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SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2006
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EDITORIAL

How would Sheriff Taylor handle crisis on Lee Street?

If only Sheriff Andy Taylor hadn't gone into reruns, we might get deputy Barney Fife to help with the crisis down on Lee Street Northeast at the courthouse.

The sheriff says a commissioner is a pig and that he has him on tape saying the commissioner doesn't care if the sheriff's prisoners walk free. That's serious stuff.

The commissioner denies the statement and calls the taping of any conversation "Watergate." He says the sheriff can go to jail if he indeed recorded their conversation. That's serious, too.

Then, late last week, a sheriff's jailer, in full security mode, carried out surveillance of the commissioner's appearance before TV cameras and did some taping.

All of this is fallout from the feud between Sheriff Greg Bartlett and County Commissioner Stacy George about staffing of the new jail that is to open later this year.

The sheriff wanted 102 jail employees; the commissioner pushed through a budget for 78. But the disagreement had already taken a toll by decision time.

Consider this:

County Commission Chairman John Glasscock lost his perk of having a jail trusty wash his county-owned vehicle and County Commissioner Kevin Murphy says deputies gave him a ticket because they said he was illegally parked early one morning on a road in his district that was undergoing resurfacing. The commissioner said he was performing official county duty at the time.

For the record, it's not illegal in Alabama to tape record a conversation between two people as long as one of the parties involved knows of the taping. Thus, it is legal for Sheriff Bartlett to surreptitiously tape commissioner George.

Even Barney Fife knows that, which makes Sheriff Taylor's trusted deputy the logical authority to help resolve our local crisis.

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