Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Different Kind of Sheriff

Well, I have to say about our Sheriff Striker - he was never deceitful about his intentions. As I recall, he stated in his brochure the first time he ran for Sheriff that the Department was only a steppingstone in what he had planned for his future. He was upfront about acknowledging that one of the advantages of being Sheriff would be being able to organize his time in such a way as to reach his ultimate goal, which was to become a teacher.

I remember railing at people about this at the time. We had two other legitimate candidates, Barry Hicks and Bob Land, who were in the race for what they believed they could do for the Department. It was sort of like President's Kennedy's famous statement: Barry and Bob asked what they could do for the department while Leroy asked what the department could do for him. I thought it was telling that Leroy announced from the git-go that his campaign was all about him and his own goals but people shrugged me off.

Now that attitude has come to fruition. As I am hearing it through the grapevine, Striker has been hired by the school board to become a full-time teacher starting in August. And where does that leave the department for the last 5 months of the year? Who cares? Certainly not Leroy Striker who will receive a full salary from both the school system and the county for five months. And, incidentally, let us not forget that his wife has received her paycheck from the taxpayers since the very beginning, first from Day Reporting and then (onward and upward to better things being the catchphrase of the Striker team) as a Field Officer for Community Corrections.  And even beyond all that, let's also remind ourselves that Leroy successfully negotiated with the county to lower the retirement age for deputies to 50. And furthermore, his pay was renegotiated so that he gave up the meal contract in favor of a higher annual salary. A lot of people boo-hooed for his sake over that since it seemed like a decrease in wages but in the long run, it will be a substantial benefit because his pension is based on his salary. So, for instance, Tim Roberts' salary the last year of his administration was $27,770 and that's the amount is pension was figured on. By contrast, Leroy's will be calculated on  the $80,000 or so that the Council finally gave him, from age 50 until......whenever, possibly 30 years or more. I imagine he was laughing inwardly when he received this so-called pay cut.

Is it illegal for Leroy to leave the Sheriff's Department leaderless for 5 months while collecting that double paycheck? Nope, elected officials have no set amount of time they have to spend on their jobs. Is it ethical. In my book, the answer is definitely not!

Leroy was a different kind of sheriff from the start of his administration. I will give him lots of credit for being a expert at doing whatever he wanted by finding his way though things, around things, under things, over things. He remodeled the basement of the jail in the first few months without receiving permission from the county commissioners, who legally own all county buildings. They were upset at the time about being by-passed but the renovation project was so far along, it wouldn't have been cost effective to order him to desist. That damn-anyone-who-tries-to-stop-me action set the dynamic for the Striker administration.

Leroy not only didn't believe in the letter of any law, rule or regulation, he didn't believe in the spirit either. For instance, he worked outside the Merit Board when he wanted to fire deputies.

He accused his opponent in his second election of wrongdoing and suspended him, an underhanded way of campaigning no one else would have gotten away with.

The man has brass, I'll give him that. He's ferocious about getting what he wants and only a very few have the cojones to take him on.