Paul Chagolla, Expert Propagandist for Sheriff Arpaio, Gets Promotion

As a public information officer for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Paul Chagolla has a widespread reputation for getting nasty when local journalists fail to buy into whatever propaganda he wants to sell.

And that means, from Arpaio's point of view, he must be doing a fantastic job.

Judging by a phone message on Chagolla's telephone today, Chagolla has just been promoted from captain to deputy chief.

It's unclear whether Chagolla will be assigned new duties for his new job or will simply be paid more for doing the same thing -- he has not yet returned the message left this afternoon for him by New Times.

If he's leaving the sheriff's highly paid publicity team altogether, it's possible that the media's relationship with the sheriff's office could improve. But Arpaio seems to enjoy having a piss-and-vinegar flak like Chagolla at his side to bolster the sheriff's "newspapers-are-garbage" anti-media rhetoric.

As chronicled in this newspaper and elsewhere, asking the "wrong" question of Chagolla often brings insults and threats to withhold information. For chronic critics of the sheriff's office, like those at New Times, Chagolla may refuse to answer even the most innocuous questions or to provide the offending news outlet with the same timely news releases sent to the office's favored reporters.

Chagolla loved being a captain so much, he sometimes signed his e-mails "CPC," for Captain Paul Chagolla. And woe to the journalist who labels him a lowly lieutenant, as New Times writer John Dickerson accidently did in a August e-mail:

"Mrs. Dickerson," reads Chagolla's snotty reply. "Oh I mean Mr. Dickerson. But after, all (sic) what is in a title?"

Local reporters who want to keep being fed timely "Joe Show" ideas would do well to remember Chagolla's new title, or maybe they want to consider sending him a congratulatory gift. We hear he loves chocolate chip cookies. -- Ray Stern

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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