By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Letting a couple of cops off the hook after they beat the hell out of a Mexican national isn't enough for County Attorney Andy Thomas. And he's not content with declining to press charges against a white vigilante who drew down on Mexicans at a rest stop. Or with collaring kneepad-wearing reporters every couple of weeks to yammer some more about illegal immigrants (even though his office has nothing to do with immigration issues).
No, now our boy has gotten it into his Harvard-educated noodle that brown-skinned people (and some red-skinned folks, too) are getting white-glove treatment in the court system.
With hands on hips, he's declaring that he won't have it!
Our favorite Latino basher's threatening to sue the Superior Court in Maricopa County if it doesn't stop conducting drunken-driving courts designed especially for Spanish speakers -- because they're unconstitutional.
Aw, Andy! It's a revelation that you'd have time to sue anybody. Andy's increased the workload of the legal system here so much by refusing to take plea bargains that it'd be a wonder if anyone in his office had time for a bathroom break. He should keep his mind on prosecuting all those cases he's conjured up, instead of sticking his snout into matters that're none of his official business.
There are those who've been saying that this is still more proof that Andy's got it in for Mexicans (did Andy Thomas' mom have a maid who was mean to him when he was a little boy?), but The Bird thinks poor Andy just doesn't realize that these federally funded courts are, in fact, rehab programs for convicted DUI offenders.
That they're not courtrooms where sentences are doled out and where English is required as the language of record.
Can't say for sure, since New Times has been making a fool of ol' Andy over voting irregularities around here (see "Rocking the Boat," Rick Barrs, January 12, and "Ballot Boxing," John Dougherty, in this issue), and he wouldn't return this faux falcon's phone calls.
So let The Bird be the first to say to those who squawk that Andy's policies are racist: This feathered fiend disagrees; Andy's just riding the Mexican-blasting political tide around here along with Governor Janet Napolitanoet al. Plus, how could Andy be a racist when he's married to a Latina?! She must be extremely proud of him.
In a letter to Superior Court Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell, Andy insisted that the DUI courts for both "Hispanics" (The Bird presumes Andy means "Spanish speakers") and Native Americans be disbanded. Thomas seems to think the courts violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which deals with equal treatment under the law.
He included a 31-page document authored by Washington attorney Michael Carvin stating that the courts also violate the First Amendment, because the public and media can't understand proceedings between a judge and a defendant if the communication is in Spanish.
What good news it is that Andy suddenly cares so much about the press' right to know! New Times has been pointing out that he's doing everything in his power to keep its reporter from finding out about frightening problems in the county Elections Department. Could this signal a change of heart?
Judge Mundell tells The Bird that she finds it hard to believe that the learned County Attorney wouldn't realize that the courts in question aren't courts of record where English is mandated. "In fact, the defendants in these programs get to choose whether they want the English or Spanish version of the program," Mundell affirms.
So, how is it a violation when Spanish-speaking drunks get to choose whether they're spoken to in English, or not? All Mundell could say is, "I don't know." She noted that, though she'd like to, she couldn't say more because Thomas is threatening litigation.
Also, here's a question from this extended middle finger: Andy, you seem to be so concerned that the public can't understand things in Spanish, right? Then how can you think defendants who don't speak English at all will know what the hell authorities are saying to them? Compadre, this just wouldn't work.
Not to worry. Any day now, Andy will be distracted by something shinier, and he'll forget all about race-based courts. Maybe for his next Latino-busting adventure he could try to shut down that nice new program set up by the Mesa Police Department to help Spanish-speakers better understand how that city's police, court and fire departments operate. After all, helping "Hispanics" feel safer in a community is discriminatory, right, Andy?
The Maricopa County Regional School District has a problem. A big one.
County Auditor Ross Tate tells The Bird that the district, with roughly a $14.3 million annual budget, seems to have a debt of $2.4 million -- and growing.
But no one knows for sure. And that's how the district's czar Sandra Dowling tried to keep it.
Dowling, who's now serving her fifth elected term as county schools superintendent, knows the district she's running has a problem. A few months ago, she contacted the county Board of Supervisors to ask for financial help.