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Flashes

Wheels of Disfortune
The human oxymoron: He postures as a do-the-crime-do-the-time lawman, then talks those evil federal judges he used to rant about into letting him stay out of a federal prison camp that's much more posh than any cell he would allow in Arizona.

He pleads poverty to yet another evil federal judge--this one in bankruptcy court--and then lives the life of Riley.

The Flash's spying little eyes report that former governor J. Fife Symington III, bankrupt, convicted felon and Republican icon, has recently been spotted pricing luxury cars at Mercedes and Infiniti dealerships. Rumor has it, he's looking in the $50,000 range, and has driven at least one car home, pending financing.

We should be so broke.
"I'm not at all surprised," says Michael Manning, the attorney who has hounded the Fifester through bankruptcy court. "This adds to a growing list of activities that are perplexing for a guy who says he's penniless."

Manning goes on to mention Fife's well-publicized vacations to California and the Caribbean, his frequent sightings at the tony Tarbell's restaurant, not to mention the millions of dollars spent on bankruptcy lawyers. Oh, what the hell, we'll mention them.

"How can you lack for that type of chutzpah," Manning says, "when you, as a bankrupt, knowing you're bankrupt, sold yourself as a successful businessman to the entire state of Arizona? He had to go home every night chuckling about how he was pulling this off, because merely saying so made it true in his mind."

One wonders if the Fifester will park his new ride in the lot of the federal prison where he'll do 30 months once this silly appeal is disposed of.

Amps and Amway
The deregulation of the electricity industry in Arizona has the been the sleeper issue of this year's legislative session--literally. Talk of wattage for sale in a free market is one of the most boring issues The Flash can think of.

But even The Flash did a double take upon hearing what's going on in California, where dereg went official April 1. Seems everyone's getting into electricity sales, even Amway. Yes, along with dish detergent and fabric softener, Californians can now power up via their favorite circle of sales nags. One of the Golden State's 140,000 Amway gnomes will happily provide an 800 number, whereby interested customers can plug into Enron, the company that actually creates and delivers the electricity.

So if that hyperactive, artificially tanned and superpositive acquaintance invites you over for a "power lunch," be prepared to sign up to buy a few megawatts, and get your own little team of power brokers together.

Not Again
Each day, it seems, another law enforcement professional or organization is voicing disapproval of Sheriff Joke Arpaio. The following editorial ran in the March edition of American Police Beat, a monthly that bills itself as "The voice of the nation's law enforcement community":

Some call him what he calls himself, 'The toughest sheriff in America.' Others call him Sheriff Joke. He's that kind of guy. You either like him or don't. The Justice Department does not like him. In spite of Arpaio's best efforts, the Justice Department released a report about the conditions in Sheriff Jo[k]e's county correctional facilities. Not good. It's too long to print but most of the excerpts go like this, 'Unprovoked, excessive use of force,' and 'Saw guards shock male inmates in intake who were drunk but not aggressive.' The report condemns the use of 'restraint chairs' where at least one inmate has died.

But poor prison management is just one part of a larger problem. Arpaio thinks he's a media superstar. When people got tired of Jo[k]e's 'tent city,' he came up with other ways to keep his mug in the paper. He decided to bring back chain-gangs, female juvenile offenders included. When that lost steam, Jo[k]e decided to dress inmates in 1920's-style striped prison uniforms, at a greater cost to taxpayers. Perhaps his greatest innovation was a surveillance system he dubbed the 'doggy-cam,' where police dogs are wired up with video cameras.

When James Brady, who took a bullet for Ronald Reagan, criticized Jo[k]e for raffling off an assault rifle to pay for his 'posses,' Jo[k]e said Brady was a puppet working for Handgun Control, Inc. Organizing geriatric block watches may not be a great idea, but raffling off assault rifles to pay for them is just plain nuts. Arpaio has kept his mouth shut since the Justice Dept. report was released, a seemingly impossible challenge for a man who wants nothing so bad as the attention. Who ever thought silence could sound so sweet?

American Police Beat publisher Cynthia Brown wrote a local Flash reader about the article's response: "We got a complaint from Jo[k]e Arpaio's office about negative coverage in APB about him. We got a big kick out of the call. His assistant was even threatening us. . . ."

The Flash imagines those threats included: being stunned in the genitals by a 300-pound posseman clad only in pink underwear and riding on the back of an emu.

Them Swingin' Snakes
The Arizona Diamondbanks continue their honeymoon, but futility remains their constant companion.

As of Monday, the D-Banks had two of the top five--and three of the top 16--most prolific strikeout artists in the National League.

Travis Lee was fourth with 38; Jay Bell was fifth with 37; and Devon White was 16th, with 30.

The rattlin' reptiles are dead last in team batting average (.230) and a strong first in team strikeouts (298).

Oh, well. There's a swimming pool in center field!!!!

Twin Speaks
An astute Tribune reader (no, really, there is such a thing) called The Flash last week to point out a spectacular Trib goof:

In a two-page spread of self-congratulation celebrating a year of Tribune ownership by the Thomson newspaper chain, the Mesa-based paper printed various columns by management types trying their best to convince themselves that they work for a hard-hitting, readable publication.

In the Mesa edition, the two centerpiece articles were written by managing editor Jim Ripley and metro editor Phil Boas.

Scottsdale readers of the Tribune were treated to the same two-page spread and virtually the same two centerpiece articles, this time, however, attributed to writers Hal DeKeyser and Dan McCarthy.

The Flash called DeKeyser, the Scottsdale edition's editor, to ask how the byline mix-up had happened. DeKeyser says that there was no mix-up at all. The byline-switching, he says, was a way to "show the paper's local focus."

"The thrust of the pieces were the same. Some of the details were tailored to different communities. Jim [Ripley] wrote the chassis of the thing, but it was written like an editorial where other people add things and change it," DeKeyser says.

The Flash compared DeKeyser's and Ripley's columns and found all but five sentences were identical. Other than that, only the names had been changed to protect the guilty.

Feed the Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, flash@newtimes.com

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