Do you need another reminder that you live in a police state controlled by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his brown-shirted goons? If so, just take a trip on the Valley Metro Light Rail, which our clownish top constable says he'll be using to transport inmates downtown, assuming this is not all some sort of pathetic joke on Arpayaso's part.
Metro Light Rail doesn't think it's a joke. I phoned Hillary Foose, the public information officer at MLR, and she tells me the only heads up MLR's had on this is a call from one of Arpaio's flacks asking if MLR would provide free fares for something like this. The answer? Hell, no.
"For anyone who rides the light rail, we expect them to have a valid fare before they board," said Foose.
That would go for the deputy and any inmate or inmates he or she had with them, insisted the PIO.
Other than that call, Foose explained, there had been no advance notice on the part of the sheriff's office that this program was being initiated. Foose said MLR is concerned about the impact this will have on regular ridership.
"Our first reaction is the concern that this may create for passengers," Foose commented. "Making them feel comfortable and secure and safe is obviously our greatest priority. So anything that has the potential to distract from that or create the impression that they're in an unsafe environment gives us great concern."
Arpaio tut-tutted these worries in his statement to the press, issued earlier today.
"Not only is this program financially creative in these tough economic times," says Joe in the retarded press release reprinted below. "But we will be providing a service to the city's light rail program by occasionally providing free security. There is nothing to be concerned or worried about as my deputies will be armed."
There's a press conference (of course), but I'm too disgusted to shag this fly ball. Let the idiots who voted for him go ask him why he's pulling this ass-backwards stunt.
UPDATE 10:49 PM: Anyone see the old lady on TV who was the "prisoner" Joe and his thug were "escorting" on the MLR? She was holding a towel over her face, and I swear she was flipping the camera the bird! Ha! Good for her. At least they didn't make her wear stripes and leg irons.
AND FINALLY, the Republic is reporting that officials at Sky Harbor say Joe's goons can park in a secure location for free to pick up inmates, and that this has always been the case. So the rationale for this lame-o publicity grab is officially kaput. Even so, Joe'll probably keep his "I got you CONNED Rail" program going so he can scare your kiddies straight as they ride to the ballpark. Hey, they gotta learn early, the little hoodlums, that crime don't pay. Unless you're Joe Arpaio, that is.
Sheriff Arpaio to Increase Ridership on Valley Metro:
Inmates to be Transported on Light Rail
Press Release: (Phoenix, AZ.) As a cost savings measure in times of ever tightening budgets, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio today will announce plans to begin transporting inmates on the Valley's new light rail system.
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In phase one of a new cost-saving program, Arpaio will have deputies transport inmates from 44th Street and Washington to the Fourth Avenue Jail, eliminating the need for costly parking fees associated with inmate transport. Projected cost savings from this phase of "Con Rail" is estimated to be about $72,000.00 .
Last month's grand opening of the Valley's new light rail system finally provided the Sheriff's Office with a new way of doing business and there is another benefit to the "Con Rail" program. Deputies will be an added security measure for the valley rail system, something Arpaio is sure riders will appreciate.
"Not only is this program financially creative in these tough economic times, but we will be providing a service to the city's light rail program by occasionally providing free security," Sheriff Arpaio says. "There is nothing to be concerned or worried about as my deputies will be armed."
Arpaio will be discussing the new airport "Con Rail" program on January 27th at around 5:30 p.m. at the 44th Street and Washington station where he will meet deputies transporting an inmate for the trip downtown. Media is welcome.