Opinion » Street Talk

The sheriff reads New Times


Just call us Exihibit No. 1, or Appendix A for short. In SLO County Sheriff Pat Hedges' increasingly Nixonian legal defense of his surreptitious videotaping of a top deputy, he listed the New Times' Oct. 4 cover story about the calls for him to stand down while he's being investigated as his primary evidence that county officials are out to get him.

He's got enemies, folks. And a secret tape. And he's already told us he's not a crook.

Do you need anything more?

I'll bet he likes dogs named Checkers.

And probably seeks an open-door policy toward China.

He's even made a list--it's right there in the court documents that simultaneously seek to gag county officials from talking about him and try once again to get the county to pay his legal bills.

In fact, if you read the legal filing in which Hedges argues that county officials shouldn't be allowed to speak about him (apparently it's just a one-way gag because he had a press conference about the whole effort right after appearing in court last week), you come to understand that Hedges has been the victim of this whole thing, because he was just trying to catch sheriff's deputies smuggling drugs into the jail, among other things.

Only he apparently found out they weren't actually doing that. But it didn't stop him from disclosing the allegation in court. He can do that, because he's the sheriff. Just don't let anybody else talk about him. And somebody figure out who Spiro Agnew is in this whole mess.

Speaking of oh crap, I've got no transition to the next part, so I'll just employ a magic ellipses

The New York Times ran an article a bit ago reporting that Wal-Mart, that poor victim of the buy-local bullies in Atascadero, "doesn't just believe in lower prices--it believes in lower property taxes."

The article--based on a study by the Washington-based group Good Jobs First--notes that Wal-Mart has attempted to get the property taxes it pays reduced at 35 percent of its retail stores and 40 percent of its distribution centers. It succeeds in about half of the attempts, the story noted. Not exactly great news for supporters of building a new one in A-Town, who have largely based their public appeal on the need to increase tax revenue.

Of course, since the county gets most of the property taxes--while cities get their cut from sales taxes--maybe it won't be a big deal.

Another magic ellipses

I've been having some thoughts recently about the No Child Left Behind law. It strikes me, completely on my own, that the most apt metaphor would be a football championship. If a team doesn't win the championship, it will be on probation until it is a champion--and its coaches will be held accountable.

Wait, I'm sorry. I thought that I thought that up all on my own, but I apparently didn't. Someone pointed out it was taken word for word from Bill Morem's Sept. 6 column in The Tribune. Trouble is, his version was also taken almost exactly word for word from a widely circulated essay on the Internet, written by an unknown author. Maybe Bill? If so, he should dig out that first draft pronto.

Here are some more examples of the striking similarities:

Bill's column: "Under NCLB, all teams must make the state playoffs, and all must win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, it will be on probation until it is a champion--and its coaches will be held accountable."

The Internet version: "All teams must make the state playoffs, and all will win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable."

Bill's column: "This will create a new age of sports in which every school is to have the same level of talent, and all teams will reach the same goals."

The Internet version: "This will create a New Age of sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimal goals."

I could go on, but I won't. I just hate filling up my column with someone else's words.

Folks, there's a word for it when a writer passes off someone else's words for his own. It starts with a P and ends with ism. I'd spell it all out for you, but I can't figure out exactly out to spell the "lager" part.

Bill, in a recent "clarification," told his readers that he used a metaphor that he unintentionally, but carelessly, implied was his own. He said he received it from an anonymous educator.

"I apologize for not clearly disclosing that the metaphor was someone else's," he wrote.

That's fine that he's sorry. Bill has a long history here and should perhaps be allowed one gaffe, even one like this that's on a level that's gotten columnists elsewhere promptly fired. But for the record, let's make it clear that Bill didn't merely borrow a metaphor--he borrowed nearly every word of someone else's essay.

Alas, as I always say, these are indeed the times that try men's souls.

And finally, since I'm talking about The Tribune--which, you must admit, I haven't done much of lately--does anybody remember the headline when they discussed the characteristics of the then 14 candidates for Cuesta's presidential opening? If not, here it is: "Cuesta candidates in a word? Diverse." We were told they were men and women of various ethnic and personal backgrounds. So I was expecting a sort of We Are the World thing when we learned about who the four finalists are. And who are they? In a word? Old white guys. All of them.

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