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The biggest loser 

My family cut off communication with me after my first stint in jail: two years for armed robbery at the neighborhood A&P. In retrospect, I probably should have chosen a store that wasn’t owned by my second cousin. It might have lessened my odds of being recognized. But sometimes your need for a churro outweighs reason.

So there I was, cooling my heels in the can over a stolen treat. Totally worth it, by the way. That warm cinnamon that clings to your lips and fingers … sorry, I’ll try to keep it PG.

Now, if I’d been busted for something stupid like, say, armed robbery of nothing, I’d be pretty embarrassed. Whether we like it or not, we’re locked into a social contract with our fellow humans. Which means that certain actions are going to get us in trouble.

I’m not saying not to do those things. I’m saying just make sure that if you’re going to run around breaking rules, the payoff is worth the inevitable fall-out. Also, if the past week’s antics are in any way indicative of what’s to come, stay tuned to the Ed Waage/Adam Hill supervisorial race, because it’s already starting to make Jersey Shore look downright classy.

Case in point: As rather dramatically reported by a Waage supporter—who confessed to some multiple computer and cookie clearing-voting shenanigans of his own—Hill’s supporters rigged New Times’ online poll last week. The question, which simply asked, “Which of these candidates for SLO County Supervisor has your vote?” drew in a record 6,275 votes. Eighty-six percent of those votes, roughly 5,396, went to Hill. North County candidate Debbie Arnold trailed behind with 5 percent and Waage and Jim Patterson trailed even further behind with four percent.

Now after some in-depth investigation (I called our IT guy), which in my opinion, qualifies me for a Pulitzer, it turns out that 3,000 of those votes came from the same IP address in Modesto. Another two IP addresses accounted for 2,349 votes. I’m not much of a techie, but I’m told this means a few nitwits who support Adam Hill wasted their time spamming the poll.

A mass e-mail circulated by the SLO County Democratic Party urged everyone to vote for Hill and offered some clever advice for bypassing the one-vote-per-computer rule. Which is actually really sleazy. And sending a mass e-mail to a group of people that includes a not-so-subtle Waage supporter makes you dense to boot. So, for the record, we have one SLO County Democratic Party with judgment issues and one over-zealous Waage supporter who also admitted to voting more than once from the same computer.

It’s not so embarrassing to be caught cheating—the world of politics is filled with intrigues and scandals, and if you want something badly enough, sometimes you have to break a few rules to get it. Hell, elections are usually won by the person with the most money, anyway, and if candidates can buy our votes, well, with rules like these, who needs to worry about breaking them?

But at least cheat for something that matters. I AM New Times, and I don’t even care about the outcome of the poll. There’s no cash for winning, no reward. The loser isn’t dragged into the parking lot out back and beaten to within an inch of his life—though I did propose that when the publisher wandered through editorial asking about how to make people more invested in the paper. (He hasn’t been back since.) All the cheaters managed to prove was that Hill’s supporters support him, Waage’s supporters support him, and so on. Essentially, you’re all just cheating and looking like jackasses for no good reason. And then tattling on one another, as if there’s some prize at stake.

If you’re going to cheat, make sure it’s worth the trouble. This is like getting caught fooling around on your spouse with a chipmunk—and not even a particularly attractive chipmunk.

Now, if the outcome were, say, a get-out-of-jail-free card, I might understand your zeal. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Sometimes you luck out. Apparently our District Attorney’s Office is so busy, they occasionally forget to file the appropriate paperwork to try to put you in jail.

That’s what happened on April 20 (commence 4/20 chuckles) when Deputy District Attorney Kelly Manderino received word that she just plum forgot to file an appeal involving three co-defendants in one of the Doobie Dozen cases. After long months of legal battles, all the taxpayers’ money the NTF spent on the raid, all the taxpayers’ money the DA has spent in a failed attempt to prosecute the 12 people rounded up for various marijuana-related charges, the second, third, and fourth to the last of the defendants went free. Bringing the total convictions to a whopping zero. And it was all thanks to red tape. The system works!

Maybe the DA’s office realized it was fighting a losing battle and that “forgetting” to file paperwork beats looking stupid—yet again. Sure, they won’t get a conviction, but they managed to turn three lives upside down in the process.

Maybe Manderino was doing 4/20 proud and couldn’t be bothered to file any paperwork because her head was stuck in a bag of Doritos. It doesn’t really jive with my image of her as an inhuman DAbot, but stranger things have happened: grown adults are bickering over an online poll that’s not an actual election.

Shredder wonders who will go free next 4/20. Send theories to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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