Is it actually possible that New Times won't have Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to kick around any more after November 8? Say it ain't so, Joe! But seriously, polls currently show Arpaio's Democratic rival Paul Penzone on the path to victory, with more than a little help from an independent expenditure committee with ties to liberal billionaire George Soros.
A recent TV commercial from the Arpaio camp that features the sheriff calling criminal-contempt charges by the U.S. Department of Justice "garbage" seems an admission by Arpaio's longtime campaign guru Chad Willems that the boss is in deep doo-doo with his base: white Republicans. Even Arpaio's fellow alter kockers seem to understand that it's time for the lawman to hang up his pink underwear and nutraloaf and shuffle off into the sunset.
The alternative is catastrophe. Should Arpaio defy the odds and get himself re-elected for a seventh term in office, the long Maricopa County nightmare that is the Melendres case will drag on indefinitely, with Arpaio continuing to fight the impositions of reforms by a federal court aimed at ending the MCSO's racial profiling of Latinos.
No doubt, many Mess-i-can-hatin' ofays love that idea. Problem is, it costs a lot of dough. The more Arpaio drags his feet and flips off the federal court, the more it costs taxpayers in compliance costs, attorneys' fees, and so on. Indeed, the county has had to raise property taxes on homeowners in part because the Melendres case is eating into the general fund.
The only way to stanch the flow is for Arpaio to lose on November 8, bringing in a new sheriff who will cooperate with the federal court and get the county past this legal morass created by Arpaio and his chief underlings.
Here are five things to keep in mind about Arpaio as you head to the polls Tuesday:
1. Arpaio's various shenanigans in office, from swiping funds from taxpayer-protected jail accounts to the cost of all those lawsuits from the mismanagement of the jails, have cost more than $250 million since he took office (a very conservative estimate, by the way).
2. Sheriff Joe recently chose to keep open Tent City (which is obsolete owing to a low jail population) rather than maintain the department's SWAT team for the jails and give his detention officers a much-needed raise.
3. Arpaio continues to drag his feet over the implementation of the court's orders in Melendres, and, over the objection of the county board of supervisors, recently hired Washington, D.C.-based lawyers to help him do that — to the tune of $1 million, taken from the MCSO's budget.
5. The sheriff investigated federal Judge G. Murray Snow, Snow's wife, and a kooky anti-Arpaio conspiracy theory involving Snow, the DOJ., former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and many others, in an apparent attempt to obstruct justice and conflict Snow off the Melendres case.
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