Feathered Bastard

Do as We Say, Not as We Do: County Attorney Andrew Thomas' Hypocrisy Over Public Records

Does he always look like he needs a Pepcid?

Talk about your coinkydinks.

I just get finished writing a lil' ditty about Barack Obama, FOIAs, and how MCSO flacks have a history of dragging their jackboots complying with Arizona Public Records Law, and suddenly, like magic in my in-box, I get a press release from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors talking about how it's establishing new rules for internal public records requests from other county agencies. You know, like the MCSO and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

Seems that in the wake of County Attorney Andrew Thomas' 118-count indictment of Supervisor "Dapper Don" Stapley, Thomas has hit the BOS with a dozen public records requests, fishing for dirt on the Supes and their new counsel, former County Attorney Rick Romley.

According to the press release, both the MCAO and the MCSO in recent weeks have requested documents related to the building of a new Criminal Court Tower, paperwork on the hire of Romley, communications between PR firms and consultants and the BOS, and so on.

BOSers claim Candy is trying to overwhelm them, and maybe he is. After all, they point out public records requests have to be vetted through the County Attorney's office, which seems a little ass-backwards when it's the CA's office demanding the goods.

"These are very time consuming requests," Romely is quoted as saying in the press release. "Some are overly broad, which require legal oversight at both ends of the process, redacting and editing before they become public."

So Romley has crafted a new process where other county agencies submit these requests internally, in an attempt to cut down on the paper flow. Public records requests from the public and the media will be unaffected, said Romley in the statement.

All this is part of the ongoing war between the majority Republican BOS on one side, and the Republican County Attorney and Sheriff on the other side. And as such, it's intensely amusing to watch. First thing I did when I read about this latest kerfuffle is -- you guessed it -- put in a public records request with the BOS so I can see exactly what Candy wants to see.

Thing is, Thomas and Arpaio, and their well-paid lackeys are full of the brown stuff. Thomas' PIO Mike Anthony Scerbo once blew me off for months before responding to a public records request. The only way I finally got him to comply was by mentioning it in a Bird column.

And now, I read in what's left of the East Valley Tribune that Thomas' top hatchet man Barnett Lotstein is getting his greasy union suit in a twist because the BOS is trying to do to him what his office usually does to local reporters.

"The policy is ridiculous," Lotstein told Trib scribe Mark Flatten. "This is an attempt by the Board of Supervisors to deny legitimate public records requests..."

The outrage! Scandalous! Lotstein's right, it's totally different when the MCAO stonewalls someone.

It's not like the MCSO is any better. Arpaio is King of All Media Manipulation in this burg. New Times often has to sue him to get public records that he inevitably has to cough up under the law.

I wonder how long it'd take Lotstein & Co. to answer a request for all of their e-mails regarding the Board of Supervisors?

Heh, there's only one way to find out...

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons