Demanding Accountability


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Verbal Assassination

Who Should be Sheriff?
The Josephine County Conundrum

By Ron Lee

Dave Daniel has done a bang-up job as Sheriff. Unfortunately, his name isn't on the ballot in this go-around so it makes the decision of who NOT to vote for a lot more difficult. Well, I take that back, he is running for county commissioner, so I get to cross him off early on there, that makes me happy. I mean, really, why would I vote someone into a controlling seat of the county when he has made a car wreck more appealing than the current state of the sheriff's department - my meaning of bang-up job.

I in no way mean to slight the wonderful deputies in the department who above all serve and protect their community with pride. If it were up to me, they'd all get raises - with the exception, of course, to the top-dog behind the desk, that position makes enough already. Being a deputy is a difficult, dangerous job that is, for the most part, disrespected until an officer of the law is needed, and then everyone is glad to see them. For me, I don't get nervous when a police officer or deputy is behind me in traffic or if I see them drive by my house real slow, and if I do see them in passing, I give them a wave - just like I do with every fire engine that rolls by. Why? Because I completely respect them and what they do for us - they put their lives on the line daily, not because it is their job, but because they feel that they should, which is why they have chosen their profession.

Deputies getting harassed and fired, interoffice cover-ups, all just due to a plain lack of true leadership. This has ultimately resulted in a department that isn't trusted by the public and has one of the worst morale issues with deputies being torn between what is right and what is administered, and it is now, thankfully, coming to an end. Because any law enforcement or sheriff's department (administration) that allows criminals to get away with just about anything if they live far enough out to avoid any type of patrol because of a lack of deputies, needs to change for the sake of the public it has sworn to protect. Excuses of under-funding fall on deaf ears when someone has an emergent situation like many in the Illinois Valley area who are forced to fend for themselves because of the current state of the department.

That leads me to the incessant ramble we heard throughout both Daniel terms, "We need more money!" Not an exact quote, but there were so many renditions of this statement I'm sure Dave used this one at some point and it has been this platform of his administration that has made him an ineffective tool and guide for the department.

So as part of my job as a reporter with the US~Observer I decided it would be best to talk to all of the candidates. Get the low-down on where they are and what they stand for. Engage them in simple talk that would lead them to fill in the blanks for me instead of trying to manipulate their answers with loaded questions (well, I asked a couple of those questions, too ... see the unbiased, non-commentary overview of the candidates) and what I found made me wonder why we don't treat the sheriff's department like the office of the president. You know, you vote for the president and vice-president. The same should be true of sheriff and under-sheriff. Part of my thinking behind this ideology is that I liked several of these guys a lot and I could see where one's weaknesses where covered by the other's strengths and I thought how perfect it would be if I could just get these guys to work together. But that isn't the game of politics, and no matter what any of them say, the political game of getting elected is exactly what they are engaging in.

To be honest, there was only one that I didn't care for. That I felt wouldn't lead us to a better department and a more protected citizenry, and perhaps that came from my personal feeling that if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. There have been no solutions in this current administration, just more and more problems, and Brian Anderson has been a key figure in its workings as under-sheriff. And, unfortunately, Anderson is already sounding the same old tired trumpet call of under funding. Sure it is a problem, could even be the biggest problem, but the citizens want to know how you will lead, and by that I don't mean back to the ballot box trying to get more funding from them.

Of the remaining three, Don Fasching, Gil Gilbertson, and Spike Kelly I guess I could say I wish all three of these guys could just get along and work the department together. Each one has great individual assets and levels of experience in different realms of administration and police work. And most importantly, each one is really running to better the county through what they see as the changes they could administer as head of the sheriff's department.

If I were to vote on administrative qualities alone it would be Gil Gilbertson with Don Fasching a close second. Both have the hardcore budgetary and personnel experience that is needed for the office.

If I was to vote on my feeling of who is the most easily likeable and can handle interoffice personnel issues, that would be Spike Kelly hands down. He has such a natural best friend approach that it is very endearing, and he, too, is also quite experienced and has shown his integrity by standing up for other deputies who were being mistreated both ethically and legally during this current administration. He is an incredible asset to the department, without question, and I have nothing but respect for him, but I do not feel he is right for the position of sheriff. I just don't think he has a strong enough administrative background.

I mean really, I want someone in the office who will squeeze blood out of a turnip and knows how to deal with a large workforce. Someone who isn't afraid of paperwork and knows every aspect of training ... I want a sheriff that is honestly the best of the best!

Don Fasching has a great deal of experience and is also very likeable, not to mention, suave and well worded. He has much to offer and even though he is the most recent of the Josephine County residents, it doesn't mean to say that he believes in the county's safety or well being any less than the next candidate. Does he have what it takes to be sheriff? Sure. Absolutely. Do I think he should be? No. Why? Because, in my opinion, he simply isn't the most qualified for the position.

Like I said, I want the best of the best, and anyone who could walk into a war-torn country that is rife with political and social upheaval, economic insecurity, and crime rates through the roof, be assigned a precinct and turn his area around within two years so that his station is no longer needed is my kind of guy for the job. With glowing letters of recommendation from a US Ambassador and an Army General who both praise his accomplishments and acknowledge his leadership abilities, it's about time we got such an outstanding candidate as Gil Gilbertson. While his kind personality shines through in the more intimate setting of a small group or one-on-one than it does when he is faced by a larger group like that of a political rally or forum, he is a man who is all business and luckily for us he has chosen that business to be that of being our next sheriff.

One thing is for certain, should Gil, Don, or Spike get into office I am sure you will see positive changes in the department.

This election is, I feel, one of the most important decisions local voters face in this round of public governmental participation. No matter who you vote for, just know that your vote does count. Don't just sit there and roll the dice.

About the Author: Ron Lee has been a freelance and published writer since 1985. He attended Richmond University in London where he focused on theatre arts, and the University of Nevada Reno where he dual majored in criminal justice and psychology. He currently spends his time helping the US~Observer's clients with his no nonsense investigative reporting style. Ron may be reached at Favorite quote, "The truth shall make you free." --John VIII. 32



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