In an article posted today called "Who's in Charge?", Bolick points out two cases of apparent misuse of funds by Arpaio--using RICO funds to send staff to Honduras, and sending out nearly 200 deputies and "posse" members on "saturation patrols" that appear to be trespassing the jurisdiction of the Phoenix Police Department. Meanwhile, Bolick notes:
Whatever the rationale the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office had for those actions, both diverted scarce resources away from vital law enforcement duties that fall within the Sheriff’s Office’s core duties:Arpaio has a long history of showy but useless or even counterproductive law enforcement activities, as well as costing the taxpayers millions by getting the MCSO sued repeatedly for wrongful death and injury cases as a result of abuse of inmates. But Maricopa County residents keep voting him back in, because he claims to be tough on crime and is often a good self-promoter. I hope that events like last October's arrests of the owners of New Times and now Clint Bolick going after him will finally lead to his non-reelection for County Sheriff this year.
• Unserved warrants, including those for violent offenders, number an estimated 70,000.
• Dozens of criminal defendants have missed court appearances because deputies in charge of moving inmates were told to skip shifts due to excessive overtime.
• The Sheriff’s Office closed three regional booking facilities in Surprise, Avondale, and Mesa, forcing police officers in all 26 Maricopa County jurisdictions to book criminal suspects at the Fourth Avenue jail in downtown Phoenix. The greatly increased transportation time removes officers from the streets and induces them to simply cite and release criminals.
Dan Saban, who's running against Arpaio, is saying all the right things about integrity, civil rights, and combating waste, though he also seems to take a hard line on illegal immigration (which is another area where Arpaio has taken a hard line and engaged in some theatrical activities). He looks like a marked improvement to Arpaio.
UPDATE (April 2, 2008): Looks like Goldwater lost round one today on CityNorth, a project where the city is giving $97.4 million in taxpayer subsidies to the developers of a shopping mall over the next 11 years, and claiming that it is for the 3,180 parking spaces in the parking garage the project is building, 200 of which are reserved for carpoolers using park and ride city bus services for the next 45 years. If the subsidy is considered to be for those 200 spaces, that comes out to $487,000 per space over the 45-year period, or $10,822.22 per space per year. The average parking space annual lease price in Phoenix is $684, and ASU recently estimated that a parking garage would cost $14,000 per space to build. In other words, if instead of paying nearly $100 million to CityNorth, the city instead had purchased land and built its own parking garage, the construction would have cost less than what the city is paying for the first two years worth of the 45-year lease on the 200 spaces. And that doesn't count the additional $10,000/week of taxpayer funds that has been spent on lawyers fighting for this subsidy.
The Goldwater Institute has announced that it will appeal.
UPDATE (April 9, 2008): The New York Times has editorialized that Arpaio should be subpoenaed about his anti-illegal-immigrant sweeps:
For months now, Sheriff Joe has been sending squads of officers through Latino neighborhoods, pulling cars over for broken taillights or turn-signal violations, checking drivers' and passengers' papers and arresting illegal immigrants by the dozen.
Because he sends out press releases beforehand, the sweeps are accompanied by TV crews and protesters — deport-'em-all hard-liners facing off against immigrant advocates. Being Arizona, many of those shouting and jeering are also packing guns. Sheriff Joe, seemingly addicted to the buzz, has been filmed marching down the street shaking hands with adoring Minutemen.
If this doesn't look to you like a carefully regulated, federally supervised effort to catch dangerous criminals, that's because it isn't. It is a series of stunts focused mostly on day laborers, as Sheriff Joe bulldozes his way toward re-election.The sheriff says he is keeping the peace, but it seems as if he is doing just the opposite — a useless, reckless churning of fear and unrest.