Feathered Bastard

Top Ten MCSO Babysitters Sure to Make Joe Arpaio's Head Explode

Now that we know Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the MCSO will be getting a babysitter appointed by federal Judge G. Murray Snow to drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, the question is, who is the right man (or woman) for the job?

Actually, consent decrees and court-appointed monitors are so common these days that there are individuals and consulting firms that specialize in such work. The ACLU and the MCSO will be dickering over possible candidates in the next 60 days. And if they can't agree, they'll hand over their picks and let the judge decide.

After reading and re-reading his detailed, 59-page order in the racial-profiling lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio, I trust Snow to choose the right person or persons to whip the MCSO into shape over the next three-plus years.

But this monitor thing has gotten me to thinking about who I'd like to see appointed, just for the sheer thrill of watching Joe's head spontaneously combust when he gets the news. You know, kinda like Fantasy Football for Arpaio critics.

So here are my top ten picks of monitors sure to make Joe's noggin' erupt like Mount Saint Helens.

10. Sal Reza: The sly, irrepressible civil rights activist has been protesting and marching against Arpaio's rule for years. Currently, he's suing Arpaio for wrongful arrest and imprisonment in 2010, when Arpaio's goon squad took him into custody for no reason. Reza as monitor? Arpaio's mug would turn 30 shades of red.

9. Gary Donahoe: In 2010, the Superior Court judge became a target for retribution by Arpaio and then County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who filed bogus felony charges against the jurist, charges later thrown out. The filing of those charges became one of many reasons for Thomas' disbarment. Donahoe later sued and scored a $1.25 million settlement. The last laugh would be for Donahoe to oversee Arpaio's compliance in Melendres.

8. Sheila Polk: The Yavapai County Attorney has a backbone of steel. She refused to go along with Arpaio and Thomas' shenanigans, and in a now-famous public letter, called the pair "a threat to the entire criminal justice system." She would keep Arpaio on a short leash and make him obey, that's for sure.

7. Paul Penzone: The former Phoenix police sergeant took on Arpaio in 2012, forcing Arpaio to spend millions on sappy TV ads presenting the decrepit sheriff as a good guy. Alas, Penzone, now a security consultant, did not prevail, but it would be poetic justice indeed to appoint him monitor, with an office on the same floor as Arpaio's.

6. Randy Parraz: The president of Citizens for a Better Arizona was the point of the spear in taking down recalled redneck pol Russell Pearce. Like Reza, he was once falsely arrested by Arpaio's goons, and earlier this year, he led a failed recall attempt against Arpaio that had the sheriff sweatin.' What's left of Arpaio's brain would liquefy and ooze out his hairy ears were Parraz to become the MCSO's new court-appointed potentate.

5. Mary Rose Wilcox: The County Supervisor has been shut out of discussions on a possible appeal of the Melendres decision by County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Why? Because she's a mega-thorn in Arpaio's rear, and Monty carries water for Joe. Monty's move is bigoted in extreme, as Wilcox is the only Hispanic on the board, and 30 percent of the board's constituents are also Latino. How awesome would that be --- to have her shove Melendres down Arpaio's gizzard? Too awesome for words.

4. George Gascon: The former Mesa police chief is now San Francisco's duly elected District Attorney. While Mesa's top cop, he publicly opposed Arpaio's Hispanic-hunting sweeps and testified before Congress against them. He actually has the law enforcement chops and then some to be a monitor, but who in their right mind would trade San Fran (aka, "Heaven on Earth") for Phoenix, Arizona?

3. David Gonzales: U.S. Marshal for Arizona David Gonzales is a class act who can walk with kings and commoners, Rs and Ds, and still put boot to hindquarters if need be. A Latino Republican in a state where that's a rarity, he was appointed to his post by President George W. Bush, and reappointed by President Obama, mainly because he's an able administrator. Who better to put Arpaio in a box than a Latino law man who often is spoken of as Joe's replacement? Plus, it'd give him a dry run for taking over from Arpaio, hopefully before 2016, when Joe's up for reelection for the umpteenth time.

2. Dan Saban: Whisper Dan Saban's name in Arpaio's ear, and even now the aged autocrat will throw a temper tantrum that'd make Kanye West's last fit look like Mister Rogers after a bong hit. Saban, the ex-police chief of Buckeye, dared to take on Arpaio twice -- first as a Republican in the 2004 GOP primary for sheriff, then as a Dem in the 2008 general election. Arapio won each time, but only by playing dirty pool and smearing Saban's good name (for a refresher, Google, "SCA scandal"). Now executive director of Trident Security in Tempe, Saban would tie a saddle on ol' Joe and ride him into the sunset. And should Arpaio buck, Saban's got an extra-sharp set of spurs with Arpaio's name on 'em.

1.Rick Romley: The former County Attorney and Vietnam War vet has never had a hard time telling Joe no, and as a result, there's probably no one on this big blue marble Arpaio despises more. It all goes back to 1993, when Joe was the new sheriff in town and had a genius idea to surround the county with drug checkpoints, until Romley put the kibosh on it, pointing out that it made a mockery of this little thing called the U.S. Constitution.

Then there was the time the MCSO and the posse busted a bunch of massage parlors, and Romley refused to prosecute because some of the posse members indulged in some, uh, happy endings. Or the time when, as interim County Attorney, Romley dropped the charges mentioned above against Sal Reza, and suspended the MCAO's policy of charging migrants with conspiracy to smuggle themselves into the country. (Which was recently declared unconstitutional.)

No wonder Arpaio spent more than $500,000 (despite campaign laws to the contrary) getting Bill Montgomery elected over Romley in the 2010 GOP primary for county attorney. Romley actually believes in the U.S. Constitution, you see, and he has honor. If Romley were appointed to be Joe's babysitter, Arpaio might just resign then and there and spare himself the humiliation.

Dare to dream, eh?

As a bonus, here's a my own personal nomination, no joke: William Bratton. He may not make Joe's head go kablooey, at least not at first. But the former head of the LAPD, the NYPD and the Boston PD would actually be the perfect guy to reform the MCSO.

Bratton helped the LAPD make the grade as it struggled to abide by a post-Rampart consent decree. He's also a senior policy adviser and past-chairman of Kroll Advisory Solutions, which acted as the LAPD's independent monitor under the consent decree. Like Arpaio, he was born in Massachusetts, and maybe he can sweet talk the geezer into playing nice. If not, Bratton's a tough enough cop to slap some sense into the octogenarian, which has been a long time comin'.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons