Best Thing Written About Joe Arpaio Lately, and Why I'm Moving to New Zealand

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

As Elvis Costello was wont to sing (and perhaps still does), "I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused." Actually, living in this big Tent City we call Maricopa County, it's way too difficult to be amused. So I'm resigned to being disgusted.

Or I was until read this piece by Peter Huck in the New Zealand Herald concerning our county's corrupt top constable, entitled, "Tough U.S. sheriff triggers federal probe." See, Huck, phoned last week to inquire about Sheriff Arpaio, as fellow scribblers sometimes will. So I talked the fella's ear off. Fortunately, he works from Los Angeles, rather than the land of kiwifruit, so hopefully the bill was reasonable.

No offense to Huck, but I didn't expect much. The easier story line to relate about Arpaio has to do with this colorful buffoon of a sheriff who feeds his inmates green bologna, makes them wear pink boxers and has a posse of 3,000 alter kockers who can barely operate a Sun City golf cart much less a pistol.That's the Arpaio most foreign reporters -- and by the word "foreign," I mean all members of the Fourth Estate beyond the confines of Sand Land -- want to profile.

More recently, the non-Arizona press has been less forgiving, Still, if I had a dime for every time some paragraphist put in a call to yours truly to discuss Cactus Country's tin-pot tyrant, and ended up writing a disappointing piece of drivel, why, I'd at least have enough cash on hand to pay for a Coke and a pack of Skittles from the New Times vending machine. (Getting harder and harder to tip those metal monstrosities, these days.)

Needless to say, or I wouldn't be here saying it, Mr. Huck surprised me with a gimlet-eyed assessment of Arpaio that must have flackmeister Lisa Allen and her retinue of Kremlin-worthy propagandists in a tizzy. And if you think they don't care, think again, because that's all they do, people. You know, sit around all day dreaming up ways to get Joe's prunish kisser on the cover of the Zimbabwe Weekly, the Honduran Times or the Macau Gazette, with a puff piece that'd best be described as a very, very long cut line.

This was not the case with Huck's piece, which I encourage you to read post-haste. Indeed, the lead itself is worth the price of admission (free, like the air you breathe, bubbee):

"When I checked into the Maricopa County Sheriff's website to try to get hold of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-styled hard-on-crime lawman who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff", I discovered three of the jails in his jurisdiction were on lockdown, effectively isolating 1800 inmates from the outside world.

"They had gone on a hunger strike to protest against what they said was bad food.

"They may be right. Amnesty International has condemned the county jails, which hold 10,000, and there is an ugly list of inmate deaths and serious injuries that have cost the county at least US$43 million ($69.94 million)."

This is not the sort of lickspittle journalism we're used to here in The Land Time Forgot from the likes of the Republic's Sopwith Camel of a columnist E.J. Montini. Montini, you see, cannot write about Arpaio unless his knee is bent. He's not the only one with this affliction. I'm just happy to see that it's not contagious amongst our colleagues with the funny accents. And by this, Mr. Huck, I don't mean to cast aspersions on your nationality, as I see from Googling that you've written for British pubs as well. 

Still, the gents in Auckland, NZ ran the article, so they get the credit. Can someone strike up the New Zealand national anthem, that one by the Flight of the Conchords? Now everyone, sing along with me...

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.