Veteran New Times staff writer John Dougherty has resigned to chase his muse.
Dougherty, who is writing a farewell column to be published in the August 31 issue of this publication, has decided to travel around the West searching for book ideas. After 14 years as a writer and columnist for New Times, Dougherty, 50, said it was simply time for him to reflect on his life and to pursue larger writing projects.
Though he has residences in Tempe and northern Arizona, he said he will be living out of the camper he's pulling behind his pickup. Last we heard from him, he was tooling through the wilds of Washington state.
Best known for his coverage of the scandal that forced former governor J. Fife Symington III from office, Dougherty over the past few years wrote stories and columns that landed Arizona and Utah polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs on the FBI's Most Wanted list. These articles resulted in the indictments of several polygamists, including Jeffs, on charges related to the sexual molestation of young girls who had been forced into multiple "marriages" to much older men.
Another frequent target was Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who became so rankled at Dougherty's relentless coverage that he banned the reporter from his offices in the Wells Fargo Tower in downtown Phoenix. Dougherty harangued Arpaio in his weekly column for the scandalous conditions in the county jails, as well as for continual buffoonery. A source in the MCSO said the mood was festive within Arpaio's inner sanctum when news leaked out that Dougherty was no longer working in Phoenix.
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In addition to New Times, Dougherty worked for the old Phoenix Gazette, the East Valley Tribune and the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News.