I'll be honest, I would have appreciated a more critical appraisal of Sheriff Joe's reign in Maricopa County than the one Ted Robbins offers today on NPR, "`America's Toughest Sheriff' Takes on Immigration." In the segment, Robbins visits Tent City, but he never mentions those who have died in Sheriff Joe's custody, nor does he ever mention the $43.4 million Nickel Bag Joe's cost the county in lawsuit payouts and high insurance premiums. Robbins attends a press conference held by Joe at 32nd and Thomas on January 18, where Joe announces an anti-illegal immigrant sweep by the posse, but Robbins never reveals that at least one U.S. citizen, Israel Correa, was arrested on bogus charges during that sweep, with an ICE hold improperly placed on him while he was in the 4th Avenue Jail.
Nor does Robbins bring up the recent controversy surrounding Joe's use of RICO funds to finance his own personal foreign policy in Honduras. Robbins, however, does note that Arpaio's taken a hit in the polls, stating,
"Arpaio's approval ratings have been falling a bit, down from an astronomical 80 percent to somewhere in the '60s. But most analysts think he will probably be elected for the fifth time in November."
This analysis comes without uttering the name of Arpaio-challenger Dan Saban, or detailing the way he was smeared by Arpaio's machine in 2004.
Fortunately, Robbins does find the time to discuss the arrests of my bosses Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey last year. And he does quote Lacey at length about why Arpaio is currently pursuing an all out war on the Valley's immigrant population.
"He's got a very famous quote about how he wasn't gonna be busting corn vendors or Mexicans on the street looking for work. That there were real criminals out there," Lacey tells Robbins. "But he discovered there were votes in going after Mexicans and he switched his policy 180 degrees."
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Regarding his arrest, Lacey later adds,
"What made them think they could get away with it is they've been gradually getting away with it for years here. You begin with prisoners. Then you move on to Mexicans. Then you move on to editors and reporters."
Robbins' reporting on the fawning support Joe receives from elderly biddies at Leisure World is instructive, but I would hope that if he caught up with them now and asked them about Honduras, they might backtrack a tad.
For those of us who have to live and work under Arpaio's thumb, what Robbins has produced is too wishy-washy by far. I'm glad he got some quotes in there from Lacey and also from Alfredo Gutierrez. I know Robbins' focus was Arpaio's stance on immigration, but the piece could have used a little more backbone, in my opinion. If those outside AZ knew the whole truth about Joe Arpaio, they would shudder in horror and thank Yahweh they don't live in Maricopa County. They don't get that whole truth from Robbins' report.