Good old boy system gone awry?

Published 12:16 am Wednesday, July 25, 2007

As a federal jury convicted Jefferson County’s circuit clerk on nine felony counts on Monday, Adams County residents stared thinking, “So that’s what justice looks like.”

The conviction of long-time Circuit Clerk Burnell Harris illustrates what should have happened in Adams County after clerk M.L. “Binkey” Vines pleaded guilty to three felony counts in May.

While Harris was charged with other crimes, too, both men were charged with stealing public funds for their own use.

Email newsletter signup

An out-of-town judge refused to accept Vines’ guilty pleas, in essence allowing him to walk away without a scratch.

In case you missed all the details, let’s recap:

Want to steal money in Jefferson County? No problem. Have your day in court, face a jury who will listen to the evidence and convict you if you’re deemed guilty. You’re just a regular citizen in the eyes of the court. What’s wrong is wrong and you should get what’s coming to you.

Want to steal money in Adams County? No problem. Just pay it back with a little interest and say it’s a dumb mistake. You’re no accountant; you’re Binkey. Blame a lack of accounting understanding and pass the doughnuts.

Harris is facing serious jail time for his crime.

Vines is facing a tough reelection bid in two weeks and must promise to be on good behavior.

How can one man steal public money and get away with it and another one do it and be facing prison time?

Is it the good old boy system gone awry?

Adams County voters will have to decide that on Aug. 7 when they get to bring justice home with their votes.