Run for the Border
The Wild West Lives on in Arizona
DIRTY MONEY: Soon after I crossed the border, I ran into not just a dark monsoon rain cloud but fear and loathing, along with racism, dirty money, and worse. No, not the Mexican border — I was in Arizona.
While on the road, I managed to avoid goons employed by loveable Sheriff Joe (“Joke”) Arpaio, a one-man virtual crime wave who calls himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff.”
He’s been found guilty in federal court of racial profiling, his jails are so bad they’ve been ruled unconstitutional, and critics claim that he’s so busy abusing the rights of Latinos that he’s neglected to investigate sex crimes, violated election laws, and more.
But Maricopa County voters apparently see much good in Arpaio, who is 82. They’ve elected him six times, and he’s so popular he could be sheriff for life. In last week’s Arizona Republican primary election, candidates practically begged for his endorsement.
Arizona — think Texas, or one big Fox News special.
Tons of outside money poured into Arizona before last week’s Republican primary, some of it anonymous (critics called it “dark money”), aimed at keeping Arizona a red state. State Treasurer Doug Ducey, former Cold Stone Creamery exec, is not surprisingly outspokenly anti-abortion and not surprisingly won the GOP primary for governor.
But the number one issue was The Border — no, not the one with liberal, abortion-loving, environmental, air-quality-promoting, Demo-dominated California but the one with Mexico.
That’s where the fear comes in, including fear that 8-year-olds fleeing death and violence in Central America might swarm Arizona, filling its schools and bringing (yes!) disease. At a Bullhead City forum, a 57-year-old man yelled, “We need to send some tanks down there.”
Christine Jones, former executive of the Internet company GoDaddy and one of six running for the GOP nomination for governor, promised to send 1,200 National Guardsmen to the border. She lost.
Tea Party–backed Ducey called for “fencing, satellites, guardsmen, more police and prosecutors” to secure the border. But the powers that be seem to care very little about the education that homegrown students are getting now. The state was ordered by the courts to come up with $1.6 billion for its short-changed, underfunded schools. But it’s balking at paying even the first $317 million installment.
Anonymous Internet rants by state schools chief John Huppenthal — he admitted making them — were too much even for Republicans, who bounced him from office. He’d called welfare recipients “lazy pigs” with flat-screen TVs, waged war on the Spanish language, and compared Planned Parenthood founders to Nazis.
Naturally, no candidate in his or her right mind would dare say anything positive about the hated Obamacare. One Republican running for State Senate faced accusations that he “voted for Obamacare” when he actually voted against it during budget hearings on expanding Medicaid.
Arizona, ever hostile to those with brown skins, is embroiled in a court case involving its requirement that voters must show a passport or birth certificate before they can register to vote. Backers say it’s aimed at suppressing fraud, although there’s little evidence of this, while supporters claim it’s really aimed at suppressing voting.
If you think Isla Vista voters form a bloc, consider the county supervisor race between chicken rancher Clint Hickman and ex-Marine Sandra Dowling. “In that district, the Sun City [retirement community] voting bloc is everything,” one expert said. I don’t know which way Sun City geezers went, but Hickman won.
With all this going on, the $800,000 county schools embezzlement scandal got pushed to the back pages.
TRUCKED-IN WATER: Beg, borrow, or steal a copy of Carpinteria journalist A.L. Bardach’s new piece exposing “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Parched” in poor Montecito. While the average Montecitan is under severe water cutbacks, “These days, tankers can be seen barreling down Montecito’s narrow country roads day and night, ferrying up to 5,000 gallons of H₂O to some of the world’s richest and thirstiest folks,” Bardach wrote in the online Politico piece. By one estimate, a third of Montecito is buying water and has the dough to pay for it, Bardach said. Then there are reports of “water pirates” stealing from hydrants or wherever, she wrote.
Please. Let it rain. Now.
IVOR AND THE BEATLES: Cockney-born Ivor Davis, longtime journalist, Ventura resident, and pal of mine, will be signing copies today, Thursday, September 4, of his tell-almost-all account of following the lads on their marathon 1964 tour of the U.S. The 6 p.m. signing of The Beatles and Me on Tour will beat the Granada bookstore.