Howl of Sanity

Too bad it stands a snowball's chance in the Sonoran Desert of passing, because a bill banning armed Minutemen makes sense

Why's this funny? Because his church should want to keep him as far away as possible -- especially from its youth! Ironically, Fushek founded and once operated the highly touted Life Teen ministry for the Roman Catholic Church in America and was second in command of the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

And mostly because the friar was charged last November with 10 misdemeanor criminal counts of sexual misconduct -- including indecent exposure, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and assault involving five minors and two young adult men from 1984 to 1994.

Despite The Bird's squawkings that justice would not be served if Fushek were let off his electronic leash, Goodman announced recently that he was doing just that pending the suspended monsignor's trial. Fushek resigned as pastor of Mesa's St. Timothy Catholic Church last year in the wake of the accusations of misconduct against him.

Goodman announced that, because the priest appeared to be complying with the court's pretrial conditions, he was granting Fushek's request to be freed from house arrest, which included removal of the electronic monitoring device he'd been shackled with since he was busted.

The judge was apparently influenced by Fushek's lawyer's argument that it's unusual for defendants charged with misdemeanors -- even a string of sordid ones (The Bird's word) -- to be thusly tethered to their homes.

Holy dog collars, Goodman, the man's an accused pederast!

"I'm as surprised as you are that they let him take off the ankle bracelet," Paul Pfaffenberger told The Bird. Pfaffenberger facilitates the local chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"Given the allegations against Dale," the SNAP guy said, "it seems unwise to assume he'll be on his best behavior until his trial comes around."

Fact is, The Bird's less worried about having another horny old priest on the loose than it is about the message that the Maricopa County justice system's sending. Goodman & Co. are telling us: "We'll throw the book at anyone accused of abusing kids, except maybe a powerful priest from a venerable Catholic church in the Valley."

But The Bird's here to tell you, a sex crime is a sex crime, and making exceptions for pervs who're ex-pals of Jesus Christ should be a cardinal sin.

As The Bird pointed out in the earlier column item on this subject, a host of local priests have skipped the area after getting accused of pedophilia. Should Fushek add himself to the list, Goodman will have only himself to blame.

If that happens, The Bird's pretty sure Jesus will be even more pissed off at Goodman than he already is.

Nutjob TV Nixed

The Bird's bereft over news that Access Phoenix, the city's public-access channel, is about to go kaput.

Most of the 150-odd programs dotting Channel 98's or Channel 24's schedule (depending on whether you subscribe to Cox Communications or Qwest) are of the so-bad-its-good variety -- from What's Up With Radical Mike, in which a wildly outspoken black gentleman shares his politically charged opinions with anyone who'll listen, to SWWF Rampage, where members of the Southwest Wrestling Federation, a local backyard wrestling group, attack one another with steel chairs and metal trash cans.

Unfortunately, The Bird will soon have to look elsewhere for such Must-See TV, because the Phoenix City Council's accepted a new licensing agreement with Cox Communications, the city's premier cable provider, that'll shut down Access Phoenix in April.

The deal lowers the annual fees Cox is required to pay the city and reduces the number of channels provided for governmental, educational, law enforcement and public use.

So why do city fathers have it in for our wanna-be Wayne Campbells who want to air their rants, ravings or religious programming? They don't, really. Cox forced their hand.

Some background: In order to provide service within Phoenix, Cox is required to maintain a "Cable Television System License" with the city. The license mandates that in exchange for access to the public airwaves, the cable company must cough up a number of "in kind" services -- which include cable stations for the city's use and a percentage of Cox's gross revenue. Under the old deal, Cox forked over about 5.7 percent of that revenue -- about $8 million annually -- as well as use of five of its channels.

The licensing amendment that Cox fought for and eventually won has the company paying only 4.7 percent of its revenue (and therefore charging customers less). And it's got to eliminate one of its five "in kind" channels.

Access Phoenix gets the ax, since it would, according to Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Johnson, "have the least impact."

Try telling that to SWWF Rampage producer Mark Morrone, who's upset that he won't be able to show videos of his friends beating each other senseless -- something he refers to with no irony whatsoever as "free speech."

Screeched Morrone, "It sucks! They're pulling the plug on something good for the people! It's a damn shame!"

After getting the Phoenix City Council to bend over, Cox used the victory to help persuade the Arizona Legislature and Governor Napolitano to pass a new state law that will further reduce the number of channels and the cash Cox will be required to provide Arizona cities under any future licensing agreements after July 2007.

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