MAYBE THE SHIP of state ought to dock periodically. For a short spell, anyway, just so we can see whether we’re optimally organized for our great democratic journey to a happier future.

That thought sprang to mind while watching a recent CBS broadcast on Alabama governmental practices. The story had to do with a sheriff who was enriched by a highly dubious and thoroughly inane arrangement for feeding his inmates.

It seems that in Alabama’s northeast quadrants, elected Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin has received, over the past three years, more than $750,000 in additional “compensation” from federal, state and local governments. The sheriff administers these funds under the category of “food provisions.” This happy meal deal — the “happy” bunches up at his end — has enabled Entrekin to load up on real estate, including “a four-bedroom house with an in-ground pool and canal access in an upscale section of Orange Beach,” according, the internet news affiliate of Alabama’s three largest newspapers.

The sheriff and his wife have purchased at least four houses, according to records, representing an investment of close to a million dollars. Thank you, “food provisions.” It was not CBS, by the way, but statewide investigative reporter Connor Sheets who did the original reporting on this story.

The broadcast networks, bless them, have long swooped in behind the work of local reporters to present the newsworthy as if they had discovered it. (Yes, that’s an editorial statement.) Sheets, as it happens, did some fine work about a dozen years ago interning for the business pages of The Virginian-Pilot and says he’s pleased just to put a light on some insensible Alabama policies. Read more from…

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