Flashes 02-24-2000

The Joke's on You

Could Joke Arpaiofind himself living in a tent soon?

It could happen, unless the Maricopa County sheriff and Tent City overlord has the funds to pay off a debt of $195,000. Or unless it comes out of the public purse.

A jury last month awarded that sum in a personal judgment against Arpaio in the case of Jeremy Flanders, a young man who was beaten by other inmates at Tent City. He sued the Sheriff's Office, alleging that Arpaio's guards were negligent. The jury awarded Flanders upward of $900,000 in damages. And $195,000 of that is the sole responsibility of the Crime Avenger.

Since he bumbled into office in 1993, Arpaio's administration has generated nearly 1,000 lawsuits. The tab for jury awards and settlements is inching toward $15 million. And that's not to mention the millions taxpayers have spent to hire lawyers to defend the county.

In any such negligence lawsuit, The Sher is named personally as a matter of routine. But it is not a matter of routine for him to put his hand in his own pocket. No such thing happened when the family of Scott Norbergwon $8.25 million from the county over the inmate's death. Nor with Richard Post, a paraplegic who was tortured while in the sheriff's custody, who was paid off to the tune of $800,000.

Officials at the Sheriff's Office are unconcerned. "Every civil lawsuit names not only the sheriff, but his wife, too," says minister of information Lisa Allen. "Does that mean he's responsible? No. There is no actual legal entity called the Sheriff's Office. We're appealing the decision."

But, if the jury's decision is upheld, will Arpaio have to pay personally?

"No," says Allen. "He does not have to pay."

So who will? The county?

"Yes."

Jack McIntyre, Arpaio's in-house legal beagle, says it is not unusual, in cases where damages are awarded, for the sheriff to be held personally liable.

"It's no big deal," he says. "It's paid for by insurance." He could not provide figures showing how many times this has happened.

What is not commonly known is that, even in cases where insurance pays the sheriff's bills, the public still has to dig into its pockets. The county must pay the first $1 million, and insurance companies pick up the tab after that.

Will the county write a check for $195,000 to cover the Joke's liability?

Two spokespeople for the Board of Supervisors say they were unaware of the personal judgment against the sheriff. "I knew about the judgment, but I didn't know how it was broken down," says Al Macias. Is there any possibility that the county might pay Arpaio's personal debt? "I can't answer that question right now," Macias says.

"It's too early to discuss," says his colleague, Amy Rezzonico. "There are probably motions still out there. There will probably be appeals. We don't know what's going to happen."

Joel Robbins, Flanders' attorney, concludes: "The county has a big problem. I've got another three or four cases pending, and Flanders wasn't the worst. God knows how many people have been hurt under Arpaio. I can only take about one out of 20 of the people who approach me."

YSC&N

You say you're feeling a little creaky with age? Hot flashes? Prostate hard as a hockey puck? The Flash discovered an antidote to aging angst in the Crosby, Stills, Nash& Youngshow that air-evaced into America West Arena on Monday.

This tour shouldn't be dubbed CSN&Y2K. It should be CSN&YAARP.

Let's be candid. The high range on the harmonies is not as crisp as it once was. The harmonies do get a bit cloying after a while (though the strata are ample enough to enable even the most tin-eared bleacher singer to bray in proximity). And, frankly, Graham Nash is starting to look -- and sound -- a lot like Miss Hathawayfrom The Beverly Hillbillies.

Reunion tours are risky. They're more likely to sully fond memories than to gild them. That wasn't the case with Monday's show.

Crosby once quipped: "The four of us together is like juggling four bottles of nitroglycerin."

So if Neil Young can amble jovially -- and with exquisite result -- about the stage with the other three amigos, then there's hope for peace in the Middle East and Kashmir and Sri Lanka and East Timor and Scottsdale.

Make no mistake, talented and venerable as all the others are, this tour is mostly about Young's reunion with CS&N. The Flash has seen Young and Crazy Horse several times, and has always been impressed by the woodsman's ferocity and, yes, ragged glory. Juxtaposed with the other iconic janglemeisters, however, Young's musical chops become as pronounced as the muttonchops on his curmudgeonly jaw. He powers the show -- stomping about, brow overhung, like some lobotomized scarecrow monk, strangling the life out of a succession of gee-tars.

CS&N clearly recognize his brilliance -- and exploit it. Young's numbers -- "Southern Man," "Cinnamon Girl," "Down by the River" and "Rockin' in the Free World" -- all brought the arena to its feet. Young's extended grind with Stills on "Down by the River" was the gooseflesh moment of the night.

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