I hope by now that you've had an opportunity to read at least some of our Best of Phoenix 2017 publication. Hurry if you haven't picked up a copy of the 276-page magazine at area newsstands. It's free, but it's usually gone quickly. And it will live online forever.
This remarkable effort, led by Managing Editor Amy Silverman, Art Director Zac McDonald, Editorial Operations Manager Jennifer Goldberg, and Arts and Music Editor Becky Bartkowski, honors the outstanding participants in 350 categories.
Or, as the late, liver-challenged Ed McMahon would have said, BOP covers "every possible, imaginable aspect of life in Phoenix."
Wrong, tequila breath.
Because I didn't contribute much the publication, I thought I'd add a few stragglers for the (Not So) Best of Phoenix 2017.
And the losers are:
Best Motel to Register Under the Name of John Smith: New Times reporters Antonia Noori Farzan and Joe Flaherty revealed that employees of two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix were turning over guest lists to Immigration and Custom Enforcement Agents, who used them to identify potential undocumented guests and arrest them — at least 20 were taken into custody. I suspect if your last name was Thomas or Trump, it would be less likely the agents would be knocking at your door. Motel 6 also wins two other (Not So) Best of Phoenix categories: Best ICE Machine and Best Motel to Avoid Paying Your Bill Up Front.
Best Don Quixote Impersonation: Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery continued his unhinged crusade against legal medical marijuana, arguing, as New Times reporter Ray Stern said, "that the county could choose to ignore the will of state voters because marijuana is prohibited by federal law." Since 2012, Montgomery has tried to deny White Mountain Health, a dispensary in Sun City, from providing the old folks there with a toke or two to ease their pain. He was defeated in Superior Court and in the Court of Appeals. Finally, the state Supreme Court refused to even acknowledge the windmills at which he was tilting. But we expect the Don of the county's legal system to take his battle to the nation's high court. Even Clarence Thomas will probably wonder what Montgomery's been smoking.
Best Evidence That Phoenix Is a Better Place to Live Than Tucson: A University of Arizona assistant coach has been arrested by the FBI in a wide-ranging college basketball scandal. One report alleges that UA offered a prize recruit $150,000 to move to Tucson to pretend to be a student for a couple of semesters. By comparison, it only cost the University of Louisville $100,000 to lure a teen basketball phenom to that city. But if you've been to Tucson, you probably understand why it would take so much more cash to convince a young man to come there. Like, what's he going to do for fun, ride around on the streetcar all night? Oh, and I'm happy to report that so far there are been no such allegations against the Arizona State University basketball team, or the football team for that matter. Apparently the Sun Devils don't have any players worth paying.
Best Plan to Devalue Even More Arizona Houses: Seriously, in February, the Arizona Senate passed a bill that would have allowed the state to seize your property if you helped plan a demonstration that turned violent. You didn't have to actually participate in the violence, just be somehow associated with the planning. This was aimed at left-wing protesters who had gotten raucous in Berkeley and Washington. Like they were coming to Arizona in July next? Not sure if the law would have applied to "fine people" like white supremacists. Really, though, have you ever known a KKK member whose home you would have wanted to own? Fortunately, and you've rarely read this phrase in New Times, the Arizona House demonstrated some common sense and killed the bill. After, of course, an outpouring of international ridicule sparked by New Times coverage.
Best Use of a Pardon to Light up the Internet: This one is just a thank-you to President Donald Trump for pardoning former sheriff Joe Arpaio and helping us light up the internet with more than a million page views after. It seems the ex-Toughest Sheriff in America needed the get-out-of-jail-free card after turning chicken when faced with going to prison after he was convicted of criminal contempt of court for continuing to racially profile suspected undocumented immigrants for years after he was told to stop. It seems the rest of the country knew about Arpaio's racial profiling. What many didn't know about was the two decades of other deviant behavior by his department documented by New Times, such as refusing hospital care for pregnant inmates, ignoring accusations of sexual abuse in order to devote more resources to catching Mexicans, and beating a wheelchair-bound prisoner who simply wanted to go to the bathroom. But the story that seemed to touch the most people, from Chelsea Clinton to Monica Lewinsky, was the day the self-professed animal lover's SWAT team not only destroyed the house of a man suspected of harboring a cache of weapons and cop-killer bullets, but they killed the family's dog as well. Turned out the guy only had a few outstanding traffic tickets. Keep that in mind the next time you run a red light in Maricopa County.
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Best Lucky Break by a TV Reporter: We were all shocked, shocked, I tell you, when the Confederate memorial at the state capitol was defaced by some hooligan at 4:30 one August morning. We knew this only because Channel 12 reporter Bryan West and his cameraman arrived just as the vandal was completing this dastardly deed and filmed this exclusive report for the rest of us. Or so West said. According to the state's surveillance videos, West had actually been there all the while the monument was getting an ironic whitewashing. The news van's headlights even provided illumination for the rowdy suspect to do his worst. So why did West tell us differently, and change his story a couple of times? We keep watching the news at 10 for the latest report.
Best Sports Fan: Imagine you are only a few hours away from a United States Senate hearing that could have an impact on the fate of the free world. Imagine all eyes will be on you, expecting some tough questioning of fired FBI Director James Comey. What did he know about the investigation of President Trump and when did he know it? So how do you prep for this momentous event? If you're Arizona Senator John McCain, you stay up until 1:30 in the morning watching the Arizona Diamondbacks play the hapless San Diego Padres, because, well, the Diamondbacks were winning again and how often does that happen? So what if you called the former FBI director “President Comey” and asked about Hillary Clinton’s emails instead of Russia? The D-backs won the game. Of course, we later learned that brain cancer may have affected the senator's performance that day ... but his loyalty to the Diamondbacks has been rewarded. They made the playoffs. Here's hoping they honor the senator again by winning the World Series.
See you in 2018. Behave.