Way to go Maricopa County!
Maricopa County cancels Guadalupe police services
343 comments by Yvonne Wingett - Sept. 17, 2008 01:17 PM
The Arizona Republic
The town of Guadalupe's contract for police services with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office will end in March, one year earlier than the contract calls for, the county's Board of Supervisors decided Wednesday.
The 3-1 vote by the board started the clock for town officials and Sheriff Joe Arpaio to try to negotiate a deal to reinstate the contract and continue law-enforcement services in the small town southeast of Phoenix.
Guadalupe and the Sheriff's Office have 180 days to strike a deal, and it appears they can.
Arpaio said Wednesday that he would be willing to negotiate with Guadalupe Mayor Frank Montiel only if no one will tell him how to police the town or whether he can launch immigration sweeps, similar to those done in April amid protests, fights with town politicians and accusations of racial profiling.
"You will not tell this sheriff what laws to enforce in Guadalupe," Arpaio said in a news conference.
"If they can get by that bypass, I'd be glad to talk to them to see what we can do to help them. I will do my crime-suppression operations. I will continue to lock up illegal aliens in Guadalupe. They're hurting, they know they can't find anybody to take that job."
Montiel, who took office last week, believes those are fair conditions: "It's not perfect, like anything. If those are the terms, I think we're OK with the terms," he said.
If the two cannot reach an agreement, Guadalupe will have to find another agency to pick up the police services or form a police force of its own.
For most of the past 20 years, the town has contracted with the Sheriff's Office for law-enforcement services and now pays the county about $1.2 million yearly.
Town leaders have turned to other agencies, including Phoenix, Tempe and the state Department of Public Safety for help, without success.
Wednesday's controversial vote came at the request of Arpaio, who has been embroiled in a dispute arising from his two-day immigration sweeps in Guadalupe, home mostly to Latinos and Native Americans.
Guadalupe officials and Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox wanted an extra 60 days to negotiate a deal between the Sheriff's Office and the town. Supervisors Fulton Brock, Don Stapley and Max Wilson approved the cancellation. Chairman Andy Kunasek missed the meeting and the vote.
The vote took place after dozens of protesters with the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability were kicked out of the meeting for being disruptive.
The protesters have been showing up lately to voice concerns over Arpaio's management of public money, his immigration enforcement and emergency-response times.
The demonstrations have been consistent and increasingly unruly, but Wednesday's protest was deliberately scripted to cause the biggest ruckus, said Raquel Terán, a paid organizer and project director with the group.
Members of the group asked to be put on the agenda to have a chance to address their concerns, she said, but that did not happen. Typically, the public is given the chance to address the supervisors on items related to specific agenda items or during the public comment portion of the meeting.
"Our intention was to take over a little bit of the meeting," Terán said. "We intentionally escalated. This was completely intentional, to disrupt the meeting, to take over the meeting at one point, and then leave."
From the beginning of the meeting, several shouted at the supervisors, first during the prayer, and then the Pledge of Allegiance.
Waving miniature American flags, some shouted, "Why aren't we on the agenda?" One by one, members stood, yelling at the supervisors. They were asked to leave the meeting and filed out, singing My Country 'Tis of Thee. One screamed, "We're not going away. We'll see you next month. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has you in his back pocket."
The protesters then stationed themselves just outside of the supervisors' chambers in downtown Phoenix.
Protective Services officers and sheriff's deputies guarded the chamber's doors, as some protesters yelled and taunted. At one point, law-enforcement officers decided to block the entrance for public safety reasons, and in doing so, denied access to the media and other people who wanted to attend the meeting.
The supervisors continued the meeting but then suspended it when they became concerned about possible violations of open-meeting laws after learning people were shut out.
The supervisors resumed the meeting after County Manager David Smith and Wilcox met with MCSA leaders to get assurance that they would not disrupt the rest of the meeting.
County administrators, who believe there were legitimate safety concerns, are trying to figure out how the decision was made to block the entrance, said Richard de Uriarte, a county spokesman. County officials are trying to determine whether it will affect the supervisors' vote on the Guadalupe contract, he said.
Officials with Protective Services and the county clerk's department declined comment. Sheriff's officials said they did not lock the doors.
Channel 12 (KPNX) filed a formal complaint to the supervisors, saying the lockout violated Arizona Open Meetings Law, the First Amendment and the Arizona Constitution. "There was no justification for today's lockout of reporters from the meeting," the letter said.
MCSA leaders said they intended to file a class-action suit against the county for the lockout. On Wednesday evening, MCSA e-mailed a letter to supporters, vowing to return. "We will return to the Board of Supervisors Meeting October 15th, having requested to be on the agenda for that same board meeting. If we are not on the agenda, we will escalate more!"
I don't know what is more entertaining...the fact that Sheriff Joe Arpaio got what he wanted, cancellation of the contract because the Mayor of the town was bellyaching because he was doing immigration sweeps, or what some of the commenters have to say in response to it.
Hehehe, these lefties are just losing it, read the comments