County Manager Disses Chief Deputy David Hendershott -- Calls Him "Just Plain Childish"

Maricopa County Manager David Smith lit into Sheriff Joe Arpaio's top aide at a meeting last Friday, comparing him to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and calling him "just plain childish."

Amazingly, Chief Deputy David Hendershott then memorialized the conversation in a six-page memo to his boss, Arpaio. The memo, which we've helpfully put online for your viewing pleasure here, describes how a conversation about budget cuts turned ugly.

And yes, by ugly, we do mean freakin' hilarious.

Here's how Hendershott reports the insults from Smith:

Mr. Smith interupted ... and said in a very sarcastic tone pointing toward my note pad, "Let me ask you something personal. I have been in government service for many years and in all my years I have never met a person like you. You are like Dr. Jekel [sic] and Mr. Hyde. You are someone that is just plan [sic] childish. Tell me ..., what is THAT all about Tell me!" It was clear from his verbal tone, hand gestures, and contorted facial expressions that Mr. Smith was attempting to enlist me into a confrontation of some type with him using personal derogatory references about me.

Can we just say that David Smith is our new hero?

For years, people have been petrified of Hendershott. (Most insiders believe he serves as the brains behind the increasingly senile Arpaio.) The famously vindictive chief deputy peddled nasty information about Dan Saban, whose only crime was daring to run against Arpaio. He flipped out on Channel 12 reporter Joe Dana, because Dana had the audacity to question his ties to a vendor peddling facial-recognition software in Honduras. He ordered an underling to smear Tom Bearup as a "security risk," because Bearup was ballsy enough to challenge Arpaio. And, of course, he claims that it was his decision to arrest New Times executives Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin in 2007.

Really, you can see why people fear this man.

But not the county manager, apparently. Yay!

We really recommend you read the memo, if only to re-read the part where Hendershott is likened to a villainous literary psychopath. But if you're too busy, here's the summary version. County Manager Smith and his top deputy, Sandi Wilson, had scheduled a meeting with Hendershott to discuss budget cuts. But in the increasingly fearful climate at the county these days, Wilson was unwilling to meet without an attorney present. Ed Novak, an ace lawyer who incidentally once represented Hendershott in a lawsuit over his salary, was summoned.

Smith told Hendershott that "it was clear that there had been great deterioration in the working relationship with the Sheriff's Office" in the last year, Hendershott wrote. And, "Smith said that normal everyday administrative actions have been turned into criminal investigations."

Smith then asked Hendershott in a "how dare you tone," according to Hendershott, if the Sheriff's Office was doing all the investigations in an attempt to intimidate the Supervisors into coughing up more budget money.

Then Smith got mad.

According to Hendershott, Smith said, "I am also a lawyer and these allegations are an abuse of power and if you don't think so .. you ... (pause) will ... (pause) see...! ... you ... (pause) ... will ... (pause) ... see!"

"This statement," Hendershott wrote, "was interpreted by me to be a threat to me personally should I not see it his way and stop the criminal investigations that are underway."

Of course Hendershott interpreted the statement as a threat! The dude thinks everything is a threat! (See: James Saville, John Dougherty, etc.)

Wilson and Smith, naturally, grew annoyed as Hendershott sat there writing down every word they said. Wilson asked Hendershott to stop taking notes. Hendershott refused. And that's when Smith went into his priceless bit about Hendershott being "just plain childish."

Hendershott then decided to end the meeting. Wilson said that the conversation had not been productive.

"I told her that I was sorry that she felt that way," Hendershott reports. "Mr. Smith said in a defensive manner, 'I don't believe you.'" Damn.

Here's Hendershott's conclusion: "I can only assume that we will continue to be resisted at every turn in our attempts to recover the records in possession of County government regarding our ongoing investigations. ... I can only conclude that the business relationship with the County will further worsen as our criminal investigations proceeds."

What a bright boy David Hendershott is! We suspect that someday, he's going to make his mommy very proud.

The county manager, suffice to say, might be a harder sell. 

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske