The "Death of Democracy" and a Gavel-Pass at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
MCSA's rally following the short BOS meeting today...
Aside from the tragicomic funeral for the "Death of Democracy" that was held outside by members of ACORN and Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability, today's Board of Supervisors meeting was relatively uneventful, civil even. There were no arrests, for applauding or anything else, and the whole meeting itself took about 15 minutes or so, with former Chairman Andrew Kunasek handing the gavel off to the new BOS Chairman Max Wilson.
ACORN's Monica Sandschafer, one of those who was arrested for applauding last month. She was not allowed near the BOS meeting as a condition of her release, hence the symbolic duct tape.
There was applause, both during the meeting, ostensibly for Max Wilson, and there was clapping after the short meeting, Cesar Chavez-style clapping, urged on by members of ACORN and MCSA. Unlike a few weeks ago, when four members of the two groups were arrested by sheriff's deputies for applauding, no one was cuffed and hauled away. Perhaps the presence of several legal observers from CopWatch and the ACLU helped make the difference. Or maybe the Supervisors were stung by the bad press they received when those four peaceful citizens were collared for exercising their First Amendment rights, and forced to spend at least 12 hours a piece in the 4th Avenue Jail.
Some of democracy's pallbearers...
Neither Kunasek nor Wilson allowed public comments during the short session, which seemed silly since all the folks from ACORN and MCSA had planned to do was herald the passing of the gavel, and hope for better relations with new BOS Chairman Wilson. MCSA lead organizer Raquel Teran intended to read a letter to Wilson congratulating him on his new post, and asking to schedule a meeting with the bolo tie-wearing BOSer. So after a brief post-BOS meeting rally, about 200 or so MCSA and ACORN members trudged down the block, their coffin in tow, heading for the Supervisors' 10th Floor offices at 301 W. Jefferson.
The coffin didn't make it up, but at least 100 of the assorted MCSA/ACORN folks did, with Teran leading the way. She asked the receptionist to speak with Wilson, and BOS spokesperson Richard De Uriarte eventually came out to take the letter for Wilson. He said Wilson was in a meeting, but that Wilson expressed his willingness to meet with Teran. The group applauded this result. I'm not going to hold my breath, but maybe this means the Supes will wise up and start treating MCSA and ACORN with respect.
Teran had copies for other BOS members. Fulton Brock was surprised to get his copy when he walked into the crowd unexpectedly. Supervisor Wilcox came out in person to accept her letter, and thanked the group for being there. I asked her if there had been any decisions regarding security for the BOS meetings, and she said that today's meeting was policed by the County's Protective Services, and not sheriff's deputies. As the two agencies have similar brown-beige uniforms, I can't be 100 percent sure of this. I did spot numerous brownshirts down near one of the exits during the BOS meeting, massed as if they were preparing for a possible riot.
A plainclothes MCSO spy who dogged MCSA from the BOS meeting to the Supervisors' offices. The guy acts like he owns the place. I've seen him before, here.
However, there were plainclothes MCSO present at the BOS meeting, and later at the BOS' 10th Floor offices. One guy's a cocky, gray-haired lout I've seen before, spying at one other event. He won't give me his name, but today, he encouraged me to walk with him as he strutted toward his offices about a block east of 301 W. Jefferson. He acknowledged he works for MCSO, though not directly for Chief Deputy David Hendershott. Dennis Gilman and some of the CopWatch guys followed along, as I asked him questions and he gave me non-denial denials. (Gilman says he recognizes him from Smile...You're Under Arrest!, but the deputy, likely a member of Sheriff Joe's Selective Enforcement Unit, wouldn't say yea nor nay on that one.)
Once we arrived at the door to the MCSO office, the deputy, who had been taping our conversation all the time, slyly asked Gilman and I if we'd like to accompany him inside. We both declined the invite. Though I did tell him he was free to drop by the New Times offices at his convenience. That is, as long as he brings along a warrant...