Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's new campaign to prevent people from leaving kids and pets in hot cars leaves one interesting thing out -- Montgomery's name.
Not one to turn a serious crisis into opportunity, Montgomery says he doesn't want "to mix up the message" by making it look like he's promoting himself in the campaign.
We were in the lobby of the county building at 301 West Jefferson Street, and he told us this just after the Q&A session wrapped up at his news conference, before reporters went outside to the street to see a billboard truck.
"I've got a scoop for you," he said unexpectedly.
We had our hopes up for something juicy, frankly. We'd just asked him questions about a couple of cases, including whether any charging decision had been made in the pending case of Peter Steinmetz, the Barrow Neurological Insititute scientist who brought an AR-15 to Sky Harbor on July 25. (No news yet on that one, he said.)
No such luck.
Montgomery motioned to a yellow poster bearing the campaign's slogan, "Don't Leave Me Behind."
"Do you see my name on it?" he asked.
Which, if you think about it, is a funny way to announce that you're taking pains to not promote yourself.
But okay, he gets a brownie point. There'll be no snarky columns from pundits who might accuse him of self-aggrandizement in this new campaign, which involves the billboard truck driving around malls and other places to remind people not to kill their kids and pets.
And after all, both of Montgomery's predecessors found trouble for spending money to advertise themselves.
Andrew Thomas, Montgomery's predecessor and the gubernatorial candidate burning public money to run bigoted TV ads, was motivated to target former County Supervisor Don Stapley because Stapley wouldn't let him put his name on an anti-meth campaign, according to the State Bar complaint that got Thomas disbarred.
Rick Romley was dinged for his 46-page 2004 annual report that cost $44,000 to publish.
Montgomery's not going to get caught doing stuff like that. When you see the billboard truck with the cute kid and cocker spaniel (about to fry due to bad parenting) don't think about Bill Montgomery. He wouldn't want that.
See the next page for complete text of Montgomery's Public Awareness Campaign:
Not too much more to say about this one. Besides what's mentioned below, the MCAO will be giving away sunscreens for vehicles are various locations with the campaign's message.
An important side-note, perhaps, is that this campaign follows the widely publicized hot-car case from Scottsdale involving Shanesha Taylor, who took a plea deal last month from Montgomery's office after leaving her kids in a car while at a job interview. Taylor raised about $110,000 on the Internet from sympathetic supporters; the deal requires her to put more than $30,000 away in trust funds for her kids' education and daycare.
Full text of Montgomery's news release follows:
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County Attorney Launches Public Awareness Campaign on Vehicular Heatstroke
PHOENIX - A mobile billboard truck will travel Valley streets and highways throughout the month of August carrying a warning message about the dangers of leaving an unattended child or a pet in a parked car. The signage, which depicts a child and a dog in a car with the windows rolled up and the words "Don't Leave Me Behind," is part of a broader public awareness effort by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office aimed at reducing the number of deaths and injuries related to vehicular heatstroke.
"These tragic incidents occur with an unfortunate regularity every summer and we believe many are preventable," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. "We want to provide an impactful and visual reminder to people to make sure they don't forget a child or pet when they park their vehicle," he added.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 606 children died in vehicles due to heatstroke between 1998 and 2013, representing the number one cause of death in non-crash fatalities for children 14 and younger. More than half of these children were forgotten in the vehicle. 29% gained access by themselves and became trapped.
"A person who knowingly or intentionally exposes a child or an animal to the risk of heatstroke could be prosecuted for child abuse or animal cruelty under Arizona law," Montgomery noted. "We will not hesitate to bring these charges where we have the evidence to support them."
In addition to the mobile billboard, the "Don't Leave Me Behind" campaign will include a public service announcement which will be broadcast on local televisions during August and September. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office has also created a web site with facts, resources and safety tips on preventing vehicular heatstroke at www.safekidsaz.org/vehicular-heatstroke.
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