We need someone real

Three lawyers want to be in charge of punishing people who’ve been arrested for violating a Butte County statute, so they’re running for Butte County district attorney. I think that’s how it goes.

Mike Ramsey has been the Butte County DA since 1987—it’s time for a one-term limit—and of course he’s running for re-election. Ramsey’s prosecution of corporate polluters apparently so enraged some local capitalists that they imported Lance Daniel all the way from Sacramento to run against him. Then there’s Dale Rasmussen, a local man who ran against Ramsey in 2002. Rasmussen’s not accepting contributions or running a traditional campaign, although he does have a Facebook page, a blog, and a sense of humor.

I don’t know any of the candidates, and I’m perfectly willing to make broad judgments about them anyway, which is integral to our democracy.

I first noticed Mike Ramsey’s name in connection with Gregory Wright, a 17-year-old boy who fired a bullet into the ceiling at school and got 22 years in prison, thanks to Ramsey. Ramsey has inflicted misery on thousands of people and wants to keep on doing it, maybe because he’s unlikely to find another socially acceptable way to hurt as many people as he can hurt as DA.

I recently went to a Lance Daniel gathering in Oroville. As a friend and I walked over, Daniel was complaining about biased coverage in the Chico Entreprise-Record. He’s new here. Daniel reminded me of Norm Coleman, a former mayor of Saint Paul, Minn., who recently lost his Senate seat to Al Franken, thank goodness. When I ran across Coleman some years ago, although it was a warm, cloudless day, as he got closer the air grew cold and I faintly heard screechy violins and the wailing of lost souls. At the Daniel barbecue in Oroville, a helper asked me if I wanted butter on my roasted corn. The ear I’d already eaten had been so delectable that the only way to improve it was by the addition of animal fat, so I said “Yes.” After rummaging around in a cooler, what she handed me was “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” in a plastic spray bottle. Enough said.

Any well-dressed sadist might do for most people, but for me the Butte County district attorney’s race involves one issue—Gregory Wright’s freedom. It’d be interesting to have a non-lawyer in the office, someone who’s more compassionate and open-minded than most lawyers seem to be, but that’s not happening this year. Of the three, Rasmussen seems the most realistically human, at least online, and human—or even realistic—is a good start.