Friday, December 07, 2007

More on the sheriff's race

I would not classify the reaction to my column today as "overwhelmingly positive." The word "idiot" has popped up several times in my e-mail -- OK, that always happens, but today even more than usual. Jeff Taylor, in his always-interesting Meck Deck blog, has pretty much the same reaction in a more nuanced way.

So let's look at some of the criticisms of how this all played out.

It wasn't a vote of the people. Well, it wasn't a general election, but it wasn't a bunch of politicians either. The 300-some people who voted were mostly precinct captains -- their main job is keeping polling places straight on Election Day. I saw a couple of people I knew at the meeting last night, and I had no idea until that moment that they had anything to do with local politics. Believe me, by and large, they're not insiders.

Also remember this: Jim Pendergraph got this ball rolling by leaving his job with three years left on his term. This process, screwed up as it was, was already in place. If we want to change the law to require a general election to fill unexpired terms, fine. But this was a fair and clean vote under current state law.

(By the way, if the sheriff had been a Republican, the same thing would have happened on the other side -- Republican elected officials and precinct officers would have picked the new sheriff. Somehow I think they wouldn't be so upset with the process then.)

Mackey's not qualified for the job. He's clearly not as qualified as Chipp Bailey was. And if we want to start appointing the sheriff like we appoint the police chief, fine with me.

But people vote for (and against) candidates for all sorts of reasons -- party affiliation, positions on one or two key issues, unfounded rumors, good hair. For example, Pendergraph took a strong stand against illegal immigration, and Bailey promised to carry out his policies. If you're in favor of fewer restrictions on immigration, wouldn't you have to consider Mackey?

And if qualifications for office were the sole factor, how would Bush v. Gore have turned out?

Mackey's crooked. This is the part that's hardest to shake -- he clearly was in some trouble when he was a Charlotte cop. The Observer went to court (and lost) in a fight to see his personnel file. You can expect us -- as well as all the other publications, TV stations, talk-show hosts and bloggers in the area -- to be watching him like a hawk. No sheriff in this county has ever been under the microscope that Nick Mackey is about to be under.

It's all about race. I'm not sure that's true -- as I said in my column, I talked to black committee members who planned to vote for Bailey and white ones who planned to vote for Mackey. The process was so confusing that I'm not clear even today if we'll be able to parse who voted for which candidate, which would make any racial breakdowns more clear.

But let's say, for the sake of argument, that Mackey and his supporters worked the system to make sure a candidate of one race got this important job, and the candidate from the other race got shut out.

Where do you think they would have learned such a thing?

Have at it in the comments.


Anonymous said...


Your response is a point. "Where do you think they would have learned such a thing?" Ah, is that the old two wrongs make a right argument? That's rich.

As for your anecdotal evidence apparently aimed at rebutting the clear racial overtones of this faux election, please. No one's buying. The simple fact is that if supporters of any white candidate would have made the type of remarks that Mr. Mackey's supporters made, Al Sharpton would be standing on the corner of Trade and Tryon demanding the election results be tossed, a prospect many of us would agree with. It was race baiting for a new generation, nothing more. Unfortunately, your "two wrongs" argument does nothing to excuse such behavior.

Perhaps instead of trying to spin this story in some sort of positive light, you should do a little better job practicing your profession. For instance, has anyone bothered to seek out Mr. Mackey's North Carolina bar application? It turns out that the bar requires applicants to give a full job history...under oath. Clearly, Mr. Mackey's explanation for leaving the CMPD as well as the years he worked for CMPD would be relevant to the current discussion.

Another possible avenue is to check with the University of Akron regarding his law school record. If those records are not obtainable, surely you can track down a 2003 graduate of the University of Akron law school. Why, you ask? Mainly because his continued employment with the CMPD while he attended law school in Akron makes for quite a commute.

In any case, I understand your desire to excuse this situation to some degree as I too generally lean left. However, after this, the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party can be assured of at least one more straight Republican ticket in the coming elections.

iremember said...

How can you say that you're "not sure it was all about race" with a straight face? I know the man personally and professionaly and he is as corrupt as they come and has no respect for the position he is about to take nor the laws he will swear to uphold. But then again, you do know a little something about obtaining a position by lying about qualifications now don't you?

aquila6 said...

Come on, Tommy. Mackey has stolen the office of sherff, and he used a bunch of political operatives to do it. Chipp Bailey is far more qualified for the position, and his record is free of the numerous blemishes that spot Mackey's record. Bailey's only failing here is that he is apparently politically naive... but then, do we really want a sheriff who's a political creature, or do we want someone who's a good manager and law enforcer?

Here's hoping that the Democratic county commissioners who only 2 or 3 days ago described Mackey as unqualified for the job remember what they said when it comes time to sign off on last night's actions. If they have one ounce of integrity between them, they will reject Mackey as sheriff and stick with Chipp Bailey as acting sheriff.

rudy said...

Yet another hard hitting piece of investigative journalism. When will the Observer management find the wisdom and replace you with a potted plant?

This city deserves a better newspaper.

Anonymous said...

County Commissioners are required by law to approve the candidate chosen by the party.

As messy and chaotic as the past week has been, no rules were broken in the voting process. Mackey organized the precincts as they were supposed to be done, and got the precinct chairs to show up and vote.

Erdman and company ran the election in as straightforward and as transparent as could possibly be done.

Indeed, some members of the party did pull the race card, but the fact is, not all blacks were united behind Mackey, nor were all whites united behind Bailey. Again, Mackey organized the precincts with the people he knew to help ensure a victory.

As one of the Democratic Party members who did vote last night, I personally am embarrassed by how things went down last night. Chipp Bailey was the best qualified candidate and I voted for him. Unfortunately, many members of my party voted the other way and have provided easy fodder for the right wing windbags and other naysayers on this board to toot their horns.

I would suggest that if you want to be a part of the process the next time, begin organizing your precinct for the party of your choice as the process begins early next year. It is very easy to do and it obviously gives you a lot more say than whining on this blog does.

Kind regards,


Anonymous said...

"Danimal", was it?

Instead of explaining to all of us "windbags" the supposed niceties of the electoral process, maybe you should check out North Carolina General Statute 162-5.1. I think you'll find that there is no requirement that the County Commissioners approve the party's choice. In fact, there's not even a set timetable for voting on approval. (For all the wannabe politicos who attended last night's farce of an election, this means the Commission could sit on the issue for three years.)

This a problem because enough of us windbags (or "voters" as we're sometimes called) complaining, could prompt a single Democratic commissioner to join the Republicans in not approving the choice of Mr. Mackey. Then you could get a chance to see legitimate grassroots politics in action.

Anonymous said...

BTW, Danimal's admission that he is a political insider for the Democratic Party pretty much means that when he speaks, Parks Helms' voice comes from his mouth. In other words, any opinion he expresses is basically worthless.

haha17 said...

I think it is absolutely fantastic what has occurred.
It has exposed the Democratic party for what is has been for quite some time: a racist organization at its grassroots level. I know many do not see this ("I know of a black guy who voted for Baily"), but the overwhelming majority (90%+) of the black community votes en-mass for blacks and those that overwhelming throw benefits to blacks. Democratic politians have been living off this certain voting block for quite some time.
Face it, the domocratic party has, a long time ago, left the mainstream of the American public behind.

Kurly said...


You're such a hack and mouthpiece for the Disturber, it's laughable. Stick to what you know best -- silly little anecdotal commentaries on life's small issues and allow something this important to be addressed by real journalists.

Anonymous said...

The issue of qualifications is not put to rest with your rejoinder of "bush v. gore--we know how that should have turned out". Tommy, that arguement is subjective and faulty, revealing your left-leaning opinions. The country found Bush and Gore nearly equally qualified (it was a 50-50 election), based largely on the sound arguement that 150 million voters is a statiscally better representation of truth than 300 hand-picked Democratic stooges.

No reasonable man can argue that Mackey was more qualified that Bailey. Ergo, the 300 Democratic "leaders" voted along other lines. Maybe racial, maybe liberal ideals. But what we can say is that race and liberal politics helped elect a vastly unqualified man to run a serious political office. This is not a record I'd be proud of, nor is it an accomplishment worthy of a hee-haw joke, "well, that's politics!!"

Nor is it an accomplishment for an Oberser insider to let down the search for Mackey's past records, by saying, "well, we'll just keep an eye on you!". If ever there was an opportunity for a scoop, it'd be now. Busting a newly elected sheriff--isn't that the stuff journalism students dream of???

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Tommy would be so forgiving of Mackey and copping the "we'll be keeping an eye on him" attitude if Mackey had been convicted, say, of murder or being a child molester. Of course, he wasn't convicted of those things, but he DID file for personal bankruptcy to the tune of $400K. And we don't know what else was in his file because he refused to let anyone see it. That alone should be grounds to say, "No, we don't want you."

But I guess there is no sin which the Democratic Party won't forgive and forget in the name of promoting so-called diversity. And hey, it doesn't even matter if you are not the most qualified for the job!

JAT said...

Mackey's 2006 district judge campaign site was taken down yesterday for "privacy." Google cache of its contents here. According to it, Mackey has a MBA, a Master in PA, and a Master in Criminal Justice in addition to his law degree.

State records show contributors to his campaign include Charlotte lawyer Lucky Osho.

From Sept. 06:

The Observer reported in March that Osho appeared to double bill for trips to the jail to visit clients. On more than 50 occasions, he submitted multiple bills for expenses such as travel time, mileage and parking for what records indicate were single visits. ...…An Observer investigation, published in March, found that Osho collected more than $700,000 in taxpayer money for state and federal indigent cases from 2002 through 2004 — far more than any other Mecklenburg lawyer....North Carolina’s Indigent Defense Services concluded last year that Osho had billed improperly in a number of cases and recommended that Mecklenburg’s indigent defense committee remove Osho from the lists of lawyers who are appointed to defend the poor. ...

Tommy is right. Pretty amazing.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if this had been Republicans, Bailey was black and Mackey was white. I bet good old Tommy and his comrades at the Observer wouldn't think it was so swell then.

Anonymous said...

This is what affirmative action gets you - unqualified people in positions they have no business holding, simply because of the color of their skin.

Those who voted baased on skin color last night oppose Martin Luther King's vision of people being judged on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

It also puts them in the same league as the the segregationists of the '60s.

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of gutless, head in the sand, tail between your legs, trying to turn lemons into lemonade commentary I would expect from an Observer columnist.

Anonymous said...

My god some of you are the most hateful people I have ever heard from. I hope you're only letting off steam here and not this mean spirited around your family and friends.

Anonymous said...

Tommmy, Could you please answer one question? If it had been Republicans voting and the less qualified white guy had been elected over the vastly more qualified black guy, would you have still thought this was democracy in action? You stated that Republicans would not be so upset if they had been the ones voting. So, would you still have been okay with the whole thing if it had been a Republican scenario?

Phil Bouchard said...

It slaughters me that whenever you mention the Democratic Party in this town, so many idiots are so quick to come out of the woods and start hollering, "Parks Helms, Parks Helms".

Helms supported Bailey in this thing, you slobs, you slobs! Read that again, Helms supported Bailey.

Now, let's not forget the real hero in all of this, one David Erdman. Mecklenburg County Democratic Party Chairman, David Erdman. Good old David Erdman who orchestrated this thing so that a bankrupt bum, a crooked ex-cop, and shady (at best) attorney could become Sheriff. Yep, good old David Erdman. Way to go David Erdman, what ever gains the Democratic Party may have made around here just went out the door with this one. Thanks, David Erdman, thanks a lot, you idiot. Push us moderate, middle of the road, Democrats that much further away.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand the concept or validity of "weighted ballots". When our elected officials, yes even Parks Helms, cast a ballot for Bailey, it counted as one vote. When the precinct activists cast a vote for Mackey, it counted as multiple votes. What happened to "one man, one vote", or doesn't that apply when jamming an unqualified candidate down our throats. What a debacle. Did Mackey commute to Boston and Akron to get those degrees? $400K in student loans up in smoke??? I think we can probably guess that if he got those multiple degrees on line, that someone else did his homework. He is a sleaze bag and his training officer at the police department was also. If my kids ever, ever defaulted on their student loans, I'd disown them.

Anonymous said...

Tommy there's actually no evidence that most of those who votes for Makey represent a cross section of involved Democrats. Mackey took advantage of party rules (or alternatively gamed the system) by organizing previously unorganized precints. The trouble is, that requires a public meeting, scheduled with notice, with at least 5 people in attendance. Thus far I see no evidence that the party rules were actually followed with regard to advance notice or being open to the public.

The simple fact is that Mackey appears to have engaged in fraud to get the nod from the party. That is the essence of the two complaints that have been filed, but the state party will NOT act on those complaints simply because Mackey (and Dwayne Collins) are setting up any challenge to be a racial issue.

This is embarrassing for the party and there is no easy way out. The Roberts/Helms proposal to go to a jail adminstrator, even if it could pass muster with the state law-, and failing to make the appointment both have the same baggage as challenging Mackey's fraudulent precinct organization: the party cannot afford to disturb the black vote, and anything that takes power or the office away from Mackey is going to be played as a racial issue, reality notwithstanding.

Meanwhile I fail to understnad how you can find ANYTHING positive about having a man of questionable ethics and ZERO relevant experience or skill, and who has demonstrated an inablity to manage perosnal finances placed in charge of a $104 million budget and a $200 capital building project, not to mention the administration fo a significant part of the criminal justice process in this county and city. That is beyond reaching. It's foolish.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if people who write these responses even understand what they write. My guess is NO. Maybe they are taking off holiday frustrations here. What a waste of computer space.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was hilarious that Mackey's campaign was coined as a "water shed".

Now I know why we are experiencing an exceptional drought in this area!!!

Anonymous said...

Just answer two questions:
1) If Mackey and Bailey met in a Democratic primary, who would win?
2) If Mackey met a civil, qualified, non-racist Republican in a general election, who would win?
I rest the case.
It's crazy that such a narrow group should have the power to impose its choice for a high office on those who would never make that choice themselves. I know; I've been a part of this crazy process in my own county.
I'm sorry some people are using this issue to show their racist rearends, but these people are a small minority of those who are appalled by the Mackey election.

As for the Florida election, I am still angry that ONE Supreme Court Justice stopped the recount which could have eliminated many, if not all, doubts about that outcome. I'm fully aware that the GOP, with a little help from its friends, ensured the installment in the Presidency of an incompetent jackass. There were more than enough irregularities to have thrown that election off its intended course. But at least there was some semblance of a vote by the people.

My idea of "what's right" will take a change of the law: appointment of an interim by the county commission (which probably would have been Mr. Bailey in this case), followed by either the regular election or a special one in the next November of an even-numbered year. The proper filling of this office is too critical to be left to a handful of political hacks like me.

Anonymous said...

The more you write about this, the more you seem to be digging yourself deeper into some sort of journalistic hole. You are finding yourself in the same sort of Tar Baby situation the local Democrats have gotten themselves into...the harder you try to get away, the stucker you get. And no, that isn't a racially tinged remark, simply a literary analogy applied to politics.

You can offer rationales, "what if" situations, and "either/or" situations all you wish. The simple fact of the matter is that this was a flawed process which may have even violated federal election laws.

Tricky Nicky's past is more than a bit questionable, and his recent legal work on behalf of the poor and indigent is lacking in thoroughness and professionalism. He's managed to pull the wool over the eyes of a lot of people, but it's beginning to unravel on him now. Why don't you write about that, rather than trying to validate your own opinions?