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 Times is 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 Times writers 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.

• "News videotaping services of the sheriff's appearances, $11,969." (Arpaio told the state that the videotapes were management tools and provided liability protection. Many of the tapes were of Arpaio appearing in parades and other publicity events.)

• "Training, travel and conferences for employees who had no jail-related operations or whose curriculum did not pertain to jails, $7,015."

• "Banquets for volunteers and other non-jail-related miscellaneous items, $4,633."

• "Attorney fees for the County Sheriff's Office lawsuit regarding its operating budget, $39,350."

Jail enhancement? Sounds more like Joe enhancement.

The fact that the Attorney General's Office refused to act on this bald-faced malfeasance hardly constitutes an expiation. The same attorney general couldn't bring himself to prosecute then-governor J. Fife Symington III for the crimes he committed as a developer.

Regarding the $8 million overspending, New Times is investigating the details of how the sheriff's office has diverted grant money, delayed payments of large bills and shuffled revenues from contractors in an attempt to create the appearance of balanced budgets. These are the "weasel-wording" reasons Arpaio's opponents unanimously agree that the sheriff's office must receive a comprehensive audit.

By the way, each of those "rumors" relayed by opponents in Nelson's story was confirmed by documentation or through interviews with county officials or high-ranking sheriff's officials who, for good reasons, wished not to be identified. Not all disgruntled are ex-employees. (According to sources inside the department, Arpaio's chief deputy, David Hendershott, apparently is in the process of a new witch hunt to find "dime-droppers" as well as supporters of Jerry Robertson.)

Fond memories: I'll be damned. I pick up New Times and there's a picture of Joe Arpaio on the cover. I thought he must have made a movie or joined a band, but no, I opened the paper and there's a news feature about him. It brought back fond memories of the days when New Times was a newspaper. Are you thinking of going back to those days? In the article, an Arpaio spokesman called New Times "an arts and entertainment magazine." If he had said that a few years ago, he would have been wrong. You're not very good at arts and entertainment stories, but you used to be good at investigative journalism.

Mark Padwa
via Internet

Precious rights: Someone needs a history lesson. It's the person who spoke, wrote or printed the idea that the office of sheriff should be appointed instead of elected, simply because he or she doesn't like the current officeholder. A group of people sacrificed their lives so that we could exercise our right to vote. It happened circa 1776, and somebody should look it up. Further, when New Times gets the urge to publish what was clearly a political advertisement disguised as "Posse Galore," I suggest it charge the publication costs to the beneficiary campaigns, in this case Robertson and Ayala.

Matthew George
Phoenix

A question for Joe: I have a question for everyone, especially Sheriff Joke: When did the Constitution of the United States change from "We the people" and suddenly become "Fuck the people"? I think I missed that in school. Sheriff Joke's attitude reflects the latter statement.

Brandon Norris
Tempe

Plural Lifestyle

Where's government? Regarding "Rapture & Rupture" (Dave Wagner, August 31), the story about the polygamists in Colorado City: Isn't there any way the government could save the kids and bring a terrible end to the creepy up-top types who are the kidnappers, rapists and general knuckleheads? Why does society still even pretend like we accept this kind of crap? My Gawd.

Chris Chattom
Phoenix

Medium Rare

Great guy: Great article on Frank Baranowski ("Dead Air," Gilbert Garcia, August 24). He is the real deal, a great guy. Up until recently, I did the evening newscasts on KTAR on Sundays starting at about the same time Frank did (I do Sunday mornings now), and Frank and Kelly have always been the warmest people at the station.

Mike Sauceda
Phoenix

Paranormal guy: I read your article about Frank Baranowski with great interest. It was refreshingly without sarcasm and plainly informative. Kudos. For some time I have been disillusioned by the preordained doubt and skepticism that permeates the exploration of the "supernatural." It frightens people and, as history dictates, is automatically ridiculed and scorned.

Rebecca Lewis
via Internet

BOMEX Hex

Gov's responsibility: Kudos to the Flash (August 24) for recognizing that Governor Jane Dee Hull is the sole person who is responsible for, and in turn can fix, the troubles with BOMEX. So far, she has chosen not to step up to the plate, to the detriment of the citizens of Arizona. It is also interesting that Grant Woods has been espousing his 2 cents on the radio about the beleaguered board, when in my opinion he was silent about it during his tenure as attorney general. BOMEX is one person away from being a great board. Governor, when will you do your duty?

Martha Fay, former member, Arizona State Board of Nursing
Phoenix

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