! Speed is the first Thoroughbred Phil and Brenda bred, raised and own themselves. Prior to getting into Thoroughbreds, they had Quarter Horses which they contested. Contesting consists of fast running and jarring turns around barrels and flags. After many years, old contesters, like Phil, begin to feel it in their backs, hips, necks and knees. So when Indiana approved pari-mutuel betting and built its first race track in Anderson, Phil and Brenda traded the Quarter Horses for Thoroughbreds to get in on the ground floor of helping to develop a Thoroughbred breeding program in this state.

It has been a long and expensive haul to get to that first trip to the winners circle. If you are into immediate gratification, breeding race horses is not for you. Brenda and Phil started with five brood mares. Hearing Brenda describe the costs involved made it sound like they were housing dollar-eating machines in the stalls in their barn rather than horses. They needed to be bred, of course. Babies were the whole point of the operation. Breeding means stud fees, fairly high ones, if you want bloodlines that actually predict progeny that might inherit speed and soundness, not to mention the hassle of hauling the ladies for their conjugal visits with the stallion, wherever he may live.

It turns out that racing Thoroughbred mares leaches some female hormone from their system. The lack of this hormone (I forget which one) causes them to abort their foals so it must be provided artificially. And they need hay and grain and shoes and shots and regular visits from the veterinarian to ensure their continued good health.

Then the babies are born and the Thoroughbred breeder has already become accustomed to the gambling aspect of racing, even if they've never placed a bet, because every colt or filly born is a gamble. Do they have the physical requirements, the heart, the health, the personality to be competitive? Every youngster is watched for clues as to whether the enormous expense required to eventually bring it to the track is going to be worth the risk.

Phil does all the initial training of the little ones. He breaks them and socializes them and teaches them manners. His horses lead quietly and load easily. The groundwork in training a Thoroughbred can be crucial.

When they are old enough, they go to the "real" trainer, the racing trainer. After working with them, the trainer will eventually make the final call on whether this particular youngster has potential. Racing Thoroughbreds have to be registered and tattooed. They have to have gate cards. Grooms have to be hired as well as jockeys. Jockeys have to have silks in the stable colors. The horses have to be checked by the track veterinarian. They have to be taken back and forth between farm, trainer and track, not an inexpensive proposition itself with the current price of gas. I'm sure I'm forgetting many of the various expenses. Brenda makes it seem like an endless blur of checks.

Horsepeople are the world's most cock-eyed optimists. Phil has never doubted that the sacrifices made to help establish a Thoroughbred breeding program in Indiana are worth it (although he's sometimes had to drag Brenda along with him kicking and screaming). And he isn't motivated primarily by the hope of big bucks to come, although that hope is there. It is the satisfaction at being in at the beginning of something important. It is the excitement of visiting the winner's circle for the first time, knowing this colt was planned, bred, trained and believed in. It is knowing there will be more generations to come, all bearing the name of Speed King Stables.

When Speed raced to the finish line, he was carrying not only a jockey, but a dream.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Drug Draft

When I went with Tim and Dallas to the Sheriff's Department, one of the first decisions that was made was that we would have no secrets from the people who paid our wages, namely, the taxpayers. As a result, press releases flowed from the Sheriff's Department to the various media organizations in the county on a regular basis. We shared it all - the good, the bad and the ugly. We figured people expected us to be compentent but they didn't require perfection. Some things will happen despite your best efforts to prevent them - deputies will get suspended, prisoners will escape, cars will be wrecked - but people will understand as long as you are honest with them.

If you think about it, most politicians who have run into really serious trouble brought it on themselves by trying to hide their original transgression. It wasn't so much the break-in at the Watergate that brought down Richard Nixon, it was the cover up afterwards. It wasn't dallying with Monica in the Oval Office that got Clinton impeached, it was lying about it. It wasn't arms for hostages that opened Ronald Reagan to a years-long investigation, it was denying it. Belatedly, he accepted responsibility and was able to avoid serious political repercussions.

Washington is currently being run by the most secretive administration of my lifetime, perhaps of anyone's lifetime. The Bush administration prefers not to tell us anything. Of course, they try to lay it on 911, as they do everything, but that doesn't really wash. Would knowing who attended Vice-president's Cheney's meetings on energy really compromise national security or would it just confirm that Big Oil pretty much wrote our energy policy? Did they go back and re-classify papers that had been de-classified for decades because they were concerned for our safety or are they simply paranoid about allowing the people to know too much? Did they lie about their reasons for going to war with Iraq because they didn't think they could sell the war to the American people if they knew the case for weapons of mass destruction was as weak as it was? When your government officials lie to you for your "own good", you need to start being being paranoid yourself.

But we don't have to go so far afield to be concerned about official secrets. We have our own problems right here. Take the situation with the Wabash High School Girl's Softball Team suspending the rest of its season. The rumors were that some members of the team were involved with heroin. I've heard that myself and I think my sources are pretty credible. Principal Celia Briggs has denied those rumors but if they aren't true, she also hasn't informed the public what the truth really is. In the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, she is quoted as saying, "so people are looking at this like, 'wow, they suspended softball, it must be a big deal.'" She implies that what happened wasn't a "big deal", but if that is so, then why not just say what it was, rather than let the ugly rumors swirl? The only thing the public is told is that there were violations of the school's athletic code. What does that mean? I would think the students involved would want the real truth revealed rather than be tarred by the continued suspicion of heroin use. You have to be extremely careful in dealing with juveniles that their privacy is respected so I wouldn't expect names but if in fact, heroin was involved, the community as a whole needs to know it, mainly, so they can start to realize what a problem drugs, in general, and heroin, in particular, have become so we can begin to mobilize against it.

And I think most of us who don't work in law enforcement or in the judicial system truly don't have a clue how pervasive drugs, serious drugs, are here. I believe if most ordinary citizens had any idea how many overdoses happen in Wabash County, they would be shocked. I can count at least half a dozen in the last few weeks and I'm sure I don't know all of them. Some caused death while others only resulted in emergency room treatment and/or mental health counseling. I know of people who have suffered brain damage and of people who had to be treated through the neck because they'd blown out most of their veins mainlining. I know people who committed armed robberies in a desperate effort to get money for heroin. I know people who risk their own lives and the lives of others, including their children, in the dangerous process of obtaining the ingredients to make meth and in the even more dangerous process of "cooking" meth. I know parents whose hearts have been broken by children who "chose" heroin over college. And we can't write all these folks off as the "usual suspects". Drugs are now invading every socio-economic level.

We don't know about a lot of these situations because they aren't publicized. You never read in an obituary that someone died of an overdose or was rushed to an emergency room because of an overdose or was detained to a mental health care facility because of drug abuse. Naturally enough, it isn't something families want revealed. We are kind enough as a society to allow them to protect their loved ones. That is understandable, just as it is understandable that a principal wants to protect the reputation of her school and the privacy of her students.

But, I think perhaps, it is time for the secrecy to end. You can't fight a war when you don't have even a rudimentary understanding of your enemy. We have a drug task force in the county - two full-time city officers and an on again-off again county deputy, who I hope will remain on the task force permanently. Three officers is a lot for a county our size but despite their best efforts, they are overwhelmed by the enormity of their task. They can't do it alone. It is going to take all of our efforts - parents, teachers, other public officials, media, you and me- and knowledge is ammunition. The drug war here is rather like the Iraq war. It is being fought strictly by volunteers but not much is asked of the rest of us. I think it is time to initiate a draft.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Basement Blues

My basement exists like a parallel universe, separate but uncomfortably connected to the warm familiarity of my actual house. It is your basic old house basement - half rock-walled mustiness and half dirt-bottomed crawl space. Most of the time I manage to forget it is even there. It has been my experience that only bad things happen in the basement. Like, occasionally, my pipes freeze and a Salamander has to be rented and drug down the steep steps and trained on the location the blockage is believed to be. It usually takes five seconds for the water to run freely again but there is no minimum charge for a Salamander if you return it in 10 minutes or less.

I sense that the basement may be home to creatures I don't even want to think about - spiders and centipedes and crunchy bugs - as well as other and sundry vermin, like mice or possoms.

If the water heater and the furnace didn't live there, I would be tempted to buy a million tubes of that stuff that you put around pipe seams that comes out like foam and then turns hard. I'd squeeze it into the basement until it filled every crack and crevice and the basement essentially didn't exist anymore.

Twice since I've lived in this house, I've gotten water in the basement high enough to cover the pilot light in the water heater. I wouldn't have thought a house on the highest hill for blocks around would get water in the basement but there you go - there is obviously some geo-physiological principle going on here that I don't understand. Both times I ended up without hot water, we'd been inundated with torrential rainfall but this last time, it didn't seem as if it had rained that much recently, so my first thought was that my hot water heater had simply died of old age.

But Mom, who can access the basement from a door through her bedroom, went and peeked, coming back with a "water in the basement!" alert so perhaps, it was our recent steady rain that had caused the problem. Worst yet, continued rain was forecast for the next several days and even worse than that, my furnace is only a few inches higher than the hot water heater. I could, barely, afford to replace a hot water heater if I had to but there is absolutely no provision in my budget for a new furnace.

Panicked, I called John. I was just leaving for work when he walked over to to the outside basement door. I saw him do a double take. Then he lifted up the hose and shot me a look of pure frustration. "The hose is running!"

Mom called me later to give me an account of the follow up. Turned out, she remembered leaving the hose on. She'd watered the flowers on the porch and then got distracted. As near as she could remember that had been about two weeks before. Your scientific fact for the day: roughly half of month of steadily running water will fill a small basement to a height of about a foot and a half.

John and Larry got a sump pump and pumped the water out of the basement. They got both the hot water heater and furnace pilot lights re-lit once they'd had some time to dry out. Furthermore, the water in the basement evidently flushed out the corpse of our most recent rat from wherever he'd holed up to die. They'd removed the body, along with the mouse that was collateral damage from the rat poison we'd put out.

Larry had some words of wisdom, "if you ever get another rat, trying to drown it to death is probably not the best option." Ha-ha.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Closer to Home

According to polls, approximately half of the American people believe that it is fine for the government to monitor our phone calls. They feel it is an acceptable trade to give up some of their freedom for a little more security against potential terrorist attacks. But how would they feel if they were asked to bring this debate a little closer to home?

Most Americans are far more likely to be the victims of a criminal -burglar, mugger, rapist or even a murderer - than victims of a suicide bomber. It is much more likely that the home next to them contains a secret meth lab than an Al Gaida sleeper cell. Their children are much likelier to fall prey to a drug dealer or the friendly neighborhood child molestor than an Islamo-fascist terrorist.

So, in light of this, would Americans want to extend the same privileges to the cops that they are willing to give to the national government including the NSA and the CIA, as well as other agencies that might be looking over our shoulders in the name of protecting us?

Do we want to reconsider all the hoops we make police officers jump through in order to obtain evidence of a crime? Perhaps we are being being overly strict in insisting that cops obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to search our homes or cars. Maybe we're being silly to insist that they get subpoenas to be able to order phone companies to turn over our phone records. If we personally have nothing to hide, then we shouldn't be bothered by a little law enforcement snooping, it is just the price we have to pay for a little more safety from the bad guys. Are the Miranda laws overkill? Is informing suspects that they have a right not to answer questions and that they have a right to an attorney going overboard in protecting civil rights? In this dangerous world are those just legal niceties we can't afford any more?

Maybe we should cut the cops some slack and allow them to take some shortcuts. I mean, if they flat-out know that someone is guilty and a criminal may go free if we insist that they dot every i and cross every t, needing Probable Cause to make a stop or do a search may be just too high of a standard.

It all boils down to trust, doesn't it? If you trust your police officers, then you shouldn't have to worry that relaxing the rules would ever impact you or anyone in your family. But you can't just trust most cops, you have to trust all of them because, as in all professions, the good ones will continue to do their jobs fairly and honestly, it is the bad ones who would take advantage of the new reality.

I have worked with many police officers in Wabash County. I like most of them and even loved some of them. From my experience, I would say that at least 95% per cent of them are dead honest and well, law-abiding. I also lived in Houston, Texas for a while. There was a scandal when I lived there in which some police officers would have cars towed and then not notify owners which impound lot they were sent to. Vehicle owners would spend days searching for their cars, then have to pay a high storage fee. The lot owners split this money with the officers involved. Even in Houston, I expect that 95% percent of the police officers were righteous. But 5% of the Houston PD is a lot of bad cops. Looked at the mixed behavior of New Orleans police officers during Katrina - it ranged from honorable and heroic to craven and crooked.

It is the same with torture as it is with domestic spying. If we bring it closer to home, would we condone torturing jail inmates or prisoners in our correctional facilities if, say, they knew who was bringing the heroin in from Chicago to Wabash or who burglarized your house? Would we think terrifying the people in our jail with vicious dogs or forcing them to rub feces on themselves or leading them around, naked, on leashes or "waterboarding" them to make them they believe they were drowning was justified? And would most correctional officers do it? Would they do it if they were encouraged by their leaders and even praised for doing it? Would some of them actually enjoy it doing it? Well, we know that Lindy England did it and seemed to be having a high old time. My guess is that Lindy was one of the 5%.

Most of our laws are made to protect the rest of us from the 5% - of rogue cops, of brutal correctional officers, of incompetent doctors, of cheating companies, of dishonest leaders. And if you don't think that those 5% don't also populate the C.I.A. and the N.S.A., then you are naive. If you don't think those 5% aren't able and willing to turn your anonymous phone records into everything they ever might want to know about you, you are foolish. (I am not a computer whiz but even I know how to do research to find out who you are if I have your phone number).

What they might want to know is if you are their political enemy - and what terrible repercussions ever followed from that determination over the years? What they might want to know is your medical history so they can sell it to insurers who will use it to decide whether to insure you. What they might want to know is the state of your finances so they can target a fundraising pitch your way or worse, steal your identity. And for those of you who think no harm can be done to you by an abridgement of your civil rights because you have complete faith in this administration, remember that it won't always be this administration. Those who George Bush are true-believers, imagine a President Hillary Clinton and see if you still feel the same.

The bottom line is: if you wouldn't give over your Constitution to the Locals, then you shouldn't be willing to give it up to the Feds either because the principle is exactly the same. As Benjamin Franklin said, "they that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety".

Friday, May 12, 2006

Life Goes On

No matter how caught up you get in serious issues, it is amazing how the everydayness of life can bring you right back down to reality. For instance, with a burgundy carpet, a blond Cocker Spaniel and a light brown Pomeranian, you simply must remember that your primary intimate relationship is with your vacuum sweeper. Other flirtations, like political campaigns, may come and go but when the political wars are over, you come home to the sweeper. It is sort of like having a mini-affair with a movie star. He is handsome and exciting for a while, but when he leaves you, you reach the realization that the husband at home, though dull, is the one that faithfully brings in the paycheck.

I buy sweeper bags in a approximately the same volume as the mother of triplets buys disposable diapers. There should be a sweeper bag service that works in much the same way that my mom's diabetic supplies are sent directly to her on a regular schedule. If I neglect this most elementary of household chores, a fine covering of pale dog hair spills across the floor. If I let the sweeper sit for a week (which I've never done), I'm convinced you'd no longer know our what color are carpets are. Perhaps, burgundy carpets seen through a haze of Cocker blond are a particularly appealing shade of mauve but I hope I never find out.

I remember once, years ago, when GeeGee told me about a lady who knitted herself a sweater coat from the fur she collected from her Collie. At that time, GeeGee had two Collies and dabbled with the idea herself. But I never, then or now, had the remotest desire for a doghair coat. And even if I did, I failed knitting when I had to take it in high school as a section in sewing class. While other students were moving on triumphantly to capes and bags, I was still stuck on a string, having never learned the technique of how to turn and go back the other way. At the end of the six weeks, when Knitting 101 finally ended, I had a length of pink that I could have used to tie out the dog. The teacher told me I should have got an F since being able to change directions was an essential part of knitting but out of pity, she gave me a D minus. We then moved on to actual Sewing where the other girls completed the class by competing in a style show at the Honeywell Center. Meanwhile, I was still working on the sash of what was eventually supposed to become an apron.

Even now, as I waste my time writing on a blog, the sweeper sits in the corner laying a guilt trip on me.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Election Recap

First, I'm sorry I'm been away so long but political events kept me busy. Now that the election is over I plan to spend more time here. I also want to apologize because I'm am a beginning blogger and still not very familiar with the mechanics of a blog. When I first started this, it was set so that any comment made would be published, then somehow, without my knowing it, that got changed so that I discovered that I had to manually approve posts before they would show up. I don't know how to change that back but until I find out, I will monitor the situation closely and publish any comments as they appear. There were several posts to the "Why the Deputies Quit" section, both pro and con to my views, that did not get published until now. One person made a statement that they didn't believe I would print their post because they disagreed with me. My policy on comments is that all that come from a real person will be posted. The only ones I delete are some that are obviously sales pitches.

I can take the heat for what I write. In all the years, I wrote for the Plain Dealer and the syndicate, I received many negative responses. I've always held the position that Americans should be more involved in the political process, not less, so there is nothing I enjoy more than a good old red-meat debate. The more people discuss the issues, the happier I am, whatever their beliefs are. I might suggest that people identify themselves rather than posting as "Anonymous". It is much easier to be brave about what you write from behind the fire wall of anonymity. After all, you know who I am.

I'm not going to respond now to the comments that were made since they are no longer very timely, except to say that Tim Roberts never wanted to fire Bryan Cox. (I think Bryan deserves to have me say that). Anything further on that subject should probably come from Tim although he is currently in Oregon being Grandpa so I doubt he'll be blog-reading for a while.

I want to say that I have never been prouder of any campaign I've been involved in than I have of Mike Shrider's. The Shrider family worked their hearts out and were professional in every way from small things like the decorations for our events, to the ads Mike ran, to the website, to wanting to include every small town in Wabash County in our campaign, to the way Mike insisted on staying positive at all times.

Of course, he stated in his ads and on his website things he believed could be changed and improved about the Sheriff's Department. That's what candidates do. Perhaps some in the Striker campaign thought Mike was giving them hell but as Harry Truman once said, "I just tell them the truth and they think it's hell."

I had to laugh at Rick Hahn's letter to the editor in the Plain Dealer in which he said that our Committee "spewed hateful rhetoric". Rick must be a total political novice if he considered anything we said as "hateful rhetoric"! Perhaps, Rick should have used names and examples because I don't know what he was talking about. As for me, I stand behind everything I said, both in public and private.

In fact, some of us wanted to be more confrontational. For instance, we thought an issue should have been made of Leroy's refusal to debate even though the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Commerce offered to sponsor a debate and Oldies 106 offered to broadcast it live. My own opinion is that any incumbent owes it to the voters to be willing to stand before them and plead his case for what he's done and why he deserves to be re-elected.

Some of us wanted to point this out but Mike said no.

In retrospect, perhaps Mike's insistence on keeping to the high road contributed to his losing the election by 193 votes. We'll never know for sure but in any event, every candidate must run a campaign that is in keeping with his character and that is what Mike did.

So that is my election re-cap. If you agree or disagree, post away. You will be heard.