An Imperfect 10
The mo-rons at Channel 10 are at it again. In the wake of last week's New Times story about the Avondale quadruplets, Channel 10 rushed onto the air with breathless reports of a criminal case in jeopardy.

New Times' story was based on the Avondale police department's sealed investigative report into the horrendous injuries sustained by the four infants. Media outlets in the Valley have been transfixed on the quads since before their January 9 birth, so they've all been awaiting developments in this heartbreaking case.

But Channel 10's report focused not on the news contained in the report but on the dubious supposition (advanced by the dubious Avondale Police Department) that New Times' disclosure might help get the quads' parents (named in the report as chief suspects in the case) off scot-free.

During its 9 p.m. newscast on September 23, KSAZ's Stephanie Angelo told how the report had been leaked to a "Valley newspaper" and that "investigators say someone . . . at Superior Court may be to blame for Xeroxing off the top secret information" and leaking it to this rag. Avondale police sergeant Mark Lucas whined on camera that the disclosure "will definitely give the defense a chance to build a defense."

Amen, policeman! If there's one thing we Americans don't cotton to, it's giving criminal defendants a chance to build a defense.

Knowing that Channel 10 would repeat its bogus story during its 10 p.m. newscast, an editor for this rag phoned that pulsating broadcast news center and spoke with executive producer Rod Haberer. When the editor asked why New Times had not been asked to repond to allegations that its story had endangered a criminal case, Haberer said, "That was a mistake." He also admitted that the station had been remiss in not getting a response from the alleged rogue Xeroxers at Superior Court.

He said it wasn't necessary to be so precise as to report how news of the police report had been disclosed, but because the camera had panned across the pages of New Times, everyone in the Valley would know exactly which "Valley newspaper" had obtained the police report. Then Haberer, a human contradiction, went on to explain that Angelo had not cited the source of the story because Channel 10 did not want to "implicate" New Times but that despite the possibility of being implicated, Channel 10 was in no way suggesting that New Times had done something wrong in printing the story. (Based on its report, the Flash must assume that if Channel 10 had gotten the "top secret" report, it wouldn't have told its viewers about it.)

After exhibiting ignorance of basic facts contained in New Times' piece, Haberer conceded that neither he nor Angelo had bothered to read the New Times story before airing the report. Haberer explained (and the Flash is not making this up), "It's hard to read a story that long."

Asked to include a response from New Times during the station's 10 p.m. newscast, Haberer initially said that as executive producer, he didn't have the authority to get it into the script. Finally, he relented.

But in her 10 p.m. synopsis, reporter Angelo offered some new and twisted justification for the premise of her report. In attempting to explain exactly how the investigation had been compromised, Angelo said, "Typically, their [quads' parents] defense lawyers would only have a list of police witnesses but would have to wait until the actual trial to hear that witness testimony. Well, now, because of this leaked report, police say lawyers will have a really good idea what to prepare for."

A former prosecutor now in private practice erupted in gales of laughter when read this statement. "That demonstrates such a fundamental misunderstanding of the trial-preparation process in a criminal case works," the barrister says. "I'm surprised that such ignorance could be found in a network affiliate newsroom in a major American city."

In fact, while Angelo was assuring viewers that the leaked report had assured the demise of any criminal case, the attorney for the quads' parents already had a copy of the police report in question. Furthermore, if any charges are filed, defense attorneys get an opportunity to interview police about their investigation. And if the cops give testimony at trial that contradicts what they say during pretrial discovery, any competent defense lawyer will fold, spindle and mutilate them on the stand. Given Avondale's slipshod handling of the quads' probe, that possibility does not seem so remote.

The greatest legitimate concern law enforcement would have about publication of the police report would be if the quads' parents decided to skip town. Yet Angelo apparently saw no irony in reporting, near the end of an eons-long (by broadcast standards) report on the supposed unraveling of the criminal case: "Avondale police say we can most likely expect [the quads' parents] to face criminal charges in the coming days."

For shattering the rules of Journalism 101 and disseminating disinformation, Channel 10 is awarded the seldom coveted Bill Close Award, which is named after the former Channel 10 anchor fossil and is bestowed whenever a broadcaster goes below and beside the call of duty. Bill must be proud.

Ranch-Style Goodness
The state might be trying to shut down the Arizona Boys Ranch, but that doesn't mean state employees can't give it money. The ranch has been in state regulators' cross hairs ever since 16-year-old Nicholaus Contreraz died a gruesome death at the juvenile boot camp. State officials took the unprecedented step of pulling the facility's license for what was termed a "pattern of abuse and neglect."

But the ranch still meets the standards for the State Employee Charitable Campaign, a state-sponsored fund-raising drive. Finance manager Don Goldwater says when charities were being screened for the campaign in April, the ranch was "clean." So, even though Contreraz died in March, and even though Boys Ranch is suing the state, and even though the ranch has racked up an impressive list of abuse allegations in past years, it still made the cut.

Goldwater doubts Boys Ranch is going to see much cash from the campaign now.
"Personally, I wouldn't give to them," he says.

A Rose by Any Other Name ...
Jack Rose, the controversial executive secretary of the Arizona Corporation Commission, has given himself a promotion before he blows the joint. Rose, who announced a few weeks ago that he'll resign in January, rushed a new set of business cards to the printers with a new self-ordained title: Chief Executive Officer.

The reason Rose was in such a hurry to get the cards: He was leaving on yet another trip. Rose, who's racked up $14,273 in travel costs during his short time in the job, had to have the new cards for his jaunt to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with the Federal Communications Commission Rural Task Force, a group of which Rose is a member. Rose said he was leaving the ACC to focus his efforts on the task force. Apparently, he decided to get an earlier start.

The Corporation Commission says it's worth it to send Rose airmail to D.C. for the meeting because he's there to help ensure that Arizona gets its fair share of federal subsidies.

Rose then wings from D.C. to the bright lights of New York City, where he'll meet with financial honchos for Tucson Electric Power. TEP, in case you didn't know, is the utility that has just proposed that its customers pick up the tab for an estimated $600 million to $1.1 billion (that's right, billion) to pay off its "stranded costs"--its generators, power stations and bonded debt. Clearly, that's a lot to talk about.

Rose's frequent absences have become an office joke--some staffers have taken to asking each morning, "Jack off today?"

The Jack of all tirades dictated a huffy response from D.C. to questions about his new title: His job description has always included the term "chief executive officer." So there.

The Flash has a few suggestions for other titles Rose might want to consider. Here are a few of the more printable:

Head Honcho
Supreme Muckety-Muck
Here Comes Trouble
I'm With Stupid
Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl
Our Lord God
Party Animal
Dancing Machine
Power Broker
Electric Horseman
Utility Infielder
Watt A Guy

But the newly minted CEO will get one more chance to flex his business cards before he departs permanently. He was scheduled to go to Disney World! Or, at least, to Orlando, Florida, for a national convention in November.

Weeding Out the Riff-Raff
When Fife Symington's gubernatorial administration decided to redecorate the Capitol, it cost millions and made big headlines. But let's be candid here--all that marble and a spiral staircase didn't make much difference in how government operated. No posh digs would alter the Fifester's supersecretiveness or his contempt for the citizenry.

The half-million-dollar renovation of the state House of Representatives' building, however, could be a different story. One of the Flash's favorite pastimes at the state Lobbyslature has been to prowl around the House offices--you never know which elected wingnut you'll bump into.

But the Lobbyslative royalty has apparently decided to separate itself from the masses. James Jayne, director of House Operations, told Arizona Capitol Times that the redesign will allow members to get to the House floor and committee rooms via private pathways.

"Members need to have the option of seeing who they want to see," Jayne told the paper.

Amen, Houseman! If there's one thing we Americans don't cotton to, it's representative government and access to lawmakers.

Wonder if there will be a private lobbyist entrance.

Feed the Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, [email protected]

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