Innocent until proven guilty?  Oh, wait, Craig Meis was

Sheesh! Stiff upper lip it.

Pay the $50, set a good example for your kid and chalk it up to an unpleasant experience. Maybe even think about following the law.

That’s what most of us would have done, isn’t it? Sure we’d have been a little grumpy. For most of us, forking over 50 George Washingtons would be enough of a hit in the wallet to have an impact.  Maybe even to teach us a lesson or two.

But not Craig Meis. Our county commissioner saw it differently when he was ticketed out at Highline Lake last summer for allowing his 14-year-old son to operate a wave runner while underage.

Now, I might agree with Craig that most 14-year-olds, with some instruction, appropriate caution, and a dose of common sense, can handle your average wave runner. But that’s not the law here in Colorado, and the last time I looked at a map, that includes Mesa County.

Any of us can probably pick a handful of rules and regs we think are silly or unjust or unfair that we’d like to ignore.  But we don’t get to do that, do we?

Nor are most of us silly enough to, in the parlance of Las Vegas, not only double, but triple, even quadruple down on our transgressions, including e-mailing a litany of local and state-appointed and elected officials. I particularly liked the lines in Meis’ missive to Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Mike King, admitting the potential costs and time-wasting nature of his actions.

I may not be the hottest burner on the stove, but I’m thinking it might just stiffen the resolve of any officer to write me up if I start throwing around comments about my elected office and the fact I knew the local district attorney.

I’ve enjoyed the formal company of enough judges to think that admitting in traffic court that it’s the law but that it’s unjust isn’t a winning argument.

And, despite Meis’ claims to the contrary, I’m thinking any law enforcement officer subjected to the sort of lakeside rantings that have been documented is going to take extra care to completely and accurately describe the situation, not fabricate events.

All that seems to have struck a nerve.

As of this writing, there’ve been more than two dozen comments posted to the story in Sunday’s Daily Sentinel detailing all this. Let’s just say they’re universally on the side of truth and justice and the American way.  That’s apparently the “other side” as far as Commissioner Meis is concerned.  There’s even talk of recall, which would be as much of an excess as Meis’ reaction to a minor infraction.

It’s also interesting to note that another of our county commissioners showed up for Meis’ “personal tea party” in court. Janet Rowland gets justifiable kudos for spearheading the “How Are the Children” effort in Mesa County. Perhaps she was just checking up on one of the “kids” and his childish response to being caught in an unlawful act.

I’m not trying to be holier than anyone here. Longtime acquaintances and regular readers of my columns know I’m no stranger to the occasional traffic ticket. In fact, during nearly a half century of motoring, I’ve managed to keep the per capita average for traffic stops high enough to make most of you feel smug. And I’ve been the beneficiary of an occasional pass on the part of law enforcement and driven away with a warning instead of a citation.

But I’ve never asked for one. Nor did I ever try to pull rank during the 12 years I was in elected office — even when I rationalized that the stop might have been unfair.

One often-remembered family event is yours truly, stiff upper lip firmly in place, explaining to my then 3-year-old daughter that, yes, policemen are our friends, as we sat alongside a desolate stretch of southern Utah highway at 2 a.m. awaiting a ticket for traveling 10 mph over the limit.

Rank may have some privileges, but it also carries with it some personal responsibilities. Too bad one of our current elected leaders, especially one prone to proselytizing about that very topic, doesn’t see things that way.

Jim Spehar writes from a position of some expertise on minor law enforcement matters. Your comments are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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