Archive for the ‘Sheriff Joe Arpaio’ Category

“Find out the cause of this effect,
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause.”

—-William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”

There is something rotten deep inside the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. It’s some kind of infection that permeates the entire agency and results in pustules that force the public and the larger justice system to take notice. Sometimes those pustules burst and leave no doubt that something is terribly wrong. Rank problems include too many poorly explained and poorly handled inmate deaths, charges of racial discrimination, profiling and harassment, and 6,300 lawsuits that have cost County taxpayers over $50 million and counting. Just to put that into perspective for you….take Harris County, Texas (which includes Houston)….over the last 17 years Arpaio’s MCSO has had 6 times as many lawsuits against it. Yes, I said 6 times. Something is indeed rotten…we should just call Sheriff Arpaio “Cousin Fester” and be done with it.

Not as if we need any more convincing but there’s yet another sad and infuriating story coming out of Joe’s jail hellscape.  Miriam Mendiola-Martinez, an illegal document with forged papers, was arrested in 2009 and she was pregnant.   What she says happened to her is a nightmare that no human being should ever have to endure.  Here’s a list of her charges:

  • They put her in jail while she was in active labor instead of keeping her in the hospital.
  • The purposely ignored her cries for help because they were in Spanish and not English (The Justice Department has confirmed that this was a common pattern of behavior for the guards.)
  • After being taken back a day later to the hospital to give birth via C-Section, she was not allowed to hold her son or nurse him.
  • She was shackled to her hospital bed immediately following the C-Section.
  • They took her out of the hospital early before she could be given pain medication and even before the hospital had officially discharged her.
  • When taking her out of the hospital, they had her shackled at both the hands and feet.  Her attorney said in an interview that I heard on KJAZZ this morning (can’t find the actual transcript) that she was bleeding down over her ankle shackles.

I don’t know about you, but I have had a C-Section and you can’t walk for quite a while afterward–like a full day afterwards. It’s major surgery and it hurts like hell.  It takes a minimum of 12 weeks of rest to recovery from. The fact that they had her up and walking out of the hospital (without doctor sign off) within hours not only violates hospital rules but the fact she had no pain medication is just plain cruel and unusual.

The lawsuit against MCSO was filed on Jan. 21st and one day later U.S. District Court Judge Joe Campbell threw it out of court saying that since she was not shackled during the actual labor her lawsuit cannot show that a constitutional rights violation occurred.  See the law says you can’t shackle a woman during labor but says nothing about before or after.  Industry practice, even in Arizona Corrections, is to never shackle a pregnant woman at any time unless she is a danger to herself and others.  So even though MCSO was violated their own industry practices, they weren’t technically violating the law–according to the judge.  A quick note, Judge Campbell is a well-known conservative.  In other words, there was little hope that this case could get past the patriarchal firewall of misogyny here in Arizona.  Thankfully, that’s what appeals are for.  Her attorney plans to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Until then, when will Maricopa County residents realize that this “effect defective comes by cause” and the cause is the guy at the helm of the rotting body that is MCSO.

From the land of the truly nuts:

  • As I said in a post the other day national focus has turned to AZ again primarily due to Senator McCan’t and his Border charades.  The Senator’s antics were no doubt timed to coincide not only with the state GOP’s vote of no confidence, but also to the appointment of the newest Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, who has only been in office since Dec. 23, 2013.  Sec. Johnson is getting familiarized with the gargantuan task of running such a massive department, so it must be the perfect time for Sen. McCain to start hammering said department on the efficiency and effectiveness of their border security program.  Sec. Johnson will be visiting the Tucson sector of the Arizona border with Mexico this week.  Let’s hope the press leaves him alone so he can get to work sooner rather than later…although if Sen. McCain has his way, Johnson will be hounded every step of the way, I’m sure.
  • Since it is MLK Day, there will be lots of stories about his legacy such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is fitting.  It should also be a day to remember that the fight for those Rights did not end in 1965 and recently has heated up.  Just this past year, a US Supreme Court case gutted the law, so states like Arizona went right back to their old shenanigans.  Since then States controlled by Republican governors and/or legislatures been involved in attempts to limit access to polling stations, remove methods of voting, and limit who can vote (mainly using new Voter ID laws or outright removing people from the state’s registration lists).  Of  course, these all target traditionally Democratic voters like African Americans, Native Americans, the urban poor, women and the young.  Today, of all days, we must remember that we’re still in the ring and the other side is throwing a lot of unanswered punches.
  • Another inmate has died in a Maricopa County jail under Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reign.   Even though the MCSO is being monitored by the U.S. District Court (because of the pattern of abuses and unethical behavior spotlighted in the Melendres v. Arpaio Civil Rights case), I doubt anything will come from this latest death investigation. After all, who cares about another dead inmate—except their family of course.  They’ll get paid off like they always do and Maricopa County residents will forget and re-elect Arpaio yet again .
  • The incredibly stupid bill to allow people to carry weapons on school campuses is being proposed in the AZ State Legislature again.  It failed to even reach committee last year so let’s hope it suffers a similar fate this time as well.

A couple of days ago Gov. Brewer of this fine state abolished an entire state government agency: Child Protective Services. She replaced it with a new one called “Child Safety and Family Services” and put a guy by the name of Charles Flanagan in the director’s position, current head of the AZ Department of Juvenile Corrections. This change by the Governor is most likely bad for Arizona although one could also argue that things couldn’t have gotten any worse.

The tipping point for the Governor, beyond CPS’s well known longterm underperformance, was the fact that a review of their caseloads discovered that 6,000 cases that originated from the official hotline had not been investigated. This sounds horrible and it is. It is also illegal because AZ laws says that those cases MUST be investigated. Nevertheless, what the news media is not reporting to the public is the context in which all this occurred.

CPS has, like most other state agencies, been purposely starved by the Republican Governor and Republican-led legislature. Arizona is a conservative state and prides itself on low tax rates. Combine that with revenue plummeting due to the Great Recession that started in 2008 and from which we are just now recovering and we ended up with very few funds for a lot of services. We are recovering thankfully. Experts are saying that Arizona revenue will have grown by 3.5% in Fiscal Year in 2013 and are predicting 5.3% in Fiscal Year 2014. In the end, we get what we pay for and Arizona doesn’t pay for much.

However, even when times were good, state services were dismal. Here is just one example*. In 2006, the state had approximately 5% of the population living with serious mental illness and on average spent $157 per capita and assisted only 18% of the adults in need. In addition an unusually low percentage of the money budgeted for mental health services, 7%, went to state hospital care. The national average is 70%. This means that if you’re mentally ill in AZ and need assistance from the state you aren’t likely to get any and if you happen to end up homeless and mentally ill, there are no hospitals for you. This again, follows a conservative trend to deinstitutionalize mental health treatment . This trend began in CA when Reagan was governor and when he was elected President he spread that policy nationwide with ramifications we are still feeling today. Suffice it to say, it’s part of the Republican strategy to starve government so that it will fail. And when services fail, because they’ve made it inevitable, they can say, “See government doesn’t work so let’s just do away with it.” Even now Arizona is projected to have a budget surplus but Republican state legislators are still preaching austerity. Here’s what Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills**) had to say back in October 2013 a couple of months before the most recent scandal.

Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said a more realistic snapshot would build in extra spending requests in the coming years, especially since the state has had a recent run of surpluses.

“A lot of people are asking for more spending,” Kavanagh said, ticking off requests he’s seen for Child Protective Services, wildfire management and roads.

If lawmakers spend even $150 million more a year over the state budget’s baseline for the next three years, he said, the deficit could balloon to $1.4 billion by June 2017.

That’s just theory at this point. Many involved in the budgeting process caution it’s hard to reliably predict revenue and spending more than a year ahead of time.

The point is that CPS was set up to fail. Having worked in law enforcement myself I am very familiar with how child protection services are supposed to work and the incredible burdens the very underpaid, under appreciated and over worked social workers have to contend with. I thought my caseload as a Probation Officer was bad until I found out about the social workers and what they had to deal with. At least with my active caseload of 150 felons in the community, which was about half of their active cases, the likelihood that anyone’s life and mental health really depended on what I did or didn’t do was low. That’s not the case with CPS. Many of the kids’ lives and mental and physical health are directly dependent upon CPS employees every single day. Needless to say the turnover for their employees is extremely high because morale is naturally horrible. High turnover rate means more down time and increased costs for training making CPS even more expensive to run than other agencies.

Of the 6,000 cases that were ignored, 125 were found to be actual cases of abuse and none of those were reported as fatalities. That’s about a 2% rate of actual abuse from Hotline cases. Ultimately this latest scandal is simply further proof that CPS could never have succeeded. This kind of agency faces enough of a challenge in our society without the extra burden of being starved financially. So the Governor can create a new agency all she wants but it will still have the same mission, still have to draw from the same pool of underpaid and disillusioned social workers, and still have the same caseload pressures as before. Furthermore, the fact that she’s putting someone who has been involved with locking up kids and not saving them doesn’t bode well either.

In the end, the people that suffered and will continue to suffer are first and foremost the kids and second the overwhelmed CPS employees. I’m sure the Governor and the state Republican controlled legislature feels their hands are clean and on the surface it may appear they are lily white. Right now it appears that Gov. Brewer is sweeping in to save the day. That’s because they are willing to let that all roll downhill like they always do and the local news media and the voting public will let them get away with it yet again. For what it’s worth, at least some of us know the truth.

________________

*Another somewhat related example are the approximately 400 felony cases, some of which were sexual in nature and the victims were children, that went uninvestigated in the city of El Mirage. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was paid to investigate the crimes except they never were. Funny how Joe is still in office….why is MCSO even allowed to exist if CPS isn’t under the same circumstances? Why hasn’t El Mirage sued the holy bejeebers out of MCSO for unrendered services, fraud, theft, something….anything? Typical Arizona bullpucky to which the voters turn a blind eye.

**Fountain Hills is a VERY wealthy community to the East of Snottsdale where Sheriff “I serve green bologne to my inmates and have one of the highest correction death rates in the country” Arpaio happens to reside.

Some quick thoughts on news items I heard today yesterday….(so sue me, I’m slow to post lately)

  1. You know how waiters approach you and say, “Hi, My name is Kelly and I’m going to be your server today. How is your day going?” Well, I hate it. Call me a curmudgeon (really, it’s okay, I can accept that label) but I don’t give a damn what their name is because I’ll never remember it anyway. And I don’t want to make chitchat with them. I don’t do small talk very well so I don’t bother with it. I only want a waiter to be quick, attentive, efficient and quiet. Well there’s a new application of current technology out there that let’s you order via your phone and text your waiter when you want him/her to come over to your table. A waiter was quoted as saying something like, they “might as well replace us with robots”. Okay!  Sounds good to me.  I’m all for it if it means I don’t have to know your name or talk about the weather with you.
  2. The city of Detroit has been officially allowed to go bankrupt, including the ability to cut pensions in spite of a state constitutional provision that forbids it. Unfortunately, no word as to what creditors will be given precedence–the banks or the thousands of city workers whose pensions have not been funded. Correct me if I am wrong but I thought a bankruptcy judge could specify ‘who gets paid first’? It’s shameful to think that banks making millions, if not billions, in profit would get money before city workers who spent years if not decades toiling away thinking that they would some day be able to retire and now cannot. If the judge does not put them first, those people will have to rely on others and/or work until the day they die. That just sucks.
  3. As I’ve written about many times before, Arizonans hate to pay taxes but they still have the nerve to be upset when public services go unprovided. Sometimes it bites us in the ass like it did when Sheriff Joe failed to investigate over 400 felony cases for the City of El Mirage some involving murder, rape and molestation of children. Now we have another scandal. Six thousand CPS (Child Protective Services) cases have been neglected–as in not touched at all. The Governor having been informed of this created a task force to review all of those cases to see “if the kids are safe”.   Ironically the acronym for the task force is CARE–hah!  Maybe she should have cared BEFORE?!?!  CPS is not at fault. They are extremely underpaid, understaffed and under-appreciated. If some of those kids have been harmed, and the odds are good that they have, I want to know. And I want it rubbed in the face of every Arizonan who refuse to pay their taxes.  Liberty in a Capitalist society is only for those that “Have”.  The “Have Nots” are just SOL.  Their liberty is the freedom to suffer without assistance and without hope.  I wonder if those abused and neglected kids can smell the liberty right now–that is, if they’re still among the living.
  4. The price of milk in the U.S. may double and worse yet, become extremely scarce. And milk won’t be the only commodity that this will happen to…ANY product made with milk and many other basic staples that come from farming. Why? Because the U.S. Congress, held hostage by crazy, foaming at the mouth Republicans who want to take yet more money away from the food stamp program, sucks balls. They’ve failed to pass a Farm Bill–a very basic thing BTW. We need to get some rational adults into office who actually want to make government work for the American people.
  5. And speaking of crazy people, there’s this guy. He is openly advocating treason on Fox Television. Maybe he’s just crazy like a fox because you know he’s making bank off this stunt.  I like to call it Entrepreneurial Hatemongering TM As Bob Cesca says:

    Indeed, this sort of harrowing armed revolt and assassination fetishization generates a not insignificant revenue stream. It’s become its own subsidiary of the conservative entertainment complex, as David Frum called it. Located just adjacent to the anti-Obama conspiracy theory section of the store, the violent-overthrow cosplay shelves are loaded with highly potent crazyswag. For a price. Read the crazy, but subscribe first. And don’t forget to bulk-purchase the hastily-assembled ghost-written book.

  6. Finally, FL is in the news yet again. They continue to set the standard for how to rig elections by limiting who gets to vote. Once again, changing the rules at the last moment, Governor “Gollum” Scott is ordering the county election officials to close down hundreds of drop-off sites used for absentee ballots. According to a Pinellas County official 42% of the county’s absentee ballots were left at drop-off sites in 2012. That’s significant. Absentee ballots help primarily those who cannot, for a number of reasons, physically make it to the polls in the increasingly tiny window of time being allowed–which means the poor, elderly, women, minorities and you know who they tend to vote for. There is some hope though…some county election officials are openly defying the governor (as they did when he tried to illegally trim thousands of Floridians off of the voting rolls in the last election).

I think that’s more than enough misanthropy for today. Cheers!

  • 99% of the time I don’t believe in deities, however ironic little news stories like this make me thankful to any god or goddess that might have brought it to my attention.

    Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of cocaine and was sentenced to one year of supervised probation. [snip] As a member of Congress, Radel has co-sponsored legislation to change the nation’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws and voted for a bill that called for states to drug test people who receive food stamps.

    PS: Drug testing people on welfare finds few positives, contributes to state deficits and does no one any good.

  • Yet another sad tale illustrative of the horrible state of affairs for Mental Health treatment in the U.S.

    State Senator R. Creigh Deeds, a leading Virginia political figure who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2009, was stabbed repeatedly on Tuesday at his home during an altercation with his son, who then apparently took his own life, the authorities said. [snip] On Monday, state mental health officials unsuccessfully sought to find a bed in a hospital psychiatric ward for Gus Deeds, who had undergone an evaluation…

    PS: All those junk insurance plans getting dropped by health insurance companies in the U.S. did not cover Mental Health services as mandated by Obamacare. Making treatment available at the same rate as physical illnesses is the right first step to fix our Mental Health system.

  • If you are Pro-Choice then you may have noticed that since the Pro-Life movement had failed to force their religious beliefs on the rest of us via Federal measures, they’ve resorted to trying to do it at the state level with some success.  Well, now they are also trying it out at the City level with a measure that would ban abortions after week 20.  Fortunately the voters of Albuquerque rejected the measure.  So the fight goes on, just a little closer to home now.
  • 37 states settled a lawsuit with Google for privacy violations and the amount to be split amongst the states is $17 million.  Arizona’s share will be $355,000.  Now let’s see how long it takes for this money to line some crony’s pocket.
  • The weather in Phoenix is FINALLY starting to cool down.  We’ve reached the mid to upper 70’s this week which is about average.  The weather has been crazy…we would hit the 90’s and then plummet into the 70’s.  On Nov. 12th we got up to 92, which is 15 degrees above average.  While everyone in cold dark places is dreaming of being in 90 degree weather, I’m exactly the opposite.  Oh what I wouldn’t give to be able to wear a sweater!
  • The City of Phoenix received a perfect score on the inclusiveness of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in city government.  That makes Phoenix one of only 25 in the nation to receive a perfect score from The Human Rights Campaign.  It’s nice to know I’m not always correct when I say there has been no progress in Arizona–we’re doing it, just teeny-tiny step at a time.
  • Our infamous Sheriff Joe was the subject of “Roast” last weekend for Charity.  I’m sure they went pretty easy on him as good ‘ol Joe has pretty thin skin.  Here’s some jokes that liberals everywhere WISH had been used.  From what I heard via a radio interview on 97.9 KUPD the organizers asked one of the best roast hosts in the business, Jeffrey Ross, and he turned the gig down.  Can you blame him?