How does an administration as unhinged as Sheriff Joe Arpaio's flourish? One reason is the acquiescence of other elected officials. Their unwillingness to question the sheriff allows his noxious weed to thrive in Maricopa County's sandbox.
Take the MCSO's Honduras project, which has cost the county at least $34K in RICO funds — up from $32K the last time The Bird put quill to paper. Spearheaded by Arpaio's two-ton Karl Rove — Chief Deputy David Hendershott — the project's been ongoing since 2006, has involved 10 MCSO pooh-bahs that we know of (up from last week's nine), and nearly 2,700 man-hours from deputies working on the county clock.
This last bit about the man-hours is from docs recently obtained from MCSO flack Paul Chagolla. Conservatively speaking, if each high-ranking deputy is making $60K per annum (a definite lowball figure), that'd be about $30 an hour, and would mean $81K in county clock time. This is not counting the time-and-a-half of OT hours involved.
So this cranky cockatiel reckons the total bill for Honduras, including RICO and non-RICO funds, is well over $100,000. That's more than $100K for a financially strapped county department that's been cutting expenditures right and left.
The MCSO continues to release documents in dribs and drabs to this quacker, the most recent being a "Strategic Plan" that makes clear the MCSO was overhauling all six bureaus of the Honduran National Police, including patrol, traffic, investigations, training, border patrol, and prisons.
A high-minded "exchange of ideas" is proffered as the rationale, but the sweep of the program, with the MCSO advising Hondurans on every aspect of their police force, suggests something more's afoot. This beaker will bet you a bucket of buffalo wings that these upper-echelon deputies weren't messin' with Honduras out of the goodness of their itty-bitty cast-iron hearts.
Among the newly released docs is a Diploma of Recognition presented to the "Sub-Jefe del Sheriffits David Hendershott" by Honduran officials. Also, there are several letters from Arpaio to various Honduran bigwigs — the Bay Islands governor, the sub-commissioner of police, the secretary of security — that speak of "forging an alliance" and offering "resources that will enhance the local police."
In one letter, Arpaio invited four Honduran cops, all expenses paid by RICO, to Phoenix. While the Honduran po-po were here during the first week in June 2007, Arpaio scored them a gubernatorial proclamation and a photo op with Governor Janet Napolitano.
Why did Nappy do this? According to the Guv's flack, Jeanine L'Ecuyer, the Governor's Office isn't even sure who those Honduran hombres are, and can't identify them in the pic.
"As a courtesy to Sheriff Arpaio," L'Ecuyer stated, "the governor honored a request from his staff to issue a proclamation in recognition of his agency's work with law enforcement in Honduras . . . The governor spent five minutes with the delegation, during which time a photo was taken."
Just so happens that the MCSO's "work with law enforcement in Honduras" was improperly bankrolled by a RICO slush fund. But the Guv has denied knowing anything about RICO funds being used.
Still, it would've behooved Nappy to ask her political ally Arpaio why he was trundling Honduran cops through her offices. Especially since Arpaio's currently using this photo and proclamation to claim the Honduran caper was on the up-and-up. Is Janet hunky-dory with that? Particularly, now that she knows the MCSO was wasting taxpayer and RICO money on this scam?
L'Ecuyer couldn't answer that one.
"It may be useful to know the Governor's Office prepares and presents an average of 450 proclamations per year," she offered, weakly.
So if Sheriff Joe invited Fidel Castro to the PHX, would Janet pose for a pic and give the ex-dictator a scroll? If the sheriff told her to jump off the Luhrs Tower headfirst after making love to a koala bear, would she do it?
She just might. Back when Nappy was U.S. Attorney, she punted on an investigation of Joe's jails. Arpaio returned the favor a few years later when she was running for governor by backing her in a TV ad.
To be fair, the Guv has no authority over the MCSO's use of RICO funds. When it comes to RICO, it's County Attorney Candy Thomas, a.k.a. "Little Joe," who oversees its use by the MCSO, according to state law. Obviously, Candy's office rubber-stamped the MCSO's raid on the RICO piggy bank.
That explains why the County Attorney's Office has been so incredibly slow to turn over public docs on the decision to pay for the Honduran project with RICO scrilla.
THE SUPES, DUPED?
But what about the estimated $100,000-plus in MCSO payroll expenditures? That's the purview of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which rarely, if ever, challenges Joe's malfeasance in office, no matter what it costs the county.