The man FOX network dubbed America’s toughest sheriff, and perhaps the last true 20th century style big city political boss, Arizona’s Sheriff Joseph Arpaio according to reliable reports, is the focus of a multi faceted federal investigation.
Till recently “Boss” Arpaio wielded influence in local and state politics comparable to other historical political figures like Chicago’s Richard J. Daley and Missouri’s Tom Prendergast.
The nearly eighty year old Arpaio, ever addicted to limelight and publicity apparently declined to get out of politics while the getting was good. He now faces the music for what critics claim is more than a decade of documented abuse, financial irregularity and in some cases out right murder. A litany of political and criminal villainy ignored by the Bush Justice department and suppressed by State officials and loyalist Judges who were products of the Arpaio political machine.
There was a time in Arizona when even Governors cow towed to sheriff Joe, and politicians who made the mistake of rousing his sore displeasure, found themselves in his jail facing trumped up charges. Their careers destroyed long before their supposed crimes faded from the front page of the Arizona Republic or local fox news affiliate and were dismissed by the courts.

The Sheriff is still beloved by a large majority of neo conservatives who call Phoenix home and use the appropriate code words and political speak to express their pride in being mighty white, but in recent years the influx of people from other parts of the country has made Phoenix the Nation’s 5th largest metropolitan area and changed the balance of power. The Sheriffs grip is no longer absolute and the 2006 midterms saw his handpicked congressional delegation fall apart.
While no single event in particular is responsible for the decline in Sheriff Arpaio’s political fortunes, a multiplicity of bungled publicity stunts attempted by the sheriff to get back on top, combined with the return to a rule of law at the federal level is creating a snowball effect of negative consequence. The snowball first drew national attention when sheriff Arpaio arrested a couple reporters for negative articles. To his surprise the Sheriff discovered he wasn’t actually allowed to put people in jail for writing stories he disliked.

Then the democrats who had won both the Attorney General and Governors office said something to offend him, which resulted in one of his famous press conferences where he announced he had been conducting another of his super double top secret investigations into political corruption and the attorney general was the target. Unlike past publicity stunts where the politician named would eventually be perp walked before the press, the attorney general called his own news conference to more or less chuckle, saying his office would no longer be taking calls from the Sheriff much less responding to his silly behavior.

That event seemed to open the flood gates, other elected officials and Mayors began to openly oppose the sheriff who responded by conducting midnight raids at city halls of mayors who spoke ill of as is Joes habit to refer to himself in the third person, the office of sheriff.

Unfortunately while the image of dozens of black hooded deputies armed to the teeth invading city hall’s across the valley played well to his base and the local fox affiliate, it didn’t go over so well with everyone else. Now the Justice department in democratic control is looking into year’s worth of complaints about abuse, civil rights violations and suspicious “death while in custody incidents.”

In the run up to the Presidential election, sheriff Arpaio gambled he could cultivate the immigration debate into some serious local and National political capitol. He began staging what amounted to massive armed occupations of poor and mostly Spanish neighborhoods in Phoenix and surrounding cities. His army of deputies and “volunteers” he calls the sheriff’s posse, people given uniforms, badges and in some cases guns, now assist him in enforcing immigration policy.

While ample video and first person accounts detail a couple thousand incidents where the civil rights of Americans are being openly violated by the sheriff and his supporters simply because they have brown skin, It has yet to deter Arpaio who claims he is answerable only to the voters who elected him. The raids still play well with the locals he calls on to help keep Phoenix safe from the brown horde, but I speculate by this time next year, the sheriff will be hoping the federal pool from which his jury will be selected, does not have any of the brown looking folks his volunteers profiled and stopped under color of authority to prove they were in this country Legally.

That’s my view yours may be different

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