Do Svidanya, Joe

It's official. The former Soviet Union's freer, kinder, and safer for the indigent and the sick than Maricopa County.

What other conclusion can this dodo draw from news that TB-sufferer Robert Daniels has fled the police state of Uncle Joe Arpaio for Moscow, Russia, former home of commie dictator Uncle Joe Stalin? His lawyer, Linda Cosme, claimed Daniels couldn't handle the systemic abuse and the ongoing threats from Joe and the MCSO that they might arrest him on some trumped-up B.S. So he copped a one-way ticket to borscht-burg.

Who can criticize the comrade? Maricopa County health officials believed at one time that Daniels, who holds dual U.S.-Russian citizenship, had XDR-TB, or extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis. They said he was jeopardizing others by going out sans medical mask and not taking his meds like he should. So they turned him over to the biggest sadist in Sand Land, Nickel Bag Joe, who stuck him in a medieval jail ward with no access to TV, computer, a shower, or much in the way of human contact. Joe vowed to treat him just like other inmates, though Daniels, now 28, was not charged with a crime.

Daniels spent nearly a year in conditions that made the Turkish prison in Midnight Express look like a freakin' Marriott. Check his description of his hellish environs to Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now!

"I never thought this could happen," Daniels told Goodman via pay phone. "I'm sometimes sitting on a bed, and I'm just crying because of the quietness. I don't have, you know, permission to take a normal shower, and I have to spit-wash. It's really cold, especially at this time . . . I can't even spit-wash normally."

The AZ ACLU sued, seeking to improve Daniels' situation. Daniels was eventually ordered by the Superior Court to be sent to Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center. Daniels was ecstatic to be leaving what he referred to as a "black hole." Ever the ass, Arpaio grumbled to Denver's Channel 9, "It's great that we got rid of him, but if we can charge him, we need to get him back."

Sounds like Arpaio's really the one who's sick — in the head, that is. Who would be thinking of how they can charge such a seriously ill man? Only mean ol' Uncle Joe.

In the Mile High City, Daniels was at last treated humanely. Doctors removed his lung, and he was declared non-contagious. They determined that Daniels never had XDR-TB, but instead had MDR-TB, the slightly less-stubborn multidrug-resistant TB. To Channel 9, he disclosed his worst nightmare: "The fear of going back to Phoenix."

But he had to return to pitiless P-town, where our troll of a sheriff was threatening to arrest him for reckless endangerment. Maricopa County officials, you see, had made Daniels sign a promise to come back before they let him seek treatment in Denver.

Back in The PHX and holed up in a crummy Van Buren Street motel, Daniels missed his wife and kid back home in Mother Russia, asserted ACLU attorney Dan Pochoda, who worked on Daniels' case. Pochoda and other sources said Daniels was unhappy with the care he was receiving from Maricopa County, which made him extremely weak.

"There was no longer any legal hold over him," peeped Pochoda. "He was certainly free to travel, free to go home. There were no restrictions on that constitutional right."

Tell it to our cruel top constable, who growled like a rabid raccoon to the Arizona Republic in a story buried on the back page of the Valley & State section, beneath the weather.

"What, did the heat get too much for him?" wondered our churlish chief lawman. "He had to run to Russia?"

According to the Russian news and information agency Novosti, the Sheriff's Office is even threatening to extradite Maricopa County's one-lung Papillon back to the U.S. just so they can torment the poor bastard some more.

"Impossible," pooh-poohed Pochoda. "Not according to any extradition treaty I've seen. They don't extradite people for something like this. That's just grandstanding [on the sheriff's part]."

Of course! That's what he does. But with a vindictive old viper like Arpaio as the law in this county, The Bird's beginning to believe that the farther you get from from Maricopa County, the freer you actually are.


Producers of the Comedy Central show Reno 911! should consider submitting a public-records request to MCSO flack Paul Chagolla for the doorstop report on this phony "plot" to kill our crotchety top cop, which this tweeter discussed last week ("Sheriff Fidel," October 11).

Why, there's enough material in the nearly 200-page doc for an entire season of comedic high jinks. Writers for the series could even do a follow-up to the theatrical release of Reno 911!: Miami (based on the Reno 911! TV show) and call it Reno 911!: Phoenix, with the MCSO Wells Fargo building brain trust as the flick's modern-day Keystone Kops.

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