Posts tagged ‘New Times’

Republicans are Just Like Democrats -- AZ Version.

As I mentioned the other day, I sometimes have this fantasy that we have some sort of libertarian streak in the Arizona Republican party.  The Goldwater Institute and Jeff Flake give me hope.  But then the Arizona legislature gets to work and my hopes are dashed.

A big national Republican issue is the excessive power Congress has delegated to the EPA and FDA to regulate and ban substances, from BPA to CO2.  So what do the Republicans do in AZ?  They propose a law to give an un-elected bureaucracy the power to willy nilly ban substances without a bit of legislative oversight.

The legislature had previously outlawed 30 chemicals that could be used to make the "bath salts"-type mixtures, and dropped another eight substances on the bill Governor Jan Brewer signed last month.

As Boca Raton Florida-based attorney Thomas Wright III told New Times shortly before Brewer signed the legislation, "To suggest they're putting a ban on bath salts is dumbing down the general public."

Republican state Senator Linda Gray is now explaining this to everyone, as she's proposed a new method to attempt banning "bath salts."

House Bill 2388 is the new hope, which would allow the state's Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Public Safety to ban the sales of chemical substances at their pleasure.

According to a Senate fact sheet, the pharmacy board "must make a formal finding that the chemical composition defined by the Board has a potential for abuse and submit the finding to DPS."

The pharmacy board then has to "consult" with DPS about its proposed rule, and that's that. The board just has to let the governor and the legislature know once a year which chemicals it's decided to ban.

So after all the concern about regulation voiced by Republicans about the EPA, they are giving even more sweeping powers to... the Board of Pharmacy and the Department of Public Safety?   This should be all the proof you need that the Coke and Pepsi party have equivalent authoritarian streaks.  As many other libertarians have observed, the Republicans have a healthy distrust of government, except when it comes to anyone such as the DPS or military that carries a gun, and then they are willing to hand over infinite trust and authority.

In many ways, this law is exactly like the environmental laws Republicans hate that require detailed analyses of potential harms but no counterveiling analysis of benefits.  In this case, the Pharmacy board is required to analyze the potential for abuse of chemicals but there is absolutely no language  requiring any consideration of the benefits of the substance's use or legality.  By the language of the law, if there is a potential for abuse, it must be banned no matter how otherwise useful the product is or could be.

Blaming the Phone Book

Local Conservative Greg Patterson blames the death of several sex workers in Detroit on the Backpage, because the killer may have targeted them based on their ads in that periodical.

The killers are the ones who should be held responsible, but what about parties whose negligent actions facilitate the killing?  How about the example of a school with poor lighting, or the business with lots of bushes in which bad guys can hide?  There are plenty of cases that show the property owner would be liable for the intentional torts of others.

So New Times knows that Adult ads are used by bad guys...even to the point of murder.  Craigslist stopped accepting these ads after a similar incident and New Times picked up the a considrable profit.  So can they be held accountable for the deaths in Detroit?  I would argue that they can be.  What about future deaths?  What happens if New Times continues to accept adult advertising and someone else gets killed?  Actionable?  I would say yes.

This is exactly the sort of spurious liability logic Conservatives tend to mock, except of course when it involves a target it does not like.  In this case free market Conservatives really hate Backpage for accepting freely placed ads for free exchange involving consensual sex.  I responded in the comments:

Why do you cast so far afield for an analogy in your third to last paragraph [the one above about schools with poor lighting]? Why not take a directly parallel example - what if some killer were stalking Starbucks barristas whose work places he identified through ads in the Republic or via Google Maps? Would you really run around in circles blaming Google? This is like saying that a serial killer is facilitated by the phone companies because they publish the phone book the killer used.

We are talking about ads placed via free exchange for consensual sex. Yes, in our bizarre society, Conservatives who nominally support all other types of free exchange have had this one sort banned. But it is ironically the very fact that this sort of consensual commerce is illegal that makes this work so dangerous. Escorts/hookers are vulnerable to abuse, crime, fraud etc. precisely because they have less ability to access the legal system for redress.

If you want to discuss who facilitated the death of these women, let's talk about those who drove their profession underground.

What Liberal Reporters Used to Do

Lefties are struggling with the concept of a libertarian doing a good deed (in this case, Radley Balko's great journalism leading to the release of Cory Maye.

Here is the real problem for the Left:  This is exactly the kind of story -- a black man  railroaded into jail in Mississippi -- that leftish reporters used to pursue, before they shifted their attention to sorting through Sarah Palin's emails.  A lot of investigative journalism has gone by the wayside -- in Phoenix, it has really been left to independent Phoenix New Times to do real investigative journalism on folks like Joe Arpiao, as our main paper the Arizona Republic has largely fled the field.

Joe Arpaio, Web Mogul

Joe Arpaio, I suppose seeing how Ben Quayle rode his writing gig for the Dirty into Congress, has decided he wants to compete with all manner of bottom-fishing web sites.  He has created a special web feature in a what he states is an attempt to drive more people to his web site -- the goofy booking photo of the day.

Several local lawyers, including some mental health advocates, are asking if it is appropriate for a sheriff to run online contests to vote for the inmate with the worst booking photos.  This is a great example of a situation (like video surveillance) where public officials have less, rather than more rights and privileges than ordinary citizens.  Kudos to Scott Ambrose for making a point that is seldom made, and we should remind politicians of all the time:

Arpaio says that booking photos are aired in the news media every day. A local alternative weekly even took a page from Arpaio's playbook earlier this year and let readers have fun with some of the sheriff's mug shots.

"Sheriff Joe will argue that 'I can do this because New Times can,' " Ambrose said. "There's lots of things the government can't do that you and I can."

I have another question - for what possible public purpose is Arpaio spending taxpayer money to drive people to his web site?  This is so incredibly self-serving its hard to believe, but fits right in with Arpaio's whole history of taxpayer-funded self-promotion.

PS-  I have always argued that booking photos should not be public information, as they amount to an improper punishment.  The legal system has a technical term for someone who has been arrested but has not gone to trial:  Innocent.


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?

Asset Forfeiture and the Rule of Law

Thank goodness for the drug war so we can have crappy asset forfeiture laws that allow this:

You're free to go -- but we'll keep your money.

That's the position of Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard on the failed case of Mario de la Fuente Manriquez, a Mexican media millionaire accused of organized crime.

Manriquez was arrested and charged earlier this year with 19 counts of money laundering, assisting a criminal syndicate, conspiracy and fraud. Seven other suspects, including Manriquez's son, were arrested in the alleged scheme to fraudulently own and operate several Valley nightclubs and exotic car dealerships.

Charges against Manriquez's son, Mario de la Fuente Mix, were dropped in August. And on Monday, as we reported, the state moved to drop the case against Manriquez.

But the state still wants to keep $12 million of Manriquez's money that was seized in the case, a spokesman for the AG's office tells New Times today.

The folks involved don't strike me as particularly savory characters, but due process is due process and if you drop charges against the guys, the money should be considered legally clean, especially when the authorities confess

Prosecutors acknowledged the money funneled to the United States from Mexico was earned legitimately by Manriquez. In the end, they couldn't prove he knew what was happening with his dough.

What happened to the money, by the way, is that is was invested in a series of businesses that appear to be entirely legal, their only apparent crime being that the incorporation paperwork omitted the name of Manriquez as a major source of funds.  Wow, money legally earned invested in legal businesses, with the only possible crime a desire for confidentiality (at worst) or a paperwork mistake (at best).  Sure glad our state AG is putting his personal time in on this one.

I do not know Arizona's forfeiture laws, but if they are like most other states', they probably allow state authorities to keep the seized money to use as they please, an awfully large incentive for prosecutorial abuse.

Mistaken Identity

I guess its lucky they didn't send the SWAT team in for her, as she might be dead now:

[Victoria] Aguayo has filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court, after she was arrested, indicted, and nearly prosecuted for her "role" in the infamous "Desert Divas" prostitution ring.

One problem: Aguayo was not a "desert diva" and the evidence suggesting she was is laughable at best.

On one of the "Desert Divas'" many Web sites, the agency advertised an "escort" named "Tia." "Tia" is described on the site as being "thin, white, and blonde" and has a tattoo on her stomach that is clearly visible in the topless photo of the "diva" Aguayo's lawyer was kind enough to send New Times.

Phoenix Police Detective Christie Hein identified Aguayo as "Tia" based on the photo on the Web site when she arrested her on August 28, 2008, the lawsuit claims.

We've seen pictures of both "Tia" and Aguayo and we gotta say if Aguayo can be identified as "thin, white, and blonde," so can Aretha Franklin.

Aguayo is -- to put it politely -- more of a "plus-sized" woman, she's black, and is missing the tattoo that is so clearly visible in the photo of "Tia" on the "Desert Diva" Web site.

Simple, um, mistake, right?

After being arrested, Aguayo spent nearly two months in jail before she was granted a supervised release pending an upcoming trial.

While she was in the clink, Aguayo lost custody of her daughter, Jasmine, and has since been unable to get her back.

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.

Not Good

From CBS News, Via Matt Welch:

In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.

The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization...

The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded "all IP traffic to and from" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.

This is remeniscent of the indimidation subpoena and later arrests at the Phoenix New Times orchestrated to stop the paper from criticizing Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

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, or,
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


"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,

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.                                       

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.

Good News

The case discussed here and here has been dropped against the Phoenix New Times

At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Maricopa County Attorney
Andrew Thomas announced that all charges against New Times, its owners,
editors and writers have been dropped "” and that special prosecutor
Dennis Wilenchik has been dismissed.

Newspaper Executives Arrested

In an update to my story from yesterday, Phoenix New Times
founders and executives Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey were
arrested last night by Sheriff Joe Arpaio
for revealing the details of a
subpoena.  The subpoena, which sought personal information on all Phoenix
New Times web site visitors, was part of a grand jury case which looks
suspiciously like retribution and intimidation by Arpaio for past negative stories
about him in their newspaper.

Radley Balko also has an update and reminded me of this classic Phoenix New Times article about Sheriff Joe.


Joe Arpaio and Abuse of Power

Here in Phoenix we have a sheriff named Joe Arpaio.  Sheriff Joe, as sensitive to building his media image as he is to fighting crime, has built himself a reputation among the majority of voters that he is a tough-on-crime code-of-the-west kind of guy.  As the Phoenix New Times describes his image:

While voters lapped up the sheriff's harsh approach to inmates in his
jails "” from forcing them to wear pink underwear, to feeding them
oxidized, green bologna, to working them in chain gangs, to housing
inmates in tents "” New Times
writers pointed out that the cruelty and violence in Arpaio's lockups
prompted Amnesty International's first investigation in America.

I, however, see Sheriff Joe as a shameless self-promoter, uncaring about basic civil rights, and a serial abuser of government power.  A number of Phoenix New Times (our free alt-weekly) reporters have been on Arpaio's ass for years, dogging him in the best tradition of American media trying to hold public officials accountable.

In 2004, during an election cycle, reporter John Dougherty found that Arpaio had over a million dollars of investments in commercial real estate parcels.  Dougherty asked the question, how does a lifetime public official making $78,000 a year have so much real estate?  Arpaio could have replied that his family was independently wealthy or that he had parlayed his real estate investment from rags to riches.  Instead, Arpaio used an obscure law aimed at protecting the home addresses of government officials to remove access to any public records of his commercial real estate transactions at the same time he removed his home address from these data bases.  Instead of explaining where the money came from, he used his power to cover his tracks.

The cool thing about alt-weeklies is that they are feisty in a way that major newspapers used to be but are no longer.  The paper responded by publishing Arpaio's home address in an editorial.  Ill-considered?  Perhaps, but the paper pointed to several public web site where Arpaio's home address was already published, including several government sites.  Their point:  Arpaio's concern about his home address was a smokescreen to mask the fact he was really trying to remove the records of his real estate investments.  If he had really been concerned about his home address being public, he would have removed it from all the other sites it appeared on, not just the data base he wished to purge of his commercial investments.  [update:  the law apparently bars publishing the address on the Internet, but not in other media.  The New Times is legally OK for publishing it in their print edition, but technically broke the law by having that print edition also appear on the web]

Joe Arpaio is never one to just "move on."  In response to the paper's editorial, Joe Arpaio used the full force of his public office to form a grand jury to investigate the Phoenix New Times.  Via the grand jury, his prosecutor-buddy has slapped a really amazing subpoena on this small newspaper.  This first part is bad enough:

In a breathtaking abuse of the United States Constitution, Sheriff Joe
Arpaio, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and their increasingly
unhinged cat's paw, special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, used the grand
jury to subpoena "all documents related to articles and other content
published by Phoenix New Times newspaper in print and on the Phoenix
New Times website, regarding Sheriff Joe Arpaio from January 1, 2004 to
the present."

Pretty broad scope, huh?  If the case were really about whether the paper broke any laws by publishing his address, they would just subpoena that particular editorial.  But this case appears to be about a lot more, specifically a chance by Sheriff Joe to finally punish the New Times for years of critical reporting.  But the subpoena goes even further, into total la-la land:

The subpoena demands: "Any and all documents containing a compilation
of aggregate information about the Phoenix New Times Web site created
or prepared from January 1, 2004 to the present, including but not
limited to :

A) which pages visitors access or visit on the Phoenix New Times website;


B) the total number of visitors to the Phoenix New Times website;


C) information obtained from 'cookies,' including, but not limited to,
authentication, tracking, and maintaining specific information about
users (site preferences, contents of electronic shopping carts, etc.);

D) the Internet Protocol address of anyone that accesses the Phoenix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;


E) the domain name of anyone that has accessed the Phoenix New Times website from January 1, 2004 to the present;


F) the website a user visited prior to coming to the Phoenix New Times website;


G) the date and time of a visit by a user to the Phoenix New Times website;


H) the type of browser used by each visitor (Internet Explorer,
Mozilla, Netscape Navigator, Firefox, etc.) to the Phoenix New Times
website; and

I) the type of operating system used by each visitor to the Phoenix New Times website."

I am sorry to do this to you, but if you clicked through to the Phoenix New Times site via the links in this story, any personal information that is recoverable about you is now subject to this subpoena. 

For years I have argued against special privileges like shield laws for the press.  My point has always been that we should not create a special class of citizen with more or less rights.  And this case does not change my mind, for this reason:  We all should have protection against this kind of abusive and intrusive probing by a public official, not just the press.  The Phoenix New Times should not have to divulge the details of its readership, but neither should my blog or Jane Doe's MySpace page.  This kind of prosecutorial fishing expedition against a critic of a government official is not wrong because it is directed at the press; it is wrong because it is directed at any American.

Update:  I didn't get into all the really weird stuff.  For example, Joe Arpaio argued that publication of his home address was damaging because groups were out to assassinate him:

A Mexican drug cartel acting on behalf of the Minutemen through the
intercession of a pro-immigration rights radio talk show host intended
to assassinate Arpaio, according to a sheriff's office investigation
detailed on the front page of the Sunday, October 7, edition of the Arizona Republic.


Now just think about this for a second. The Minutemen hate Mexicans
sneaking across the border. They are even less fond if the Mexicans are
smuggling drugs.

And we are supposed to believe that the Minutemen, seldom associated
with unexplained stashes of bling, agreed to a $3 million assassination
fee and put 50 percent down?

And that this was brokered by Elias Bermudez, a talk radio host, former
mayor of Mexican border town San Luis Rio Colorado in Sonora, and an
outspoken critic of Sheriff Arpaio "” and, obviously, no fan of the

And a key linchpin in this comic book farce was a teenage girl in a
prep school in Hartford, Connecticut, who was an exchange student at
one point in San Luis. If the drug cartel needed to contact the
Minutemen "for any reason," they could use a particular e-mail address
. . . which, as the officers discovered, belonged to a kid in a private

And from the Arizona Republic, our mainstream paper that usually fawns over Arpaio:

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spent an estimated $500,000
during the past six months protecting Joe Arpaio from an assassination
that supposedly was designed to cause a furor in the United States over
illegal immigration.

The convoluted plot, reported to police by a paid informant,
purportedly involved members of the Minuteman border group hiring a hit
squad from a Mexican drug cartel and using an outspoken
immigrant-rights advocate as their intermediary.

Sheriff's officials now acknowledge that virtually none of the information supplied by the source panned out.

I'm sorry, but the person who dreams this stuff up has a huge burden of proof to even argue that he is sane, much less should be our sheriff.  The Minutemen love Sheriff Joe -- they are peas in a pod.  They believe many of the same things.  The odds they would be trying to assassinate him are ZERO.  By the way, this is not the first time Arpaio dreamed up an assassination plot:

in 2003 ... prosecutors took hapless James Saville to trial for
"plotting" to kill Arpaio. Jurors wound up deciding that deputies set
up the assassin, coaxing and entrapping him. Saville was acquitted ("The Plot to Assassinate Arpaio," August 5, 1999).

Then there was the time Arpaio identified a threat upon his life that
turned out to be an art student's sculpture of a spider left upon his

Update:  Joe Arpaio has arrested the owners of the Phoenix New Times paper for revealing the contents of the subpoena.