Gutless Wonders

Here's an idea, county supes: Audit the freakin' sheriff's office for the first time ever!

Napolitano is so timid, however, that she won't even lead the charge on relatively narrow issues where there is strong public support for reform.

Take the ongoing mess in Colorado City, where fundamentalist Mormon polygamists have purposely bankrupted the public school district under direction of their fanatic "prophet" and pedophile extraordinaire, Warren Jeffs.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and Attorney General Terry Goddard have prepared a bill, introduced by state Senator Linda Gray, calling for Arizona to place financially failing school districts like Colorado City's into receivership.

County Supervisors and Outlaw Joe
County Supervisors and Outlaw Joe

I asked Napolitano last November if she would support such a bill, and she dodged the question. She said she liked the idea conceptually, but couldn't comment because no bill had then been introduced.

Well, the bill now has been introduced, but the governor continues to duck the uncomfortable topic of Colorado City -- whether it concerns the sexual slavery of young girls propagated by the fundamentalist Mormons in control there or whether it involves the area's school district coffers, which the polygamists have pilfered for decades to prop up their debased society.

Napolitano's press secretary, Jeanine L'Ecuyer, offered up this gem in response to an e-mail I sent asking if Janet will support Gray's bill:

"The Governor doesn't comment about bills that have not yet come before her."

Excuse me, but what good is this progressive governor if she refuses to comment on bills until they have passed? Especially ones that her feminist bedrock constituency supports vehemently.

Speaking of gutless leaders . . .

The five boneheads who make up the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors are masters of dodging the bullet.

Even though I already knew the answer, I called all five supes last week to ask them what they were doing to open two recently completed jails and support buildings that cost taxpayers (get this!) $500 million.

Not one of the cowards returned my call.

Here's the deal: Prisoners can't be put in the 3,227 beds in the two jails because Maricopa County has been unable to attract the 1,200 detention officers it needs.

This is a huge and embarrassing problem that supervisors are desperately trying to ignore.

While much of the blame for this fiasco lies with Sheriff Joe Arpaio (too few detention officers want to work for the fool), the supervisors are also responsible.

It's the supervisors who set the budget for the sheriff's office. And it's the supervisors who are ultimately responsible for ensuring that a countywide one-fifth-of-a-cent sales tax dedicated to building and operating jails is properly spent.

In an attempt to hire more guards, supervisors last year raised the starting salary to $32,000 a year and lowered the hiring age to 18. But even this hasn't attracted enough new guards to fill the shortfall.

Chris Gerberry, president of the Maricopa County Detention Officers/Deputies Association, says the problem results from Arpaio's vengeful and paranoid management of the MCSO. Bottom line: Arpaio has created a criminal justice crisis in Maricopa County by failing to fulfill his primary obligation as sheriff -- which is to safely operate the county jail system.

So what can the supervisors do to force this duly elected official (however pathetically inept) to run his office properly?

They can freakin' take steps to find out why the MCSO is in such a mess, and then do something about it!

Here's the first step they should immediately take: Order a complete performance and financial audit of the sheriff's office -- something that has never been done since Arpaio came into power in 1992. (It would be unimaginable for an entity of this size to go unaudited for 12-plus years in the private sector!)

Here are the names and phone numbers of the supervisors: Chairman Max Wilson, 602-506-7642; Andy Kunasek, 602-506-7562; Fulton Brock, 602-506-1776; Mary Rose Wilcox, 602-505-7092; and Don Stapley, 602-506-7431.

Call them up. Demand that they audit Arpaio's shop for the first time in history.

E-mail, or call 602-229-8445.

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