Sheriff Joe Arpaio wusses out, stays in Phoenix, far away from Mesa Police Chief George Gascon.

The Silver Fox, Mesa Police Chief George Gascon, outwitted and outmaneuvered Sheriff Joe on Thursday. See a slideshow of yesterday's events, here.

So where was Joe yesterday afternoon for the big Mesa sweep? Pro-immigrant protesters were out in full force in front of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office substation in Mesa. Joe's political rival Dan Saban made an appearance. Every TV and radio station in town was there, as were photographers and print journos from the AP, the Arizona Republic, La Voz, and so on. Nativist protesters from the American Freedom Riders showed up, though the far more extremist wing-nut org United for a Sovereign America and its crew of hate-addled, snaggletoothed rednecks wimped out, like the pathetic poltroons that they are.

All the players in the Valley's pro-immigrant movement were in attendance: Sal Reza, Danny Ortega, Lydia Guzman, Alfredo Gutierrez, etc. There was also a tent and a stage provided courtesy of Radio Campesina. Before the MCSO substation itself, scores of Mesa cops kept watch in the middle of Javelina Avenue, keeping the nearly 200 anti-Joe folks on one side and the 15 or 20 pro-Joe people on the other. Mesa Police Chief George Gascon personally reviewed the troops at one point, and came out later to talk to the press.

"As you can tell, the operation is a successful one, so far," Gascon told members of the Fourth Estate. "We have people that are here expressing their views, whether for or against. They're doing it peacefully. We believe this is a marked difference from what occurred in past operations in Guadalupe and Phoenix. So far--and I don't want to claim victory yet--but so far what we have attempted to do here is occurring."

But where, oh where, was the Coward of the County, our crotchety top constable, mean ol' Nickel Bag Joe? Lashing out like a wounded animal up on the 19th floor of the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix, whining that George Gascon leaked his plan of attack on Mesa to the press, and bitching that he had no choice but to set up his mobile command center outside of Mesa, as his brownshirts hunt Hispanics in the streets.

Of course, it's Joe who refused to share info with Gascon, not the other way 'round. And, let's be honest, if Joe were really the badass he pretends to be, then he'd be going after real criminals -- like those villains behind the 40K criminal warrants outstanding in county--instead of chasing brown people with broken tail lights.

Sheriff Joe's only a badass from the secure confines of the Wells Fargo Building in downtown Phoenix, where reporters who come armed with tough questions (not MCSO-approved softballs) are unwelcome, and where Sheriff Joe will never have to worry about running into steely eyed pros, like Gascon or PHX PD Chief Jack Harris. Why, yella-bellied Joe Arpaio ain't worthy of fetching those two hombres' gun belts.

"We can take care of our business," spat angry Sheriff Joe to reporters from the comfy, air-conditioned confines of MCSO HQ. "We don't need all his [Gascon's] 80 cops and all his garbage, to get people all excited in Mesa. The bottom line, he's doing everything to keep me from going into that city, lockin' up illegals."

On TV and the radio, Joe sounded like the flustered old man he is, stating at one point, "I'm disturbed. I'm very disturbed by this whole operation."

Asked about Arpaio's Phoenix bitch-fest, the Gascon expressed disappointment in Nickel Bag.

"I have been in this business for a long time," said Gascon. "But I've never encountered this type of behavior from a law enforcement professional."

Welcome to the Valley, bub. There's nothing much professional about Maricopa County's top cop.

This sweep b.s. continues today. According to activists who were actively bird-dogging Sheriff's vehicles yesterday, an MCSO command center was set up at certain locations in Mesa, but it kept moving. This hiding and furtiveness speaks to the deceptiveness and meanness of this operation. Joe wants the publicity, but he does not want scrutiny as he breaks the law and racially profiles people. Fortunately, he is getting scrutiny--from activists, civil rights organizations, other police departments and various government agencies. Observers from both Attorney General Terry Goddard's office and from the Justice Department were on hand to monitor the situation yesterday.

Overall, Thursday was a major public relations loss for Arpaio, who came off like the flustered geezer he is. Gascon, on the other hand, resembled a rock star, cheered by the crowds and hailed as a hero for his actions. No wonder Arpaio is obviously so consumed with envy of the man, and petrified of confronting him in public and in person. Eat your heart out, Joe. There's a real lawman in town.

NB: Regarding Dennis Gilman's suggestion below, I'll pass it on to the IT boys. It's above my pay scale, as they say.

However, I would note that Gilman, unlike a lot of people here, posts under his own name, and only his own name.

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