Posts tagged ‘Phoenix New Times’

Some Responsible Press Coverage of Record Temperatures

The Phoenix New Times blog had a fairly remarkable story on a record-hot Phoenix summer.  The core of the article is a chart from the NOAA.  There are three things to notice in it:

  • The article actually acknowledges that higher temperatures were due to higher night-time lows rather than higher daytime highs  Any mention of this is exceedingly rare in media stories on temperatures, perhaps because the idea of a higher low is confusing to communicate
  • It actually attributes urban warming to the urban heat island effect
  • It makes no mention of global warming

Here is the graphic:



This puts me in the odd role of switching sides, so to speak, and observing that greenhouse warming could very likely manifest itself as rising nighttime lows (rather than rising daytime highs).  I can only assume the surrounding area of Arizona did not see the same sort of records, which would support the theory that this is a UHI effect.

Phoenix has a huge urban heat island effect, which my son actually measured.  At 9-10 in the evening, we measured a temperature differential of 8-12F from city center to rural areas outside the city.  By the way, this is a fabulous science fair project if you know a junior high or high school student trying to do something different than growing bean plants under different color lights.

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.

Our Local Enemies List. Is This Finally the End for Sheriff Joe?

Folks in other parts of the country hypothesize that their politicians may or may not have enemies lists, but these are all, frankly, wimpy initiatives when compared to our famous Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his treatment of enemies.  You see, if Sheriff Joe sees you as a political enemy, he brings you up on charges.  When he came in conflict with his bosses, he and his buddy former County attorney Andrew Thomas brought them up on racketeering charges.  When a judge failed to deliver the rulings he wanted in that case, he brought the judge up on bribery charges that fell apart even before the ink was dry (read about some of the hijinx here).

Now there is an ongoing investigation of Sheriff Joe and his department around Arpaio's attempts to get a political opponent, one of his bosses on the Board of Supervisors Joe Stapely, brought up on charges.  Or at least, be seen in the media as brought up on charges, because it is fairly clear that Arpaio was less interested with the strength of the case (which like many of his other political attacks fell apart nearly immediatley) as casting negative media attention on a political opponent.  Money quote highlighted in bold, from the Phoenix New Times which has a great history of staying on Arpaio's case but does not write very well organized articles.

About a month after the indictment, MACE [a division within Arpaio's organization] raided the offices of an associate of Stapley's, developer Conley Wolfswinkel. The claimed justification was that the Sheriff's Office was looking for evidence of additional crimes that detectives had uncovered in the disclosure-form case.

Knight [leader of MACE] had reviewed the search warrant before a raid on January 22, 2009, and believed that he had enough evidence based on testimony from Stapley's bookkeeper, Joan Stoops, to carry out the raid. Stoops told detectives that it appeared Wolfswinkel had inked an agreement to pay Stapley hundreds of thousands of dollars in a land deal when Wolfswinkel had business before the Board of Supervisors.

Knight said Sheriff Arpaio reviewed the search warrant personally — and asked Knight why he hadn't included more details about the case in the warrant. Knight, according to the report, told Arpaio that the details weren't necessary to establish probable cause, the legal term for the level of evidence needed to persuade a judge to sign a search warrant.

The report doesn't specify which details Arpaio wanted Knight to add, but it does describe how Arpaio pressed him on the issue, saying he wanted to make sure the warrant would hold up. Knight didn't buy what Arpaio was saying, believing that the sheriff only wanted the extra information so he could sensationalize the case.

"Are we writing a press release or are we writing a search warrant?" Knight said he asked the sheriff. "I just need to be clear on what we're trying to produce here."

The sheriff stared at him and said sternly: "Get the information in there," the report states. Arpaio then got up and walked out.

Knight did as he was told and included the superfluous information. He had the warrant signed and prepared his deputies for the raid on Wolfswinkel's Tempe business office. He recalled that Arpaio's right-hand man, then-Chief Deputy David Hendershott, called Knight numerous times, asking: "Are we in yet?"

Hendershott, Knight stated, told him that as soon as the search warrant was signed, Knight was to go to the nearest Kinko's and fax a copy to sheriff's headquarters.

"So we get in; we secure the place," Knight said to investigators. "I run over to the nearest Kinko's, which is three or four miles away, [and] fax the document over to him.

"By the time I get back to Conley's business, I've already got a news helicopter flying overhead."

Knight found out later that the search warrant had been handed to the media in conjunction with a press release.

A news conference was under way before Knight got back to his office.

Arpaio also tailored his public statement to emphasize the shocking revelation that Stapley and Wolfswinkel were being investigated in an alleged "bribery" scheme.

The bribery story fell apart within days, by the way, as the officers realized they had the dates wrong on the land deal such that the deal and the supposed political payoff could not be related.

Arpaio faces a myriad of charges.  His defense was that it all happened without his knowledge, which is laughable given the way he is known to run the department.   He is claiming in his PR that the whole department is created in his image but that he has no responsibility for what it does.  Like any good mobster, he apparently had a consigliere named Hendershott who he is attempting to claim now was a loan wolf rather than Arpaio's right hand man, in order to deflect accountability.

The entire article is worth  a read for Arpaio-philes and phobes alike.  It serves as a good summary of some of the worst excesses of Arpaio's reign.

Update:  By the way, does anyone feel comfortable with a police department (much less sheriff Joe) having the weapon shown in this picture.   Can one imagine any legitimate use, short of perhaps a full-blow zombie invasion?   (source)

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.

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.