Let’s get political

It’s that time of year again.
The time where the way you sneeze can be construed as conservative or liberal … Republican or Democrat.
Even when that wasn’t your intention at all. Even when all you wanted to do was sneeze.
I was accused of getting political in an article I wrote last Sunday on the rise in prescription drug arrests in Lee County and the partnership between Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter and Rep. Jimmy Love Sr. as the two look to get a bill passed in Raleigh allowing law enforcement officials more access to prescription drug databases.
Lee County has a high percentage of prescription drug arrests (it makes up more than half of the total drug arrests). Lee County doesn’t have access to the databases that track doctors who prescribe the drugs, the people who receive the drugs and the pharmacists who distribute the drugs. Access to that database would help law enforcement find the “doctor shoppers.”
And only the legislature can grant that access. That’s where current sitting Rep. Love comes in. That was my story (and I’m sticking to it).
Being that we’re months away from November, however, I wasn’t surprised when the message boards on our website accused me of “carrying Love’s water” en route to his next election. I wasn’t surprised when the majority of comments online — and phone calls to me — focused more on the political maneuvering and less on the fact that Lee County is facing a serious problem.
I wasn’t surprised when I was accused of positioning this story at the right time to help Love in his election efforts. Forgotten, I suppose, was the fact that the story came two days after a teen in Broadway was critically injured following a drug deal gone bad involving prescription drugs.
That’s the unfortunate event that led to the story. The ballots in November were the last thing on my mind.
Again, I wasn’t surprised. I mean, Love’s a Democrat. Carter’s a Republican. Love is running against Republican Mike Stone in November. Carter is unopposed. Carter hasn’t announced whom he’s supporting. I understand all of this, and I’m not naive to the political implications of a Carter-Love partnership (which was never discussed for the story, mind you).
Still, that’s not why the story was written. I’m not here to help Jimmy Love. Nor am I here to help or hurt Mike Stone. I don’t personally benefit from either’s victory … at least not directly.
In fact, those same people who accused me of aiding local Democrats were silent when the following Wednesday, we published a 2,200-word Q&A with Republican Congressional candidate Renee Ellmers. In the interview, she “dogged” Democrats pretty well … at least Bob Etheridge, her opponent … attacking not only his infamous YouTube video but his votes on health care and the stimulus bill.
The only criticism I received was that I didn’t “dig” deep enough with her (see the letter next to this column). That kind of criticism I can take — though there’s only so much room in a newspaper — but when I’m accused of looking to help one party over another … well, then you’re going after my integrity. And, gosh-darnit, I take that pretty seriously.
“But, Billy, your Ellmers interview helps Republicans!”
I heard one of you just yell that.
The purpose of the Q&A is she’s (mostly) a relative unknown in Lee County, and we felt readers wanted to learn more about the candidate going up against Etheridge, who doesn’t need a 2,000-word Q&A as an introduction.
Again, I wasn’t going for politics. Just reader interest.
Like I said, though, I’m not surprised people read “politics” into everything. In fact, I’m seeing it in places where it shouldn’t be also.
The “Head of Class” project press conference became a virtual lovefest for Democrats Thursday. We were all there to learn about a wonderful — and I do mean wonderful — partnership between private industry and public schools … one that promotes competition of schools and ultimately (should) lead to better performance.
I’m completely onboard with it, and I only wish we could have given it more coverage.
But several of the governors and former governors on hand made it a point to campaign for Love during their speeches. It teetered on unethical — campaigning during a nonprofit’s event at a school.
Again, not surprised.
And I’m not the biggest Glenn Beck fan in the world, but I commend the guy for asking that political signs and stump speeches stay far away from Saturday’s mammoth rally in Washington, D.C.
Some will say that of course this was a political rally, but I paid attention Saturday, and I will say the politics were minimal if non-existent.
Refreshing. And … surprising.

This column was paid for by the Republocrats of Lee County

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