Serious Business

If Joe Arpaio runs for governor, he'll win if people forget he's a madman

This is a critical point for taxpayers, because, regardless of whether you care about human rights, Arpaio's psychopathy will soon be costing you an immense amount of money.

When Scott Norberg was strangled by Arpaio's henchmen, Arpaio would not apologize to Norberg's family or change the idiotic and violent policies that led to his death. So the Norbergs got ace attorney Michael Manning, previously the bane of Charles Keating and Fife Symington, and sued. Manning got a settlement of $8.5 million from the county.

"All the Norbergs wanted was an apology," Manning told me last week. "Arpaio wouldn't give it."

American jails are intended to detain the accused and punish the sentenced by denying them freedom. Arpaio has made a career of being grossly unconstitutional.

"He's an absolute outrage," Manning says. "And people seem to think it's funny."

Lack of Empathy

"One rapist, high on the 'Psychopathy Checklist,' commented that he found it hard to empathize with his victims. Psychopaths view people as little more than objects to be used for their own gratification."

Gratification would include political aspirations.

Now a guy named Charles Agster is dead, strangled in jail as Norberg was.

All the Agsters wanted was an apology. No go. So they went to Manning. This time, Manning wants nothing less than $25 million. He doesn't really want the county to settle. He wants a trial because he knows a jury will give more.

Manning will win and he will get his money because Arpaio is an unrepentant repeat offender. Taxpayers will pay $1 million now, then pay tens of millions later when the county's insurance premiums come up for bid again. Because of Arpaio, Maricopa County has become the insurance-risk equivalent of a 16-year-old male driver.

Deceitful and Manipulative

"With their powers of imagination in gear and focused on themselves, psychopaths appear amazingly unfazed by the possibility -- or even by the certainty -- of being found out. When caught in a lie or challenged with the truth, they are seldom perplexed or embarrassed -- they simply change their stories or rework the facts so they appear to be consistent with the lie."

This pretty much describes New Times' 10-year relationship with Arpaio. We continue to provide proof of his lies, he continues to change his story.

(For more on Arpaio's record, read past New Times investigative pieces in Joe Arpaio's Unofficial Website for Tough Guys)

Shallow Emotions

"While at times they appear cold and unemotional, they are prone to dramatic, shallow and short-lived displays of feeling. . . . Many clinicians have commented that the emotions of psychopaths are so shallow as to be little more than proto-emotions: primitive responses to immediate needs."

Nearly every major state or national story brings a press release from Arpaio announcing his outrage over the wrongs committed and the good things Arpaio will do to soothe the nation.

He turns his jail into an animal shelter and brags that he feeds dogs better than his inmates. He rails against abuses at a local boot camp for troubled teens as detainees in his own jail continue to be maimed and killed.

Arpaio was at his sickening best after September 11, playing the Zeitgeist by forcing donations from inmates and making them paint American flags in their cells. Detention officers took on this extra administrative duty as they watched over jail pods that are, at times, running at one-third the recommended staffing levels.

"Everything changed after September 11," Arpaio said in our talk. "Now people want a tough guy who worked in Turkey and all over the world fighting terrorism. My polls were good before September 11, but now they're through the roof."

Arpaio is a psychopath who has found a position that allows him to feed his ego and torture people with impunity.

His popularity ratings are strongest in the Valley's retirement communities, where Joe's "tough on crime" bravado plays to fears of crime in people who have been sheltered enough to believe they could never be wrongly accused.

Retirees need to imagine being wrongly accused of a crime and thrown in a jail the sheriff has deemed a "place of punishment." So you end up dead or maimed before your trial. Is this the America you want?

And voters can blow off his record because Valley journalists haven't taken his abysmal record, or the office of sheriff, seriously enough.

Blame this fact on a different disorder, one rampant in modern journalists, including myself. Call it chronic irreverence.

David Leibowitz has it in spades; so does Ed Montini and just about every other writer at the Republic and the East Valley Tribune. We want to be players. Players are glib, ironic, masters of realpolitik.

So we're detached, cool and contrarian just for kicks. What is grotesque becomes black comedy. The straight truth becomes passé. We're like American Eurotrash.

Journalists have a duty to get dead serious now. And the citizenry needs to accept nothing less.

If the truth gets out, and the truth is repeated with the gravity it deserves, he will be stopped.

So there's your gamble, Joe. If the public and its watchdogs think psychopaths are funny, you win.

If they don't, you lose. And then justice is finally served.

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