A shot from the lip

    Polk County's top Republican, Larry Disney, fired an errant shot from the hip this week that should pose serious questions regarding his leadership.
    Disney said that contractor John Gillotti of Des Moines, convicted on drug and child-endangerment charges, would be in jail if he were a Republican.  Well, he is a Republican, and has been registered Republican for close to 10 years.
    Forced to admit his error, Disney declined to retract and instead pressed his charge beyond the point that it might be forgiven as an indiscretion born of partisan fervor.  Gillotti got kid-glove treatment, he said, because he's a south-sider.
    "Obviously he's connected with the south-side political machine," said Disney, and regardless of political party, "If you're connected, you get favorable treatment."
    Why is it so obvious?
    Gillotti was arrested Feb. 16 when police said he spent 1 1/2 hours in a bar while his two young children were outside in a truck, a search of which turned up 26 bags of marijuana and pornographic literature.  Many people were upset that he was given a deferred judgment on reduced charges.
    But coming from a high-ranking political figure, the contention that local law enforcement is governed by "connections" to a "political machine" requires either substantiation or apology.
    Disney has offered neither.
    Is this the sort of leadership that county Republicans are comfortable with?

Friday, September 12, 1997, Page 8A

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