When word of the Tent City riot reached The Flash, his first reaction was: What took so long? Sheriff Joke Arpaio has been wishing and hoping for riots for the longest time.
In May, during one of his many visits to KFYI-AM--the sheriff's favorite Criticism-Free Zone--Joe uttered: "I haven't had any riots. I haven't had any problems with the tents or the jails. Where are my riots?"
Maybe the inmates weren't listening. It took them another six months to get up the dander to do what nearly everyone had predicted they would.
Apparently, even the sheriff knew it was coming.
A relative of one officer says detention personnel had been on alert status in recent weeks and were expecting a disturbance in the jails. "She knew it was coming. They were planning for it," says the family member, who requested anonymity. "They were lucky it didn't go further than it did. If those had been hard-core felons instead of DUIs, they would have had a real problem."
There were other indications that years of the sheriff's "innovative" approaches to law enforcement were bringing things to a head. Only a month ago, a county official told The Flash: "If the wheels fall off at the sheriff's, I think there would be a lot of people who would say, 'See, I told you so.'"
On election night, The Crime Avenger confused everyone at the Republican headquarters with an overdone paean to our guv for the passing of the juvenile-justice initiative. Then Arpaio displayed an unusual amount of invective when he tore into two New Times reporters.
"Why do you have to print those curse words in the Norberg investigation?" he spat. "Why don't you pick on other county officials instead of writing about me week after week?"
It seemed plain that Arpaio was feeling the pressure after County Attorney Rick Romley announced that he would be looking into the June 1 death of inmate Scott Norberg. New Times received reports that after Romley made that announcement, his office was flooded with congratulatory calls. Many, reportedly, came from the sheriff's own deputies.
After months of moribundity, the effort to recall Governor J. Fife Symington III looks like it might actually pick up some steam.
Democratic political heavyweights Renz Jennings, an Arizona Corporation Commissioner, and Rick DeGraw, a campaign consultant, have agreed to lend their services to the underfunded, underachieving effort.
The Symington Recall Committee has until January 3 to submit petitions containing the valid signatures of 283,000 voters in Arizona. Jennings and DeGraw will "bring their political organizing skills to us," says Mariane Maffeo, spokeswoman for the committee.
Maffeo says the recall effort was poorly timed. The committee had a dearth of volunteers and donors because so many politically active people were involved with the general election. She also blames the Fifester's reputation for paybacks.
"We talked to all the labor unions and other kinds of organizations that normally participate in petition-circulating of drives like this, and they all said they didn't want to have anything to do with the recall," Maffeo says. "Everybody is frightened to death of retribution from Symington. . . . That fear factor is present in signature-gathering, too, which I think is a frightening commentary on the state of democracy in Arizona."
Still, once the committee gets petition gatherers out and about, Maffeo says, there are plenty of people who are willing to sign. "The demand for our product is out there; it's just a question of getting our product to our citizens," she says.
The Symington Recall Committee can be reached by dialing 235-5505 or 1-888-FIFEOUT. The committee's Web site is http://fifeout.org
Proof That Fife's Judgement Isn't All Bad
Former gubernatorial aide and intimate correspondent Annette Alvarez was delighted to be sighted near the seat of power at the Arizona-Mexico Commission meeting over the weekend in Scottsdale.
Still No Charge in Yeoman's Death
Seven months have passed since 37-year-old David Int-Hout's pickup slammed into the side a sedan driven by John Yeoman, the Fifester's personal, campaign and business accountant. The wreck killed Yeoman and punched a huge hole in the federal government's prosecution of Symington.
Police reports show that Yeoman was legally drunk at the time of the April 5 accident. But records also show that Int-Hout was high on marijuana and methamphetamines.
Eyewitnesses say Int-Hout sped north on Seventh Street and weaved across three lanes of traffic seconds before Yeoman made a left turn in front of his truck. Police reports estimate Int-Hout's speed at 75 mph. The posted speed limit is 45 mph.
One witness told police that Int-Hout passed him on a downgrade at about 70 mph and accelerated until he collided with Yeoman's Ford Escort. Police quote the witness as saying that he "feels the man in the pickup truck is fully responsible for the collision."
Int-Hout's truck flipped four times; he received a head laceration. Eight days after the accident, Phoenix police watched a friend of Int-Hout's remove a glass pipe used to smoke narcotics from Int-Hout's pickup, which was stored at a Phoenix wrecking yard.
Phoenix police forwarded their report to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office last May for review for possible homicide charges. So far, no charges have been filed against Int-Hout, although there are indications the investigation is nearing completion.
At the time of his death, Yeoman was under indictment on federal fraud and obstruction of justice charges related to the award of a $1.5 million state contract to the accounting firm that employed him, Coopers & Lybrand. Coopers has since admitted that Yeoman helped rig the contract by obtaining confidential bidding information.
Yeoman's testimony was expected to play a crucial role in Symington's federal trial on 23 counts of fraud, perjury and extortion. The trial is scheduled to begin in March.
Feed The Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, [email protected]