Why Fife's Defendantsy
If the conviction bug bites Governor J. Fife Symington III, deliberations over his sentence should take the following statements into consideration. The Fifester included them in a letter he issued on July 10, 1992, in conjunction with his veto of Senate Bill 1490, legislation that would have reformed the criminal code:
Recently, I have heard in the debate over SB1490 that our criminal code as it stands is not "fair," meaning it is too hard on criminal defendants. But I do not think this sentiment could find much support with the public. The public seems to perceive, and I agree with them, that criminal defendants as a class are faring pretty well in the justice system--certainly much better than their victims. As most of the public is not even aware that about 70 percent of all convicted felons in Arizona are already on the street, through probation, parole, early release programs and so forth . . .
I am not prepared to adopt the re-habilitation theory of punishment as Arizona's purpose or justification for imposing criminal penalties. . . . Our purposes for punishment are retri-bution, which is to say justice; and deterrence.
Fife is surely happy he's being tried in federal court and would go to a federal prison. If it were the State versus the Fifester, he'd have to listen to his own bleating and discount all that innocent-until-proven-guilty tripe, and consider himself unrehabilitatible. Parole would be out of the question.
Emu Stew, Hirsute Suit
Once again, local news outlets showed their willingness to serve as Sheriff Joke Arpaio's public relations pawns. After nearly a whole month of suck-up-free coverage, Arpaio landed on news pages and broadcasts as a cost-cutting crusader.
The Crime Avenger swears his latest scheme is a serious crime-fighting tool and not just another bizarre publicity stunt, just like other brainy innovations such as doggy-cams and pink underwear and paying Lisa Allen to write press releases.
The bait this time: Sheriff Joke plans to grind up large, flightless birds into burger patties. Donated emus and ostriches will be slaughtered and fed to inmates. Mmmm. The Flash wants the neck!
The Sher didn't explain why he doesn't solicit donations of cattle, sheep, swine and poultry to cut costs. Of course, none of those animals is orthoducks enough for Joke's publicity machine.
And why is he going to so much trouble when the county already maintains a steady supply of cost-free meat at the various animal shelters around the Valley? Surely the inmates, already used to rancid food and mystery meat, wouldn't mind a little euthanized hot dog or kitty fritter in their daily Ladmo bags. Come to think of it, now the Joke's attempt to wrest control of the county's animal-control department makes a lot more sense.
Anyway, attorney Hyung Choi didn't appreciate that Joke's sweaty, cost-saving apparition was on all of the morning television shows last Thursday, so he sent The Flash news of yet another Sheriff's Office cost-savings move.
Earlier this year, Choi represented a Native American inmate serving 52 days of jail time for driving with a suspended license. The inmate, David Gonzalez, a member of the Chemehuevi clan of the Colorado River Tribe, refused to comply with Tent City regulations which required that he cut his hair.
Gonzalez argued that cutting his hair would violate his religious beliefs. Citing health concerns, however, the jail's regulations exempted only Sikh and Orthodox Jewish inmates from the haircut (not to mention women, whose long hair is not a health concern, for some reason).
Because he wouldn't submit to the haircut, Gonzalez was placed in a 23-hour-a-day lockup with restrictions on visitations and other privileges.
Choi threatened to sue on Gonzalez's behalf, citing his client's rights to religious freedom. Choi says he and Gonzalez were willing to drop the matter if the Sheriff's Office would simply rewrite its policy to include Native Americans along with the Sikhs and Jewish inmates eligible for the exemption.
The Sheriff's Office refused.
So Choi did file suit. The result: The Sheriff's Office eventually changed the regulation, but not before county taxpayers had to fork over $5,000 to Gonzalez as well as $5,000 to another Native American inmate Choi represented who also planned to file suit.
That's some cost-cutting.
Ostrich & Famous
In the wake of the ostrich stunt, one Arpaiophobe sent The Flash the following dispatch:
Ring that Tent City dinner bell, get the posse to set up the dinner tables, and call in the guys and gals from the chain gangs. . . . Get set for some of Sheriff Jo[k]e's world famous Maricopa County Cajun casserole. It's gonna leave you in stitches!
300 pounds of skinless, boneless ostrich*
Strap ostrich to chair, zap with stun gun, break and remove bones, skin, rinse, pat dry
200 large onions--finely chopped
(no crying, you big babies)
20 cloves of maced garlic
(whoops, we mean minced)
60 cups of sliced fresh mushrooms
(if fresh not available, so what?)
one 50-pound can of kidney beans (no need to drain off excess liquid)
50 pounds sliced green or pink sweet peppers
30 cups of cayenne pepper
(to kill the taste--not the inmates)
(no pun intended)
Place all of the above ingredients into the Madison Street pressure cooker and wait to see what happens next.
*You may substitute fresh ostrich with green bologna.
Dear mystery correspondent: You rock, dude. You should write for Regis, man.
Unidentified Flying Sources
After promoting flying-saucer nonsense for months following the March 13 "Phoenix Lights" incident, the Arizona Republic is now taking credit for breaking news of the nonextraterrestrial solution to the lights.
Last Friday's front-page story by Richard Ruelas credited Air National Guard Captain Eileen Bienz with discovering that a Maryland-based group of eight A-10 fighter jets on a training mission had been in the area on March 13 and had dropped flares.
What the story didn't say: that the morning before, the Republic learned about the A-10s because the news had already appeared in a story in the Tucson Weekly.
Tucson Weekly editor Jim Nintzel, who co-wrote the story, says he faxed the piece to the Republic Thursday morning as a courtesy. He's not surprised the Republic deigned not to give his publication credit.
The Republic's determination to solve the mystery of the lights follows months of space-alien nuttiness that gripped nearly every section of the paper.
The normally staid Business section was beamed up when it reported as fact that Jim Dilettoso's alien-friendly Tempe firm Valley Labs had "validated videotape of a UFO."
Hey, that might be major news if it were true.
Even the Arts pages made contact recently, as well. In a section-front story, the UFO skepticism of such well-respected scientists as Carl Sagan was ridiculed by the Republic's science correspondent--er, make that gardening columnist--Thomas Ropp.
Ropp griped that Hollywood movies don't reflect the true state of UFO research, to which The Flash can only heave a sigh of relief. Just imagine: Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt starring as two MUFON investigators engaged in a scintillating e-mail chat about the Atlantis-Pleiades connection.
Unhappy that Contact, a movie based on a novel co-written by Sagan, offers a more scientifically based version of extraterrestrial contact--via radio telescope rather than alien rectal probe--Ropp trotted out a litany of "ufology" nonevidence as stale as Chariots of the Gods?.
All of which might have made for a chuckle if Ropp hadn't tried to pass it off as fact--while managing, in his final sentence, to take a cheap shot aimed at Sagan so soon after the man's death.
Coming soon: Columnist Bill Goodykoontz, in an autobiographical piece on sea monkeys, takes Jacques
Cousteau down a peg or two.
Feed The Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, firstname.lastname@example.org