Caddo Sheriff, Commission & DA in Focus
by Marion Marks
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt, Paris, 1910 [whole speech]
What we find today is that too many political candidates are characterized by their over-powering ego, power seekers and greed-driven supporters who fail the test of a moral compass. No person who actively engages in the daily conflict of public office will go unscathed, but the repeated failures that go unchecked and the complete disregard for the rights of those with whom they deal cannot go unchecked.
The Caddo Sheriff’s race is marked by an excellent long-time servant for the greater good and a challenger constable whose record of business and personal failures is well documented by more than one court record. Eric Hatfield’s disreputable business dealings* and disrespect in court has been seen by far too many with whom he has had personal or business relationships. From the manner in which he and his family addressed recordings of his political campaign, where I personally recorded and witnessed improper conduct, to misleading and false communications in social media, Hatfield has misrepresented himself and Sheriff Prator. Theodore Roosevelt would classify Hatfield as “unfit for liberty.” My opinion is that he will garner less than 30% of the vote, but even that level says we have too many uneducated voters.
Although this is not complete proof of the ownership of the newly printed “scandal rag,” the Secretary of State filing indicates “The Informer” to be registered at Eric Hatfield’s business address, 8530 Hatfield Gorman Drive. Along with the documented oil-waste storage area, Hatfield has reportedly sold but not moved from his premises, all are part of the crumbling Hatfield holdings. As Hatfield sadly posted in the last few days when I went to photograph the waste storage area, reported to be leaking toxic materials, he believes the whole world is out to get him and his family. Truth is his vultures are home to roost.
Roosevelt addresses the issues clearly. “The citizen must have high ideals, and yet he must be able to achieve them in practical fashion. No permanent good comes from aspirations so lofty that they have grown fantastic and have become impossible and indeed undesirable to realize.”
Our greatest election-time accomplishment is found in history lessons and demands for more probing questions and accountability. Too many of our brightest minds and potential leaders are soured against entry into politics because of the record of politicians and those who savor feeding on public monies. Every political season it becomes the responsibility of voters and the media to responsibly vet candidates, yet there is so much to uncover and too little time.
Just because a candidate chooses to run for office, and we respect that effort, during the time between filing dates and Election Day, we must continue to ask difficult questions and seek truths. I’m particularly proud of those who chose to run out of frustration with the system, and they do so at great personal expense.
Roosevelt continued, “But if a man’s efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man’s own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships these qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown. … To judge a man merely by success is an abhorrent wrong; and if the people at large habitually so judge men, if they grow to condone wickedness because the wicked man triumphs, they show their inability to understand that in the last analysis free institutions rest upon the character of citizenship, and that by such admiration of evil they prove themselves unfit for liberty.”
The proof of this election will be what lessons and changes come from the victors. Which citizen demands, determined by voter majorities in the next month or two, will result in actions when new or old faces take the oath of office? Great rhetoric filters through the air waves at this season, so let’s hope some of it educates a few voters as well as public officials to improve our choices.
Yes, our leaders who must be judged in October’s election have been incapable of totally walking the path of the guiltless, but too many are being judged by a scale that is unreasonable, even for Monday-morning quarterbacks. From Caddo Commissioners who have too selfishly taken benefits to those who admitted the benefits were improper, and have tried to renounce them, we must separate the sinister intentions from those who have worked for the greater good.
In the Caddo District Attorney’s race, the measures are generally far too complicated for most voters to appreciate, but the scales of justice require us to determine the differences between self-interests and the greater-good. Law, public safety and justice are in the hands of voters who generally cast their votes for too many of the wrong reasons. Greater scrutiny into the motives and candidates is required.
October 24, 8:00pm is a bare month from now, yet it seems like a mirage far, far away. The muck and the mud gets deeper and smellier. We can only hope the filth that is dredged up will not keep voters from the polls and learning more about the candidates between now and then. Caddo and Louisiana need to alter the current course.
*Search of LA Secretary of State database and court records indicate numerous issues that require greater investigation.