Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Paper misfired in labeling Arpaio

Letter to the editor in the Arizona Republic from Barnett Lotstein of the County Attorney's Office

Sunday's editorial ("Elected officials allowed costly fight to rage on") and E.J. Montini's column ("Thomas vs. the supervisors: The dog, the hydrant and us") both hit and missed the mark.

The editorial accurately described the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors' attempt to stymie the appointment of special prosecutors as "foot-dragging designed to protect one of its own - (Don) Stapley."

The Editorial Board misfired in attempting to characterize both Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the board as "wallflowers." That describes the board, not Sheriff Arpaio. It's safe to say that Arpaio doesn't take his marching orders from anybody except voters.

Those of us who work regularly with the sheriff know that Chief Deputy David Hendershott does not set policy. He is a competent, effective second in command.

The Editorial Board hit the bulls' eye in characterizing County Manager David Smith as the board's "generalissimo." His agenda of increasing his power has resulted in a search-and-destroy mission against elected officials, including the county attorney, sheriff and treasurer. If anyone needs to be reined in, it is "generalissimo" Smith.

In a more light-hearted vain, while the editorial writer has chosen to compare me to Othello's Iago, I would suggest I am more like Tonto to the Lone Ranger.

As to Montini, I suggest that the only dog in his rhetorical inquiry is the Board of Supervisors and that the public is the hydrant. I will not describe what the dog is doing so as not offend his sensibilities and to ensure that my comments are fit for inclusion in a family newspaper.

- Barnett Lotstein,Phoenix

The writer is a special assistant county attorney.

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