Joe Arpaio's Bread and Circuses on Blast in Randy Murray's The Joe Show
"He is a media hound -- there's no doubt about it -- but so what?" she shrugs. "So what that he's got this magic formula worked out that attracts media attention . . . The public seems to like what he does. The media likes it because it fills some empty air time. So what is the downside, exactly?"
Regular readers of this paper know the downside as well as they know Joe's bag of tricks.
But The Joe Show goes through some of the nadirs of Arpaio's rule for those outside the confines of Maricopa County.
Like in 2006, when immigration enforcement becomes yet another way for Arpaio to court controversy and get his mug on the tube.
Whole communities of color, such as the tiny town of Guadalupe, are targets of MCSO sweeps, and the Sheriff's Office begins diverting resources from basic cop work to immigration enforcement.
As Pulitzer-winning journalist Ryan Gabrielson, formerly of the East Valley Tribune, recounts for director Murray, that diversion had a devastating effect on MCSO response times and arrest rates.
"In 2006, the year that [the MCSO] started doing immigration enforcement, it plummeted [from 45 percent] to like 32 percent of the time they were arriving on time.
"In 2005, the arrest rate was about 10 percent. [In 2006], that had dropped to, like, 4 percent. The following year, in 2007, it had dropped for a time to 2.5 percent."
While more than $100 million surreptitiously was transferred into the MCSO's immigration crackdown and other pet projects, more than 400 sex crimes in El Mirage went un-investigated by the MCSO. We hear horrifying examples in the documentary from two young women victimized and denied justice.
Then there is Arpaio's retaliation against his critics and political enemies, the perp-walking of then-county Supervisor Don Stapley, the indictment of county Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, and the attack on this newspaper and its readers, with the 2007 nighttime arrests of New Times' co-founders, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin.
As Lacey explains in an interview for the doc, subpoenas issued as a result of Arpaio's obsession with this paper were Orwellian in scope.
"They literally had a grand jury subpoena that demanded that we produce the identity of everyone who had read New Times online," says Lacey, who, along with Larkin, since has sold his interest in this paper.
In December, Lacey and Larkin's lawsuit against Arpaio and the county was settled for $3.75 million, one of numerous multimillion-dollar payouts because of Arpaio's penchant for revenge.
Additionally, Murray presents viewers with an agonizing parade of those who died in Arpaio's jails: Scott Norberg, Charles Agster, Deborah Braillard, Brian Crenshaw, and Marty Atencio, among others.
The deaths are a result of the MCSO's infamous "culture of cruelty," a notion that Arpaio henchwoman Allen ridicules throughout the documentary.
Scheduled to run on the Investigation Discovery cable channel this fall, the film covers a lot of ground in its one hour and 40 minutes, including Arpaio's probe of Obama's birth certificate (which Joe admits to his handlers is a way to pull in campaign donations), and the 2012 election cycle, from which Arpaio escapes with barely more than 50 percent of the vote.
It ends with the MCSO's becoming subject to the oversight of a court-appointed monitor thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union's big racial-profiling lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio.
Not that any ol' monitor's going to stop Joe's big show.
"I have to say the media, in their own way, [have] created me," Arpaio notes at one point.
"They created me. You wanna say created a monster? To them, it probably is."
Joe's correct, only I'd amend his observation to include the public, especially those who vote, because without them, he might be playing parcheesi somewhere with fellow gray-heads, living out his days on his federal pension.
Instead, both the media and the electorate got the monster they wanted.
And were it not for the suffering of innocents, I'd say it was the monster they deserved.
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