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Anyone surprised Mayor Phil "Goober" Gordon's turned clucker on Phoenix Police Department Operations Order 1.4.3, folding like a cardboard box to the nativists? After all, this is the same pusillanimous pipsqueak who cowered behind his mommy when The Bird lobbed a few tough questions at him during his reelection campaign (see "Mayor McChickenshit," May 24).

Still, the Taloned One was a smidgen surprised that Gordon waited but a trio of months before swiping a page from his opponent in the September election, Republican Steve Lory. You'll recall Lory took up the nativist cry that Operations Order 1.4.3 — the police policy that outlines when and how cops contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement — makes Phoenix a "sanctuary city."

Goober insisted that Phoenix ain't no sanctuary city, that ICE officers are embedded with P-town police, that they bust drop houses together, yadda-yadda-yadda. You'd think from listening to him that he'd written the dang thing.

Essentially, the 20-year-old policy assures us that beat cops won't be stopping people just to check their papers like in some old WWII-era Nazi flick. Nor is ICE notified every time officers issue a citation to a Hispanic.

But last week, Goober dramatically announced he'd "no longer support" the operations order. Instead of just saying what he would support, he impaneled a four-man mayoral flak-deflecting squad, which includes such influential, moderate Republicans as former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley and former AZ Attorney General Grant Woods.

"As mayor, I have seen our situation escalate to a perilous point," intoned flip-floppin' Phil. "Rhetoric is replacing reason. There's too much hate. It's ugly; it's dangerous — and good people continue to suffer."

That part about the hate's right on the dinero, especially when the volatile situation at M.D. Pruitt's Home Furnishings is taken into account. But in response to the reactionaries who want everyone who's undocumented rounded up and sent south, what's Goober done? Caved like a spent copper mine.

Goober's panel of Republican wise men doesn't hurt him, though. Gordon hankers to run for governor one day, so he needs insulation from the inevitable fallout.

"He could've called those guys into his office in an afternoon and gotten the advice," erstwhile mayoral contender Lory opined to this tweeter. "Or have the city attorney privately give him advice. Now this panel is his lightning rod."

Lory, who ended up getting 23 percent of the vote, says he's not pissed that Goober said one thing before the election and did exactly the opposite three months later. Goober's a wet-finger-waver from way-back. Plus, our milquetoast mayor has über-conservative, fat-pocketed Washington, D.C. think-tank Judicial Watch breathing down his neck.

"Judicial Watch threatened litigation on this issue," Lory reminded, referring to a recent visit to Phoenix by a J.W. law-hound. "The city would've lost, because the current order is illegal. And Judical Watch threatened a recall of the mayor. That's what it takes, I guess."

Lory believes federal law invalidates the Operations Order, but it's by no means established that local gendarmes should be enforcing federal immigration law, or that Judicial Watch could win a suit against the city.

Rather, this rascally rooster believes it was that sniff of a possible recall that forced Goober to, uh, assume the position. Before this, Goober supported Police Chief Jack Harris, who in the wake of PHX police officer Nick Erfle's fatal shooting by an illegal alien in September, was sticking by police policy.

"Am I saddened by another senseless murder of a Phoenix police officer?" asked Harris in an Arizona Republic opinion piece following Erfle's demise. "Yes, of course I am. But I am also saddened when I turn on the radio and hear some useless gasbag using the murder of Officer Nick Erfle to promote a personal racist agenda."

Now that's what a mayor should sound like! Harris pointed out that the thug who offed Erfle had been deported by ICE before, and that Erfle was attempting to arrest the scumbag on a misdemeanor warrant when he was shot. So, how would scrapping Operations Order 1.4.3 have saved Erfle? Answer: It wouldn't have.

Harris explained, "The mayor does not write or approve police policy, I do." He declared, "I am not inclined to turn my officers into immigration agents just because it suits a politician's purpose."

Harris' words were not pointed toward Phil, but they might as well have been, because it now suits Goober's purpose to turn Harris' men into immigration agents.

Phil would've been better off remaining resolute in the face of the rising tide of intolerance. But he'd need a set of stones for that. Phil created this panel in the hopes of throwing a sop to the anti-immigrationists. But this bluebird's got some bad news for the city's yella-bellied chief executive — the nativists want none of it.

At the weekly insult orgy down at Pruitt's on Saturday, nativists waved signs that read, "Fire Grant Woods!" See, Woods has been hired by Cochise County to prosecute a Border Patrol Agent charged with second-degree murder in the death of an illegal immigrant. To nativist noggins, he might as well be U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton (sometimes referred to as "Johnny Satan"), the guy who prosecuted Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean for shooting a fleeing, unarmed illegal in the butt.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons