Reality Check

This brazen beak-bearer can't wrap its head feathers around why Zona press weenies are so scared of discussing whether Governor Janet Napolitano's a secret lez. Pretty much everyone in this state with half a clue assumes "Manet," as wags call her, is a lesbian. The Bird figures she's a non-practicing one, though, as she radiates all the sex appeal of Richard M. Nixon in his prime.

Why, Sand Land could make history if Janet de-closeted. A state mostly known for its right-wing politics would suddenly have the only openly gay governor in the nation, the only openly lesbian Guv ever. Sure, pre-November 7, she might lose some of her 43-point lead against challenger Len "Premarital" Munsil, but she'd never come close to losing it all. Especially since most folks already have Napolitano pegged as one butch, k.d. lang-ish pol.

Napolitano last denied preferring ladies to gents back in the 2002 gubernatorial race, when in response to the charge that she had some sort of radical gay-rights agenda, she announced, "I am not gay." But few swallowed the line, and Nappy never even bothered producing an alleged boyfriend to keep rumors at bay. You know, a beard.

AZ's fourth estate generally lacks the huevos to discuss the Guv's sexual orientation, even when the personal turns political, as is the case with Prop 107, the right-wing-sponsored same-sex-marriage ban. Manet fought unsuccessfully to have the prop appear on a special 2005 ballot instead of the 2006 ballot, when she knew she'd be gunning for reelection. When that effort failed, she ducked the issue until this August, staking out the Bill Clinton-esque position of being opposed to same-sex unions, but against Prop 107, too. See, she claims to deem it unnecessary, since AZ law currently bans gay marriage. The Guv also agrees with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon that the prop's prohibition on domestic-partner benefits is bad policy.

So this salty starling decided to wing its way down to the governor's regular Wednesday media briefing to press the state's chief exec on her equivocations and urge her to come clean.

Unfair inquiry, you say? Imagine if Manet were a male Republican (not much of a stretch, really) as well as a closeted homosexual. Given the ongoing Mark Foley scandal, and the revelations of Representative Jim Kolbe's camping expeditions with congressional pages, would AZ ink-slingers treat a sex-switched Guv with kid gloves? The Bird's not saying she's done anything untoward. Just that journos would press harder on issues like Prop 107.

At Janet's press briefings, media lapdogs assemble in her ninth-floor office, stand or sit before her desk and throw softballs while she answers in practiced, hair-splitting doublespeak that's harder to pin down than a ginormous jellyfish. About halfway into last week's bore fest, the Taloned One squawked its pointed query, asking Napolitano why she opposes both Prop 107 and gay marriage. Jeez-Louise, whassamatta with gays getting hitched, Guv?

"Marriage is between a man and a woman," maintained Manet. "That is the law, and I believe that's our tradition. I think Prop 107 goes way beyond that."

Who is she, Jerry Falwell? This determined dodo then delivered its showstopper: "Do you think that's in any way hypocritical because most people believe you're a closeted lesbian?"

The room went silent. Manet paused with that classic moose-in-your-RV's headlights look, as if in stunned disbelief (who, me?!) that people assume she's a homosexual.

"No," she muttered. "No, and I'm offended by that question."

Time for a reality check, Guv!

The softballs were soon flying again, and the press conference was over so quickly that The Bird didn't get to ask the Guv just why she was so bleedin' offended. Does she really think there's something wrong with being a lesbian? Maybe that's why she's going to such lengths to stay closeted, though she looks like she'd be right at home coaching the Phoenix Mercury or teaching women's studies at some all-female college in Oregon.

The Bird's saying, if she's not gay, why doesn't she start looking and acting like, say, a woman?

After Janet exited, Capitol Times scribe Phil Riske demanded to know this chirper's name and employer. In the crowded elevator on the way down, Riske spat, "You make us all look like idiots!"

Phil, you don't need this feathered fiend to look like an idiot. Plus, you're assuming that anybody thinks you're a real reporter. Here's an idea: Try growing a pair. And stop acting like the governor's pussy-boy.

Now, wait a freakin' second! Phil Riske and Napolitano an item? Maybe Janet's straight, after all? Nah, quite the contrary. Case closed.

In a Pig's Eye

Speaking of props, anyone caught Joe Arpaio's TV ad in favor of Proposition 204, the anti-animal-cruelty initiative? In it, the lawman's in the kitchen frying up a hunk o' swine, while encouraging viewers to stop animal cruelty by voting yes on Prop 204.

"I enjoy a good pork chop," Sheriff Alzheimer's avows, in what might be considered a confession of cannibalism being that Joe's a big ol' ham. "But I believe that animals raised for food deserve humane treatment. That's why I support Prop 204."

If passed November 7, the Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act would prevent pregnant sows and veal calves from being penned up so tightly that they can't do a 180. In the case of veal calves, keeping them penned up and unable to exercise is what makes their meat so lusciously tender. When it comes to pregnant sows, it seems to be a matter of economics, maximizing space, and, according to the No on Prop 204 people, keeping the sow from hurting herself.

Naturally, this barnyard cock's more concerned about how KFC breeds broilers than the living conditions of oinkers and baby cattle, so it doesn't really give a peep if the prop passes or not. But The Bird does find it kinda wacky that so many people are getting worked up over an initiative that, according to both sides, will only affect one business, a massive hog farm up in Snowflake called Pigs for Farmer Johns, Inc. There, most of the porkers are kept in group pens. Only pregnant sows would have to be housed differently.

All this trouble over animals we're going to turn into hot dogs! As of now, there's no veal production in Arizona, so that part of the proposed law is, um, hogwash.

But beyond that, Sheriff Alzheimer's endorsement of Prop 204 is so ironic that it boggles this bird's brain. Isn't this the same Alzheimer's whose deputies drove a pit bull puppy back into a burnin' Ahwatukee home after setting it ablaze in a Waco-style raid while serving a misdemeanor warrant? According to a New Times cover story by John Dougherty ("Dog Day Afternoon," August 5, 2004), SWAT team members laughed as the puppy burned to death, its carcass left to rot in the Arizona sun.

Joe's pulled this animal-lover shtick before, like back in March when he screeched bloody Hades over a sheep-fuckin' caper involving Mesa Fire Department Deputy Chief Leroy Donald Johnson, who was caught in flagrante delicto with a little lamb, her fleece as white as snow ("Baa-aaaaaad News," March 16, 2006). Alzheimer's even demanded that the Arizona Legislature pass a statute against lamb-humping in response.

But if he's got a soft spot for the varmints, his brutality kicks in with the prisoners in his jails. Only this past August did our sadistic sheriff give up the use of his deadly restraint chairs, medieval-like devices condemned by Amnesty International and connected to three deaths in Maricopa County jails. Lawsuits brought by the families of dead inmates asphyxiated in these restraint chairs have so far cost the county more than $17 million.

And we're supposed to listen to this guy when he lectures us about pregnant pigs and veal calves?!

It's one thing when the Yes on 204 people garner the good wishes of broadcaster Paul Harvey or chimp-lady Jane Goodall. But Sheriff Joe's abuses toward his fellow humans should rule him out as a champion of "humane treatment" for any of God's critters.

The Bird caught up with the sheriff at the Arizona Humane Society's headquarters in south Phoenix. He was there to meet and greet Prop 204 supporters and film another pro-204 commercial, this time with AHS Prez and Prop 204 point woman Cheryl Naumann.

Alzheimer's recognized this tenacious tweeter in the crowd from our last meeting at the Scottsdale restaurant Pink Taco ("Pussy Posse," June 29, 2006), where he was pimping pink underwear sales. He quickly offered why he was so passionate about animal abuse.

"Cruelty to animals? That's very important," asserted the bulbous-nosed badge-bearer. "Because sometimes when you start abusing animals, you graduate to humans."

Uh, are you trying to tell us something about your past, Joe?

"You don't have to torture pigs before you slaughter them," he continued. "It's a very simple sound bite."

So there's no contradiction to you, Joe, between your pro-animal activities and your treatment of humans in your jails?

"Our K-9 dogs are behind bars in air conditioning," Sheriff Alzheimer's told this toucan. "The humans are in hot 140-degree tents in the summertime. It costs 15 cents a meal to feed the inmates and a dollar a day to feed the dogs. People make an irony about it. They say I treat the dogs better than I treat the inmates. But remember, the inmates committed crimes."

Many of the inmates are awaiting trial, which means they haven't been convicted of anything. But that's way too high-concept for Alzheimer's to grasp.

Weirdly, the animal-huggers on hand welcomed the sheriff's endorsement, even if they weren't happy with his policies toward prisoners. Volunteer Dan Sweeney seemed to sum up their sentiments.

"That's where I disagree with him, the way he runs his prisons," said Sweeney. "But I think it's awesome Sheriff Joe's here for the pigs and the calves who can't speak for themselves."

Just pray you never end up in one of his jails, Dan. 'Cause then you'll be wishin' you were a preggers Snowflake porker in a two-by-seven-foot stall.

Choo-Choo Charade

Must be terrifying to be the spokes-chick for Metro Rail, what with all the ethics probes and bankrupt business owners and rabid, construction-crazed commuters out there.

Heck, The Bird's ready to tar-and-feather the first light-rail official it can lay its wings on, it's so fed up with the multi-billion-tax-dollar boondoggle messing up its morning commute.

No wonder, then, that Metro Communications manager Marty McNeil figures the only way to ensure her safety is by using a phony moniker.

"It gives me a little privacy and protection," the so-called McNeil whined to this unforgiving fowl, when questioned. "This is a very visible job. There are people who are mentally ill."

All the same, this callous cockatiel will reveal all: McNeil used her real name, Marty Macurak, at her previous job as assistant director of the state Game & Fish Department.

McNeil/Macurak, formerly a radio and television personality, said it's common in the broadcast world to assume a fake name. And truly, Marty McNeil flows more trippingly from the beak than Macurak, which is reminiscent of the sound that comes from The Bird's throat after a long night guzzling fermented fruit.

But what the eff, this ain't the local weather report, and you ain't no Royal Norman, hon. Get a grip, you're a frickin' public servant! If you didn't want the job as the flack to P-town's biggest pain in the patootie, you shouldn't have taken it.

"I hope you're not planning to write something about this," pleaded the PR gal. Duh, Marty, how could you think that?

McNeil/Macurak's boss, Metro Light Rail CEO Rick Simonetta, has no problem with Marty's name change. For Simonetta, it's all about how she does her job.

"I thought it was her decision," Simonetta shrugged. "I don't have a problem with it."

Wake up and smell the asphalt, Ricky! Phoenicians hate light-rail construction so much that, with an attitude like that, you may soon be asked to approve expense reports for identity-concealing plastic surgery makeovers for employees.

After this item's printed, The Bird just hopes McNeil/Macurak doesn't try to enter the federal Witness Protection Program.

Dive into The PHX, Phoenix New Times' leap into the blogosphere, including Stephen Lemons' Feathered Bastard.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons