In the early morning hours of January 26, there was no sign of life at 504 West Flores Street, Apt #7 on the edge of downtown Tucson. In the same early morning hours, a vehicle registered to former Arizona Daily Star reporter-turned-Constable, Joe Ferguson, sat in front of a home he has owned since 2016.
In fact, Ferguson’s vehicle, the only vehicle registered to his name according to a thorough records report, has been parked on and off at his home located at 412 N Belvedere Ave, Tucson, AZ 85711, over the past few days in the early morning hours.
Apart from a lit porch light, there is no evidence that anyone comes and goes from Apartment #7 in the Casa Rey complex. That complex sits next to a large fenced in lot full of junk vehicles. The residence of the Casa Rey complex appeared to be mostly elderly males who have fallen on hard times.
But times appear to have gotten better for Ferguson since the Pima County Board of Supervisors appointed him as Constable in Precinct 9, in a 3-2 vote on January 14.
New digs for the former newshound
According to his former colleague, Tim Steller, and his voter registration records, Ferguson rented the apartment in order to be eligible for the Constable position created by the retirement of Democrat Colette Philip. Ferguson also had to change his party preference from Independent to Democrat for the job due to the fact that the post must be filled by someone from the same party as the current office holder.
According to a Phoenix attorney familiar with election law, there is nothing that requires Ferguson to live in the shabby apartment he rented next to the junk yard, and few would blame him for avoiding it. The law merely requires that he keeps an address in Precinct 9, but he has every right to sleep in Precinct 8, according to the attorney.
However, given that a Constable swears to uphold both the letter and spirit of the law, and the spirit of the law requires that a Constable live among the same people he may have to evict someday, Ferguson’s living arrangement does not sit well.
Another thing that doesn’t sit well is that Ferguson, while working at the Arizona Daily Star, covered the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Popular online media critic, and former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, Greg Patterson wrote last week:
So, Ferguson covered “local government and politics”. What exactly does that mean? It means that he covered the recent campaign for Supervisor and then those Supervisors turned around and appointed him as constable.
Check out his hit piece that Ferguson wrote about Supervisor Ally Miller.
Now take a look at what Ferguson told the Tucson Sentinel
Ferguson said he became interested in serving while observing Randall’s work while teaching his Reporting Public Affairs students at the University of Arizona School of Journalism over the past year.
Did you catch that key phrase–over the past year. That means that Ferguson was interested in the position WHILE covering the race.
This is a huge embarrassment for the Star. How are they going to handle it? Are they going to come clean and say that they were snookered by Ferguson?
Patterson then tweeted out a picture of Ferguson’s Constable application which clearly shows an address in the 85711 ZIP Code area. While details of the address are redacted for some unknown reason, the 85711 ZIP Code area does not fall within Precinct 9, but it is where both Ferguson’s post office box and home are located.
Former Star reporter turned constable Joe Ferguson is required live in his district. But on his disclosure statement, he wrote “85711” it looks like that entire zip code is outside of District 9. pic.twitter.com/LABGLdSGsG
— Greg Patterson (@espressopundit) January 24, 2020
What most people find to be beyond the pale in the Constable Ferguson saga is the fact that the Star treated the appointment as a puff piece and a colleague of Ferguson’s, Dylan Smith and his motley crew over at the Tucson Sentinel blog, shared rumors in an obvious hit piece filled with innuendo about George Camacho Jr., Ferguson’s only rival for the Precinct 9 spot.
Sources associated with AZPost report that no evidence could be found that Mr. Camacho had any negative issues with their organization. A seasoned law enforcement officer, certified by AZPost, advised that Mr. Camacho may have exaggerated the importance of the work he had done in Precinct 9 for the past 18 years, but nothing indicates that he outright lied about his job.
It is important to note, that according to Supervisor Ally Miller, nothing was included in the background items prepared by the Clerk of the Board for review by the Supervisors prior to the vote that indicated Mr. Camacho had a history of workplace discipline.
Despite this, Smith and his Tucson Sentinel blog crew relied on unnamed “county offices” who have “indicated that Camacho is the subject of an ongoing human resources investigation into sexual harassment allegations and has been previously subject to disciplinary action.”
Coincidentally, Smith and his bloggers were rewarded a week later for their stellar reporting by the Pima County Board of Supervisors with a proclamation declaring January 22 to be Tucsonsentinel.com Day.
Nothing appears to disqualify Ferguson
According to the most recent records, Ferguson is delinquent on his property tax bill in the amount of $1,111.14 on his Precinct 8 residence. He failed to disclose this on his financial statement included in the Constable application package.
The failure to disclose may violate the cannons of ethics that Constables have to abide by. But it is unlikely he will be held to the same standards to which others must abide.
The bottom line is that even with a long list of small-time infractions and record of driving on a suspended license, nothing appears to disqualify Ferguson from being a Constable in Precinct 9.
At the time of the Supervisors’ vote, only Supervisor Miller questioned the appointment. She accused her fellow board members of giving a “political favor” to the man, who for years, wrote glowing tributes to them. Sticking to the actual records provided to them, she argued that Mr. Camacho, was the “most qualified individual” for the job.
Ferguson told his buddies at the Star that Supervisor Miller is entitled to her opinions, but “there’s a lot more to this job than filling out paperwork” and “the real work is out there in the community.” To which Miller responded to the ADI, “Yes, and being a member of that community and upholding the spirit of the law are both important parts of the job.”
Enviable position for now
According to the Star’s glowing coverage, Ferguson reportedly “became interested in the Constable position after working on a project about eviction court while teaching his class on reporting public affairs at the University of Arizona’s School of Journalism.”
“As I learned about it for the class, I learned about a lot of the things that some of the Constables were trying to do. I thought it was an enviable thing to do,” Ferguson told the Star’s crack crew.
The job is enviable – no doubt about it – especially in a town with a median income of $53,464.00. The $67,000 plus benefits Constable job is a sweet deal. Considering that the Star pays the few reporters it has left between $32,000 – $75,000, according to Glassdoor.com.
Both the Star and the Sentinel’s coverage included the fact that Mr. Camacho’s family left the boardroom upset after the vote. Their reports noted accurately that his supporters used foul language upon their departure. What they left out is that Mr. Camacho’s well-regarded family has lived, worked, and dedicated their lives to the people of Precinct 9.
That obviously meant little to Ferguson’s buddies in the newsroom or boardroom, but it might mean something when George and Joe face-off in the next election for the Precinct 9 Constable seat.