Reality Check

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"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."

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