Letters From the Issue of Thursday, October 25, 2007


Kick Joe, Andy, and Dennis to the curb: After reading the article on the grand jury subpoenas and watching the press conference announcing that the charges against Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were dropped, I felt something must be done — and done now — to stop the continued political advancement that Andrew Thomas is obviously trying to achieve and protect ("Who's Sorry Now?," Stephen Lemons, this issue; also see "Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution," Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, October 18).

Thomas needs to be removed from office, Joe Arpaio needs to be removed as sheriff, and Dennis Wilenchik needs to be disbarred.

Would it be possible for New Times to enlighten its readers on the process for each of the above? And what we can do as residents of Maricopa County to speak our voice in removing all three from working for our county ever again?
Penny Heitzman, Phoenix

Editor’s note: New Times will be publishing future articles regarding Thomas, Arpaio, and Wilenchik on issues related to the Maricopa County government's harassment campaign against this newspaper, its writers, and its readers. Stay tuned.

Even his peers think Joe blows: The actions of Sheriff Arpaio remain unbelievable to most of us in law enforcement, and not just including these recent arrests [of New Times chief executives Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin].

I am an assistant chief who works directly for Sheriff Clarence Dupnik in Tucson. I cannot believe what has been done to your publishers (and let me assure you that we don't always like what the media say about us, but this is truly outrageous).

On behalf of all sane law enforcement officials, please send our apology and best regards to the two gentlemen involved.
Brad Gagnepain, Bureau Chief, Pima County Sheriff's Department

Goebbels acolytes: Candy Thomas and Nickel Bag Joe are modern-day Nazis. This is exactly how Goebbels got started — demonizing a certain people until the nation bought into it. You know the rest of the story. It is 1933 all over again. Candy Thomas is pouring your Kool-Aid; Nickel Bag is handing you the cup.
Hank Hill, via the Internet

Candid Andy? Hardly: Wow! One thing I don't understand . . . Thomas states there was no likelihood of prosecution. Why were Lacey and Larkin arrested in the first place? Surely, Dennis Wilenchik must have known there was no likelihood of prosecution.

Also, Wilenchik released details about the grand jury subpoena to the Arizona Republic [in an October 21 front-page story]. Why is it that Thomas could not be candid, citing that everything was a grand jury secret, but Wilenchik can give statements to the Republic?

Bottom line: Thomas, Wilenchik, and Arpaio got caught with their pants down. [It's like Thomas was saying], Wilenchik, you're a great buddy, but it's better you than me. Thomas is an attorney and politician; it would be foolish to believe he is a protector of my rights after what his office just did.

Thank you, New Times and the other media outlets for protecting my constitutional right to author a letter like this and not worry that an oppressive government is going to come after me.
John Lewis, via the Internet

Here’s hoping, Mae: New Times, it's time to throw a serious counterpunch! This fiasco on the part of the county attorney and the sheriff needs to be brought to its rightful conclusion: a resignation by the two main clowns.

If they do not resign, then a lawsuit needs to be filed against them. Enough of this gross abuse of authority!
Mae Lazit, via the Internet

Sense of responsibility for justice: I wanted to thank you for your courage in exposing the right-wing extremists who are threatening our individual freedoms. I just saw today's daily paper and it looks like what [Lacey and Larkin] did really paid off. Please know that there are many of us in our community who are behind you and are also working to get rid of Arpaio, Thomas, and other dangerous idiots like them.

My husband and I are very active in grassroots politics. I guess that Catholic sense of responsibility for justice that was instilled in us really did take. Thank you again for taking such a great personal risk on behalf of all of us.
Kathleen Yardley, via the Internet

Black eyes for Joe and Andy: I watched with great pleasure the press conference by County Attorney Andrew Thomas as he announced — looking much like a deer in the headlights — the dismissal of prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik and all charges against New Times.

I cannot express enough my happiness that this case received the immediate national attention it so deserved, to say nothing of the chuckles ensuing after the black eyes were doled out to both Thomas and Sheriff Joke.

The First Amendment is not to be trifled with, and it is my sincerest hope that New Times writers will continue to document public corruption in earnest given this recent vindication (jail time notwithstanding).
Adam Van Hook-Drucker, Phoenix

Keep this in mind when you vote: Our Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. From recent press reports, we must ask: Does the Maricopa County Attorney feel he is above the constitutions of the United States and the state of Arizona?

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Eric Payne
Eric Payne

As a former newspaper reporter, I'm simply dumbfounded at the more than heavy-handed shenanigans of Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe, not just at their dealings with the "New Times," but at just what they consider "business as usual." How did they think they could ever get away with such manuevering?

Of course, in the national overall climate set by both the Federal Administration and the media over the last 6 years, I really shouldn't be.

Judith Miller "goes to jail" to protect her sources and freedom of the press from judicial interference, only to have it revealed later she willingly volunteered to become a journalistic stooge for the Administration, so that precedent could be set for the government to subpoena, and expose, "confidential sources."

FEMA holds press conferences that are completely fraudulent, merely to boost its own public image.

A male prostitute is given a bogus identity and credentials by the White House Press Office, and given access over real, established journalists, so that he can lob soft questions, and partisan innuendo, at press conferences.

The media's not free of blame, either. How is any of the following possible:

In the run-up to the 2000 election, the overwhelming attitude of the press seems to have been: "This guy's just too stupid to be elected." In the week prior to the election, what would have been a front page story for any other candidate - the history of a drunken driving arrest, and seeming favoritism shown in sentencing to Bush - doesn't even make the front page?

Using the media, a draft-dodging Executive Branch, which is making war an election issue, manages to subvert a combat veteran through innuendo?

Walden O'Dell, Chief Executive Officer of Diebold, who lives in Ohio, and manufactures the electronic voting machines used nationwide, publicly states he "will do everything in (his) power" to ensure Bush's re-election, then the media simply lets it go when Ohio poll numbers vs. registered voters by party alliance are completely skewed (thousands of more votes cast, for Republicans, than are registered Republicans in the state.. as well as thousands of more votes cast than are simply registered voters in the state)?

Despite decades of being there is a fail-safe system in place to ensure nuclear weapons cannot be used without Presidential authority, a plane full of nuclear weapons are "accidentally" loaded, and on their way to Iraq, before being recalled?

Not to mention Blackwater, no-bid contracts, energy policy being formed by oil company executives... all without hard scrutiny by the press.

Locally, Sheriff Joe has acquired, without accumulating any debt, properties for which he paid, in cash, almost three times his annual salary, and the media - save for your publication - don't seem to be the slightest bit interested.

The Sheriff openly violates laws concerning the dissemination of press releases and public information, even acknowledging his violations, but using as an excuse he "doesn't think" the publications being shunted aside are "real newspapers"?

Gee, I guess the real question should be: "How come they didn't get away with it?"

And that answer is simple. Because Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin looked them in the eye, figuratively speaking, and said: "Fuck you, assholes."

For six years, I've been wondering where the newspaper reporters were - not journalists, looking for the next prize and arguing with their publishers about font size on their byline - but newspaper reporters.

I know where two of them are, now. It is my sincere wish the Cronkite School of Journalism commemorates, in some fashion, the actions of Lacey and Larkin.


Eric PayneGlendale, AZ


Having recently moved from the Dust Bowl, I am relieved to know that there are placed in this country that are safe, more free of crime and do not have people in law enforcement that crave for attention like the Sheriff and Andy Thomas. Nickel Bag Joe, thats what you are - a nickel bag. You sound more and more like a racist windbag by claiming you are going after the source of all the crime in Maricopa county. Get real and do your job. Go after the true criminals in the county that commit the serious crimes, like drive by shootings, gang related activities, home invasions etc. The simple man on the street trying to survive is not the hardened criminal you want us to believe. You need to retire to SUN CITY with all the other OLD out of touch people and just wither away.

Candy Andy, I want to know where your lollipop is? When you come out and state that you did not know what was happening within your department, it shows that you are not the leader you claim to me. How did you ever get where you are? Are you a spitter or a swallower? I would venture to guess the latter, because of the position you are in. Why was you office demanding so much information from this newpaper, but yet when it came to releasing the grand jury proceedings, you have not released any information written (electronic or otherwise) which would show the fine people why you were so determined to go after this newspaper.

My other though in this is a bit demented, by was Dennis in the middle between you Candy Andy and Nickel Bag? If so, isn't that a lewd act that is against the law? Realize you bit off more then you could chew and now you have an uprising. Are your goons now going to come after us and bust our heads every time they stop us? You all need to really look at your position, and ask if the public has the confidence that you can continue to do your jobs, and realize that it would do everyone including yourself to own up to all these transgressions and RESIGN. Your egos are not what is needed now!!!


When Larkin and Lacey were arrested, I could swear I read a quote in AZCentral from either Wilenchik or Thomas, which referenced Mike Nifong. The gist of the quote was, "If you don't like what I'm doing, there is a process you can pursue--just ask Mike Nifong." Well, it looks like bringing up the spectre of the disgraced Duke prosecutor may prove prophetic! I hope so...

mikel weisser
mikel weisser

Congratulations on the victory for the public's press and against the creeping constriction of freedom in general. The structure that once was "our" government has turned against the ideas of freedom of speech and the information for American people and the American press. Though there is no clear link to the war on terror this could have been another excuse to further limit all American liberty. Your victory is a victory for us all.

mikel weisser

Dave Drost
Dave Drost

when did the constitution get ammended to NOT allow free speech? Andrew Thomas should leave office and pay back the $ 1 mil he misused.

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