Koetter Carve-Up

No, this ain't some artist's rendering of Dirk Koetter post-whacking; it's the scary new statue of Pat Tillman at You Pee Stadium

Afterward, the team issued an apology: "The bottom line is that we dropped the ball. Our intent was to provide a very special tribute to Pat and in the end we did not do that."

As some sort of back-assward penance, the Cards replayed the video tribute — get this — some two hours before their November 19 game against the Detroit Lions. Sheesh, why even bother?

Dowling Goes Down

The hero's last words: "Cease fire, friendlies! I'm Pat Fucking Tillman, dammit!" Really.
Steve Jansen
The hero's last words: "Cease fire, friendlies! I'm Pat Fucking Tillman, dammit!" Really.

When Maricopa County Schools Superintendent Sandra Dowling was indicted last week, the shocker wasn't that she'd been busted. Sheriff Joe Arpaio's investigation had been common knowledge since The Bird revealed last January that his deputies came after Dowling with a subpoena — and that the scurrilous supe responded by hiding under a pile of coats. ("Sharon Stonewaller," January 19, 2006.) Talk about a cover-up!

Dowling's indicted on a slew of charges including fraud, theft and misuse of public money — 25 felonies in all. But what's amazing is that eight of those charges are related to Dowling's efforts to obtain something that this tweeter thought no one would now want: a job in the Bush administration.

Seriously. Dowling was shelling out your tax dollars in hopes of joining the ranks of erstwhile Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Her lobbyist cost $108K of district funds, according to the indictment. Not exactly chicken feed. Still, dummkopf Dowling failed to snag herself a position in the failed admin. That's our Sandy! As the indictment shows, the longtime schools supe managed to screw up some pretty easy stuff.

For example: The county has a real estate department that could've sold school district land for free, says Attorney General Terry Goddard. But when the district needed to sell vacant land in Glendale, Dowling hired a co-worker at Dan Schwartz Realty, where she's also employed as a real estate agent. The co-worker charged a 10 percent commission. The result? Three felony charges against Dowling.

Or take the supe's loser son, Dennis Dowling. He was also indicted, along with two other school district employees, for rigging landscaping bids: Dennis was shown the bid of another landscaping company before submitting his price. He still managed not to be the lowest bidder — and, yep, he still got the job. He's earned $55,500 for doing landscaping for the district, the indictment says, even though in at least one case, the work he did was "nonexistent."

Goddard says his office joined the investigation soon after Sheriff Alzheimer's got it started. He believes the charges are serious — although he notes that there are few ways to remove Dowling from office short of a conviction, her resignation or a recall effort.

One option? Petitioning state education superintendent Tom Horne to put the district into receivership, just like he did for the school district run by polygamists in Colorado City. Goddard claims he's lookin' into that.

"We consider this to be a serious misuse of a public office," Goddard explained to The Bird. "The conflicts of interest is what we were focused on — using the power of the superintendent's office to inappropriately move money and contracts to benefit the superintendent personally, not the kids at Pappas School."

New Times has a long history of chronicling Dowling's missteps — and the way those missteps make it harder for the homeless kids served at Dowling's landmark school to learn. ("Board Games," August 28, 1997, and "Flunk'd," June 29, 2006.)

But, as The Bird learned last week, Sheriff Alzheimer's can't remember that far back. His henchman, Lieutenant Paul "Chag-off" Chagolla, kicked this carping cockatoo out of the lawman's press conference announcing the Dowling indictments. The reason? Chagolla noted that this newspaper's in litigation with Arpaio — and that the sheriff's office is a "secure facility."

Yeah, secure from tough questions.

Like, uh, why doesn't Joe investigate malfeasance in his own department? In the process, maybe he'd like to release the public records that New Times has been "in litigation" for years to obtain? Obviously, the public's interests are only worthwhile when they involve another taxpayer-funded entity.

What's annoying about this is that AG Goddard has joined Arpaio in this investigation, when he's passed up opportunities over the years to investigate the sheriff's shenanigans, including the deaths of prisoners in Arpaio's gulags that resulted in taxpayers paying millions of dollars in damages to victims' families.

Being AG means you've got power, Terry. Arguably, far more than Joe. Why not use some of that legal authority and help rid Maricopa County of a dangerous, mentally deranged tyrant?

Nursing Big Burgers

Of course, Terry Goddard doesn't have time to investigate Sheriff Alzheimer's. The AG's Office has been way too busy writing letters threatening to enforce an unenforceable PC speech code against a small business.

Fortunately, times have changed since such PC bullcrap was in vogue back in the '80s and '90s, and Goddard's prude patrol had to back off its effort at regulating the use of the word "nurse" at Tempe's Heart Attack Grill.

See, the AG's legal beagles represent the Arizona State Nursing Board, and up until about a week ago, both were hell-bent on bullying Grill owner Jon Basso (a.k.a. "Dr. Jon") right out of business.

As previously reported in this space ("Nursing Grudge," November 9), the AG's Office and the nursing board took offense to Basso's theme restaurant, which features waitresses in sexy nurse outfits. They cited possible violation of state laws aimed at preventing crackpots from imitating medical professionals. And they sent a few letters to Dr. Jon urging him to remove any mention of the protected title of "nurse" from his signage and Web site. In response, Basso added a disclaimer stating nobody on his staff was an actual medical professional. As if . . .

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