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Early election returns weren't really a surprise to anyone, especially not incumbent SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson who relaxed on the morning of June 5 with a sweet horseback ride and a serenade from the matriarch of one of SLO County's powerful families.

"Oh what a beautiful morning," Phyllis Madonna crooned into Parkinson's ear via cellphone. Picture the iconic puke green of a starched Sherriff's Office uniform against the backdrop of a bluebird Central Coast day. Yup, that's life if you're at the top, baby.

If you didn't know about this luscious little election day tidbit, you're obviously not following New Times reporter Chris McGuinness on Twitter! Losers! That's where life takes place. Haven't you heard? That's where President Donald Trump pronounces truths and policy decisions! Both of which are questionable, and all of which are subject to change.

What kind of a power player do you have to be to live that life in this county? Well, if you're one of this county's incumbents, and you got caught not doing your job right, are in trouble, and find yourself in a contentious race to get re-elected, you are one of those people living exactly that kind of beautiful life.

Because this county, which complains about its power players as much as it does about the weather, definitely loves to keep things tres, tres status quo.

The bad news is, you get what you vote for, suckers! Look ahead to more "Gone Fishin'" signs posted up in the SLO County Assessor's Office because SLO County voters told incumbent County Assessor Tom Bordonaro they kinda like it when he "works" from the ranch—it's very rural, very country, baby. That's the way we roll. Office-schmoffice.

Parkinson, who told SLO Tribune reporter Nick Wilson that he was "a happy man," got the message loud and clear from the local electorate: Keep up the good work, man! It doesn't matter that you've been publicly caught in a couple of lies, had 12 inmates die in the SLO County Jail in your time at the helm, or given the appearance of a failed attempt to cover up what happened in the tortured death of Andrew Holland—a fuck-up so depressingly awful, it's hard to believe that you just got re-elected.

But, hey, suckers! Life's still lucky, beautiful, and happy at the tippity top, even if it was the hardest year of Parkinson's life, as the Tribune's Wilson tweeted that night. Get on Twitter, losers! It can't just be for politicians, journalists, and trolls, right? Even in Parkinson's worst year, he's still alive, still the sheriff, and still riding horses in the morning. As for SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow: It's cool if you don't do anything to hold your BFF, aka Sheriff Parkinson, accountable for whatever happens at the county jail. We apparently prefer that to a guy who officially changed his first name to Judge! Yup, yup, that was our other option.

So, clap, clap, clap, SLO County voters, you get what you vote for—the good ol' boys network.

I will say this about Parkinson: In this hardest of hard years, he's gotten really good at covering his ass. With 12 inmate deaths and a continuing FBI probe of civil rights violations at the SLO County Jail, the last thing he needed was another inmate death, which is why he whipped out that good ol' boys Rolodex in his time of need. Parkinson personally lobbied retired Judge Michael Duffy to release inmate Bruce Allen McKnight on a compassionate medical basis, according to ex-New Times reporter Matt Fountain.

But—and this is a big ol' horse butt—that was only after the attempt to play by the rules didn't quite work for this rural county sheriff on the eve of his re-election. The Tribune reported that McKnight was transferred—while still in custody—from the jail to French Hospital on May 22 after an apparent heroin overdose. (You can get heroin in the jail? Nice!) When his condition worsened and he was transferred to the ICU on June 1, the Sheriff's Office asked very much not retired Judge Ginger Garrett to release McKnight from custody under the guise that he could spend his last moments with his family. It totally wasn't because if he had died, McKnight would be the 13th inmate on Parkinson's custody deaths list.

Garrett said she'd look at the case after receiving the paperwork and notifying the various parties as required by law. That wasn't good enough for Parkinson, who placed the call to Duffy, who in turn agreed to McKnight's immediate release. Hey, man, it's whom you ride with, right? That's the good old boys network at work! Hooves shorn, shoed, and ready to gallop!

Meanwhile, the only race that might be surprising everyone is the battle for SLO County 4th District Supervisor. I can tell you who was not happy that night: incumbent Lynn Compton. She's locked in a too-tight-for-comfort race with the only decent non-incumbent candidate the Dems could muster up, fresh-faced Jimmy Paulding. We probably won't know the official results for days, but what we do know is that the race has the potential to change the SLO County Board of Supervisors from its current conservative majority into a liberal majority, which could mean the difference between commonsense discussions that create good policy and the current rancor that exists on this county's board.

But, then again, probably not. Δ

The Shredder's teeth clatter too much when he's riding a trotting horse. Send comments to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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