Is KPHO in Mark Spencer's Pocket?

PLEA TV

Far be it from me to tell local CBS affiliate KPHO (Channel 5) how to run its newsroom, but the station's special relationship with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the powerful union that represents rank-and-file Phoenix police officers, undermines KPHO's tag line of "telling it like it is."

Some cops even refer to KPHO as "PLEA TV," for its slant toward the union, and they peg reporter and former Phoenix Police Department officer Donna Rossi as the most friendly to the PLEA line. But Rossi isn't the only KPHO reporter who has done a story that suits PLEA's agenda to a T.

Recently, I reported on Rossi's story regarding a survey done by another union, the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association ("Mark Spinner," February 24). Rossi flubbed that report so badly that she attributed one comment from an officer of "fire him" to be about Public Safety Manager (and once "Police Chief") Jack Harris.

(City Manager David Cavazos recently demoted Harris, in large part because of reporting by New Times' Monica Alonzo on the PPD's inflated border-related kidnapping stats. Every TV outlet in town now claims credit for Harris' suspension as chief pending a review by the city. But Alonzo was the first newshound to scrutinize the hundreds of reports in question, pointing out that only one in four had anything to do with such kidnappings.)

In reality, the "fire him" line was directed at PLEA president Mark Spencer, whom the same anonymous commenter pegged as the PPD's "single biggest challenge."

Indeed, there were numerous negative comments about Spencer as a divisive character, but Rossi neglected those, focusing solely on criticism directed at Harris and the Fourth Floor of 620 West Washington, where PPD command staff holds court.

Suffice it to say that the PPSLA was unhappy with having its "data dump" from the survey all over KPHO and PLEA's Web sites.

The union had not made the survey public, and PPSLA president Mark Hafkey believed the survey was swiped from his union's offices.

So PPSLA's lawyer fired off a letter to the station demanding a retraction, and a retraction eventually occurred, but you'll find no evidence of it on Channel 5's Web site.

Rossi's original heavily slanted story was still there in written form as this column went to press, though the video of the report since has been removed.

The PPSLA learned of the backpedal in a letter from KPHO legal beagle Perry Bradshaw. He informed the union that the station had corrected the original February 15 Rossi piece "in our 5:30 p.m. newscast on Friday, February 25."

To be fair, KPHO isn't the only news outlet that minimizes its retractions, and at least the station ran one, though not in prime time.

Maybe this wouldn't be that big a deal if it were a one-off, and if Spencer and PLEA were not such a menace in this city. But it's not a one-off, and Spencer and PLEA are a wrecking crew.

Another KPHO retraction occurred in May 2010. That one concerned PPD Lieutenant Joe Knott.

Knott had been picked to attend the prestigious FBI National Academy. PLEA pitched a fit, writing to the FBI and making accusations that involved claims of a hostile work environment and retaliation. PLEA's complaints proved baseless. PPSLA's general counsel demanded a retraction and got one.

Sure, news stories can be fluid and may shift over time. On the other hand, when a nefarious entity such as Mark Spencer's PLEA is whispering in your ear, the hatchet job that results is less likely to be a righteous kill.

Moreover, PLEA nearly is as successful in manipulating the mainstream media as Sheriff Joe Arpaio's PR flacks.

Take the case of PPD cop Richard Chrisman, indicted for second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and cruelty to animals.

Chrisman is accused of shooting down South Phoenix resident Danny Rodriguez and his dog on October 5 after responding to a domestic-violence call. Rodriguez was unarmed but was high on meth and struggled with Chrisman. Sergio Virgillo, the other cop on hand, told investigators that neither Rodriguez nor the dog posed a serious threat.

Spencer and PLEA immediately sided with Chrisman, a PLEA member, against Virgillo, who is not. PLEA bailed Chrisman out and continues to argue passionately on Chrisman's behalf.

Indeed, PLEA has sought to slime both the victim and Virgillo in its defense of Chrisman. Before he left office last year, interim Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley told me that PLEA was under investigation for possible witness tampering and obstruction of justice as a result.

"I think there's a concerted effort by PLEA and some of its members to obstruct the success of this case going forward," Romley told me at the time.

In February, County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who bested Romley in the 2010 Republican primary after getting PLEA's endorsement, announced that the investigation of PLEA's actions in the Chrisman case had concluded.

"We have no evidence to pursue criminal charges against officials of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association," Montgomery stated during a press conference.

PLEA declared that it had been exonerated. But though the investigation may not have turned up evidence of criminality, a review of documents from it suggests that PLEA president Spencer was out to get dirt on Virgillo shortly after the shooting of Rodriguez.

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28 comments
Corruption
Corruption

So refreshing to see that the Phoenix Police Officers Union (PLEA) finally figured out that there is a law enforcement Code of Ethics. (See the PLEA Recap monthly magazine, May 2011 page 4.) PLEA leadership is apparently surprised that their members are being held accountable to compliance with the Code. Amazing that they never read the Code before. Perhaps now they can serve the taxpayers instead of themselves.

PLEA recap, May 2011: http://www.azplea.com/index.ph...tent&view=category&layout=blog&id=9&Itemid=28

Arizona Peace Officers Code of Ethics, R13-4-105. Minimum Qualifications for Appointment: http://www.azsos.gov/public_se...

President
President

Spencer seems to flap his lips plenty on Mike Broomheads show on KFYI what the heck is going on there? When the shoe (horse) is on the other foot (hoof) people don't seem to like it. I continuously go back to the old saying, live in a glass house don't throw stones.

Kit Carson
Kit Carson

"But Spencer, who has no problem flapping his lips before a camera, refused through his lawyer to be interviewed."

That's the most important line in this good read about PLEA.

Cops know what most citizens don't: never talk to the cops if you don't have to, never waive your right to remain silent, always insist on an attorney.

The police will tell you that if you have nothing to hide, then you should talk - don't you believe it. Innocent people get trapped all the time, and some go to jail just for denying they committed a crime for which they are never convicted.

The police are important, they are often our heroes, but they can also be pricks, jerks and felons. Don't take the chance that the 1-in-10 or 1-in-100 cop that is bad is the one opposite you, the one asking the questions.

Do like the cops do - don't talk!

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

Thanks for the comment, Kit. In case anyone's interested, I just posted some documents from the County Attorney's investigation on the blog: http://bit.ly/faGaAM

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Ok...back to Grammar school for "Mister" Lemons. First

1. If you accuse KPHO of being attached at the hip of PLEA...YOU are attached at the hip of PPSLA (the counter union in Phoenix Police.). And yes Stephen you have solicited "hit" pieces from Mark Hakey (affectionately know in PD circles as half-whit) on Mark Spencer. Remember the Property Crimes Lieutenant you contacted looking for trash. Remember - the one you said you could not remember? Here's a clue...his nic-name is "Edmo." Jog any of those stagnate brain cells for you now?

2. NO - it was not Monica Lonzo that broke the story on kidnapping stats of even was the driving force behind getting Harris removed (you're such a duffus Stephan). The FIRST news media to report it was KFYI, the Mike Boomhead show in mid-August 2010. Do your research its all true. Then KPHO and Channel 15 did stories in mid August 2010. Yes the same KPHO that you say is in bed with PLEA. So I guess its ok for Monica to write about it but not PLEA, is that right? Then came follow-up stories on News Channel 15 (weeks after Monica's report) and what happened 72 hours after News Channel 15's story on February 27th? Harris was packing up his office and officially reported he was out the next day on the 28th. So was it really the Newtimes that forced Harris out weeks before or the News Channel 15 story 72 hours before???? Come on dude...do your job for once.

3. Joe Knott - this is a funny story? PPSLA (and you) comes to the defense of Joe Knott and why? Because he is buddies with Mark Hafkey and was on the PPSLA board. Stephen did it ever occur to you as your having lattes with Hafkey to ask about who the female was making the complaint against Knott??? Yes, another Phoenix Police Supervisor...yet PPSLA shit all over her and came to the defense of Knott. Why...Hafkey's buddy, and a PPSLA board member.

4. Next - the Chrisman case. Hmmmm well Mr. Lemons if you were an "actual" reporter instead of just a columnist maybe you would have gotten your facts right on this one but sadly your not, so we are stuck with half-baked truths and speculations from some-one who probably is more adept at changing motor-oil. Stephen if Chrisman is soooooo guilty, why don't you contact the Phoenix Police Department's Internal Affairs (PSB - Professional Standards Bureau) and ask them "whatever happened to the lead investigator in this case?" SHE WAS REMOVED!!!!!! That's correct half-whit. She was removed because she "completely" disagreed with the direction (firing Chrisman) that Jack Harris was going. Stephen you "allege" you talk to PPD cops all the time. If that's true then what is the gossip on the "streets" about the Chrisman case? Why were "both" TASERS deployed in the fight if Virgillio says there was no need to shoot. And most importantly...ask if at anytime did Virgillo have to leave the trailer because he was over-come by pepper spray and does not know if Rodriguez grabbed Chrisman's gun or not? And for PLEA leaking information on Virgillio's wife??? There is not one centilla of evidence of this but even if it was true let me see if I get your absurd logic in this. Virgillo works narcotics and was working a major investigation involving smuggling of narcotics from Mexico. Then his wife is "recorded" contacting the actual drug dealers in the case and warning them the police are in to them. She even took a plea (pardun the pun on words) to a felony conviction. And now you use this opportunity to attack PLEA?????

Who's the horse ass now????

oh yeah....yellow journalism defined, again :)

(PS - if any of Stephen Lemons boss's read these comments - please fire this guy. We as readers are sick and tired of anti-SB 1070 (PLEA is pro-SB 1070), Joe Arpaio stories, Russell Pierce Stories, Andy Thomas stories). Lets get a "real" reporter please and not one with a political axe to grind.

Lendersbest
Lendersbest

Lol. Another corrupt person trying to convince us the facts are really NOT the facts!!Your "dirty" Cop, Crissman, has more on his record than this "murder". He should have been fired long ago and then this wouldnt have happened and smeared all the "Good Cops" out there!! Hang him and your ridiculous defense!

Retiredpd78
Retiredpd78

The FBI is investigating your PD department, not sure how you can sweep that under the rug. I served 8 yrs in U.S. Army and 12 in the DPD, these agencies just don't waste investigative resources like this unless there is a pattern of misconduct or very obvious examples of over reach in engagements with the citizenry. Your defensiveness is typical for a PD that is in denial about the conduct of its Officers.

Guest
Guest

anyone elsenotice truthhurts and the dick from badphoenixcops.com write exaktly the same? truthhurts has his lips permantly around spencers tailpipe.

monica alonso was the first reporter to go thru the kidnapping repts and read each one. the tv stattions just reptd that there was some guy who was a wistleblower saying the stats were phony. after alonso then came abc15. as 4 plea, spencer is a sack of shit. both he and harris needs 2 go.

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Lets see, my language and writing style reflects that of badphoenix.com???? You are the one that uses language like; " his lips permantly around spencers tailpipe." Which of the two of us most sounds like that website?

Next - Alonzo was the first to review hundreds of kidnap reports but do you or Lemons know where she obtained them from, perhaps a public records request? - NOPE. She obtained them from 1102 W. Adams - the PLEA Office. PLEA and reviewed, categorized and read them and handed them to Monica. Make no mistake, Monica is an outstanding reporter but she does not need the help of Lemons to promote her career, her investigate reporting on city corruption is excellent. Unlike Lemons who CONTINUALLY writes about the same topics over, and over, and over again - SB 1070, Arpaio, Andy Thomas and Pierce.

Oh yeah...and does anyone else notice the above comment rife with misspelling and bad grammar??? Probably a certain "columnist" on his 4th glass of wine last night.

Kit Carson
Kit Carson

Yellow journalism appeals to sensationalism. I am a pretty vocal critic of bad journalism, and I don't see any of that here. You may be right about the facts, as you claim, but even if so this isn't yellow journalism.

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

ship sinking??? ...you must be on bow of the SS Jack Harris with Hafkey at the wheel

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

PLEA embraces nativist politicians, and, guess what, those politicians don't back union pensions. Surprise, surprise. So, their union members bear the brunt. No wonder PLEA's losing members. Thing is, Truthhurts, you just don't want anyone criticizing the current regime at PLEA. That's obvious from your posts. Have fun there, as the ship sinks, and Spencer eventually leaves to run for County Supervisor.

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Was it just PLEA that endorsed them or at least some of them??? What about PPSLA, Phoenix Fire or the union police/fire groups of other valley cities. If it was just PLEA then you are an excellent reporter/columnist. If it was more than PLEA and you only criticize PLEA....Yellow Journalism :)

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

How is it yellow journalism to point out the hypocrisy of PLEA endorsing Republicans hell-bent on axing DROP and other benefits PLEA members enjoy? Feel free to enlighten me on that one.

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

I'm sure with Mark Hafkey's blessing....

Yellow journalism defined again :)

StephenLemons
StephenLemons

Very unfair, Mr. Truthhurts. I comment, if I comment at all, under my own name. Moreover, I prefer bourbon to wine.

However, as a defender of Spencer, you may be interested in this item I just published on how Spencer and PLEA have backstabbed their own members:

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.c...

Wail away, Portnoy.

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

The inflated Kidnaping stats are about as disgusting and criminal as anything I've seen. The damage it caused was more then a tired old Police Chief Harris trying to score some extra federal money. Dishonest actions like that created this false border hysteria and encouraged people to support bad legislation. It spreads xenophobia and worse. Frightened people will always support what The Arpaio's and Pearce's are selling and wont even question the sources or information they are being fed. See a pattern? How can we pass sane laws or even have a logical debate on immigration when the anti-immigrant folks are talking about ID Theft hype, beheadings and kidnappings and God knows what else. PLEA is as guilty of exaggerating crime committed by undocumented people as well and probably for the same reasons. Just take a look at there website. Sheriff Babeu? Same animal. He'll get 5 million State Tax dollars for his performance on exaggerating border violence and he isn't even a border sheriff.

What bothers me more is that our mainstream media has been pimping border hysteria for so long they've forgotten how to report the truth. I'm glad Stephen Lemons called out KPHO. It's about time our mainstream takes some healthy criticism. Personally, I think every network in town is deserving of it. Just watch the news. They all created their own scary section called "The Border Battle." Fox 10 even added background music to it to make sure you get in that frightful, hateful mood. They cannot accept the fact that the border areas are still safe according to real stats. Yes, our local networks are responsible for the border hysteria and by exaggerating the problem they are also responsible for who the low-information viewers are voting for.

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Borders safe???? Oh really. Wasn't a Border Patrol agent shot an killed with an AK-47 just one month ago? Wasn't a couple jet skiing on a Texas lake attacked by "pirates" and the husband was shot and killed? Wasn't a rancher in southern Az. shot and killed on his own property? Haven't over 50,000 people been murdered in northern Mexico due to border related violence? Dennis would you really feel safe taking your family on a weekend camping trip to Saguaro National Park on the border with Mexico? You shouldn't because it is ranked "Number 1" as the most dangerous park in the entire United States with park rangers armed with AR-15's (most rangers in the country are un-armed).

And one more thing...Look at PLEA's website ( www.azplea.com ). They, KPHO and a few others have been touting the false stats for months. Even you state "The inflated Kidnaping stats are about as disgusting and criminal as anything I've seen" you still praise Lemons by saying; "I'm glad Stephen Lemons called out KPHO."

Really...do you even know what you are talking about. KPHO and PLEA were one of the very first organizations to sound out about inflated kidnapping stats...the same inflated stats that you yourself describe as "disgusting." Then you praise Lemmons for attacking KPHO and PLEA??? Hello McFly??????? Anyone in there?????

Deniseaz
Deniseaz

that officer you say was killed by an AK-47 ,, WAS NOT RIGHT ON THE BORDER !!!! but was into Mexico ,, over the national line , soo get your so called facts right .. and as it goes , with the kind of attitude you seem to be spouting here, , better yet, turn in your badge , and stop being a rouge cop . law enforcement should NOT ever be from , or for a pesonal power game .

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

@Cajungman - please refrain from smoking crack prior to blogging :)

Truthhurts
Truthhurts

Hmmmm I need my facts straight? The below story is from azcentral.com dated December 16, 2010 concerning the said US Border Patrol Agent murdered "near Peck Canyon North of Nogales."

Thats in the first sentence you twit. Maybe you need a geography lesson. Nogales is in the United States, its in Arizona - hence the name "Nogales, Arizona." Mexico is South of the United States so obviously south of Nogales, Arizona. So in the first sentence of the article where it says that the agent was killed "North of Nogales," wouldn't that mean in the U.S. As I said before...Hello McFly??????? Anyone in there??????

http://www.azcentral.com/news/...

Cajungman
Cajungman

ALL PHOENIX COPS ARE CROOKED WIFE BEATERS,DOPE ADDITS AND WOMEN HUSTLERS

Charles
Charles

I can't believe you people have a governoress runing this state into the ground and you worry about someone else being a horse ass. She increased the DMV FEES, but its not a tax, by 200% aand none of you say a word that just plan sucks

SpencerIsAMoron
SpencerIsAMoron

Have to agree with the picture of Spencer.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I found the picture to be degrading to the horse, actually.

XSoldier
XSoldier

Could it be an elephant (the symbol for the Republican party) instead, or what that be too humiliating to the elephant? I personally wish it was a donkey (the symbol for the Democratic party). That would be freakin hilarious....

 
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