Friday, October 17, 2008

Excuses or Realities? A Matter for Voters

Last night the Downtown Neighborhood Association held its Candidates Forum and they did a fine job. Columnist Bill Dawers from SMN tossed questions to the incumbents and challengers. The one thing that struck me as key between all incumbents is when asked what they would do to improve their areas of operations, they all said the same thing, people need to know I can't do anything about that because.... 

Lets start with Judge Brannen. When his challenger, Gwen Forston Waring made reference to her goal of stopping the revolving door of justice, Brannen responded by saying he sends convicted people to state prison by the boat load - but Governor Purdue lets them out early and sends them back to our community. Further, the Judge says that Purdue doesn't even tell us when he lets them out early so when they revolve back to Savannah he is as shocked as anyone. It is clear there seems to be a correlation between length of service and the capacity to blame someone else, or, the longer you serve the less innovation you manifest.

While there may be some truth to this notion, the Judge missed Ms. Warings point that "more effective sentencing  innovations coming from the other superior court judges" could make all the difference particularly in the long run.

Then came Sheriff Al St Lawrence. His opponent did not show up but then never accepted the invitation to begin with either. Oh well. At these forums, questions keep coming up about jail over crowding which drives the need for more very expensive jail expansion. What I keep hearing from this salty old school career politician is, "I ain't gonna tell you again, I run a pre-trial facility and I got 1810...."  If I have heard that once I have heard it a hundred times. Al just seems to think his entire job is to keep people locked up. In my opinion that is the minimum a Sheriff should do.

I would think a smart sheriff would start asking and caring about why his jail is always full not just for the sake of those incarcerated but how about for the tax payers who have to pay through their teeth to keep building additional jail beds at a cost of $143,000 per bed? Hello, are you listening Al? I know it's late in the game and all but since you are "the highest law enforcement officer in the county" couldn't you use your position to put a little pressure on the others who actually do have some control over our crime levels? This would require a "proactive" and "integrated" approach to the problem.

Ergo: If schools would teach students (resulting in a higher graduation level than 50%), if the courts used more effective sentencing options earlier in first time offender cases, if the business community started paying people a real wage (hospitality industry are you listening?) and if parents would for God's sake start being parents for a change (that means first setting a good example, being home to help with homework, joining PTA) then we might one day stop building new jails. I'm sorry but Al St Lawrence just never modernized his thinking about jailing. It's not 1956 anymore Al and, yes, you run an extremely secure facility however taxpayers would like you to not lust over larger and larger jails. In fact, that should be somehow written into the job description for the next sheriff.

Tomorrow I will comment on the DA candidates and my close encounter with the anachronism, Pete Liakakis.


Anonymous said...

Where did my Lori Brady yard sign go? I had one in my yard, has anyone seen it?

John McMasters said...

Well, it went away Dave. Seems it was illegally posted on Home Depot property like a lot of Lori Brady signs seem to be posted.

I really thought I was doing a service to driver safety and upholding HD policy (they actually thanked me for removing it and said I shouldn't hesitate should I encounter similar sign postings on their property).

The question I had though was, since Lori is on the school board, what message does her illegal sign postings give? What does this say to children who are expected to follow the rules in classrooms across Chatham County?

I wish Lori all the best in her election but would advise her to focus more on finding appropriate sign locations and of course working harder for better public policy to as reduce the 50% drop out rate of the Chatham County School system.

Nuf said?

Anonymous said...

When you turn to people like Lori Brady - who does not have a college degree - to be on your school board, you should consider yourself lucky to only have a 50% drop out rate. I would have thought it would have been much higher.

And thank you for removing the Brady sign from the Home Depot, now if someone would remove them from Savannah Tire.

Anonymous said...

Is this the second criminal investigation that you are currently involved in? Were you not the leader in the Osborne, petition drive? You know the one where you got the signatures of two dead people, plus hundreds of other forged signatures. Would this not also be identity theft?
We understand a third criminal investigation involving you is imminent and will involve the FBI.
John, you are indeed living in exciting times.