The poisoning of iconic oak trees on an Alabama campus might not rank among the most heinous crimes ever. But the alleged perpetrator, if proven guilty, surely will rank among our all-time most pathetic criminals. He also has revealed himself to be a dumb ass of the highest order, which makes us think he must be a Republican.
Harvey Updyke, a University of Alabama fan, has been charged with poisoning the trees at famed Toomer's Corner on the Auburn University campus. Updyke apparently was angry that Auburn, UA's cross-state rival, was on its way to an undefeated, national-championship season.
Why is Updyke a colossal dumb ass--aside from the fact he allegedly took out his frustrations on defenseless trees that are reportedly 130 years old? He took actions that ensured he was going to get caught. And his infantile efforts to draw attention to his actions remind us of our experiences with certain sickos associated with the Alabama Republican Party.
Why were police able to nab Updyke not long after news broke about the poisoning? He called the Birmingham-based Paul Finebaum Radio Network and bragged about what he had done. The Finebaum Network is one of the best-known sports-talk programs in the Southeast, and Updyke identified himself in the call as "Al from Dadeville."
What is Updyke's full name? Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr. And where does he live? Near Dadeville, Alabama.
Smart move, Harv. Call a heavily trafficked radio show to brag about a crime you've committed--and give your real name and location.
Updyke then said he had poisoned the trees and even explained how he did it. It has long been an Auburn tradition for fans to roll the trees with toilet paper after big football victories. (The tradition itself already was harming the trees, even before Updyke allegedly came along.)
You can listen to Updyke's call to the Finebaum Network here:
Harvey Updyke's Call to the Paul Finebaum Radio Network
The content of the call is not the most glaring signal that Updyke is a dumb ass. Simply placing the call was his biggest mistake. Police found him by tracking the call. To make matters worse for Ole Harv, he also bragged about his act by calling an Auburn University professor. That gave law-enforcement officials two avenues to search. Reports The Birmingham News:
Auburn police more than a week ago had tracked down Harvey Updyke, the man now charged with criminal mischief in the poisoning of the oak trees at Toomer's Corner at Auburn University, by tracing a telephone voice mail to a turfgrass management professor, according to court documents.
The man charged with the crime also has told police he made the phone calls to the professor and a radio talk show, but has denied he actually poisoned the trees.
In an affidavit filed this morning in Lee County Circuit Court charging Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr. with first-degree criminal mischief, Col. Melvin Owens, Executive Director of Security and Public Safety at Auburn University, stated that a professor of turfgrass management got a suspicious telephone voice message on Feb. 7.
The caller claimed to have knowledge of the poisoning of the trees at Toomer's Corner, according to the affidavit.
The voice on the message was consistent with the voice that had called a radio talk show on Jan. 28, according to the affidavit. The talk show has been identified at the Paul Finebaum radio talk show.
How hard was it for police to find Ole Harv? Not hard at all, with Harv himself drawing them a road map:
Auburn Police obtained a search warrant for telephone records involving the suspicious call to Auburn University and made a "covert" telephone call to the telephone number on the records they obtained, according to the search warrant. The voice of the subject who answered the telephone "was consistent with the voices heard on the telephone calls to the radio show and to Auburn University," according to the affidavit.
How does this involve politics? Regular readers know that I was cheated out of my job at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) because I write this blog, which has a progressive tone. That apparently made certain Alabama conservatives uncomfortable, and they prompted UAB officials to fire me. How do I know that? Like Harvey Updyke, these dumb asses couldn't keep their nasty deeds to themselves--they had to brag about it.
On a post dated February 18, 2008, I received the following anonymous comment:
Nut case yours is comong (sic)
February 18, 2008 3:06 PM
That was on a post about the ties of GOP political consultant Dax Swatek to former Bush U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, so you can pretty quickly narrow down the folks who might have sent the threat.
On a post dated April 14, 2008, I received the following anonymous comment:
Schnauzer does your employer UAB know you blog at work.Maybe they need to find out.
April 15, 2008 6:18 PM
That was in reference to an item I had posted on a Monday, which I had taken as a scheduled vacation day. The time stamp on the post made it look like I was posting on normal work hours. But I was nowhere near work that day. And I never wrote the first word, of that post or any other, on work equipment or time. UAB's own investigation, as outlined at my grievance hearing, showed that.
But roughly one month after the April 2008 comment--and three months after the "yours is comong" threat--I was fired. And how's this for "irony"? UAB officials' initial "grounds" for my termination claimed I was blogging at work. There is little doubt that story was cooked up by GOP operatives and passed along to weak-willed UAB administrators to fire me.
My employment lawsuit against UAB is pending, so it's hard to know where all of this heading. You will notice that I have the exact dates and times these comments were posted, so there should be a "digital footprint" leading directly to the sender.
I'm seeing clear signs, however, that U.S. Judge William M. Acker Jr., an 83-year-old Reagan appointee who is in charge of the case, is trying to prevent discovery that will show who caused me to be cheated out of my job. (Good God, I just realized that the judge in my case almost is as old as Auburn's oak trees!)
This much is certain: I've presented evidence in court documents, and on this blog, that shows I was targeted at UAB because of content on this blog about the Don Siegelman case--and that's about as clear a First Amendment violation as one can imagine. The proof comes in the following tape-recorded conversation I had with a UAB human-resources official named Anita Bonasera, who presided over the meetings where I was placed on administrative leave and then terminated:
Audio: UAB and the Cost of Blogging About the Siegelman Case
Since Harvey Updyke is such a big Alabama fan, maybe he should apply for a job with the university. He would fit right in on the Birmingham campus, for sure.
Want more signs that Harvey Updyke must be a Republican? He had the "courage" to act on his convictions (however warped they might be). That means he couldn't be a Democrat.
Regardless of his political affiliation, Updyke clearly is a class act. Here is a video of him flipping off a local TV cameraman. Roll Tide!