Letting a couple of cops off the hook after they beat the hell out of a Mexican national isn't enough for County Attorney Andy Thomas. And he's not content with declining to press charges against a white vigilante who drew down on Mexicans at a rest stop. Or with collaring kneepad-wearing reporters every couple of weeks to yammer some more about illegal immigrants (even though his office has nothing to do with immigration issues).
No, now our boy has gotten it into his Harvard-educated noodle that brown-skinned people (and some red-skinned folks, too) are getting white-glove treatment in the court system.
With hands on hips, he's declaring that he won't have it!
Our favorite Latino basher's threatening to sue the Superior Court in Maricopa County if it doesn't stop conducting drunken-driving courts designed especially for Spanish speakers -- because they're unconstitutional.
Aw, Andy! It's a revelation that you'd have time to sue anybody. Andy's increased the workload of the legal system here so much by refusing to take plea bargains that it'd be a wonder if anyone in his office had time for a bathroom break. He should keep his mind on prosecuting all those cases he's conjured up, instead of sticking his snout into matters that're none of his official business.
There are those who've been saying that this is still more proof that Andy's got it in for Mexicans (did Andy Thomas' mom have a maid who was mean to him when he was a little boy?), but The Bird thinks poor Andy just doesn't realize that these federally funded courts are, in fact, rehab programs for convicted DUI offenders.
That they're not courtrooms where sentences are doled out and where English is required as the language of record.
Can't say for sure, since New Times has been making a fool of ol' Andy over voting irregularities around here (see "Rocking the Boat," Rick Barrs, January 12, and "Ballot Boxing," John Dougherty, in this issue), and he wouldn't return this faux falcon's phone calls.
So let The Bird be the first to say to those who squawk that Andy's policies are racist: This feathered fiend disagrees; Andy's just riding the Mexican-blasting political tide around here along with Governor Janet Napolitano et al. Plus, how could Andy be a racist when he's married to a Latina?! She must be extremely proud of him.
In a letter to Superior Court Judge Barbara Rodriguez Mundell, Andy insisted that the DUI courts for both "Hispanics" (The Bird presumes Andy means "Spanish speakers") and Native Americans be disbanded. Thomas seems to think the courts violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which deals with equal treatment under the law.
He included a 31-page document authored by Washington attorney Michael Carvin stating that the courts also violate the First Amendment, because the public and media can't understand proceedings between a judge and a defendant if the communication is in Spanish.
What good news it is that Andy suddenly cares so much about the press' right to know! New Times has been pointing out that he's doing everything in his power to keep its reporter from finding out about frightening problems in the county Elections Department. Could this signal a change of heart?
Judge Mundell tells The Bird that she finds it hard to believe that the learned County Attorney wouldn't realize that the courts in question aren't courts of record where English is mandated. "In fact, the defendants in these programs get to choose whether they want the English or Spanish version of the program," Mundell affirms.
So, how is it a violation when Spanish-speaking drunks get to choose whether they're spoken to in English, or not? All Mundell could say is, "I don't know." She noted that, though she'd like to, she couldn't say more because Thomas is threatening litigation.
Also, here's a question from this extended middle finger: Andy, you seem to be so concerned that the public can't understand things in Spanish, right? Then how can you think defendants who don't speak English at all will know what the hell authorities are saying to them? Compadre, this just wouldn't work.
Not to worry. Any day now, Andy will be distracted by something shinier, and he'll forget all about race-based courts. Maybe for his next Latino-busting adventure he could try to shut down that nice new program set up by the Mesa Police Department to help Spanish-speakers better understand how that city's police, court and fire departments operate. After all, helping "Hispanics" feel safer in a community is discriminatory, right, Andy?
The Maricopa County Regional School District has a problem. A big one.
County Auditor Ross Tate tells The Bird that the district, with roughly a $14.3 million annual budget, seems to have a debt of $2.4 million -- and growing.
But no one knows for sure. And that's how the district's czar Sandra Dowling tried to keep it.
Dowling, who's now serving her fifth elected term as county schools superintendent, knows the district she's running has a problem. A few months ago, she contacted the county Board of Supervisors to ask for financial help.
But even though Dowling wanted the county's help, she didn't want to answer supervisors' questions. When the supes asked to see the district's financial records, supes spokesman Al Macias confirms, Dowling resisted.
Which surprised nobody. Dowling (how shall this feathered fiend put it?) isn't exactly known for her humble public service. Ex-employees have accused her of everything from muscling her way onto Oprah Winfrey's show to flashing her privates, à la Basic Instinct (see "Board Games," Amy Silverman, August 28, 1997). She's even been known to boast that, as one of a few elected countywide officials, she's the "Governor of Maricopa County."
Fact is, Dowling's the sole member of the school district's board, which supervises "special populations" of students at a dozen schools -- including kids in detention, from rural pockets of the county and from homeless families.
While most county departments answer to the supes and are subject to regular audits, Dowling's isn't. Technically, she can tell the supes to go to hell.
Be that as it may, after determining that they might indeed be liable for the district's debts, the supes agreed to try to help Dowling with her gaping budget hole. They again told her they'd have to see the books.
"If we're going to help out," Macias says the supes told her, "we need to see where the problem is."
But Tate says his staff ran into plenty of problems. Dowling wouldn't make her people available for auditors' questions, and Tate says Dowling provided some big-picture documents, "but we [couldn't] access any invoices, payments, or backup documents for the transactions."
The supes issued a subpoena. But when sheriff's deputies arrived to serve Dowling, The Bird hears that the county's Sharon Stone hid under a pile of coats. Dowling's avoided this tweeter's calls for confirmation, natch.
Perhaps realizing that there's no worse pose for a governor than cowering, Dowling's reportedly had a change of heart. The county school district issued a statement that the review of the books the supes were seeking is finally under way.
All in the Family
You've seen Paul Moncrief plenty of times, though you probably don't know it. As a "professional extra," the local photographer and indie filmmaker's been taking up space on your boob tube for years as a background character in countless episodes of hit television shows.
The Bird's peeped Moncrief as a medical tech on multiple episodes of ER; a bus passenger on Frasier; a townsperson on Gilmore Girls; and one of Martin Sheen's presidential staffers on The West Wing.
But Moncrief's newest role -- as a deadbeat dad currently jailed at Tent City -- isn't one you'd catch during the family hour.
For once, the cops weren't attending First Friday in search of municipal code violations (like they were during last August's Roosevelt Row crackdown). They were there because Moncrief's ex-wife Melissa Petrova had reported him for owing more than $11,000 in back child support, and ended up hauling him off from Route 23, the Roosevelt Row art gallery where Moncrief shows off the work of such artists as photographer Tamara Kent and painter Diane Alber.
The drama behind the collaring at December's First Friday was worthy of a sweeps-week episode of Judging Amy (in which Moncrief has appeared). His 16-year-old daughter had shown up at Route 123 earlier that evening after running away from the Chandler home she shares with Petrova and her new husband. Paul advised his daughter to return home, but says his ex had already called in the law and likely leaked the fact that he owed her a big bucket of money. (Don't know for sure, since Petrova apparently thinks it's crazy to talk to bird brains; she wouldn't return this one's calls.)
Her ex-hubby was more willing to talk.
"It was pretty embarrassing getting caught on First Friday," Moncrief squawked to The Bird. He also confided that, while he was able to resist telling cops he's played a law officer on The District and an FBI agent on The X-Files, he did take the opportunity to talk with them about a pitch for a short film he wants to make called Routine Stop. Really!
For the past six weeks or so, Moncrief's been enjoying green bologna in Tent City, where he'll remain until he can pay for the honor of having a teenage daughter. Meantime, he's allowed out on work furlough, and has been laboring as a lighting tech at Alice Cooper's Cooper'stown.
"What I've gotta do," Moncrief says, "is find me a family attorney who needs some photo work done and make some kind of trade to help me straighten this deal out."
The Bird's got a suggestion: Maybe it'll help, Paul, if you mention that you played a delivery man once on the chick-TV law drama Ally McBeal.
The Bird really enjoyed watching our Phoenix Suns humiliate the Miami Heat recently for more than just the obvious reason.
Before the game, it had witnessed the Heat's Shaquille O'Neal in a mutual ass-licking session with Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
See, somehow Joke (and this extended third finger's got to give the gooney geezer credit for another genius photo-op) managed to talk Shaq (who of course wants to be a cop when he grows up) into touring Tent City, after which Joke made him not only a member of his posse, but a "Captain" in the goofball band of misfits, best known for having sex with prostitutes they were attempting to bust in a big, media-choreographed sting a couple of years ago.
When Arpaio bestowed the honor on the 7-foot-1, 350-pound center, Shaq raised an eyebrow and grinned way down at Arpaio as if Joke were even crazier than he actually is: "A captain!"
Of course Joke got Shaq to do all the usual stunts: hold up the pink underwear, say that Arpaio's, indeed, the "toughest sheriff in America," promise never to run for sheriff here. Talk about hack-a-Shaq!
Later, the high-flying Suns beat the big man's wide ass! The game was a laugher in which the locals scored 47 points in the first quarter, won the game 111 to 93, and held Shaq to eight points. His silly shilling for the sheriff must've worn O'Neal out.