Response To The Currie Letter – October 31, 2014

In yesterday’s Laurinburg Exchange, a letter was posted from Mr. Robert Currie. While I usually enjoy reading Mr. Currie’s letters, this one is just almost beyond belief. In the very first sentence, he invokes the “race card” and tries to imply that every single criticism of both Sheriff Shep Jones and President Obama is strictly because of the color of their skin. While I’m sure that with some people, that is the case, it’s also true that both men have many supporters only because of the color of their skin. The race game works in both directions. President Obama isn’t on the election ballot this year, but his policies and failed leadership are and as the leader of our nation, the responsibility for what is happening in our nation falls on his desk. He asked for the job and campaigned for the job and it’s his responsibility to be be honest to the American people and address whatever comes his way. He promised the “most transparent administration in American history” and yet has been anything but. He gets criticized regularly for his lack of leadership and the scandals of his administration, but so did every other President before him and so will every other President that comes after.

But enough on President Obama. Let’s get to what matters most to the people of Scotland County and that’s our Sheriff, Shep Jones. Where shall we start? Shep Jones is the Sheriff and top law enforcement officer in Scotland County and has been in that role for the past 7 1/2 years. Thus when our crime rates continue to increase, the solvability rates continue to decline, and Scotland County rises to the county with the largest, per capitia crime rate in the State, it falls on his desk and is his responsibility. It comes with the job. Sheriff Jones has had his chance to address these problems and thus far, the only results have been more crime, more shootings, more murders, more drugs, etc. His plans and policies are not working and things are not better, only worse. Making excuses isn’t the solution and that seems to be the only thing that Sheriff Jones has been successful at.

Let’s move on to the Sheriff’s “exoneration” from the SBI Investigation involving money extorted from his deputies. The results of the SBI Investigation said that their were “no prosecutable offenses”, but it did not say that Shep’s hands were clean and nothing was wrong. Shep negotiated with a private company to arrange work for off duty deputies, but then required those deputies, as well as others at the Sheriff’s Department to “contribute” (I prefer to call it extort) a portion of their earnings to a hidden (slush) fund that he did NOT, as required by law, report to the County Commissioners. SBI Assistant Special Agent C.G. Caldwell even pointed out specifically that the sheriff’s office violated the state daily deposit law. And then Jones repeatedly claimed that the money raised by this unreported money was for county use, vehicle maitenance and for the benefit of Scotland County citizens. It sounds good, but the only ones who benefitted, as shown by receipts for liquor, parties, flowers (that were purchased at a florist shop owned by Shep’s wife) and jewelry, were Shep and a few of his close friends. Shep said that it was an “administrative error”, but he’s the Chief Administrator at his office and if anyone thinks that whole situation isn’t shady, they’re delusional and need to lay off that kool-aid for a while.

And when you add the mystery of the suddenly appearing magic police cars that Shep didn’t know anything about, but suddenly ended up in the parking lot at the Sheriff’s Department, the new scandal of over 20 deputies being forced to re-take their oaths of office and being reaffirmed because Shep didn’t know he wasn’t legally able to administer the oaths, his excuse for this being “I’m sure that there are other Sheriff’s that swear in their own officers”, the extremely high turnover of employees at the Sheriff’s Department, etc, there are far more questions than answers.

It’s not a race thing, despite what Mr. Currie would have everyone believing. It’s a competence thing and time and time again, Sheriff Jones has shown that he’s not the man capable of keeping our county safe and getting the crime rate down. If something goes wrong, he passes the blame instead of stepping up and taking responsibility for what has happened on his watch. Making excuses doesn’t get job done and thus far, it seems that all our current Sheriff has to offer… excuses.

Think about it, please…

Douglas Maynard

Top Five Movie Ideas For Marvel Studios – Phase 4

If there’s one thing that Marvel Comics has gotten right, it’s the expansion of their characters from the written page into the world of movies. So far, we’ve had hits like the X-Men movies and Spiderman movies, put out by Fox and Sony respectively, and the entire “one thing leads to another” phasing of movies by Disney, starting out with Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk, leading into the Avengers franchise. Add films like Blade, Ghost Rider, Wolverine, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Elektra, and of course Guardians of the Galaxy to the mix and it’s become very clear that movies based on comic book characters, especially Marvel comics, means money and big time reciepts at the box office.

And it just gets better and better as just days ago, Marvel Studios announced the release list of what will be “Phase 3” of their plan for box-office dominance with such titles as Dr. Strange, The Black Panther, Avengers: Age of UItron, Captain America: Civil War, Captain Marvel (featuring Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel), Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor: Ragnorak and The Inhumans all in the mix. Also movies about Ant Man, a possible Iron Man #4 and even movies about The Black Widow have all been talked about.

And while this covers pretty much up until 2019 for the Marvel comics brand, it got me to wondering, who will be the characters and movies released in the next phase, Phase 4 of the Marvel Universe takeover? I have five suggestions and ideas. By the way, since Fox owns the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises and Sony manages the Spiderman stuff, I can’t use characters from those groups unfortunately. But there are so many great characters out there. Here’s my list of five that I think would transfer well to the live-action media.

Top 5 Characters / Movies I’d Like To See in Marvel Studios Phase Four…

5: The West Coast Avengers: A simple concept where you take one of the members of the original Avengers team (Hawkeye) and use him as the leader of an expansion team of Avengers, operating under the watchful eyes of SHIELD. Have Hawkeye go out and recruit other heroes to join the cause such as Tigra, Iron Man (James Rhodes from the Iron Man movies), Agent Maria Hill (of SHIELD), Simon Williams aka Wonder Man, Ant Man and The Wasp, Hercules, etc. There are so many characters out there who have been Avengers at some point and time that may not be big enough to headline their own movies, but as part of a team, could easily be brought in and featured as part of an Avengers franchise. It really needs to happen at some point and I expect it probably would.

4. The Night Stalkers: Blade has already been introduced to the big screen to moderate success. Now picture how the always charming “Day Walker” would react to the idea of people like Captain America, The Hulk or Iron Man. Throw in his partners, the vampire Hannibal King and Frank Drake, with his high-tech super gun, “Linda”. It would make sense that someone like Blade would be noticed by a group like SHIELD and while they probably wouldn’t be too thrilled about him and what he does (killing vampires), I could see them giving an unofficial stamp of approval to his activities. It could also easily be tied into the upcoming Dr. Strange movie since Hannibal King is a known associate of the Sorcerer Supreme and also, Strange’s brother, Victor Strange, was a vampire. The Nightstalkers works in so many ways, it really needs to be done.

3. Dr. Druid: The poor man’s Dr. Strange, but in truth, this character was created before Dr. Strange (or the Fantastic Four or Spiderman for that matter). He’s the “Master of the Unknown” and has such powers as telepathy, the ability to hypnotize and create illusions, magic (with a weakness of iron) and telekenesis. He’s also a loner, kind of anti-social and has a superiority complex that makes him hard to deal with sometimes. He is all about knowledge and has so many character flaws, it makes for a great character. With his allies such as Cadaver, Shadow Woman and The Blazing Skull in the background, the possibilities are endless as to what this character could do and where they could take him on the big screen. And he’s one of my favorite characters as well to write so there you go. Marvel needs to really look at Druid and make it happen.

2. The New Warriors: A simple concept where a group of younger heroes form an alliance and attempt to emulate The Avengers. Maybe even have one of the older heroes come in and act as a mentor of sorts. Look at the great characters though: Night Thrasher: a young man who’s parents were murdered and he’s turned himself into a human fighting machine. Speedball, a guy with kinetic bouncy abilities and a bad joke for every occasion. Rage, a young kid who was transformed by chemicals into a super-strong monster of a man, but still with the heart and soul of a child. Justice, a victim of child-abuse who accidentially killed his father, using telekenetic powers he both loves and fears. Namorita, a half-breed from the legendary land of Atlantis, part of two worlds, yet not truly a part of either. Firestar, a young mutant with radioactive powers. Silhouette, a crippled woman with the powers to melt into the shadows. And of course, Nova, who needs no introduction to comic book fans. It has everything. Teen angst and drama, people over-coming their weaknesses to be the best they can be, hero worship, anxiety, attractive young people, parent issues and even great villians such as Psionex, The Sphinx and The Folding Circle. So many things that could be done with these characters and it’s a movie that would appeal to both comic fans, new viewers, old and young, boys and girls alike. It could and most likely would be big.

And finally…

1. The Invaders: This could be done as a flashback for Captain America, remembering a brief time in World War II where he was allied with Namor, the Prince of Atlantis, his own young partner, Bucky, an android called The Human Torch and the Torch’s partner, Toro, the speedster Spitfire and the legendary British hero, Union Jack. A simple enough thing to do as Captain America is forced to work with these heroes to fight the Nazi’s and Hitler in a secret mission. The movie tells of this mission and it’s explained that the reason he didn’t mention this mission, or these heroes, before in the earlier Captain America movies was that he was hyptonized to forget as a matter of national security. But for some reason, his memory returns and we have this movie, introducing the characters from the great war into the Marvel movie Universe, done as a series of flashbacks. And at the end, in real (our) time, Cap decides to investigate and discovers that his former team-mates are still alive. Namor is from Atlantis so he would age more slowly. Torch was an android so he wouldn’t age. And Toro, Bucky and Spitfire could all be in suspended animation or something like that. Union Jack was already old in World War II, being a hero from the first World War, so he’d probably be dead at this point. War movies always do well and The Invaders were a great part of Captain America’s past that really needs to be explored and carried into the future and modern times. And hopefully, Marvel will decide to make it happen.

And there you go. If we could add the X-Men, Spiderman and Fantastic Four franchises to the mix, we’d probably have a list of a hundred movies that Marvel Studios needs to be making, but for the time being (and Phase 4), I’ll settle for these few.

Ubuntu!

Shep Jones: Breaking Down The Numbers

Let’s look at the numbers for Sheriff Shep Jones and his administration. These stats come from a flyer presented to me as I went to vote and are courtesy of “The Committee To Re-Elect Shep Jones Sheriff.”

According to this flyer, Sheriff Shep Jones is responsibe for and has accomplished: 2170 Felony Arrests, 9137 Misdemeanor Arrests and under the category “Drugs Seized”, his department is responsible for the confiscation of 3,040 Grams of Crack Cocaine, 92.6 Lbs Marijuana, 458 Marijuana Plants, and over 3000 Prescription Pills. They have also responded to over 91,000 calls.

That sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? Until you take into consideration that this is over a seven year period. It also doesn’t specify or clarify which arrests and calls were by the City of Laurinburg Police Department, which were answered by the NC Highway Patrol and which were actually by the Sheriff’s Department. Our current Sheriff is great at throwing numbers out there, but isn’t really all that forthcoming with details or specifics. Let’s just assume for the sake of argument that it was just our Sheriff and his department that did all of this by themselves, a very large assumption to be sure, and break down the numbers a bit.

This is over a period of seven years so that would be 2,455 days. So breaking it down with 2170 felony arrests, that would be .88 or not even 1 felony arrest per day. As for misdemeanors, with 9137 arrests, that would be 3.7 per day. For a county with the highest crime rate per captia in the State of North Carolina, that isn’t very impressive especially when you consider that these misdemeanor arrests would include everything from jaywalking to using profanity in public to trespassing. So essentially, we have (at least) four deputies out at any given time, not to mention the Detectives, School Resource Officers, Captains and Department heads, etc, and the best they can do in the county with the highest crime rate in the state is 4 arrests a day? Really?

But at least they’ve put considerable effort into the war on drugs over the years, confiscating a whopping 1.23 grams of crack cocaine per day. Of course, that hasn’t slowed down the large number of crack houses all over Scotland County from operating without hesitation or fear. 458 marijuana plants have been confiscated, but over the course of seven years, that means that they find .186 plants per day. I believe I used to find more than that each night when I worked third shift at a local convenient store and would go sweep the parking lot. As for 3,000 pills over a seven year period, that would equal out to 1.22 pills per day. To say that prescription pills are of epidemic proportion here in Scotland County would be an understatement, but the best our Sheriff’s Department can do is 1 pill a day? Really?

For someone who claims to be “a proven leader” with a goal to “increase the quality of life in Scotland County”, the numbers just don’t add up. And when this lack of results is added to the scandals associated to this administration, such as the police cars appearing out of nowhere and the lack of willingness by our Sheriff to explain or account for them until forced, the recent investigation by the SBI over what the Sheriff referred to as an “Administrative Error” (an unreported slush-fund that was used to buy alcohol, jewelry and fund parties), and the necessary reaffirmation of over twenty Sheriff Deputies just a few days ago when it was discovered that they had not been properly sworn into office. Just another oversight by our current Sheriff?

So much bluster and bravado over the past seven years and what really do they have to show for it. Leadership starts at the top and in our current Sheriff’s administration, the lack of leadership and results is extremely evident and obvious. Shep is quick to take credit when something positive happens, but if something goes wrong, such as the “mystery cars appearing” or the unreported revenue from extorting his deputies, Shep passes the buck and allows someone else to take the blame or claims it’s just administrative errors. He’s the Chief Administrator so he needs to accept and realize that he’s the one who has to accept the responsibilites and the consequences.

The bottom line is this. Shep has had almost eight years to be the Sheriff and lead Scotland County. It hasn’t worked and crime is worse than ever, drugs are more prevalent than ever and more and more crimes are going unsolved. Scotland County has been repeatedly embarassed by his actions and the assorted scandals surrounding our Sheriff’s Department. Enough is enough and it’s time for a change. Shep needs to go and hopefully, in just another week, Scotland County will have the opportunity to start again with a new leader, a new Sheriff and a chance to finally get it right.

‘Nuff said!

Hell In A Cell Predictions

Isn’t there a pay-per-view coming up tonight? I believe it’s time for the WWE’s annual “Hell In A Cell” event. That means it’s prediction time. Let’s go get the Sister Cleo outfit and break out the crystal ball. Let’s go…

WWE Hell In A Cell 2014 Predictions

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins
Hell in a Cell Match

Hopefully, this will be the match to close the show and get that “main event” spot. Ambrose and Rollins deserve it. As for the match, it should be a real slobber-knocker of a Pier 6 brawl. Seth’s “Money In The Bank” contract isn’t on the line so he has really nothing to lose here by taking the fall. Ambrose wins and the fans go home happy.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

John Cena vs. Randy Orton
WWE Championship # 1 Contender’s Hell in a Cell Match

John Cena versus Randy Orton in a match we’ve seen a million times where the loser of a match and the guy who’s just kind of there and not really part of anything get, for some reason, a chance to be the #1 Contender and go up against Brock Lesnar at some point. I don’t get the WWE’s logic with that stipulation, but whatever. It’s the WWE so it doesn’t have to make sense. We’ve seen Cena versus Brock several times already so it’s time to switch things up a bit. Orton versus Lesnar could be fun and fresh and I think that’s the way the WWE is headed. Yeah, with Orton’s RKO of Paul Heyman this past Monday on RAW, I think it’s going to be on with the Apex Predator taking on the Beast Incarnate. Works for me.

Winner: Randy Orton

(Champion) Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro
2 out of 3 Falls Intercontinental Championship Match

The match of the night if Dolph and Cesaro are allowed to just cut loose and let it go. Two out of three falls makes for some interesting scenarios that could possibly happen, but I think the end result is still clear. Dolph retains the title and we get a feud for the ages. ‘Nuff said!

Winner and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Dolph Ziggler

(Champion) AJ Lee vs. Paige
Divas Championship Match

AJ and Paige AGAIN? Why not? Another good match and I’d look for Paige’s new BFF, Alicia Fox to get involved at some point… just because. I think AJ retains and keeps the title though… just because.

Winner and STILL Divas Champion: AJ Lee

(Champions) Gold & Stardust vs. The Usos
Tag Team Championship Match

I like Goldy and Cody as the crazy-twins in make-up, but their title reign has been pretty blah thus far. Maybe it’s just the whole tag team scene right now, but it’s just not doing anything for me. Word is that Rybaxel is getting ready to make that big return and if played right, that could add some life to the tag team title picture. Rybaxel would work better though against The Usos instead of the Dustballs, so I’m going to say title change here. The Usos regain the gold.

Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: The Usos

(Champion) Sheamus vs. The Miz
United States Championship Match

Sheamus bores me and the U.S. title is being wasted around his waist right now. Let’s have the hottest new team / act in the WWE get the spotlight for a bit and see what happens. Mizdow helps out and the man with the money-maker gets the win and the gold. And hilarity ensues.

Winner and NEW United States Champion: The Miz

Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella
Singles Match- Loser Becomes the other’s servant for one month.

How about no matter who wins, both ladies go to NXT and work out with Sara Del Ray until they learn how to wrestle. And then go work with Arn Anderson backstage until they learn how to cut promos. And then just go away and WWE brings back Ivory, Lita, Molly, Trish, Jacqueline, Jazz and Victoria in their place. Mickie James too. Hell, go find Nidia and Jackie Gayda. I don’t care. Just get the Bellas off my TV… PLEASE! *sighs* – Nikki wins and the storyline continues. Aauugh!

Winner: Nikki Bella

Rusev w/ Lana vs. Big Show
Singles Match

Big Show can win or lose and it doesn’t matter. If Rusev loses, his push is over and he becomes just another mid-card guy who could have been something, but the WWE dropped the ball instead. Rusev has to win and will.

Winner: Rusev

And there you go.  Am I right or am I wrong?  We’ll find out tonight.

Ubuntu!

A Sheriff For The Ages…

With the news article out today in the Laurinburg Exchange about how Scotland County is now ranked # 1 for violent crimes in North Carolina, I’m sure that a large number of people will try to place the blame with long time Scotland County Sheriff Shep Jones. After all, he is the highest ranking law enforcement officer in Scotland County and has been in power for almost eight years. But I don’t think we can place the blame on the sitting Sheriff and here’s why.

Shep is a man of character and strong convictions. He stands up for what he believes in, even if it does result in getting fired from the Sheriff’s Department in 1999 for not following orders, chest-bumping the then-Sheriff Wayne Bryant in a public forum (something that would get anyone else arrested and charged with assault), and then filing a lawsuit against Scotland County, resulting in winning $25,000 of taxpayers money for his anguish and suffering.

Okay, maybe that’s not a good example of Shep’s job as Sheriff. How about the great job he’s done to lower the crime rates of Scotland County. Ooops. Another bad example since the crime rates, especially in East Laurinburg have grown steadily and we’re now top of the list in violent crimes. But he’s out there solving crimes and catching the criminals. Well, not the guys who murdered Erik Watts back in July. Despite the names of the alleged killers being common knowledge in the community, charges have yet to be pressed and no one has been arrested. But we can’t blame Shep for that despite his department being in charge of the investigation, can we? Yeah, maybe we can.

Oh yeah, I’ve got one. Shep has kept the county safe from the violent and evil sins of internet sweepstakes gambling with not one, but two raids (one in July and one just a few weeks ago) of the Cyber Sweepstakes location. Machines were confiscated and businesses were closed. Of course no charges were ever pressed against the owner and the equipment seized has been deemed legal by a sitting judge so the business was in absolute compliance with the law and technically, the equipment was (stolen) and some of it already destroyed, but at least Scotland County doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. It wasn’t illegal or breaking the laws, but our Sheriff and his SWAT team took care of it anyhow.

Maybe we can talk about the facility he runs, the Scotland County Detention Center. Never has a facility been so well run. True, there is overcrowding and the jail was cited for poor inmate living conditions and inadequate supervision by staff back in August of 2013 but we can’t blame the Sheriff on that. He’s just the boss, right? And there’s great security there. True, there have been two deaths that I can think of (November, 2007 and November, 2010), but those were accidents, right? And just because a young woman claimed to be beaten by the jailers (Jessica Duty) and all of her charges were strangely dropped, that’s not suspicious, right? All the jail needs is some new paint and a little cleaning and everything will be fine.

Let’s talk about transparency. Our Sheriff is straight forward and upfront about everything. Just look how quickly he responded to the situation when all those cars strangely appeared in the parking lot at the Sheriff’s Department despite allegedly not being ordered by the Sheriff or his department. It only took a couple of weeks to determine that the Sheriff didn’t know anything about his department ordering all of those new, unapproved cars and that the fault lay with a junior officer in the department.

And of course, the so-called scandal involving the forced donations by members of the Sheriff’s Department to pay for “gas and tires” for patrol cars used to patrol private property and off-duty jobs. Of course, the money was used to pay for parties, flowers from a flower shop belonging to the Sheriff’s wife, alcohol from the ABC store and a gold cross for the Sheriff to wear. But it was all legal and reported as required by law. Oh wait, it wasn’t. The District Attorney referred it to the SBI who investigated and determined that there was wrong-doing. Charges are pending. But that can’t be blamed on Shep. He’s just the Sheriff and man in charge. It’s not his fault!

Well okay, maybe a little of this can be directed towards Shep and the way he conducts himself and runs his department. But at least we can say for sure that Shep is a man of class and dignity who holds himself and his campaign followers to a high standard. Heck, on his official Facebook page, one of the Sheriff’s supporters made a comment that called supporters of Shep’s political opponent in the upcoming Sheriff’s race “dumb as*es”. And Shep immediately went and had that comment removed from public display. Oh wait, it’s still there, eleven days later. Oops. My bad!

So maybe Shep isn’t the best Sheriff we’ve ever had. I’m sure that he had the best of intentions when he came into office all those years ago, but what’s that old cliche’? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. But on the bright side, he has a nice flag with his own name on it flying high at the Sheriffs Department’s office. That’s pretty cool, right?

Election time is in just a few weeks. We need a new Sheriff. Think about it…