Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's expensive inmate transport bus can finally be put to use, the counties Board of Supervisors ruled this morning.
Arpaio and the BOS have been battling over the bus since Arpaio broke county rules to purchase it in 2009. In response to Arpaio's unauthorized purchase, the BOS refused to license the bus.
Since its purchase, the bus has remained unused in a county parking lot as the BOS and the sheriff have squabbled over whether the MCSO could start using it. In that time, its suffered over $20,000 in damage.
County supervisors Fulton Brock, Andy Kunasek, and Don Stapley reportedly approved adding the bus to the county fleet.
From the Arizona Republic:
"There were clearly missteps ... but hopefully we have addressed those missteps and can move forward in a positive way," Brock said.
Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox was the only holdout, saying the board was setting a "terrible precedent" by retroactively approving a sole-source contract with the company that sold the bus to the Sheriff's Office.
"On principle, it's not right to accept this bus retroactively," Wilcox told her colleagues. She suggested the board give it to the state since it was used with a certain pot of funds that funnel through the state.
Kunasek acknowledged Wilcox's concerns, but still tried to cajole her into approving the bus: "I'm asking you one more time to get on the bus and vote for it," he said.
MCSO Lieutenant Justin Griffin tells New Times the sheriff's office is pleased with the Board's decision.
"This has been a long journey," he says. "Thanks to the hard work from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and the cooperation of the Board of Supervisors the Sheriff is encouraged by this step forward."
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.