Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio now spends much of his time deflecting arrows or, let's be honest, ignoring them. His opponents have openly warned they're coming after him, they're taking him down (dailykos.com).
They are empowered by the recall of former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, who took on the feds over their refusal to protect Arizona's borders and vulnerable citizens.
Pearce paid the price when he also dared cross open border activists and business people who exploit cheap labor; never mind the Mexican cartels setting up shop in our neighborhoods. Further, Pearce's tough law-making infuriated the middle-of-the-road "let's all get along" folks.
Yes, he and Sheriff Joe have plenty in common, including making serious enemies through their refusal to trade in political correctness.
While sorting this all out, we best pay attention to progressive "organizers" who want more than Arpaio and Pearce. They want Arizona. Once attained, they'll secure open borders, gay marriage, Chicago-style labor unions and inflated social programs, which drain state coffers, our businesses, pocketbooks and, yes, our jobs. Along with their socialism, comes the loss of conservative values. Strange how that happens, but it does.
As the Arpaio debate grows, note the positives this colorful lawman has produced. Certainly, he's a flamboyant, attention hound, like a pit bull pooch. Sometimes he's likeable, but don't twist his tail. Definitely, his grandiose ways of keeping the law are distracting. On the other hand, his tactics keep citizens informed when media won't.
In the melee, Arpaio's success stories, and let's be honest - he does have some - will get lost. (Check out: mcso.org and the Joe Arpaio biography in encyclopedia II). They'll easily fade into the bone yard along with the best of Russell Pearce.
Take note of Randy Parraz, a community organizer (ourcampaigns.com) who is credited, by some, with taking Pearce down. The civil and labor-rights organizer, educated at Berkeley and Harvard, hopes, of course, to get Arpaio removed before the November election.
But enter voting citizens. We'll want to examine facts, not innuendo and jail folklore. Moving aside the hype and the stupid, such as pink underwear for inmates, ugly charges are pointed at Arpaio over inmates' deaths and accusations of embedded racism.
Here's the real tragedy: Who of us has the time and means to research national comparisons and records of other jails? Where do we learn exactly how many and why inmates die in custody? Where are reliable stats? Everyone has an ax to grind or jobs to keep. Who do we trust?
How can truth possibly surface as Arpaio's public trial is conducted by a self-imposed, Berkeley judge and jury, who sees himself as the savior of Arizona?
Despite controversy, Joe remains popular as millions count on "zero tolerance" law enforcement to keep them safe. We are a giant county filled with retirees and families, subjected to the usual bad guys, plus a porous border, unchecked due to chaotic federal management.
At the same time, jailers must and should treat inmates as humanely as possible. Even with that, horrific stuff happens. Folks, think about it. Safety rules are physically challenged time and again by prisoners, putting jailers at high risk. And it is there that Sheriff Joe could face his Waterloo.
I believe most jailers do their best. But the buck stops with Joe, and that's what we need to decide. Because we view ourselves as civilized, we must disallow character assassination and biased media. Lynchings went out with the Wild West. Fair and unemotional examination is called for.
If only we had reliable sources to sort this thing out. Randy Parraz and his gang certainly don't qualify. Their agenda is to own Arizona.
East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.