• John Kavanagh: Master of the Stupidly Venal

    posted by Mike McClellan at 9 September, 6:23 AM  0 
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    So here’s the situation:  Basha’s AJ Fine Markets — at least some of them — were caught mislabeling steaks, selling “steaks for $10 more per pound by mislabeling the grade of ‘choice’ tenderloin as ‘prime.’ Employees also added trimmings from other meat products to Kobe ground beef, so customers weren’t always getting pure ground beef”  (you can read the full story here).

    Oops.

    The punishment?

    “Bashas’ agreed to pay $1,472,487 to food banks in Tucson and Phoenix as a form of restitution. The stores must also implement a host of disciplinary and training measures.”

    Why not reimburse customers for the overcharging or mislabeling?

    Impossible to identify the overcharged customers.

    Story over, right?

    Not so fast, amigo.

    Into this comes Republican state representative John Kavanagh, with a letter to the editor in today’s paper/

    A letter once again supporting Kavanagh’s mastery of the stupidly venal:

    Regarding “Bashas’ admits to food-labeling deception” (Valley & State, Aug. 31):

    So Bashas’, owner of AJ’s Fine Foods stores, admits to ripping off consumers by selling cheaper “choice” grade meat as expensive $25 per pound “prime” and adulterating its Kobe ground beef with “trimmings” (I am afraid to ask) from other meats.

    Our federal prosecutors enter into a “non-prosecution” agreement because Bashas’ cooperated with inspectors. In other words, getting caught and admitting guilt is, in today’s world of spin, cooperating with prosecutors. Maybe the feds should give Bashas’ management a good-citizen award for assisting law enforcement.

    Worse yet, the U.S. Attorney’s Office sets the penalty as Bashas’ paying “restitution” by donating $1.4 million to area food banks. Last I heard, restitution was something paid to crime victims to compensate them for their losses. Since I hardly think food bank patrons also purchased $25 per pound prime steaks in AJ’s, where is the restitution?

    This is what happens when you have a Justice Department more interested in their idea of social justice instead of legal justice. AJ’s should have been required to sell prime meat at lower prices for a period of time to give true restitution to the actual victims instead of pursuing politically correct justice.

    — John KavanaghFountain Hills

     The writer represents District 23 in the Arizona House.

    Let’s examine Kavanagh’s missive:

    “In other words, getting caught and admitting guilt is, in today’s world of spin, cooperating with prosecutors.”

    You mean, like his buddy Joe Arpaio did recently?  Never mind.

    “AJ’s should have been required to sell prime meat at lower prices for a period of time to give true restitution to the actual victims instead of pursuing politically correct justice.”

    Well, sure, that’s the ticket.  Sell prime meat at all its stores, even those that didn’t mislabel, to all customers, including all those who weren’t victims of the mislabeling.”

    Hey, John, I guess restitution should go to the actual victims, rather than all the fat cat customers of the “boutique” AJ’s.  And since that can’t be done, why not to food banks.  You know, to the needy.

    Not for Marie Antoinette, er, John Kavanagh:  Let them eat cake, right?  I want my steak.  And cheap.  Now.

    Kavanagh, Master of the Stupidly Venal.

     

     


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    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Unequal justice in Maricopa County is everywhere, even in Tent City

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 28 May, 4:13 PM  0 
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    Hi all! I have a Very Special Memorial Day post for you guys.

    Investigative journalist and former US Senate candidate John Dougherty had this response to Friday’s announcement that a federal court has stripped the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to do immigration enforcement due to repeated civil rights violations and evidence of racial profiling:

    My first interview with Joe Arpiao was in in the fall of 1993. I wrote a story in Phoenix New Times that Arpaio had no regard for the Constitutional rights of those who have been arrested, but not convicted of a crime. It’s distressing that two decades have past, many have died, more have been abused, lives shattered by a renegade sheriff who manipulated a fawning media to keep his machine rolling. The Arizona Republic for many years perpetuated the Arpaio legend and shares blame for allowing this atrocity of civil rights and justice to have gone as long as it has. May the recall deliver justice and move Maricopa County, and Arizona,into a new era of justice, community and freedom.

    Dougherty is absolutely right about the major role that fawning, uncritical media coverage played in allowing Arpaio to get away with his vicious jails and racism (I, and Dougherty I’m sure, would also indict local TV news and talk radio stations in that). But fawning media only tells part of the story.

    It’s obvious that many Maricopa County residents shrug off the racial and poverty profiling of the MCSO on the streets because they have nothing, personally, to worry about because of it. “If you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear.” Sheriff Joe’s popularity rides on the belief that he’s enforcing tough law ‘n order against “those people” who we should assume are up to no good. He’s keeping “us” safe from “them”.

    But wait a second! There are some lawbreakers, who happen to make up a large percentage of the arrests in Maricopa County, who go to Tent City but don’t get the real Tent City experience. Those would be people who get DUIs. And I feel like I cannot continue with this post until I make an admission: I got a DUI in November, 2002. I stupidly drove under the influence in Chandler (dumb, dumb, dumb!), got pulled over, and faced a penalty of one day in the Maricopa County jail. This is a decade old memory so I’ll try to describe it as best I can.

    I showed up for my day in jail in May, 2003, which I had picked out from a calendar at my hearing (seriously, they put up a calendar and allowed me to pick the day most convenient for me). I arrived at the Durango Street Jail and then spent several hours in a receiving cell that smelled like swamp ass, in close quarters with several other women. Most of us were DUI idiots, but at several times we were joined by girls from the “Horse Shoe”, who had committed other crimes and had spent a fair bit of time in the Maricopa County jail. They regaled us with stories of their lives outside and inside jail. I will always say of my time in the Maricopa County jail that I hated the accommodations but I loved the entertainment. At no time did I fear for my safety. The only time I interacted with the “general population” was for the few hours I spent in the nasty holding cell during intake and release. We DUIs got our own separate section of tents where the guards were polite and addressed us as “ma’am”..

    I never wore the stripes, didn’t go on a chain gang, and didn’t eat the jail food. I was only there for one day, but I was there with women serving longer terms. They were there for second or extreme DUIs, without aggravating factors. They had sentences ranging from 2 to 30 days. They didn’t wear stripes either. When you are sent to jail for more than 2 days for DUI you are eligible for work release five days a week. You get to leave the jail 12 hours a day, leaving you with plenty of time to eat regular food. On the weekends you are required to spend in the jail you simply forego eating or get stuff from the vending machine. It is possible to avoid the infamous green balogna for your entire sentence if you are in Maricopa County jail for a DUI.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s no picnic. But Tent City for DUIs is basically an amped-up Scared Straight program that is not much like what life is like in there for other inmates. I’m don’t know exactly why DUIs are treated differently but I suspect it has to do with the fact that people at all socio-economic levels get them. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, successful business people, and celebrities are picked up for DUIs. Many are able to afford expensive lawyers for lighter sentences.

    This privileged sector within Tent City (for “us”) is not only unjust, but it has allowed Sheriff Arpaio to enjoy the continued support of the public for the horrific way he mistreats the other prisoners (“them”). Imagine how things might be different today had some wealthy white socialites picked up for DUIs in Scottsdale ever been subjected to the same conditions in Tent City as poor undocumented immigrant women picked up in South Phoenix typically are. I’ve got a strong feeling they would be.

    Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday weekend.

    Share


    More Posts by Donna Gratehouse

    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Has Arpaio folded up the circus tent?

    posted by Mike McClellan at 28 May, 10:51 AM  0 
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    Something’s been missing from the Phoenix media landscape over the last few months, something that became a regular feature on the nightly news for the last few years:

    Huffing, puffing, Joe Arpaio, at yet another “crime suppression sweep.”

    Those have suddenly disappeared, which leads to the question, “Have they been so successful that Joe was able to end them, so successful that there’s no more crime to suppress?”

    Or, maybe just maybe more likely, has the circus left the town?

    That is, have his publicity stunts lost their shelf life, no longer politically the way to make sure Joe stays in the news?

    Has his bevy of PR flacks put their collective finger into the political wind and discovered that the sweeps just ain’t what they used to be?

    Between the political force and the judicial force of the recent court ruling on Joe’s enthusiasm for racial profiling, the sweeps might have died.

    So what to do now for America’s Most Publicity-Seeking Sheriff?  How to keep his name in the news? 

    Hmmmm, hmmm, well, maybe he could do something unheard of for him.  Maybe he could quietly go about his business.  Silly me.  Okay, then, how about trying to enforce the employer-sanctions part of the law Arpaio routinely used to raid businesses? Maybe discourage other businesses by teaming the the DA to slam employers hiring illegal immigrants.

    Get ahead of the curve a bit, for once, since employer sanctions are a big part of the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill.

    Don’t hold your breath.  Doing that would require real work, something Joe’s never seem to have been a fan of.


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Arpaio’s ‘reign of terror’ destroying Latino families

    posted by James Garcia at 16 March, 11:07 PM  0 
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    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reign of terror in the Latino community continues. Thursday’s arrest of 11 people at America’s Taco Shop restaurants across the valley on “suspicion of using false identities to get jobs” (Arizona Republic, March 15, 2013) raises two obvious questions:

    • Why aren’t the business owners or managers ever arrested in these raids?
    • Why given all of the other crimes—murder, rape, child molestation, burglary, assaults, etc.—the Sheriff could be focusing his attention on is he so fixated on arresting undocumented immigrants.

    The Arizona Republic reports this is the 72nd time Arpaio’s deputies have conducted this sort of “workplace identity theft operation” since 2008. Should identify theft be against the law? Yes. Would I rather the Sheriff’s Office spent its time trying to address other crimes, such as the 400-plus child molestation cases it neglected to properly investigate, instead of rounding up people (the overwhelming majority of whom in Arizona are Mexican immigrants) whose day-to-day existence is basically taken up doing the crap work most Americans don’t want to do? Yes.

    “Mr. Garcia, are you implying that Sheriff Arpaio is a racist?” No. I don’t exactly know what motivates Joe Arpaio. Ego? Politics? Bigotry? A mish-mash of all of the above? But what I do know is that Arpaio could care less that his actions are destroying the lives of countless innocents. I also know that the U.S. Justice Department in its pending lawsuit against him has accused Arpaio and his deputies of engaging in a ‘pattern of unlawful discrimination”’ that “Latinos at the county jail were often referred to as ‘stupid’ or addressed with an ‘ethnic slur’; that “Latino drivers [in Maricopa County] were five to nine times more likely than their non-Latino counterparts to be stopped or searched”; and that “some [Latinos] were detained because they were said to have looked nervous or avoided eye contact”. And the list goes on.

    And the terror goes on.

    It is time for the terror and Sheriff Arpaio’s abuse of power to end. It is time Maricopa County has a sheriff who wakes up in the morning committed to “serve and protect” the community, the entire community, rather than to serve and protect his own narrow interests and corrupt base of power.

    It is time to recall Sheriff Arpaio. If you agree, go to this website: www.recallarpaio.com/petition/ and fill out the petition to recall Sheriff Arpaio.

    In case your wondering, I have absolutely no affiliation with Respect Arizona and its Recall Arpaio campaign. I just want Arpaio to stop destroying immigrant families who mean us no harm.

    And is it too much to ask that our county’s top law enforcement officer spend his time fighting crime and protecting all Maricopa County families instead of parading around on the 24-hour news channels with the likes of tough-guy actor Steven Seagal (who, tellingly, also happens to be a favorite of Russian President Vladimir Putin) or holding press conferences declaring, yet again, without any evidence at all, that President Obama is an illegal alien?

    Sign the petition. Recall Arpaio. Let’s restore integrity to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

     


    More Posts by James Garcia

    James E. Garcia is a playwright, journalist, university lecturer, and Phoenix-based media communications consultant. As a journalist, he has been a reporter, columnist, magazine and newspaper editor, foreign correspondent, and television, radio and online commentator. He is the owner of Creative Vistas Media, co-founder of The Real Arizona Coalition (therealarizona.org), immediate past chair of the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise, and the author of more than 20 plays.

    James Garcia's Website: http://www.therealarizona.org


    My Tour of Sheriff Joe’s Tent City

    posted by Jim McAllister at 28 February, 8:34 AM  0 
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    Sheriff Joe’s Tent City on West Durango                      
       

    Last year I was invited to tour Sheriff Joe’s Tent City prison facility on West Durango in Phoenix. I don’t know of anyone who isn’t familiar with the place as it is internationally known for its striped uniforms, pink underwear, and outdoor sleeping accommodations of 22 to a tent.  It’s also where you may wind up if you are caught driving with a snootful.

    Former star and announcer for the Diamondbacks, Mark Grace, is currently serving four months and being the guy he is, is making the best of the situation.  He works for the D-Backs during the day and to reports back to Durango by 6:00 pm.  He says it isn’t so bad other than at this time of year it is really cold at night.

    Sheriff Joe and his crew run a tight ship which becomes obvious the moment you set foot in the door. 

    After entering, you report to a glassed in window where a sheriff’s deputy announces your arrival to an officer who will be your guide. The waiting area is prison stark and with surveillance cameras everywhere, it’s hard to forget where you are.

    Our guide was Officer McVaugh, a short but strong guy who looked like he could handle more than someone his size in a scuffle. His only protection was pepper spray as no guns are carried by officers. 

    He mentioned that prisoners get up to 3½ hour visits but visitors have to remain in the lobby and visit via a monitor. There is a day room near the lobby that prisoners can use if they are not involved with something else. It is open 24/7 but the prisoners have to live outside in the tents. The guys in the day room had a clean cut look that might hide the fact that they were residents of a prison facility.

    Tent City is considered a minimum classification jail which means it houses prisoners not in the general prison population. It holds about 1,000 with the ratio of men to women about 5 to 1. Inmates are there to serve one year or less for crimes like DUI or lesser crimes. Some are given permission to go to jobs during the day after which they must report back that night.

    When they return, they are thoroughly searched while nude because of their propensity to be imaginative about places on the human body to hide contraband.

    The inmates who stay full time must pull duty in the kitchen, the dog pound, or the laundry. Some are also used on the chain gang. They have the opportunity to learn courses toward GED certificates and receive 20% off purchases at the prison canteen. They are fed twice a day with food presented in “Ladmo Bags”. As far as green baloney being served, Officer McVaugh said that is not true and that he eats the baloney all the time.

    Prisoners are allowed to receive special diets and there is medical care available for $10. During the holidays, a Christmas tree is on display near the tower with the “Vacancy” sign.

    Tent City may be better than the state pen but prison is prison so you do not want to be there.  The place is effective and no silly, expensive, and disgruntled recall of Sheriff Joe will change that.


    More Posts by Jim McAllister

    Jim McAllister has been a Plugged-In Scottsdale blogger, an Arizona Republic Sunday Plugged-In contributor, and a Scottsdale Republic columnist since 2005. He has also written for the Sonoran News and did a weekly column from 2004-2006 for the Scottsdale/Paradise Valley Independent. In 2004 he wrote a 7 part series on The History of Television for TV TOME (now TV.Com). A veteran of the U. S. Air Force, he has done hosting and commercial work in radio and TV and currently does a blog at jmcallister.blogspot.com.

    Jim McAllister's Website: http://mcallister.blogspot.com


    MCSO’s Internal Investigation: No one did anything wrong.

    posted by Mike McClellan at 13 February, 11:59 AM  0 
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     It was the system.

     The MCSO recently released a 10,000 page report on its horribly botched, horribly run, Special Victims Unit.

     A complete and total mess.

     And who’s at fault for this fiasco, one that left rapes uninvestigated, one that left, at least in one case, rapists to rape again?

     The “system.”

     No, not any specific MCSO official, no detective, not the Sheriff, of course.

     The system.

     It was a systemic failure, not a failure of individuals.  Says the MCSO investigator Brian Sands, “This systematic problem could not then, and cannot now, be properly addressed or corrected by disciplining a few individuals.”

     One news report noted, “Sands wrote that officers fell short in their duties because they were assigned an overwhelming volume of complex, time-consuming cases to investigate. The squad had too few detectives, and budget restrictions limited overtime hours.”

     So the system failed, eh?  But the report contradicts itself.

     The released documents, for example, identify specific detectives who deep-sixed sex crime investigations, one even taking evidence boxes home with him, storing them in his garage. 

     Who in the “system” repeatedly ignored pleas from SVU supervisors asking for more personnel, with the existing detectives overwhelmed by their caseloads?

     Who knows?  The report doesn’t identify who ignored the repeated requests.

     And  who in the “system” was responsible for diverting almost $600,000 provided by the County Board of Supervisors, money earmarked for six more detectives in the SVU?  And where did that money go?  Did the “system” just swallow it up? 

     Who knows?  The report cannot account for either where that money actually went or who made the decision to divert it elsewhere?

     And who in “the system” diverted resources and personnel from the SVU to animal-abuse crimes?  And why did MCSO place so much emphasis on crimes against animals but ignored rapes?

     Who knows?  The report doesn’t explain.

     And in the “system” diverted resources and personnel from the SVU to the illegal immigrant “crime suppression sweeps” so popular within the MCSO?

     Who knows?  The report doesn’t explain.

     Nope, no single individual within the MCSO bears any responsibility for the fiasco.

    Well, one does, but he’s long gone.  Arpaio henchman/Chief Deputy David Hendershott is named occasionally in the report.

     I believe that is called “a fall guy.” 

     But if the Buck Stops Here, at the top, isn’t the Sheriff ultimately responsible for the fiasco?  I’ll leave it to you to answer that question.

     One thing is clear, though:  The reign of Joe Arpaio is a black mark on Arizona’s long and pockmarked history.  Maybe the blackest mark.

     

     


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Arpaio Recall: A Waste of Time

    posted by Mike McClellan at 5 February, 7:39 AM  0 
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    I guess the group spearheading the Arpaio recall have  a bunch of bucks to waste.  Because even if they can get enough signatures to spark a recall, it’s going nowhere.

    Paul Penzance was the best candidate to run against “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” and while it was a closer than usual victory for publicity-addled Arpaio, it was still a win.

    And what’s transpired between November and now to call for a recall?

    Nothing.

    Arpaio is the darkest stain on Arizona, a black mark in our history, much worse than Evan Mecham or Fife Symington.

    And yet, enough of the True Believers show up on election day to put Arpaio back in office.

    So while I’d like nothing more than to see America’s Most Undeserved Egomaniac tossed out of office, the effort to recall him seems futile and, well, a little less than serious.


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Recalling Arpaio’s record, justifies his recall

    posted by James Garcia at 4 February, 8:54 AM  0 
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    Where do I sign? Anyone who says that Arpaio won his last election “fair and square” and therefore his recall from office is unnecessary, unjustified or just plain sour grapes, either doesn’t understand, or care to understand, the corrupting and distorting influence of campaign financing, especially when such a large proportion of the funding support for Arpaio comes from out of state. Or perhaps his apologists have decided to simply live with the fact that it’s alright that we elected a man as our sheriff who apparenty believes that “serving and protecting” the people of Maricopa County includes the right to blatantly abuse the authority of his office to intimidate his critics; waste tens of millions in taxpayer money defending lawsuits that could have been easily avoided; allow a shocking number of inmates to die while in custody in his jails, which led to several lawsuits; direct his deputies and investigators to set aside actual crime-fighting duties–such as trying to solve hundreds of sex abuse cases–and instead spend their time chasing down completely discredited claims that President Obama was not born in the United States or raiding car washes and restaurants in pursuit of undocumented immigrants whose greatest crime is their fierce desire to live the American dream. I don’t know if Arpaio will be recalled, but I do know that the State Constitution allows for Arizonans to petition for his recall, so Respect Arizona has a legal, constitutionally sanctioned right to try. And because I personally believe that Mr. Arpaio is one of the most ethically bankrupt and politically opportunistic, self-serving elected officials in the nation, I will sign the petition and hope and pray that if he runs again for the post (and he likely will) that a clear majority of the good people of Maricopa County will finally come to know how the sheriff’s practices affirm his seemingly low regard for the core principles that inspire and undergird the U.S. Constitution–namely, the belief that all men are created equal and that the implicit duty of our elected public officials is to preserve “liberty and justice for all”, not just a powerful few.


    More Posts by James Garcia

    James E. Garcia is a playwright, journalist, university lecturer, and Phoenix-based media communications consultant. As a journalist, he has been a reporter, columnist, magazine and newspaper editor, foreign correspondent, and television, radio and online commentator. He is the owner of Creative Vistas Media, co-founder of The Real Arizona Coalition (therealarizona.org), immediate past chair of the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise, and the author of more than 20 plays.

    James Garcia's Website: http://www.therealarizona.org


    How long does Arpaio’s latest stunt last?

    posted by Mike McClellan at 10 January, 9:42 AM  0 
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    That stunt, sadly, is his posse patrolling around  the 52 schools in the area the MCSO supervises.

    In theory, a regular patrol of armed security is, as Arpaio says, a deterrent.

    Key word, though?  ”Regular.”

    Arpaio hasn’t said — and no reporter, as far as I know, has asked — how long the patrols will continue.

    Which is why I use the word “stunt” here.  If this is just for show, a temporary move to garner Arpaio the attention he is addicted to, well, then, it’s worthless.

    Except it does allow Arpaio to shove his way into another controversy, which is where he wants to be, regardless of his presence being a help — fat chance — or hindrance.


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    The pain won’t go away

    posted by Jim Barber at 6 November, 7:26 AM  0 
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    Joe Arpaio has been a thorn in the side of the supporters of illegal immigrants for 20 years. He not only defies their efforts to get rid of him, but seems to gain inner strength from their agony. They howl every time he comes up with another innovative way to keep his jail affordable, whether it’s pink underwear to prevent theft or identify escapees, chain gangs – entirely voluntary – to give prisoners a chance to get out in the fresh air, green balagna, no coffee, and food donatations that keep daily meals under a buck, or the canvas tents – military surplus donated for expansion without cost – that he says are, if good enough for our GIs, are good enough for miscreants living on the public tab.
      His opponent’s supporters throw everything in the book, try federal investigations, and a ton of mud at him. Joe simply looks the Maricopa County voters in the eye and asks, “Do you like the way I run the office? If not, vote for the other guy.” I expect Joe to be around for another election, I he decides he wants it.


    More Posts by Jim Barber

    Jim was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, went to Phoenix Union HS until joining USMC at 17, graduated from San Diego Evening HS during enlistment and graduated with BS at ASU after marriage and 3 kids. He started private work career as a Teamster, moved to management and spent his entire career in the freight business before retiring in Camp Verde, AZ.

    Jim Barber's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/jimbarber-0/


    Was he a ringer?

    posted by Jana Bommersbach at 5 November, 9:14 AM  0 
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    Sheriff’s race spoiler Mike Stauffer–the independent who refused to get out of the race to let Democrat Paul Penzone face Sheriff Joe Arpaio on his own–is looking more suspicious every minute.

    The latest campaign reports show he has had “no activity” since September, meaning he hasn’t been campaigning for the job at all, even though his name remains on the ballot. Was he there just to steal votes from Penzone? He might have been nothing but a ringer for Arpaio all along.


    More Posts by Jana Bommersbach

    Jana Bommersbach is one of Arizona's most acclaimed journalists. The Arizona Press Club has recognized her lifetime of achievement with its highest honor--The Distinguished Service Award. And the Society of Professional Journalists have inducted her into the Order of the Silver Key as an "inspiration to the state's media community." She has been Arizona Journalist of the Year and twice was recognized as the nation's top city magazine columnist. Jana is a communications expert who has won accolades in every phase of her career: journalist, author, broadcaster and speaker.

    Jana Bommersbach's Website: http://www.janabommersbach.com/


    Latino payback: 2012 elections

    posted by Terry Greene Sterling at 5 November, 8:56 AM  0 
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    My prediction: Latinos will turn Arizona purple this year, if not blue.

    For several years, I have  witnessed history-making events in Arizona, first as a book author and then as an independent journalist covering politics for  The Atlantic, Rolling Stone and The Daily Beast.  Based on what Latinos tell me, and what I’ve seen with my own eyes, Latino turnout will be much stronger than anyone predicts, and stronger by far than four years ago.  Latinos say they’ve signed up tens of thousands of new voters since 2008  – helping increase the rolls by 40 percent since the last election.

    Signs Outside Phoenix Federal Court

    Photo by Terry Greene Sterling

    Most of these new voters will vote Democratic,  even if many are independents. 

    Why?
    1. Romney said he’d veto the Dream Act, after which Obama orchestrated an administrative coups — he deferred deportation for two years for Dreamers, long enough for them to get jobs and go to school. Even if it was a political ploy on Obama’s part, Arizona’s Dreamers are grateful. So are their parents and their families and their fellow Latinos and their Anglo supporters, many of whom vote. 
    2. Statewide, Latinos will have a  huge impact.  I don’t think any state Republican candidates will get more than a handful of Latino votes. The state GOP has long supported Joe Arpaio, who just about every Latino in Arizona bitterly dislikes. What’s more, a series of draconian  immigration laws passed by the GOP in a time when illegal immigration was rapidly declining, only served to insult, unify and galvanize Arizona’s Latino electorate. Latinos make up 30 percent of Arizona’s population, and at least 12 percent of the electorate.

    For Arizona Latinos, it’s payback time.


    More Posts by Terry Greene Sterling

    Journalist Terry Greene Sterling has lived in Arizona most of her life, and has reported on the political brawls and human tragedies that have long made Arizona the focus of national news. She was raised on an Arizona cattle ranch, and learned to speak Spanish at the same time she learned English. The author of Illegal, Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone, Sterling has been honored with more than 50 national and regional journalism awards. She was named Virg Hill Journalist of the Year, Arizona’s highest journalism honor, three times. She was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times for 14 years before branching out on her own. She is a contributor for The Daily Beast, and Writer-in-Residence at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek.com, Salon.com, Rollingstone.com, The Nieman Narrative Digest, Phoenix Magazine, The Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways, High Country News, and Preservation Magazine. She tweets @tgsterling and blogs about immigration in Arizona at terrygreenesterling.com.

    Terry Greene Sterling's Website: http://www.terrygreenesterling.com/


    No justice, thanks to Sheriff Joe

    posted by Jana Bommersbach at 1 November, 9:50 AM  0 
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    A jury deadlocked this week on a case that charged a trusted horse trainer had molested at least four little girls between 2006 and 2009. The case was riddled with questions about the adequacy of the investigation into the charges.

    Why would such a case just be coming to trial now, you might ask? Because this is one of the hundreds of cases of child abuse that Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office didn’t bother to investigate over the years–one of the cases the Arizona Republic spotlighted in its amazing series called “A betrayal of trust.” After the cases came to light, the sheriff’s office was forced to reopen the cases. And that led to the recent trial for the girls who loved horses.

    Superior Court Judge Robert Gottsfield rescheduled the trial of horse trainer Ralph L. Carr for next year after the jury said it couldn’t decide if he was innocent or guilty.

    They had heard the allegations from the girls, but they also heard Carr’s attorney argue that the enormous lag time between the original allegations and the sheriff’s forced investigation allowed the girls to be brainwashed into believing they had been molested.

    In short, he argued, because Sheriff Joe’s office screwed up, these girls can’t be believed.

    The sheriff argues that his office has fixed things with his investigative unit and these old cases shouldn’t be haunting him, not now when he’s in a reelection campaign.

    But ask the girls who said they were fondled if they think he “fixed” things. Ask their parents. Ask Lady Justice.

    The ramifications of all those unfixed problems from years ago will go on for a long time. For some, it will last their lifetimes.

    These cases are one of the reasons I won’t vote for Joe Arpaio, but am voting for Paul Penzone.


    More Posts by Jana Bommersbach

    Jana Bommersbach is one of Arizona's most acclaimed journalists. The Arizona Press Club has recognized her lifetime of achievement with its highest honor--The Distinguished Service Award. And the Society of Professional Journalists have inducted her into the Order of the Silver Key as an "inspiration to the state's media community." She has been Arizona Journalist of the Year and twice was recognized as the nation's top city magazine columnist. Jana is a communications expert who has won accolades in every phase of her career: journalist, author, broadcaster and speaker.

    Jana Bommersbach's Website: http://www.janabommersbach.com/


    Deconstructing Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a Documentary

    posted by Terry Greene Sterling at 29 October, 3:00 PM  0 
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    Sheriff Joe Arpaio intimately reveals himself in the Arizona documentary film Two Americans. And what he tells us about himself elicits rage and pity.

    Two Americans is about the fateful intersection of the lives of two Americans, a little American girl named Kathy whose undocumented parents work at a car wash and are swept up in one of Arpaio’s workplace raids and subsequently jailed, and Arpaio himself. But in the end, the film  is more about Arpaio.


    189107 440754325982404 305133053 n 194x300 Deconstructing Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a Documentary

    I was researching my book Illegal when Arizona journalist Valeria Fernandez and filmmaker Dan De Vivo began their filming, and I kept bumping into the two as we covered the same history-making events in Phoenix in 2009 and 2010. We became  friends, thanks to Sheriff Joe. I’ve watched this film take form,  and recently attended its north Scottsdale premiere at the Harkins Shea 14 Theaters. The audience was mostly Anglo,  and spellbound by Arpaio’s complicated and self-destructive hubris.

    Filmmaker De Vivo was mesmerized by his character, and probably has more raw Sheriff Joe footage than any other filmmaker. As a result, we get insights into Arpaio that we don’t usually see in soundbites.

    At one point in the film, Sheriff Joe and  De Vivo walk into the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix. De Vivo is filming Arpaio, and Arpaio is fine with it. But  the Wells Fargo building managers make De Vivo stop filming in the lobby, overruling Arpaio.

    This sleight offends Arpaio way more than it should, because for a few seconds, he’s powerless.  De Vivo begins filming again in the elevator, and  in Sheriff Joe’s  made-for-TV-office, documenting the Toughest Sheriff in America’s reaction. It’s a sad scene.

    The Joe Arpaio we see in this film is a needy, vulnerable old man surrounded by sycophants and tragically addicted to  public approbation.

    The film shows how Arpaio’s addiction drives him to run an inefficient, expensive sheriff’s-department-on-bully-steroids.

    At the Harkins premiere, De Vivo and Fernandez took questions from the audience. The little girl in the flim, Kathy, and her parents also took questions from the audience.

    But the questions were mostly about Sheriff Joe, who missed the premiere but managed nonetheless to take up most of the space in the room.

    ***

    If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a trailer.

     

     


    More Posts by Terry Greene Sterling

    Journalist Terry Greene Sterling has lived in Arizona most of her life, and has reported on the political brawls and human tragedies that have long made Arizona the focus of national news. She was raised on an Arizona cattle ranch, and learned to speak Spanish at the same time she learned English. The author of Illegal, Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone, Sterling has been honored with more than 50 national and regional journalism awards. She was named Virg Hill Journalist of the Year, Arizona’s highest journalism honor, three times. She was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times for 14 years before branching out on her own. She is a contributor for The Daily Beast, and Writer-in-Residence at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek.com, Salon.com, Rollingstone.com, The Nieman Narrative Digest, Phoenix Magazine, The Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways, High Country News, and Preservation Magazine. She tweets @tgsterling and blogs about immigration in Arizona at terrygreenesterling.com.

    Terry Greene Sterling's Website: http://www.terrygreenesterling.com/


    Sheriff Joe, we’re not “safe”

    posted by Jana Bommersbach at 14 October, 5:58 PM  0 
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    Sheriff Joe’s, “tough enough to keep us safe,” takes the cake as a cynical, sidestepping-the-truth political slogan. Tell that to the hundreds of children whose sexual assault cases he didn’t bother with; tell that to anyone who bucked him during his decades-long reign-of-terror against his political enemies; tell that to all the families of prisoners who died in his jail from mistreatment; tell that to every Hispanic family torn apart or terrorized by his deport-them-all mentality—and tell that to the taxpayers of Maricopa County who have been left on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in judgments against him.
    This isn’t a record of toughness, it’s a record of incompetence. This isn’t a record of safety, it’s a record of disaster.


    More Posts by Jana Bommersbach

    Jana Bommersbach is an acclaimed and respected journalist whose work has encompassed every facet of the profession: she's been a reporter and editor for both weekly and daily newspapers; she's written a book and is a major contributor to an anthology; she's written columns and investigative stories for magazines; she's appeared on television with both political commentaries and investigative stories.

    Jana Bommersbach's Website: http://www.janabommersbach.com


    GOP Voter Fraud Rampant in Arizona

    posted by Paula Pennypacker at 13 October, 7:01 PM  0 
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    Former Arizona Republican Party Chairman Nathan Spraul, is being investigated for wide spread voter suppression (you can read more about that HERE). It’s also looking like Nathan Spraul, was involved with Attorney General Tom Horne, in deliberately breaking campaign finance laws. Oh the irony — the party who is pushing for voter ID in order to safeguard election integrity — is simultaneously involved in years of active voter fraud. So this is how they turned Arizona ruby red. Wake up Arizona. A band of right-wing, corrupt-political operatives have hijacked our state government. Where is the outrage by my fellow Republicans? Governor Brewer?!! Sheriff Arpaio!!! Anyone!

     
     
    End the corruption in Arizona — Vote for Open Elections! Yes on 121
     
     

     

    More Posts by Paula Pennypacker

    Paula Pennypacker has been a conservative and independent political activist since 1990. She is the founder and president of Scottsdale-based Just for Redheads Beauty Products. A registered Republican, Paula is neither an ideologue nor a zealot. She is a broad-minded independent thinker with conservative economic beliefs and practical political ideas. She is interested in uniting, not dividing. Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, Paula was a popular political radio show host and a Republican candidate for mayor before relocating her business to Arizona in 1998. She lives in Scottsdale with her husband and 12-year-old son. Paula’s personal and political motto -- "Only those who dare!" -- epitomizes the way she lives her life and conducts herself politically. She is not afraid to stand up to established or entrenched views and interests, even in her own party. Her signature political issues are ending the war on drugs, ending welfare as we know it, tax and immigration reform, and weeding out waste and corruption in government. She recently finished third in the 2010 primary election for state representative in District 8. Website: www.occupywashingtongrassrootscoalition.com

    Paula Pennypacker's Website: http://www.paulapennypacker.com


    Sheriff Arpaio’s Willie Horton moment

    posted by Julie Erfle at 11 October, 4:04 PM  0 
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    If you’re old enough, you may remember this infamous Willie Horton ad from the 1988 presidential election between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis.

    Many people credited this ad for helping Bush turn the conversation in the campaign and win the presidency. And as attack ads go, this one was definitely one of the best.

    The ad came back to me this morning after reading this article in the Phoenix New Times, “Tough” Sheriff Joe Arpaio Let a Murderer Go to Kill Again.

    The story details the deaths of two young women by the same man. The first woman, Rachel Rodriguez, was shot in the head in 2005, not long before MCSO took over the El Mirage Police Department.

    The case was open when the Sheriff’s Department came in, but according to accounts by former El Mirage Asst. Police Chief Bill Louis, the investigation was not worked and the lead suspect, Arturo Hernandez, Jr., walked free.

    A few years later, Hernandez was convicted of manslaughter after a reckless drunk driving incident killed his female passenger.

    When MCSO left El Mirage and a new police department was formed, investigators came across the Rodriguez case and decided they had enough evidence to arrest Hernandez. That’s when they discovered that he was already serving a 13-year sentence for manslaughter.

    Hernandez was eventually convicted in the death of Rodriguez, but the family of the second victim is left with the knowledge that their daughter would be alive had Hernandez been arrested and prosecuted for the first crime of murder.

    This leads me back to the Willie Horton ad, and the ad I envision Penzone could run against Arpaio. It goes something like this:

    Arpaio and Penzone on crime.

    Penzone supports focusing MCSO resources on murderers and rapists and led a unit responsible for capturing two serial murderers.

    Arpaio supports funding anti-corruption and conspiracy squads that cost taxpayers millions of dollars while turning his back on hundreds of rapists, child molesters and murderers.

    One of them was Arturo Hernandez, Jr. Hernandez shot his girlfriend in the head and stuffed her body in a closet. The case was left open and Hernandez was free to kill again. And he did, just two years later. 

    Millions wasted. Murderers walk free. Arpaio on crime.

    Of course this ad will never be made, but it’s not the ad that matters. What matters is that people know Joe Arpaio has wasted resources – our resources – on investigations that netted zero convictions while ignoring investigations that were critical to the safety of our community.

    His neglect didn’t just cost us millions in taxpayer dollars; it also cost lives. And no ad can ever do justice to that travesty.


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    It’s time

    posted by Jim Barber at 4 October, 3:20 PM  0 
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    I understand that the AZ Republic is committed to the illegal immigrants and sworn to unseat Joe Arpaio. But, to advance the premise that the killing of Border Patrol Officer Ivie is not a political issue, in addition to being a personal tragedy for his family, friends and Arizonans in general, is to insult us all.

      Of course, Governor Brewer was right to emphasize that, regardless of what Mr. Obama, Janet Napolitano and Eric Holder contends our Southern border is as dangerous as it has ever been. In addition, contrary to what this administration would like us to believe, Mexico has lost total control of its border and Cartel violence is slowing spreading across Southern Arizona. The proof is there for all to see, when our government designates areas of our own country as no-man’s lands, complete with warnings to stay away. That is disgusting and a failure of our Federal government to fulfill the very basic promise of our Constitution, the reason for government to exist, “…to insure Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (sic), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…”

      When the command structure fails, it’s time to change commanders.


    More Posts by Jim Barber

    Jim was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, went to Phoenix Union HS until joining USMC at 17, graduated from San Diego Evening HS during enlistment and graduated with BS at ASU after marriage and 3 kids. He started private work career as a Teamster, moved to management and spent his entire career in the freight business before retiring in Camp Verde, AZ.

    Jim Barber's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/jimbarber-0/


    Arpaio: Publicity 1, Justice 0

    posted by Mike McClellan at 1 October, 8:26 AM  0 
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    One thing becomes clear after you read today’s article on Joe Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department — publicity is more important than justice.

    The article — you can read it here — highlights Arpaio’s shortcomings in investigating sexual assaults in his jurisdiction.  While he was busy ginning up stories about “public corruption” and “crime suppression sweeps” — when he was intimidating political opponents or arresting landscapers, in other words — hundreds of sexual assault cases went un- or underinvestigated.

    What happened?

    They don’t know.  

    Repeatedly, when asked why this happened, that was the answer:  

    The Board of Supervisors allocate $600,000 for more sex crimes detectives.  They weren’t hired, with the money instead going somewhere else.

    Where?  They don’t know.  Says Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, “We’re sad.  We’re sorry that we didn’t put the recourse in the sex crimes.  But it wasn’t done.  Why? I don’t know.”

    But the best part of the story — “best” being most ludicrous — is one comment by the MCSO’s chief publicity flak, Lisa Allen.  Who, by the way, seems to have adopted a much lower profile these days.

    When confronted by the facts of one particularly horrid case that became even worse because Arpaio’s office failed to investigate, resulting in even more assaults by the suspect in the original case, Allen had this to say:

    “I understand our need as a society — and the media’s needs — that they  want to point a finger of blame.  We have accepted that this is partially our problem.  We’ve apologized for it.  But if we had done more work and put somebody in prison, maybe they would have gone to prison and then killed some other inmate.  Are we then responsible for that, too?”

    Yes, Lisa, the MCSO saved other inmates from possible death.  It was a good trade, LIsa:  Possibly saving some inmates from possible death in exchange for a little girl being repeatedly raped by the suspect, after your office failed to follow through.

    How could Lisa Allen concoct such a ridiculous response?  How could Arpaio oversee such a sloppy organization?  How do we keep electing him?

    I don’t know.


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Arpaio, protector of small animals

    posted by Mike McClellan at 25 September, 3:45 PM  0 
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    One of Sheriff Arpaio’s slickly produced and effective commercials concerns the Sheriff’s concern for our four-legged friends. 

    In the spot, we learn that Arpaio’s received awards from folks like the Humane Society for his animal protection.  Well and fine. 

    But as I watched that spot, I was reminded of the hundreds of sexual assault victims Arpaio  chose to ignore, some of whom were kids.  And I guess I wish Arpaio had as much concern for those human victims as the animal ones.

    Not so funny is that his well-produced ads will be effective in changing the subject.  They allow his supporters to say, “See, Joe’s our man!”  And ignore his extraordinary abuse and neglect of his office.

    So . . . .

    Where are Penzone’s ads?  It’s 40-something days from election day, just a few days from early voting, and silence from Penzone.

    Here’s hoping Penzone’s ready to blitz the airwaves with ads in the next five weeks.  And even then, we probably have another four years of that phony.

    Ugh.


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Who’s afraid of Sheriff Arpaio? Not Devin Fleenor

    posted by Julie Erfle at 25 September, 10:09 AM  0 
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    Pardon my French, but it takes balls to take on Joe Arpaio without an army of supporters behind you.

    So when a virtual unknown, a local artist, decides to self-fund a commercial attacking Sheriff Arpaio, you gotta wonder, “what was he thinking?”

    He wasn’t thinking about himself, that’s for sure. Instead, he was more concerned with the 432 victims who never knew justice because Arpaio realized that immigration roundups made better T.V. than actual crime fighting.

    Devin Fleenor, creator of the People Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio Facebook page, just released a powerful 30-second ad based on an actual police report from El Mirage, one that I wrote about in my last blog post, “Parents don’t let parents vote for Joe Arpaio.”

    The ad features a teenage girl telling the haunting story of her rape and asking Sheriff Arpaio, “Why didn’t you do something?”

    Fleenor is hoping the ad will go viral and eventually be picked up by the national media. It’s a lofty goal but certainly not an impossibility considering Arpaio is a nationally known figure.

    I can’t help but wonder what Arpaio’s out-of-state donors would think if they saw this ad and knew about the sex crimes scandal. Would they still consider Arpaio “tough on crime?” And what about all the national Republican candidates who have clamored for his endorsement? Would they really want to be seen with a guy who let rapists and child molesters walk free? One would hope not.

    Arpaio has been using his millions in campaign dollars to try and reshape his image by creating ads that show him as someone who cares about kids and puts criminals behind bars.

    Fleenor’s ad flies directly in the face of Arpaio’s fluff. Voters need to see and hear it.

    And they can, but it requires help. It needs a grassroots movement. It needs money.

    Fleenor is asking people to give up their Starbucks or take-out dinner for a day and instead donate to the cause. If everyone who normally reads this blog gave $5 or $10, Fleenor would have enough money for a small television buy.

    If everyone who reads this blog could convince 2 other people to donate, Fleenor would have enough money for a large television buy.

    This is your opportunity to be part of a history-making moment. Don’t let it pass you by.

    http://noarpaio.org/donate


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    Penzone Money Bomb

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 17 September, 3:09 PM  0 
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    Hi kids,

    Paul Penzone needs our help to get elected Maricopa County Sheriff in November. A recent poll shows him a mere 5 points down from incumbent Joe Arpaio. “Paul is our best chance yet to end Arpaio’s failed 20-year reign as Sheriff. Paul served our community for 21 years as a decorated lawman, including running the Silent Witness program and working to put drug traffickers, murderers behind bars. He has the perfect background and expertise to clean up the mess that Joe Arpaio has created in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office,” says Penzone’s campaign, and I agree. Arpaio is currently running nauseating ads featuring grateful former meth addicts and claims of his prowess at collecting child support.

    So Penzone needs money to counter Arpaio’s spin. Today we’re doing what’s called a “money bomb”. Everyone who realizes that Arpaio is a terrible sheriff who is incompetent at his job and an embarrassment to Arizona needs to go here: Penzone 2012. On the left, you’ll see our candidate Paul Penzone talking pensively to some lady. On the right you’ll see a big red button that says “donate”. We need you to click on that and donate. The individual limit is $430 but whatever you can contribute is appreciated. KTHXBAI

    Share


    More Posts by Donna Gratehouse

    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Parents don’t let parents vote for Joe Arpaio

    posted by Julie Erfle at 14 September, 12:59 PM  0 
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    She was walking home from a friend’s house that night with another teenager, a boy who lived in her neighborhood. She was 14; he was 16.

    The two were acquaintances and had been at the friend’s house with several other teens. No doubt, this girl assumed she was safe.

    But without warning and in the middle of the street, the boy tackled the girl to the ground.

    She was able to fight him off and run away and hide behind a mobile home. But he found her. Though she tried to fight him off again, though she tried to scream, he overpowered her, covered her mouth, pulled down her pants and raped her.

    Somehow, the girl managed to get herself back home and tell her mother what had happened. Her mom did what most parents would do in this situation and called the police.

    When the Sheriff’s deputy arrived, he did exactly what he should have done. He interviewed the girl, he took her clothes and impounded them for evidence, he directed her to a hospital, he went to the scene of the crime, he called his sergeant, and he forwarded his report to MCSO’s Special Victims Unit.

    What happened after that remains a mystery. Months later, after the city of El Mirage ended its contract with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office because of citizen complaints over slow response times, dropped calls and a general feeling that they were unsafe, the new El Mirage Police Department began uncovering dozens of sex crimes cases that were reported but never fully investigated. The case of this 14-year-old girl was one of them.

    As explained in the book “If There Were Any Victims…,” former El Mirage Assistant Police Chief Bill Louis noted that there was no evidence that the Special Victims Unit ever followed up on this case. Instead, the case was listed as “exceptionally cleared.”

    It’s important to understand the term, “exceptionally cleared.” As explained by Chief Louis, “A case can only be ‘exceptionally cleared’ if elements beyond law enforcement’s control prevent the agency from arresting and charging the offender. Examples include the death of the suspect before he could be charged or a victim’s refusal to cooperate with prosecution after the suspect has been positively identified.”

    Not taking the time to follow up on an investigation is not a reason to close or exceptionally clear a case. When a case is “exceptionally cleared,” it’s treated as a solved crime.

    The El Mirage Police Department found dozens and dozens of rape and child molestation cases and even murder investigations that were inappropriately classified by MCSO. In many of these cases, the perpetrators were caregivers whose identities were known and reported to the Sheriff’s office. A deputy or police officer would file a report then forward it on to the Special Victims Unit. In the cases highlighted in Louis’ book, that’s where the investigations would end: at the desk of SVU.

    So was this a result of a few lazy SVU detectives at MCSO? No.

    Was Sheriff Arpaio unaware of what was happening in his Special Victims Unit? No again.

    Most of the neglected sex crimes cases were a result of staffing shortages… intentional staffing shortages. As mentioned in Louis’ book, during the height of the sex crimes scandal, Sheriff Arpaio was pulling detectives out of SVU to work on his anti-corruption and conspiracy squads. Those were the squads that went after Arpaio and Andy Thomas’ enemies such as county supervisors, judges, politicians, and newspaper editors.

    At one point SVU was down to four detectives. That’s four detectives for the entire county. Four detectives to handle serious felonies such as rapes and murders. Four detectives in a unit that Louis noted should have closer to 14.

    Detectives complained to supervisors; the command staff was warned about the backlog. But that didn’t seem to matter.

    When Louis and other officers at El Mirage PD tried to obtain additional information about the uninvestigated cases from MCSO’s command staff, their requests were either ignored or they were told there was no information to give. A detailed memo (found here) was delivered to Sheriff Arpaio in 2008 outlining the mishandled and inappropriately classified cases, which included botched murder investigations.

    Years later, after these mishandled cases caught the attention of national media, Sheriff Arpaio issued an apology to the victims. He said he was sorry, “IF there were any victims.”

    Yes, Sheriff, there were victims. Louis wrote about 31 of those victims, but all told, there were 432 from across Maricopa County.

    Think about that for a moment. 432 victims. 432 stories like the one listed above.

    It’s difficult to believe that any law enforcement agency would ignore hundreds of sex crimes against children. But what’s more troubling is that these crimes were ignored in favor of staged press conferences and bogus political investigations. Publicity took precedence over safety.

    And it happened right here, in our county.

    Most likely, your child was not among the victims. But imagine if she was. Wouldn’t you want justice for your child? Would you not be screaming from the rooftops if the person in charge put more value on the investigation of the President’s birth certificate than on your child’s safety?

    I know I would. I’d want the entire world to know the truth, and I’d start with other parents because parents who knew would never vote for Joe Arpaio.

     


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    An open letter to Lt. Mike Stauffer

    posted by Jana Bommersbach at 13 September, 9:04 PM  0 
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    This is an open letter to Police Lt. Mike Stauffer, the Independent candidate for Maricopa County Sheriff.

    Dear Lt. Stauffer: From what I know of you, I’m impressed with your police credentials and your genuine interest in giving Maricopa County an honest, clear-eyed sheriff. I think you’d probably be a great Sheriff. But unfortunately, it’s not in the cards.

    The latest poll shows your independent campaign is getting around 8 percent support.

    The same poll shows Arpaio with 45 percent support. And his Democratic challenger, Paul Penzone, with 39 percent.

    Simple math says it all: If your 8 percent were added to Penzone’s 39, the 47 percent would be two points AHEAD of Arpaio. It would be the first time in the last two decades that Arpaio would be LAGGING in the polls! And the first time there was a REAL chance of getting him out of office.

    Even if the poll numbers are off a little, the point is still crystal clear. Without you in the race, Penzone has a chance to unseat Arpaio. With you staying in the race, you’re making it a certainty that Arpaio will be reelected.

    I really wish that wouldn’t happen. I’ve written dozens of stories about Arpaio, finding his failings both deadly and expensive. Maybe you read some of those stories. Obviously you came to the same conclusion the facts show: Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a lousy sheriff and needs to go.

    So I’m respectfully asking that you not guarantee he remains in office. I respectfully ask that you withdraw from the race and throw your support behind Penzone and the two of you can defeat Arpaio together.

    Thank you for considering my request. jana
    long-time sheriff.


    More Posts by Jana Bommersbach

    Jana Bommersbach is an acclaimed and respected journalist whose work has encompassed every facet of the profession: she's been a reporter and editor for both weekly and daily newspapers; she's written a book and is a major contributor to an anthology; she's written columns and investigative stories for magazines; she's appeared on television with both political commentaries and investigative stories.

    Jana Bommersbach's Website: http://www.janabommersbach.com


    Fading quietly into the night

    posted by Jim Barber at 9 September, 7:06 PM  0 
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      It was entertaining last week (Friday night, 8/31/12) to see Attorney General Holder’s feds fold their tents and slink out of town, after having spent millions of tax dollars and several years “investigating” Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas, without filing a single charge. There are few government agencies that don’t have some internal problems; it’s the nature of government. But this was a political witch hunt to ingratiate the administration with Hispanics. Especially noticeable was the silence from those critics of Apria and Thomas who had been so vocal about the waste of taxpayer dollars during investigations being run by their offices. Holder might have spent the money more wisely trying to find out who is responsible for the cover-up in the Fast and Furious scandal. But then, he already knows that, doesn’t he?


    More Posts by Jim Barber

    Jim was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, went to Phoenix Union HS until joining USMC at 17, graduated from San Diego Evening HS during enlistment and graduated with BS at ASU after marriage and 3 kids. He started private work career as a Teamster, moved to management and spent his entire career in the freight business before retiring in Camp Verde, AZ.

    Jim Barber's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/jimbarber-0/


    Judge Bolton makes the right call . . .

    posted by Mike McClellan at 6 September, 12:38 PM  0 
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    She upheld the “papers, please” portion of SB 1070, saying that she was simply following the dictates of the Supreme Court’s decision on the legislation.

    And she — and the Court majority — are right.

    Could the “papers, please” be discriminatory?  Yep, especially in the hands of one law enforcement body in our state.

    But until the law’s in effect, how can you prove that?

    Which is why our law enforcement agencies will be very careful in its implementation.

    The Justice Department and all kinds of organizations will have their eyes on Arizona.  And you can bet that at the first sign of any kind of prejudicial conduct by a sheriff or police department, that agency will find itself in court.

    Of course, given our history in Maricopa County, the sheriff’s department seems to enjoy its day in court.

    We’ll see if the new kinder, gentler Sheriff Arpaio depicted in his new TV commercials translates into a more prudent MCSO.

    My guess?  It will . . . at least until after the election.


    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Give the Board a boot

    posted by Julie Erfle at 27 August, 6:32 PM  0 
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    Joe Arpaio is not an island. His ability to waste more than $150 million in taxpayer monies didn’t happen in a vacuum.

    We know that the now disbarred and disgraced former County Attorney Andy Thomas helped Arpaio abuse his power by charging and prosecuting numerous cases without any legal merit. We know he looked the other way when Arpaio rounded up brown people for the purpose of publicity.

    But the County Board of Supervisors played a role, too. For the past decade, the majority of the five-member board has refused to listen to citizen concerns about Arpaio’s budgeting priorities. If it were not for citizen groups such as the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability demanding more attention be paid to Arpaio’s budget, it’s likely we never would have found out about the MCSO’s $99 million misallocation of funds.

    While it’s important for the Board to try and maintain good working relationships with the departments they oversee, including the MCSO, it’s also vital that they maintain the necessary checks and balances demanded by our Constitution. It is the Board’s job to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and that the Sheriff uses the funds allocated for his department for the purposes outlined in the budget.

    That clearly has not happened and is part of the reason MCSO’s sex crimes detectives didn’t investigate 432 sex crimes. Instead of using money allocated for SVU – the department that’s supposed to focus on rapists and child molesters — Arpaio misspent the money, using it for things like trips to Honduras and baseless investigations of elected officials and mortgage fraud.

    And what does the County Board of Supervisors have to say about all of this? Well, that depends on whom you ask.

    Some supervisors have put up a fight and demanded more accountability, but those supervisors are almost always in the minority. And sadly, those same supervisors who have had the courage to challenge Arpaio have been harassed and targeted by him. Though I believe Arpaio should be punished for his retaliatory actions against the supervisors, I do not believe elected officials should take money from the people they serve in the form of lawsuits.

    On the other side of this, however, are supervisors like Chairman Max Wilson who has a cozy relationship with Arpaio and actually promotes the fact that Arpaio endorses his candidacy (as shown here on his website). Considering what Mr. Wilson knows about Arpaio’s abuse of taxpayer dollars, I find it incredible that he would align himself with someone so fiscally irresponsible.

    There are no Democrats running against Wilson, but he does have two Republican challengers in the primary, Dick Hensley and Jean McGrath. We will find out tomorrow if either of them can unseat this decade-long incumbent.

    Two supervisors, Fulton Brock and Don Stapley, are not running for reelection. Voters in those districts will have a much needed opportunity for change, particularly in District 2 where Steve Chucri is looking to defeat Lester Pearce, brother of recalled State Senator Russell Pearce and close ally of Arpaio’s.

    But perhaps the biggest opportunity for change is in District 3 where a 14-year incumbent, Andy Kunasek, could lose to a newcomer named Lilia Alvarez. Kunasek is infamous for turning the other way when citizens were arrested at a Board of Supervisors meeting after applauding for an anti-Arpaio comment. Supervisor Kunasek, during his term as Board Chair, refused to meet with the group or address their concerns.

    Alvarez, on the other hand, sees citizen involvement in government as a plus and wants more participation from residents in the budget process. She objected to Arpaio’s use of taxpayer dollars to fund his birther investigation and believes it’s the Board’s responsibility to provide oversight of the Sheriff’s budget.

    Kunasek did not object to funding Arpaio’s birther investigation and has said the $28 million the county just recently lost in lawsuits is but a small percentage of its annual budget.

    I have a hard time swallowing that line of thinking. $28 million may be a small percentage of the budget, but considering the county currently has a shortage of medical examiners and restaurant inspectors, I believe there were much better uses for those funds.

    No, Arpaio is not an island. He has wasted money and abused his power with the blessings of other elected officials. If we want to clean up county government, we must give him and the Board the boot. We’re the only ones who can.


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    Why we can’t necessarily trust the “business community” to tamp down right wing lunacy

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 19 July, 5:47 PM  0 
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    As I’ve noted here before, one of the most resilient myths in politics, and one that tends to go hand in hand with the risible “extremists on both sides” nonsense, is the belief that the right wing reactionaries are mostly low class goobers. They were able to take over so many offices by getting the votes of their fellow benighted goobers in low turnout Republican primary elections. This is followed by the conventional wisdom that the key to restoring collegiality and ending gridlock lies in recruiting affluent Republican business people to run for office. By dint of being wealthy and successful, they are assumed to be sensible and pragmatic.

    With that in mind, let’s consider Senate candidate Wil Cardon, who is challenging Jeff Flake in the upcoming primary. Unlike Flake, who disguises his hard right wing views behind a facade of bland amiability, Cardon is full-on kookoo for cocoa puffs. Here’s a campaign ad Cardon just released of supporters praising him:

    Those appear to be some pretty comfortable people. Not a toothless one in the bunch. Lot of pricey looking hairdos and spray tans. One Cardon supporter is Barbara Lane, who is a real estate agent with the Peggy Rauch Group. Barbara can help with your housing needs in Scottsdale and Fountain Hills. Vernon Swaback runs Swaback Partners, an architectural firm that designs “custom residences” in places like Paradise Valley. It’s worth noting that Wil Cardon, the Tea Party endorsed candidate in the race, is himself a wealthy businessman.

    On Cardon’s website you can learn about more well-heeled fans:

    Phoenix, Arizona – The Women for Wil coalition kicked of its endorsement of Wil Cardon in style. The group gathered at Modern Steak Restaurant in Scottsdale Wednesday to chat with Wil. After a casual question and answer session, Jane Hight McMurry talked with them about her latest book, Navigating the Lipstick Jungle: Go from Plain Jane to Getting what you Want, Need and Deserve! McMurry’s premise: while women may not be able to have it all, they can get what they want and need if they know how to get it.

    The Women for Wil Coalition is led by Wil’s wife Nicole. She’s joined by 3 co-chairs:

    Sarah Suggs Cheek has worked in management at several large, reputable firms including TRW, a Fortune 500 company. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the American Advertising Federation and is a sustaining member of the Junior League. She’s also involved with the American Heart Association Heart Ball, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Scottsdale Health Care Foundation.

    Christine Ewing, owner of Ewing Consulting, works with organizations around Arizona to secure charitable support including hospitals, health and human service organizations, religious entities, arts and cultural institutions and environmental agencies. Christine considers herself a “coach” instead of the principal of the firm and prides herself on working closely on all the company’s projects.

    Karrin Kunasek Taylor, the Executive Vice President at DMB Associates, is responsible for ongoing land use entitlement matters and provides oversight for the company’s government and political affairs efforts. She has been involved in a variety of projects including Verrado, Marley Park, Centerpoint, One Scottsdale, DC Ranch and Eastmark.

    You may be thinking that these people are just outliers among wealthy Republicans but I don’t think they’re atypical at all. I’d even say the reactionaries are over-represented in that group, if not the majority. This doesn’t mean I think Cardin going to beat Flake, who is far better known and sufficiently wingnutty for primary GOP voters (the “moderate” act is for the rest of you suckers in the general election). But I point this stuff out to illustrate why I treat claims that we just need more “business leaders” in politics with deep skepticism. I don’t believe it’s a mere coincidence that some of the biggest kooks in the Arizona Legislature happen to be from some of its wealthiest districts. Fountain Hills, home of Joe Arpaio and a very wealthy enclave in the East Valley, has a population of around 22,000. They also have two active Tea Party groups there. Where I used to live in Ahwatukee I recall there being at least three massive and well-appointed Proserity Gospel megachurches within a five mile radius of my home.

    Here’s a video of attendees entering a fundraiser for Ann Romney’s birthday hosted by Donald Trump.

    Not only do several of the expensive looking women paying $1000 a plate to get into the luncheon express doubt about Obama’s citizenship but one thinks he’s a Muslim and another calls him a socialist. I suppose there was a time when you could expect wealthy Republicans to be more moderate, or at least rational, but I’m afraid that is definitely not the case today. Cathi Herrod would have been right at home at that fundraiser.

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    More Posts by Donna Gratehouse

    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    Birtherism is an obscenity

    posted by Donna Gratehouse at 19 July, 2:17 PM  0 
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    con·text/ˈkäntekst/

    Noun:
    1. The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
    2. The parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.

    I know I’ve mentioned here a time or two about when I was on a panel with Arizona bloggers and there was a prominent right wing blogger on it who preened about how he never used bad language in his posts because his mom and pastor read his blog. I thought about his pastor reading this blogger’s numerous diatribes against public assistance to poor people and finding them acceptable because there was no profanity. I concluded that the right wing blogger’s pastor must not be a very nice person. But I’m sure both the blogger and the pastor think of themselves as very moral people. Oh yes indeed. I don’t believe in letting poor kids go hungry or letting people die for lack of health care. I think those are pretty moral positions but I also swear like a sailor in real life and occasionally in blog posts. Which makes me a moral degenerate in the eyes of upstanding right wing bloggers and their pastors.

    This brings me to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is not having a good week. He faces a trial on his profiling policies this Thursday and he was ripped a new one by George Lopez in his HBO comedy special and whined about it to Channel 15, demanding that Lopez agree to meet with him in Arizona. For an angry dance-off, I guess.

    Let’s be clear: Arpaio has a masterful PR machine. It looks like they were making lemonade out of the giant lemon a famous comedian lobbed at Joe Arpaio. I rather doubt he just happened to be flipping through channels with his wife Ava and happened upon the Lopez special and then, of his own volition, ran sobbing to the news station about it. My guess is this was a carefully calculated move intended to impress Arpaio’s base of uptight old white people who consider themselves very morally upright because they don’t approve of cussing in public. Especially when the cussing is from “lesser” people like George Lopez toward their social betters like Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is a hero to authoritarians who believe that the worst thing that anyone can ever do is insult or discomfort their betters. For them it’s all about form over substance. This is why, for example, no matter how blatantly racist a Republican is, you are always the bigger name-caller, maker of personal attacks, and (of course) the real racist for pointing it out. We even learned recently that the mere utterance of the word “vagina” from a mere woman is so upsetting to the tender sensibilities of right wing men passing gobs of regulation on ladyparts that the offending woman must be banned from the floor of the state legislature.

    It was fun to watch Arpaio make a petulant ass of himself at the Birther press conference yesterday when he was asked by a (wonderful!) Channel 5 reporter if he’d sic his deputies on President Obama’s motorcade during a Phoenix visit to demand proof of his citizenship. But there’s an ugly and dangerous undercurrent to the Birther thing that cannot be dismissed or ignored. The whole point of Arpaio’s investigation of Obama is to excite his fan club of bitter racists who hate the President simply for who he is. They embrace the Birther conspiracy because they think it lends their racial animus a patina of legitimacy. And because they are largely older white conservative males – the most privileged group in our society – Birthers are accommodated and coddled in a way that no other group of people engaging in such loathsome behavior would be.

    I’m not in the “stop giving them attention” camp either. I want them to be exposed and I do think the local news stations are doing a decent job covering them. However, there’s still too much of the “both sides” crap going on. Stop it. Just, stop it. Birthers are a hate group, full stop. I realize they are a shockingly large percentage of Republican voters but that is no reason to give Birther leaders any more latitude than you would have given the late JT Ready. Treat Birtherism as the obscenity that it is, please.

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    More Posts by Donna Gratehouse

    I grew up in Silver Spring, MD, and an adventurous streak led me to join the Navy. I moved to Arizona in 1997 after serving 10 years in the Navy to work in semi-conductor manufacturing. I got involved in national and Arizona politics in 2003. I ran for 2006 State Senate in Ahwatukee and was a Delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I now live in North Central Phoenix with my boyfriend, Mark, and our three dogs. I've been blogging for Democratic Diva since 2007 about local and national politics with a strong emphasis on women's issues.

    Donna Gratehouse's Website: http://www.democraticdiva.com/


    My new media hero: Morgan Loew

    posted by Mike McClellan at 18 July, 9:16 AM  0 
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    So America’s Most Publicity-Desperate Sheriff trotted out his “cold case posse” yesterday to shock the world with its findings on Barack Obama’s birth certificate, much of which rests on an interview with a now-95-year-old lady who may have had some connection with the original birth certificate. The conversation was taped, and the MCSO posse “might” release that tape (don’t hold your breath).

    But after regaling the press for over an hour with its “proof,”  the Sheriff opened up the conference for questions.

    And that’s where Channel 5′s Morgan Loew comes in.

    His first question was something like this:  ”Why should we believe any of this, given that the two lead ‘investigators’ traffic in and profit from various conspiracy theories?”

    Arpaio was predictably insulted, said so, went into his ritual finger-pointing, and then changed the subject.  Loew continued to badger the now-red faced Sheriff, who then went Full Arpaio and accused Channel 5 of various “hit pieces” on him.  

    Good stuff.  Way to go, Morgan.  Actually pressing the powerful on uncomfortable details.  Kind of like what journalists are supposed to do.

    But let’s look at the two in charge of the posse, Mike Zullo and Jerry Corsi.

    Zullo was a police officer in a small New Jersey town for a grand total of five years, 30 years ago.  He has absolutely no experience
    in forensic science, and just suddenly appeared when the cold case posse was formed.  Neither the Sheriff nor the “retired detective” has presented his resume that might give us more confidence in his being the “lead commander” of the posse.

    And the “brains” behind the cold case posse is a guy named Jerry Corsi, a well-known conspiracy theorist — 9/11 was an inside job,  Timothy McVeigh was connected to Middle East terrorists, etc. — who makes his money peddling these conspiracies on the website for the crazies,World Net Daily.

    Oh, and Zullo and Corsi have — surprise — written a book about all this, making some money from their “investigation.” 

    The Sheriff likes to exploit the media. In this case, the conspiracy crazies have found their rube to channel their inanities — Joe Arpaio.
     



    More Posts by Mike McClellan

    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    Andy Kunasek, Defender of the Indefensible

    posted by Mike McClellan at 21 June, 3:41 PM  0 
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    Sheriff Arpaio’s crack birth certificate team is in the news again, this time for the taxpayer costs for the team’s Hawaiian excursion.

     At the time, the Sheriff said there’d be no cost to taxpayers, which turned out to be a lie, about a $10,000 one, the total costs to taxpayers of the MCSO deputy who accompanied the team to Hawaii to provide “security.”

     According to the lead of the crack team, Mike Zullo, Hawaii “was enemy territory as far as we were concerned.” 

    “We were fortunate to work with HPD [what, Danno and McGarrett werent' available?] where they changed our names in the hotel registry so they [who "they"] couldn’t find us.”

     Right.

     Now, private funds have been offered to defray part of the costs, but yesterday, the Board turned that down.

     However, we also learned that at least one Supervisor has the Sheriff’s back:  Andy Kunasek.

     In arguing for the Board to accept the $5,000 donation, he said he was disappointed that other supervisors were “inect[ing] themselves into a criminal investigation, telling the sheriff who to investigate and who not to investigate.”

     He added, “To sit here and, I guess, have the audacity to say what to go after, what not to go after, is bordering on, I think, going into a very dangerous area.”

     His comments, of course, beg this question:

     Supervisor Kunasek, do you believe that the “investigation” of the President’s birth certificate to be a valid “criminal investigation,” as you call it?

     Kunasek is walking into Bennett territory here, skimming along the border of the Birther Madness.

     So, Andy, is the Sheriff’s investigation legitimate, as your comments imply?

     

     



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    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    On Arpaio’s 80th

    posted by Mike McClellan at 15 June, 9:07 AM  0 
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    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.

     

     

     


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    Mike McClellan has lived in Arizona since 1967 where he attended high school and the University of Arizona. McClellan taught high school English for 36 years, including 30 years at at Dobson High School in Mesa. He has been a contributing columnist to both the East Valley Republic editions and the East Valley Tribune.

    Mike McClellan's Website: http://azcvoices.com/politics/author/mikemcclellansblog/


    David vs. Goliath in “Two Americans” film: Goliath still rules

    posted by Julie Erfle at 13 June, 4:51 PM  0 
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    Two Americans isn’t a fairy tale. Two Americans doesn’t have a happy ending. But Two Americans may be one of the most important documentaries you’ll ever see, especially if you live in Maricopa County.

    The Americans in this story are 79-year-old Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and 9-year-old Katherine Figueroa. Arpaio, the obvious Goliath in this story, is armed with a badge and a powerful position of authority. While Kathy, our David in the story, is equipped with the power of her faith and love of family.

    Though Arpaio has spent a great deal of time in front of cameras, the documentary takes us behind the scenes and gives the audience a closer look at what guides Arpaio. Though one may expect to see a sheriff motivated by the desire for good to triumph evil, this film highlights a sheriff who speaks of justice but seems driven by ego and an obsession with fame.

    We see a man who brags about spending $20,000 on his teeth to make himself look better on television and frets about makeup that makes him look old on camera.

    We see a man who spins a tale about gun battles in Turkey, about single-handedly taking down crime operatives, and winking about his participation in torture.

    We see a man who becomes irate, declaring, “It’s MY money,” when citizens question the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors’ continuous payout of millions of taxpayer dollars in lawsuits against the Sheriff’s department.

    We see a man who once regarded undocumented workers as unimportant in the fight against crime only to make it the focus of his office after realizing how much media attention he could gain.

    We see a man who cannot recall important conversations or details about one of his most important units, the anti-corruption squad, while under oath in the Andrew Thomas trial.

    Compare this man to the other American, the little girl whose parents were arrested while working at a local carwash (a business that had employed them for years).

    Here we see a little girl who is terrified, who does not understand why she isn’t allowed to hug her mother when she visits her in jail and fears that she, too, will be arrested, even though she is an American citizen.

    We see a girl who prays every day, putting her faith in Jesus and trusting He will ensure her parents stay safe.

    We see a little girl who is loved by an extended family who does everything in their power to try and bring this little girl’s parents back home.

    We see a child who, despite her fears and her small stature, refuses to remain silent and speaks on behalf of families torn apart by a broken immigration system.

    We see two parents who refuse to lie to deputies, who forgive Arpaio for what has happened, give affection to their daughter, discipline her when she falls behind on her studies, work hard to make a living, and rejoice and praise God when their family is reunited.

    The contrast between these two Americans couldn’t be clearer. One American represents the best of what this country stands for – hard work, faith and family – while the other represents the part of our society we claim to disavow but empower nonetheless – arrogance, ego and infamy.

    Given the choice, I’d pick David over Goliath and an America that values family over fame.

    The next screening of Two Americans will take place on June 18 at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. For more information, click here

     

     

     


    More Posts by Julie Erfle

    The story behind this blog begins in 2007 when, on an ordinary September morning, my world was unexpectedly smashed to pieces. A drugged-up gang banger with multiple arrests and outstanding warrants crossed my husband’s path. As my husband and his partner attempted to arrest him, he pulled a gun and shot my husband twice in the back of the head. The murder of a Phoenix police officer is big news. Bigger still is the fact that this happened at the hands of a previously deported illegal immigrant in a border state rife with contentious immigration battles. As I listened to the politicians and pundits spin my husband’s death to further their interests, my journalism background came into focus and I found myself doing my own research into the causes and possible solutions to our nation’s immigration problems. I also gained an awareness of what it was like to be on the opposite side of the lens. I had been a member of the media, and now my family was the subject of the story. When I went public with my views on immigration, I was drawn even further into the political web of Arizona politics, and though I shied away for a time, I felt I could no longer be silent. And so I created this blog, my editorial on the challenges facing our state and our nation. My expectation is that it will be used as a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems. I hope the differing opinions expressed by myself and others will both challenge and motivate individuals to work for the greater good.

    Julie Erfle's Website: http://politicsuncuffed.com/


    A Tale of Two Americans

    posted by Terry Greene Sterling at 1 June, 6:45 AM  0 
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    Sheriff Joe Arpaio and a Mexican-American child.
    These are the main characters in Two Americans, a documentary that premieres on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Harkins Arizona Mills. This is an unforgettable film that chronicles the very different lives of two people battling the immigration wars.
    I met one of the film’s producers, Valeria Fernandez, a former reporter for La Voz and a current reporter for CNN, as she was filming this remarkable documentary. Through the years, I’ve watched her record every major skirmish in the immigration battles in Phoenix. This documentary gives voice to those who have no voice, and gives The Toughest Sheriff in America lots of time to show who he really is. Here’s a clip.



    More Posts by Terry Greene Sterling

    Journalist Terry Greene Sterling has lived in Arizona most of her life, and has reported on the political brawls and human tragedies that have long made Arizona the focus of national news. She was raised on an Arizona cattle ranch, and learned to speak Spanish at the same time she learned English. The author of Illegal, Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone, Sterling has been honored with more than 50 national and regional journalism awards. She was named Virg Hill Journalist of the Year, Arizona’s highest journalism honor, three times. She was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times for 14 years before branching out on her own. She is a contributor for The Daily Beast, and Writer-in-Residence at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek.com, Salon.com, Rollingstone.com, The Nieman Narrative Digest, Phoenix Magazine, The Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways, High Country News, and Preservation Magazine. She tweets @tgsterling and blogs about immigration in Arizona at terrygreenesterling.com.

    Terry Greene Sterling's Website: http://www.terrygreenesterling.com/


    Arizona’s Mean Stupid Birther Nightmare

    posted by Terry Greene Sterling at 25 May, 6:57 PM  0 
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    Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio are not stupid.

    They understand Arizona voters, and they need to, because Bennett longs to be Arizona’s gov  in 2014 and Arpaio wants to get re-elected in November. They both say politics had nothing to do with their  recent revival of Birtherism, the repeatedly-debunked crackpot  theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya or Indonesia and thus his birth certificate is forged.

    Bennett and Arpaio have their fingers on the pulse of Arizona’s voters — as I wrote in the Daily Beast last week, an incredible six out of 10 Arizona voters are  what I call “Birther Friendly.

    By this I mean they told  Morrison  and Merrill pollsters that they support a birther bill — a state law requiring presidential candidates to provide heir birth certificates before getting on the Arizona ballot.

    This is all about Obama, and what it means to have a black man as president. [He must have tricked us, the thinking goes. Now let's get rid of him.]

    Of course, the president’s birth certificate is widely available, is posted on the White House website,  is posted on the state of Hawaii website, and has been judged authentic again and again by credible sources.

    Which made me wonder if the Grand Canyon State Birtherfest  would hurt commerce.

    I asked The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry if the Birther Renaissance damaged businesses in the same way as the immigration laws the chamber had opposed.

    “We’re certainly cognizant of the state’s perception nationally, but the difference between immigration policy and this particular episode is that this is a speed bump,” said Garrick Taylor, a spokesman for the chamber. He called the birther revival “small” compared to the progress of the legislature in making Arizona more attractive to businesses. That would include a 30 percent cut in corporate income tax rates and a 25 percent reduction in capital gains tax. So, in the scheme of things, he concluded, the birther news was a distraction.

    The C of C has a mission  — representing businesses. We all need business, and we respect them for doing their job, even if we don’t always agree with them.

    So don’t criticize the chamber boys  for being politically tactful. This legislature has been easy to work with –  it’s pliable.

    But it’s also teeming with birthers.

    And it is scarily extremist.  It  wants  militias on the border, wants to keep women from healthcare at  Planned Parenthood because it wants PP broke. And it wants a birther bill. (Fortunately for all of us, Gov. Brewer vetoed the birther bill, rightly calling it unconstitutional).

    Recently two highly-regarded writers, Timothy Egan of the New York Times and Todd Purham of Vanity Fair, assessed  Arizona’s birther madness.

    “The people who now control the state are proof of the old saying that in a democracy, voters get what they deserve,” Egan rightly concluded.

    “Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of the most recent go-round on this matter is that Arizona’s Attorney General Bennett went out of his way to insist that he himself was not a “ birther” but was simply trying to satisfy the concerns of his alarmed constituents. That’s either a painful reflection of the political fear the question generates or a remarkably disingenuous and self-serving statement. Whenever someone says, “It’s not about the money,” it’s about the money,” Purdham wrote in Vanity Fair.

    One Daily Beast reader also touched me, when he voiced the frustrations many of us feel –  regardless of our opinions about President Barack Obama — with the  embarrasing pig-headed ignorance of it all.

    “No matter what documents are produced,” the reader wrote, “no matter what photos, newspaper reports, long form birth certificates with the embossed seal, testimonials, whatever: they will NOT accept it. The birthers are like the Inquisition in Galileo’s time. Galileo claimed that moons revolved around Jupiter. The Church said that could NOT be true, the Church taught that everything in the universe revolved around the earth. Galileo said “Look through my telescope and see!” They refused. They were right and that was that. No evidence would  convince them.”

    By reviving birtherism, Arpaio and  Bennett were trying to score votes because six out of 10 Arizona voters are, as I said, birther-friendly.

    While the birther craze may not harm business, it tells us who we are as a state.

    We need to get that.



    More Posts by Terry Greene Sterling

    Journalist Terry Greene Sterling has lived in Arizona most of her life, and has reported on the political brawls and human tragedies that have long made Arizona the focus of national news. She was raised on an Arizona cattle ranch, and learned to speak Spanish at the same time she learned English. The author of Illegal, Life and Death in Arizona's Immigration War Zone, Sterling has been honored with more than 50 national and regional journalism awards. She was named Virg Hill Journalist of the Year, Arizona’s highest journalism honor, three times. She was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times for 14 years before branching out on her own. She is a contributor for The Daily Beast, and Writer-in-Residence at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek.com, Salon.com, Rollingstone.com, The Nieman Narrative Digest, Phoenix Magazine, The Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways, High Country News, and Preservation Magazine. She tweets @tgsterling and blogs about immigration in Arizona at terrygreenesterling.com.

    Terry Greene Sterling's Website: http://www.terrygreenesterling.com/


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