Mesa: Whoops... Cleaning Service Did Have Access to City Hall

Mesa Plaza Building

By Ray Stern

It turns out the cleaning crew that got Mesa in trouble with Joe Arpaio had access to City Hall, after all.

Maricopa County sheriff's deputies hit both Mesa City Hall and the library in a predawn raid as they hunted for unauthorized Mexican workers. But they only caught three workers on Mesa library grounds, and none at the Mesa Plaza Building, where the mayor and council members have their offices.

Steve Wright, spokesman for the city of Mesa, told New Times yesterday that Management Cleaning Controls, the company targeted in the deputies' search warrant, didn't clean the offices and had no access to the building. That would mean, of course, that the deputies screwed up somehow in their investigation, which Sheriff Joe Arpaio said had taken months.

But Wright was speaking out of line -- once he got the full story from other city officials, he explained that Management Cleaning Controls did, in fact, have access to the building until July or August, when another company won a bid to clean City Hall.

As New Times pointed out in a previous blog entry, city officials missed their chance to root out undocumented workers who had access to sensitive places like City Hall and the library. As it now looks, two or three months after city officials discussed the problem with representatives of the company, Management Cleaning Control workers still had the keys to the city.

True, the undocumented workers who apparently worked in Mesa City Hall just emptied garbage cans and vacuumed carpets for a paycheck -- they didn't abuse their access privileges (or, rather, authorities aren't saying they did).

But Mesa's lacksidasical policies did allow Arpaio to politically bitch-slap the city that employs one of the sheriff's top ideological opponents, Mesa Police Chief George Gascon. Mesa handed Arpaio a legal basis to literally invade the seat of city government with his troops. Arpaio will seal Mesa's political fate on the issue later this week when Mesa Mayor Scott Smith performs his expected kowtow in Arpaio's downtown Phoenix office.

"He's coming to my office, and boy, he's going to get an earful," Arpaio blustered to a TV news reporter over the weekend.

In that respect, at least, illegal immigration has definitely been a problem in Mesa this week

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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