Insiders at Sheriff Joke Arpaio's office tell the Flash that recent revelations about the Jokester have sent the Crime Avenger into orbit with rage.
Those reports were bolstered by a French reporter who was interviewing Arpaio in his office when a call came in from a Detroit reporter who had questions about a New Times cover story ("Doubting Thomas," November 6). The piece, about former Arpaio aide Tom Bearup, revealed that Arpaio had dismissed Bearup's concerns about missing posse money and director David Hendershott's possible involvement.
The French writer says Arpaio went postal on the Detroit scribe and had difficulty regaining his composure to finish his interview with her.
And the Sher is apparently striking back by starting his own investigation--of Bearup!
Paradise Valley resident Cece Doane tells the Flash she got a call last Thursday from sheriff's Sergeant Brian Sands.
Sands works not in an investigative division of the Sheriff's Office but in enforcement support, where he coordinates the various posses in their mall patrols and other activities. He reports to Hendershott, who earlier this year assumed the title of director of Operations and Development.
Doane says Sands told her he was conducting an investigation of Bearup, and that he wanted information about a 1996 police call to a house owned by Doane's mother that Bearup was renting. Doane told Sands that the police call resulted from a window which had been installed incorrectly and had broken from stress. She admonished Sands for "digging for dirt" on Bearup.
"I gave him hell. I said the public should be investigating Arpaio. Arpaio is a very scary individual," she says.
Doane says she phoned the Sheriff's Office and told it "never to call me again with such foolishness."
Asked about the investigation on Friday, Sands deferred to the Jokenheimer's PR department, which has difficulty dialing return phone numbers.
Bearup calls the sheriff's investigation "an attempt to silence me. But it won't," he says. "Anybody that wants to ask me questions can. I've already given my sworn testimony."
That testimony came in a lawsuit filed by fired MCSO employee Gary Josephson. Scheduled next for depositions are Arpaio and Hendershott. But they don't want their statements seeing the light of day. Arpaio's attorneys filed a motion last week asking that transcripts of future depositions be sealed. Josephson's attorney says he will oppose that motion as an infringement of his rights of free speech.
Joke's a New Industry
KNXV-TV Channel 15's John Croman is one of the last of the original reporters hired to do actual journalism under the station's old "No Chit Chat More News" regime. On November 14, he finished off his Phoenix career by slamming Joke with a hard-hitting piece about Jane Olson, who is suing the sheriff for $5 million for abuse at the hands of jail guards.
It was an indication that Arpaio's days of having only New Times to worry about may be over. Now that columnist David Leibowitz has seen the light after helping to create the myth of "America's Toughest Sheriff," the Arizona Republic has reportedly assigned two other writers to go after Arpaio, Hendershott and reports of missing posse money.
With the area's major daily no longer at his beck and call to cover PR stunts, Arpaio has turned to other outlets for publicity. This month, he scored a cover photo and a fawning feature piece from the buy-an-ad/get-a-story glossy Arizona Business Magazine.
Written by editor Greg Sexton, the supposed premise of the article is Arpaio's impact on Arizona's economy. Pimping the story in his editor's note near the front of the magazine, Sexton promises that the reader will be "particularly surprised on the business side of Arpaio and his sheriff's office."
But other than seven pages of old news and pretty photographs of the Sher and his operation, the story contained only Arpaio's bogus claims that he is personally responsible for the state's robust economy. Sexton faithfully reports Arpaio's claim that his chain gang has saved the county $200,000 (at other times, Arpaio has put the savings in the millions) without providing any proof of it.
But Sexton didn't need to check out facts. It says so right there in his publication's fine print: "All information regarding editorial content or property for sale is from sources deemed reliable. No representation is made as to the accuracy hereof and is printed subject to errors and omissions."
A Tale of Two Johns
What's this? State Senator John Kaites under investigation for possible violation of Arizona's "resign to run" law? All he's done is stage oodles of fund raisers, socking away $200,000, just to "explore" the idea of running for Arizona attorney general.
The striking irony in this political no-no is that Kaites is the handpicked candidate of U.S. Senator John McCain to be the state's top legal eagle. This is the same McCain who poses as the nation's champion of campaign-finance reform.
While trolling for donors, Kaites proves he doesn't necessarily practice what his mentor McCain preaches.
Then again, perhaps Kaites is learning from Humble John, who doesn't seem to practice what he preaches.
Even as he denounced slippery campaign fund-raising methods, McCain staged a gala fund raiser for his own benefit on the lawn of his gated compound on North Central Avenue. He raked in $500,000. (And the star of McCain's spiffy money-grubbing party? The second-most virtuous self-styled campaign-finance reformer, Senator Fred Thompson, the crusading Tennessee actor turned lawmaker who's leading the Republican crusade against sleazy Democratic fund raising.)
Kaites, as McCain's anointee to become Arizona's next AG, was showcased at the lawn fest.
Kaites should enjoy his celebrity as a McCain protege while he can--of recent candidates recruited by McCain to run against out-of-favor Republicans, none has won.
For Kaites, yet another TV weather forecaster-cum-politician, the forecast could be cloudy.
Debbie Does DEQ
State Representative Debra Brimhall, R-Pluto, is getting downright philosophical about her job.
Brimhall is one of the House members of the Advisory Committee on Prioritizing Underground Storage Tank Corrective Actions and State Assurance Fund Coverage. If that acronym is too unwieldy, here's a better name for it: blowjob.
The committee reviews regulations regarding leaking underground storage tanks, which can contaminate groundwater with hazardous chemicals from the gasoline, fuels and other chemicals contained in them.
Current law actually enables the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to hold some of the owners of the seeping tanks accountable for the messes they create--although, as anyone familiar with the department will attest, it's not particularly vigilant about it.
But apparently ADEQ is just too tough on the polluters, at least in the eyes of Brimhall.
One of the Flash's legions of sources faxed along a memo from the legislator who writes:
When we make efforts to make ADEQ answerable to the people and take away ADEQ's judge, jury and executioner status this next session, in creating the UST commission, please remember this quote, "It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."
She saw the quote in the Cedar Hills Free Voice, a paper Brimhall apparently reads closely. (She also attached an editorial from the paper about J. Fife Symington III's innocence. It begins, "Well, the proponents of bigger government have squashed another 'constitutional government' bug under their jack-booted heels." The screed concludes, ". . . Fife Symington was simply another casualty in the cause of freedom.")
But when Brimhall talks about making ADEQ answerable to the people, it's instructive to see who she means. ACPUSTCASAFC lists 17 members. Six members represent interests which would gain financially if regulations governing underground tanks were made even more laughable--petroleum, service stations and convenience stores. The committee chair represents service-station dealers.
There's only room on the panel for one representative from an environmental organization--you know, the people who work, mostly unpaid, to keep the air, soil and water clean. But the governor hasn't gotten around to filling that slot yet, so Brimhall--and ADEQ--won't have to worry about answering to those kinds of people. At least, not during the meetings.
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