We Know Amparano
The latest chapter from the Julie Amparano saga, brought to you from the World of High Flashin'. Amparano was fired by the Arizona Republic on August 20 after editors, reporters and private eyes claimed they were unable to trace some sources that appeared in Amparano's column, "Conversations."
Republic management's avowals of devotion to Amparano's material and claims of incredulity at Amparano's alleged lapses ring hollow at the Chandler Police Department, which called out its PR riot squad after an August 27, 1997, front-page story by Amparano. The piece appeared in the wake of a controversial roundup of more than 430 illegal aliens by the Chandler PD and the United States Border Patrol. Unfortunately, many legal aliens and citizens with brown skin were detained in the operation.
Amparano's Page One piece told of Bonito Martinez, who claimed that the Chandler PD came into his home searching for illegal aliens in the middle of the night.
"Even after Martinez produced his immigration papers, police continued searching his closets and under his beds for illegal immigrants," the story says.
"'What gives them that right?' Martinez asks. 'There was no Border Patrol official. They had no search warrant. They think we have no rights.'"
Wrong, says the Chandler PD. A lawyer for the city issued a news release two days later, saying that Chandler PD accompanied a Bureau of Indian Affairs official to the Martinez casa with a court order to retrieve a child. It was a custodial interference case, the release says. "The Chandler Police were not looking for illegal aliens and no arrests of illegal aliens were made. In fact, this incident occurred almost a week prior to" the Border Patrol sweep, the news release states.
Chandler PD spokesman Sergeant Ken Phillips tells the Flash that Amparano never called his department to check out Martinez's complaint. "All it would have taken was five or 10 minutes to confirm the story with us," Phillips says.
Phillips says the Chandler PD contacted the Republic and recalls dealing with current deputy managing editor John D'Anna. Phillips claims no correction was published. None could be found on the Nexis database. The Republic's "Reader Advocate" Richard De Uriarte declined to comment or find out whether a correction appeared, saying that nobody at the Republic is talking for the record about Amparano or her work.
Amparano tells the Flash she recalls the story and remembers Chandler's complaints, but says, "When we asked them for information, they never provided it." If that's true, Amparano apparently never saw the news release, which gives specifics of the operation and cites a police report number.
Asked about Chandler's claim, Amparano says, "I don't think that's true."
Phillips is adamant, saying news of Amparano's demise "didn't surprise us over here at all."
"Freak Show" Review
Bobbi Dugan forwarded an exchange of emails she had with Republic scribe Mark Shaffer. Dugan was indignant over what she believed was Shaffer's flippant writing about the marriage of transgendered couples in Cochise County. As it turns out, Shaffer's Front Page August 26 piece didn't scratch the surface of his flippancy. To wit:
Thought you might be interested in Arizona Republic reporter Mark Shaffer's response to a letter I wrote him protesting his biased coverage of the marriage of two transgendered couples in Cochise County.
When I wrote Mark back protesting his response to my letter, he told me, "GET A LIFE."
Her first note:
I am sending you a copy of the Arizona Daily Star's coverage of the "same-sex" marriages in Cochise County.
It is an example of good journalism. It tells the story in a straightforward, unbiased manner. There is none of the belittling, snickering "isn't this just too funny" tone that you used in your front page coverage of the matter.
You seemed to find the people involved to be strange and laughable, and your bias came through in your article.
I am not a transsexual, crossdresser, or a member of any other sexual minority, but I have worked as a journalist.
And when I was studying journalism, I was taught to keep my biases from flavoring my reporting. No doubt you were taught the same. I hope you will try to do so in the future, because I'm sure transgendered people have feelings too. They also no doubt read newspapers, and they probably didn't appreciate the tone of your article one little bit.
I see no reason to antagonize any reader. Do you?
And Shaffer's reply:
Why do you think this should be a boring, straight news story? It certainly engendered a lot of laughs in Tombstone and Bisbee when I was down there yesterday. And, yes, these people are strange and laughable, as you put it, and should be portrayed this way. I mean, what's the serious issue here . . . that we need some kind of draconian search of body cavities before people can be married? Boy, that's a real serious issue. If that's the kind of news judgment you had, I can see why you are no longer in journalism.
When I am covering substantive issues, I do abide by those guidelines you delineate. But not on this one. I'm sure any thinking transgendered person would have concluded that was a freak show down there like I did.
Neither Shaffer nor De Uriarte, the aforementioned "Reader Advocate," responded to the Flash's emails about this matter. On the phone, De Uriarte admitted he had received the Flash's email but just started mumbling that he really couldn't talk about it.
Is Janet Moonlighting?
Phoenix Magazine is due for a name change -- let's call it the Book of Lists. Listless lists. Last month we learned all about our local schools' test scores. Too bad the information was a year old and released the week the state disclosed the newest test scores.
This month -- with its list of the Valley's so-called "best" attorneys -- the Phoenix Mag listmakers hit a new low. The Flash is pretty sure all the magazine's editors took the summer off, because they didn't even bother to make their own list; they simply reprinted someone else's. The list is excerpted from The Best Lawyers in America, 1999-2000, published by Woodward/White Incorporated, of Aiken, South Carolina. While the methodology used to select the attorneys isn't disclosed, the address where you can order the book is, and so is a whopping disclaimer that the information herein may not be accurate.
No duh. The Flash hadn't held the mag for more than 15 seconds when the first mistake appeared: Janet A. Napolitano is listed as one of the best "Business Litigation" attorneys, said to be employed by the Phoenix law firm Lewis and Roca.
Actually, Napolitano works for us -- as the state's attorney general. She left Lewis and Roca in June 1998, more than a year ago.
Good Morning America, MSNBC, Larry King Live -- Arizona Representative Steve May has been making the rounds on the national media circuit, ever since the New York Times wrote about him last week. May is under investigation by the Army Reserve, under the government's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
The first lieutenant -- who, ironically, is up for promotion to captain at the same time the Army is considering giving him the boot -- has been openly gay for three years, but says it was a story in the April 29 issue of New Times that sparked the investigation.
Seems the story -- featuring a large photograph of May and the cover headline "Confessions of a Gay, Right-Wing Mormon" -- hit the stands the very same weekend May reported for reserve duty. (He hadn't served since his discharge from active service in 1995.)
"The soldiers had it, they were passing it around to people, coming up to me, 'Hey, sir, is this you?' or, 'Hey, sir, this looks like you' -- really humorous," May recalls. "And then, in July, when my commander called to talk to me about the issue, she said, 'I've been given a copy of the article from the New Times and we have to pursue this investigation.' That's what forced her hand. Someone sent it to her, saying, 'Hey, look at this, how did this happen?' Everybody knew I was [gay], though, long before. It wasn't your article that outed me, obviously, but it was just the vehicle that was used to proceed with the investigation."
No word on possible action by the Mormon Church, which excommunicates gay members.
Meanwhile, the Page One New York Times piece credited New Times for putting Steve May on the map. The author of the New Times piece, Amy Silverman, went on CNN's Inside Politics last week to talk about the case.
The Flash must scratch his head and wonder: Why the commotion? Why is the possible discharge of a state representative more tragic -- or newsworthy -- than less-celebrated queers who've been booted by Uncle Sam?
Feed the Flash: voice, 602-229-8486; fax, 602-3408806; online, firstname.lastname@example.org
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