Binkey debate about job performance

Published 12:17 am Sunday, August 26, 2007

Several people have asked me in the last couple of weeks, “Why are you picking on Binkey Vines?”

So let me take a few minutes this morning to try and explain my position regarding Adams County Circuit Clerk M.L. “Binkey” Vines.

First, I don’t view the comments I’ve expressed here as “picking” or “bashing” Binkey the man, Binkey the father, Binkey the friend or Binkey the relative.

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My criticisms have been of Binkey the circuit clerk.

While the barbs may have bled over into his personal life, I’ve kept my criticisms focused on his job performance and facts surrounding his indictment on charges of embezzling public money.

Further, I’ve been critical of Vines for pleading guilty to taking public money, but not having the integrity to step down or, at the least, not to run again.

But you wouldn’t know any of that if you only listened to Binkey’s camp. They’ve spouted things that simply are not true.

At no time have I criticized his personal life or anything about his non-work life.

Those fictitious accusations appear to be only intended to stir up underdog support for the man.

I have suggested, however, that Mr. Vines leave office. I still think that’s in the best interest of our county. But at this point only the voters can make that happen.

I know Binkey only in passing, but he’s always seemed nice enough to me.

Other than some lies that appear to have come from both his mouth on a recent paid Cable TV “interview” and from some material apparently disbursed by his camp, I’ve got no personal beef with the man.

Despite what he and some of his supporters have said, the primary issue in the race isn’t about me or about this newspaper.

The issue is about job performance and integrity.

Despite the huge differences Vines’ camp would like to make, we actually have a few similarities.

Like Binkey, I call Adams County home and love the place and its people.

Like Binkey, I have a job to do.

And, like Binkey, I am subject to daily criticism for any actions of our staff or myself.

If someone here makes a typo — which we do more often than we should — ultimately, I’m responsible.

If we make an error in an advertisement or print something hurtful to a grieving family member, the buck must stop with me.

Taking responsibility is an important thing for anyone in a leadership position.

Vines has done practically everything except admit to stealing public money.

He pleaded guilty to the charges, but has blamed the little mishaps — mishaps amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars — on simple mistakes and bad bookkeeping practices.

A circuit clerk who says he’s a bad bookkeeper is like a surgeon who says he’s not good with his hands.

If we’re to believe Vines’ own admission of being a bad bookkeeper, then he’s admitted that he is unfit for the office.

The circuit clerk’s job is to be a bookkeeper of public money. That’s Vines’ job.

And saying what I think needs to happen in this community is my job.

I’m not picking on poor old Binkey. I’m pointing out a poor circuit clerk who needs to be replaced.

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