Arizona's Top Ten News Stories of 2012
As bad as Tom Horne's shenanigans have been, they pale beside the truly frightening activities of former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who along with Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon, and to a lesser extent DCA Rachel Alexander engaged in witch hunts against the political enemies of Thomas and his fellow Sith Lord Joe Arpaio.
Newspaper publishers, county supervisors, superior court judges, ordinary civil servants, all were targeted by Thomas and Arpaio. The sheriff could arrest you on bogus charges, and Thomas could prosecute you on bogus charges. No one was safe while Thomas was in a place to do Arpaio's bidding.
Both Arpaio and Thomas should be behind bars for their misdeeds. And if we were in a less corrupt state, they probably would be. So we'll have to take solace from Thomas being disbarred in April by a three-person disciplinary panel of the Arizona Supreme Court. For a lawyer, that's like a death sentence. His hatchetwoman Aubuchon got the same. And Alexander drew a six month suspension.
I will give Horne points, however, for beating Thomas in the 2010 GOP primary for AG. If that hadn't happened, I doubt the State Bar of Arizona would have pursued Thomas & Co. the way it did. And as self-destructive and self-serving as Horne is, he's no Andy Thomas, that's for sure.
Golly, Babeu really does love Mexicans after all...
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu was pretty much headed to Congress from Arizona's First Congressional District until my colleague Monica Alonzo revealed that the Fox News darling and anti-immigrant crusader had threatened his Mexican ex-boyfriend with deportation if the boyfriend didn't keep mum about their affair. Text messages, photos of a half-nekkid Babeu, and a profile of Babeu under the handle "studboi1" on the gay hookup site Adam4Adam.com revealed Babeu as a colossal idiot and hypocrite. He ended up withdrawing from the congressional race and running back to Pinal to seek re-election as sheriff. Amazingly, he was re-elected. But if it had not been for Alonzo's story, he'd likely be in congress right now. Which is why she's journalist of the year in my book.
The only thing sweeter than watching former state Senate President Russell Pearce being ripped from power during his 2011 recall was witnessing his defeat this August at the hands of fellow Republican Bob Worsley in the Legislative District 25 GOP primary for state Senate. Worsley bested Pearce by almost the same double-digit margin that Jerry Lewis beat him by in 2011. In doing so, Worsley ended the myth that Pearce only lost the first time because of the recall's open-primary-like election, and he gave me the pleasure of being able to call Pearce a "two-time loser," whenever I write about him. Thanks, Bob!
It's tough to overestimate the importance of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's final congressional and legislative maps, which were approved by commissioners in January. The AIRC redrew congressional and legislative districts in such a way as to make the Arizona's overall political landscape more competitive. The results? A 5-4 Democrat to Republican split in the state's U.S. House delegation, an end to the GOP's super-majority in the state legislature, and the booting of some of the crazier members of the GOP's legislative ranks. Of course, some are not happy about the purpling of AZ, so the AIRC is being sued up the wazoo in state and federal court.
Republicans, they just can't stand a fair fight.
In January, the Tucson Unified School District bowed to pressure from state Schools Superintendent John Huppenthal and ended the district's unfairly maligned (by wing-nuts, that is) Mexican American Studies Program. Almost a year later, there's hope in the form of a desegregation plan pending before a federal judge, which could bring the successful program back. If that happens, the right-wingers, who believe history belongs to whitey, will have to go pound sand. And that would be a beautiful thing to behold.
With that, I'm off to imbibe heavily pending the singing of Auld Lang Syne come midnight. Happy New Year to all. Let's set out minds to kicking more racist redneck ass in 2013 than we did in 2012.