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Flagpole. (Athens, Ga.) 1987-current, July 12, 2000, Image 7

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PUBLISHER'S NOTES ENCUMBERED WITH INCUMBENTS Weather Hot: Politics Not On the surface, the political scene seems quiet, though it’s no doubt hectic to those who are cam paigning with less than a week until the pri maries. Several pundits have pointed out yet again what a scandalously self-serving setup we have with a primary in the dead of summer, when many are away and few are thinking about politics. Who’s favored by such a travesty? Incumbents, of course. Who makes the laws? What are the chances of changing the primaries to the fa'l? The next time your state senator or representatives ask you for your vote, tell them you’d be much more likely to vote at all if they would move the election to a time when you’re in town and taking care of business. Also, tell them to quit shedding those crocodile tears over low voter turnouts. Correction It has come to the attention of the Flagpole campaign bureau that the hapless Vince Littman is running as a Republican this time around. This means that all those Republicans who resent our absentee Congressman, the dentist from Tucker, GA, who disdair.j to reside in the district he represents, can both get on a motorcycle and ride together to the polls to waste their votes on Littman. Vince will surely get fewer votes in the Republic Party than he got in what the Republic guys call the Democrat Party. Thanks to our virtually unregulated cam paign finance practices, our Neanderthal Congressman can amass a campaign chest of lobbyist and special-interest money in the amount of $700 000 and growing. Tins means that nobody will ever run against this bas tion of “let the rich have their way and the poor have family values," except somebody like Littman, who so far has not been able to afford even the first campaign sign. What a democracy! What a republic! The High Sheriff I guess Sheriff Jerry Massey and his opponent, Ira Ldwards, are out working. They’ve both done a good job of getting their signs out. Sheriff Massey has the edge on sheer numbers. It’s interesting how many places you see the Sheriff’s and the District Attorney’s signs in the same place. Have you seen any yard with a Gordon sign and an Edwards sign? A Massey sign and a Mauldin sign? Frequently Senator Paul Broun is in there with Gordon and Massey. It’s almost like they’re running as a ticket: the Incumbent ticket. Sheriff Massey, who basically politics all the time, has built a great, bloated bureau cracy of a department, with constantly esca lating budgets and frequent jailbreaks. The Sheriff is an anachronism required by the state constitution. The Athens-Clarke County Police Department handles law enforcement here, and the Sheriff’s depart ment exists primarily to provide security at the courthouse and to run the jail. The Sheriff has held on to some law enforcement powers, enough to keep him involved in inter-departmental drug squads and also to field an extremely natty, black-clad SWAT team, which he showed off to good effect the night of the “Panic In The Streets" Widespread Panic concert a couple of years ago. I’m not qualified to say that Jerry is a poor sheriff, and I haven’t done the research necessary to document where all that money goes: much of it is mandated by var ious state and federal requirements. But I still wonder just how many new Ford Crown Victorias it takes to serve war rants, and I’d also like to know the average weight of the deputies who drive them. I don’t know whether Ira Edwards has ihe administra tive ability to run a large Sheriff’s department, and I haven’t heard that he’s talking about downsizing it. Still, if all the Sheriff really has to do is politic, then maybe it’s time for some new politics. Ira could at least do something about the hos tile atmosphere you encounter when you go to get somebody out of jail. • If you think I’m being too hard on the Sheriff, don’t worry. Jerry ano 1 have known each other for a long time, and he’d expect as much. Besides, he stopped inviting me to his Christmas parties a long time ago. The Commission Harry Sims probably doesn’t have too much to worry about from Sergio Sandoval in District 2. Sandoval seems like a nice guy but he’s without polit ical experience. Sims could use some compe tition. From where I sit, it looks like he pretty much relies on the Mayor to tell him which way the wind is blowing. Being a friend of this Mayor means you can get an audience with the inner circle when you need something for your constituents— didn’t the Mayor pretty much wrejk the government over the failure to appoint an African-American to head the Human and Economic Development Department? Still, Sims ought, ! t seems, to be telling the Mayor and his crowd what District 2 needs, rather than carrying their water in hopes of getting the occasional sidewalk. The Rest The suspense builds. Anybody willing to bet on a non-incumbent? By the nature of their under-financed campaigns, they become stealth candidates: working through town meetings and neighborhood receptions, largely ignored by the press and out-signed and billboarded into oblivion. Still, D.A. candidate Ken Mauldin didn’t quit a secure job without a plan for giving Harry hell, and Doug Haines just might find the right key through email and neighborhood activism to slip into the Senate ahead of 3roun’s big bucks. Pete McCommons US1CIAN S AREH0USE PREDATOR PIUS All Fandar duller Strings $2.99 With this ad 447 E. Clayton • Across METERED PARKING • J disks 60's & 70's! GIFT CERTIFICATES AVAILABLE VOTBts JULY 12, 2000 FLAGPOLE H