Mesa Mayor Scott Smith Goes to Arpaio's Office

By Ray Stern

All outrage apparently gone, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith went to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office today in a move that reeked of capitulation. On October 16, the day Arpaio's troops raided Mesa City Hall and the city's public library, Smith talked tough, saying the city had been "violated" and that lives were put at risk because police and deputies weren't working together. The raid netted just three janitors on city property; more undocumented workers were busted at their homes.

In this video taken by a point-and-shoot, Smith says he and Arpaio shared their concerns and that they made "great strides" in relations between the city and county agency. Halfway through the one minute, 45 second video, a woman who says she's a former Mesa resident walks up and tells Smith she's glad he met with Arpaio. But if the meeting was productive, it was hard to tell.

A few questions asked during the brief news conference Smith held outside the Wells Fargo tower -- Arpaio's office is on the 19th floor -- didn't make the video. Smith also told TV news and print journalists both sides got an "earful," as Arpaio threatened a couple of days ago to give Smith. (Though Smith also says the meeting was "cordial.")

"I'm not here to win a battle," Smith said. "I'm here to win something for the public."

The sheriff, no doubt, is unequivocal: He wants to win the battle, and an election.

UPDATE: Arpaio told the Arizona Republic he might Mesa officials know the next time deputies conduct an operation there:

"I did make one thing clear, and he totally understands," Arpaio said. "He says he's against illegal immigration. He does understand I will continue my policies in Mesa, enforcing state and federal immigration law. He has no problem with that."

But Arpaio said he agreed "whenever necessary in certain situations to at least let him or the city manager know (of sheriff's operations in Mesa), and I don't have a problem with that."

This is the second promise Arpaio has made to Mesa this year to give advance notice of enforcement actions in the city. Enough weasel words lurk in this latest promise to make it look like a third or fourth will be needed at some point.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern