EDITORIALS

Shirley’s sentence was a just one

For those disappointed by Monday’s sentencing of onetime Jefferson County Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Shirley, they must at some measure take heart that the man who accused Shirley of beating him will still be serving time in federal prison long after Shirley is a free man. And that’s as it should be.

Mark Daniel Haines led police on a wild race through two counties on the night of Dec. 27, 2010, endangering not only the lives of those employees at the bank he had just robbed, but also anyone who might have gotten in his way as he fled the scene. His actions were grossly irresponsible and dangerous.

But Shirley himself acknowledged in his guilty plea that he crossed a line in subduing Haines. However, Haines might have resisted his arrest, whatever injuries he might have sustained through that resistance, the punishment he received by Shirley exceeded that which he was required to undertake in his role as a law enforcement officer. And that’s where Shirley’s sentence is a just one.

Haines might have served as a stand-in for anyone’s son, for anyone’s grandson, for anyone’s husband or father who might have someday found themselves on the wrong side of the brand of justice put into effect by Shirley that night. And it cannot be tolerated.

Shirley’s conviction brought to an end a 30-year career. A sad end to many who know him and whom he befriended during his years of service.

Indeed, there will be many here in Jefferson County who will welcome Shirley back to the community upon his release. During testimony on Monday, a number of area officials said Shirley remains welcome in their homes. and in their neighborhoods.He should take heart in that. It’s likely Haines will receive no such warm reception.

 

 

What happened on the way to the forum

A forum held Monday for candidates to the Charles Town City Council was instructive not just for shedding light on those who are running, but served also as a primer about citizen engagement.

On a number of occasions during the forum, candidates were peppered by members of the audience to explain their decisions to publish misleading or derogatory ads and to clarify rather than obscure previous positions. As Councilman and candidate Rich Bringewatt noted during the close of the night, the gathering was a good exercise in participatory democracy and hopefully forces those seeking office to reconsider tactics against their opposition. To be sure, this contest among neighbors has been something other than neighborly with allegations of vicious dogs and, more absurdly, out-of-area educations, but also one that irresponsibly alleges misconduct. Guests at Monday’s gathering rightly demanded of those seeking their votes that they behave better if they want their votes. The issue, they proclaimed loud and clear, was that they are interested in electing to the Council members of their community those who are willing to serve to help make Charles Town a better place to live, to raise a family, to conduct their daily lives, to invest in and maintain a business and to improve the town’s economic viability.

We thank those residents who demonstrated the resolve enough to make that point.

 

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