|A Lee Garrison "Penis Nose" flyer was
distributed for the 2005 City Council race
Maybe those photos of Lee Garrison wearing a penis nose are being distributed by Mr. Garrison himself. If so, it seems to be a winning strategy.
An alert Legal Schnauzer reader provided us with a copy of a flyer that made the rounds before a Tuscaloosa municipal election in August 2005. The flyer included a photo of Garrison wearing a penis nose and mockingly encouraged voters to elect "the more mature candidate." The tactic hurt Garrison so badly that he won re-election to the City Council.
The same photo, cropped to eliminate an unidentified gentleman who appears to be giving Garrison an award at a 2003 Halloween party, made its way to Legal Schnauzer recently, and we reported on it last week. Our traffic from Tuscaloosa shot through the roof in recent days, so we know the photo has been seen. But did voters care? The answer must be no because they narrowly elected Garrison on Tuesday to serve as chair of the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education.
Garrison headed a slate of school-board candidates who took on incumbents and drew strong support from corporate-style PACS. Most of the pro-business candidates, however, did not fare so well. Garrison and Cason Kirby (District 4) were the only ones who won. Incumbents held off PAC-backed candidates, and their substantial campaign war chests, in four other races.
An excellent summary of the Tuscaloosa elections can be found at The Franklin Stove Blog, at ttowntruthseeker.com, in a post titled "Judgment Day and The Machine." Did The Machine, the famed University of Alabama political operation, have an impact on the municipal elections. The Franklin Stove Blog provides insights:
Cason Kirby, who received over $14,000 from the ET PAC alone, was victorious in his race against School Board incumbent Kelly Horwitz, but not because of the size of his campaign chest. His win can be attributed solely to the support of The Machine. The District 4 polling place was swamped by students, many of whom were wearing tee-shirts commemorating the Greek Fest, the Sigma Nu Shipwreck Party or other fraternal milestones. They came from Tennessee, Oregon, Georgia, California and other states to vote for candidates who were running in a local school board race in Alabama.
The students more than likely were required to return to their Houses wearing the "I voted" stickers that they were given after voting. One person sympathetic to Horwitz said that she wished she could have stood outside the polling place with a roll of stickers and handed them out to students to save them the trouble of casting ballots. It was reported by one poll worker that some students were so unfamiliar with the voting process that, once they were checked off the list of registered voters, they forgot to pick up their ballots. Others left their drivers license, which many had used as an ID, on the tables where they marked their ballot. Some showed up not knowing if they were registered in Tuscaloosa or in another city. There were an unusually large number of "provisional ballots" cast due to uncertainties about voter eligibility.
Even Gawker weighed in on the election, with a report about sorority girls being offered free drinks to vote.
As for Lee Garrison, the "penis nose" photo was not the only baggage he carried into the school-board election. He and his ex wife, Jessica Medeiros Garrison, have a business relationship with a man named Erik Davis Harp, who grew up in Tuscaloosa and lists a recent address of Las Vegas. Harp was one of two kingpins indicted in the investigation of an illegal sports betting ring that was based in Panama and generated $20 million a month. The ring reportedly has ties to the Gambino and Genovese crime families.
In other words, Lee Garrison has roundabout connections to the Mafia, but do Tuscaloosa voters care? Apparently not.
On top of that, news surfaced that Jessica Garrison made nasty statements about her ex in documents from their child-custody case. Never mind that Jessica Garrison has been carrying on a long-running affair with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and probably has no grounds to make judgments about others. Here is part of what she said about Lee Garrison:
The father has repeatedly exhibited a willingness to forfeit time with his son to pursue recreational and social activities that often involve excessive drinking and late nights. He also admittedly has had a gambling problem and takes controlled medications for which he has no prescription or medical need. The father also has a bad temper and a consistent tendency to rage, often in the presence of the child. Moreover, the father and his wife are cigarette smokers and have pets, both of which contribute to the child's ongoing allergies.
Ouch! That's rough stuff, but our coverage of the Tuscaloosa municipal elections has taught us a few things about politics in west Alabama:
1. Tuscaloosa residents kind of like it when a candidate parades around with a penis nose on his face. They see it as a sign of light-heartedness, not immaturity;
2. Tuscaloosa residents kind of like it when a candidate has roundabout connections to the Mob. Perhaps they figure, "Hey, if Paul Bryant Jr. can head the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, why not vote for the Mafia-connected candidate on the school board."
3. Tuscaloosa residents don't give a rip what Jessica Garrison says, in a court document or anywhere else.
I have doubts about Lee Garrison's ability to be an effective school-board chair, especially given his corporate backing. But on item No. 3, I have to side with Tuscaloosa's zany voters.
By the way, here is the text of a letter that Lee Garrison sent to supporters yesterday, blaming campaign attacks against him on Tuscaloosa businessman Stan Pate. One of the more interesting developments in the campaign was the appearance of a Web site called ourleegarrison.com. Garrison apparently believes Pate was behind the site and took exception to some of its offerings. Here is Garrison's message to voters:
As many of you may know, Stan Pate has launched a vicious and untrue personal attack on me and my family. My response is simply this, I pray for Stan. I pray for God to help him in only the way that God can heal. My family is very upset over what he has done, but we forgive him for his actions and I pray that Tuscaloosa will do the same. We all are sinners and we all make mistakes in life.
Please Tuscaloosa, come together today and vote for a positive direction for our children and let us all forgive someone today who has hurt us in some way so we can heal as a community!
Garrison might be urging "healing" in the community, but his lawyer has been sending threatening letters to Stan Pate's counsel. It seems Garrison has a peculiar way of "forgiving" Mr. Pate.
The letters were included on ourleegarrison.com, which had been taken down yesterday. But today, it seems to have risen from the ashes.