For those of you who've been wondering whatever happened to those plans to kick Sheriff Joe Arpaio out of his pricey executive suites in downtown Phoenix's Wells Fargo building, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has a plan to get Arpaio into a fixer-upper: an ex-IRS building at 210 East Earll Drive.
Board spokeswoman Cari Gerchick told me the county is putting down a half-million dollar deposit on the building, which has a total price tag of $12.5 million. If all goes well, the county will close on the property by the end of September, and Arpaio and his top brass could be in there sometime in 2011.
Arpaio's PR flacks issued a self-serving press release on the potential move, making it sound like it was all the MCSO's idea. It wasn't. As my colleague Ray Stern blogged in February, Wells Fargo wanted its space back from the sheriff, and had been seeking an early termination of the rental agreement.
Wells Fargo had been under the pressure of daily protests from Phoenix civil rights leader Sal Reza's organization Puente. Some concluded that Wells Fargo finally buckled. In any case, Arpaio and his flunkies did not want to leave the building, which has all the trappings of executive power, and was costing the county beaucoup bucks a year in rent for the MCSO portion.
Gerchick pointed out that the county had been looking at the property "for a while" as part of a long-term project to move county offices from rental spaces to buildings the county owns.
But Gerchick cheerily noted, "If someone wants to give themselves the credit, that's fine."
In that case, I'll award credit to Sal Reza, whose group had been demonstrating outside the Wells Fargo building since 2008. Reza had even served Wells Fargo officials with an "eviction notice" for the county's corrupt top cop.
Seems like it just took a little while for that eviction notice to finally take hold. But if the IRS property doesn't work out, can we just put Arpaio in a cardboard box under the freeway and feed him scraps? Hey, it would save the county that $12.5 million.
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