Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio got a little pissy earlier this week when three police officers from Columbus, Ohio weren't granted permission to come to Arizona for training with the sheriff's boys in beige. The reason: Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman called for a boycott of all things Arizona more than a year ago.
We spoke with Coleman's press secretary, Dan Williamson, yesterday. The gist of the conversation: Joe Arpaio's pissiness is just about the last thing on the mayor's mind -- and it "sounds kinda like a publicity stunt."
Williamson continues, "It sounds like there was one officer [who] made a big deal about [the boycott]. This is not an issue that was raised with the mayor. I don't believe anyone went to the mayor and said 'hey, this is important.'"
Williamson presumes the officers went to their supervisors, asked if they could come to Arizona for training, and were told they couldn't because of Coleman's boycott. One of the officers opted to go to California for similar "drug recognition" training, one decided to stay in Ohio and not get the training, and the third used his personal vacation time to come to the Valley and defy his mayor's boycott.
As for the boycott, Williamson admits that it's "more of a symbolic measure" because the city of Columbus doesn't do a whole lot of business in Arizona. He says the mayor would revisit the boycott -- and possibly end it -- if there was a good reason to do so. Police training with the MCSO apparently is not a good enough reason.
"I don't think we've been asked about [the boycott] in more than a year so it hasn't been an issue [Coleman's] revisited," he says. "In 2010, when the Arizona law was enacted, there were organizations across the nation [that] stood with those in Arizona who oppose [SB 1070], including a ban on travel there. The mayor supported that."
In a press release from the MCSO, Arpaio says he's considering inviting Coleman to Arizona so he could tour the immigration yard at Tent City, and do a ride-along with an MCSO deputy during one of the sheriff's "employer sanctions opperations"/illegal immigrant roundups.
Again, Arpaio's only considering inviting Coleman to the Valley.
"The whole things sounds kinda like a publicity stunt," Williamson says. "If he wanted to invite the mayor to Arizona, he probably would have invited the mayor to Arizona rather than send a press release out about it. It doesn't sound like a very sincere invitation."
Williamson declined to say whether Coleman would consider meeting with Arpaio -- ya know, if the sheriff ever actually invites him to Arizona.