Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio, DeeDee Blase, and Her Shrill Attacks on Paul Penzone

Local activist and Mike Stauffer for Sheriff supporter DeeDee Blase has been of great assistance to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of late.

Sure, she's garnered a spoonful of media interest for protesting the church Arpaio attends in Fountain Hills, along with a handful of others. But that's nothing compared to her incessant, unhinged attacks on Arpaio's Democratic opponent, former Phoenix Police Sergeant Paul Penzone.

By supporting Stauffer, a goofy former Scottsdale Police Department lieutenant who's running as an Independent against both Penzone and Arpaio, Blase is, in her small way, helping to split the anti-Arpaio vote, making it more likely Arpaio will win come November.

Blase is essentially a political gadfly. I'll be the first to give her credit for doing good work in the past. But she has marginalized herself over the years by consistently alienating her political allies.

Normally, I would not give the bizarre rants she's been posting to the aggregate Tucson Citizen website, much shrift.

But the Internet is the great leveler. Someone like Blase, who appears uninterested in the facts, can, simply by posting a blog, disseminate misinformation to a mass audience. And that misinformation gets repeated like a game of telephone till some poor sods actually believe it.

Recently, Blase or one of her confederates obtained a copy of Penzone's personnel file, and she's been doling it out in drips and drabs.

(If you're interested, you can read the entire 298 pages, here. Be warned, it is a very large file, and is not in chronological order.)

Penzone's jacket is full of commendations, but you wouldn't know that by paying attention to Blase, who intentionally misrepresents what little she offers her readers.

For instance, in one post, she makes hay out of the fact that in 2005, Arpaio sent a letter to former Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris, thanking Penzone, who was then the head of the PPD's Silent Witness program, as well as PPD's records and dispatch, for assisting in the apprehension of a suspect and the safe return of two kidnapped children.

Arpaio also praises "an extraordinary partnership" among a number of law enforcement agencies and other organizations that assisted in the effort, but details of the several agencies involved and specifics of the case they were working on have been deleted by Blase.

A four paragraph letter becomes a two paragraph letter, which seems to refer mainly to Penzone. Blase then offers it as proof of "why Penzone should be doubted," insinuating some sort of collusion between Arpaio and Penzone.

The full letter is hardly evidence of anything more than Arpaio thanking another agency head for help in an important case. Pretty standard stuff between law enforcement honchos. You can look at the letter up close, here.

In another shrill post, Blase rages about a minor car accident Penzone had in 1994, calling it his "history of being wreckless [sic] in law enforcement with tax payer dollars and government property."

In her title, and on Facebook, she asks if the incident demonstrates "a pattern of road rage."

But as you can see from reading the letter, here, it's all about the fact that Penzone "struck a vertical decorative railroad tie which could not be seen from inside his car." This causes an estimated $300 in damage to the police vehicle.

Penzone's supervisor recommends a written reprimand and a remedial driving course for Penzone, noting that the last at-fault accident for Penzone had been 3 years ago. It's also worth mentioning that Penzone had been a cop for about five or six years at the time.

"Road rage"? Against what, a "decorative railroad tie"? Blase's accusations are ridiculous in the extreme.

Then there's Blase's skewed analysis of an incident I was the first to write about, one she would know nothing of if she had not read my July column about a 2003 incident involving Penzone and his ex-wife.

After I published the article, Blase went on the warpath against Penzone, carefully using the phrase "alleged wife beater" to paint Penzone in the worst possible light.

(Refer to my original column for the details on the altercation between Penzone and his wife.)

For instance, take this header to a recent diatribe of hers:

"PAUL PENZONE PUBLIC RECORDS ARE IN: His wife did file a protection order against him and he was the defendant."

The records are in? Well, they were "in" when I wrote about it in July, so that's asinine. In reference to a protection order being filed against him, no duh, DeeDee. That was in my column, along with the fact that it was Penzone who reported the incident to the Glendale cops.

"The incident did become an issue in the divorce proceedings," I wrote, "with Penzone first issuing his wife an order of protection, after which she quickly followed suit. Ultimately, the judge in the case dismissed both orders, and the divorce ended with Paul and Susan sharing joint custody of Austin."

Blase declines to tell you that the Glendale City Prosecutor ultimately decided not to press charges against either Penzone or his wife.

Instead, the Tequila Party princess makes a big deal of Penzone having to turn over his two handguns to the Glendale Police on April 15, according to police records.

Penzone got his weapons back two weeks later on April 29, after the orders of protection against him and his wife were dismissed by the judge.

Does anyone really believe that the judge in the case would have lifted the order of protection against Penzone and awarded Penzone joint custody of his son if that judge had reason to believe Penzone was violent?

In this context, Blase's shrill attack stands for what it is. Hyperbole, driven by a political agenda.

Blase even went so far as to suggest that Penzone was on the Brady list, the list of cops whose testimony can be questioned by defense attorneys. Thing is, I have a copy of the Brady list from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office that I posted to the Internet in 2010. Penzone's name is not on it.

(Take a look at the Brady list dated 9/13/10, page to "Phoenix." Penzone's name is not on it.)

When, during a Facebook discussion with Blase, I pointed this out, she sneered that Penzone's name would have been removed after he retired. I checked with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office to make sure. MCAO spokesman Jerry Cobb told me that an officer's name does not drop off the Brady list just because he or she retires.

Penzone's name is not on the Brady list, and there is no evidence that I'm aware of that it ever was.

Such scurrilous attacks are not new in politics, of course. But when Blase so blatantly distorts the truth in a fit of obsessive malice toward Penzone, you have to ask yourself "Cui bono?" To whose benefit?

The one person who benefits from the smears and distortions is Arpaio, not Stauffer, who is doomed to come in third in this race. Blase may claim to despise Arpaio, but her recent scribblings assist the sheriff and no one else.

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