Letters

09-07-2000

Badge of Scourge

Joe must go: "Posse Galore" by Robert Nelson (August 24) was a great article. Perhaps the reason Sheriff Joe Arpaio stays away from New Timesis New Times' depth.

Though "legal" by law, I think the "double-dipping" by David Hendershott clearly shows that Joe Blow could not care less how taxpayers' money is spent.

Think about human nature and get in touch with reality and ask -- is a tank for the children or a jail Web site really going to deter a criminal? And where does it go from there?

As for the Arizona Republic's opinion that Jerry Robertson is "not qualified" to be sheriff, is this the same Republic that while owning downtown land pushed for the BOB stadium?

I can't imagine a more pathetic "yes" person than Lisa Allen. How does the gullible public eat up those manipulating media images?

Overall, the office of sheriff should be done away with. It really isn't needed. Fact of the matter is -- neither is Joe Arpaio. I hope readers will make their votes count.

Mike Seibert
Phoenix

Joe's da man: I read with interest your August 24 article by Robert Nelson. While presenting interesting background on the challengers, Nelson failed to fill readers in on Sheriff Joe Arpaio's extensive law enforcement background.

I have known Joe Arpaio for nearly 20 years. Long before he ever considered running for public office, I enjoyed conversations with Joe (then retired head of the Drug Enforcement Administration for Arizona) during which he shared with me his now-famous back-to-basics brand of incarceration. My point is that the sheriff did not need anyone to "teach him his tough-guy vernacular," as Nelson asserts.

Sheriff Arpaio shared with me his view that if tents were good enough for our volunteer forces in the Persian Gulf to live in, then they certainly were good enough for inmates to live in. He expressed this view long before he ran for sheriff. In my view, Nelson presented an uneven view of one of the most decent, honest and honorable public servants I have ever had the privilege of calling my friend. Crime is down for many reasons, and I am certain Joe Arpaio is most definitely one of those reasons. He deserves to be reelected.

Dan Carroll
Phoenix

Joe must hide: As Director of Public Information for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a decision has been made by me and others to resist talking with your "reporters" about this office, this sheriff and this upcoming election. We have never gotten a fair shake from New Times. Past interviews were twisted, taken out of context and generally inaccurate.

The August 24 article on the upcoming election for sheriff was no different. Rumor, misinformation and sensationalistic muckraking make for amusing reading, not good journalism.

We will not respond to all the lies and allegations by Arpaio's political opponents that made up the bulk of the article. But we will tell you that while your paper accused him of misusing jail enhancement funds, you refused to print the fact that the attorney general ruled there was no misuse by this office.

And we would like to make one other correction, as it is important to this office, the entire county government and taxpayers as well.

The sheriff's office is not $8 million over budget as our opponents, all disgruntled ex-employees, would have you believe. The official report by the Office of Management and Budget will be published soon showing that, in fact, Sheriff Arpaio is under budget by several thousand dollars. It's not exciting, I know, but at least it is the truth.

Lisa Allen
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

The editor responds: Ms. Allen's reference to "reporters" is intended as an insult. We'll consider the source. While the sheriff enjoys high approval ratings among the public, no law enforcement organization in the state is endorsing him for reelection. The officers who know best how to enforce the law recognize Arpaio for what he is -- a poseur whose policies inflate his ego but do nothing to fight crime. For the record, Ms. Allen, New Timeswriters have won the past six consecutive Journalist of the Year awards from the Arizona Press Club. This is unprecedented. (When was the last time Arpaio was recognized by his law enforcement peers for anything other than being a laughingstock?) The Journalists of the Year are chosen by elite panels of out-of-state journalists -- many of them Pulitzer Prize winners. Bottom line, we are much better at what we do than the sheriff is at playing cop. Come to think of it, any one of us would make a better sheriff, too.

Isn't it the height of irony that Ms. Allen accuses us of sensationalism? Isn't it the height of arrogance that she and her "Public Information" department routinely refuse to provide information to the "public" -- frequently in violation of Arizona law? No, when it comes to answering tough questions, the brave sheriff and his minions cower in their offices.

Regarding the Jail Enhancement Fund, perhaps the word "misuse" wasn't strong enough. In 1996, the state Auditor General's Office concluded that Arpaio misspent jail enhancement fees on attorney fees and videotapes of his television appearances, among other things. Here's a partial breakdown of what the auditor general found wrong with how he spent the $122,419, money that was set aside by the state to upgrade the county jails.

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