Gerald Richard, former director of the Phoenix Police Department and unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Maricopa County Attorney, has taken a job as state Attorney General Terry Goddard's "special policy advisor."
His new job is already receiving criticism from one of the closeted bloggers over at the right-wing Sonoran Alliance site, the indignant "Chewie:"
Employees at the AG's Office making over $50,000 received an email Friday instructing them that they would need to take 10 days of furlough this year. Goddard should not be permitted to hire high-priced Democrat crony political hacks to curry favors for his future run for governor, using the office and its employees.
Though Richard seems plenty qualified for higher-end law enforcement duties, the ironic timing of his hire with the furlough does open the office up to bloggers like Chewie, who claims to know three experienced attorneys who Goddard's office recently laid off.
As with another of Chewie's attempts at journalism, however, the author pulls out prematurely.
We checked in with the AG's office, and it appears that Richard's hire is linked to legitimate law enforcement duties. (But hey, that's not to say Chewie's thesis about currying political favors must be incorrect). Richard also isn't making as much money as Greg Stanton, who received the wrath of Chewie after Goddard hired the former Phoenix councilman last month -- at $117,000 a year -- as a lobbyist.
Here's the response from Goddard's spokeperson, Anne Hilby, following e-mailed questions from New Times about Richard's salary and duties:
Request to fill mission critical position submitted to ADOA on October 20, 2008, and Gerald began in the office on December 8, 2008.
He is a salaried employee. His annual salary is 96,740 (not including his 8 required furlough days this fiscal year)
The description of his position is attached.
Since he started, Gerald has begun his work on CopLink, connecting all law enforcement agencies on the same software system to better assist officers in providing information, identifying criminals, undocumented immigrants and criminal activity in the state. In addition, the system will provide Arizona with information on terrorist activity and assist small and medium size law enforcement agencies in solving cold cases.
He is working with local law enforcement agencies, collaborating on addressing issues such as:
-Responses the legislature's recommendation to cut the Department of Public Safety's Crime Lab budget thereby shifting the costs to already strapped local law enforcement agencies. If this occurs communities my be continuously victimized because their law enforcement agencies will not be able to afford having evidence processed by the DPS Crime Lab.
-Identifying issues, such as Meth and its costs to Arizona counties and the increase in gang activity, with which the AGO can assist local law enforcement agencies through its expertise, resources and statewide jurisdiction.
-Providing key coordination of multi-agency investigations and prosecutions in which the agency is involved. Effective investigations and prosecutions of sophisticated criminal activity - such as border smuggling, financial fraud, and organized gang activity - require the participation of numerous agencies, and the office anticipates more of these cases than ever in 2009.
Click here to see the office's description of the special advisor's job.
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In a later phone conversation, Hilby tells New Times that Richard's "mission critical" position is a necessity at the office, not a luxury.
"The characterization that this was a new hire, or a political hire, is entirely off base," Hilby says. "He's already done a great deal."
There's no reason to think that's not true, and COPLINK is certainly a worthy project.
Of course, Richard's connections will come in handy for Goddard, too.