This weekend, Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier told Facebook friends that he had a rough week after a KGUN News expose left him with a lot of explaining to do. According to the expose, Napier “is launching an alternative plan to the controversial border security grant — known as Operation Stonegarden.”
Unfortunately for Napier, KGUN9 News investigative reporter, Valerie Cavasos, revealed that Napier and his “command staff discussed keeping the Board of Supervisors in the dark about the plan.”
For years, during the Bush and Obama administrations, the Pima County Sheriff’s Office accepted federal funds through the Operation Stonegarden program. It wasn’t until President Trump took office, that the funds became a target of the Resistance movement. On the County level, Supervisor Richard Elias, and to a lesser extent Supervisor Sharon Bronson led the Resistance campaign against Operation Stonegarden.
The campaign was successful when the duo won over Supervisor Ramon Valadez, and the three voted to reject the Operation Stonegarden funds. Supervisor Ally Miller was joined in support of the funds by Supervisor Steve Christy.
Napier denies the claim that he intended to keep the supervisors in the dark, but refused Cavasos’ request for an interview. From the Cavasos report:
Napier [He]… sent a response instead. He wrote, “Since Stonegarden was rejected I have repeatedly indicated my intent to find another path to provide enhanced public safety to the rural areas of the county. This has not been kept from the BOS in any way. I have publicly spoken about it and at BOS meetings.”
I reached out to supervisor Sharon Bronson. She says Napier has spoken publicly about his support of Stonegarden, but she has never received any information about the new plan or that it would “operate similar to Stonegarden.”
She continued, “I support that initiative if it means our deputies will be in our rural communities protecting and working for those residents. It is long overdue,” but she adds, “if this is an attempt to circumvent the Board of Supervisors decision on Stonegarden, then I find that troubling.”
“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last,” Winston S. Churchill
Napier, a Republican, has tried in vain since before he was elected to win the approval, and support, of the three Democrats on the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Exploiting his overestimation of his intellect, Elias and Bronson rarely miss an opportunity to toy with Napier. Rather than take legal action against the supervisors for interfering with his duty to protect and serve, Napier has taken extreme steps to appease the duo.
It was his decision to kick U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE agents out of the County jail last week that was the final straw for many residents. While other sheriff’s across Arizona are strenuously fighting efforts by the ACLU and other Resistance groups to eradicate ICE, or at least deny them access to criminal illegal aliens, Napier announced out-of-the-blue that the men and women in ICE blue were no longer welcome.
It does not appear that Napier had received any concessions from Elias and Bronson in return for his banishment of ICE. Many speculate that the ICE banishment was an enticement for Valadez, who might be willing to join Miller and Christy and deliver the votes Napier needs for his 2019 Operation Stonegarden funding. While the theory is interesting, few believe that Valadez is willing to take of radical activists like Isabel Garcia.
Napier has allowed supporters of Bronson and Elias to attack the Pima County Sheriff’s Office and deputies, time after time during the Call to the Audience portion of the bi-monthly Board of Supervisors’ meetings. Only when prompted by Miller, did Napier finally defend the deputies from the scurrilous attacks by members of the Resistance.
Napier’s unwillingness to confront Resistance leaders and throw his deputies under the bus has left Pima County residents and deputies with a sinking morale.
As Miller stated clearly, in her interview with KNST’s radio show host Garrett Lewis, Napier could accept the desperately needed Operation Stonegarden funding, and challenge the supervisors for interfering with his ability to perform his law enforcement duties. Few believe that Elias and Bronson could get any support for funding a lawsuit against Napier or for their defense should Napier file a lawsuit.
It is his first rodeo
Over and over again, Napier assures supporters that they don’t have to worry about him and the attacks on his office and staff because “it isn’t his first rodeo.” Having never held an elected position before, or being responsible for the massive budget of a gargantuan bureaucracy, Napier is either in denial or naïve to think that he has ever ridden in a rodeo quite like Pima County’s.