Monday, August 4, 2014

Controversial Arizona sheriff to speak at Texas Tea Party fundraiser at Baptist church near Dallas

Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. "Joe" Arpaio will speak to the Kaufman County Tea Party during a fundraiser at the First Baptist Church of Forney Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.

Six-time elected Sheriff Arpaio gained national attention in 2005 for speaking out in favor of strong enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. He was an advocate of Arizona's anti-immigrant law that the U.S. Supreme Court later struck down in large part.

Arpaio, who is of Italian heritage, is most infamously known for dyeing boxer shorts pink and forcing county jail inmates to wear them.

The 84-year-old sheriff has used the pink underwear to gain media coverage, raise money through the sale of pink underwear and to promote his book, "America's Toughest Sheriff." He has been quoted as saying, "I can get elected on pink underwear. I've done it six times."

An Internet search failed to produce any anti-LGBT rights remarks made by Arpaio. When fellow Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu was outed as gay during a political campaign in 2012, Arpaio said he wouldn't be advising the gay sheriff. But he stopped short of criticizing Babeu, saying only he would need to "work out his problems."

The announcement of Arpaio's appearance on the Kaufman County Tea Party's website and members' Facebook pages coincides with the political party successfully lobbying the Kaufman County Commissioners Court to pass a resolution opposing any efforts to house young refugees from Central America in the county.

Local Tea Party Chairman Ray Myers claimed the refugees are mostly adults rather than children, and that the approach of 300,000 illegal immigrants to the U.S. border represents an unprecendented public health and economic threat.

Supporters of housing refugee children allege that Myers and other conservatives are using fear tactics to attract opposition to immigrants.

Arpaio is self-proclaimed as "America's Toughest Sheriff," and he attracts widespread national media attention.

Arpaio was found guilty of racial profiling in federal court, and a monitor was appointed to oversee the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office operation. His jails have twice been ruled unconstitutional.

Critics have accused Arpaio of abuse of power, misues of funds, failure to investigate sex crimes, improper cleanrance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws and election law violations.

The sheriff is also known for his claims that he investigated President Barack Obama's birth certificate and found it to be forged.

Funds raised by Arpaio's appearance will be used to defeat RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and Democrats, according to the Tea Party's website.

General admission is $15 each. Sponsors who pay $1,0000 for eight tickets, $500 for four tickets, $250 for two tickets or $125 for one ticket will be able to attend a private reception with the sheriff, get their picture taken with him and sit in reserved seating.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sixth-generation civic leader scolds Texas politicians for harsh stance on immigration

A lone, loud voice reminded a group of public officials in Texas of their roots as they contemplated the arrival of refugee children from Central America in the state.

Conservative Kaufman County Tea Party politicians had successfully lobbied the Kaufman County Commissioners Court recently to pass a resolution opposing the housing of any refugee children from Central America. But that didn't sit well with longtime Kaufman County civic leader Carolyn Long who roundly criticized the court for its action during its third and final deliberation on the matter.

Long, a sixth-generation Kaufman resident,  said she came forward to speak out against the resolution when it appeared on the consent agenda for ratification because she had just learned of it. The court passed the resolution the previous week under the heading of a "public safety" concern that failed to mention immigration.

"I think we are a welcoming county, and we always have been," Long said. "I don't want our county to get a reputation for being extremists."

The court placed the item on the consent agenda for final ratification after Assistant District Attorney John Long advised the court he had concerns about compliance with open records laws.

Long asked the court to table the resolution, and she said that she disagreed with Kaufman County Tea Party Chairman Ray Myers, Texas Sen.-elect Bob Hall and Texas Rep.-elect Stuart Spitzer who testified during two previous court meetings that the mass immigration of children entering the United States across the Mexico border posed a great economic and health threat.

Long branded the language used by the Tea Party officials as "harsh." She reminded the commissioners and Judge Bruce Wood that they all came from immigrant heritage as well.

"I think we ought to have a little compassion about this and cool it down a little bit," said Long, who is well known for her work with the Kaufman Heritage Society, Help Keep Kaufman Beautiful and other civic organizations.

Myers defended his claims about the potential threat of immigrants bringing diseases, crime and economic burdens to U.S. taxpayers as accurate and legitimate. He and the politicians claimed most of the immigrants are young adults, not children.

The Tea Party organizer said several other counties have passed similar resolutions, and the Kaufman County document is based on one drafted in Galveston County he  brought to the court's attention.

In contrast, neighboring Dallas County planned to house 2,000 refugee children, but public officials abruptly cancelled their plans after wide spread protests.

The Kaufman County officials ignored Long's protest and request to table the resolution, passing it unanimously.

Afterwards, Judge Wood said Long was the first person to speak out publically against the resolution. Others have privately expressed concerns about the children to him, but they have supported the county's stance, he said.

"They understand it is a tough problem," Wood said.

Long is pictured speaking at another event.