Boy, Atascadero City Manager Wade McKinney has to be the biggest party animal on the Central Coast. Too bad he never invites me to any of his rowdy shindigs with all his wild pals and drugs and booze.
McKinney has the enviable task of hiring fun people to join him in the upper echelons of Atascadero city government. His most famous hire was in 1998 when he tapped party animal Dennis Hegwood as the city's police chief. Hegwood went on to distinguish himself in the finest frat boy manner by getting laid on company time a couple months back, getting accused of rape, quitting his job, then rehiring himself so he could continue defending himself against the charges, while staying in line to get his full retirement.
Hegwood was a hoot. A model example of police chief behavior that others would do well to emulate in an effort to bring a little fun to the boring rectitude of our current police state.
But it wasn't until yesterday that I discovered Wade McKinney is the center of all this, around which the Dennis Hegwoods revolve to draw their sustenance.
"This letter isn't meant for publication," the mysterious letter I received on Monday began, a phrase that always catches my attention like a hook on a blowfish. "I just thought you might be interested in Wade McKinney's history of hiring controversial people to work for him."
Yes, I just might. Enclosed was a news item from the Shafter Press, dated March 17, 1999, titled "Controversial chief works for old friend."
Lest many of us have forgotten, Wade McKinney was up to his old tricks by hiring Hegwood. Shortly after McKinney took the helm in Atascadero, he hired another old pal, Greg Greeson, to become Atascadero's "assistant city manager" or "special projects coordinator," depending on whom you asked. They had trouble right at the start getting that straight. They were probably all still drunk from the night before.
Assistant City Projects Manager Greg Greeson got right in the swing of Atascadero politics, bringing with him a pile of party favors worthy of the best McKinney hoedown.
Curiously, the job Greeson had held in Shafter was chief of police under McKinney. Some people were concerned McKinney might tap him for police chief in Atascadero, but we lucked out - we got Hegwood and his special way of carrying out his duties. According to reporter Roy Patrick in the Shafter Press, Greeson was forced to resign his police chief job in Shafter after the Kern County District Attorney's Office confirmed that he'd supplied alcohol to an 18-year-old girl he was having an extramarital affair with.
Then, during a lawsuit brought by a former captain of a police custody facility, Shafter police officers testified under oath that they thought Greeson was stealing narcotics from the department's property room for personal use. The officers who testified against him were all fired - you don't need a bunch of party poopers like them around when things are just starting to get fun.
The party really got crashed when the California Department of Corrections brought a drawn out, convoluted lawsuit against the city of Shafter, alleging, among other things, misuse of funds. McKinney and his party boys were busted.
According to the Shafter Press, McKinney was also the target of other numerous lawsuits and controversies during his tenure as Shafter's top party executive. And when he showed up in Atascadero, plenty of folks down here worried that he'd start hiring his former buddies in crime, bringing controversy and questionable decision making with them. There wasn't any point in worrying. It never does any good.
With the recent Hegwood nonsense, it all came rushing back - the missing drugs and funds, the lawsuits and firings, and rape charges and threats - the sort of things that come with putting a bunch of juvenile scumbags in power. What else would you expect?
It's curious how Big Kahuna Wade McKinney surrounds himself with these guys, puts up with their absurd approach to governing, and stands with them during the inevitable firestorm that ensues whenever one of them wants to steal some drugs or screw a drunken citizen.
But I've got to admit they sure make government seem like a heck of a lot of fun.
I have it on good authority that when President Ronald Reagan got to the gates of heaven, the first person he met was Alex Madonna.
"Didn't think you'd ever get here," Alex told him.
"Got held up talking to a Democrat - an interesting fella - who was telling me he'd voted for me. It was sort of funny."
"Heck, that's not unusual, is it? Some Democrats did."
"At the 2000 election?"
"Don't think I'll ever vote Democrat, nope," said Alex. "Never get a chance again, not here, so might as well forget about it."
"What's this place like, anyway? You've been here a spell."
"They're all communists," said Alex.
"Yep, everyone shares everything they've got, so nobody needs anything. It's pretty great."
"Well ... I don't know ... That's pretty extreme."
"Come on, Ronnie, give it a try. It's fun."
"Well ... "
"Come on, I did it all the time back on Earth - cakes and pastries and dinners and rooms - and fund-raising events, millions of dollars, all to the community, all free."
"Communists, you say?"
"Yep. An endless celestial giveaway."
"Well ... I'll try anything once, I guess ... "
"Come on, let's go in ... ."