WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

For those of you unfamiliar Joe Arpaio or “America’s Toughest Sheriff” as he liked to be called, he was the sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. He made quite the name for himself back in the day by treating prisoners like animals and flaunting his power. Among Arpaio’s many bad decisions was setting up a tent camp in Maricopa County to house prisoners, feeding them nothing more than bologna sandwiches, and making them all wear pink jumpsuits because reasons.

The rationale behind the tent camp was “if tents are good enough for soldiers on deployment, they’re good enough for prisoners”. I’m pretty sure the bologna sandwiches and pink jumpsuits were just for the lolz, though.

Those are Sheriff Arpaio’s more forgivable sins, though. Even though the area around his famous tent camp could hit well into the 106 degrees Farenheit – I’ve seen Phoenix hit 118 – it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Although, Joe himself did brag that the temperature inside one the tents could hit 145F in the summers and the fans may or may not have been working. What was among the worst things in the world was his abuse of power, misuse of funds, failure to investigate sex crimes, improper clearance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws, constant racial profiling, and election law violations. He reintroduced chain gangs, intimidated political opponents, and had guards that stood by and watched as a woman chained to a bed went into a diabetic coma and died.

In other words, he was (and still is) a pathetic racist shit bag with a mean streak and a strong lust for power. Toward the end of his tenure as iron-booted madman of Arizona, the DOJ took a good hard look into Arpaio’s dealings and found him guilty. At 80-something, Sheriff Joe was about to get a firsthand look at the Justice System he’d helped put in place.

Fortunately for Joe, Donald Trump pardoned him before he could get his own taste of justice.

Now, that’s all the bad news. Arpaio’s still an asshole, still free, and Trump still pardoned him. It’s all water under the bridge and there’s not much we can do about it now. But there is a light side to this story. Arpaio is no longer Sheriff of Maricopa County, he’s the Sheriff of his couch where he spends his free time yelling at Mexicans on his TV. The new Sheriff of Maricopa County, Paul Penzone, takes a different view of justice. Whereas Joe’s version of justice was punishing people a lot over every little offense, Penzone seems more interested in justice as a rehabilitation process.

The new Sheriff of Maricopa County is turning the old (and recently shut down) tent city into a facility for drug rehab with new sleeping spaces and classrooms. Penzone has an eye on the future; he’d rather see people leave the jail in better shape to cope with the world than when they went in.

Read about it here:

http://deadstate.org/the-sheriff-who-replaced-joe-arpaio-is-turning-his-tent-city-jail-into-an-opioid-treatment-center/

We Are The World Blogfest is a loosely organized group of like-minded bloggers all trying to shine a little light in the world. This month’s hosts are:
Shilpa Garg, Sylvia McGrath, Mary Giese, Guilie Castillo and Belinda Witzenhausen
So be sure to go check them out.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

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And now, your moment of Zen

Aiyah

Gather ’round, children.  Your crazy Uncle Eric has a story to tell.

First off, let me explain the title.  Aiyah is a Chinese term used to express a sigh or general displeasure.  I picked it up years ago while I was watching the tail end of Lethal Weapon 4.  I still haven’t seen the whole movie, which is a pity because Jet Li is awesome even if Mel Gibson is crazy.  I thought it was a great word and it somehow managed to work its way into my general use vocabulary.  In some ways it’s kind of like uff da, which also somehow wound up in my vocabulary.  Uff Da is similar, but Norwegian instead of Chinese.  So, there you go: you now have two new ways to express yourself.

Anyway, this story begins in 2002 with a cat and a cranky neighbor.

Anyone who has cats knows that they tend to go where they want to go and there’s not much you can do about it.  I’ve had plenty of other people’s cats in my yard and never thought much of it.  At the very least, cats are good for natural pest control and usually fun to watch.

In 2002 we had a cat who was a natural escape artist.  Open the door and, poof, he was gone.  He’d come back when he got hungry so we never really thought much of it.  Come early December and it’s cold and snowy outside and we see the Animal Control guy driving around, so we manage to snatch the cat and bring him inside.  Didn’t help much, since we still got a ticket and an order to appear in court, but it did show we were trying.

Yes, we got an order to appear in court over a cat.

Court date comes, we show up to defend ourselves and the Animal Control officer shows up.  Turns out he thought the whole thing was silly, too, and says as far as he’s concerned there shouldn’t be any charges and tells us to please do our best to keep the cat out of the neighbor’s yard.  He knows it’s an impossible task, but he has to say it anyway.  We all shake hands, charges are dismissed, pay the court fee and move on with our lives.

Over time, the cranky neighbor down the street dies.  His house gets sold and gets sold again.  The cat, who was no spring chicken to begin with, dies.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, my wife is prepping a demonstration of how to do background checks and types in my name like she usually does.  Normally, this returns zero results.  This time, however, my name pops up for having an outstanding warrant for my arrest for failure to appear in court twice in early 2003.  Over the cat.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve had two national security checks done on me, been called to jury duty, voted, registered my car, changed jobs and never once did this appear.  Turns out, the Metro Court has been getting some flak for not digitizing all their records and, in the last month or so, managed to get all their data put into the main database, including my data.

Now, to make things more interesting, the local PD has a policy of doing warrant sweeps every now and then to, you know, pick up the various miscreants in our society and keep them locked away from the good people.  They like to do these sweeps Thanksgiving morning, that way they can maximize the amount of discomfort you get by locking you away over a major Holiday.  So, had Metro Court actually gotten everything done, I could have spent last Thanksgiving behind bars for a crime I didn’t actually commit.  Good times, good times.

So, here’s what had happened.  Some clerk failed to note that we showed up in court the first time we were in court.  This led to two summons being sent out within a week of each other, both to an address two blocks from where we actually live.  Naturally, they got returned and no one in our judicial system bothered to look any further into it.  They obviously know where I live because I got my jury summons at the right place, but somehow or another tripped up on this one.

End result: I had an outstanding warrant out for my arrest for 12 years over a cat that is now dead being in the yard of a neighbor who is also now long dead.  I had to post bond to keep from getting locked up and the court absolutely refused to believe I showed up twelve years ago because they had no evidence that I had been there.  I’m pretty sure a lack of evidence is not sufficient evidence to prove something happened, but that’s just my opinion.  Had to hire an attorney and go to court, again, over something that happened twelve years ago because some city clerk didn’t do his or her job right.

Ultimately, the charges were dismissed and the warrants quashed (which means they’re supposed to be purged from the system), but since these guys couldn’t get their act together over twelve years, I’m sure I’m going to have to explain what happened over and over again to every potential employer and in every DSS audit I go through from here on out.

On the plus side, I can say I was a renegade from justice for twelve years before the long, clumsy arm of the law finally caught up with me.

Aiyah.