No nice way to say this, but Maricopa County Supervisor Andy Kunasek is a vindictive dick.
See, Tuesday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors convened to do the right thing in approving a $3.25 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by the family of Deborah Braillard, the diabetic mom who slipped into a coma in 2005 and died.
This, after Sheriff Joe Arpaio's goons and goonettes denied her pleas for medical treatment and ignored her as she moaned, defecated, and vomited on herself and others.
The vote was 3-to-1, with Kunasek being the one. BOS Chair Max Wilson, supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and supervisor Fulton Brock played the adults in the room, and okay-ed the settlement. Supervisor Don Stapley was absent, previously having recused himself, as his lawsuit against the county for his false arrest by the MCSO is pending.
This is the second time Kunasek voted against the proposed settlement, the first time being on October 31, when he and Wilson voted nay, causing a tie that killed the deal.
See also: -What's Mom Worth?: When a Woman Became Deathly Ill in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Jail, Guards and Nurses Ignored Her Agony -Deborah Braillard Settlement, for MCSO Jail Death, Rejected by Board of Supervisors
The October 31 vote surprised even county staff, who figured that, as the board had discussed the vote already in executive session, the matter was a done deal.
But Kunasek, who never drinks water while Max Wilson is bumbling his way through Robert's Rules of Order, wanted to give the single finger salute Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group responsible for the recall of old fat racist, former state Senate President Russell Pearce.
See, Kunasek was pissed at Parraz and his merry band of pranksters for disrupting a meeting on October 17, where the board was scheduled to vote on the Braillard settlement for the first time.
CBA showed up and raised all kinds of Cain, with some dude dressed as King Arpaio and another person as his jester, Mike Stauffer. Wilson shut down the meeting before the vote could take place on the Braillard matter, and Parraz and the CBAers took a beating in the press.
Rather than do the right thing on October 31, Kunasek decided to stick it to Randy. At least that's how just about everyone in county government saw it. Kunasek himself signaled this in his meandering, deceptive rationale for his no-vote.
"I think," said the Frank Burns of the county supes, "several weeks ago, we witnessed, I think, a very poor display. I think it was on purpose, the disruption of the meeting that caused the cancellation of the meeting.
"Prior to that, there was a number of things that were said that were specific to this case, that I feel planted enough uncertainty into the minds of the public that I think today I feel strongly that probably in the interest of justice and a fair outcome that a trial, the continuation of the trial, is the best way to go.
"So I am not supportive of a settlement as proposed today and I just thought it was important that I make my thoughts known."
Uh, "interest of justice"? Riiiight.
Kunasek's only interest was his selfish, petulant own. Specifically, his interest in sticking it to a man he'd sparred with and lost to before in public, a man whose wife Lilia Alvarez, just happened to be running against him as a Democrat in supervisor's District 3. (She lost, big time, BTW.)
Would Kunasek be so small and petty that he would hold up a settlement, play havoc with a family's pain, and roll the legal dice with the taxpayer's money, just so he could score points against an enemy?
Why, of course, that's just the sort of weasel he is.
After all, what's the point in being powerful if you cannot exercise that power in a completely third-grade, asinine manner?
Keep in mind that the Braillard suit had been on trial in Pinal County until early October, when lawyers for Maricopa County offered the Braillard family a $3.25 million settlement. This, before it had a chance to reach the jury.
A smart move, on many fronts.
The county had already dropped more than $2 million on legal fees and there was a serious possibility that, with tort titan Mike Manning representing the plaintiffs, the jury might have awarded a much larger amount, perhaps as large as Manning's previous wins against the county for wrongful deaths in Joe's jails, $8.25 million, $9 million or more.
It certainly was the humane thing to do, to allow the Braillard family an end to this nightmare, with a tiny bit of justice.
But, oddly, it was good for Arpaio as well.
Arpaio was potentially on the hook for punitive damages, which means Joe and Ava would've had to break open a couple of piggy banks, or dip into their Swiss bank account. You know, the one with all the pink underwear and jail concession kickbacks in it.
I keed, I keed about the Swiss bank account. (Ava prefers silver dollars in coffee cans buried in the backyard, natch.)
This is why I disagree with Randy and his fellow CBAers on their theory that Kunasek did what he did to assist Arpaio in achieving a sixth term in office.
"Who knows what would have happened six days before the election," Parraz said in remarks after the brief meeting was over.
"[The sheriff's] support is now at 50.7 percent," he continued. "This should have been done before the election, so people could know that because of his failed leadership, another $3.25 million from the taxpayers is now...going out."
As much as I admire Randy, I don't buy that. Arpaio beat his closest competitor by six points.
And if people haven't been swayed by the more than $50 million in lawsuit costs because of Arpaio's mismanagement and malfeasance, or the $100 he swiped from jail enhancement funds to pay for his pet projects, then another $3.25 million in the hole wasn't going to change many minds.
Moreover, the supes approve lawsuit settlements all the time. This was routine stuff, or should have been.
Nah, I think Kunasek saw an opportunity to make Parraz and CBA look like the bad guys, and ran with it, or at least extend their suffering in that regard.
Parraz also suggested that Wilson was at fault because he should have arrested CBA demonstrators instead of adjourning the meeting they disrupted on October 17.
"I can assure you if a homeless person walked into a Board of Supervisors meeting and started yelling and yelling, you wouldn't adjourn the meeting," he said. "The sheriff's office would be called in and that person would be removed."
So the CBAers are mad at Wilson because he adjourned a meeting they disrupted instead of having them all arrested?
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Actually, I don't see any problem with Wilson adjourning the meeting.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
No, the problem occurred when Wilson and his puppetmaster Kunasek decided to act like spoiled tots in a sandbox instead of adults, sticking out their tongues at Randy and the rest.
Which may be why Wilson and Kunasek appeared telephonically on Tuesday, though Brock did likewise. Only Wilcox bothered to make an actual appearance.
If Wilson and Kunasek had been present, they would have been peppered with questions by the media corps assembled.
As it was, they phoned it in. Pusillanimous to the last.