It's over. I missed it. Joe Arpaio, the world's most dangerous sheriff, turned eighty-years-old yesterday and celebrated by conducting one of his infamous "Illegal Immigrant Roundup / Employer Sanctions Operations" (#61) where he and the boys tied up traffic around an auto parts store in downtown Phoenix for God knows how many hours and netted a total of six brown suspects. The sixty-one roundups thus far have garnered 633 brown people to puff up the population of Joe's Tent City and his chain gangs. (That's just a little over ten gardeners and maids per roundup.) And it all helps to keep old Joe right where he wants to be - in the headlines.
After the "roundup," Arpaio took his staff out to the track for some afternoon fun in the sun. It was the go-cart track and the deputies reportedly raced each other. Joe said that no public money was used for the outing, which seems odd because he has a strong affinity for using public money for screwball reasons - such as recently sending a deputy to Hawaii to double-check President Obama's birth certificate.
Of course, we have to take Joe's word for it that he is eighty because he has never submitted his own birth certificate for public review.
But hey, the old coot is probably eighty (at least) and he deserves to be given a little slack. Joe was first elected sheriff at the tender age of sixty and has served twenty years in that position. His tenure has been noted for vindictive investigations and arrests, Latino roundups, jailhouse deaths, and numerous lawsuits that have resulted in the county and its insurers paying out millions of dollars to those wronged by the sheriff's office - or to their surviving family members.
Marty Atencio, a mentally disabled man, died in one of Arpaio's jails last December. The medical examiner has recently concluded that the death was due in large measure to "law enforcement subdual." Atencio's family is suing for twenty million dollars.
This week another Latino inmate, 40-year-old Raymond Manuel Farinas, died in an Arpaio jail after being there less than 11 hours. He was arrested on a weapon's charge (in Arizona!) and had bond set at one thousand dollars. His mother rushed to the jail and posted the bond, and then waited on her son to be released. The next news she got was from a member of Arpaio's staff who told her that Raymond had choked to death while eating a peanut butter sandwich. Farinas' mother doubts that story because her son was allergic to peanut butter. (I doubt it because the house specialty is supposedly green baloney sandwiches which are far less expensive than peanut butter.) Both the victim's mother and girlfriend said that they have seen the body and that Raymond had a cut on his forehead and a big bruise over his eye.
It smells like another lawsuit in the making - but that doesn't worry old Joe. And apparently it has yet to worry a majority of Maricopa County taxpayers because he keeps getting re-elected. It's sad to watch people line up like lemmings to vote against their own self-interest.
But enough about dead inmates and sucker taxpayers, I'm writing to wish old Joe a very happy (albeit belated) birthday. Joe, may you have many, many more, and may they all be celebrated with you wearing pink underwear and sitting on a cot in Tent City trying to wheeze up enough air to blow out the candle on your baloney sandwich. That would truly be justice.