This witty warbler has been observing with jaundiced peepers the Vick-timization of part-time AZ denizen DMX, a.k.a. Earl Simmons, by the county's top K9 canoodler, Sheriff "Nickel Bag" Joe Arpaio. By Vick, this seed-eater means Michael Vick, natch, the Atlanta Falcons QB who recently pleaded guilty to federal charges resulting from his involvement in a dogfighting enterprise.

Not that this feather-bearer worries about mastiffs mauling each other any more than he sheds croc tears at the treatment of equines at horse races or the bloodthirsty way yahoos like Ted Nugent enjoy hunting wildlife with bows and arrows, ensuring a painful death for their prey. Dogfighting's a cruel sport. And Vick supposedly oversaw the merciless torture of pit bulls. But they're only dogs, people. They ain't superior critters, like us avians.

Sure is some coinkydink that just as Vick, a black gent, was being demonized in the press for his anti-dog doings, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office decided to raid black rapper/film star DMX's Cave Creek home. Hey, we all know how the sheriff feels about canine abuse. Um, unless his officers are doing the abusing. As writer John Dougherty described in New Times' "Dog Day Afternoon," (August 5, 2004), MCSO SWAT team members drove a pit bull pup back into a burning Ahwatukee home and laughed as the owner listened to the pooch getting roasted alive.

So much for Sheriff Joe, protector of mutts.

Imagine the glee of publicity-hound Arpaio and his handlers upon receiving the tip that one of the Valley's most prominent African-American entertainers supposedly had some underfed dogs at his pad. DMX is well known for showing off his snarling pit bulls in his videos. One of his albums is titled Year of the Dog . . . Again. His greatest hits CD? The Definition of X: Pick of the Litter. Arpaio henchmen like David Hendershott and Paul Chagolla must've thought their PR jackpot machine had come up all cherries as soon as somebody Googled DMX's name. Fortune had delivered them the Valley's Vick.

MCSO deputies received the tip about malnourished animals August 7 but didn't burst into DMX's home 'til August 24. If Arpaio & Company were so worried about the well-being of DMX's tail-waggers, why didn't they move more quickly? According to DMX's New York legal beagles, that was because the MCSO was on the horn to them way before warrants were issued.

"The sheriff's office was in contact with Mr. Simmons' entertainment lawyer [Scott Mason] and was trying to work things out," DMX's Bronx barrister, Murray Richman, explained to this egret. "But they decided to take the action they took."

Mason backed up Richman's account.

"I did speak with [the MCSO]," peeped Mason from Gotham. "I was trying to comply with whatever they wanted. There was no reasoning for what they did."

What did sheriff's deputies net from their DMX home invasion? Twelve pit bulls, some guns, three dead dogs, a mysterious white substance the MCSO had to go through a locked bedroom door to get — a substance Arpaio hinted was meth or coke — and a "usable amount" of Mary Jane.

Oh, and a ton of free, worldwide publicity.

The story was picked up in Ireland, France, Asia, you name it. Arpaio's still milking it, even though the MCSO has since admitted that the powdery white substance wasn't drugs. Now old Joe probably thinks it's Aunt Jemima pancake mix.

The MCSO claimed the dogs were mistreated and underfed. Kinda like the human prisoners in Joe's jails. Deputies carted the canines off to air-conditioned cells, where they were pampered and petted. And Joe's minions made certain there were plenty of TV cameras around for the raid. Heh, wonder why The Bird was never alerted?

"There was no malnourishment of dogs," squawked Richman. "The caretaker who was there let them out in the heat and did not provide sufficient water. That was the problem."

Richman says someone was hired to look after the dogs while the star of Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds was touring Europe. The guns? All legal, according to Richman. As to the small amount of ganja, "Could somebody've been smoking a joint in there?" asked Richman. "I guess so."

Arpaio and mouthpiece Chagolla initially told reporters there was no evidence of DMX being involved in dogfighting like Vick, but the media made the connection for them, segueing into the Vick story from pieces on DMX. The MCSO sent the three cur carcasses off to some facility in Atlanta (Vick's stomping ground) for doggy autopsies (called necropsies). Chagolla has yet to tell this beaker how much the fancy-pants postmortems cost.

As this osprey types, the results have hit the wire. The AP reports one of the deceased Scooby Doos had "serious bite wounds" and another had "trauma" to the abdomen. The third had been burned so badly the "exam was inconclusive."

Let this quacker ask you something: Have you ever buried a dead dog in your backyard? Maybe after it'd been attacked by another animal or hit by a car? If you live out in the desert, you might have even given the pooch a funeral pyre. So what?!

More and more, it's looking like Arpaio's full of pit bullcrap, beating these dead dogs for all they're worth. The Bird wondered to DMX attorney Richman whether racism could be a factor in the sheriff's attempt to link DMX and Vick.

"If it occurred to you, don't you think it's occurred to other persons as well?" Richman responded rhetorically.

Irony is, DMX digs Arizona. His enchantment with the Grand Canyon State was obvious in his BET reality show DMX: Soul of a Man, which followed DMX as he rode dirt bikes, played pool in cowboy bars, and befriended his mostly white neighbors. For the time being, attorney Richman has warned his client not to return to the Zona (DMX also keeps houses in New York and Florida). At least until the questionable claims of our Chief Dogcatcher are quashed.

DMX's no squeaky-clean Wayne Brady. He's been in trouble with the law before. In 2004, he allegedly posed as a federal agent and tried to carjack a vehicle at JFK Airport. There have been problems with drugs, and he's been cited for keeping underfed canines previously. But even if DMX's houseboy wasn't taking care of the dogs the way he should, that hardly makes DMX the Michael Vick of Sand Land. And it doesn't absolve Arpaio of bigotry for puffing this case up into something it's not.


Buckeye Chief of Police Dan Saban can't catch a bleedin' break. As related in New Times reporter Paul Rubin's cover piece, "Below the Belt" (September 20, 2007), Saban's been the whippin' boy for pugnacious PHX lawyer Dennis Wilenchik, the Doberman-attorney who does the bidding of County Attorney Candy Thomas and Saban's political rival, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Wilenchik tanned Dan's hide recently in the lawsuit Saban brought against the sheriff. The complaint had to do with a 2004 smear over ludicrous, 30-year-old allegations of rape by Ruby Norman, Saban's adoptive Mommie Dearest. Though the accusation was penguin poop, Sheriff Joe's rotund chief deputy, David Hendershott, leaked the tall tale to since-then fired Channel 15 reporter Rob Koebel, who dished the dubious dirt on-air. Nothing ever came of the rape claim, 'cept the tarnishing of Saban's rep. Saban was running against Arpaio for sheriff in the Republican primary at the time, and though Joe beat Saban by more than 10 points, it was still Arpaio's closest contest in years.

Wilenchik persuaded the jury not to vote for Saban's side. And the wily attorney did his damnedest to wound Saban out of court, too, sending "virulent anti-Saban letters to several authorities," according to Rubin's article, including Saban's current bosses, Buckeye Town Council members. Rubin writes, "Wilenchik's admitted goal has been to try to get Saban fired as police chief and to cost him his certification as a peace officer."

Now, this nighthawk discovers that the Buckeye Town Council will be considering an ordinance when it convenes on October 2 that would forbid any employee of the city from being "a candidate for nomination or election to any paid public office." That means Dan would have to turn in his Buckeye badge to run against Arpaio again. Saban's already announced his candidacy for '08, and even has his Web site up,

Could it be that Wilenchik's dastardly letters have had their intended effect, especially upon fellow Republicans on the Town Council, like Mayor Bobby Bryant, sponsor of the ordinance? (Saban, you see, has switched sides and is now a Democrat.) Bryant says no, though he admits receiving Wilenchik's correspondence.

"I read it, and to me, there's nothing substantial there," Bryant asserted. "It was almost like name-calling."

But why this ordinance, and why now?

"My response to that is, why not?" clucked Hizzoner. "We've got 400 employees, approximately. They need to be dedicated to the town. Otherwise, it would be like going out and getting a second job they can't get out of."

Bryant and Saban have locked horns over various issues, like a proposed domestic violence advocacy center meant to serve Buckeye, Avondale, and Goodyear. Saban campaigned for the center. Bryant and others on the council were ticked that the center's site was planned for Goodyear instead of Buckeye. Bryant publicly lambasted Saban over the issue. But he insists that the new ordinance, which would prevent Saban from running against Arpaio next year if Saban stays on as chief, isn't political payback.

"A lot of people feel we've been at odds over things," stated Bryant in a veritable Hiroshima of understatement. "I don't truly feel that we have."

The chief declined to comment on the proposed ordinance. Bryant warned that it was only a draft and was not guaranteed to be on the council's next agenda. That's a good thing, as the new rule is redolent of a Harper Valley PTA sort of backstabbing, one undoubtedly cheered on by Saban foe Wilenchik.


The Bird's heard his anonymous voice before. The cowardly creep's called in to this finch's phone mail to explain why the Holocaust is a hoax, why Adolf Hitler had the right idea about the Jews, and why illegal immigrants carry disease and cause crime. This time, he was angrier than usual, but still too yellow to leave name and number.

"The killer of Officer [Nick] Erfle in the line of duty was Erik Martinez," sputtered the supremacist shitkicker, "an illegal Mexican whom you let come across the border, whom you defend. To hell with you, you goddamn son of a bitch, [for] killing cops and justifying the motherfuckers who come across the border illegally. To hell with you, and to hell with New Times!"

Hey, tell us how you really feel, you racist mushmouth.

Thing is, this cornholio isn't the only one using the murder of the Phoenix Police Department's Officer Erfle to feather a nativist nest. State Representative Russell Pearce — the right-wing pol from Mesa who hugged avowed white supremacist J.T. Ready and has forwarded neo-Nazi e-mails in the past to his followers — claims Erfle's murder happened because Phoenix is a sanctuary city. That's a lie. Phoenix is not a sanctuary city just because cops are not rounding up illegals like they're actors in some cheap, '30s gangster flick.

But Pearce is no friend of the truth. Erfle's death is just another occasion for him to push his anti-brown agenda.

KTAR's reactionary attack terrier, Darrell AnKKKarlo, practically had an on-air meltdown the day after Erfle was shot, foaming, "Every time I turn around, somebody's getting killed or jacked or shot or ripped off. Hmmm, if I were a betting man, do I lay some cash down? Ah, I think they're probably illegal. Darrell, aren't you profiling [Ankarlo asks himself]? Maybe."

Interesting how a little bloodletting gives license to bigots like Ankarlo. The cops say that out of the past 10 officers offed in The PHX, three were killed by illegal aliens. Why not blame all the crime on the toothless, cracker meth-heads running 'round this burg? Can we exile them to Iran and keep undocumented kids like 18-year-old Virginia Gutierrez, an honors student popped for a bad ID and talked into signing voluntary-return paperwork that exiled her to Chihuahua?

Erfle's executioner Martinez is proof that certain illegals are asswipes. But there are plenty of all-American honky scumbags out there, too, cop-killers among them. In 2005, veteran Phoenix Police Officer David Uribe, a Latino, was gunned down during a routine traffic stop by paleface crank addict Donnie Delahanty. ("The Case of the Grim Tweaker," Paul Rubin, February 2, 2006).

What The Bird wants to know is, why are all the brown people taking the rap for Martinez? We aren't blaming all ofay suburbanites for the evil deeds of lowlife Caucasians. Reason is, the racists in our midst need a scapegoat to blame all our ills on, and illegals are it.

Hold on there a sec, hoss, and grok this logic. If illegals are to blame for our high crime rate, then wouldn't a legislative package focusing on border security and amnesty for those who're here without papers, but have otherwise obeyed the law, help solve the problem? Just such a compromise package was killed in the U.S. Senate this year. And who killed it? The same idiots who listen to Ankarlo religiously and think Russell Pearce is the Second Coming.

Like this grouse's grandpappy used to say, when you point the finger at someone else, there are at least three digits pointing backatcha.


The John Birch Society? Ain't they the doods from the '50s who thought President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a commie, fluoridation of water was a pinko plot, and Martin Luther King Jr. an agent of the Reds?

The Bird thought the JBS was something straight outta dusty ol' history books about the Cold War. But while this sarcastic sandpiper was perambulatin' around Gilbert's recent Constitution Week Fair, it came upon a section devoted to political activists, and there those balmy Birchers had not one, but two booths devoted to their crackpot conspiracy theories!

Manning one booth was ruddy-cheeked Bryan Turner, 30, the AZ state coordinator for the Society, founded by kooky candy manufacturer Robert Welch in 1958 and named for a missionary killed by the Chinese Communists just after WWII. Asked about the old paranoid chestnut about fluoride sapping the precious bodily fluids of Americans (a line mocked by director Stanley Kubrick in his flick Dr. Strangelove), the bespectacled Turner said he'd never heard of that one.

As for JBS being conspiracy-friendly, well, he didn't exactly deny it.

"People say conspiracy theory," he lectured The Bird. "I would say we're conspiracy factists. We don't believe these things are happening by accident."

What "things," wondered this wily woodpecker? After all, commies aren't exactly the threat they once were, what with the Berlin Wall having fallen, and the Chinese being more interested in making moolah than worshipping Chairman Mao. Heh, you could even call the Chinese CINOs, "Communists in Name Only."

For the modern Bircher, there's only one conspiracy theory worth touting: the North American Union, the deranged belief that America, Mexico, and Canada will soon merge into one superstate. Never mind there's no proof of such a plan beyond the usual cooperation among neighboring countries; the Birchers have envisioned what the flag will look like, and even have an illo of the new currency, the Amero, which sports George W. Bush's putzy mug!

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