Today, Sunday, July 9th, 2006, the Commercial Appeal ran a story on Mark Luttrell taking money from convicted felons while punishing deputies for visiting someone in prison. Mark Luttrell still doesn’t get it. I am going to list some of his quotes and my comments below:
“Luttrell said, however, he can't run a background check on everyone who gives to his campaign. A greater concern, he said, is whether a contributor expects a benefit or advantage.”
If you are going to be the “top cop”, you dang well better know who is giving to you. People give you money because of the following reasons:
Close personal friends
Someone who is sold on your vision and totally believes in you (Luttrell has never espoused a vision or plan)
Given the preceding list, which of the four categories would you think Hyneman, Tanner, Cooper, and the other unnamed people who have been arrested, charged, indicted, etc (including Bobby Lanier, Karl Schledgewick, Harold Ford, Sr, etc) fall into. I’m going to take a wild guess and say er, ah hmmm, oh I’ve got it – number 4.
Yet, in the wake of a series of local scandals that have raised sensitivity about money and its influences on politics, Luttrell says he's giving more thought to who's giving to his campaign.
"In the future I would certainly look at that,'' the sheriff said.
Look into that? How about saying, you know I don’t have any experience at this law enforcement thing. Heck I can’t even qualify with the department issued automatic. I think in the future, I’ll screen anyone who gives more than $50.00 and certainly if someone wants to give me $1,000.00 or more, I’ll have them totally checked out. I will also return all the money to these felons, and all those others who have been indicted, imprisoned, etc as well.
Oh yeah, what about giving those officers their time back, since you think you should get a pass? They don’t make near the money you make, and I imagine their families appreciated having their little paycheck made even smaller.
Records show Luttrell accepted a $1,000 donation in March 2005 from Hyneman, who was arrested in 1988 with two kilos of cocaine and charged in federal court with possession with intent to distribute.
In a plea bargain, Hyneman received two years in prison. He helped investigators convict three drug dealers, leading them to Roberto Suarez Gomez, once described by federal authorities as the world's biggest cocaine producer.
Hello! Hello! Hello! You are one of us, or one of them. If you take money from THEM, you ain’t one of US! This man was connected to THE BIGGEST COCAINE PRODUCER IN THE WORLD!!!!!!! Doesn’t that alarm you? It does me.
Luttrell said consorting means a continuing, close relationship -- the sort he hasn't had with Tanner, Cooper or Hyneman.
"There's been very limited contact with any one of those people,'' said Luttrell, saying he's met Tanner and Hyneman only a couple times each, and only knows Cooper through politics.
"Rusty's never asked me for anything. Joe Cooper's never asked me for anything but a picture. I had a picture made with him out at his car dealership.''
Talk about doublespeak… Luttrell admits that he has had a continuing relationship with these felons. They gave to him in 2002 and again in 2005. He refers to Hyneman as “Rusty” and Luttrell went out to the car lot and made the picture. He attended a party, given in his behalf, by William B. Tanner, at Tanner’s home. How much closer can you get? Would you say a person who gives you several thousand dollars and has their friends, family and associates give you thousands more, is a more distant relationship than visiting someone in jail or a closer relationship? I’m going to have to come down on the side of “CLOSER”. Luttrell simply thinks the rules don’t apply to him because he happens to be the Sheriff.
"There wasn't anything with the sheriff's department that (Hyneman, Cooper or Tanner) could gain as far as advantages from it,'' Luttrell said. "They never attempted to gain any advantages.''
And how would we know that? History tells us that people don’t peddle influence out in the light of day. They do their dirty deeds in the dark, like in the Tennessee Waltz, or like when building a parking garage (see FedEx Forum for details). I’ve been in this business for many years and I know there are things to be gained by contributing big dollars to the Sheriff. Some like being able to pick up the phone and talk to the Sheriff, so they can get their buddies out of jail, Others like to carry badges, etc. Any fool knows that having the Sheriff for a friend gives you clout, and if you have given him thousands of dollars, you have an advantage over John Q. Citizen – period!
The bottom line is if you are a law enforcement officer, you should trust no one, until you have checked them out. People, who give you big money, do so for the reasons stated above. I have taken this information to the public because there is no other recourse when the Sheriff exceeds his authority. I believe the voters have the right to know, because they are the Sheriff’s boss.
This news story didn't even touch Mark's use of the "whipping post" at the Sheriff's Office so I'll give you a few instances:
Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel,
Like I been tied to the whipping post
Tied to the whipping post,
Tied to the whipping post,
Good lord, I feel like Im dyin.
Allman Brothers Band
1. Inspector Judy Hughes was in charge of the Fugitive Bureau when she filed an EEOC complaint against Deputy Chief Dave Wing for hostile work environment. She was transferred to the Report Center to be over a handful of clerks soon thereafter. Now, keep in mind that the report center is not a law enforcement function and you would never think of putting an Inspector (three levels below the Sheriff on the Table of Organization) over clerks. Inspectors usually have a couple of Captains, several Lieutenants, several more Sergeants, and many more patrolmen under their command. Judy had three or four clerks.
2. Until Captain Bobby Simmons ran afoul of Marvelous Mark Luttrell. Now Inspector Hughes has been transferred to the courts, but her office is out near the Correctional Center. But, wait you ask, aren't all the courts downtown? Why yes they are. The closest court to Inspector Hughes is in Bartlett or Germantown, and those courts don't have anything to do with the Sheriff's Office.
3. Enter Captain Simmons - looking for his new assignment. Captain Simmons was in charge of Personal Crimes in the detective division, complete with a take home car and all the perks that come with that job. After incurring Mark's wrath, he supplanted Inspector Judy. The only problem with that is that the report center closed down in early June. Now Captain Simmons reports to the same old office, but he has NO employees to supervise.
4. In May of 2005, one Lt John Harvey was assigned to the Information Systems bureau of the Sheriff's Office where he had developed some pretty outstanding programs. One of them, WASP, was even published by Microsoft on their website in a case study. That was no small feat, since Microsoft doesn't normally do things like that unless the programs are outstanding. Other projects included things too numerous to mention, but some of the bigger ones were conceiving the idea to put warrants on the web and writing the software to make that possible, creating a website that is used by over 5,000 officers and support staff across the country to fight crime, etc. After word got out about Lt Harvey's desire to run for Sheriff, he was transferred to the midnight shift of the Fugitive Bureau as field commander. Once he took control of that unit, his officers doubled the average number of arrests that were usually made on midnights. His reward was to be told he was too aggressive.
5. There are numerous other instances, but I think you get the idea....
As Greg Allman has said many times, "It seems like I've been tied to the whipping post. . . ."
I want the world to know that I am a “disgruntled employee”. I am also a disillusioned employee, a dissatisfied employee, a disappointed employee and an irate employee. I am not happy about having an imposter for a Sheriff, who thinks he can do as he pleases, while disregarding the policies of the Sheriff’s Office. I have taken the only recourse open to me by making this information public. Let the light of truth shine brightly on Mark Luttrell and all that he has done! Informed voters make the best decisions.
Voting for me is not going to be easy, but I am the only one who has a plan of attack, a vision for the job and a track record worthy of the job. You will have to pull a paper ballot in order to write-in vote. I'm afraid I perturbed the Election Commission when I exposed their ineptitude and they have taken their best shot at me by not enabling the new voting machines for write-in capabilities.
I have done my duty to the best of my ability. Now the ball is in your court. Do the right thing!