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Letters From the Issue of Thursday, October 25, 2007

PUSH MEETS SHOVE

Kick Joe, Andy, and Dennis to the curb: After reading the article on the grand jury subpoenas and watching the press conference announcing that the charges against Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were dropped, I felt something must be done — and done now — to stop the continued political advancement that Andrew Thomas is obviously trying to achieve and protect ("Who's Sorry Now?," Stephen Lemons, this issue; also see "Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution," Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, October 18).

Thomas needs to be removed from office, Joe Arpaio needs to be removed as sheriff, and Dennis Wilenchik needs to be disbarred.

Would it be possible for New Times to enlighten its readers on the process for each of the above? And what we can do as residents of Maricopa County to speak our voice in removing all three from working for our county ever again?
Penny Heitzman, Phoenix

Editor’s note: New Times will be publishing future articles regarding Thomas, Arpaio, and Wilenchik on issues related to the Maricopa County government's harassment campaign against this newspaper, its writers, and its readers. Stay tuned.

Even his peers think Joe blows: The actions of Sheriff Arpaio remain unbelievable to most of us in law enforcement, and not just including these recent arrests [of New Times chief executives Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin].

I am an assistant chief who works directly for Sheriff Clarence Dupnik in Tucson. I cannot believe what has been done to your publishers (and let me assure you that we don't always like what the media say about us, but this is truly outrageous).

On behalf of all sane law enforcement officials, please send our apology and best regards to the two gentlemen involved.
Brad Gagnepain, Bureau Chief, Pima County Sheriff's Department

Goebbels acolytes: Candy Thomas and Nickel Bag Joe are modern-day Nazis. This is exactly how Goebbels got started — demonizing a certain people until the nation bought into it. You know the rest of the story. It is 1933 all over again. Candy Thomas is pouring your Kool-Aid; Nickel Bag is handing you the cup.
Hank Hill, via the Internet

Candid Andy? Hardly: Wow! One thing I don't understand . . . Thomas states there was no likelihood of prosecution. Why were Lacey and Larkin arrested in the first place? Surely, Dennis Wilenchik must have known there was no likelihood of prosecution.

Also, Wilenchik released details about the grand jury subpoena to the Arizona Republic [in an October 21 front-page story]. Why is it that Thomas could not be candid, citing that everything was a grand jury secret, but Wilenchik can give statements to the Republic?

Bottom line: Thomas, Wilenchik, and Arpaio got caught with their pants down. [It's like Thomas was saying], Wilenchik, you're a great buddy, but it's better you than me. Thomas is an attorney and politician; it would be foolish to believe he is a protector of my rights after what his office just did.

Thank you, New Times and the other media outlets for protecting my constitutional right to author a letter like this and not worry that an oppressive government is going to come after me.
John Lewis, via the Internet

Here’s hoping, Mae: New Times, it's time to throw a serious counterpunch! This fiasco on the part of the county attorney and the sheriff needs to be brought to its rightful conclusion: a resignation by the two main clowns.

If they do not resign, then a lawsuit needs to be filed against them. Enough of this gross abuse of authority!
Mae Lazit, via the Internet

Sense of responsibility for justice: I wanted to thank you for your courage in exposing the right-wing extremists who are threatening our individual freedoms. I just saw today's daily paper and it looks like what [Lacey and Larkin] did really paid off. Please know that there are many of us in our community who are behind you and are also working to get rid of Arpaio, Thomas, and other dangerous idiots like them.

My husband and I are very active in grassroots politics. I guess that Catholic sense of responsibility for justice that was instilled in us really did take. Thank you again for taking such a great personal risk on behalf of all of us.
Kathleen Yardley, via the Internet

Black eyes for Joe and Andy: I watched with great pleasure the press conference by County Attorney Andrew Thomas as he announced — looking much like a deer in the headlights — the dismissal of prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik and all charges against New Times.

I cannot express enough my happiness that this case received the immediate national attention it so deserved, to say nothing of the chuckles ensuing after the black eyes were doled out to both Thomas and Sheriff Joke.

 

The First Amendment is not to be trifled with, and it is my sincerest hope that New Times writers will continue to document public corruption in earnest given this recent vindication (jail time notwithstanding).
Adam Van Hook-Drucker, Phoenix

Keep this in mind when you vote: Our Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. From recent press reports, we must ask: Does the Maricopa County Attorney feel he is above the constitutions of the United States and the state of Arizona?

Intimidating the press and seeking information about subscribers is crossing the line. New Times' founders knew and understood that an unshackled fourth estate is one means by which our freedoms are preserved. The press often exposes corruption and self-serving individuals seeking power over the people.

As captain of his ship, Andrew Thomas is responsible for this [intimidation].

It appears that a siege mentality, coupled with finding a sacrificial lamb, brought termination of his assistant with the public announcement: "It has become clear to me the investigation has gone in a direction I would not have authorized." As a political individual, he should have known that investigating the press, even to help a friend [Joe Arpaio], is like carrying a lighted candle in the same hand with a fuse to a stick of dynamite.

A complaint has been filed against Thomas with the Arizona Bar Association. Does Thomas know the purpose of government? To protect, yes, but there is a much higher calling. The Arizona Constitution states: "All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights."

Is Andrew Thomas following the Constitution to protect and maintain individual rights? As citizens, we should keep that question in mind and then send our response as we drop our ballots in boxes in the next general election.
Kenneth J. Bond, Mesa

Something to hide? Hell, yes: You bet the Sheriff's Department and Andrew Thomas' office want to sweep this under the rug as fast as possible. Quick, blame somebody other than Joe Arpaio.

Remember, this whole thing started as an attempt by Arpaio to cover up his land dealings. I searched and easily found his real estate disclosures and addresses on the Internet. These documents state that, in 2003 to 2004, he had zero debts and had received no gifts. His personal holdings include three commercial properties near the corner of Shea Boulevard and Scottsdale Road — 10,000 square feet of office space, plus another 6,000 square feet in Fountain Hills.

I used Google Maps to get the real view of his Fountain Hills home. It's huge, in a very exclusive neighborhood, on the top of a ridge overlooking Fountain Lake to the front, and open to reservation land via a huge backyard. Probably a 5,000- to 6,000-square-foot, one-story house. If you add up the value of all this — home plus commercial property — you can easily get past a few million bucks. He was not required to list any additional residential or vacation homes.

His commercial office in Fountain Hills was purchased in 2003. His house looks new, with many vacant lots nearby. Paid with cash! He makes about $78,000 a year. Do the math, folks. Lots of people have been investigated by the IRS on less info than this.

Joe and his wife, Ava, do business under the names Starworld Travel and Ava Investment. So who knows anything about those companies? Since the Internet, travel agencies have been losing money, yet this one stays afloat and pays them money.

Guess what, folks, [the companies] have no Web site. Starworld doesn't show up very much on the Internet. Starworld does show up as one of about 60 sponsors of the Grand Canyon State Games (www.gcsg.org). Starworld looks like the only sponsor of about 60 that does not even have a logo. Is this a real business?

Does Arpaio have something to hide?
Name withheld by request

Puzzling relationships at work: I'm interested in the dynamics of the relationships among Andrew Thomas, Larry Turoff, and his wife, [political operative] Carol Turoff, and Dennis Wilenchik. I am very intrigued by the idea that Carol would call the judge to request a private meeting between the judge and Wilenchik just because . . .

Wilenchik alleges that he was not wanting to meet about the New Times case, just about the relationship between the County Attorney's Office and the courts, in general. I would think such a request would have been initiated by Denny himself if it's so benign. Did Carol suddenly read his mind and then put her own twist on it? Very puzzling!

 

Who owns the vending machines and the telephones at the county jails, and how much money is made by the county and by the owners from the revenues of said vending machines and telephones? There has been a ridiculous rumor going around that the Arpaio family profits from them, and since he's such a stand-up guy, I can't possibly believe it to be true. It would just seem so directly in conflict with the best interest of his arrests and incarceration record if he could be deemed to profit from having people locked up.

Please consider these suggestions for future articles.
Liz Fournier, via the Internet

Guts and dedication: Thank you for doing what's right, and printing true stories as they unfold. It takes guts and dedication to keep the public informed. What the Sheriff's Office did — arresting Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin — was criminal. Arpaio's tactics are Hitler-like.

He tries to keep people afraid of speaking up and telling the truth. He no doubt abuses his authority. I know in time he will be a member of his own Tent City. Please don't let this bully intimidate your staff.

We are Americans, and have the right to print and speak of any issue that concerns us and of any elected official. Keep up the good work.
James Jacobs, Cave Creek

Write on, right on: When I heard for the first time that the Sheriff's Office had not only attacked your newspaper (our "fourth estate" is supposed to be protected by the Constitution) but also that government was in the process of investigating readers, I was appalled.

So I went online to read the article, even though this action might very well have put me in line to be charged and arrested. Well, I didn't participate in the sit-ins or marches of the '60s and '70s, but I did read Thoreau. And my mother raised me to believe that no one has the right to censor what we read — at least not in this country. Write on.
Karen Baker, Phoenix

Hearing your calls for help: I have heard many Arizona natives say they are willing to give up some of their freedoms to protect the flag — the true symbol of America.

Thank you, New Times staff, for holding the true ideals in your heart and fighting for these rights. Facing a grand jury is scary, but you faced it.

There was a poster at a meeting hall I used to frequent that said: "When they came for the shop owner, I looked the other way. When they came for my neighbor, I did not listen to him calling me. Now they come for me, and who will help me?"

New Times, thank you for hearing my call for help.
Richard Chantala, Mesa

Porn, perfume, and us? We’re honored: I'll spare Joe and Andy the trouble of subpoenaing my Internet-viewing habits. I look at porn, perfume reviews, and New Times. There, nothing diabolical about that. Just tell me where the protest is for this blatant injustice, and I'll be there with bells on.
Kelly Battese, Phoenix

We will, Jon: I just want to congratulate you on your stance against this government intrusion. As a loyal reader since 1976, I had come to expect you to take a strong stand. Keep up the good fight.
Jon Bennett, Tempe

Time will tell: What a political liability the obviously stupid-as-shit Dennis Wilenchik turned out to be for the County Attorney! Trying to influence a judge behind the scenes. What an idiot!

I can't believe anybody would hire this fool to represent them after this. Hopefully, he will be forced to stop practicing law. There's no justice if this clown continues to keep a law license.

Guys like Wilenchik make me glad that I moved to a civilized state where the rule of law must be followed, or else.
Ted Johnson, Los Angeles

Andy doth protest too much?: Andrew Thomas needs to be put on a bus to Mexico along with Dennis Wilenchik, Barnett Lotstein and Joe Arpaio. Nothing but Nazi pigs they all are.

Once again, Thomas and Joke Arpaio have shown their true colors. The only reason Thomas backed off New Times was that he was headed down a street of no return public opinion-wise. Otherwise, you can bet he would have taken this the full limit.

Don't think this clown didn't know for a minute what was going on through the entire ordeal. Both Thomas and Bozo Joke need to go.
Jim Cozzolino, Phoenix

 

Get on the bus: Congratulations to Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey for their victory over a corrupt sheriff and his County Attorney pal! The insular and extensive corruption of the Phoenix establishment has suffered a blow from which it won't soon recover.

Let's hope it emboldens reporters at other local publications who have lain back and watched for too long.
Joe Shea, Editor-in-Chief, American Reporter

Reputable. Who knew?: This is great! Finally somebody realized they were walking on the Constitution. Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey are to be commended for standing up to these bullies!

Also, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office should be investigated for denying New Times its right to see public documents. However much some people may hate New Times, it is a reputable newspaper and should be given the same consideration as every other news outlet. Thank God the Constitution won the day!
Name withheld by request

Fight the power: I would just like to tell you to keep up the fight against Joe Arpaio. I'm 46, grew up in Phoenix, and I am really tired of the way he intimidates anyone who opposes him.
Steve Moser, Prescott Valley

Joe wants attention? No problem: I have been an online subscriber for many years, but I really haven't paid much attention to your magazine for the last couple of years. However, after this latest display of Sheriff Joe's overly inflated sense of self-importance, I will definitely be a more loyal reader!

Sheriff Joe, you have obviously been in office too long and the power that you think you have has gone to your head. I pray that your career does not survive the next ballot count. You are out of control and need to retire.

Unfortunately, I don't think that you could handle the lack of global attention that you seem to crave so much. Michael Lacey, Jim Larkin, and staff, keep fighting the good fight. You have the support of the people behind you.
Rikki Hatara, via the Internet

Hilarious? On a good day: It is both hilarious and fascinating how a third-rate, lunatic windbag fraud like Joe Arpaio draws obsessive lines in the sand when it comes to his maniacal pursuit of publicity.

He's guilty of any number of mad, gutless felonies himself — including false imprisonment — and yet this pathetic fascist con man dares to impinge on the rights of [New Times], simply for telling the truth.

Then, again, it's about what one would expect. Joe belongs in prison, forever.
Jim Thompson, via the Internet


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