By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Has it occurred to anyone besides this tweeter that Phoenix may now be better known for serial killers than saguaros?
Leaping lapwings, last week P-town news was all about alleged multiple murderers, whether it was serial shooter suspect Dale Hausner tryin' to OD on antihistamines and other over-the-counter meds, or Thursday's press conference by Police Chief Jack Harris and Mayor Phil "Goober" Gordon saying they believe Mark Goudeau's the Baseline Killer, and asking County Attorney Candy Thomas to file 71 additional counts against Goudeau, including nine murder charges!
With PHX psychopaths makin' headlines worldwide, city fathers might as well post signs on the city's outskirts announcing, "Welcome to Phoenix: Home of the Baseline Killer!" 2006 has seen Phoenix terrorized by crime, with Hausner and Goudeau earning bloody extra-effort awards for their killing sprees. Meanwhile, Mayor Goober's done his ostrich impersonation, pretending our megalopolis is a desert Mayberry, with all the risks of (The Andy Griffith Show character) Floyd Lawson's barbershop on a Saturday night.
If ya think this plumed pecker's exaggerating, consider two egregious examples of Mayor Goober's gross incompetence concerning PHX crime: his limp-wristed response to Morgan Quitno Press' ranking of Phoenix as the 59th most dangerous city in the country; and the fact that hizzoner's most high-profile anti-crime program remains his embarrassing front porch bench initiative.
According to Phil flack Lisa Honebrink, nearly 3,300 benches have been distributed to Phoenix residents through the program since Gordon took office in '04. Phil was too busy preening like Little Lord Fauntleroy before press conference cameras over the Baseline Killer revelations to speak with this beaker, but he sent along canned quotes asserting that public safety is job number one, and that the benches are part of this task, encouraging homeowners to park their fannies, and hopefully report anything illicit they witness.
"I established the Front Porch Bench Initiative to help bolster the Block Watch program, to further support our goal of improving neighborhoods, one neighborhood at a time," Goober claimed via e-mail.
Where's McGruff the Crime Dog when you need him? Supposedly, this idyllic porch program occurred to Goober after taking a break from mowin' his lawn one day. It doesn't cost taxpayers, since funds for the benches are "raised through private and corporate donations."
Benches be damned! Phoenix remains a dangerous-ass city. Last year, according to Detective Bob Ragsdale of the Phoenix PD's Public Affairs Bureau, there were 239 homicides in P-town; and as of Monday, December 11, there had been 238 for 2006, a jump of 20 killings compared to the same date in 2005. Unless we're very lucky, PHX's homicide rate will be higher this year than it was last year.
So what good's Goober's boobish bench giveaway done? Nada.
The state of the mayor's denial regarding Phoenix's crime rate can only be compared to that of George Duh'bya Bush's over the quagmire in Iraq. When Kansas-based numbers-cruncher Morgan Quitno assessed Phoenix as the 59th most unsafe out of 371 cities, beating out even NYC, which ranked 227th in dangerous crimes per 100,000 people, Goober pooh-poohed the results, telling reporters the same numbers could be juggled to make the PHX seem third or fourth safest.
And if you buy that one, you'll believe the number The Bird did on the hood of your car this mornin' is actually a priceless piece of modern art.
Morgan Quitno co-founder Scott Morgan pointed out to the Taloned One that the stats his company uses are the same ones P-town cops give the FBI. These show Phoenix's murder rate is nearly three times the national average, with 15 murders per 100,000 as opposed to the national average of 5.6. Our robbery rate is twice the national average 289 per 100,000 as compared to 140.
Such numbers can serve as a red flag for a community to have an adult conversation about what's wrong and how to fix it, explained Morgan. But what do we do when we're saddled with a mayor more concerned with glad-handing, ribbon-cutting and cheap boosterism than facing tough issues? The only answer this peevish pelican can come up with is giving the goofball much more time to sit on his front porch by tossing him out on his ear next year when the soft-on-crime pol's up for reelection.
As if the above stats weren't galling enough, along comes the report that the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association and the Phoenix Fire Fighters Union are planning some serious back-patting by installing "historic markers" on light posts near areas where officers and firefighters have fallen in the line of duty.
These orange placards will be about the size of railroad crossing signs, and will be posted as close to the scene of the tragedy as possible, even when the tragedy involved is no more than getting run over by a vehicle while in uniform.
Firefighters union prez Billy Shields was too tied up to comment. (Inquiring owls want to know: Was he tending to the sweetheart deal he got from Governor Janet Napolitano overseeing student loans? See "Bonds. Big Bonds," November 16.) However, this crafty cardinal was able to gab with Jake Jacobson, PLEA's prez, about the proposed placarding. He said PLEA hopes to nail 'em up this May in conjunction with Police Memorial Week. There would be about 30 of the orange dials for cops killed while serving the public. These include 12 who died by gunshot, 15 from traffic accidents and three from "fights with suspect."