The best thing that ever happened to the Phoenix New Times

31 Oct 2007 01:18 am
Posted by: Krista

Admit it, you normally aren’t an avid reader of the Phoenix New Times except for those special occasions, like when you’re looking up restaurant reviews. But you have a fascination for all things scandalous and couldn’t help but be hit over the head with the story of gross misconduct in Sheriff Joe’s personal vendetta meets the Phoenix New Times.

Believe me when I say that Sheriff Joe’s latest escapade has gotten a lot of action in the political realm, complete with gasps of shock, horror, and incredulity.  By now, we’ve all heard something about the goings on with Sheriff Joe and Posse vs. the Phoenix New Times, but do you know the whole story?  I didn’t, but I was motivated to find out and spent several hours researching the shenanigans and compiling the most pertinent articles in one place.  I included a brief synopsis and links to the Phoenix New Times articles, which you have to read to fully appreciate the story in its entirety – it’s a veritable Halloween Horror Story:

Beware the Sherriff’s Posse

It began with something to hide.  Sherriff Joe, using the guise of fear and death threats, had his records removed (including his home address) from the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.  (Please note that Sherriff Joe’s address is easily available on a number of Web sites.) Unfortunately for Joe, a few records escaped to become the first clue that something was amiss.  John Dougherty, a former Phoenix New Times reporter, caught on and wrote his first story on the subject on July 1, 2004: Sherriff Joe’s Real Estate Game

Dougherty initially pursued diplomatic means for uncovering the truth about Sherriff Joe’s real estate holdings.  He requested a copy of Sherriff Joe’s real estate records in writing and in person.  With no cooperation from the Sherriff, Dougherty unleashed his mighty pen and wrote his second story on the subject, which includes Sherriff Joe’s address, on July 8, 2004: Stick It to ‘Em.

According to Dougherty’s next article on the subject, on April 28, 2005: Enemies List, Sherriff Joe responded to Dougherty’s inquiries by seeking felony charges against him (Dougherty) for publishing the Sherriff’s address in an article.  Is that the way to inspire trust and transparency?  I think not. 

Not to let Sherriff Joe change the subject and deflect attention from his real estate deals (and other requests for information), the Phoenix New Times sued the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office for refusing to comply with the Arizona public records law.  They lost the suit, a travesty, as indicated in the August 11, 2005 article: Histrionics Lesson.

The cast of characters expanded with the entrance of cronies Dennis Wilenchik and Andrew Thomas in these two stories (for background information and conspiracy theories), one on June 15, 2006: Doubting Thomases, and another on June 29, 2006: Bully Pulpit.

Up till this point, the Phoenix New Times was a thorn in Sherriff Joe’s side, and Joe without tweezers.  The real gore began when the Phoenix New Times published a Christmas card to Joe on December 21, 2006: Joe Strikes Back. In case you missed Sherriff Joe’s address in the earlier article or on other Web sites, this was your opportunity to see it again.

In a move that reeks of personal retaliation and the cashing in of personal favors (by Sherriff Joe, although that’s all speculation on my part), the Maricopa County Supervisors entered the fray to appoint Wilenchik and other attorneys to pursue a case against the Phoenix New Times for publishing Sherriff Joe’s address.  Information about the move is buried in this article from September 20, 2007: Below the Belt (it’s worth reading from start to finish).

In an outrageous misuse of power, the Phoenix New Times was targeted with grand jury subpoenas that included you and me and everyone else who read Phoenix New Times articles about Sherriff Joe over the past couple of years, and then some.  I can’t give it full justice, so read about it in this article from October 18, 2007: Breathtaking Abuse of the Consitution and this pdf doc of the subpoena.

It gets even better, folks.  For revealing details about the grand jury subpoenas, the Phoenix New Times founders were arrested. In the middle of the night. For a misdemeanor.  However, by this time the investigation and arrests stretched too far, and the founders were released, Wilenchik was fired, and the investigation was dropped, as told in this article on October 25, 2007: Who’s Sorry Now?.

As all scary stories should, this one ended on a good note.  For me, I think I’ll be checking in on the Phoenix New Times more often.  After all, I’m still waiting to read about those real estate records, and something tells me I won’t find that information in The Arizona Republic.

Happy Halloween!

4 Comments

  1. Comment by Daniel Patterson on October 31, 2007 12:45 pm

    Sheriff Joe has got to go!

    Daniel Patterson
    for Arizona House (D-LD29)
    http://danielpatterson.net

  2. Comment by Donna on October 31, 2007 6:28 pm

    Everyone should watch the press conference video all the way to the end. For personal reasons I won’t get into here, I took special delight in Barnett Lotstein (Andrew Thomas’ PR stooge) being called “butt boy” by a reporter.

  3. Comment by Donna on October 31, 2007 7:25 pm

    Nice post – there’s so much material here it’s hard to do it justice. I just wanted to add that the bar complaints/investigations against County Attorney Thomas and his no-bid contractor, former employer Dennis Wilenchik will guarantee at least a couple more good stories out of this mess. It seems Arpaio and Thomas are trying to outdo each other in goofy extremism, but it’s not at all a laughing matter.

  4. Comment by Debra Boehlke on November 5, 2007 4:27 pm

    Sheriff Joe and Andrew Thomas are showboating and wasting taxpayers money left and right- we need to work hard to make sure neither are elected to pulic office again!

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