Now that the cases against Don Stapley and Mary Rose Wilcox have collapsed, events are starting to unfold the way that I predicted in January. With regard to the victims, I wrote:
Naturally they will accuse him (Thomas) of ethical violations and go after him at the Bar and then those who have been targeted will sue for abuse of prosecutorial process.
When I wrote the post last January, a friend of mine sent me an email asking me to "call after the deputies leave..." His comment was only half in jest. The abuse of power and use of intimidation was so pervasive during Arpaio and Thomas' peak that no one would have been surprised if deputies had shown up at my house to "ask me a few questions."
Frankly, I waited until the worst of the abuses were over before choosing to speak out; not exactly my finest hour. That's why I have so much respect for the people who jumped into the fray early. I received a letter from the Don Stapley defense fund yesterday and it reminded me that there were people who spoke truth to power long before I did.
J. Ernest Baird, Eddie Basha, Betsey Bayless, Susan Bitter Smith, Merwin D. Grant, David A. Johnson and Timothy R. Olson signed up as trustees of the Don Stapley Legal Defense fund long before it appeared safe to do so.
I've known many of them for years. Sheriff's Deputies showed up at her house within 24 hours of her signing on the Stapley Defense fund. She wasn't home at the time, so they showed up at her office the next day. Nice.
Betsey and I currently work together at MIHS. (The Arpaio/Thomas minions like to claim that I "work for" Betsey and that I'm somehow beholden to the County Supervisors. They base the claim on the fact that I serve on the MIHS Governing Board. But the MIHS Board is independently elected so it has no connection to the County Board of Supervisors, and technically Betsey works for the Board, so I have no conflict when I mention Betsey or Don Stapley. I'm sure that the minions can explain their comments and concerns when they are deposed)
Susan Bitter Smith and I have been friends for over 20 years. She Represented Scottsdale on the Council while I represented parts of the city when I was in the Legislature. Her willingness to take a stand in defense of Don Stapley is all the more impressive since Susan is currently an elected official; she serves as the President of the Central Arizona Project Board. Elected officials have mountains of disclosure statements to file and frankly, it's almost impossible to make sure it's all perfect. The Stapley and Wilcox prosecutions---together with the outrageous prosecution of Russ Jones before them--were all paperwork violations. An elected official who stands up to Thomas and Arpaio knows that her paperwork is being inspected to make sure everything is properly punctuated.
The others I know less well. Ernie Baird and I served in the House together and he's a top-notch guy. Every one knows Eddie Basha and while I've disagreed with him on numerous occasions, I'll give him credit this time. Grant, Johnson and Olson I don't know at all. But they are part of a six person team that had the guts to speak up at a time when speaking up had a potentially high price tag.
"Speaking truth to power" is an overused phrase that usually only serves to show that the author has no understanding of history. The phrase meant something when the speaker could be broken on the wheel or pulled apart by teams of horses, now "speaking truth to power" usually simply refers to someone being rude to elected officials with whom they disagree. However, there are times when the phrase has enough of its original meaning to matter. This is one of those times. So to those who spoke truth to power--and did so before I was willing to--I salute you.