Arizona's Left Leaning Community
May 9, 2012
Maricopa County Attorney
301 W Jefferson St
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Dear Mr. Montgomery:
I was surprised and most disappointed by your May 7, 2012 response to the request by Citizens for a Better Arizona of May 3, 2012.
You must know that the reason you gave mis-states reality. It is simply untrue that the “forum” conducted by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on January 31 provided “unfiltered information with the opportunity to ask as many questions of County leadership as” wished. The “forum” was a total sham. No one who opposes the Sheriff, no one with even a neutral approach, was permitted to make any substantial presentation.
In contrast Wilson and Chief Deputy Sheriff Sheridan spent about an hour describing the intimate details of auditing procedures that are supposed to ensure that the Sheriff spends money in accord with the appropriations of the Board of Supervisors. It should be a given that the Sheriff doesn't mis-appropriate funds, and that the Board has the accounting controls in place to see that that is accomplished. Using the minutia of these procedures was a mind numbingly obvious attempt to distract and wear down the public.
No criticism of the Sheriff’s Office was offered by any of the three presenters, including yourself. Instead, there was a wall-to-wall defense. There was no counter presentation, no presentation of any kind, by any one. There were, and are, many issues begging for public airing, in a forum for the community and concerning problems in the Sheriff’s Office.
Among those extremely significant issues UNIQUE to Maricopa County, there was NOTHING by:
An elected official, current or former, any independent attorney experienced in such matters, or any other independent entity concerning the Department of Justice civil proceedings.
An elected official, current or former, an organization such as the ACLU, or any other independent entity about the class action Melendres case and the injunction against the Sheriff's Office.
An attorney such as Michael Manning or any other attorney who opposed the county in the innumerable court cases the County has lost or settled for amounts that have, and will, ultimately cost the County taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Nothing from County Attorneys from other jurisdictions which have far better experiences in these matters than Maricopa County.
Among other significant issues, there was NOTHING by:
Any police official or elected official, current or former, from El Mirage concerning the more than 400 grossly mishandled sex cases, mostly involving Latinos, the subject of a Pultizer prize winning newspaper series.
Any elected official, current or former, or any attorney experienced in such matters concerning the Sheriff’s involvement in all the activities that resulted in the disbarment of Thomas and Aubuchon. The disciplinary committee may not have specifically called attention to a violation of a matter over which you have jurisdiction, but certainly the existence of any criminal activity on the part of the Sheriff’s Office, a matter completely understood on January 31, is a matter of considerable significance in such a forum.
To be blunt, if the Sheriff is committing crimes, federal, state or whatever, that is a matter of obvious concern to the community and a subject about which “unfiltered information” and “the opportunity to ask as many questions of County leadership as” wished are a requirement for such a forum. Instead, we had a deafening silence, a black hole of nothingness.
And there was no presentation whatever from any member of the public with any of hundreds of concerns about the Sheriff. Let alone a significant group of citizens who had insisted on such a forum, or any other group critical of the Sheriff, of which one could easily find hundreds.
Your statement that the opportunity existed “to ask as many questions of County leadership as” wished, is utterly untrue. It baffles me that you can make such a statement. Did you not notice that there was no opportunity at all for anyone from the public to say anything until after these hours of distraction and defense? Finally members of the public were offered a chance to comment for TWO MINUTES. Members of the Board of Supervisors made it very clear that they would not answer ANY questions, and they didn’t.
That scene is not one of asking “as many questions” as wished except in a world of doublespeak. Questions for two minutes, but no answers.
Members of the Board also made it clear that they really did not appreciate hearing from the public in the least. In many cases, members of the public were interrupted by Chairman Wilson, even before the end of the two minutes, saying, “Wrap it up” or other impatient and distracting interjections.
The whole thing was a shameful show designed to deceive and distract, and it was completely appropriate to refuse to participate in this show. You yourself should not have participated under these reprehensible circumstances. This event did not educate or reassure the public, it did not allow the public to be heard; but it did raise the already high level of distrust, fear and disdain.
Maricopa County faces a set of very significant crises starting with the fact that at least a third of our community regards the Sheriff and his officers with fear, loathing and the utmost distrust while avoiding any contact to the extent at all possible. The Sheriff has the cooperation typical of a hostile army of occupation. This is a lot more than “community agitation.” Endless lawsuits and federal actions loom, together with hundreds of other issues in the Sheriff’s Office.
Does it not give you pause that significant elements of our community do not speak their mind in public about the Sheriff for fear of retaliation? For fear of false arrest and jailing? How can this be in America today? How can it be that we fear to criticize a public official in our own country, state and county?
You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Refusing to talk to significant elements of the public on what are really specious and silly grounds is not a good start. It adds to the divisions within our community, to fear, distrust, hate and loathing.
I ask that you reconsider this position. At the very least, I ask that you refrain from characterizing elected officials and citizens of this County as having “fallen under the siren song of community agitation.” Name calling does not become your office.