Know what Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris has in common with Joe Arpaio henchman David Hendershott and County Attorney lapdog Barnett Lotstein? Nah, they're not subscribers to Cosmo, though that was this mischievous mallard's first guess, too.
Give up? They've all figured out how to increase their salaries by doing the public servant double dip. That's where they quit one job, start drawing their retirement, and then get rehired to do similar jobs on the taxpayer's dime, vastly increasing their incomes in the process.
After Hendershott's infamous double dip years ago, a law was passed to keep other fat-cat public safety officials from doing likewise. Last year, the Arizona Legislature modified the statute's language, making it plain that public safety retirees can't be rehired for the "same position," where they have the "same duties" and the "same authority."
Of course, the law doesn't apply retroactively to Hendershott, or to Lotstein, who, as a lawyer-flack, is not dedicated to public safety but rather to keeping his boss Candy Thomas' tuchis covered.
But it does apply to the city's silver-maned police chief. Last year, Harris was facing mandatory retirement because he'd chosen five years ago to participate in a legal mini-double dip known as DROP (the Deferred Retirement Option Program). That's a swell deal in which coppers and firefighters start drawing retirement benefits after 20 years of duty, yet can stay on the job for five more after that and collect their regular salary as well.
Harris' five were up in 2006, which was supposed to be the end of the gravy choo-choo for the top cop. But Mayor Phil "Goober" Gordon couldn't bear to see the chief vamoose. So the city whipped up a new job for Harris. In addition to being the head doughnut-eater, he'd have some anti-terrorism stuff to do. Since mid-February, Harris has been collecting a pension of $90K, plus his salary of $184,350. Nice jack, Jack.
Marc Lieberman, the lawyer for the Arizona Public Safety Retirement System, informed The Bird that the retirement system requires the state's pension boards to decide if an alleged double-dipper's new job is "substantially and materially different than the old job." In fact, Phoenix's Police Pension Board did discuss the issue last October, and what did they decide? Check this dubious doublespeak from the minutes:
"Sergeant [Ron] Snodgrass stated the Board was not being asked to give Chief Harris permission. He stated the Board was being asked to give reassurance the Board would not request the Fund Manager to reduce or suspend Chief Harris' pension or DROP benefits."
Er, so basically, the pension board okayed the request, but without giving "permission," so as to shield members' bureaucratic backsides. Love that name Snodgrass. Too bad Colonel Mustard wasn't on hand to bang the board's gavel.
Rubber-stamping aside, the question remains: Did the leading lawman of the fifth-largest city in America skirt the intent of the law? You be the judge. Look at the Phoenix Police Department's Web site. Harris' grinning gob is still there with the title "Police Chief" beside his name, and he is in dress blues. He's still "The Chief," just with way more bucks than before. No wonder P-town's First Flatfoot is smilin'.
From where this kooky cardinal sits, the Valley's most famous Nordstrom employee, Fred Goldman, looks like da man. In fact, he may be able to quit that gig in the men's department of the Scottsdale Fashion Square store soon, what with his repackaged O.J. Simpson tome If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer sitting at number two in sales on amazon.com.
Why, the infamous Simpson pseudo-confession to the slayings of Fred's son, Ron Goldman, and Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, may hit numero uno by the time the ink is dry on this column.
Even O.J. himself is lending a hand, having landed in jail sans bail for a little incident in Vegas in which he's alleged to have ripped off some sports memorabilia peddlers at gunpoint! The Juice may have to raise Johnnie Cochran from the grave to get out of this jam. This pecker's saying, with O.J. in the news again, Peoria resident Goldman can sit back in the catbird seat and watch those book sales soar.
Goldman was on Oprah Winfreys show recently defending his family's decision to republish the book. (A federal bankruptcy judge awarded them the rights in June.) According to the silver-mustachioed barbershop quartet stand-in, this was his family's chance to collect on its share of the $33.5 million award from a 1997 wrongful-death suit against the former Hertz shill and Heisman Trophy winner.
Oprah revealed that the Goldmans are getting 90 percent of profits from the snuff book, which equates to 17 cents for every one sold. Even though Goldman was instrumental in getting the original book deal axed, and though he had once called on the American public not to purchase the blood-tinged tome, here he was on Oprah screeching that he had no choice. Florida's debtor-friendly laws have prevented the Goldmans from collecting on their multimillion-dollar jury award against Sunshine State resident Simpson.
Maybe this about-face makes Freddy a hypocrite, but he's too busy going for the gold, man, to worry 'bout that.
Plus, Goldman squawked to Winfrey that he's really doing it for all the abused ladies out there.
"I hope that one, single woman in an abusive relationship reads this book and says, 'God, that could be me. I have to get out and save my own life,'" Goldman told the talk-show queen. "One single woman will be worth it."
And if you buy that pant-load, well, you'll probably buy the book. Nicole's sis, Denise Brown, ain't buying, though. On the same Oprah episode, she came on after Goldman's appearance like a Harpy outta Hades to denounce him. Brown said his publication of the book was "a morally wrong thing to do." She blasted Fred for betraying the memory of her sister and Goldman's own son.
Fortunately, this amoral avian doesn't have to worry about an ethical dilemma by purchasing the book. He's already read the original version on the free online library scribd.com. In it, Simpson comes off as nuttier than a PayDay bar, killing Nicole and Ron almost on a whim with the assistance of a shadowy figure named "Charlie," who's supposedly the only person who witnessed the entirety of the murders. See, O.J. claims he blacked out during the butchering.
The whole passage is supposed to be "hypothetical." Yeah, and Simpson hypothetically outs himself as a psychopath with a split personality who should be locked in a padded cell for life. Um, hypothetically.
"We haven't touched O.J. Simpson's confession to murder," Goldman informed The Bird as Mr. Mustache packed his bags for the Oprah appearance. "My daughter and I wrote a foreword. There's a prologue by an insider and an afterword by a famous author."
We now know the prologue's by O.J.'s ghostwriter, Pablo Fenjves, who has denied making up Simpson's hypothetical admission of guilt. The afterword? Written by that tiresome old fart Dominick Dunne, who's never seen a wealthy murderer he didn't wanna write about.
Still, for pure gossip's sake, the manuscript's worth perusing. Assuming you can do it for free. Don't bother looking at scribd.com, though. It's since been taken down "at the request of the copyright holder."
That Fred Goldman. He doesn't miss a beat.
HIP-HOP HIGH JINKS
Radio stations are notorious for their publicity-garnering antics, but donning Ku Klux Klan hoods and passing out fliers to a javelina roast? Sounds wack to this warbler, especially when the folks under the hoods are affiliated with a flippin' hip-hop station.
But those are precisely the allegations in a lawsuit filed late August against Power 98.3 by DJ Krazy Kid Stevens (a.k.a. "Darin Damme") of rival hip-hop station 101.5 Jamz. Kid's on there in the a.m. as one-half of the morning show Kid and Ruben.
According to the complaint, a pair of counterfeit Klansmen raided the broadcast studios of 101.5 Jamz ironically, in the same building as Power 98.3 on August 13. These witless White Knights allegedly included part-time Power DJ Bootleg Kev and an unknown accomplice. The doofus duo announced they had a meeting with Krazy Kid, who was not crazy enough to actually go out and meet with the hooded nightriders.
The whole caper reminds this wren of that classic episode of Dave Chappelles show, in which a redneck's head explodes once a fellow Klansman raises his hood to reveal he's black. Same joke, different skin color.
Eventually, the two ofays amscrayed, leaving behind a flier for a javelina roast with a pic of Kid hunting wild pig that read: "KKK MEETING 8-13-07 @ 8:00 a.m. With a Speech from Acclaimed White Supremacist: KKKID STEVENS. Free Javelina Meal for the first 20 people to arrive!"
One of the two ersatz Invisible Empire members was filming the prank, perhaps for a YouTube upload. The suit describes other Uncle Tomfoolery. Like something involving a CD with the Kid/javelina snapshot, and a Confederate flag design, stating, "The official 100% real Hick-Hop." And another with the same pic and the slogan, "Hunting javelina is not hip-hop."
Okay, we get it. Krazy Kid is a peckerwood DJ who spins mostly black music. But it's not like he's the only one in town.
In fact Bootleg Kev, who's a part-time jock on Power, looks paler than George W. Bush's patootie, judging from Bootleg's MySpace snap. And Power's morning jocks Joeyboy and JPhilla, a.k.a. "Da Nutz," are Hispanic. At least, Power's "President of the Afternoon," late-in-the-day DJ JX3 is African-American. Hey, this beetle-eater's always said we need more black folk in Phoenix. And the city's two hip-hop stations are proving the point.
Kid's lawyer secured an injunction against harassment, ordering Power employees to steer clear of Kid at his residence and business, which means Kid and Bootleg Kev won't be taking the elevator together. And Kid himself has secured the support of another kid, "Kid Sharpton," better known as the Reverend Jarrett Maupin, the once and future mayoral candidate and local head of Al Sharptons National Action Network. Maupin denounced the fake Klan incident during a news conference outside the 101.5 Jamz studios, and called on the Federal Communications Commission to get involved.
"I understand silly-ass competition," the Rev told this tweeter. "But they took it too far. What they've done is insult people culturally, racially, and ethnically by having the employee put the pillowcase over his head and dress up like he was in the Klan."
Power has since met with Maupin to address questions about the racial diversity of its staff, and it's issued a release in which the station grudgingly admits that some of the points in Kid's complaint are valid. Power veep and general manager Nat Galvin e-mailed New Times a statement on the KKK kerfuffle, calling Kid's claim "completely unfounded and without merit."
Then Galvin turns right around and explains: "What has occurred was an unfortunate, isolated prank [dreamed up] by a young individual with a perfect record of behavior who should have known better. This prank was performed without the company's knowledge or consent. As soon as these events came to the company's attention, they were dealt with internally."
As the late, great Johnny Carson liked to say, "wild, wacky stuff."
But what's behind all these insinuations that Kid's a racist? Well, recently, Kid had been an on-air lip-flapper for conservative talk station KTAR, though in his stints as a fill-in for various time slots he tended to lean more toward KTAR's moderate, nice-guy Pat McMahon, than the station's über-right attack K9 Darrell Ankarlo.
Also, way back when Kid was on KISS FM, he was let go after he made remarks about the victims of Hurricane Katrina that were perceived as insensitive. That was before his stint at KTAR.
This feathered fiend never heard what Kid said back at that time, so it can't judge. But if Power wants to start playing the PC game, it should check its own backyard. Power program director Bruce St. James, a.k.a. Bruce Dalton, once did his bit as a local Rush Limbaugh clone on KTAR's airwaves.
Yep, he's another cracker in Power's woodpile.
Plus, and more importantly, if hunting javelina ain't hip-hop, you damn sure should know that runnin' around in a Klan sheet ain't either.
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