Looks like the journos at today's Joe Arpaio presser practically had to jump out of the way of the spittle flying forth from the sheriff's kisser. As I suspected it would be, the whole show was an excuse for a tirade on the part of our spoiled lawman, a fit thrown by a puerile 77 year-old after someone took away his new toy and stuck him in a time out.
"This is all a conspiracy," sputtered our wild-eyed top constable, regarding ICE's denying him 287(g) street authority. "It started two years ago, calculated little by little to reach today's decision.
"We can see that they just don't want this sheriff to investigate, arrest illegal aliens," he added. "That's the bottom line. They're bringing politics into it."
It's a good thing they didn't allow me into today's press conference (New Times reporters are barred from MCSO media events that take place on county property), that line alone would gotten me guffawing. It's all about politics and media for Joe. If the wrinkled geezers in Sun City who adore him began hating on Koreans instead of Mexicans tomorrow, Joe'd be shutting down every Korean bbq on the West Side. (No, really, there are quite a few out that way.)
Or if he could arrest little schoolkids and score some face time on Lou Dobbs by doing so, the MCSO would be commandeering yellow busses left and right. Not that I want to give him any ideas...
Channel 3 aired footage of Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano responding to Arpaio's concerns about having his 287(g) street team jerked.
"That review is under way," drawled Janet like she was suspended in a vat of aspic. "No decisions pending that review have been made. So I think the sheriff's statement is premature."
Someone apparently asked Joe about Janet, and he flipped out.
"I'm not calling her a liar," he sneered, as if that was exactly what he was doing. "Let's see what happens. Let's call her bluff. And lets see if she gives me my 287(g) in the next 12 days."
If Napolitano were to do that, she'll be a chump in Arpaio's eyes, someone easily twisted. By Arpaio's logic, if Nappy doesn't give him back his 287(g) squadron, she'll be a liar, right?
Arpaio also reiterated that if ICE didn't take the non-criminal aliens he nabs in his sweeps, he'd ship them to Mexico himself.
"If we determine they're illegal, we'll turn them over to ICE," Arpaio told the assembled. "If ICE refuses to take 'em, then I'll take a little trip to the border."
Sounds like kidnapping to me. You can't determine whether or not someone has a citizenship claim at the drop of a pith helmet. That's why the federal government has an entire court system devoted just to immigration. What Arpaio is proposing is clearly contrary to the law. Not that he'll let that stop him, of course.
(Arpaio also called Homeland Security a department of "liars" over and over in footage from Channel 12. And this is a guy they think they can work with?)
In any case, the new 287(g) jails agreement will be on the agenda tomorrow morning at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting. Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox told me that she's decided to vote against the agreement, and that other supervisors are considering delaying a vote till a later date.
"We don't even have a signed agreement from ICE," said Wilcox, a Democrat, who has been targeted by the sheriff for retaliation because she often speaks out against him. "We've got no report from ICE, and I think we're opening ourselves up to abuses with any 287(g), so I'm voting against it."
As for Wilcox's Republican colleagues, who include Don Stapley -- the sheriff's personal pincushion, Wilcox says some of them are having doubts.
"A couple are really looking at should we even move forward with it, so there might be a move to continue," she told me, "because there's no approval from ICE. So I think everybody is really studying it hard. I think there's maybe a 50-50 chance of continuing."
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I'll give you a report tomorrow morning after the supervisors' meeting. The thing to keep in mind is that this ball is still in play, even if the BOS votes to approve the new memorandum tomorrow. The politicians in D.C. are amenable to pressure, and if there's enough outrage on the left, Joe's jails agreement could be stopped.
One last thing, I note Joe had this to say on Twitter after his rant-fest:
"Just got done with my news conference on the 287G program. Lots of reporters but not too many questions, I wonder why?"
Let New Times in next time, Joe, and we'll give you some questions that'll have steam coming out of those gnarly old elephant ears of yours. Heh.