By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The Bird's nesting better at night knowing that, while local politicians wrangle over how and why to secure the Arizona-Mexico border, someone's keeping an eye on the opportunistic bums who've taken policing the border into their own hands.
In fact, Democratic state Representative Kyrsten Sinema has done more than spy on these vigilantes in Arizona; she's drafted legislation that would make armed civilian border patrols illegal.
Now, Sinema's got to be the most openly liberal member of the Arizona Legislature, which isn't saying much in this state. She isn't even suggesting that nothing needs to be done about illegal immigration! She's just hinting that the Minutemen who're dressing up in camouflage and reflector sunglasses and packing heat are a bunch of cowardly scumbags.
But despite the fact that the Phoenix lefty's bill hasn't a snowball's chance in the Sonoran Desert of becoming law, this feathered fiend's got to give her props. We need her lone voice in the wilderness around here. Ah-ooooo!!!
What Sinema's calling "A Bill to Protect Private Persons From Domestic Terrorism and Other Potential Violent Activity" (what a title!), the proposal recommends that anyone "not affiliated with a local, state, or federal law enforcement entity" who's busted at the border with a firearm be fined $100,000 and sentenced to no less than six months in the poky.
You go, girl! The Bird would go even further -- maybe like sentencing such vigilantes to walk from the Mexican border to Phoenix in the company of the Mexican people they despise in the middle of July.
Governor Janet Napolitano said in her State of the State Address that she'd keep illegals from crossing the border by beefing up the National Guard's presence down there. Some Guard troops are already along the border dealing with illegal drug and stolen-vehicle trafficking. Donkey Kong (which The Bird's been calling the gov since Robert Nelson's recent New Times story extolling her unbelievable political prowess) has been claiming the border's a disaster area for some time now -- thus giving her the power to dispatch more Guard members.
Only problem is, master politician Napolitano wants to yell about the bad old illegal immigration problem without coming up with anything remotely possible to fix it -- she only wants to dispatch the Guard if the feds will pay for it.
Talk about Sinema's bill being a long shot!
And here's another harebrained idea to fix illegal immigration that the feds would tell Arizona to shove (don't worry, it has no chance of ever becoming state law, either):
State Representative Russell Pearce told Lou Dobbs on CNN that he wants to post 200 state Department of Public Safety officers along the border and charge the George W. Bush administration $50 million in resulting payroll costs.
With an anti-immigration wingnut like Pearce and a player of racial politics like Napolitano huffing and puffing up such stupidity, Sinema's bill seems entirely rational, at least.
Sinema's bill would do nothing to stem the flow of illegals into Phoenix and Tucson. (Who cares? Both places would go under economically if this pipeline were plugged.) But at least it could be pulled off. At least it could be an inducement to local authorities to enforce the law.
The Bird's squawking, it would be a kick in the pants to local police to arrest the Minutemen mo-fos for impersonating officers of the law -- which's always been illegal.
"I've been monitoring the Minutemen for a year now," Sinema told The Bird, "and they're just scary."
Sinema pointed to the group's ties to neo-Nazis and white supremacists (which aren't necessarily the same thing) as reason number one why the vigilante group needs to be eighty-sixed from border patrolling.
"Race-based tactics always lead to violence," she insisted. "Remember, the Ku Klux Klan was the first-ever group to patrol the border between the U.S. and Mexico back in the '70s."
When this pretend parrot phoned up Pearce to get his reaction to Sinema's bill, it thought his head was going to explode.
"She's being outrageous!" the Mesa Republican exclaimed about Sinema. "I can't wait to see her next bill, which will be against -- what -- Americans defending their homes against burglars?"
If Pearce weren't Mormon, this foul fowl would swear he'd been smoking crack.
"People like Miss Sinema are the pro-illegal-alien folks who want to punish the good people for doing their jobs," he seethed. "It's a sad day when the lawmakers side with the lawbreakers against the lawkeepers."
Cool turn of phrase. He'd have to be high to come up with that.
By "good people," Pearce means vigilante groups like said Minutemen (natch) who've lately been documented abusing and harassing would-be immigrants at the border and hassling undocumented workers who hang out in front of Home Depots looking for work.
"Which's exactly what you get," Sinema said, "when you send a bunch of crazy boys to do the government's job."
Jesus Is Pissed
Justice of the Peace Sam Goodman should consider changing his name -- because there's nothing good for society about his pretrial pampering of accused sex offender Dale Fushek.
Nobody laughed longer or louder than this pissy pigeon when Father Fushek recently whined to the judge that being under house arrest 24 hours a day was keeping him from attending church, and such ("What Would Jesus Do?" February 2).
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.
In addition to crippling the bargaining power cities have with the cable giant, the new legal mandate will spell certain doom for Access Tucson as well.
Sam Behrend, executive director of Access Tucson, squawked to this winged wonder that Phoenix's decision to kowtow to Cox convinced many legislators -- who'd nixed a similar proposal last year -- to pass the law this time around. It also didn't help, he mentioned, that the Tucson City Council remained neutral on the matter when it was before the Legislature.
Cox flack Ivan Johnson scoffs at the idea that anybody is going to miss Access Phoenix. He tweeted that various surveys conducted by the cable giant prove that "interest in public access is slim to none."
Johnson even claims his customers are "demanding" that surviving public access channels be transformed into something groovier, like another cooking channel, or maybe even an MTV3.
The Bird thinks Ivan and his ilk miss the point that talentless nutjobs won't be able to get their mugs on TV anymore, which means that demented quackos like The Bird won't have anything to do at 4 in the morning.