Thursday, February 9, 2012

a newspaper column, in which I attempt to be funny

This week's column for the St. Clair Times was a reaction to a story I read last week, which briefly mentioned our county. As always, feel free to comment here or on Twitter.
Word is getting out for St. Clair

It’s always good when people travel out of state and say positive things over social media about your home county. Unless those people are alleged criminals, I mean.

Early last week, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, via its Facebook page, named alleged rapist Dustin McCombs its “Creep of the Week.” McCombs — a 21-year-old who stands 5-5 and weighs 155 pounds — is still on the loose, but apparently not terribly shy. Upon seeing his name and face on the page, McCombs — or, rather, someone using his name through the social network — began openly taunting law enforcement.

Among other things, McCombs told authorities he had moved “out of state”; that his accuser is “full of nothing but lies”; and that he is prepared for “an unfair trial that yall (sic) claim to be a fair trial.” Whoever maintains the Facebook page for Jefferson County urged him to turn himself in, and also begged him to stop discussing the details of the case in such an open forum (the whole “fair trial” thing).

The money quote, though, was this one (and this is direct): “can I turn myself in to st clair county since tahts where the warrant is, i hear its nicer over there.”

Wow! A ringing endorsement, right? All this energy St. Clair County has put into its economic development engines, its health care and building safer, cleaner, more peaceful communities … I mean, it’s apparently paying off, right? He heard it was nicer here!

(Important note: For reasons that are not entirely clear, Mr. McCombs misspoke about the location of his warrant. It was issued from Shelby County, not St. Clair. I’m sure it’s nice there, too. His bond is set at $60,000.)

The county is likely to be showered in attention this spring, what with elections taking place in March and various politicians discussing our importance in industrial development. St. Clair is an important place now in the political realm, and that statement is going to be affirmed and re-affirmed in the coming weeks and months.

It’s doubtful Mr. McCombs’ endorsement will be noted in any of that rhetoric, unfortunately.

By the way, I asked an official at our district attorney’s office about the claim that things are “nicer” over here. The unofficial response: “He obviously hasn’t met me, yet.”

Maybe it’s not so nice for everybody.

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