High-Speed Chaste

Will county auditors be Arpaio's Waterloo?

She notes that the sheriff has also responded by converting some take-home cars into pool cars.

"The Sheriff's Office has turned in many, many of their leased cars in the past month," one senior county official tells me. "There's a big change that happened in December, less than a month ago. We were getting nowhere, as this audit clearly attests. They sort of had an epiphany over there at the Sheriff's Office."

County wags credit Loretta Barkell, the sheriff's new budget director, with helping to right the errant ship. Barkell worked in the county's Finance Department before she moved to the Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Barkell replaced Glenn Christenson, who had been hired by Hendershott. Christenson, you might recall, is the administrator who used a county purchasing card to lease $30,000 worth of Harley-Davidson motorcycles without seeking competitive bids. When the acquisition was revealed, Christenson told investigators that a friend from "back East" was paying for the motorcycles. Then he changed his story and said he would pay for them himself. Christenson has a new title, deputy chief.

Sources say that Barkell's experience with the county's budget process has helped her convince the Sheriff's Office that the Board of Supervisors isn't merely persecuting them.

The board will pay more than $35,000 for the audit. In any other case, I'd say the county had been ripped off. Yet despite the dearth of data, the study served its purpose -- documenting Arpaio's obfuscation.

So why aren't the supervisors raising hell? None of them would agree to talk about the audit. Spines don't grow overnight. Moreover, Arpaio's apparent conversion in the face of his department's pathetic fiscal performance has county administrators exchanging high fives.

"We are very optimistic," one county official says. "If it doesn't work, you'll be seeing more audits."

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