Yesterday, E.J. Montini had a column noting the 80th birthday (and 20th year as MCSO Sheriff) of Joe Arpaio (you can read the column here).
It was a benign column, taking us down memory lane with a brief history of Arpaio’s time in office.
I have a different memory.
It’s one of the many lives lost in the Maricopa County jails under Arpaio’s supervision.
Of the over $50 million in taxpayer’s money given to those victims’ families as a result of lawsuits.
Of the unaccounted for pink underwear slush fund, the money from which no one seems to know its whereabouts.
Of the folks intimidated during the Arpaio-Thomas reign of terror, sometimes prominent people, sometimes just Average Joe’s caught in the crossfire.
Of the millions in taxpayer money given to those people as a result of lawsuits.
Of the multiple federal investigations of Arpaio and his jails, often leading to fines and reports of horrible conditions.
Of the senior staff that seemed to have no boundaries, courtesy of Arpaio’s management style — which seems to be “If you can get me in the media, I’m all for whatever you’re doing.”
Of Arpaio’s Reagan-like memory lapses when questioned under oath.
Of his bluster about illegal immigration, coming only a year after he said he had no interest in arresting illegal immigrants.
Of his focusing on the illegal laborers but not the employers who hire them.
Of too much of our local media fawning over him during most of his time in office.
Of enough people fooled by Arpaio into thinking he is actually a lawman worthy of respect . . . and reelection.
Those are my memories of Arpaio’s time in office.