Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The High Price of Being a Laughingstock

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Even though I currently reside in the Far East (for less than two more months), I dutifully pay state taxes in Arizona.  In fact, I send quite a hefty payment to the Arizona Director of Revenue each year.   I consider myself to be a good American and usually don't mind assisting the government through the payment of taxes.  Unlike the crazy teabaggers, I realize that government and society cannot function without a steady stream of income.   Things like roads, schools, airports, hospitals, libraries, and even prisons come with a cost.

But Arizona politicians are wasting my money in some astounding ways, and it's starting to really piss me off.

I have commented on of the cast of clowns before.  Governor Jan Brewer, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio have all grabbed headlines recently by shamefully sucking up to the birthers.  Attorney General Tom Horne earned his Arizona chops by trying to stomp out ethnic studies in Tucson, and before that battling efforts by women to empower themselves.  Recently recalled State Senator Russell Pearce became a national celebrity and a national disgrace by sponsoring legislation that promoted racial profiling of Hispanics - and most of the above have been actively involved in the state's anti-immigrant efforts.

What they have not been involved in are ways to create jobs or improve the state's sorry economy.

But when it comes to wasting tax dollars, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the king of the hill.   The old coot, who has been in office an intolerable sixteen years, has, according to county records as reviewed by the local press, cost the taxpayers of Maricopa County $58.4 million in legal fees, settlements, and judgments.  Of that amount, nearly $20 million (35 percent) has been paid out over the past five years!  People are dying in his jails, people are suffering in his jails, civil rights of individuals, both documented and undocumented, are routinely being ignored or violated, and political "enemies" are being targeted with harassment and phony indictments.

While there are many clowns in Arizona politics, Joe Arpaio is clearly driving the clown car.    Arizona is a national laughingstock, thanks in no small measure to his outrages.

The latest Arpaio drama occurred this week when Joe revealed that he is sending one of his deputies to Hawaii, at state expense, to help with his birther investigation.  He has a "cold-case posse" of volunteers who are working on this spurious piece of business, and those good old boys generally cover their own expenses.  But Joe decided to send along one of his 900-plus deputies to help with "security issues" when the group gathers on Waikiki to discuss its strategy for dealing with those nefarious Hawaii officials - those sneaky lovers of Kenyan socialists who have been plotting Barack Obama's road to the White House since 1961.

When asked by the local press in Phoenix how he could spare a deputy for the birther junket, Old Joe replied that he has over 900 deputies and he could certainly spare one.

How many more could you spare, Joe?  I thought conservatives were supposed to be concerned with cutting government spending - and not figuring out how to pad their payrolls with excess personnel, or devising ways to score tropical vacations on the public's dime.

How much infrastructure could $58.4 million buy?  How many life-saving mammograms could that Hawaii money purchase for poor women.  How much more revenue would be generated if people outside of Arizona didn't view the state as a refuge for lunatics and weren't afraid to venture into the state?

The government of Arizona is disgraceful on its best day - and Joe Arpaio owns much of the blame for the state's mangled reputation.  It is well past time for Joe and several other elected officials to quit pandering to the nuts and get back to the serious business of governing and improving living conditions in the state.

I'll be telling Joe Arpaio how I really feel in the voting booth on election day.

It's time to clean house in the Scorpion State!

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