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Letter to the Editor: We've Seen This Movie Before

This week the Pinal County Board of Supervisors held a Special Session to consider a single agenda item – a media access agreement between Wall to Wall Media Limited and our Pinal County. Under the proposed agreement, the film producer would be given access to our taxpayer-funded Sheriff's Office operations, personnel and county facilities -- all with allegedly no impact on the county's funds – as described by the financially-challenged Sheriff Mark Lamb, who anticipates being the film's star performer. The film would be based on the drug trade in Latin America and Pinal County's role in that illicit trade, a theme that has worked well in creating a heroic image long sought by Lamb.

Apparently expecting, or perhaps hoping, no interest from the public, there was no form available for public comments as is always provided at the entrance to the Board of Supervisors hearing room.

No prayer, no pledge of allegiance, no call to the public, and perhaps no dissenting voices from the public.

Why a special session? Was it to avoid public scrutiny? Or Is it because we've seen this movie before under a previous exploitive sheriff and it doesn't end well. Neither for the never-shy camera seeker, nor for Pinal County's budget.

Never mind the lessons being taught in our neighboring Maricopa Board of Supervisors' ongoing legal and moral morass about an out-of-control county elected official and the inevitable drain on the county budget. All because of failure to recognize red flags about straying from official county business for the sake of personal gain.

Once more Pinal County taxpayers, public employees and county resources being manipulated by a career-padding Sheriff unwilling to learn from ex-Sheriff Paul Babeu's former leadership of our County's law enforcement agency. A re-run of a previous movie illustrating the loss of professionalism in law enforcement for the sake of becoming a high-profile upfront prop, a "non-border sheriff" masquerading as a key "border sheriff" while doing traffic stops far from the border.

At a time when trust and respect for our nation's institutions are being tested from the highest level of our government down to Pinal County, struggling taxpayers are again being asked to risk use of our public employees and County resources as props for entertainment and aggrandizement of outsized egos and romanticized criminal activities.

How else explain exploitation of our county's law enforcement agency as a movie set that publicizes disrespect for the rule of law, dehumanizes victims caught up in what's so innocuously described by the foreign film producer as "an historic and current day overview of the drug trade in Latin America", ending with the trashing of Pinal County as a profitable place to invest in business and a wholesome environment in which to raise a family.

I suggest there's another impact worthy of note. An impact on the principle that our County's law enforcement operations, personnel and locations are provided by taxpayers for professional law enforcement.

Not for entertainment, not for personal aggrandizement. Not for establishing double standards which declare that cameras are okay in movie-making, but not okay when used by Casa Grande witnesses documenting the killing of an unarmed civilian in the act of surrendering, gunned down by a trigger-happy Pinal County Deputy Sheriff .

We've seen this movie before. It doesn't end well.

Spoiler alert aside, what's next? Allegations of illegal personal profiteering by merchandizing associated with the Sheriff's office, publication of graphic sexploitation photos? Who knows?

Thankfully a majority on the Board of Supervisors, with a vote of three to two, rejected Sheriff Lamb's proposed raid on Pinal County's resources. The Lamb media access agreement may have met the elements of a contract, but it didn't pass the smell test of exploitation of public resources for personal gain.
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Comments

Dolores J Varga on Saturday, 18 January 2020 10:34

Well written and completely accurate. A "well done!" to the Board of Supervisors.

Well written and completely accurate. A "well done!" to the Board of Supervisors.
Friday, 24 May 2024

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