The president of a national association of guide-dog users that gave Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio the boot from its July conference tells us today she's not exactly upset that her group fouled up the sheriff's 78th birthday.
"It's too bad," Guide Dog Users Inc. President Becky Barton allows. " But I didn't know it was his birthday."
Barton says it wasn't her decision to cancel the sheriff's appearance but that the group's Phoenix chapter had problems with Arpaio speaking because of the controversy that tends to follow him wherever he goes.
Barton says the concerns of the local group got so bad that "after five weeks it escalated to the point that we had to have an executive meeting to discuss it."
By the end of the meeting, and after a vote, the group decided that Arpaio was out.
"Personally, I wish this hadn't happened," Barton says. "But I have to bow to the wishes of my board."
Barton says, despite some people's ill feelings about Arpaio's immigration policies, the work he's done for animals is admirable and that the July convention is no place for politics.
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Barton also kind of confirms some of the sheriff's claims that there are concerns among the group's leadership that attendance for the event will decline without Arpaio.
While Arpaio claimed this morning that the group was concerned about the convention losing attendees because the sheriff is no longer on the bill, Barton tells us she expects the convention's attendance to be just fine. The only concern, she says, is the individual event where Arpaio was scheduled to speak, where she admits attendance might take a hit.
Barton says a replacement will be found for Arpaio.
"We'll have a plan B," she says. "Maybe, at some point, I'll have another chance to wish [Arpaio] a happy birthday."