Saturday, October 20, 2007

Good news/bad news - Arizona in the national spotlight

First the good news - Barack Obama visited Tempe on Friday, and absolutely rocked the crowd of more than 6000 at ASU's Hayden Lawn. Many of the students and other supporters were already in line when the volunteers staffing the event arrived hours before gates opened.

Turns out that was a good move - the main stage area of the event filled quickly once gates opened, and overflow areas were provided for many late arriving spectators.

The event has been covered pretty thoroughly in the AZ MSM; AZ Daily Star here, AZ Republic here, East Valley Tribune here.

Now, the bad news.

Actually, it's the "jaw-droppingly ugly" news.

Earlier this week, the Phoenix New Times broke the story of how the Maricopa County Attorney, Andrew Thomas, and his special prosecutor, Dennis Wilenchik, issued grand jury subpoenas demanding that the New Times turn over all documents relating to any story they've written about Thomas' saddle parter, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, since January 1, 2004. In addition, they demanded information about anyone who has viewed the New Times website.

In a fit of pique after the New Times dared to publish the article, on the orders of the county attorney's office, Maricopa County sheriff's deputies arrested the authors of the article, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, for revealing grand jury information.

Then, on Friday, perhaps sensing that a Category 5 sh!tstorm was bearing down on him for his brazen contempt for the Constitution, County Attorney Thomas dropped all charges against the
New Times, Lacey, and Larkin, throwing his 'special' prosecutor under the bus by blaming Wilenchik for "serious missteps" and removing him from the job.

A few questions to ponder...

...Were Lacey and Larkin actually arrested for the crime of 'revealing grand jury information? Or was their real "crime" that of "not suffering in silence" when power-drunk public officials used their offices to harass them?

...Is it now going to be standard County policy that anyone who dares criticize County officials (such as the Sheriff and County Attorney) will be subject to arrest?

...Has wanna-be governor Thomas realized that perhaps Joe Arpaio is *not* the best political mentor for someone who hopes to win a state-wide race?

...Christmas is coming - should we all chip in on a gift for Thomas?

I'd suggest his own, personal, copy of the Constitution.

With the Bill of Rights highlighted.


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