Randy Parraz and his merry band of activists from Citizens for a Better Arizona celebrated their success at Wednesday's Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting with a pizza party...at Sheriff Joe's place.
By Joe's place, I mean Arpaio's executive suite of offices on the 19th Floor of the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix. Parraz and about 15 CBAers never made it past the locked double doors into Arpaio's inner sanctum. But it wasn't for lack of trying.
See, Parraz and his pals were following up on their Wednesday win at the BOS, where the supes denied accepting nearly $10,000 in donations to pay bills related to Arpaio's absurd "birther" probe.
The money was meant to cover the cost of sending an MCSO deputy to Hawaii on an anti-Obama snipe hunt. But Parraz and his cohorts successfully argued that it was wrong to privatize the functions of the sheriff's office, and allow investigations to be subjected to the whims of private donors.
The board tied on the matter 2-2, effectively killing the proposal, for now.
The goal of today's action was to deliver a mockup of a $10,000 check to Arpaio and ask him to investigate some things the taxpayers of this county want him to look into.
But neither Arpaio nor any of his flunkies were man (or woman) enough to come out and accept a petition being presented by CBA, much less the faux check.
The petition asked Joe to focus on three scandals: the Sheriff's Command Association shenanigans; former state Senate President Russell Pearce's hanky-panky with the Fiesta Bowl; and allegations of "criminal acts" committed by some MCSO staff.
Parraz and other members ended up sliding pages of the petition under the door, literally.
Unseen hands tried to push the petition sheets back, but they were bested by the activists, who simply returned the favor, and then some.
Arpaio and his goons could be heard strategizing on how to deal with the CBA crowd behind a set of locked doors with mirrored windows.
Occasionally, an employee would exit an elevator and go in through those mirrored doors. Parraz or someone else would hold the door open and encourage the diffident deputies to come outside.
Hoping to soothe the savage sheriff and coax him from hiding, videographer Santiago James Chavez crooned Joe's favorite song, Frank Sinatra's My Way. The response? The sheriff played My Way over the intercom.
Nevertheless, Arpaio et al., remained out of sight.
Deputies and other employees passing through the hall refused to talk with the CBAers. The most aggro of all was self-loathing deputy chief Paul Chagolla, who jerked a door angrily behind himself during one encounter.
Chagolla always acts as if filled with rage. Hope the guy doesn't go postal one of these days.
Parraz & Co. had arrived around 10 a.m., but ended up waiting for around three hours in a standoff with the sheriff. For lunch, pizzas were ordered, and Parraz had a volunteer bring up folding chairs and a picnic table.
The CBAers feasted, then cleaned up after themselves, leaving two unopened bottles of Coke as a parting gift.
Parraz thanked volunteers for showing up, asserting that they had won the day before, and today as well.
"Sheriff Arpaio...is on the run," he insisted. "He has not had the upper hand here. The table[s have] turned on him...They had no idea how to handle this, so they chose not to."
To say the least, it was an odd event, with Arpaio essentially ceding control of part of the 19th Floor to his enemies.
No doubt, Arpaio and his top deputies were itching to arrest Parraz for a second time. (They did once in 2008, and ended up being sued for false arrest and imprisonment, a suit that's still active.) It must've killed them not to storm into that hall and start ordering people around.
On a related matter, MCSO spokesman Jeffrey Sprong today e-mailed me the following breakdown of the expenses for the Hawaii trip. Looks like a score for the deputy involved. I'm envious.
Reg pay $1161.94
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Per diem for May 18 to May 28 (entire trip): $1133.00
Air/Car rental $754.27