"Tempe Cesspool for the Arts"

aka "Tempe Center for the Arts"

Refusing to give out public records costs Sheriff Joe $45,000

  I probably have made 150 requests for public records to the city of Tempe and I doubt if more then 4 of them have been answered.

I wonder if I could get $45,000 out of the city of Tempe for refusing to honor my requests for public records.

To be honest the tyrants that rule the city of Tempe are not the only government rulers that think they are royal emperors who don't have to obey the public record laws.

I have also made a large number of requests for public records to the cities of Mesa, Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County and they also have answered only a handful of them.

The only city that routinely answers my request for public records is the Chandler. The purchasing department at ASU also honors my requests for public records, although the tyrants in the ASU police department routinely blow off my requests for public records.

Lawsuit give Republic $45,000 because Sheriff Joe's goons refused to turn over public records


Arizona Republic, 12 News settle lawsuit with MCSO over records

County pays $45,000 to Republic, 12 News

by Michael Kiefer - Apr. 26, 2012 10:37 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

The Arizona Republic and 12 News have settled a lawsuit with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office over its refusal to promptly turn over public records detailing an investigation of misconduct in that office.

On Thursday, the county submitted a check for $45,000 to the newspaper and the TV station, which share a newsroom, to cover a portion of their litigation costs in obtaining the public records.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge last December awarded $50,546 in attorney's fees in the lawsuit after the news organizations won release of the records they sought. The Sheriff's Office appealed the judgment for fees, and the parties settled for the amount paid Thursday.

"I hope the award and payment will prompt the Sheriff's Office to think carefully before instinctively withholding public records," said attorney David Bodney, who represents The Republic and 12 News.

"We're glad to have prevailed in this lengthy legal struggle with the Sheriff's Office. At its heart, this case was about accountability within the department and transparency to the public for how the sheriff runs his office," said Randy Lovely, senior vice president for news and audience development for Republic Media/Phoenix.

But Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Tom Liddy, who represented Sheriff Joe Arpaio's agency in the matter, said the settlement was reached only to save taxpayers the cost of further litigation.

"We were correct and The Arizona Republic was wrong," Liddy said. "The sheriff did everything he could to turn over the documents and to protect the private information of individuals mentioned in the report as required by law."

But when a new judge took over the case, Liddy said, the Sheriff's Office felt it would be too costly to defend further.

"I didn't want to spend $100,000 to $150,000 of taxpayer money over a squabble with The Arizona Republic," he said.

Bodney said, "It really shouldn't cost a person money to get a public official like Sheriff Arpaio to comply with the Public Records Law."

"Ideally, taxpayers should not be liable for this payment, and the best news is that the sheriff settled the case instead of appealing it as he threatened to do," Bodney said.

On April 14, 2011, the news organizations filed a request under the Arizona Public Records Law for a copy of an investigative report prepared by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu detailing internal Sheriff's Office activities that eventually led to the firings of then-Maricopa County Sheriff's Chief Deputy David Hendershott, Deputy Chief Larry Black and Capt. Joel Fox. Fox's termination was appealed and a decision is pending before the county Merit Commission.

The investigative report sought by The Republic and 12 News included a 1,022-page summary, 400 pages of findings and 20,000 pages of transcripts and other documents.

Arpaio denied the request for its release, saying that it should remain confidential while the three men were still employed by the office or appealing their firings. The Republic and 12 News sued.

"They cited a hodgepodge of reasons for withholding the Babeu report, so it appeared the sheriff was merely stonewalling," Bodney said. "Plainly, the Babeu report identified public corruption at the highest levels of the Sheriff's Office. It was not a flattering look at some very public officials, and of course the sheriff himself."

Days later, the Sheriff's Office began releasing pieces of the report, but refused to release it in its entirety until ordered to do so by a Superior Court judge in mid-November. It revealed, among other things, that Arpaio had been made aware of some instances of misconduct and mismanagement in his organization. Issues identified in the report ranged from financial problems and inappropriate campaign fundraising to abuse of employees and ignoring sex-crime investigations to focus on pet projects.

The settlement of attorney's fees was finalized Tuesday, the same day that Hendershott, Black and Fox filed a lawsuit against the county and the Sheriff's Office alleging defamation of character because of the contents of the Babeu report and its release to the media.

Reporter Michelle Ye Hee Lee contributed to this story


Tempe Center for the Arts

Tempe Cesspool for the Arts