Have Gun, Won't Travel

Bounty hunters with guns don't fly Southwest. And a brunette bombshell in Janet's ranks.

Gillespie is convinced that Southwest wanted his clients convicted because that would help the airline in the civil lawsuit that was sure to come. In fact, in court paperwork, Gillespie says Hood told him, "Their convictions will be our best defense."

The prosecution continued for six months. The U.S. Attorney's Office finally dropped the charges "because we convinced them that [Hudgins and Devore] didn't do anything inappropriate," Gillespie says. "But we were told that, at no time, had Southwest intervened."

The Spike thinks this is textbook chickenshitness. Especially because on September 22, 1999 -- just 11 days after the incident -- Lisa Weigold, the assistant station manager for Southwest in Baltimore, concluded in a written report on Southwest's investigation into the matter that the ticket counter personnel and gate agents had "failed in their duties," violating company policy for letting bounty hunters take weapons on the plane. All involved were disciplined and retrained, Weigold wrote.

Mark Poutenis

Moreover, the FAA, based in part on Southwest's own investigation, fined the airline $22,000.

"This has been very frustrating for my clients," Gillespie says. "They felt like they were being thrown to the wolves."

Now the pair wants financial justice -- approximately $1 million each, according to a settlement conference memorandum. Negotiations fell apart last month, and a hearing soon will be held to set a trial date.

Jeez, Southwest. Throw the guys a few hundred thousand. It was, after all, your fault.

Girl, Reinvented

And speaking of airline adventures gone awry, The Spike was sorry to hear that Lisa Perez has given up her dream of becoming a flight attendant, instead returning to the nastier world of partisan politics as a top aide to soon-to-be Governor Janet Napolitano.

Perez was a political princess of sorts in Washington state, serving in the campaign and later the administration of Democratic Governor Mike Lowry in the mid-'90s. A former congressman, Lowry was actually a pretty decent governor, but he fell on political hard times after paying his former deputy press secretary $97,000 to settle a sexual harassment suit. After that, he couldn't even get elected public lands commissioner.

Let's just say Perez was to the Lowry administration what Annette Alvarez was to the Symington administration here -- young and pretty and promoted quickly from a low-level clerical job to a key role as keeper of the governor's calendar, climbing over people well more experienced and, some would say, more deserving.

Still, as The Spike noted earlier in this column, what goes around tends to come around. Perez was eventually caught up in the whole sex harassment mess when it came out that she had been the sole witness to an alleged Lowry misadventure with a State Patrol fingerprint technician. The tech, a respected veteran of the force, accused the governor of pushing himself into her from behind and rubbing his middle extremity (and The Spike doesn't mean his paunch) against her as she pulled his hand around to take his fingerprints.

The trooper technician also complained that Perez was yukking it up with the governor during the incident, using offensive and inappropriate language.

Perez, of course, stood by her man and told trooper investigators she saw nothing. (She did apologize for her foul language.) Still, the governor's staff was forced to take sensitivity training after the incident, which apparently didn't do much good, since Lowry was later found by another special investigator to have continued his insensitive ways when it came to his deputy press secretary.

Perez also was the target of a press frenzy when it was rumored that she was the mystery woman caught with Lowry in a car parked behind a local bar late one night. Police approached the suspicious vehicle, shined the flashlight in and, uh oh, there was the governor with a young woman who wasn't his wife. Perez insisted it wasn't her and, indeed, another woman on Lowry's staff acknowledged being the person in the car.

But discrepancies in police descriptions of the woman led some reporters to chase Perez around the state capital for weeks, not so much to nail Perez but to determine whether the governor was lying. Authorities eventually erected a special security gate in the governor's office to keep the pesky press out.

So it's probably no wonder that Perez was a bit tired of the media glow that can be focused -- rightly or wrongly -- on people who work for a state's chief executive, arguably its most public figure.

Thus, The Spike was surprised to get a call from Perez when she landed in Phoenix a year or so ago. Perez remembered The Spike from The Spike's days as a political reporter in Washington state and called to reconnect. Perez told The Spike she'd moved here to go to flight attendant school, having become disenchanted with politics.

Alas, The Spike was sorry to read in last week's Republic that the stewardess gambit apparently crashed and burned. Instead, Perez is now one of Napolitano's closest advisors, a member of her so-called Kitchen Cabinet. It seems Perez just couldn't stay out of politics; she joined the campaign as a volunteer and soon was promoted to a paid position as deputy campaign manager. History, as they say, appears to be repeating itself.

And The Spike, who still loves a good political scandal, is delighted to have her back.

Spike us! E-mail spiked@newtimes.com or call 602-229-8451.

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