Gary, Gary: Quite Contrary?

Did Gary Lowenthal tattle on Rick Romely? Hardly.

NT: And Mr. Romley?

Lowenthal: I'm not so sure that the county attorney should be an elected official. I'm not saying that we don't have a highly qualified county attorney, but he's too responsive to the political realities of his job, and that so often drives the actual decision-making process. This isn't about Romley, but about the institution -- and it's a terrible problem.

NT: What do you say to the possibility of "Romley for Governor in 2006"?

Lowenthal: On the record? He [already] has the most powerful position in the state of Arizona, and tremendous influence -- think about the case involving the church last year, and major cases in which he has been able to pretty much have his way, make or break the lives of victims and defendants in the routine cases that go unreported. I can't think of a more powerful person in this state. Certainly not the governor. So if you want power, why go from the most powerful position in the state to a less powerful position?

NT: There's certainly no love lost between Governor Napolitano and Romley these days. He called her a bully!

Lowenthal: In fact, our current governor uses the bully pulpit and has more power than she has authority. [Romley is] as qualified to have the position as someone who had been a land developer, or had sold used cars. I don't know why having been the secretary of state makes one more qualified to be governor than having been the county attorney. I don't have any problem with someone going from the County Attorney's Office to being governor. That's on the record, at least.

NT: You went pretty easy on Romley in your book, I thought.

Lowenthal: You think so? My understanding, from people at the agency and from a letter I received from Mr. Romley, is they were very unhappy by what I said in the book. I was very disheartened by that. I thought mine was a very evenhanded description of what I was seeing, and that it looked at the brighter side of what was going on. I made a conscious decision to tread lightly in the book, but to be honest and fair and not too harsh in my criticism of people. It hurts me that people are being so critical when I went out of my way not to be critical. It really bothers me.

E-mail robrt.pela@newtimes.com

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