Augustus Shaw: Not His Grandpa's Candidate

Categories: Election 2010
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Photos: Augustus Shaw Elementary School

Augustus Shaw is a legendary name around these parts, but not because of the ethics-bending Tempe HOA attorney who's candidacy for the State House has been challenged.

We're not sure that the "original" Shaw, who died in a Saguaro Lake boating accident in 1977, would be all that proud of his Republican grandson right now.

Augustus Shaw IV, 47, plans to argue at a court hearing tomorrow that he's qualified to run in the state's District 17 because he sometimes sleeps at the District 17 home of his in-laws. A private eye hired by Perkins Coie Brown & Bain, the law firm that filed the complaint against Shaw IV, saw Shaw IV spend a recent weekend and Monday evening with his wife, kids and dog at what appears to be the candidate's actual home in south Tempe's District 20.

Shaw IV's reputation as a lawyer also has been tainted by two disciplinary actions by the State Bar. And New Times learned today that Shaw IV is also in hot water with the City of Tempe for failing to close out his 2004 political action committee.

We drive past Augustus H. Shaw Elementary School on the way to work, so we decided yesterday to find out who the school is named after. It turns out that Shaw Jr., unlike his grandson, was a real community hero.


The Shaw school has something of a shrine to Shaw Jr., with one large, memorial picture of "Gus" standing on an easel in a conference room, and a montage-type painting of him in the front office. Highlights of his life are detailed in a flier we received from school officials.

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Shaw Jr. was born in 1914 in Little Rock, Arkansas and found himself at Arizona State College in Flagstaff (now Northern Arizona University) in the 1930s. After earning a master's degree in education, Gus taught school for a while in El Centro and fathered two children with his wife.

When WWII flared up, Gus joined the Army as a private. He was promoted often, and later attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve. Although his true calling was education, he was also a heck of a coach, leading Carver High School -- a segregated school that closed in 1954 -- to state championships, (the flier doesn't state the sport).

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Gus went on to become principal of two elementary schools and a community leader before his tragic death.

The central Phoenix Augustus Shaw Elementary School at 13th Street and Washington has roughly 500 students and, like other Arizona schools, is facing tough times. School workers tell us that the hifalutin HOA attorney, Shaw IV, came in a few years ago but otherwise doesn't seem to care about the place.

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Shaw IV's bio does mention community service, but nothing education-related. It seems possible that his grandfather might not have even been supportive of his grandson's choice of political party: Shaw Jr. was a lifetime member of the NEA who -- according to the flier -- "believed that good hospital care should be available to all families without draining their financial resources." 

If Shaw IV has anything kinship with the Augustus Shaw Elementary School, it seems only to be with the mascot -- a shark.


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