WILD WILD WEST: PHX cop killed Tuesday morning as Mayor Phil Gordon vacays in Hawaii.

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Slain PHX Police Officer Nick Erfle.

Like you needed more proof we live in the Wild Wild West: PHX Police Officer Nick Erfle was shot dead Tuesday morning in Central Phoenix, during rush hour, after stopping a man for jaywalking, and attempting to arrest him for priors. This was near 24th St. and Thomas. Not way over on the West Side. Not in Glendale, or South Phoenix, or Mesa. But in the center of the city. Erfle's partner gave chase. The now-murderer carjacked a ride, keeping the driver behind the wheel as his hostage. Cops finally boxed in the car at 27th Ave. and McDowell. According to reports, the thug pointed a gun at the hostage, and an officer shot the bastard down.

Just another day in Murder City. Where was the PHX's chief executive, Mayor Phil "Goober" Gordon? His stupid campaign Web site states that, "After a landslide victory on Sept. 11th, the Mayor is in Hawaii with his family. His first vacation in four years."

"First vacation"? Goober's first vacation was the election, in which he faced no serious challengers. His lackeys, like campaign manager Tony Motola, made sure Goober's only real rival, the Rev. Jarrett Maupin, was thrown off the ballot for campaign petition irregularities, leaving the hapless Steve Lory as Goober's straw man. There was ONE debate. Lory got about 23% of the vote. And apparently, the campaign was so tough Goober needed a vacay in the tropics. Lucky him. Nick Erfle was not so lucky. Erfle was left here on the home front trying to clean up the mess Mayor Goober has made of public safety in our lawless metropolis.

What has Goober done about crime in Phoenix during the last four years? He handed out park benches as part of an ill-conceived public watch program -- akin to putting a band-aid on a bloody, headless torso. When watchdog publisher Morgan Quitno Press announced that Phoenix's violent crime rate made it the 59th most dangerous city in the U.S., more life-threatening even than New York City, Goober pooh-poohed the results, saying the stats were unimportant.

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Our witless wonder of a mayor...

As the murders, rapes, and armed robberies piled up, and as other newspapers joined this one in questioning the Mayor's lack of action, Goober and the City Council placed on the ballot a proposed sales tax increase to pay for 500 more cops and support staff over the next two years. The so-called public safety initiative, or Prop 1, passed September 11. We may not see the results from this desperately-needed measure until we're more than halfway through Goober's second term. Meanwhile, cops are shot dead in the street, and pistol-wielding punks carjack, loot, and rape. Where's Phil? Sipping a Mai Tai in his Bermuda shorts somewhere?

Let's face it, Phil Gordon is a witless menace, with all the foresight of a broiler awaiting slaughter. All ambition, and no substance, or even a minimum of competence. His bumbling boosterism is moronic, childish, and for those of us who have to live in this town, potentially life-endangering. Why wasn't this public safety initiative cooked up earlier in his first term? Why didn't he develop a more proactive plan to fight crime in our city? Why did he brush aside statistics that were sounding an alarm? Why? Because this man is not fit to run a dog kennel, much less a city of our population and sprawl.

The Rev. Jarrett Maupin has threatened a recall of the Mayor based on his incompetence, his underhanded skullduggery, and his greedy accumulation of a political war chest that's at least a half million dollars, even after the expenses of his campaign. Maupin says he needs 14,000 signatures to force a recall. I'm beginning to believe such a drastic action is needed.

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