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Sail away, sail away, sail away 

Most people don’t know it, but I’ve got a penchant for sea shanties—those ringing, rollicking chants that rise above mighty gales and sprays, sung by fearsome sailors who tamed and mapped the world’s waterways. I double majored in sea shanties and origami, but as much as I love the heft and folds of rice paper, the sea shanty has long been my mistress. Well, the sea shanty shares that distinction with the dolls over at the wax museum on Monterey Street, but I do my best to ensure they know nothing about one another.

- THEY’VE BEEN QUIBBLING OVER JUROR’S INSTRUCTIONS FOR A SOLID FIVE MONTHS, BOO-HOOING BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY THEY’D HAVE A CASE WAS IF THE JUDGE BENT THE LAW IN DIRECTIONS EVEN A FLEXISTRAW WON’T GO.: -
  • THEY’VE BEEN QUIBBLING OVER JUROR’S INSTRUCTIONS FOR A SOLID FIVE MONTHS, BOO-HOOING BECAUSE THE ONLY WAY THEY’D HAVE A CASE WAS IF THE JUDGE BENT THE LAW IN DIRECTIONS EVEN A FLEXISTRAW WON’T GO.:

If I had to explain this peculiar obsession, I’d probably say that it’s bound to a deep and abiding respect for the sea. What is a sea shanty, after all, if not an expression of the hardships of life on the open ocean, an impetus to sail forward at all costs, forsaking exhaustion, fear, cold, and hunger?

It’s a complicated subject, man’s relationship with nature. A subject best left to complicated persons such as myself. And apparently former sheriff Pat Hedges, who is, fantastically enough, the commodore of the Morro Bay Yacht Club. What better hobby for a disgraced, middle-aged white man with money to spare? He is, after all, the very model of a modern major general. Hedges is not the type of man who would sit idly in his basement tinkering with trains. He’s grander than that, more ostentatious, you might say.

I first learned about Hedges’ jaunty new profession while stumbling across the Morro Bay Yacht Club newsletter listing Hedges as vice commodore, followed by a newsletter in which Hedges named himself commodore. I don’t know when he made the transition, or what services he rendered to get there, but it seems congratulations are in order.

Commodore Hedges, what yacht will you be bugging first? I overheard the galley chief and the first mate making fun of your sailor suit, but I defended you, insisting that the navy bow made you look precocious in a way that distracts from your obvious paranoia. I know you’ll want to do the reasonable thing and eavesdrop on all their future conversations, costing the yacht club thousands of dollars in lawsuits. It’ll be like Watergate at sea, which is like Waterworld, but somehow more wasteful and nonsensical. But I couldn’t be happier, for what better retirement (maybe retirements) could befit such a man?

Sorry, Hedges. I am. I know you’re probably trying to leave that bitter legacy behind you. You know what they say: If you can’t become a better person, simply sail somewhere new where it will take them a while to figure out you’re a jerk. If you are planning on setting sail for friendlier climes, do us all a favor and take District Attorney Gerry Shea and Narcotics Task Force agent Rodney John with you. After the whipping they took at the hands of justice, I’m fairly confident they’re going to want a pristine island on which to lick their wounds. I’ll provide the anthropomorphic volleyball for emotional resonance with the audience.

This week, the DA was finally forced to dismiss charges against six of the Doobie Dozen defendants because he didn’t like the juror’s instructions that Presiding Judge Barry LaBarbera finalized last week. Why? Well, because the instructions would force the jury to find the defendants not guilty if they believed the police conducted the investigation in the way they did. In short, the DA has no case, and the local fuzz screwed the pooch on this case—which we all knew from the beginning. Shea and all his underlings know they can’t proceed. They’ve been quibbling over juror’s instructions for a solid five months, boo-hooing because the only way they’d have a case was if the judge bent the law in directions even a flexistraw won’t go.

Given that three additional defendants already had their cases dismissed, this just leaves three people fighting bogus charges. Hey John, I don’t mean to bust your balls, but where are all those convictions you promised us? I’m sure you’ll have a litany, nay, a panoply of excuses as to why the court couldn’t deliver on your promise of convictions for the entire dozen, but this certainly presents an interesting lesson in keeping your mouth shut. So why don’t you practice that for a while, while the families you helped persecute are out piecing their lives back together? And while the county attempts to recoup the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money this entire good ol’ boy lark cost us?

So the county asked to dismiss all charges and the judge abided. But wait—before you sigh out a hasty “all’s well that ends well,” after the charges were dismissed, lead prosecutor Craig Van Rooyen announced that he would appeal the dismissal. Meaning all the quibbling about the legal jargon is going to get dragged into the state appellate court; law enforcement agents are going to continue to sit on the defendants’ seized possessions, twiddling their thumbs idly; and it’s going to be years—and thousands of additional tax dollars—before any of this is resolved.

Actually, I’ve changed my mind. Take me with you, Hedges. I’m good at sitting around doing nothing, and more than happy to yell orders at the crew.

“Fetch me another martini, ye scallywags, lest ye walk the plank!”

I’d rather be in your company than fall within the jurisdiction of a DA who jumps on nonsensical pot cases, while the public, the people signing his paycheck, shake their heads on the sideline. Hey Gerry, how many rapists—you know, real criminals—have evaded jail while you’ve been busy shaking down the Doobie Dozen? And when will you admit that the real danger is to your reputation rather than the community’s safety?

Shredder’s surrounded by water, water everywhere and not a law enforcement officer to count on. Send bottles to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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