Stephen,I personal exchanged a few e-mails with Dana this week, yea, he seems to think he was the one that broke the story....Little does he know.But in any case, we're both glad to see them follow up on the report we made public first...
By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Sheriff Joe, whose wrinkled mug normally has to be sandblasted away from TV cameras, wouldn't be interviewed for the Channel 12 report. But the MCSO told Dana that the Honduran trips had the "unwavering support" of the Guv and the Board of Supervisors. Dana cited one unnamed supervisor who said the Supes voted to send computers to Honduras as part of the program. Still, according to state law, Candy Thomas (a.k.a. "Little Joe") has the yea or nay over the way the MCSO spends RICO funds.
Channel 12 did score a cool quote from Republican state Senator Bob Burns, who told the station that the Honduran adventure has "some kind of strange smells about it." Speaking to The Bird, former County Attorney Rick Romley said the use of RICO funds can be tied to investigations, but with the Honduras training, he wondered, "Where is the investigation?"
Romley confirmed that, under his watch, RICO expenditures were overseen by one of his chief deputies and were tightly monitored.
But for Thomas and Arpaio, RICO cash seems to be viewed as a bottomless slush fund, to be used for self-promotion or for Hawaiian-shirted private projects like the Honduran enterprise.
"This isn't right," Buckeye police chief and Arpaio rival Dan Saban told this toucan. "Not when the people in Aguila are arming themselves because they have no protection. They have people dying in the jails because they're under-staffed. We have a law enforcement need right here under Sheriff Arpaio's nose: The need to supply us with satellite facilities. Our citizens are paying for us to spend extra hours transporting and booking prisoners. And we're providing resources to another country? That's aggravating."
The aggravation's just beginning.
MCSO Captain Brian Beamish told Honduran radio jock Roatan Bruce last year: "There is more training scheduled for the beginning of the year (2008), and it is going to continue for the next several years." That means more RICO money that should be earmarked for programs in Maricopa County will continue to be funneled down to Central America.
The big question is, why? If the MCSO's going to embark on such a shameless scheme in the first place, why Honduras instead of, say, Mexico — where such an expenditure might make an ounce of sense considering the human trafficking and drug smuggling that comes across the border?
Perhaps, Mexico just wasn't scenic enough for the upper-echelon deputies.
Could it be that MCSO honchos are planning their post-MCSO lives in a banana republic where they might serve as cop consultants? Do MCSO pooh-bahs have investments down there that dovetail with their professional interests? And is their use of RICO funds for this unusual purpose illegal in any way?
The Bird will keep you posted as he pecks away at this controversy.
They used to tell that joke about Tricky Dick Nixon back in the day, but it works for Dennis the Menace, too, especially after his recent op-ed in the Arizona Republic, where he clumsily attempted to rationalize his actions in the October debacle that saw The Bird's bosses, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, arrested on bum raps.
Wilenchik dug his hole deeper just one day after New Times announced its Notice of Claim against Wilenchik, his former boss County Attorney Candy Thomas, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the co-defendants in that prelude to a lawsuit. (See "Blowback," Stephen Lemons, February 21.)
In his self-serving Rep article, Wilenchik whaled away at former employee William French, heretofore a respected prosecutor and judge before signing on to Wilenchik's pirate ship, the Wilenchik & Bartness firm. A week earlier, French, who resigned shortly after the Lacey-Larkin arrests, told the Arizona Republic that Wilenchik was responsible for the questionable collars resulting from the misdemeanor offense of revealing illegal grand jury subpoenas, as Lacey and Larkin did in "Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution," their October 18 cover story.
"Somers told me that Wilenchik said, 'No more Mr. Nice Guy. We're going to arrest them,'" French recalled for the Rep, referring to his colleague at Wilenchik's firm, attorney Rob Somers. "That's what happened. From what I read, Dennis said something like, 'There was a mistake from someone in my office.' You don't make that kind of mistake."
Knowing the once and future toxic-mold litigator, The Bird's sure Wilenchik couldn't contain himself after French threw him under the proverbial bus. Like Run-D.M.C. sang back in the day, "You talk too much/Homeboy, you never shut up!" Wilenchik just has to have the last word, even if that last word contradicts what he's said before.
Throughout his rebuttal to French, Wilenchik tried driving in two lanes simultaneously. He argued that it was the Sheriff's Office that made the decision to arrest Lacey and Larkin, and that he and his underlings had zip to do with it. At the same time, Wilenchik asserted the arrests were justified and lawful.
"The decision to bring the owners of the New Times downtown was therefore not only called for under the law," wrote Wilenchik, "but was the decision of the Sheriff's Office, not mine."