Returning my weekly batch of crime novels (oh, lordy, wouldn't it be great if our own cops were as efficient as those in police thrillers? See item below.) to the Bowie Library last week, I noticed a long line of older folks. At first I thought it was a bridge tournament getting underway, then it dawned on me that it was early election polling. So I voted.
Bless the polling place staff member who confused me with my son. Our birthdays are a day apart and we have the same names. But we certainly don't share the same date of birth. I told her I was the older John Rouse. She smiled, I smiled—it was a good way to start the day. All the poll staffers were pleasant and efficient. But, hey, that's good old Bowie, right?
I also spotted my fellow Bowie Patch columnist Sam Fatzinger, with a few of her kids in tow, checking out what appeared to be half the library. And I was waiting behind her to process my own meager selection of tomes. I could have taken a nap, but the floor didn't look too inviting. But when you have your own small army of offspring like Sam and her spouse do, you need lots of books.
After voting, checking out more books and watching my far-too-youthful boss, Josh Flynn, shooting a video (very versatile guy, that Josh), I decided to wander around outside and see who was campaigning. Unsurprisingly, the only one on the scene was the omnipresent Geraldine Valentino-Smith, who I swear has a Star Trek transporter at home that dispatches her like Mr. Spock to every event in Bowie. She was standing with His Honor, Mayor Gee Fred, her hubby and her campaign manager, Steve Kuciemba, one of the nicer and certainly more personable toilers in the Pee Gee election garden, or jungle.
The mayor was probably looking for pizza and beer. Geraldine's fellow candidate for a the District 23A House of Delegates seat , Jim Hubbard, was nowhere to be seen, which was no surprise since I haven't laid eyes on him in years. Nor did I see incumbent state Sen. Doug Peters courting the voters with his versatile charm. Again, I haven't seen him in a long time either, but I know he's around because his top aide, Lori Morris, tells me so.
I have to make a confession at this point: I voted for a Republican! This was the third such occasion in my voting life, which began long before electronic balloting. I began feeling heart palpitations as my finger hovered over the name, but I did it.
The only other Republicans I have voted for were the late U.S. Sen. Charles "Mac" Mathias and Bowie's own Audrey Scott. I forget which office Scott was seeking then since about the only race she hasn't been involved in at one time or another is the Kentucky Derby. Anyway, the GOP vote was cast for a candidate in a county race, and it wasn't the county executive contest. I felt slightly feverish exiting the poll, but I recovered after listening to Geraldine gush with her breathtaking enthusiasm.
So, now I can claim I'm bi-partisan, right? Well, slightly.
My informal polling of some of the folks I knew at the polls indicated that they were all voting pretty much the same way I did (sans the Republican). But, boy, the open hostility of these folks to the current political scene was palpable. These people were fed up to their teeth, or dentures, as the case may be, with American politics in 2010. Most of that hostility was aimed at the Party of No, the GOP. I wasn't taken aback.
I don't expect any surprises in our county election results, and Congressman Steny Hoyer, as well as Gov. Martin O'Malley, will surely sweep to victory. I'd bet a large Starbucks latte, or even a super-sized Jimmy Marcos pizza with 12 toppings, on that.
Anyway, dear readers, don't forget to vote!
Meanwhile, over at our less-than-inspiring county police department, Chief Roberto Hylton's reputation as a hothead and a rather bizarre commander of the department becomes more obvious by the day.
During an in-service training session for mid-level officers a while back, the chief stopped into the lecture at its mid-point to deliver some random remarks, then departed. One of two instructors present, a major, apologized to the class for the intrusion. Big mistake.
The second officer, a sergeant and obvious suck-up, then ran off and told the chief about the comment. The officer who apologized to his class for the interruption by the chief was immediately transferred by Hylton himself. How petty can you get?
The sergeant who caused the mayhem was then transferred by you-know-who to the internal affairs department (seemingly a nice little gift), which wasn't very wise since the fellow has absolutely no investigative background. Gee, isn't that smart—moving an unqualified individual to an office which investigates the department's officers. And then the chief puts him, of all people, in charge of the recent investigation of academy test fraud. What a brilliant move. The sergeant also, I'm told by sources who served in the academy, has a weakness for making silly and false allegations. Top notch management that, eh?
When you end up with someone totally unqualified to investigate serving in the unit that keeps its eyes on the conduct of our police officers, you can't wonder what other foolishness goes on in the county police department. Oh, wait, we know—recruits come out of training totally unprepared to do their jobs despite their perfect scores on academy tests.
We know all about that now; well maybe not all, but certainly enough to clearly realize something's noxiously amiss in Prince George's law enforcement. And poor Rushern Baker, our next county executive, is inheriting these woes. He may need a large supply of Tylenol.
Oh, dear, life in Pee Gee County continues to produce no end of tales of bad management. Be prepared for more before the end of the year. And remember, you read it here first.