Most of you probably haven't been paying attention to what is going on in Mecklenburg County with the selection of the next sheriff. The very popular Sheriff Pendergraph has moved to Washington to take a job with the Department of Homeland Security. Members of the Democratic Executive Committee gather tonight to choose his successor. Holy mother of pearl, what a nightmare! You will find background here.
As of Monday Democrats were choosing between acting Sheriff Chipp Bailey, Chief Deputy since 1994 and Nick Mackey, an attorney and former Charlotte police officer. One is very respected and is endorsed by Sheriff Pendergraph. The other has lost the respect of many in the community and isn't qualified to be hired by the Sheriff's department.
Chipp Bailey has almost 30 years experience in law enforcement. He is well respected in the community and by his colleagues. He has opened his personnel files for review and admits that about 30 years ago he was suspended for having an accident in his Mecklenburg County police car and acted outside department policy by firing a warning shot at burglars.
Nick Mackey is an attorney and former Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer. He was with the force for 14 years. He resigned in 2003 after being suspended and charged with padding or falsifying his time sheet. He denies the allegations, however chooses to not open his personnel file for review. He says he resigned to prepare for the bar exam. Police Chief Darrel Stephens will not reveal personnel information, however says he would not rehire Mackey.
That's not all of the problems some see with Mackey's candidacy. From The Charlotte Observer:
Mackey, according to court documents, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in September 2005, saying he owed $379,627 mostly on student loans and credit cards. In February 2006, the case was closed, records show. Such filings generally release someone from personal liability for most debts.
The tax lien, according to another court document, was issued on Sept. 27, 2005, and said Mackey owed the Internal Revenue Service $12,153 in taxes, interest and penalties from tax years 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2002.
Bankruptcy might not disqualify someone for the office of sheriff, but in Mecklenburg County, that office carries the responsibility of overseeing a budget of over $100 million dollars. That takes some sound financial management skills. Mackey says the debt is student loans incurred because he sought so many advanced degrees. As admirable as advanced degrees are, there comes a point when a reasonable person might decide it was time to pay off some debt before seeking another degree.
The Observer's investigation showed that Bailey has no bankruptcies or liens and has not personally been named in a law suit, but has been named in suits at least twice in his role as Chief Deputy.
There's something even more troubling (to me) in Mackey's very recent past.
Mackey was accused of driving 80 mph in a 45 mph zone on N.C. 49 near W.T. Harris Boulevard in June, court records show. In September, he was charged with driving 65 mph in a 45 mph zone on University City Boulevard near John Kirk Road. Most recently, he was accused on Halloween of driving 54 in a 35 mph zone on South Boulevard near Scaleybark Road.
Two of the three charges were dismissed after Mackey said he made his case to assistant district attorneys.
He tried to talk to a prosecutor about the most recent charge as well, but a supervisor intervened and decided to prosecute the case, said assistant district attorney Bruce Lillie, who oversees misdemeanor prosecutions.
"From reviewing the (other two) cases, I could not find an evidentiary reason why the cases were dismissed," Lillie told the Observer.
In the past six months this man has chosen to violate the speed limit. Oh, I know, speed limits are flexible for most of the people who read here, but I bet even all you lead-footed people out there would see a problem with a man who habitually drives 19 - 25 mph over the speed limit in very, very busy business and shopping districts.
On Tuesday, City Councilman Warren Turner entered the race. Warren has been a probation officer for 18 years and is a good guy. He admits Bailey has the experience to do the job, but it is something he's wanted to do and thinks now would be a good time to get his foot in the door. Turner has not been under the scrutiny the other two candidates have because of his late entry, however, he is an elected official and I can't recall reading anything negative about him.
Here's the real kicker. Mecklenburg County Democrats are prepared to select Mackey as the sheriff. Why? He got busy and organized precincts. There are questions about whether he gave enough notice of the precinct organization meetings and some voters may be disqualified, but it appears the numbers are in his favor.
So, some Mecklenburg County Democrats are preparing to select for an office that is charged with enforcing the law, a man who apparently avoids obeying the law and seeks special treatment when he gets caught breaking the law. I don't care if it is just a misdemeanor traffic violation. This doesn't sit well with me. It doesn't sit well with just about every Democrat I know in Mecklenburg County, but it is apparently acceptable to some Mecklenburg County Democrats. We'll know how many later tonight.
It's a great day to be a Mecklenburg County Democrat.