Arizona Capitol

Yellow Sheet Reporter Fired in Dispute; Phil Riske Planned to Retire at Month's End

Veteran Arizona Capitol Times reporter Phil Riske has been fired from the Yellow Sheet, a paid-subscription politics rag, says an Arizona Republic blog post by Matthew Benson.

Riske had been with the Cap Times for seven years and planned to retire at the end of August, but he got in a fight with Ginger Lamb, the paper's publisher, over the possibility of doing future freelance work, Benson reports. The Yellow Sheet reporter sent Benson a statement describing his "humiliating" termination:

 

"The publisher and I had a disagreement on Aug. 7 over promised freelance work for Arizona Capitol Times after retirement. She demanded I leave immediately," Riske wrote the Insider in a statement. "The publisher appointed a friend to stand over me as I cleaned out my desk, all in front of two dear, perplexed colleagues. It was a humiliating and scarring way to end a 43-year career in journalism."

The Yellow Sheet broke some great stories under Riske's tenure, such as the involvement of Captain Joel Fox in the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office "SCA" scandal (though, whoops, apparently it wasn't Riske himself who broke that one... But what the heck, we'll still mention it):

"[Fox] also has been a longtime supporter of Arpaio's and even filed the nominating petitions for his 2004 re-election campaign. Three weeks after that election, Fox, a former part-time SWAT team member years earlier, was promoted to lead the SWAT unit, a move that former SWAT team member Keith Frakes told the East Valley Tribune in 2005 was made because Fox supported Arpaio's campaign.

"Weeks later, as Fox led the SWAT team in a raid of a Mesa mobile home, deputies Sean Pearce and Lew Argetsinger were shot. Pearce, who was shot in the abdomen and has since recovered, is the son of Russell Pearce."

Riske is being replaced by Daniel Scarpinato, an Arizona Daily Star reporter who graduated from college in 2004.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.