Posts tagged ‘maricopa county’

Arpaio Busted For Crime Sweeps

I am a little late to this, via the Washington Post

A federal judge ruled on Friday that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies had violated the constitutional rights of Latinos by targeting them during raids and traffic stops here and throughout Maricopa County...

The ruling prohibits the sheriff’s office from using “race or Latino ancestry” as a factor in deciding to stop any vehicle with Latino occupants, or as a factor in deciding whether they may be in the country without authorization.

It also prohibits deputies from reporting a vehicle’s Latino occupants to federal immigration authorities or detaining, holding or arresting them, unless there is more than just a “reasonable belief” that they are in the country illegally. To detain them, the ruling said, the deputies must also have reasonable suspicion that the occupants are violating the state’s human-trafficking and employment laws or committing other crimes.

Good.  Phoenix residents, even those who support Arpaio, all know people are routinely busted here for "driving while brown."    I remember one time Arpaio made one of his famous "crime sweeps" through the tony suburb of Fountain Hills (where he lives) and managed to arrest dozens of Hispanics -- more Hispanics than I thought one could even find in that neighborhood, much less find committing crimes.  Seriously, I don't think I could have found that many on a bet.

This was one of his more execrable raids

Deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office raided a Mesa landscaping company early Wednesday morning, arresting nearly three dozen people suspected of being in the country illegally.

The raid on offices of Artistic Land Management, on Main Street just west of Dobson Road, happened about 4:30 a.m., according to one workerwho was handcuffed and detained before being released when he produced documentation that he was in the country legally....

Juarez estimated about 35 workers were handcuffed with plastic zip-ties while deputies checked for documents. Those who could provide proof they were in the country legally were released, while others were put on buses and taken away.

Basically his deputies zip tied everyone with brown skin, releasing them only when they could produce their papers.  It has become a common occurrence in the Hispanic community here to have family members racing to work with identity documents to free loved ones from Arpaio captivity.

Here is just a partial roundup of links on Arpaio here.

A Good Reason to Vote For A Write In Candidate...

... because it really annoys public officials when you don't vote for the candidates they have approved.

Every write-in entry must be verified with the list of legitimate write-in candidates for that election, by a three-member review team. In the August primary election, Maricopa County elections officials saw the biggest ratio of fake-to-legitimate write-in candidates in recent memory: Among 90,433 entries in write-in slots, 1,738 were votes for legitimate write-in candidates.

Each fake entry cost Arizona counties money and manpower and slowed down the tabulation process, said Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, who oversees elections.

“They think they’re making some kind of a statement or being cute,” Purcell said.

The rise of write-in candidates - over 90,000 in one small-turnout primary election, strikes me as a very interesting untold story about the election and a metric of voter frustration with the whole process.

So don't be afraid to go off the board -- it is your right, no matter how much it irritates petty bureaucrats.  Mal Reynolds for President!

What Joe Arpaio's PR Activity Has Been Displacing

While Sheriff Joe was pursuing a vendetta against County officials, chasing down Mexicans with broken tail lights, and raiding dry cleaners demanding immigration papers, over 400 sexual assaults were going under-investigated.  According to the article, this was not an accident -- there was a real prioritization that put few resources in the special victims unit and put more and better staff on things like counter-terrorism (Phoenix being a well-known hotbed of terrorist activity).

The understaffing in the special-victims unit was due in part to the Sheriff's Office's priorities -- and the special-victims unit was not one of them, according to a half-dozen current and former sheriff's employees.

Despite a Maricopa County hiring freeze prompted by the faltering economy, the Sheriff's Office from 2005 through mid-2008 was hiring 45 to 50 new deputies annually and tackling initiatives that included counterterrorism and homeland-security enhancements. The office also embraced immigration enforcement, sending 60 deputies and 100 detention officers through a federal immigration-training program and creating a human-smuggling unit with at least 15 dedicated deputies.

Staffing in the special-victims unit remained unchanged during those years: four detectives....

The Sheriff's Office was allocated more than $600,000 in fiscal 2007 for six full-time positions for "investigating cases involving sexual abuse, domestic violence, abuse and child abuse." The Sheriff's Office now says the six new positions were to focus solely on child-abuse cases. In any event, they cannot say where those deputies went to work.

"We don't know," Chief Deputy Sheridan said. "We've looked, and we can't find any of those position numbers which were allocated for child-abuse cases."

This is due in part to the acknowledged misallocation of roughly $100 million in agency funds that had patrol deputies being paid out of an account designated for detention officers.

The department was almost certainly spending more on Joe Arpaio's PR than it was on the special victims unit.  Dozens of cases showed no investigation at all, and hundreds showed that no contact had been made either with the victim or the suspect.   Piles of case files were found random file cabinets and even one officer's garage.

Thanks, Joe

Maricopa County will likely settle three suits against Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas for about $2 million.  This is on top of nearly $1.5 million in defense costs the County has already incurred in the cases.   Apparently, they consider themselves lucky to be getting off that cheap.

Why Sheriff Joe is Still Sheriff

For those of you not in Arizona that wonder from all the articles about him why Sheriff Joe is still elected by almost landslide majorities, and why Republicans all over the state still beg him for his endorsement, here it is:

A subsequent examination of the sheriff's file showed that residents of Maricopa County wrote to him regarding the presence of Mexicans in greater Phoenix.

Citizens saw day laborers. They saw people with brown skin. They heard Spanish spoken.

And what the letters reveal is enormous anxiety about Hispanics:

  • "I always see numerous Mexicans standing around in that area . . . These Mexicans swarmed around my car, and I was so scared and alarmed . . . I was never so devastated in my life regarding these circumstances . . . Although the Mexicans at this location may be within their legal right to be there . . . I merely bring this matter to your attention in order that all public agencies, FBI, etc., may be kept informed of these horrific circumstances."
  • "I would love to see an immigrant sweep conducted in Surprise, specifically at the intersection of Grand and Greenway. The area contains dozens of day workers attempting to flag down motorists seven days a week."
  • "The Mesa police chief drags his feet and stalls . . . the head of the Mesa police union is a Hispanic."
  • "As a retiree in Sun City, formerly from Minnesota, I am a fan of yours and what you are doing to rid the area of illegal immigrants . . . when I was in McDonald's at Bell Road and Boswell (next to the Chase Bank) this noon, there was not an employee in sight, or within hearing, who spoke English as a first language — to my dismay. From the staff at the registers to the staff back in the kitchen area, all I heard was Spanish — except when they haltingly spoke to a customer. You might want to check this out."

And Sheriff Arpaio did check it out.

None of the Hispanics described in the letters had broken the law. It is not against the law to speak Spanish or work as a day laborer.

Arpaio nonetheless gave the correspondence to Deputy Chief Brian Sands. Federal Judge Snow determined that raids and roundups quickly followed. Hispanics were rousted because white people were uncomfortable.

Sheriff Joe once did a roundup in tony Fountain Hills, which I would be surprised if it had even 5% Hispanic population, and managed to drag in for various petty violations (e.g. cracked windshield) a group that was about 95% Hispanic.  His favorite thing to do, when he isn't busting into homes with Hollywood celebrities, is to send his deputies into a business and have them handcuff everyone with brown skin and refuse to release them until they or their family members have arrived to prove they are in the US legally.

This whole article is a good roundup of yet another abusive side of Arpaio, his flagrant disregard for public records laws and the rules of evidence.  In Maricopa County, "exculpatory evidence" and "shredded" have roughly the same meaning.

Say It Ain't So, Joe

Apparently, while Sheriff Arpaio was busy raiding businesses and zip-tieing everyone with brown skin and distracted by his attempts to arrest judges that handed down unfavorable decisions, there was actual violent crime happening in Maricopa County.  With the Sheriff busy with celebrities raiding homes suspected of cockfighting with tanks, minor stuff like rape got put on the back burner.  The story has just been discovered by the AP but it has been kicking around town for a while:

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office failed to adequately investigate more than 400 sex-crime cases, including dozens in El Mirage, over a two-year period because of poor oversight and former Chief Deputy David Hendershott's desire to protect a key investigator from bad publicity, according to documents pertaining to a recent internal investigation released by the Sheriff's Office.

The errors led to interminable delays for victims of serious crimes who waited years for the attackers to be brought to justice, if they were ever caught.

More than 50 El Mirage sex-crime cases, most involving young children reportedly victimized by friends or family, went uninvestigated after police took an initial report. The lack of oversight was so widespread in El Mirage that it affected other cases: roughly 15 death investigations, some of them homicides with workable leads, were never presented to prosecutors, and dozens of robberies and auto-theft cases never led to arrests.

The East Valley Tribune actually had details on this story over three years ago, in a story that won a Pullitzer, but the Sheriff never bothered to do anything until the story hit the AP.

Employees were preparing to close the 99 Cent Discount Store in El Mirage on Aug. 20, 2006, when a teenage girl ran inside.

Agitated and refusing to leave, the 15-year-old girl told the store's manager that two men had just raped her in a ditch outside, a police report says.

Paramedics took the girl to Del E. Webb Hospital in Sun City West, where medical staff found physical evidence of sexual assault, according to deputy chief Bill Knight, head of the sheriff's central investigations, who researched the case.

At midnight, a detective from the MCSO's special victims unit arrived at the hospital to begin an investigation, the report says.

But the investigation never really began.

The MCSO closed the case a month later by designating it "exceptionally cleared," which is supposed to be applied to cases where a suspect is known and there's enough evidence to make an arrest but circumstances prevent an arrest. That designation allows the MCSO to count the case in the same reporting category as investigations that end in arrest.

But in this case, the detectives didn't have a suspect and appear to have done no work on the case.

I would love to see a reincarnation of "the Wire" focused on our Sheriff's department.  All the same corruptions in the show are on display every day here in Arizona.

This is What Happens When You Continually Excuse a Public Official's Lawlessness

Sheriff Joe Arpaio constantly gets a pass for some of the most outrageous hijinx from Phoenix's conservative population that sees him as the last bastion between them and brown-skinned people.  Tell someone he is above the law, and he is going to act above the law

​As Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio crows this morning about how his agency busted a total of six illegal immigrants for using fake IDs so they could work at a Mesa dry cleaner, county budget officials unveiled the results of a six-month investigation into how his office is misspending your money.

If you pay taxes in Maricopa County, it's not pretty.

In total, the county finds that Arpaio and his cronies misspent $99.5 million over the last eight years, the majority of which came from the sheriff's detention fund.

"For eight years, you have been signing paperwork that says your budget is balanced, but it's not," County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox reportedly told sheriff's officials at this morning's meeting of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Budget officers reviewed payroll records for 5,700 sheriff's employee salaries from February 2004 to February 2011 and found that much of what employees were actuallydoing was not what they were getting paid to do.

Aaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhh

http://ktar.com/category/local-news-articles/20110215/Arpaio-leads-in-poll-for-Senate-race/

The early returns are in, and right now it would seem Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has the early edge in replacing Jon Kyl.

According to Roll Call, Arpaio led a field of potential Republican candidates by 21 percent in a poll of likely GOP primary voters.

Though this makes us feel better, a little

Maricopa County's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America," Joe Arpaio, says he's considering running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jon Kyl.

That said, New Times guaran-damn-tees he won't actually run.

"The issue is whether I want to leave this office and go to Washington and try to make a difference there, which I would do if I run and win," the 78-year-old Arpaio tells The Hill. "I think I could do that job."

Sorry, Joe, we've heard it all before.

As you may recall, Arpaio pulled a similar stunt last year when he claimed to be considering running for governor. And he did the same thing four years earlier, when he also claimed he was mulling over a run for the governorship.

In neither case did Arpaio actually run.

You see, Arpaio seems to get off on seeing his name in the headlines, and what better way to make that happen than to continually fuel speculation about potentially running for office -- and a poll showing he's the front-runner certainly doesn't help things.

Update: This was an interesting post about how TV has become far more accepting of police and proprietorial abuse in its heroes, comparing quasi-terrorist Steve McGarrett from the current incarnation of Hawaii 5-0 with the respectful and conscientious Jack Lord version.  Next up, the new show Arpaio 4-8?

Worst. DA. Ever.

Andrew Thomas was very competitive in Radley Balko's Worst Prosecutor of the Year voting.  But if he had just waited a few days, this news could have easily put Thomas over the top:

The same people responsible for tens of millions in claims being filed against Maricopa County are now drooling after their own pot of gold.

Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and David Hendershott, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's former right-hand man have filed a notice of claim along with Thomas' former lackey, Lisa Aubuchon, for a combined total of $60 million.
Aubuchon had already filed a $10 million claim; she's revised that to $22.5 million. Andrew Thomas, who quit the job voters gave him and failed in his bid to become state Attorney General, has the gall to seek $23.5 million from taxpayers. And Hendershott, the infamous Chief Deputy now under investigation following a co-worker's allegations of corruption and abuse of power, wants $14 million.

For the first time in my life, I voted in a partisan primary for the Coke/Pepsi parties this year specifically to vote against Thomas.  I cannot even imagine why they think they deserve this kind of payoff.  If anyone should be suing, it is the citizens of Maricopa County who should be suing these three.  Lots of articles about him on my site, but this one in the ABA Journal covers a lot of the ground.

Horrible State Brutality

This is absolutely awful.  A main who is chained and drugged is being beaten by Maricopa County officers (yes, these guys report to Arpaio).

We can award extra points here to Arpaio who is saying how incredibly difficult it is to detect these incidents - Just think, he says, how much video we would have to go through.  But my untrained eyes show in every case at least 3 and sometimes many more county employees looking on.  Apparently none of these folks reported the incident.  Which means that unlike what they are trying to portray here as an isolated incident due to one bad apple, this is a systematic culture of violence against citizens that pervades the whole organization.

Double extra credit for the implication that none of the onlookers who watched a violent felony in progress and who are nominally law enforcement officers will be punished for covering up the incident  (brief opening commercial)

Sheriff Joe May Finally Get Nailed

Most everyone knows that Al Capone was finally nailed for tax evasion, rather than murder, robber, extortion and all the more heinous crimes for which he was mostly likely guilty.  For years, an unfortunately relatively small group of us here in Phoenix have tried to see Sheriff Joe Arpaio brought to justice, or at least removed from office, for his numerous abuses of power.   Lacking the success so far, Arpaio may finally go down for fraud in his management of County funds.

In something that should be a surprise to no one, even his supporters, the supremely arrogant Arpaio did not like state law and the county supervisors rules on where he could spend different parts of his budget.  So it appears he created a shadow payroll system that has only just been discovered that has been paying different people different amounts for different purposes than what shows up in the official County payroll systems, and has been doing so for over a decade.

Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson and her staff in the Office of Management and Budget for months have worked to figure out how extensive financial problems are, and she expressed shock at the hidden system.

"They've developed a system that basically tracks where they are working versus where they are being paid, and they did not update the official database, which led to the potential problems," Wilson said. "I think they deliberately hid this info from us."

The employee-tracking database was in a secure criminal-justice computer system accessible only to the Sheriff's Office. Control of access to that system, known as ICJIS, has been the subject of a long-running and expensive legal battle during the past two years.

County administrators say they were puzzled by the sheriff's willingness to sue over what they viewed as minor issues related to control of the ICJIS system. The fight by the sheriff to block county access to the system has cost more than $1.6 million.

County officials believe Sheriff's Chief Deputy David Hendershott sought to limit access to the system to hide the shadow payroll records it contained. Those records showed that potentially hundreds of employees who did no work in the jails were being paid with detention funds.

"That's a reasonable conclusion to draw, but we don't know for sure," Irvine said. "From Maricopa County's perspective, the ICJIS dispute and lawsuit has made no sense."

County officials sent information on the payroll system to the U.S. Attorney's Office for review. That office is conducting a separate abuse-of-power probe of Sheriff Arpaio, his employees and others.

The article fails to mention it, but I believe that the county computer facility mentioned above was the same one that Arpaio sent armed deputies storming in to take over about a year ago.  At the time, no one really bought his explanation that it was about protecting sensitive criminal information from prying eyes.  I hypothesized it was to take control of an email server that had incriminating information about Arpaio, but now it turns out it may have been to protect his shadow payroll system.

Congratulations Phoenix-Area Police

Via TJIC, Copblock releases links to police officers accused of committing crimes.  The list for just one week is ridiculously long, and surely would be longer if not for the law of Omerta among police that cause only a small percentage of their crimes to see the light of day.  Congratulations to Phoenix area police (including Mesa and Maricopa County) for making the list seven times.

- Phoenix AZ cop who was charged with murder, planted drugs on mentally challenged homeless lady

- Phoenix AZ cop given 2nd degree murder charge after shooting unarmed man to death

- Mesa AZ cop grabs 2 women by the neck and slams their heads together

- Maricopa County AZ sheriff sued for intentionally locking disabled woman in jail cell w/several men for 6 hours

- 6 Mesa AZ cops sued for tasing, kicking and beating man

- Maricopa County AZ sheriff ordered to fix unconstitutional conditions at jails in ACLU suit by 9th circuit court

- Phoenix AZ cop arrested on DV-related aggravated assault after witness called cops

Solid work for one week.

Anti-Immigration Playbook

There is an anti-immigrant playbook in this country that goes back at least to the 1840's and the first wave of Irish immigrants.  Typical arguments applied to nearly every wave of immigrants to this country have been 1.  They are lazy; 2. They are going to take our jobs (funny in conjunction with #1); 3.  They increase crime and 4. They bring disease.

To date in Arizona, we have seen all three of the first arguments in spades, but until recently I had not seen #4.  But trust Sheriff Joe to be out front on this, issuing a press release stating:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio says that he has long argued the point that illegal immigration is not just a law enforcement problem but is a potential health hazard as well.

"This is a risk to our community and to my deputies," Arpaio says. "Deputies never know what they may face in the course of enforcing human smuggling laws."

Arpaio says that in the last two months, four inmates, all illegal aliens from the country of Mexico, were confirmed with having chicken pox, placing 160 inmates into immediate medical quarantine.

Earlier Apraio had this to say to GQ magazine (but he's not a racist!)

All these people that come over, they could come with disease. There's no control, no health checks or anything. They check fruits and vegetables, how come they don't check people? No one talks about that! They're all dirty.

Of course, like many of Arpaio's fulminations, this release fell somewhere between a grand exaggeration and an outright lie.

Maricopa County health officials denied reports by the Sheriff's Office that 160 jail inmates had been quarantined two months ago because of four illegal immigrants with chicken pox.

Officials also downplayed a news release issued by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office last night about chicken pox found in immigrants busted yesterday, noting that such minor outbreaks don't normally make the news.

After our inquiries, MCSO Lieutenant Brian Lee said that Arpaio had, in fact, misspoken when he stated for the news release that a large-scale "quarantine" had taken place.

Blaming Private Companies for Government Procurement Errors

The blaming of private companies for government procurement errors is one I deal with frequently at my privatization blog.  This seems to be a particularly egregious example:

Maricopa County officials can't sue the Sheriff's Office for buying a $465,000 bus without their approval, so now they want to sue the bus company.

Precisely why Motor Coach Industries would be sued over the internal squabble remains unclear.

The county has maintained in this months-long bus battle that Sheriff Arpaio's office bought the vehicle with Jail Enhancement funds, when it should have used a typical county procurement process.

From the bus company's point of view, though, the Sheriff's Office was a customer with cash. For the county to demand a full refund, without so much as a deduction for the depreciation, seems like a raw deal for MCI.

Cari Gerchick, spokeswoman for the county, says text of the lawsuit won't be released until after the Board of Supervisors votes on it at Monday's meeting. She could not provide the legal justification for the expected lawsuit, beyond saying that MCI "should have known" the MCSO had not followed the county's procurement process.

Get that?  The company should have known that our County's chief law enforcement officer was not following the law.  This is obviously an absurd contention, but further the company had two geographic disadvantages:  1.  Not being from AZ, they don't know just how unethical our sheriff really is; and 2.  Being from Chicago, even if they had recognized unethical behavior, they would have assumed it was perfectly legal

Downfall, the Sequel: Arpaio and Thomas Go Into the Bunker

These guys have totally lost it. OK, they have always been bonkers, but they have finally lost their ability to paper over their nutty paranoia and quest for power in the media.  Remember I told you the other day that Arpiao and Thomas keep filing wider and wider criminal conspiracy charges against their critics.  Basically anyone who criticizes them or seeks to keep their power limited within Constitutional boundaries is a criminal in their eyes.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas called for investigations into the chief prosecutors of two neighboring counties on Thursday because they publicly criticized him and Sheriff Joe Arpaio earlier this week.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk and Pinal County Attorney James Walsh sent separate letters to the Arizona Republic, criticizing what they called "abuses of power" by Thomas and his close ally, Arpaio.

Polk, a Republican who described herself as a passionate believer in limited government, accused the two men of "totalitarianism" and said they have become "a threat to the entire criminal-justice system" because of a series of a investigations they have launched against their foes.

In recent weeks, Thomas and Arpaio have announced more than a dozen criminal investigations into public officials who have criticized them in the past. The pair has said their fellow Maricopa County officials are engaging in a massive conspiracy to obstruct justice and limit their power. The investigations have resulted in criminal charges against two elected officials and a judge.

Now, Thomas wants a former state Supreme Court justice to investigate his neighboring prosecutors as part of what he calls "an orchestrated campaign to pressure law enforcement in Maricopa County to drop charges against influential criminal defendants and suspects."...

In his request to McGregor [PDF], Thomas ... accused the other prosecutors of essentially breaking the law by criticizing him and the sheriff. He said the pair violated rules for attorneys in Arizona, as well as tainted the pool of possible jurors in the ongoing cases....

In his request for an investigation into the comments, Thomas alluded to a supposed campaign to enlist these attorneys "and possibly other third parties" to criticize him and the sheriff.

Arpaio is the same paranoid who cost the County hundreds of thousands of dollars when he demanded extra security because he believed himself to be an assassination target.

If it wasn't so overdone, I would do another Downfall mash-up on this for YouTube.

Could This Be The Tipping Point for Arpaio and Thomas?

It is not uncommon for certain shady dealing to go on for years, with a small group of critics but never really breaking out into the media.  We skeptics have been criticizing climate scientists for years for various problems with their temperature indexes and historical temperature reconstructions, but never really got traction until the CRU emails were made public, and then there has been a real firestorm of media attention.  Criticisms that never got much traction before are now being actively investigated.

I am hoping that we have a similar situation with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas.  The story is so wacky it simply defies easy description, but Arpaio and Thomas have been pursuing a number of corruption probes against their bosses in the County government.  All well and good, except for the funny fact that the targets of the probes all seem to be historic critics of Arpaio and Thomas, who have brought out their biggest guns for the one Democrat on the County Council (Arpaio and Thomas are both Republicans).

Both these men have  a history of indifference to civil liberties.   When Arpaio is not busy arresting folks for breathing while Mexican (he once managed to make a crime sweep through the 99% Anglo neighborhood of Fountain Hills and arrest 75% Mexicans), he likes to haul folks off to jail whose only crime is speaking out against the Sheriff .   He arrested (with Thomas's help) newspaper reporters and editors who wrote critically of him.  This is a man who in his paranoia invented an assassination plot (against himself, of course) and got the city to spend $500,000 protecting him.  If his deputies want to see a defense attorney's working papers, they just take them.  If he can't get a judge to release computer records, he has his posse storm into the County computer center and take it over at gunpoint.

Most recently, Thomas and Arpaio wanted a judge who has handed them a number of court losses removed from a certain case.  To make that happen, Arpaio and Thomas bizarrely charged the judge and numerous other county employees in a giant RICO case, a case attorneys are still laughing about because it was so transparent and shoddy.  When that didn't work, he charged the judge with felony bribery, apparently on the interesting theory that getting a new, updated court house building was effectively a bribe to the judges working there.

It gets much weirder even than this, with Arpaio's stealing documents from a defense counsel in court (caught on video) with this same judge holding Arpaio's deputy in contempt for the action and then the sheriff's deputies essentially going on strike at court, refusing to bring in prisoners.

But after years of fawning, positive publicity as "Americas Toughest Sheriff," the dam may finally be breaking.  When the AZ Republic finally covers it, you know the situation has to be bad:

Hundreds of attorneys gathered on the courthouse steps in downtown Phoenix to protest Thomas and Arpaio's public campaign against public corruption.

LOL, I have a picture of these guys with suits and holding placards.  Anyway, this was a real blow:

And, in a scathing letter to The Arizona Republic, the Yavapai County attorney

, who previously handled some of Thomas' cases against county officials, blasted the prosecutor and sheriff as "a threat to the entire criminal-justice system."

Oops, so much for the respect of your peers.  Shelia Polk, the Yavapai County attorney (that is a neighboring county) handled the investigations into some of Arpaio and Thomas's early charges against our County officials, so she knows the details of the story.  And she is a Republican, the same party as Arpaio and Thomas:

In her letter, Polk wrote that although Maricopa County isn't her jurisdiction, she can't sit by and watch the abuses from a distance anymore.

"I am conservative and passionately believe in limited government, not the totalitarianism that is spreading before my eyes," she wrote. "The actions of Arpaio and Thomas are a disservice to the hundreds of dedicated men and women who work in their offices and a threat to the entire criminal-justice system."

Polk had stayed out of the legal drama in Maricopa County, and her remarks offer the first insight from an outside law-enforcement official who has some knowledge of the cases Arpaio and Thomas have lodged against county officials.

Arpaio's response was predictable:

Hendershott spoke on behalf of Arpaio. Hendershott said that Polk's office repeatedly failed to issue subpoenas the Sheriff's Office needed.

"It seemed clear to us that this case was being deliberately stalled," he said. "We basically let her know that her work product was ineffective."

This is a constant refrain from the sheriff - anyone who seeks to impose any limit on his power is therefore evil and conspiring to thwart his will.  It comes up time and time again - he simply does not react well when denied a subpoena, or a search warrant, or access to certain information.  If they are not rubber stamping Sheriff Joe's requests, then they must be corrupt.  If he had been honest, his RICO charges would have simply read "they didn't give me what I want."  But there is a reason these third parties are part of the process, and you can see it in Polk's letter:

Polk said she worked with the Sheriff's Office on the cases for the next six months, then returned the cases to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

In Polk's letter, she wrote that she was "happy to remove myself from the cases and from contact with Sheriff Arpaio. My discomfort grew daily and my role in restraining potential abuses of power increasingly more difficult."

The Most Depressing Thing I Read Today

I hope JD is wrong:

Further complicating this picture is that Sheriff Joe Arpaio, despite erratic and confrontational conduct that has repeatedly put him at the wrong end of lawsuits and press coverage, is immensely popular with Maricopa County voters. In fact, recent polling suggests that the governor's office is his for the asking. He's a favorite for the Republican nod and an apparent shoe-in in the general election.

I was under the impression that the Repub's cut Arpaio loose in the last election, but I don't really follow the politics stuff much.  JD has an update on the latest Arpaio shenanigans, as does Radley Balko:

  • The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office announced on Tuesday that Stoddard would surrender to jail ahead of his midnight deadline to aplogize. But when Stoddard showed up, the jail refused to book him, citing a "clerical error." Stoddard insisted on spending the night in jail anyway.
  • Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced he has filed a federal lawsuit against the county and its judges, alleging a "widespread conspiracy" against Arpaio and his officers. Arpaio remarkably and apparently with no self-awareness whatsoever called the county a "good ole boys network," and commented that he had "never seen these kinds of things occur in the justice system." Arpaio also called Donahoe's contempt finding against Stoddard a "vendetta," and said, "For political reasons, [Stoddard's] been thrown to the wolves."
  • Yesterday, the day after Stoddard spent a night in jail, 19 sheriff's deputies scheduled to work security at the courthouse called in sick, throwing the day's court proceedings into disarray. The building also had to be evacuated after a phone-in bomb threat.
  • As crowds returned after the bomb threat was cleared, the law enforcement unions commenced with a conveniently-timed rally in front of the courthouse, calling Stoddard a "victim" and demanding that he be released from jail.

Wow, it sure is a real coincidence when a bomb threat against the public defenders (it was a public defender the deputy originally stole the document from) at the exact same moment the sheriff's were trying to disrupt the courthouse over a dispute involving the public defenders office.

Those who don't live here would be appalled and disgusted by how such a large segment of the local population absolutely revere this man.  He's like the right-wing Obama, living off a manufactured image.

More Crazy Joe Arpaio Sh*t

I totally missed this angle on Sheriff Joe, though to be fair our major paper in town never runs anything negative about him, so you have to ferret this stuff out from other sources.  Sarah Fenske observes, relevent to Sheriff Joe's deputy who was cited for contempt for swiping papers from the defense table during a trial and refusing to appologize for it:

Yesterday, the Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy accused of brazenly swiping -- and photocopying -- a defense lawyer's paperwork reportedly checked himself into jail, as ordered by Judge Gary Donahoe.

Deputy Adam Stoddard had refused to apologize for his actions, which ignited a firestorm from defense attorneys across the country. That put him in contempt of Judge Donahoe's order, and that meant jail time.

But as astute readers may recall, everyone in Maricopa County knows there's jail time -- and then there's jail time for Friends of Sheriff Joe.

For at least five years, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has maintained one jail for the hapless pre-trial detainees and Mexicans he boasts about tormenting -- and another one, a posh place New Times dubbed the "Mesa Hilton," for his supporters and celeb friends.

Any guesses which jail might now be housing Deputy Stoddard?

She links to an older John Dougherty article, who has been a long-time pain in Arpaio's backside:

Rather than serving time in hellish Tent City, Arpaio allows his special guests to serve their sentences in private, climate-controlled cells at the Mesa Hilton. The lucky inmates are also allowed to bring luxury personal items into the jail, including cell phones, musical instruments, computers and takeout meals.

Arpaio knows that the genteel class is willing to do just about anything to avoid having to serve time in the tents, where inmates are packed in like rats to swelter in the summer and get chilled to the bone in the winter.

It's not uncommon for those who serve jail sentences in the Mesa Hilton to do substantial favors for Arpaio.

Country-western singer Glen Campbell served his DUI sentence in the Mesa facility last July. On his last day in jail, Campbell threw a concert at Tent City that got Arpaio's smiling face on news shows across the globe.

Professional-sports mogul Jerry Colangelo's daughter, Mandie, also served her DUI sentence at Mesa, after which dad hosted an extravagant fund raiser for Arpaio that raised $50,000 in one day.

Likewise, Phoenix businessman Joseph Deihl served time in the Mesa jail on a solicitation conviction after his father donated $10,000 to Arpaio's reelection campaign.

Because Minor Drug Cases Weren't Clogging the Courts Enough

The civil courts of Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix) are being overwhelmed by photo-radar cases from state photo-radar trucks on state highways.

In the 2008 fiscal year, ending June 2008, the total annual filings in the justice courts amounted to 435,014, which included DUI, traffic, misdemeanor and civil cases, according to the county. Since November 2008, speed-camera cases have flooded the justice courts, averaging 42,326 cases a month, accounting for 50 percent of the filings. Administrators for the justice courts expect the total might reach 600,000 this fiscal year.

Of course the solution proposed is not to get rid of the photo radar but to raise fees to cover the administration.  But you could have guessed that without me telling your, couldn't you?

Local Governments Mining for Dollars

As a small business owner, a huge portion of my time is spent feeding governments with all the paperwork they demand.  But this year has been twice as bad.  Every local authority we operate in has started mining for dollars.  What this has meant is a whole slew of property "reassessments" that have no basis in reality (e.g. values put on non-existent assets) that I have to spend a lot of my time fighting.  The general modus opperandi is to declare my company owes money for something fictitious, and then make us prove we don't.  Have you ever tried to prove you don't own an asset that doesn't exist?  Think about it.  How would you go about it, short of inviting the assessor out to your property to search for it.

Maricopa County, the county that includes Phoenix where my headquarters resides, has been the worst.  We buy assets for properties all over the country, and have the bill sent to our headquarters.  Often, if a registration is required, we will put our headquarters address on the government registration to make sure we get the renewal paperwork (long experience is that if anything gets sent out to an address in the field, it is lost).  The concept that an asset might be in location X but the paperwork should be sent to location Y is a really, really hard concept for a lot of state registration authorities to get their head around/

This year, Maricopa County has started sending us personal property tax notices for all kinds of assets that have never even existed in this county.  They were bought in state A, shipped to state B, with the bill sent to us here in Arizona.  But the County is in financial distress.  It probably understands that the asset does not exist in the County.  I am sure it knows that I don't, for example, have 24 cabins sitting on the fourth floor of this building, where they have them located.  But they need money.  If they send out enough fraudulent bills, and then tell taxpayers it is the taxpayer's responsibility to prove the bill is wrong, then they will likely get some money.   Yet again, the government is engaging in abusive practices that not private company could get away with for long.

I was pretty calm today on the phone with the assessor until this came up:

Me: Look, these are cabins I bought from a factory in Maricopa County but which were shipped immediately from the factory to California.

Assessor: I don't see where you filed for permission to move the cabins

Me: Excuse me?

Assessor: Your xxxyyy form [I forget the numbers].  You never filed for permission to relocate

WTF?  I know we have problems with declining tax roles, but do I really have to ask permission to move an asset out of the county or state.  What, did I violate directive 10-289?

So beware small businesses.  Your government is mining for dollars -- do not assume that tax bill is correct.

A New Low, Even for Sheriff Joe

Our local county Sheriff's deputies arrested four people in a County Board of Supervisor's meeting whose only "crime" was applauding for a speaker who criticized Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Friction between Maricopa County government officials and a vocal coalition of activists who oppose Sheriff Joe Arpaio reached a new level when authorities arrested four people during a County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday.

Sheriff's deputies and county Protective Service officers arrested two men and two women in the middle of the meeting when they stood and applauded a speaker who criticized Arpaio.

Joel Nelson, Jason Odhner, Monica Sanschafer and Kristy Theilen all were charged with suspicion of disorderly conduct and trespassing, said sheriff's office spokesman Lt. Brian Lee....

The crackdown brought the anti-Arpaio activist arrest tally to nine in the past four months.

The article includes video, so you can judge for yourself just how disorderly these people were.  Readers of this site continue to heap on me examples of Arpaio's positive public press (via PR staff paid with my tax dollars) as evidence I am too hard on Joe.  Look, I don't care how inspired his program is for caring for lost dogs with prisoners, at his core he has no respect for basic civil rights.  He is a government thug who distracts potential critics, like a magician, with pink underwear and bologna sandwiches.

Special big props to County Supervisor Max Wilson, who effectively eschewed any civilian control of the police, confirming to Arpaio that he is a law unto himself and accountable to no one:

Supervisor Max Wilson. R-District 4, declined comment on whether he was comfortable with the arrests. "I don't tell the police how to do their job. I don't instruct them to do it or when to do it. They're professionals at it and that's the way they handle it," he said.

J Edgar Hoover would have been quite comfortable with this model.

Buying Dollars for $45.50 each

Our light rail cheerleader in chief, the Arizona Republic, laments that if Proposition 203 does not make it to the ballot this November, "light rail [in Phoenix & Maricopa County] will lose a chance to win hundreds of millions of dollars for the system's expansion".

Well, let's think about that.  The proposition would raise $42.6 billion statewide through a 1% point increase in the state sales tax rate.  But here's the rub:  Phoenix and Maricopa County constitute a huge part of the state's population, and presumably, retail spending.  In fact, checking the most recent Arizona state tax facts (for May, 2008), we find that Maricopa County pays about 64% of the state sales tax.  That means that approximately $27.3 Billion of that $42.6 billion in new taxes will be paid right here in the Phoenix metropolitan area. 

Good grief.  So, with a tax increase of $27.3 billion in Phoenix, we can get $0.6 billion back from the state for our light rail boondoggle.  Gee, thanks.  That hardly sounds like my definition of "winning" money.

By the way, this was hilarious:

Ziemba believes that Proposition 203 would have an "extremely significant" impact on light rail expansion if it becomes law.

"This would be the funding to really take our light rail system to
the next level, to expand it to more roots, to connect it to more of
the county," he said. "It will provide the resources to connect the
light rail system in a meaningful way throughout Maricopa County."

Why is that so funny?  Well, because the next $306 million in light rail spending is expected to get us 3.2 whole miles of track.  So at this rate, this $27.3 billion tax increase would net us $600 million which would, before inevitable cost overruns, get us at most 6.5 miles of track.  Wow, that sure sounds meaninful to me.

America's Worst Sheriff

I am working on a longer post on Sheriff Joe Arpaio's sweeps through Hispanic neighborhoods to round up the usual suspects (Mayor Phil Gordon has asked the feds to investigate these practices, which I hope they will do).

But this one is just weird.  Apparently Phoenix tax money is being used by Arpaio to train Honduran police, in a program that makes sense (from a Phoenix point of view) to no one.  Sheriff Joe watchers will enjoy his numerous nonsensical explanations, though the last one probably is the correct one.  For those outside of Phoenix, sit back and enjoy the weirdness -- its the only consolation we here in Arizona get for having the worst and most abusive sheriff in the country.

Explanation One:  Arpaio looks to small Latin American countries as models for his police force

Sheriff's officials told the county Board of Supervisors that the
Honduran National Police possess the "intelligence data, knowledge and
cultural experiences to benefit the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office."

Explanation Two:  We can't tell you, because it would endanger Sheriffs' lives (this is an Arpaio oldie but goodie):

discussing efforts in Honduras could endanger the lives of law-enforcement officers in both countries....revealing details could put lives at risk

Explanation Three:  Honduras supplied millions of photos for Arpaio's facial recognition software (yeah, I know non-Phoenicians, this is weird)

The sheriff's facial-recognition software program is supposed to be among the biggest beneficiaries of the Honduras engagement....When Arpaio was first confronted about the department's trips to
Honduras, he said the agency had received "millions" of photos from
Honduran officials.

Explanation Four:  Its a RICO thing, so we can't tell you (at least, it uses RICO funds)

The agency has spent more than $120,000 on Sheriff's Office employee
salaries in Honduras, and an additional $30,000 in RICO funds seized
from criminals. And some of the trips occurred during a time period
where the Sheriff's Office overspent its overtime budget by nearly $1
million.

Explanation Five:  We can't talk about it, because that would open up public officials to scrutiny for their actions:

The Sheriff's Office will not grant interviews to explain how and why
the program was started and what the benefits are to Maricopa County,
because officials say discussing the program fuels criticism

Self-Aggrandizement at Public Expense

A while back, I complained about County Attorney Andrew Thomas's self-promoting billboard campaign to impose extra-legal additional punishment on convicted drunk drivers.  Thomas, by the way, teamed with Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a shameful government legal attack on a newspaper that had been critical of him in the past  (fortunately, that case has since been dropped).

Well, now it appears that Thomas has used public funds to send out thinly-veiled advertising for his re-election.

Maricopa County supervisors are questioning County Attorney Andrew
Thomas' use of public money to produce and distribute hundreds of
thousands of slick booklets that feature his name and smiling portrait.

County administrators on Tuesday said the 45-page pamphlets,
distributed in local newspapers, were paid for through the county's
general fund.

They believe more than 500,000 copies were produced. Most supervisors
said they were astonished to see that Thomas spent the money on
booklets that they said were "self-serving" and "self-promoting."

The only other comment I would make is that, knowing out board of supervisors, they are probably mad only because they did not think of this approach for their own re-election.

Good Job Sheriff Joe!

Frequent readers will know that I don't think much of our County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.  Sheriff Joe gains a ton of PR for himself as the "toughest sheriff in America" and relishes in making jail conditions as miserable as possible.  Recognize that this is the jail that holds many people after arrest but before conviction. 

Now on to the figure mentioned in the Dickerson piece of 2,150
"prison condition" lawsuits since 2004. Anyone with two licks of sense
can go online at pacer.psc.uscourts.gov, or dockets.justia.com,
enter "Arpaio" into the federal court docket, then count the lawsuits
that name "prison conditions" as the cause. Count back to 2004, and as
of mid-December, that number was more than 2,150.

The same search for
the top jail custodians in L.A., New York, Chicago, and Houston nets a
total of only 43 "prison condition" lawsuits.

Remember, those 2,150
lawsuits against Arpaio are only in federal court. There are hundreds
more listed online with the Maricopa County Superior Court, at superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/civilcourtcases/.....

                                       

"For the period January 1, 1993, to [November 29, 2007], the county
has paid $30,039,928.75 on Sheriff Department General Liability
claims," state the docs. "This figure includes all payments, attorney
fees, other litigation expenses, settlements, payments on verdicts,
etc."

Additionally, New Times
asked Crowley how much the lawsuit insurance policy that also covers
the sheriff has cost taxpayers. Crowley croaked, "The county has paid
for General Liability coverage for the period 3-1-95 to 3-1-08 total
premiums of $11,345,609.50."

Keep in mind that this
liability coverage figure is high, in part, because of all those
lawsuit payoffs to relatives of dead inmates.

From 1995 to 1998, the county paid $328,894 a year for an insurance policy with a $1 million deductible.                                       

Today,
Maricopa County pays a yearly premium of $1.2 million for outside
insurance with a $5 million deductible. For any lawsuit that costs $5
million or less, the county foots the entire bill. It's the best policy
the county can buy because of Arpaio's terrible track record.