Mexican Busting

The plumed wonder examines the racial politics of Andy Thomas, then swoops over Sharon Stonewaller and Tent City, where Shaq and a local actor were inside the razor wire

But even though Dowling wanted the county's help, she didn't want to answer supervisors' questions. When the supes asked to see the district's financial records, supes spokesman Al Macias confirms, Dowling resisted.

Which surprised nobody. Dowling (how shall this feathered fiend put it?) isn't exactly known for her humble public service. Ex-employees have accused her of everything from muscling her way onto Oprah Winfrey's show to flashing her privates, à la Basic Instinct (see "Board Games," Amy Silverman, August 28, 1997). She's even been known to boast that, as one of a few elected countywide officials, she's the "Governor of Maricopa County."

Fact is, Dowling's the sole member of the school district's board, which supervises "special populations" of students at a dozen schools -- including kids in detention, from rural pockets of the county and from homeless families.

While most county departments answer to the supes and are subject to regular audits, Dowling's isn't. Technically, she can tell the supes to go to hell.

Be that as it may, after determining that they might indeed be liable for the district's debts, the supes agreed to try to help Dowling with her gaping budget hole. They again told her they'd have to see the books.

"If we're going to help out," Macias says the supes told her, "we need to see where the problem is."

But Tate says his staff ran into plenty of problems. Dowling wouldn't make her people available for auditors' questions, and Tate says Dowling provided some big-picture documents, "but we [couldn't] access any invoices, payments, or backup documents for the transactions."

The supes issued a subpoena. But when sheriff's deputies arrived to serve Dowling, The Bird hears that the county's Sharon Stone hid under a pile of coats. Dowling's avoided this tweeter's calls for confirmation, natch.

Perhaps realizing that there's no worse pose for a governor than cowering, Dowling's reportedly had a change of heart. The county school district issued a statement that the review of the books the supes were seeking is finally under way.

All in the Family

You've seen Paul Moncrief plenty of times, though you probably don't know it. As a "professional extra," the local photographer and indie filmmaker's been taking up space on your boob tube for years as a background character in countless episodes of hit television shows.

The Bird's peeped Moncrief as a medical tech on multiple episodes of ER; a bus passenger on Frasier; a townsperson on Gilmore Girls; and one of Martin Sheen's presidential staffers on The West Wing.

But Moncrief's newest role -- as a deadbeat dad currently jailed at Tent City -- isn't one you'd catch during the family hour.

For once, the cops weren't attending First Friday in search of municipal code violations (like they were during last August's Roosevelt Row crackdown). They were there because Moncrief's ex-wife Melissa Petrova had reported him for owing more than $11,000 in back child support, and ended up hauling him off from Route 23, the Roosevelt Row art gallery where Moncrief shows off the work of such artists as photographer Tamara Kent and painter Diane Alber.

The drama behind the collaring at December's First Friday was worthy of a sweeps-week episode of Judging Amy (in which Moncrief has appeared). His 16-year-old daughter had shown up at Route 123 earlier that evening after running away from the Chandler home she shares with Petrova and her new husband. Paul advised his daughter to return home, but says his ex had already called in the law and likely leaked the fact that he owed her a big bucket of money. (Don't know for sure, since Petrova apparently thinks it's crazy to talk to bird brains; she wouldn't return this one's calls.)

Her ex-hubby was more willing to talk.

"It was pretty embarrassing getting caught on First Friday," Moncrief squawked to The Bird. He also confided that, while he was able to resist telling cops he's played a law officer on The District and an FBI agent on The X-Files, he did take the opportunity to talk with them about a pitch for a short film he wants to make called Routine Stop. Really!

For the past six weeks or so, Moncrief's been enjoying green bologna in Tent City, where he'll remain until he can pay for the honor of having a teenage daughter. Meantime, he's allowed out on work furlough, and has been laboring as a lighting tech at Alice Cooper's Cooper'stown.

"What I've gotta do," Moncrief says, "is find me a family attorney who needs some photo work done and make some kind of trade to help me straighten this deal out."

The Bird's got a suggestion: Maybe it'll help, Paul, if you mention that you played a delivery man once on the chick-TV law drama Ally McBeal.

Hack-a-Shaq

The Bird really enjoyed watching our Phoenix Suns humiliate the Miami Heat recently for more than just the obvious reason.

Before the game, it had witnessed the Heat's Shaquille O'Neal in a mutual ass-licking session with Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

See, somehow Joke (and this extended third finger's got to give the gooney geezer credit for another genius photo-op) managed to talk Shaq (who of course wants to be a cop when he grows up) into touring Tent City, after which Joke made him not only a member of his posse, but a "Captain" in the goofball band of misfits, best known for having sex with prostitutes they were attempting to bust in a big, media-choreographed sting a couple of years ago.

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