Magic chicken has taken Vines to end of road

Published 4:05 pm Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls step right up and let me tell you of an amazing new product, previously unavailable outside of Adams County, Miss.

This super-powerful, super-concentrated, state-of-the-art formula can change your life.

That’s right. With a few drops of this amazing elixir, your world will never again be the same.

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If you thought “Love Potion No. 9,” first made famous in The Clovers’ 1959 hit by the same name, was potent then the splendiferous Slinky Vines Tonic will truly mesmerize you.

A mere sniff of this liquid will send you reaching for your checkbook to give a campaign donation.

Put a few drops of this colorless, odorless liquid into a pot of hot oil and anything cooked in the pot will instantly render the food irresistible.

One nibble of the food and you’ll forever be under Slinky’s spell.

That sort of magical snake oil explanation is the only real reason I can think of as to why after all Adams County Circuit Clerk M.L. “Binkey” Vines shenanigans he’s still in office making a mockery of the county’s integrity.

There must be magic in that chicken and catfish that seemed to be a highlight of Binkey’s first campaign.

Why else would good people suddenly be willing to turn not only the other cheek to Binkey, but also two or three other cheeks?

Binkey’s following is almost cult-like.

Somewhere along the lines, Attorney General Jim Hood and special judge Joe Webster must have tasted a morsel of fried food at a Binkey fundraiser. That’s the only explanation — barring some kind of insider, Democratic Party, string-pulling — as to why Binkey is still in office.

Hood’s office cut a deal with the defense that dropped 10 of 13 embezzlement charges without any kind of stipulation on the sentence, thus putting it all in the hands of Judge Webster.

Late last week, Hood finally said that he had sought prison time for Binkey in the agreement, but that Binkey’s side wouldn’t agree. Duh.

Despite Hood’s attempt to weasel out of the responsibility, the AG’s office allowed an open-ended plea bargain, which let the judge exercise his peculiar decision.

The judge, who obviously had gnawed on a few of the Binkey chicken wings with the special sauce, proceeded to let Binkey go free. No harm, no foul, just pay back some interest and court fees and you can get back to work.

Lots of Binkey supporters come to his defense by saying he’s a nice man. Many people who break the law are.

He gives money to churches and civic organizations, they say. But who’s money was it, and was it his to give in the first place?

Binkey is not evil. He’s just a crook. And a crook will continue to go back to the same bad behavior again and again until someone stops him.

State auditors have found screw-ups since 2002. For years, serious problems have plagued his office — bounced checks, unauthorized loans and downright shady bookkeeping practices.

After most of the audit findings, Vines promised to correct the problem. After the 2003 audit he promised a more specific fix.

“I have installed a new accounting program and hired a financial consultant. These steps should alleviate any further problems.”

Yet, the pathetic cycle seems to continue: I’ll keep mishandling money until you stop me.

1. Binkey breaks the law.

2. Binkey claims it was an honest mistake.

3. Binkey pays back the money.

4. Go back to step No. 1.

Binkey has done wrong — again and again.

And the elixir of the campaign chicken and catfish seems to be wearing thin.

Smart, hard-working people who expect their public funds to be cared for wisely have had enough of Binkey’s shady deals and constant promises. Next year has come and the rubber checks and flimsy promises continue. Binkey is a snake oil salesman who needs to move on to a different town. His sales pitch is wearing thin, no matter how good his catfish tastes.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or