Anyone surprised Mayor Phil "Goober" Gordon's turned clucker on Phoenix Police Department Operations Order 1.4.3, folding like a cardboard box to the nativists? After all, this is the same pusillanimous pipsqueak who cowered behind his mommy when The Bird lobbed a few tough questions at him during his reelection campaign (see "Mayor McChickenshit," May 24).
Still, the Taloned One was a smidgen surprised that Gordon waited but a trio of months before swiping a page from his opponent in the September election, Republican Steve Lory. You'll recall Lory took up the nativist cry that Operations Order 1.4.3 — the police policy that outlines when and how cops contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement — makes Phoenix a "sanctuary city."
Goober insisted that Phoenix ain't no sanctuary city, that ICE officers are embedded with P-town police, that they bust drop houses together, yadda-yadda-yadda. You'd think from listening to him that he'd written the dang thing.
Essentially, the 20-year-old policy assures us that beat cops won't be stopping people just to check their papers like in some old WWII-era Nazi flick. Nor is ICE notified every time officers issue a citation to a Hispanic.
But last week, Goober dramatically announced he'd "no longer support" the operations order. Instead of just saying what he would support, he impaneled a four-man mayoral flak-deflecting squad, which includes such influential, moderate Republicans as former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley and former AZ Attorney General Grant Woods.
"As mayor, I have seen our situation escalate to a perilous point," intoned flip-floppin' Phil. "Rhetoric is replacing reason. There's too much hate. It's ugly; it's dangerous — and good people continue to suffer."
That part about the hate's right on the dinero, especially when the volatile situation at M.D. Pruitt's Home Furnishings is taken into account. But in response to the reactionaries who want everyone who's undocumented rounded up and sent south, what's Goober done? Caved like a spent copper mine.
Goober's panel of Republican wise men doesn't hurt him, though. Gordon hankers to run for governor one day, so he needs insulation from the inevitable fallout.
"He could've called those guys into his office in an afternoon and gotten the advice," erstwhile mayoral contender Lory opined to this tweeter. "Or have the city attorney privately give him advice. Now this panel is his lightning rod."
Lory, who ended up getting 23 percent of the vote, says he's not pissed that Goober said one thing before the election and did exactly the opposite three months later. Goober's a wet-finger-waver from way-back. Plus, our milquetoast mayor has über-conservative, fat-pocketed Washington, D.C. think-tank Judicial Watch breathing down his neck.
"Judicial Watch threatened litigation on this issue," Lory reminded, referring to a recent visit to Phoenix by a J.W. law-hound. "The city would've lost, because the current order is illegal. And Judical Watch threatened a recall of the mayor. That's what it takes, I guess."
Lory believes federal law invalidates the Operations Order, but it's by no means established that local gendarmes should be enforcing federal immigration law, or that Judicial Watch could win a suit against the city.
Rather, this rascally rooster believes it was that sniff of a possible recall that forced Goober to, uh, assume the position. Before this, Goober supported Police Chief Jack Harris, who in the wake of PHX police officer Nick Erfle's fatal shooting by an illegal alien in September, was sticking by police policy.
"Am I saddened by another senseless murder of a Phoenix police officer?" asked Harris in an Arizona Republic opinion piece following Erfle's demise. "Yes, of course I am. But I am also saddened when I turn on the radio and hear some useless gasbag using the murder of Officer Nick Erfle to promote a personal racist agenda."
Now that's what a mayor should sound like! Harris pointed out that the thug who offed Erfle had been deported by ICE before, and that Erfle was attempting to arrest the scumbag on a misdemeanor warrant when he was shot. So, how would scrapping Operations Order 1.4.3 have saved Erfle? Answer: It wouldn't have.
Harris explained, "The mayor does not write or approve police policy, I do." He declared, "I am not inclined to turn my officers into immigration agents just because it suits a politician's purpose."
Harris' words were not pointed toward Phil, but they might as well have been, because it now suits Goober's purpose to turn Harris' men into immigration agents.
Phil would've been better off remaining resolute in the face of the rising tide of intolerance. But he'd need a set of stones for that. Phil created this panel in the hopes of throwing a sop to the anti-immigrationists. But this bluebird's got some bad news for the city's yella-bellied chief executive — the nativists want none of it.
At the weekly insult orgy down at Pruitt's on Saturday, nativists waved signs that read, "Fire Grant Woods!" See, Woods has been hired by Cochise County to prosecute a Border Patrol Agent charged with second-degree murder in the death of an illegal immigrant. To nativist noggins, he might as well be U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton (sometimes referred to as "Johnny Satan"), the guy who prosecuted Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean for shooting a fleeing, unarmed illegal in the butt.
Former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton and former County Attorney Rick Romley? They've been saddled with the pro-open borders label by even relatively moderate anti-illegal immigrant activists.
"[The mayor's] decision to review the sanctuary policy is a good first step," wrote American Freedom Riders founder Danny Smith to his fellow pro-immigration-control bikers. "But a quick look at the panel he named indicates that he has stacked the deck to maintain the most liberal enforcement he can get away with."
Later, Smith told The Bird that AFR's membership is prepared to support a recall of the mayor if one arises, particularly if the mayor's panel suggests only minor changes.
Smith reckons the majority of the electorate's on his side. And they may be, for the moment. A November 28 Rocky Mountain Poll found that 58 percent of Arizonans support local cop enforcement of immigration laws. But when pullin' over Pedro for Driving While Brown interferes with regular police work, that number drops to 47 percent. And when the public's asked to pay for these added immigration duties, support for a new policy drops even further, to 39 percent.
Maybe AFR members would be willing to auction off their Harleys and pick up the tab for the program they're agitatin' for. Ultimately, Smith and his people want vigorous local enforcement of federal immigration laws, not just some middling, namby-pamby compromise on current cop protocols.
"It's almost a McCarthyism atmosphere," Romley told me of the Tennessee turkey shoot he and his fellow panel members are traipsing into. "I've been disappointed in some of our leaders in our community . . . I think they're poisoning the well."
Rick Romley knows the mayor's panel is being denounced by both sides, and that the anti-immigration forces won't be easily placated. He says he's still studying the legal issues involved, but that "If I'm asked to recommend something that's unconstitutional or violating civil rights, I won't do it. I'll walk away."
Admirable stance. But as far as Mayor Gordon goes, you don't go into a knife fight prepared to do your Neville Chamberlain impersonation. Certain elements in the immigration debate cannot be appeased. And by trying to, Gordon's laid a big fat egg that closely resembles a hand grenade.
As reported by this worm-wrangler's online bloggin' cousin Feathered Bastard, North High School senior Joe Arvizu was laid to rest in the soil of his native Mexico last week, in a small town near the Mexican city of Agua Prieta, across the border from Douglas, Arizona.
The precise cause of his death is unclear, though the teenager had recently been diagnosed with leukemia by St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. Teachers and staff who knew the kid say that in October, Arvizu sustained some sort of a head injury. Around October 20, he was taken to St. Joe's for emergency treatment.
St. Joe representatives couldn't discuss specifics because of medical privacy regulations. But according to various sources, Arvizu underwent brain surgery while at St. Joe's. A week later, after the diagnosis of leukemia, the not-for-profit hospital, founded 112 years ago by the Sisters of Mercy, transferred Arvizu to a hospital in Mexico. On Monday December 3, around 2 a.m., Arvizu died.
As family, friends and faculty mourn the popular young man, who had passed all of his AIMS tests and was set to graduate from high school in May, there are questions about why Arvizu was transferred to Mexico while he was sick. Though he'd been in America at least during his high school years, Arvizu was undocumented and uninsured.
Medicaid covers emergency care for those here illegally. Beyond that, there's only charity or "uncompensated care," as they refer to it in the medical profession. Sister Margaret McBride, vice president of Mission Services for the hospital, informed The Bird that Arvizu's case was considered by St. Joe's charity committee, but it was decided to send Arvizu to Mexico. According to McBride, illegal immigrants aren't eligible to receive transplants, including bone-marrow transplants, in the United States.
McBride stated that one to five undocumented patients from St. Joe's are transferred every week to Mexico. She said the hospital had no choice but to send Arvizu to a facility in Sonora.
"We don't deport anyone," she said. "We don't call INS. We don't want to be a part of that. Our goal is to take care of the patients that come to our door . . . We take care of them for the acute phase of the illness or the injury, and at some point it becomes a long term care issue."
Some wonder whether St. Joseph's did enough in the case of Arvizu. They ask if he'd still be alive if he'd never been sent south, a move they say neither he nor his mother was happy with.
"It's weird because St. Joseph's is always asking for donations," said one North High staff member, who asked not to be named. "They're always sending letters out. A lot of people donate to them. So I don't understand why they didn't keep him here."
This same school staffer visited Arvizu in a hospital in Hermosillo, Sonora, bringing with her $600 raised by Arvizu's fellow students through a car wash and direct contributions. It wasn't enough to cover the cost of even one of his chemo treatments in Mexico, at $1,000 a pop. Arvizu's fellow students are now raising money to help his family pay for the funeral.
North High teacher Jane McNamara related that Arvizu got good grades, was active in choir and in the Junior ROTC, and wanted to join the Army. He would've been an ideal candidate for citizenship, if this country had a DREAM Act. But it doesn't.
Many nativists, The Bird's sure, would happily dance on Arvizu's grave. That's why this heron's hesitant to give out information regarding future fundraisers, knowing the potential for violence by some in the anti-immigrant camp. To these heartless cretins, Arvizu, and all teenagers like him, are criminals, deserving of immediate deportation, regardless of medical status.
Many on the nativist side consider themselves Christians. They invoke the Good Book to justify their hatred, anger and prejudice, just as some Christians once justified slavery and later Jim Crow with that same religious text.
Don't know which version they're thumbing through, but in this beak-bearer's Bible, the man from Galilee tells his disciples, "Suffer the little children to come unto me; forbid them not: for to such belongeth the kingdom of God."
He didn't say, "Suffer the little American children" or "Suffer the little white kids." Unless your Bible's the "New and Revised Russell Pearce Edition." This raven ran into state Representative Pearce on December 1 at the Joe Arpaio Roast in Sun City West and asked him about the DREAM Act. What about the kids of illegals who've obeyed the law, gotten good grades, etc., etc.? He was having none of it. "Illegal is illegal," he spat.
Which made this magpie recall that other line from Jesus Christ regarding children, "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble."
Heh, when it comes to evil ol' black-heart Russell Pearce, we can only hope he and his heavenly millstone have a date with destiny.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.