The public war of words (and lawsuits and public records requests and criminal indictments) between county officials has been going on behind the scenes, too.
One of our much-appreciated leaks at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office forwarded to New Times an internal "Briefing Board" memo from Arpaio in which he complains to his employees that they're being screwed over by the county Board of Supervisors and budget office. (See full text below). By denying promotions to his employees, Arpaio writes in the memo, the county is trying to micromanage his office and obviously doesn't care about "dedicated law enforcement professionals."
When we asked county budget officials if they'd like to respond to the memo, we learned Arpaio had recently sent a more strongly worded letter to Sandi Wilson, deputy county manager, on the same subject. Scroll down for links to PDF documents of Arpaio's February 23 letter to the county, and the county's March 2 response. Close observers of this tempest will want to read through the whole documents -- they're quite rich.
Arpaio says he's "gravely concerned" about the Supervisors' action to deny his staff their rightful promotions and that the county's "true intention is to destroy my Office from within the ranks." Since his deputies are the lowest-paid law officers in the county, he says, this "salary discrimination" should be addressed in next year's budget. The sheriff also says the county is denying the replacement of his office's vehicles.
Wilson kicks off her response by saying she's "perplexed at the unprecedented level of animosity that has been directed from MCSO towards County Administration," and reminds him that the world's economy is in recession. She claims that turnover at the Sheriff's Office is "exceptionally low." Because Arpaio's people are "not leaving," there's no compelling reason to pay them more, she says.
Furthermore, Wilson goes on to write, Arpaio's complaint about vehicles is misguided, because he's already scheduled to receive replacements this year, and new county guidelines that apply to taxpayer-funded vehicles cut across all county departments. In other words, Arpaio's rant on vehicles is nothing but hot air.
In the end, the sheriff's arguments resemble the same type of "you-can't-cut-(insert favorite program)" whining everyone else is doing these days.
Text of February 20, 2009 Sheriff's Office Briefing Board Memo:
MESSAGE FROM THE SHERIFF
County Budget Difficulties - Adverse Affects to Sheriff's Office
The most recent decision by the County's Board of Supervisors and Office of Management and Budget to deny the exemption request for promotions is a primary example of the constant attempts by County to micro manage this Office. It is evident by their action; the County does not recognize the contributions of Sheriff's Office employees by adversely affecting the careers of dedicated law enforcement professionals.
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Funding for these promotions is already contained in our lump sum budget. Through strong and effective management of our budget, our Office has been successful in absorbing increased costs that were passed on to our Office by the County's Office of Management Budget. These costs are the responsibility of Maricopa County to fund as part of their salary and benefit budget. The Sheriff's Office budget began with a 5% budget reduction and has had to absorb $6.3 million in PSRS and CORP benefit increases and $9.2 million for vacancy savings. The County is determined to balance its budget on the backs of dedicated employees while holding on to large contingency funds and proceeding with building the $365 million Court Tower with cash. Not only are the employees of the Sheriff's Office impacted, budget reductions cut overall services to the citizens of Maricopa County. It is evident to me that the actions taken by Maricopa County are hostile and retaliatory toward my Office and truly shows indifference and resentment toward the dedicated Sheriff's Office employees for upholding the law.
Be confident that I continue to fight to keep jobs, correct salaries and benefits, and promote staff to their rightful career rank. I will not tolerate interference from the County Board of Supervisors and the Office of Management and their feeble attempts to micro manage my Office by trying to destroy it from within using the budget as an excuse.
Click here for Arpaio's letter to Deputy County Manger Sandi Wilson
Click here for Wilson's March 2, 2009 response to Arpaio