Feathered Bastard

WHERE WAS GOOBER? Mayor Phil Gordon weenies out yet again, skips Town Hall Meeting at South Mountain High.

The Mayor's panel, getting an earful while Hizzoner hides out...

Is Mayor Phil Gordon afraid of Hispanics? You've gotta wonder, especially when a mostly Hispanic crowd of about 1,000 persons shows up to the auditorium at South Mountain High School to express their frustration over Da Mayor's capitulation on the issue of Operations Order 1.4.3, and Mayor Goober is M.I.A.

Not that I actually expected Mayor McChickenshit to grow a pair. Especially when he's got his C.Y.A. squad of mostly white, mostly moderate Republicans to do it for him. Hey, I'm not dissing former AZ Attorney General Grant Woods, former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, or former U.S. Attorneys Paul Charlton and Jose Rivera. Sheesh, these guys should get medals for listening to speech after speech from lawyers, community activists, religious leaders, educators, and regular citizens who're worried, upset and sometimes just plain p.o.'d by Mayor Goober's attempt to revise Operations Order 1.4.3, the PHX PD policy that outlines when the cops call ICE and when they don't.

They sat there like troopers for three to four hours. Goober played hooky from school, and thus deserves a good, hard butt-flogging. But then, he might like that.

In any case, despite (or maybe because of) Goober avoiding the place, it was an exhilarating and often inspirational evening. Even the attempt to disrupt it by a gaggle of nativists was no biggie, really. The nativists, bless their hearts, wanted to take over the meeting from the evening's primary sponsors, County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and State Rep. Steve Gallardo. Like a pack of unruly schoolkids many of them couldn't keep their kissers zipped while up in the peanut gallery, and they eventually got the boot.

Following this, several of them were in the lobby of the place, whining to reporters that their First Amendment rights had been violated. ("All we wanted to do was say the Pledge of Allegiance! Whaaaaah!") Gimme a break! The meeting's organizers had rented the entire school out for the night. If they'd been assholes, like Roger Sensing of Pruitt's, they could've had the lot of you arrested for trespassing.

But that would've been wrong. There were no arrests Thursday night. And indeed, several nativists stayed, and a couple were allowed to rise to the podium and throw in their two bits. They were not shouted down, and were even given polite applause by those who disagreed with them. Heck, if anti-anchor baby urban cougar Michelle Dallacroce had remained, I suspect they would've let her address the crowd as well. After she left the hall, I spied her giving the TV reporters an earful. In reality, they wanted to be thrown out. And this was a somewhat savvy PR move, as on a couple of the TV news broadcasts covering it, the segments focused on the nativists to the exclusion of the actual event! So you could say they got exactly what they wanted.

As I sat watching the speakers, little Anna Gaines of the anti-illegals group You Don't Speak for Me was asked to leave, mainly because she was providing her own running commentary of the event, like a Hispanic Howard Cosell, if you will. She refused several requests to pack it in, but eventually hit the road once the cops came over to her. See, the organizers had their own security, but there was a serious contingent of cops present. PHX PD didn't get involved, however, unless security was practically on the verge of doing a citizen's arrest. A citizen's arrest almost occurred, but the guy walked off, and that was that, basically.

Most disgusting thing I saw that evening was Candy Thomas' toady Barnett Lotstein sitting in the audience, leisurely and deeply mining his nose for nuggets, knuckle-deep. I kid you not. I'm sure Barnett was there doing surveillance for his boss, but, jeez, Barnett, couldn't you have saved the booger patrol for the drive home? The guy's just like school in the summertime: No class.

The Arizona Republic mischaracterized the event as a "wild forum," and "raucous." What episode of CSI were those doods watching? Yeah, it was spirited, but in a good way. I left feeling energized by what I'd heard and seen. And hopeful that if our side of this could remain motivated and positive, we could win the day. Si, se puede, baby!

Of the over 20 speakers or so, I really dug Hector Yturralde of Somos America, Jarrett Maupin and Alfredo Gutierrez. Yturralde echoed the sentiments of many who'd come before, stating, "My greatest fear is racial profiling." For his part, Gutierrez informed the quartet of esteemed esquires that, "Fear has overtaken this community. Fear is palpable in this community."

Maupin practically tore the house down, telling the panelists, "You need to be introduced to who we are. We are the children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr....The people that you hear naysaying our appeal for humanity are the children of Jim Crow." He appealed to the panelists not to "corrupt" the police by turning them into instruments of the children of Jim Crow. His speech was frequently interrupted for applause, and ended in a standing ovation.

There were also many folks I was unfamiliar with, including one older gent who declared, in response to the nativist disruption earlier, that he loved the U.S., and hugged the flag to prove it. Another elderly fella encouraged the panelists to do the right thing, and not change the policy.

A minuteman named Tom spoke, and insisted he was not a Nazi or KKK. Maybe not, but there are those elements in your ranks, bub. Ask yourself why.

The other nativist who spoke was instructive: An ol' Caucasian gal who kept mispronouncing the word "assimilate." Classic.

At the very end, Grant Woods encouraged reporters not to give the minor nativist incident at the beginning major play. Obviously, this was not heeded by most journos.

Mary Rose Wilcox pleaded with the panel members to extend their December 31 deadline. Jose Rivera indicated that it had already been decided that the deadline would be extended.

The Mayor has time to go on Darrell Ankarlo's hate-monger morning show on KTAR. He has time to get his mug on Lou Dobbs, but he doesn't have time to come listen to the citizens of this city? If he had, I suspect he might have second thoughts about revising police policy. Keep the pressure on him, and the panel, people. As the nativists are constantly showing us, the louder you are, the more attention and action you will get.

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