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Dog tales in Stabins blog a crock of pure silliness

Considering that the person best known for channeling the thoughts of a large black dog was "Son of Sam'' serial killer David Berkowitz, I'm a little concerned about one of our county leaders.

No, there's no sign that County Commissioner Jeff Stabins is violent or deranged.

Furthermore, he's been right to challenge the spending of Sheriff Richard Nugent and Clerk of Court Karen Nicolai.

He was right — at least I hope so — to call a recent report that it will cost $14.9 million to fix the county jail a "crock of crap.'' Last week, he was right to ask (though maybe not to browbeat) then-consultant Lisa Hammond about how she got her hands on this report days before the commissioners.

And he is absolutely right to make fun of Nicolai's stunningly out-of-touch decision Friday to create a $105,000 per year job for Hammond, whose resume claims a degree from a California university that has since lost its accreditation. For that kind of money, we should be able to get a real Ph.D, or at least persuade a few to apply.

But the forum Stabins has chosen, or created, to air his opinions might strike some as strange — maybe even, as Hammond said, "very odd.''

It's a blog called Rusty's Tale (

Most of the early installments were amusing tales about Stabins' 9-year-old Labrador retriever mix, Rusty, whose wagging tail, with its tendency to batter guest's knees, "is an absolute weapon,'' Stabins said.

"It's kind of a play on words,'' Stabins helpfully explained about the blog's title.

In the past, Stabins has occasionally used Rusty's Tale to take, as Rusty might say, a few swipes at adversaries such as Nugent and WWJB radio host, Bob Haa —"a miserable, chain-smoking, longtime loser.''

But in the past two weeks the entries have all been strictly, pointedly political.

There are thinly disguised references to well-known county figures: County Judge Don Scaglione is Judge I.M. Shagbone; lawyer Petyon Hyslop is Pardon Horseslop; Hammond is Dr. Rod Lightning, PHD. (Hammond was quoted as saying her new job would make her a "lightning rod.")

Nicolai is simply called "the Queen,'' though one seen by Rusty in dream sequence (I told you it was strange) stirring a witch's caldron and reciting an incantation that makes references to Dr. Lightning's iffy degree:

"Leave his heart in San Francisco;

Diploma Mills are where he must go.''

To Lightning's history of speeding tickets:

"Specks of speed from near Nightwalker;

Let him fly like Luke Skywalker!''

And to a work history that included a stint in Africa:

"Hare of hair from far Zimbabwe.''

Stabins says he's following a long tradition of satire, though he acknowledged politicians are usually the subjects, not the authors.

He did an internet search for who "were also in elective office,'' he said, "and I haven't been able to find one.''

Also, Hammond said, "I thought satire was supposed to be funny.''

It's true. Stabins is no H.L. Mencken. But the more I read his past blog entries, the more I was able to put them in the context of influences such as W.C. Fields and the old Green Acres television show — "I never watch modern TV,'' he said the more I was able to appreciate the silliness of a county commissioner pretending to transcribe the thoughts of his dog.

Actually two dogs; I neglected to mention Rusty's sidekick, Casey.

It's also true that there's a good reason politicians don't usually double as satirists. Many of the people he writes about work for him. And when leaders joke about subordinates, the workers are put in the uncomfortable position of having to find it funny or else.

But if Stabins blog looks like a form of bullying, if it's unprofessional, the readers can decide. And Stabins will pay in lost votes.

So I'm not going to worry too much. Not unless he starts calling himself Son of Rusty.

Dog tales in Stabins blog a crock of pure silliness 10/07/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 6:56pm]
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