Last week was a busy time for former KTVK-TV Channel 3 weather forecaster Jim Howl. On Friday, news of his gubernatorial aspirations leaked. Then on Saturday, it was reported that Howl had admitted the reason he was fired from Channel 3 after 24 years: alleged sexual harassment of a young female employee. Howl could not be reached for comment.
Current and former KTVK employees tell The Flash that this alleged harassment included:
* The Abusive: A current employee disagrees with Howl's description--"funsy"--of his newsroom antics.
"Jim likes to prey on newcomers, especially young females," the employee says. "He goes for them when they're new to the station, and when they're new to the business."
This employee says she began receiving notes and phone calls from Howl almost immediately upon her arrival. He offered advice, told her she looked good on the air, asked her to sit next to him at a meeting.
She tried to be friendly but distant, often mentioning her husband. But Howl didn't get the hint, she says. One day she received a voice-mail message from Howl, inviting her to lunch. She never responded, figuring he'd get the message.
The afternoon of the proposed lunch date, Howl tracked her down by phone. Here's how the employee recalls the conversation:
Howl: "Where the fuck were you?"
Employee: "Excuse me?"
Howl: "Where the fuck were you?"
Employee: "What the hell are you talking about?"
Howl: "We had a lunch date."
Employee: "No, we did not, Jim. I never talked to you about that. I'm not interested in having breakfast, lunch or dinner with you."
She hung up as quickly as possible.
* The Bizarre: Apparently, Howl has overactive olfactory tendencies. One former employee says Howl would frequently ask to sniff her fingers, ostensibly to try to guess what she had eaten for lunch. She says she tried to dissuade Howl by telling him she'd washed her hands. He was not easily discouraged.
Another Channel 3 insider says Howl loved to sniff babies. Whenever somebody brought an infant to the studio, Howl would amble over, take a big whiff and ecstatically say, "Nothing smells better than a baby!"
* The Sickening: According to a former on-air newswoman at Channel 3, Howl also liked to take the hand of a woman, place it in the crook of his elbow, then pump his arm up and down with his other hand while making strange sounds.
Prior to their recent blastoff to the Great Beyond, several California-based members of the Heaven's Gate UFO cult--including founder Marshall Applewhite--touched down at what's left of one of Arizona's more unusual sects. Namely, the Children of Light enclave, whose members--having sworn off sex, meat and other "sins"--settled in the desert outside Phoenix 30 years ago to await the eternal life that has so far escaped most of its aging followers.
Elect Star, one of the few surviving Children of Light, tells The Flash that Applewhite and other Heaven's Gaters had visited the commune 120 miles southwest of Phoenix several times during the past 18 months.
The Children's reaction to news of last month's mass suicide? Says Elect Star, "We thought they were nuts."
The rift between Arizona Department of Public Safety brass and rank-and-file officers is deepening. DPS Director Joe Albo and his top aides have resigned from the Association of Arizona Highway Patrolmen.
Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Warner, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Aguilera and civilian Richard Carlson quit along with their boss.
Out of 1,600 DPS employees, 1,200 civilians and certified peace officers belong to AAHP. Traditionally, the DPS director and top aides have been members of the association.
Late last month, the association sought a 30-day delay in the administrative review of Albo's application to become a police officer without attending a police academy, says AAHP president Sergeant Tom Powers.
"The members of the association came to me with concerns and I just wanted the opportunity to sit down with the director to address these concerns and get his side of it," Powers says.
Association insiders say certified officers are angry that Albo is trying to become a cop without going through training required for the rest of them.
"They [officers] don't think it serves any legitimate purpose and that it is bastardizing the process," says one high-ranking DPS official.
The Arizona Police Officer Standards and Training Board occasionally waives its requirement that people attend a certified Arizona police academy before becoming sworn officers. But nearly all such waivers are for people who attended academies and were sworn officers in other states.
Albo can claim neither academy nor peace officer background. He was appointed DPS director in January 1995 by Governor J. Fife Symington III. He is the first DPS director who is not a sworn peace officer. Albo got his law enforcement experience while serving as Gila County attorney for 10 years. Albo has attended police training courses since becoming director.
The Standards and Training Board rejected AAHP's request to delay the proceedings, voting instead to allow Albo to take the waiver test once he completes 80 more hours of training courses.
A few days after receiving approval to take the waiver test, Albo, Warner and Carlson resigned from the association. Aguilera quit AAHP soon after New Times documented widespread dissension inside the agency ("DPS: Department of Political Safety," February 6).
Albo canceled an April 8 meeting with Powers and association officials to discuss Albo's police certification.
Calls placed to Albo, Warner, Aguilera and Carlson seeking comment were not returned.
Powers says the association will continue representing DPS employees before the Legislature and addressing day-to-day problems its members face. Powers says the association is taking a pragmatic view of Albo's resignation.
"If management elects not to talk to us, they elect not to talk to us," Powers says.
Janet Reno Feels His Pain
Other local news outlets have ignored the story of Richard Post, the paraplegic stuffed into a restraint chair for six hours by Sheriff Joke Arpaio's jailers ("Jailers Teach a Paraplegic Who's Boss," January 23). But Post's tale is getting attention elsewhere.
Post's mother, Joan, sent President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno copies of the New Times story, which detailed her son's single night in Madison Street Jail. Post had been arrested for arguing with a bar owner and possessing a single gram of marijuana. But when the wheelchair-bound Post had pounded on his jail cell door, demanding a catheter so he could urinate, jailers put him into the restraint chair, cinching down the straps so tightly they broke his neck.
This week, Mrs. Post got a reply.
Acting assistant attorney general Isabelle Katz Pinzler notified Post that her son's case would be looked into.
"The FBI has been requested to conduct an investigation into this matter. You can be assured that if the evidence shows that there was a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes, appropriate action will be taken," she wrote.
Meanwhile, atrocities in Maricopa County jails are gaining not only national attention, but concerns from overseas as well.
An Amnesty International representative calling from London inquired this week about Post, Scott Norberg, and other victims of Arpaio's gulag. The organization requested New Times' articles about the sheriff, whom it is investigating just as it would a Third World despot.
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