Sherri said something late in the comments on the last post, about how it’s time for the elected position of sheriff to go away, and mentioned Joe Arpaio. I’m agnostic on the position itself (for now), but she’s right about the office attracting a disproportionate number of lunatics.
Back in the…80s? Maybe? When the tax-protest began to gather steam, there was another group growing alongside them, the Posse Comitatus movement. You can google the Posse Comitatus Act, signed in 1878, but the part that applies to the movement is this:
The purpose of the act – in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807 – is to limit the powers of the federal government in using federal military personnel to enforce domestic policies within the United States. …The title of the act comes from the legal concept of posse comitatus, the authority under which a county sheriff, or other law officer, conscripts any able-bodied person to assist in keeping the peace.
These lunatics read this to mean: They don’t have to follow any damn laws they don’t want, at least none that federal law enforcement are involved in (like tax protest). And the only legal authority they respect is the county sheriff.
Now, I’ve mainly lived in urban areas my whole life, where the county sheriff worked more or less like the city police chief, enforcing the law in the unincorporated areas of the county. But as the divide grew between whiter, more affluent suburbs and blacker cities, the divide between law enforcement did, too. And lots of county sheriffs got kinda… full of themselves.
In Fort Wayne, the sheriff openly scorned the city, and referred to the county as a “donut,” the hole being Fort Wayne. He ran for mayor, perhaps after he was carried to a legal residence within the city limits on a litter, but lost pretty badly. (See Alex’s comments about the county GOP’s ineptitude in this area.)
Here in Detroit, where the suburban counties go way past mere scorn for Detroit, the model for the county sheriff is pretty different from that of the police chief. You can imagine how.
(Another weird Hoosier detail: The sheriff got a pretty good salary, in keeping with what you’d pay a department head, etc., but he was also permitted to keep a portion of all late property taxes he was somehow able to collect. Indiana is full of weird policy like this, much of it holdovers from the 18th or 19th century. As one of the the GA reporters, a native Bostonian, said in wonderment: “What is this? Medieval France?”)
Anyway, much of the tension in Michigan these days is around the governor’s stay-home order, and the fact Covid hasn’t really reached the hinterlands yet, at least not in the sort of alarming numbers that led to the order in the first place. Four county sheriffs up north have essentially said you can’t make us and announced they wouldn’t enforce the parts of the order they didn’t think were necessary up there.
I find myself torn between two common-sense ideas — that public-health directives are generally not made just for flex, and that local control is best. But one of the sheriff’s made a comment that had an undertone of sneering to it, and was ignorant to boot, something about how “fresh air” was the best thing for this illness. Unsaid: So let’s just get some and wait for it to skip over God’s country, as we all know it will.
Sigh. I grow weary.
So… what else? I am often weary these days, suddenly and without explanation. Zoom fitness, masked trips to the store and the same few rooms are getting on my nerves. Can’t forget the weather, which teases us with one 60 degree day, followed by a week where we’re lucky to hit 40. I told myself I’d go for a bike ride every day it was over 50, and there haven’t been many of those.
Just a bit of bloggage:
An old-style, crazy-polluter, zombie-wasteland steel mill is closing hereabouts. I’ve ridden my bike past the main-road entrance, and always wanted to go back to take a look, but security is very tight.
When a friend offered to take me trash fishing past it last spring, I jumped at the chance, just to get close on the water side.
The story about the closing is pretty good. We forget that well-paying work around here was often at the price of blowing black snot into your handkerchiefs.
That’s it for me, then. Stay sane, all.