Joe Arpaio flack Cpt. Paul Chagolla threatens to arrest yours truly for, uh, being a journalist.

Paul Chagolla (right) barely containing his rage, with me on the left, and Lisa Allen MacPherson in the middle; from back in November, when Chagolla threw me out of a press conference for no reason. Uh, note my super-aggressive body language...

What do Communist China, present-day Iran, and Maricopa County have in common? In all three places you can get arrested for doing your job as a reporter. That's the message from MCSO spokesperson Captain Paul Chagolla, one of Joe Arpaio's top lackeys, who gets a kick out of bullying journos who don't kiss Arpaio's wrinkled tuchus. Chagolla has strongly suggested that I will be arrested if I show up to MCSO offices to pick up certain public records once the MCSO has copies of them ready. The e-mail exchange below outlines Chagolla's threat. I figured since Chagolla cc'd everyone on his media e-mail list during the exchange, I might as well get a blog post out of it, and show everyone not in the local media that Chagolla, as he reveals here in his own words, is a massive, unrepentant tool.

This recent spate of verbal jousting began when I e-mailed Chagolla two questions, listed below. Chagolla rationalizes his reaction by stating that there's litigation ongoing between New Times and the MCSO over public records, and because the MCSO has instigated a bogus criminal investigation of New Times , since a couple of years back former New Times-er John Dougherty revealed Arpaio's home address in one of his columns. It's a long story, which you can read more about in my 12/21 piece, "Joe Strikes Back." Maricopa County Attorney Andy Thomas kicked the complaint over to Pinal County because of a conflict of interest. Last I heard, it's going nowhere. Arpaio's address is all over the Internet, which makes the complaint one of the most asinine ever in the history of Arpaio's office. And that's, um, really asinine.

Chagolla has used this lame excuse of a "criminal investigation" of New Times and the lawsuit over docs to ignore New Times, keep us out of their press conferences, etc. But because the MCSO has recently and very publicly requested travel docs from the City Phoenix as part of some trumped up corruption probe, they had to at least pay lip service when I announced in a previous column that I was asking for the same sort of docs from the MCSO. I was told the docs I'd asked for could be reviewed at the offices of the MCSO's private lawyer, and that I could request copies, which a "runner" could then retrieve from MCSO HQ. Chagolla warned that dire legal consequences would ensue if I came by to pick up the docs myself: presumably, that I'd be arrested. I'm going in soon to take a look at these docs, and will certainly request copies. We'll see how it plays out from there.

The folks who hate my guts for one reason or another will cheer the opportunity to see me in cuffs, even if there are no grounds for the arrest. Yet I suspect even those reporters (and there aren't many) who are Arpaio fans will feel a chill run up their spines at the news, which may be what Arpaio and Chagolla ultimately want. Outrage is hard to come by in this Valley, but Chagolla is widely despised by journalists for the way he treats them, for his colossal arrogance, his petty bullying, and his brick-wall tactics. Hopefully, there will be some indignation when he and the MCSO pull a move more akin to the KGB in Soviet Russia, than of the land of the free and the home of the brave. The e-mail exchange follows.

----- Original Message -----
From: Stephen Lemons
To: Paul Chagolla - SHERIFFX
Sent: Mon Jul 23 14:59:07 2007
Subject: Questions for MCSO

Cpt. Chagolla,

2 inquiries for you:

1) Regarding MCSO's new illegal immigrant hotline, how does Sheriff Arpaio respond to the charge that this new "hotline" is racist, since it will inevitably have folks calling in to report people based upon the color of their skin?

2) If Sheriff Arpaio is not a racist, why is he scheduled to speak August 2 at United for a Sovereign America's regular Thursday night meeting at Childress Auto Mall? These meetings are notorious for accepting white supremacists such as J.T. Ready, members of the White Knights of America, and others into their ranks.

Thanks in advance for any response.

Stephen Lemons, Phoenix New Times
602-229-8426

>>> "Paul Chagolla - SHERIFFX" 7/23/2007 8:27 PM >>>
mr. stephen lemons
writer
new times adult entertainment magazine

mr. lemons:

Given the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office pending litigation with the new times adult magazine, and the open criminal investigation involving the improbital new times publication, a response, and/or an interview is certainly not appropriate.

Cordially,


Captain Paul Chagolla
Media Relations Commander
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office


-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Lemons [mailto:Stephen.Lemons@newtimes.com]
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007 8:49 PM
To: Paul Chagolla - SHERIFFX
Subject: Re: Questions for MCSO

"Improbital," Captain? Is that a word or a favorite laxative?

Before now, I might have counted Arpaio and his cronies as self-serving and power-mad, but I would not necessarily have labeled you folks as racist. Now that the Sheriff sees fit to arrest people with ethnicity and skin color used for probable cause, and to hang out with the assorted white pride types at the Thursday night Childress prejudice parties, I sadly see that the label may indeed be more appropriate than I originally thought.

Besides, what's worse in your lexicon, an adult magazine or the Klan? And don't tell me you've never looked at a Playboy.

SL

PS: Absolute power...etc., etc.

>>> "Paul Chagolla - SHERIFFX" 7/24/2007 12:36 PM >>>
mr. stephen lemons
writer
new times adult entertainment magazine

mr. lemons:

It should be plainly obvious at this time that given the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office pending litigation with the new times, and the open criminal investigation of the new times, interviews are inappropriate.

I have provided a method for your entertainment publication to communicate inquiries to this Office in a professional business manner. Instead you choose to communicate in a profligate, boorish and abusive manner. Therefore, I am apprising you that this type of unprofessional
conduct will not be tolerated from you mr. lemons, and will result in future messages being blocked and/or deleted upon receipt, without action.

Mr. Barr and Mr. Suskin, please take note of your employee's misconduct, as mr. lemons' actions may have consequences for your organization's ability to communicate with this Office via electronic mail.


Cordially,

Captain Paul Chagolla
Media Relations Commander
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

(NB: In the e-mail below, I'm referring to previous e-mails from Chagolla stating there would be serious legal consequences if I showd up at MCSO offices to get public docs.)

From: Stephen Lemons Tuesday - July 24, 2007 1:24 PM
To: SHERIFFX, Paul Chagolla

Captain,

You omitted my initial questions, and your own boorish response, which I've provided below.

Are you still threatening to arrest me if I come by to pick up the MCSO travel documents I will be reviewing at your lawyer's office later this week? If so, please let me know, so I may alert my colleagues in the media that you are threatening journalists with arrest for the simple matter of picking up requested public documents in person.

Of course, when you stated there would be serious legal consequences if I showed up at your offices to pick up docs, maybe that's just your way of saying you like me.

Thanks in advance,

Stephen Lemons
602-229-8426


>>> "Paul Chagolla - SHERIFFX" 7/24/2007 3:04 PM >>>
mr. lemons:

I chose a very public way of communicating to you that you have forgotten your manners mr. lemons. You would do well in conducting yourself as a mature and courteous individual.

I will stay above the fray, conduct myself politely & assertively, and still deliver my message that I mean every word I have written to you.

The rest is up to you mr. lemons.

Cordially,

Captain Paul Chagolla
Media Relations Commander
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office


From: Stephen Lemons Tuesday - July 24, 2007 9:00 PM
To: SHERIFFX, Paul Chagolla

Mr. Chagolla,

Thanks for your very public way of communicating with me. Now all of the Valley's journalists will know that you are threatening to arrest a reporter because you don't like the questions he asks. Also, there is the matter of picking up public documents in person, and the threat of arrest for doing this, when as far as I or anyone with common sense can see, picking up public documents is not against the law.

"Manners"? Mr. Chagolla, I am a Southerner by birth. Manners are not something we forget. However, manners do not negate the First Amendment. Nor do they equal servility. Save, perhaps, at MCSO HQ.

I would point out that the snarky tone began on your end, with your, um, "improbital" (sic) response to my initial questions. There's also your snide reference to the "new times adult magazine." Guess this is a real gasser over at MCSO HQ. In rebuttal, I'd cite an incident a few years ago involving MCSO employees and various Valley massage parlors. Ah, the rigors of police work.

Your childishness and unprofessionalism are unwarranted and unfortunate, but then the MCSO has a history of denigrating the Fourth Estate and treating its minions with utter contempt. You routinely violate the First Amendment rights of this paper and others, as casually as you violate the civil rights of prisoners in your custody.

To quote a great American, sir, at long, long last, have you no shame? Gauging from your actions and the actions of your boss, I think we all know the answer.

Stephen Lemons
602-229-8426


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