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March 27, 2010

Maricopa County, I Say We Take Off and Nuke the Site From Orbit

Two things this week caught my attention out of the Banana Republic of the Southwest.

First, an excellent primer on the years-long battle over control of the county with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas on one side and the County Supervisors on the other.

Folks ask why I'm so hard on power-abusing Arpaio and just-plain-paranoiac Thomas and not the likely corrupt County Supervisors. Look, the county supervisors are politicians. Corruption, lying, and other morally turpitudinous behaviors are second nature to them. Sure, I condemn it. Of course, replace their asses. But I'm not surprised by it.

By contrast, Arpaio and Thomas are supposed to uphold the law. In fact, they both took oaths to do just that. I expect ethical behavior from the police and from prosecutors because they are the primary point of contact between the public and the criminal law. And while our constitutions have provisions for removing bad civil servants, they spend a lot more time on restraining the police and protecting folks from unjust prosecutions. The jack-booted adventures of Arpaio and his sidekick, Thomas, cross a line from ordinary political overreach and corruption to anti-American tyranny. The lawsuits against judges who rule against them should have been a major warning sign.

Anyway, the primer caught my eye and I recommend it because it manages to break down the convoluted doings in Maricopa County into understandable bits.

Second, in the latest shot in the county's civil war, the County Supervisors are planning to sue a bus company for selling Sheriff Arpaio a bus. The county is vague about what the bus company did wrong:

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.

Clearly, there's something bad in the water in Maricopa County. Sorry, dear citizens of Maricopa. Given the actions of your leaders, there's a strong case for glassing your small section of the Southwest so we can be sure that the infection does not spread. Hot zones don't contain themselves.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:23 PM

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