Sheriff Joe Arpaio's legal attempt to block attorneys from releasing information to New Times regarding the jailhouse beating of Jefferson Davis McGee has been shot down by a federal court judge.
Federal Judge David Duncan denied a request from Arpaio's attorneys that would have barred McGee's attorneys from further disclosing discovery material to the press.
You'll recall that McGee was brutally assaulted in a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office jail by fellow inmates after he was picked up as an investigative lead in the 2001 rape and murder of 8-year-old Elizabeth Byrd, a crime in which he was later found to have no involvement. Using court documents, discovery material and jailhouse witness interviews, New Times columnist Robert Nelson has written several times about evidence that suggests McGee may have been intentionally placed in harm's way so that fellow inmates could beat a murder confession out of him.
We were pleased to see that Duncan cited well-established federal case law that makes it clear that pretrial discovery information is generally public.
Indeed, former attorney general Grant Woods, in argument against the motion, said he found it "quite ironic" that Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff," would be attempting to curtail publicity.
"They basically have nothing," Woods said of Arpaio's motion.
The judge agreed.
We aren't sure how much the law firm of Jones, Skelton and Hochuli billed the county for what amounted to a frivolous motion. Attorneys for the plaintiff estimated, however, that it "probably cost taxpayers several thousand dollars for this silly thing."
Arizona Republic reporter Susan Carroll is only 25 years old, so she wasn't even alive in 1976, the year Arizona's most famous journalist, Don Bolles, was murdered in Arizona's most famous journalistic incident. (Bolles was blown to smithereens by a car bomb outside a central Phoenix hotel where he was supposed to meet a source regarding a dog-racing scandal.)
Still, you'd think any serious reporter would know the story by heart. Especially since the news biz's most prestigious professional organization, Investigative Reporters and Editors, with thousands of members nationwide, was born right here in Phoenix when the best investigative reporters in the country rallied to investigate the ugly circumstances that allowed the assassination to occur.
And wasn't Susan Carroll just named the state's Journalist of the Year, at the same banquet that another reporter won the coveted Don Bolles Investigative Reporting award?
So, big faux pas a couple weeks ago when she misspelled Mr. Bolles' name in a story about a police raid on the infamous hotel, now called Les Jardins.
Ouch. Where was the copy desk on that one? Or Chuck Kelly? (Oh, yeah, old Chuck has been exiled to the West Valley.)
If Cinco de Mayo is just a scam perpetrated by American alcohol companies, someone forgot to tell all the Mexicans in town. Because it seemed like just about all the compas in Phoenix were down at Patriots Square for the city's big celebration on Sunday, May 4. Sure, a few white and black folks were seen wandering the fenced-in fiesta that took up several blocks of Washington Street and the square itself. But mostly, la raza filled the place, partaking of all the food, beer, tequila and music.
Cool scene. Well, except for the constant freaking sales pitch. Since when did public festivals become such a marketing tool for big companies? If it wasn't some cell phone service shoving a flier in your face, it was some carnival barker trying to get you to spin a wheel to see if you won a tee shirt, bumper sticker or coffee mug -- all with the company's logo, of course.
Oh well. At least the food was good, and the music lively. There's nothing like a crowd of folks out for a good time, even if getting anywhere became difficult with all the baby strollers that made walking an adventure. No lie -- this crowd was young, and kids nearly outnumbered adults.
So imagine our surprise when we got to the west stage sponsored by radio station La Campesina -- the more "Mexican" area of the festival, as opposed to the more "Chicano" main stage -- and caught the stage act of comedian Jorge Chen.
Against a backdrop that included banners from one of the event's main sponsors, Food City, Chen hit the stage and began singing off-key to a recorded track. Dismayed that his awful crooning didn't bring him more applause, he teased the crowd about it, and then asked if anyone thought he was a fag.
"Who doesn't think I'm a fag?" said the effeminate entertainer, using the Spanish slang word maricón (which literally means "butterfly," but in this context is a slightly derogatory version of "homosexual"). The references produced peals of laughter that rolled through the crowd, whose size was difficult to estimate, but looked to be more than 1,000.
To the apparent chagrin of almost no one in the crowd, Chen then began a rap on homosexuality so blue that he managed to get in references to fellatio, curing himself of AIDS and coveting small boys.
New Times only noticed one woman in the crowd who seemed to think the comedian's act was, uh, out of place in a public fiesta attended mostly by families and small children.
"Qué grosero," she was overheard to mutter. But Chen only seemed to be warming up. He pointed out a man in the audience to ask him a question.
"No, not you, the guy behind you with his dick in your ass," Chen quipped.
Hardy har har.
New Times asked Alberto Rodriguez of Arvizu Advertising, the firm that owns and puts on the event, what his people were thinking when they booked the comedian.
"I don't know who he was. But I did hear something about the show from someone besides you," says Rodriguez.
After checking with his events department, Rodriguez acknowledged that even the Arvizu folks didn't realize what Chen's act was like. "The events people were surprised. They pride themselves on the family atmosphere of the event. By no means was that a reflection of the festival," Rodriguez says.
Well, that's reassuring.
A Beautiful Mind
Tucked between the message from the wife of the Nigerian prime minister who continues to need our help getting millions of dollars in gold out of the country and the regular sales pitch for generic Viagra was this mystifying missive from Arizona State University's public relations machine, subject line:
"Protein mimetics that cause relaxation of smooth muscle could lead to more successful coronary bypasses"
Apparently, the research arm of ASU has discovered something worth crowing about. Unfortunately, it's virtually impossible to tell what that is. The press release, written by people who are paid to translate scientific gobbledygook into English, reads more like part of the AIMS test.
"Severe spasm of blood vessels contributes to the failure of coronary bypass surgeries and to strokes following the rupture of an aneurysm in the brain. A complex signaling pathway controls relaxation in smooth muscle cells, but researchers at Arizona State University have discovered how to bypass it," the press release begins.
And we sort of get that. But it's downhill from there.
"The research team has created a mimetic of the last protein in the pathway, HSP20, which causes relaxation in the same way as the natural protein. This research, published today in the online version of The FASEB Journal, is a major step in the development of a drug that promotes blood vessel relaxation.
"The signaling pathway that causes relaxation in smooth muscle cells involves many different proteins, but the last step is the addition of a phosphate group, or phosphorylation, of the protein HSP20, which actually effects relaxation. Other groups have developed molecules, such as the active ingredient in Viagra, that affect earlier steps in this pathway. But if a problem occurs in later steps, these compounds are ineffective."
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And this quote aimed at explaining what all the above is about:
"You've got all those signaling pathways, but, boom, you can bypass them by putting in a mimetic of the protein that's the effector molecule,' said primary investigator Colleen Brophy, research professor of bioengineering at ASU, director of the Center for Protein and Peptide Pharmaceuticals in the Arizona Biodesign Institute."
We'll be taking two aspirin and calling them in the morning.
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