It’s funny how when there are problems, Republican county commissioners and The Dallas Morning News want Sheriff Lupe Valdez to take full responsibility for the state of the county’s jail system. But when it comes to the issue of whether a Discovery Channel crew can film inside the jail, Republican county commissioners say they should have full control, and The DMN runs wild with it. So which is it? Well, the answer is pretty obvious: whatever’s politically advantageous at the time. (Note that initially, Democrats Jim Foster and John Wiley Price appeared to be backing the sheriff, but by the time of today’s story, they had totally caved. Could this have something to do with the fact that the Commissioners Court is about to decide how to deal with a $34 million budget shortfall, and Price and Foster don’t want to see their pet projects gutted?)
Suppose we stipulate that the Commissioners Court has the authority to sign off on a TV crew filming inside the jail. OK, so why not just sign off on it? Because of liability concerns? Anyone who has the cable turned on knows that TV crews constantly go inside jails and prisons without incident. Then again, maybe there is no cable in Paris, Texas, which is where DMN columnist James Ragland lives and might help explain his position. Here’s what I want to know: Do The DMN columnists take their orders directly from the Concerned Citizens Council, or is there some sort of go-between, a liaison if you will? These are the types of mysteries I ponder when the cable goes out at my house. But here’s my point: This whole thing has been completely overblown, and it’s nothing more than an attempt to help get Republican Lowell Cannaday elected sheriff in November. Ragland even went so far as to quote Cannaday in his column. Are you kidding me?
Anyhow, kudos to the sheriff and her new media person, Kim Leach, for at least getting the support of District Attorney Craig Watkins in this matter and having him appear alongside her at a press conference the other day. (While they’re at it, maybe Valdez can explain to Watkins the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity.) Watkins’ support for Valdez between now and the election could make a big difference among black supporters of Barack Obama who’ll be headed to the polls in droves. At the same time, the impact of Obama in Dallas will also give Republicans an excuse for why they lost the contest that’s considered by Democrats to be the GOP’s last stand in the county.
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