Friday, November 6, 2009
Supervisors' Shadow County Attorney's Office growing larger than County Attorney's litigation dept.
We've been told that the Supervisors' new Shadow County Attorney's Office is expanding and paying its newly hired attorneys huge salaries - WITH YOUR TAX DOLLARS. They started their own litigation department last spring under Wade Stewart, the 35-year old attorney they hired who they're paying $175,000/yr (higher than any attorney at the entire County Attorney's Office, even senior 25-year prosecutors who prosecuted the Serial Shooters case). Wade is a green attorney who issued an embarassingly incorrect legal opinion a couple of weeks ago based on an Attorney General's opinion that had been reversed. We're told his new litigation department is now up to 10 attorneys and growing - that's 3 more attorneys than the County Attorney's litigation section has ever had! The Supervisors have also started a second section of attorneys under Richard Stewart, a former litigator for the County Attorney's Office.
After the Supervisors gutted the budget for the County Attorney's Civil Division in order to steal the division and put it underneath them, they lured many of the employees away with gigantic pay increases. One litigator was given a $27,000/yr pay increase! Yes that's right. County Attorney employees haven't received raises for two or three years due to the recession, and their jobs have become harder due to the hiring freeze and the Supervisors forcing the law enforcement office to cut 15%, yet the Board of Supervisors is hiring new attorneys like it's going out of style and giving them ridiculous pay increases.
This new Shadow County Attorney's Office is so shadowy, it's not even listed on the Supervisors' org chart. Although the diversity manager is. The Supervisors seem to have forgotten that the people elected Andrew Thomas to head the County Attorney's Office, not them. A Rasmussen poll last month found that Thomas's approval rating is currently at 64% among voters with an opinion, considered a high approval rating. Most of the County Supervisors got elected to their positions because those undesirable offices fly under the radar and attract few candidates. The voters of Maricopa County don't want the unpopular Supervisors stealing away the County Attorney's Office from under Thomas. What this comes down to is this: The Supervisors are trying to stop Thomas from prosecuting two of their own for numerous alleged felonies, by taking away funding for his office to decimate it.
The legitimacy of the Shadow County Attorney's Office is currently being litigated in the Court of Appeals.