Phoenix Fire Department whistle-blowers thought they'd seen the last of their prankster boss, former deputy chief Robert "Hoot" Gibson.
Gibson retired in 1996 after a high-profile inquiry into allegations that he'd paid some recruits unearned overtime and allowed his relatives to sell tee shirts at a fire department clothing shop. He also was taken to task for his Wet Willies, shoulder punches and other firehouse shenanigans.
Now Gibson's having the last hoot. His buddies at the fire department have named a building at the new department headquarters (12th and Jackson streets) after him. And the "Gibson Building" is where Gibson's whistle-blowers work.
Needless to say, the naysayers are firing off e-mails to City Hall again.
"Now I have to work in [a] building that has been dedicated to the man who is responsible for the treatment that several of us have had to deal with. I have to see those letters and that name on the building every day," writes Jan Warren, a supply clerk who once complained that Gibson drew a cross on the ceiling of his office--she worked a floor above him--and told people that she would fall through it someday. (Gibson denied it.)
Warren, who will retire next year, complains that the daily encounter with the foot-high sign "is the ultimate of insults and harassment."
Oh, pooh, say fire officials. The new resource management building--a metal structure that doubles as a repair shop and office building--"was referred to as the Gibson building during the planning phase and through construction," writes Chuck Kime, executive assistant chief, in a memo to City Hall. Kime says the "Gibson Building" sign is unobtrusively placed and went up with the support of senior fire officials and the union. Gibson was the head of the resource management division for many years.
Kime says the sign is there to pay tribute to Gibson and his "tremendous contributions" in his 30 years at the Phoenix Fire Department. "It was never the intent to harass or offend any of our members . . ."
No word from City Hall on whether the sign stays.
Dissing the Disabled
Among its many missions, the Arizona Center for Disability Law strives to ensure that local buildings comply with laws governing accessibility for the handicapped. It often litigates to force compliance--and is quite good at what it does.
The center, 3839 North Third Street, also serves as a meeting site for groups committed to making things better for the disabled. One newly formed group--the TLW (Two Little Words) Coalition for Civil Rights--met June 30 at the center. The committee agreed to meet again at the center on July 13.
But the minutes of the meeting include the following addendum: "However, after the [June 30] meeting, it was discovered that the second-floor bathroom was not wheelchair-accessible and another meeting place was suggested."
The Flash wonders whether anybody wants to sue the suers.
Joke Cheats Death
It was front-page news last week when Sheriff Joke Arpaio and his sycophant/elephant, Dave Hendershott, got whupped by a besotted hairdresser in Scottsdale. The Sher and his right-hand man say the barbarous barber was too intoxicated to drive, so they stopped him with prejudice. (Neither Joke nor Hendershott mentioned how many drinks they had had.)
The Republic played the rumble as though the hair stylist from "Giggles" was really Carlos the Jackal, part of the vast global conspiracy--possibly cooked up by ninja-suited KAOS agents--to assassinate the Crime Avenger. (Never mind that any hair-care pro could be driven to rage by the sight of Joke's lubricious pate.)
In any case, heavily moussed thugs packing blow-dryers lurk behind every oleander, so it's inevitable that the Joke will have more brushes with death. The Flash's imagination runs amok with the possibilities:
* The Sher is choked with prayer beads when he intervenes to stop a Tibetan monk from chanting in public. "Chanting is un-American. It's mind control, I tell ya," Joke explains to a TV interviewer. "Anyway, Tibetans hate the sherff. They know about the 'World's Toughest Sherff' over there. They think the Chinese are oppressive! Hah! Wait'll I ride into town--it'll be like the return of Genghis Khan. Tibet is over there, across the ocean, isn't it? I'll probably have to ride in on a yak or musk ox or . . . Hey, I just got an idea--let's stun-gun his testicles!"
* The Jokenheimer sustains a hideous "official seal" imprint on his forehead when he steps in to protect a group of kindergarteners from a deranged notary public. "My intelligence sources tell me that notaries are out to get me," the Crime Avenger avers. "A couple o' the kindie-garden kids got in some licks, too. Some people just don't like me. Tots, especially. I scare kids, cuz I'm tough! We'll just see how they like ostrich meat."
* Joke gets kneed in the groin after attempting to stop a blind nun from jaywalking. "She's a habitual offender," he squeaks. "She also got me right in the Adam's apple with her cane or whatever that white stick was. We'll just see how she likes green bologna and pink undies. Of course, she won't know they're green and pink."
* El Joko is hospitalized after a middle-school cheerleader brains him with a megaphone. "Damn girl's skirt was waaay too short," he is quoted as uttering. "She was probably takin' marijuana, not to mention her un-pure thoughts. All cheerleaders hate the sherff, cuz I'm no-nonsense. All the cheerleaders made fun of me when I was in school. Tent City for her!"
* Joke gets tread marks on his butt after a paraplegic bowls him over. This after Joke had used his sherff's car to force the man's wheelchair off a sidewalk. "This guy didn't signal properly at a crosswalk. Boy howdy! That's when the sherff did some fancy driving," Joke explains, adding that his DEA training taught him how to pull off the death-defying maneuver. "I yelled, 'This shall not stand!' But then when I got out of my car he rammed me at a high rate of speed. I feared for my life. The handicapped want to get the sherff. Slap him in a restraint chair, real tight."
Viva Le Frances
In her cosmic quest to become secretary of state, former Phoenix councilwoman Frances Emma Barwood has begun plastering campaign signs around town. Barwood's claim to fame on the council was her demand that the city investigate the "Phoenix Lights," an act that made her the darling of the UFO.
Her new campaign signs proclaim: "The Commitment Continues."
The Flash was thinking: "The Commitment is Imminent."
KTAR and Feather
Insiders at KTAR say that if you stand in the newsroom long enough, Denver radiodom's gift to the Phoenix airwaves, program director Laurie Parsons, is bound to walk by and mutter one of her standard programming phrases: "Controversy is good!" Or, "A feud can help ratings!" Or, "This is what radio is all about!" Or, "Dissension is good!"
Well, Parsons got her dissension and controversy--plus a staff seething with resentment. Parsons' idea of good radio/dissension/controversy is giving free run of the place to Grant Woods, sometime Arizona attorney general turned full-time bon vivant.
Since Woods was enthroned as a KTAR talk-show host Friday afternoons, he's become unique among KTAR on-air talent. Woods does what he pleases, while other talk hosts heel to station policy and directions and endure scolding when they stray. Woods plays music, which other hosts do not; he uses his show to promote his political image; he invites celebrity callers to butter him up on the air on cue; he conducts a weekly phone chat with the Amazing Herbie, an African-American shoeshine man, in a format with overtones of a 1940s step 'n' fetchet routine. Woods is so enamored of his potential, KTAR colleagues say he hopes to expand his radio or television work locally or nationally after ending his AG stint.
If colleagues at KTAR only tolerated Woods, he's now considered insufferable, after the notorious "wackos" incident. When Phoenix mayor Skippy Rimsza rushed to make points by proposing to rename the airport to honor Barry Goldwater, the backlash on talk radio was astonishing. Hurling himself into the flap, Woods told a Channel 15 TV interviewer that callers to talk shows objecting to the name change are "wackos."
Think about it: talk-show host Woods slamming callers to talk shows as "wackos."
This was too much for KTAR's other talkmeisters to pass up. Pat McMahon invited Woods onto his own show to explain the "wackos" crack--then began tweaking and scolding Woods. Afternoon man Ted Simons ran with it, tongue in cheek, awarding Woods a "Woodie" and having callers create an audio postcard to Woods. The AG was not amused. Like Jekyll morphing into Hyde, Woods lost his cool when he sat down behind his microphone--accusing the KTAR staff of telling lies and ridiculing him, and then vowing to start ridiculing other hosts.
Woods flounced out of the station at the end of his show. Had other talk-show hosts performed this way, KTAR general manager Chris Gallu would've canned them. But then Woods has something else going for him: His behind-the-scenes KTAR helpmate is Karie Dozer, a former KTAR staffer who also is Woods' state-paid spokesbabe at the AG's office--and whose husband, Rich, is president of the Arizona Diamondbanks, whose games are broadcast by KTAR.
So, maybe the reasoning in the corporate suite at KTAR is that if you ruffle Woods, you ruffle Ms. Dozer and, perhaps, the Diamondbanks' prez.
Feed the Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.