Sheriff Joe can always count on ultra-conservative KTAR lip-flapper Darrell Ankarlo to wipe Arpaio's fanny clean with his kisser, even when Joe's been caught with his hand in the RICO cookie jar, as has been the case with the revelation of Arpaio's Chief Deputy David Hendershott's Honduran project. I heard Arpaio growling on air yesterday as Ankarlo lapped it all up like a dog does his own doodie. Nothing new there. Ankarlo's been an unabashed Joe bootlicker since he arrived in Phoenix as the latest cliche of an anti-Mexican hate-jock. Even the stink of corruption does not deter him from puckering up to Joe's stanky keister.
To tell the truth, I've got a lot of respect for KTAR's news room. Despite the rightward slant of the Mormon church-owned station, the reporters there put out a solid product. Must be embarrassing though, attempting to be true-blue journos while the station itself gives free reign to hatemongers like Ankarlo, as well as nationally-syndicated right-wing loon Glenn Beck, easily the most annoying pinhead on air anywhere.
In any case, yesterday Ankarlo played StepinFetchit to Nickel Bag Joe, letting the geezer cop shoot his mouth off about the training of Honduran cops by MCSO bigwigs, all paid for by the county and RICO money.
"What's 30,000?" asked our spendthrift Sheriff, arguing that he's allowed to run his own foreign policy as Sheriff of Maricopa County.
"We've been dealing with the highest level," Joe crowed. "We've been meeting with the president of that country."
Joe justified the Honduran enterprise by claiming that the MCSO has received "millions of photos for our facial recognition," whatever that is. The number of photos has fluctuated wildly from one million to five million. Hey, here's a news flash: There are only 7.5 million people in Honduras. So, what, have they photographed all the little old ladies and kiddies too? Arpaio always begs off explaining what the hell he's talking about, mumbling something about the "sensitivity" of the situation. If you ask me, it sounds like a bunch of bullhockey.
But the money shot of the confab yesterday was Ankarlo's question to Arpaio. "Did one penny of my tax dollars pay for this trip in any way, shape or form?"
Ankarlo was suggesting that the nearly 32K in RICO money was a non-issue if there were no "tax dollars" used. Arpaio's response was, as you might suspect, full of the brown stuff:
"First of all, it was RICO monies...We were using that money -- $30,000, which is nothing."
Ankarlo followed up with, "Not one penny other than RICO money was used, yes or no, Sheriff?"
"Well, I don't know, there may be a couple of dollars here or there," Joe replied. "But if there was it was not significant."
"Is that hundreds, thousands, do you know?" asked Ankarlo.
"No, no, no," insisted our crotchety top constable. "The majority of the money was the RICO money. I don't know if we spent a few bucks otherwise. I doubt it."
OK, so first off, RICO money is OUR money. It's money that comes from asset forfeitures from criminals doing bad stuff, and it's supposed to go for specific law enforcement needs -- not to some other country to train its cops.
But aside from RICO, county tax dollars -- yours and mine -- were used to pay for this Honduran adventure. Check these docs the MCSO just coughed up to me, here. As you can see from the names listed and the payroll hours listed, these 10 cops (previous info the MCSO gave me indicated only nine deputies involved, but here there are 10) were on county time as they were winging it down to sunny Honduras. Also, there was a significant amount of overtime paid to these deputies. In one case, a deputy racks up over 40 hours of OT. And if you'll recall, one of the reasons the MCSO is in a budget crisis is because too much OT has been paid out.
So, no matter what excuses Joe or his lap dog Ankarlo pony up for this Central American boondoggle, it was done with OUR money -- OUR RICO funds, and with deputies who were ON THE COUNTY CLOCK. This is why it's a snowballing news story. And it's why dumbass Darrell had Arpaio on this Thursday.
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Ankarlo did correctly note the parentage of the story.
"Having seen the firestorm," said Ankarlo in a windy wind-up to a softball Q. "And again it's no love lost between you and New Times. New Times hates you, and I doubt you even have great aspirations to even be a reporter for that organization. [huh?] So New Times comes out, they expose it. And then KTAR, Channel 12, others pick it up..."
You got that right, Jack. This was a New Times baby, no matter what Channel 12 or the Arizona Republic maintain. Though I'm happy to see it get wider play.
I should also note, as I did in my very first blog item on this scandal back in mid-January, that it was longtime Arpaio-foe Jim Cozzolino of Arpaio.com fame who first tipped me off to the articles on Honduran Web sites discussing Jabba the Hendershott and other deputies being down in Honduras training Honduran po-po. Kudos again to Jim! And thanks for tipping me off first.