E.J. Montini, Take a Powder; Richard Ruelas, Take His Place, Please

If the editors over at Phoenix's daily fishwrap had half a brain, they'd relegate their star columnist E.J. "Milksop" Montini to checking typos in the classifieds, and make Richard Ruelas his replacement.

Ruelas used to have his own column in the Rep back in the day, but apparently he had a tad too much edge for the corporate soft-soap sellers. So they've exiled him, for the most part, to the "Arizona Living" section. You know, journalism's version of the back of the bus.

Once in a blue moon, they ease up on the leash and let him do something cool, like his profile in Thursday's paper of Ernesto Yerena, the artist who created the pro-immigration reform, anti-Joe Arpaio "We Are Human" poster with the help of Shepard Fairey, the graphic genius best known for his Obama "Hope" image and his never-ending Obey Giant campaign.

As I've featured Yerena's work several times in this blog and in my column, I was thrilled to see him get a little shine in our normally staid paper of record.

I was also pleased to see the piece spotlight Yerena's poster image of Orlando Arenas, a member of Sal Reza's Puente Movement, and frequent fixture in the daily protests outside Phoenix's Wells Fargo Building, where Arpaio keeps two floors of pricey executive office space.

Last year, Arenas was arrested for trespassing by MCSO goons outside of Tent City as he attempted to leave county property. He was there to observe Sheriff Joe's march of 200 Mexican prisoners to a segregated part of Tent City. Later, he was acquitted after MCSO officials contradicted themselves on the stand. The JP overseeing the case ordered the county to pay Arenas' lawyer fees.

The only dumb thing about the article wasn't Ruelas' fault. Some pusillanimous editor at the Rep put the Yerena story below the fold, placing a lame snoozer about a realtor's blog above it. What, did they think Joe wouldn't see the Ruelas piece that way?

Ruelas is by no means perfect (hey, who is?), and his "edge" is a butter knife by comparison to a New Times machete (not that he has much choice in the matter considering his employer). But compared to Montini, the guy's a freakin' buzz saw.

The best thing the Rep could do for itself and its readers would be to rid its pages of the Perry Como of columnists -- Montini, and replace him with someone who might wake up the little old ladies in Sun City. On the other hand, that's likely why Ruelas will be imprisoned in amber for the foreseeable future.

I should mention that Yerena's posters on the subject of immigration have promoted anti-Arpaio demonstrations past, and upcoming: This Saturday thousands will join Linda Ronstadt, Zack de la Rocha, Dolores Huerta, and Little Joe y La Familia in a march to Joe's complex of gulags down near 35th Avenue and Durango. It begins at 9 a.m. at Phoenix's Falcon Park, 3420 W. Roosevelt Street, next to Carl Hayden High School. Bring your walkin' shoes. And if you need more info, check PuenteAz.org.

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