Phil takes on AZ's #1 bully. Will other high profile pols do likewise?
Attorney General Terry Goddard may not want to wield the shillelagh, but "Give 'em hell, Gordon" doesn't have a problem whacking Nickel Bag Joe upside the head every chance he gets, and rightly so. Today, during Mayor Gordon's 5th annual State of City Address before the PHX Chamber of Commerce, he let Arpaio have it, drawing a stark contrast between real cops like those at the PHX PD and the beige-shirted bullies of Bozo Joe. (No offense to those at the MCSO who hate the guy -- and there are plenty.)
"In just the past month, the Phoenix Police Department, working with the FBI, DPS, Mesa PD and other local police agencies rounded up and jailed nearly 500 gang members who were terrorizing Arizona," Gordon told the crowd.
"I’m proud of that," the Mayor continued, deftly lowering the boom. "Because those are the kind of roundups we should ALL be doing. The kind that make us safe from the most dangerous and violent among us. Just about every jurisdiction does that. Except one.
"The Maricopa County Sheriff has 40,000 outstanding felony warrants sitting on his desk. And rounding up those people should be a priority. Instead, he has created a `Sanctuary County for Felons' with his reckless priorities -- that target brown skin and cracked tail lights -- instead of killers and drug dealers."
Sanctuary County for Felons! When is the last time you heard this kind of talk from a politician? It's bold, brave stuff, and I say this as someone who's been a merciless critic of Mayor Gordon in the past. One day after Attorney General Goddard refused to emulate Phil's position on Arpaio's sweeps, Gordon follows up on his courageous Cesar Chavez luncheon speech, and his letter to the Justice Department asking them to investigate the Sheriff's Department, with this rousing call for people to resist our county's cruel and sadistic top cop.
"To each of you in this room," Gordon appealed to the assembled big shots, "particularly members of this Chamber, I invite you to join the chorus and let your voices be heard. Because this is not the image that Phoenix, or your businesses, has earned or deserves.
"Will you pay a price for speaking out?" he asked rhetorically. "Yeah, you might. We only need to look toward the deputies who have been fired, the publishers who have been jailed, or the Mesa, Phoenix and West Valley Chiefs who – along with elected officials like Rick Romley and Terry Goddard – have been targeted by his Selective Political Enforcement Unit."
Gordon then gave kudos to Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris, whom the Mayor referred to as "the best Police Chief in the country," one who "bases his public safety strategies on public safety priorities – not on polls." You know, like Nickel Bag does.
Sure, Phil talked about other stuff -- the City's growth, light rail, the economy, etc. But his pointed attack on our corrupt top constable, will certainly receive the most attention. Mainly because he drew blood with that statement about the 40,000 felony warrants. (There are 70,000 outstanding warrants in Maricopa County altogether.)
Recently, Joe's tried spinning this oft-cited fact for the press, claiming the MCSO is only responsible for a tiny portion of these warrants. Bzzzt. Wrong, oh Pennzoil pate! Try reading the description of your duties in the Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 11-441. It reads, in part, that the Sheriff shall,
"Serve process and notices in the manner prescribed by law and certify under the sheriff's hand upon the process or notices the manner and time of service, or if the sheriff fails to make service, the reasons for failure, and return them without delay."
In other words, that's your friggin' job, man! Not pulling over Pedro for making an illegal u-turn, and asking him for his papers because he's brown. In any case, instead of getting to work rousting actual criminals, Nickel Bag would rather waste untold amounts of County moolah chasing Hispanics who honked their car horns at an anti-Joe demo.
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Thing is, Joe, who is expected to go into Mesa this week for another bogus "crime suppression sweep," will never back down until enough people oppose his unconstitutional activities. Gordon is absolutely correct. Each of us with a conscience has a moral obligation to speak out, mobilize and protest Sheriff Joe's harassment of whole communities in this state.
Interestingly, the Sheriff's laziness in serving felons papers is not his only failure to perform. According to the same A.R.S. mentioned above, the Sheriff is supposed to "Prevent and suppress all affrays, breaches of the peace, riots and insurrections which may come to the knowledge of the sheriff."
He's supposed to "prevent and suppress" such disturbances, not create them, which he's clearly doing every time he sets up one of his mobile command centers for an anti-immigrant dragnet. The Sheriff is in clear violation of this statute defining his duties. Now all we need is for some higher law enforcement power to act.