Carolyn T. Lowery has been an outspoken and refreshingly honest crusader for the black community in South Phoenix for decades. Her unabashed, tell-it-like-it-is persona is probably why she hasn't won any of the various political campaigns she's run in since the 1980s, including a few races for the Arizona state senate. She's too honest to be a politician.

But, she's at it again — this time running for the District 8 seat on the Phoenix City Council until she was knocked out in the August primary. While she racks up unsuccessful bids for public office, Lowery is raising awareness about the social and economic inequities her community struggles with daily. Her fight involved founding, in 1985, the Arizona Black United Fund, an organization that raises money through payroll deductions (much like United Way) to support much-needed social programs in her community. She operates several initiatives on a shoestring budget: Kids Place International, a summer program that provides 9- to 16-year-olds a safe place to learn and play; Sisters Who Care, a support group for women; and Moms to Moms, a program designed to help troubled children whose mothers are serving time behind bars.

Peacenik Sheila Ryan is an inspiration to all lefty activists in the Valley. A valiant member of the anti-war group Women in Black, she's a nearly ubiquitous presence on the front lines here in Phoenix, fighting for justice. Whether it's a demonstration in support of whistleblower Bradley Manning, the Occupy Movement, or a march against Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Ryan's sure to be there wearing a smile, carrying a sign, and flashing the peace sign.

Recently, she and two others were arrested at the Capitol, peacefully protesting Governor Jan Brewer's policy of denying driver's licenses to DREAMers. Feisty, opinionated and beautiful, the ageless Ryan is one of the coolest Phoenicians we know. And whenever we weary in the fight for equality and civil rights, we think of her and keep on marchin'.

Best Bad News Bears-Style Soccer Coach

Sal Reza

Phoenix human rights champion Sal Reza is known for leading massive marches against Arizona's racist Senate Bill 1070 and against bigot-boy Sheriff Joe Arpaio, but did you know he's a badass soccer coach as well? Yep, even human rights champions have some free time, and in Reza's, he coaches the coed soccer team at Esperanza High School, a charter school catering to underprivileged Latino youth.

Outgunned by charter schools Esperanza's size with deep pockets, Reza scored sponsors for the team and coached the hell out of the teens, though he himself admits that he knew little about soccer before becoming coach. Well, whatever he did worked. Esperanza went to the playoffs two years in a row. Last year, the team came in second place. And this year, it won the state championship in its division. After one early defeat, Reza told his team, "You can either soar like eagles or crawl like a snake." His streetwise players chose the former, and soar they did.

Civil rights activist Lydia Guzman's tireless efforts on behalf of undocumented families, her liaisons with the media, and her dogged pursuit of evidence of racial profiling by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office have made Maricopa County and Arizona a better place and helped bring about the ACLU's win in Melendres v. Arpaio. In the Melendres decision, federal Judge G. Murray Snow found that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the MCSO were guilty of prejudiced policing toward Latinos and ordered them to stop. True, many lawyers, activists, and others helped bring about the victory in Melendres, but perhaps none so steadfast and indefatigable as Guzman, for whom the Melendres decision was a personal triumph as well as one for the entire Latino community.

"We do not racial profile," the MCSO's upper echelon has claimed over and over again, while winking at its nativist supporters. In court, the MCSO's lawyers claimed there was no proof of racial profiling. The plaintiffs? They weren't profiled or discriminated against. The ton of stats showing that they do target Latinos for stops and hold them for longer? Flawed, the legal beagles claimed. The racist MCSO e-mails with offensive ethnic humor and derogatory pics of drunken Latinos? Oh, just the guys horsing around. The destruction of evidence? A mistake. It could happen to anyone.

U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow wasn't buying. In a detailed 142-page ruling, he found that the plaintiffs had proved their case: The MCSO had adopted a policy and practice of biased policing toward Latinos. He ordered it to stop. And seemingly overnight, Arpaio's office began to comply. Arpaio is appealing, saying he wants to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court. But these are findings of fact, not legal arguments. They are likely to stand, and in the meantime, the MCSO has to do what the judge says. We can't always count on the courts to do the right thing by the people, but in this case, Snow did, restoring our faith in the process and in American jurisprudence. The case is a major one when it comes to race and law enforcement, one that even Arpaio's attorneys concede will be cited by other courts in years to come.

Who can forget Guadalupe Mayor Rebecca Jimenez's 2008 showdown with a sputtering, enraged Sheriff Joe Arpaio? Though the square-mile town of Guadalupe is inhabited almost exclusively by American citizens of Mexican and Yaqui descent, Arpaio and his racial-profiling boys in beige went on the hunt for "illegals" and ended up harassing ordinary people who happen to have brown skin. Arpaio did this under false pretenses, so Jimenez informed Arpaio he needed to go. He nearly burst a blood vessel, promising to be back the next day, "full force," but he retreated to a staging area outside of town. A victory, yes? Sadly, the narrow-minded political elite in that burg were mad that Jimenez had ticked off Arpaio. Jimenez lost her job in the aftermath and eventually withdrew from public life to have another kid. This year, Jimenez ran against pro-Arpaio mayor Yolanda Solarez and won after a hard-fought, door-to-door campaign. She's one of the good people in public life, which is why we're proud to say, "Welcome back, Mayor."

Polished yet approachable. Experienced and savvy. The kind of guy who could bust some bad guys, then stop by Durant's for a martini on the way home from work. That's U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales, who is so good at what he does, he was re-appointed to the post by President Barack Obama, even though he's a Republican and originally was appointed by President George W. Bush.

He runs a tight ship with a crack team of deputy U.S. Marshals who protect judges and the courthouses, transport dangerous prisoners, and hunt down fugitives from justice. Formerly the head of the Arizona Department of Public Safety's Criminal Investigations Division, he has the résumé needed to take over that bloated, corrupt behemoth of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and transform it into a modern, professional law enforcement agency. Will he ever get the chance? Well, Sheriff Joe Arpaio can't live forever. At least we hope he can't. And there's always the 2016 election.

We defended him in 2011 after he got his his first DUI, but Mark Grace, star first-baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks when they won the 2001 World Series against the New York Yankees, got a second DUI last August in Scottsdale, the scene of his original bust 15 months earlier. When he was popped again, he was accused of driving on a suspended license and without the required interlock device from his first conviction. Grace was publicly sorry after the first run-in with the law (he professed then to be scared straight by the event), and we believed him. But it turned out he merely was sorry for getting caught. He's again expressed regret over disappointing his family, friends, and fans with the second. But, Mark, what were you thinking? We're not sure how much money you've got in the bank, but it's got to be many millions after a lucrative baseball career with the Chicago Cubs and the D-backs, followed by years of working as a TV color analyst. Grace's last two-year contract with Arizona was worth $6 million. Dude, take a taxi or even hire a limo to cart your drunk ass home from your bar of choice. Duh! Not that drunk driving should be tolerated, but it's understandable, at least, when poor schmucks drive home inebriated from their neighborhood drinking establishments. But when a rich, famous dude gets caught doing it twice, well, that's just pathetic.

Despite the second lapse, Mark hasn't fallen from, um, grace with his employer completely. The career .303 hitter's not making the big bucks in the broadcast booth anymore, but he's laboring as a minor-league hitting instructor for the Snakes after his four-month stay in Tent City, reduced from a possible year. He's lucky to have such an understanding boss! We hope he's getting some substance-abuse therapy, and if not, that he wises up next time he decides to have a few outside the confines of home.

When jet-set multimillionaire Michael Marin fell on hard times in 2009, the former Wall Street trader and lawyer decided to torch his Biltmore Estates mansion when a huge balloon payment came due. Marin made his famous escape from the house in scuba gear, as he rappelled down a rope ladder. Fast-forward to June 2012, and Marin was found guilty of arson of an occupied structure (since he torched the home with himself inside), a crime that carries a penalty on par with second-degree murder. Shortly after the verdict was read, Marin appeared to cover his mouth as he appeared shocked. Moments later, he was on the ground, convulsing, and eventually fell unconscious before being declared dead at a local hospital. Turns out when he put his hand to his mouth, he popped in a cyanide pill — which he'd bought on the Internet — and killed himself right there in the courtroom.

Marshall Shore is Arizona's self-proclaimed hip historian, and we wholeheartedly agree, as this smart, stylish guy more than lives up to the title. With informative tours — like his ghostly trips, Winnie Ruth Judd excursions that lead attendees through the story of her infamous trunk murders, and Retro Spectacular presentations on such aspects of Phoenix history as the Valley's notable neon signage and Midcentury Modern architecture — he's a bubbly wealth of information. When Shore isn't guiding newbs through the annals of Copper State trivia, you can find him behind the counter at The Clarendon Hotel serving as a liaison to the city's must-see destinations. Swing by the front desk for his recommendations; he'll be the hip one in teal glasses and colorful vintage duds.

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