Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Resignation: Online Petition Demands Sheriff Take a Powder

It's pile-on time for that infamous ignorer of sex-crimes cases, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and, boy, does the near-80 autocrat ever deserve the abuse.

Democratic Congressmen and state legislators are calling for his scalp in the wake of his latest scandal -- the MCSO's ball-drop on more than 400 sex cimes cases, many involving little children. Even U.S. Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain have recently gotten into the act, kinda-sorta.

Of course, most of the public looked the other way when Arpaio's misdeeds involved persecuting his enemies, stealing $100 million from county coffers, engaging in unconstitutional "sweeps" of Latino neighborhoods, or torturing and killing inmates in his vast incarceration complex.

But not investigating kid molesters? That, finally, may be the straw that crushes the sheriff's political vertebrae.

Joe, however, will not go gently into that good night, and is currently doing his impersonation of James Cagney's gangster in The Public Enemy.

Dislodging him from power will eventually mean beating him in an election -- either the 2012 Republican primary, or the general. Assuming the feds don't get off their duffs and indict him as they should have long ago.

Nevertheless, I suspect Arpaio will hold on till the bitter end. So what do those who want to see him gone do in the meantime?

One suggestion comes from award-winning investigative journo and former U.S. Senate candidate  John Dougherty. The erstwhile New Times scribe yesterday began a Change.org petition, with the following preamble:

"Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has failed to protect the public and carry out his duties as an elected official in a Constitutional manner. The latest disclosure that MCSO failed to investigate hundreds of sex-crime cases involving children is just one in a long list of atrocities that have taken place under Arpaio's 20-years in power. 

"Too many people have died in Arpaio's jails, too many citizens' Constitutional rights have been trampled, too many people have been forced to live in fear of retaliation for daring to challenge the Sheriff's policies. Now is the time to end his reign of terror, abuse and willful disregard for the Arizona and United States Constitution."

As of the posting of this blog item, the petition has scored 187 signatures and counting. Not too shabby for a less-than-24-hours-old effort.

Such a petition could grow to be an effective political tool against Arpaio. Imagine how many signatures it will have in September of next year, when the general election is hard on Arpaio's heels.

By that time, or before then, such a petition may become an issue Arpaio will have to address. And to the extent it puts him on the defense, I'd say it's worth signing.

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