Letters from the issue of Thursday, July 3, 2008
RAY OF HOPE
Who else can they victimize?: New Times' coverage of this latest public-records outrage by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his goons is full-of-irony great! As is the bravery of "140-pound" pit bull reporter Ray Stern. Sarah Fenske's column got it right about Nazi-thug deputies who think they can do anything they please as troopers in Joe's Gestapo ("Please Tell Me We're on Candid Camera," June 19; see also various Valley Fever blog posts, including "Arpaio's thugs threaten to arrest a New Times reporter for looking at public records," Ray Stern, June 11).
All that the deputies were there to do was find out who sent e-mails in support of Mayor Phil Gordon and who's been especially critical of the sheriff because of his pogroms against anybody with brown skin in this county. They already know Gordon — along with a growing number of other big politicians (even the usually cowardly governor) — disapproves of them, so they are asking: Who else can we victimize?!
Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Prominent citizens and others will then be added to Joe's "Enemies List" (Sarah Fenske, November 29). Joe Inc. — which includes his lackey [County Attorney] Andrew Thomas, and Thomas' discredited special prosecutor, Dennis Wilenchik [also one of Arpaio's taxpayer-paid-for private attorneys] — already tried this with New Times' readers. They wanted to snag New Times' Internet files so they could run smear campaigns on anybody notable who was tuning in to the newspaper's critical coverage of these scumbags.
Now they're looking for victims by dogging the mayor's and city manager's e-mails.
Joe (or, more likely, Chief Deputy David Hendershott, who tells the senile geezer what to do and think, Dick Cheney-style, nowadays), you're not fooling anybody in this county who has any sense. Unfortunately — and you're counting on this to win re-election — there aren't that many voters out there with a lick of brains. Just look at the inbred, nitwit nativists who are driving the anti-immigrant movement!
Paul Sheffield, Phoenix
Add C.J. to the list: This [MCSO records search against Mayor Gordon] has nothing to do with immigration and everything to do with Arpaio's feeling backed into a corner and lashing out with a fishing expedition. He can't say what he's looking for because he doesn't know himself.
Meanwhile, the MCSO has become a bad joke that attracts nothing but the lunatic fringe of law enforcement. No officer with an active respect of the U.S. Constitution would go along with stopping vehicles on false pretenses in the hopes of finding illegal aliens (or anything else, for that matter).
How do I know they employ such tactics? In December, I was driving in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood in central Mesa when I was pulled over by two MCSO vehicles. The officer's smirk went away as I rolled down the window and he saw that I was a white man. When he asked for my license, registration, and insurance, I lied and said I had none of it. The officer told me I was free to go. As he was returning to his vehicle, I called to him, "Hey, why did you pull me over?" He paused for a couple of seconds before calling back, "Your license plate illumination looked dim."
We need to do something about this lunacy. Real criminals and victimizers are free to roam Maricopa County, while Arpaio uses taxpayer money to seal his next election victory. There is a constituency of insecure, racist, disillusioned white folk out there who will continue to vote for him as long as he continues to deliver brown people to the border.
Now that his moral and ethical corruption is finally getting the exposure it deserves, the moderates will be more motivated than ever to vote him out. Arpaio must surely be wondering if even his hardcore reactionary base of voters will be enough to keep him in power much longer.
He's getting desperate. My guess is things are going to get even weirder very soon.
C.J. Green, Mesa
Standing up to the fascist regime? If the Sheriff's Office is so understaffed that it can't open satellite jails and has to shut down most of the visitation hours because of a lack of staff, then why are deputies scanning useless documents at Phoenix City Hall that really could be just for gaining the e-mail addresses of citizens who have sent less-than-favorable opinions of the MCSO to the mayor's office?
It's not as though, a few months ago, [the sheriff's and county attorney's forces] didn't try to do the same with New Times readers.
New Times is awesome for standing up to this fascist regime and for reporting on things that local media refuse to cover in fear of reprisal from the MCSO. The Arizona Republic is catching on, but I don't think the paper's whole heart is in it — otherwise, it wouldn't bury some stories about the negative things the MCSO does.
David Saint, Phoenix
Is this really you, Joe?: Ray Stern is an uppity, annoying dweeb who should learn some manners.
My deputies stopped him from rummaging through the documents to be scanned because it would disrupt the process.
As stated, he was welcome to look at any documents that my deputies had already processed and returned.
If he hadn't yelled and screamed at my attorney, there would have been no disorderly conduct charges ("Disorderly conduct charge reappears against Ray Stern," Feathered Bastard blog, November 27).
If Ray Stern would learn some manners and self-control, he would be much more effective.
Joe Arpaio, Fountain Hills
Honduras won't be going away: Ray Stern just got in the way of Joe Arpaio's latest waste of taxpayer money. More and more people, even the sheriff's base in Sun City, are getting fed up with this waste — especially in tough economic times.
Next time, many of us hope and pray the Phoenix police "arrest" crybaby [MCSO Captain] Jim Miller or any of the other little scums Arpaio sends out to do his dirty work.
You know, Miller's one of the ones who's been vacationing in Honduras ("The Bird digs up more dirt on Arpaio's henchmen soaking up the sun in Honduras," Stephen Lemons, February 28). Jimbo, you haven't heard the last of that.
Meanwhile, Miller showed the world what a hotheaded "dweeb" he is. Ha, he looked like he was gonna stroke out in the picture [that ran with New Times' coverage]. The whole county is laughing at him over that boo-hoo report on the incident that he wrote ("Maricopa County Sheriff's Office captain: 'My staff and I were humiliated,'" Valley Fever blog, June 13).
Joe, isn't this guy Miller a big liability to you? Just saying . . .
Jim Bob Modesto, Phoenix
Soft-boiled brains: There should be a journalism award that's up there with the Pulitzer Prize. It should be called the "Brass Balls Award" for standing up to corruption, and Ray Stern should win it.
Here's a guy who's already up on a completely undeserved disorderly conduct charge because one of the MCSO's private attorneys is a vindictive little bitch (she learned that from little bitches like Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas). This so-called officer of the court, Michele Iafrate, refused to allow Stern to perform his legal right to photograph public records, and when he rightfully complained, she sicced the sheriff's Selective Enforcement Unit dogs on him.
Next thing you know, he marches right into the city of Phoenix records department and demands to see exactly the same records as Joe Arpaio's goons are reviewing in the sheriff's attempt to smear Phil Gordon!
Man, you could tell from the coverage that these hard-boiled bullies just blew their stacks! It was a thrill to read about this!
Theo Martin, Phoenix
What might've happened?: Regarding the article "Please Tell Me We're On Candid Camera," in which you state, "Sheriff's Captain Jim Miller . . . picked up a couple of random folders sitting on the records counter and waved them in [reporter Ray Stern's] face. 'Take these papers from my hand!' he snarled. 'Take these papers from my hand!'": I wonder what would've happened had Mr. Stern taken the folders while stating: "Certainly, sir, I always follow the lawful orders of a police officer."
Lee Rosenstein, Scottsdale
Call their bluff: Nice job, Ray Stern. I don't usually support being arrested, but I can't help but think, if I were there, I might've gone for it.
The MCSO needed to have its bluff called. And your description is correct: They are "thugs" — Nazi thugs. It's almost a situation where MCSO deputies don't even bother with real criminals anymore. They're just intent on ethnic cleansing.
Dennis Gilman, Scottsdale
Not hard to understand why? Can anyone not understand why Sheriff Joe and the County Attorney Andrew Thomas need to be recalled?
Call 623-206-2039 and say you will help with the recall of these two . . . I'm not sure what to call these two people, who say that they are not accountable to anyone.
William Crum, Phoenix
Stupid Joke: Wow! Guess old age is kicking in for Joke. First it was us here in Guadalupe, and now it's Ray's turn [to get harassed]. What the hell's wrong with so-called badass Joe? Good luck to Ray.
William Robles, Guadalupe
Bring him down hard: I'm confused because all cops are heroes (country music, award shows, and politicians tell me so).
After reading about Joe Arpaio's suppression of truth and not allowing [Ray Stern] to read public records that anyone should be allowed to read, I hope you bring this bastard down — and down hard.
I hate bullies and I hate people who suppress truth. This guy is both and deserves to be brought to justice for it. Good justice, that is — the kind that is righteous.
Boyd Durkin, via the Internet
Bully for us: Good work standing up to bullies.
Eric Bourland, via the Internet
Look in the mirror for the problem: The public's to blame for police excesses. We've always given cops the benefit of the doubt, allowed them to exceed their legal mandate without repercussions, and remained silent when they abused the authority of their badges.
Put a dirty cop in jail? You know how hard that is, even when guilt is obvious and evidence is not lacking. Don't blame [the MCSO]. Look in a mirror.
Rick Cain, via the Internet
Proud of what, Rose?: If no one likes Joe's tactics, then, I wonder, why he keeps getting re-elected year after year? You should be proud of him.
Rose Young-Stewart, via the Internet
Shining a light on abuse: Mr. Stern, you did a great public service to show the extent the MCSO will go to intimidate people. How many chances do they get to abuse power? After 16 years in office, one must get jaded and no longer see himself [clearly] — which goes for those who support these tactics. Abuse of power must go. Keep shining the light on all this!
The taxpayers lose — again: More of the same from the sheriff and his goons. The investigation against Phil Gordon will turn up nothing, and the taxpayers will be the big losers. Just like Arpaio's investigation of Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard ("King of Pain," The Bird, April 26, 2007).
At least Arpaio didn't storm in with a search warrant and take computers, which is what he's done to others — the public be damned ("Enemies List," Sarah Fenske, November 27).
Joe gets to peek at other people's personal information in the name of law enforcement? This man is frightening. He will stop at nothing to get to his enemies — which wouldn't be so scary except that he has a badge and gun.
His tactics are reminiscent of Joe McCarthy and, later, Dick Nixon — or worse. He doesn't just pursue his enemies, he fabricates information, destroys records, and lies.
I fear that he's lost his mind and that Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott is running the joint. He's meaner than Joe and has nothing to lose.
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