It's the most loaded query in PHX politics lately: "So, when did you stop beating your wife?" Truly, Valley news has been reading like a recap of that Julia Roberts flick Sleeping with the Enemy. Or maybe that made-for-the-small-screen drama The Burning Bed, starring a post-Charlie's Angels Farrah Fawcett. Take your pick.
First, Democratic state Representative Mark DeSimone is arrested June 26 after a late-night squabble turned ugly with spouse Mali DeSimone, causing all kinds of butt-ache for Dems looking to earn a majority in the state House election. DeSimone promised to resign, but hasn't yet. Peep this week's column by The Bird's colleague Sarah Fenske to get the blow-by-blow.
More recently, Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman's been taking it on the chin ever since wife Michelle Berman accused, in a weepy East Valley Tribune article, the carrot-topped pol of abusing her mentally and physically for years. The allegations were given to Gilbert coppers, who then turned them over to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating. The Arizona Republic followed up on the tale by cataloguing past abuse allegations by Berman's ex-wives. Berman's maintained he's done nada wrong, and insists his estranged spouse Michelle has a substance abuse problem.
Now, this wacky warbler's uncovered allegations of spousal abuse leveled at nativist attack-dog and state Representative Russell Pearce by his wife of three decades, LuAnne. Seems in 1980, the Pearces' marriage was heading south, with LuAnne filing a petition for the marriage's dissolution. Russ was a mere sheriff's deputy, far from the beaner-bashing buffoon he was to become as a state rep.
But even then, Russ was a bully, at least according to LuAnne at the time, who alleged in the court document that:
"Further, the husband, RUSSELL KEITH PEARCE, is possessed of a violent temper, and has from time to time hit and shoved the wife, the last time being on February 3 , when he grabbed the wife by the throat and threw her down."
Granted, it was a long time ago. But Pearce has anointed himself Mr. Law and Order.
He's achieved near-deity status amongst haters of Hispanics by repeating, over and over, the refrain that we need to "take the handcuffs off law enforcement" and let the cops enforce all laws when it comes to illegal aliens. You know, drive them out of the United States, like during President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "Operation Wetback."
Pearce actually suggested a return to the racist program in 2006, around the same time he forwarded an e-mail to his supporters from the neo-Nazi National Alliance.
Could it be that this hateful hard-ass, who's always breathing down the necks of those on the lowest rung of society — threatening them under the color of the law — might have mistreated his wife back in 1980?
LuAnne Pearce's sworn, notarized signature on the document makes a case that he did. Contacted by The Bird, however, she denied Russ had ever laid a mitt on her in anger, and suggested that her lawyer back then might've sneaked the verbiage into the divorce paperwork.
"There was a time in our marriage, yes, that we were going to get divorced," explained Mrs. Pearce, who eventually reconciled with Russ. "It has been years ago. But the stuff you're talking about; I never said that. Maybe that was just the attorney's way — I have no idea. All I'm saying is that he never struck me. He has never grabbed me by the throat and thrown me down."
Attorney E. Evans Farnsworth prepared the doc in 1980, along with tons of others like it for other clients. Now a pro-tem judge in Chandler, he didn't recall LuAnne Pearce and didn't have records going back that far. But he stated that if it was in the doc, it must've originated from the interview he conducted with Mrs. Pearce.
"In most cases, when they're alleging something like that," he said, "you even verify it by another means, if possible — one of the children, or what have you. But I would never have made an allegation in a petition that the client was unaware of."
Pearce himself, who's running for the state Senate seat vacated by Republican crazy lady Karen Johnson, returned The Bird's phone call and left a message asserting that his reputation's white as the sheets some of his supporters wear.
"It's simply not true," pleaded Pearce, later adding, "LuAnne and I have been married for 33 years. Like every marriage, you know, you have your ups and downs."
The general issue of domestic violence came up during a recent LD 18 Clean Elections debate between Pearce and his GOP primary challenger, immigration attorney Kevin Gibbons. Asked by the moderator what the candidates would do to strengthen family-violence laws, Pearce replied that such violence was "a terrible, terrible thing," and spoke of the home as "a sanctuary for our wives and our children." He contended that there are plenty of domestic abuse laws on the books already that just need to be vigorously enforced.
Sniff . . . Anyone else catch that whiff of hypocrisy in the air?
So why are so many in Arizona's Second City, a.k.a. Tucson, howling for the head of pro-immigrant firebrand and Pima County Legal Defender Isabel Garcia?
Did she kill someone, commit a felony, get busted for a DUI, take a bribe, or otherwise tarnish the reputation of the office she's served for 15-plus years?
Nah, her enemies wanna run her out of town on a hot rail because she picked up a piñata head in the likeness of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
See, Nickel Bag Joe was down in the Old Pueblo recently signing his prevarication-friendly tome Joe's Law, that bag of blarney wherein he claims that the Minutemen and the Mexican Mafia have conspired against his life, that (contrary to the recollection of an ex-cop who was involved) he helped break the famed French Connection, that he once (kinda-sorta) gave Elvis Presley a pass on a speeding ticket. ("Sheriff Joe Buffaloes Readers," June 26).
While Joe was signing books inside a Tucson Barnes & Noble, Derechos Humanos, the immigrant rights group Garcia co-chairs in her spare time, protested outside. Some demonstrators brought along a Sheriff Joe piñata, complete with pink handcuffs, and whacked the crap out of it. At the end of the ersatz Arpaio-bashing, Garcia was caught on videotape picking up the decapitated piñata head and carrying it around.
Like, um, big deal, right? Heck, The Bird possesses the head, outfitted with devil horns, of a Joe piñata left over from a Cinco de Mayo celebration held by the Phoenix activist organization PUEBLO. Jesus H. Christ on a crutch, if a citizen can't give a papier-mâché Joe doll some licks after all the evil he's done as Maricopa County's top despot, then we might as well pack it all in and move to some really free country like Cuba or Myanmar.
Garcia, of course, didn't even take a crack at the piñata. She just hoisted Joe's mug.
For this, a guy calling himself Jon Justice, who flaps his lips as a morning talk jock for the hate-station 104.1 FM "The Truth" (yeah, right), and crackpot anti-illegal agitator Roy Warden have been urging folks to call Garcia's boss, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry, and demand that she be fired.
These Garcia-slamming guttersnipes are also calling on the State Bar of Arizona to punish or disbar Garcia for exercising her right to freedom of expression.
Justice's big radio move heretofore was a stunt in which he pretended to drown a dog on-air in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ultimately, he lost his Michigan a.m. show because of the caper.
As for Warden? He's infamous for going around Tucson burning Mexican flags, and getting in trouble with the local police for threatening to blow peoples' heads off. (Like many nativists, Warden is usually strapped with a sidearm.)
You'd think rational folks would want to keep a brain trust like Justice and Warden at arm's length. But Garcia has a long list of wing-nut enemies from her work as an advocate. Fox News Mexican-hater Michelle Malkin blogged about the controversy. And nativist hate Web sites across the country are calling for Garcia's hide.
Unbelievably, these a-hole ax-grinders have gained some traction in their effort to oust her. Even the Tucson Citizen, in the guise of lefty columnist Anne Denogean, has picked up the cause, inadvertently doing the bidding of MCSO flack Jack MacIntyre.
In a letter to Garcia's boss chastising her "disgraceful, unethical conduct," MacIntyre maintained that Garcia's actions "suggested her minions violently assault Sheriff Arpaio."
What a hoot! MacIntyre long ago sold his soul to Joe for a fat salary (he's one of several highly paid flacks in Arpaio's employ during tough economic times). The guy wouldn't know ethics if they clobbered him upside the snout, bent him over, and treated him like a lady.
The contention that the pummeling of a piñata's a threat just shows you what wusses head up the big, bad MCSO. A little symbolic protest makes these thugs shiver in their steel-toed boots.
Garcia, for her part, is refusing to apologize over the incident. Why should she? She didn't do anything wrong. Ride it out, Isabel. Meanwhile, The Bird's got your back.
So when KTAR 92.3 FM hatemonger Darrell Ankarlo ain't playing the immigrant card and drumming up discontent against the undocumented, he often complains (as conservatives are wont to do) about high taxes and big government. So why is he benefitting from a sponsorship from the County Attorney's Office?
That's right, your tax or RICO dollars may be going to advertise the local book tour for Ankarlo's racist claptrap of a tome, Another Man's Sombrero, wherein he milks a series of boneheaded broadcasts he made from the border, pretending to be an expert on immigration for those gullible enough to purchase this trash.
The book's full of the same tired rants he fills his broadcasts with, using bigoted terms like "anchor babies" to refer to citizens born on American soil to parents who're here illegally. Linking Mexican immigrants to a tidal wave of crime, when study after study shows this to be bull. Appealing to Anglo paranoia over "the loss of the greatest country in the history of the world."
To cop a line from South Park's Officer Barbrady: Nothing new to see here, people; move along.
Well, except for Ankarlo taking the equivalent of talk-radio welfare, puckering up to the government tit in the form of man-boob Candy Thomas, whose office, according to KTAR news director Russ Hill, purchased the opportunity to sponsor the book tour at an untold sum. Hill wouldn't divulge how much public moolah was spent on the sponsorship, which earns Candy the right to put a county attorney bookmark in dumbass Darrell's Sombrero at book signings, and gets the CA's office mentioned in commercials and KTAR newsletters.
Sounds like a good deal for Ankarlow-brow, as the hard-right gasbag's time slot currently ranks seventh in the Valley, according to industry analysts at Arbitron — way behind the conservative blowhards over at KFYI 550 AM.
What does Candy get out of it? Well, it is an election year, so he gets to fellate his base, made up of the sort of wing-nuts who would purchase what Ankarlo's selling.
(Presumably, KTAR gets the dolo from the county, but it's KTAR that pays Ankarlo's salary. The book, of course, reaps the rewards of this odd advertising arrangement.)
This tweeter dialed up Thomas' flack, Mike Scerbo, to ask about the funds used in the transaction, whether they were from the regular budget or from RICO loot. Might the moolah be from the county attorney's re-election fund? Seems unlikely, seeing that KTAR's been pimping the County Attorney's Office logo rather than the man, and the fact that Thomas prefers using the county's dime to get himself reelected — whether we're talking about his so-called public-service announcements (which bear the county attorney's imprimatur and, presumably, are paid for by his office), the county attorney's ever-proliferating cluster of Web sites, or the 600,000 crime-prevention booklets Thomas had stuffed in Valley dailies to the tune of at least $215,000.
Scerbo, who was KTAR's news director before taking the $80K-plus-a-year gig with the county, claimed no knowledge of the deal, suggesting that a public-records request would be necessary for New Times to find out any details.
This the Bird dutifully filed, but requiring a formal request for information is just a stonewalling ploy by Thomas' office. Scerbo still hasn't gotten back to The Bird about a public-records request submitted in February.
So much for Arizona's vaunted public-records law, or for the county's top legal authority obeying a law that gets in the way. Wouldn't want the press to gather more hard evidence that the County Attorney's Office is wasting public money on another propaganda campaign.
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