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Letters From the Issue of Thursday, October 25, 2007

Page 2 of 4

The First Amendment is not to be trifled with, and it is my sincerest hope that New Times writers will continue to document public corruption in earnest given this recent vindication (jail time notwithstanding).
Adam Van Hook-Drucker, Phoenix

Keep this in mind when you vote: Our Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. From recent press reports, we must ask: Does the Maricopa County Attorney feel he is above the constitutions of the United States and the state of Arizona?

Intimidating the press and seeking information about subscribers is crossing the line. New Times' founders knew and understood that an unshackled fourth estate is one means by which our freedoms are preserved. The press often exposes corruption and self-serving individuals seeking power over the people.

As captain of his ship, Andrew Thomas is responsible for this [intimidation].

It appears that a siege mentality, coupled with finding a sacrificial lamb, brought termination of his assistant with the public announcement: "It has become clear to me the investigation has gone in a direction I would not have authorized." As a political individual, he should have known that investigating the press, even to help a friend [Joe Arpaio], is like carrying a lighted candle in the same hand with a fuse to a stick of dynamite.

A complaint has been filed against Thomas with the Arizona Bar Association. Does Thomas know the purpose of government? To protect, yes, but there is a much higher calling. The Arizona Constitution states: "All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights."

Is Andrew Thomas following the Constitution to protect and maintain individual rights? As citizens, we should keep that question in mind and then send our response as we drop our ballots in boxes in the next general election.
Kenneth J. Bond, Mesa

Something to hide? Hell, yes: You bet the Sheriff's Department and Andrew Thomas' office want to sweep this under the rug as fast as possible. Quick, blame somebody other than Joe Arpaio.

Remember, this whole thing started as an attempt by Arpaio to cover up his land dealings. I searched and easily found his real estate disclosures and addresses on the Internet. These documents state that, in 2003 to 2004, he had zero debts and had received no gifts. His personal holdings include three commercial properties near the corner of Shea Boulevard and Scottsdale Road — 10,000 square feet of office space, plus another 6,000 square feet in Fountain Hills.

I used Google Maps to get the real view of his Fountain Hills home. It's huge, in a very exclusive neighborhood, on the top of a ridge overlooking Fountain Lake to the front, and open to reservation land via a huge backyard. Probably a 5,000- to 6,000-square-foot, one-story house. If you add up the value of all this — home plus commercial property — you can easily get past a few million bucks. He was not required to list any additional residential or vacation homes.

His commercial office in Fountain Hills was purchased in 2003. His house looks new, with many vacant lots nearby. Paid with cash! He makes about $78,000 a year. Do the math, folks. Lots of people have been investigated by the IRS on less info than this.

Joe and his wife, Ava, do business under the names Starworld Travel and Ava Investment. So who knows anything about those companies? Since the Internet, travel agencies have been losing money, yet this one stays afloat and pays them money.

Guess what, folks, [the companies] have no Web site. Starworld doesn't show up very much on the Internet. Starworld does show up as one of about 60 sponsors of the Grand Canyon State Games (www.gcsg.org). Starworld looks like the only sponsor of about 60 that does not even have a logo. Is this a real business?

Does Arpaio have something to hide?
Name withheld by request

Puzzling relationships at work: I'm interested in the dynamics of the relationships among Andrew Thomas, Larry Turoff, and his wife, [political operative] Carol Turoff, and Dennis Wilenchik. I am very intrigued by the idea that Carol would call the judge to request a private meeting between the judge and Wilenchik just because . . .

Wilenchik alleges that he was not wanting to meet about the New Times case, just about the relationship between the County Attorney's Office and the courts, in general. I would think such a request would have been initiated by Denny himself if it's so benign. Did Carol suddenly read his mind and then put her own twist on it? Very puzzling!

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