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Outstanding AZ Republic Article
Must be no crime in Phoenix since going after consenting adults

Good news! Phoenix is totally crime-free!
Column by well known columnist E.J. Montini
Sept. 24, 2002
Reprinted with full credit under fair use provision of the U.S. copyright law for education and no commercial purpose

It was as if we brought in Jake Plummer to quarterback The Arizona Republic's Sunday edition or summoned Mike Fetters from the bullpen to pitch stories for the front page. Somebody fumbled the ball. Somebody blew the save.

We had before us what may have been the best "good news" story of all time, but instead of heralding the occasion in big block letters across Page One, the story was buried in the lower left-hand corner of the Local page under the headline: "5 adult clubs are raided in Phoenix, 4 arrested."

After reading this story, a citizen of Phoenix might reasonably conclude that the city is now completely CRIME-FREE.

Essentially, the article recounted how the Phoenix Police Department raided five adult social clubs and made four misdemeanor arrests.

These clubs are private members-only establishments where people who participate in what is called the "swingers" lifestyle go to meet, swap partners and do whatever else they do behind closed doors.

The Phoenix City Council has tried for years to shut down the clubs by way of ordinance. The owners of four of the five clubs filed a lawsuit against the city. As you might guess, those four club owners happened to be the people arrested in the big raid.

Representing the clubs is attorney Nick Hentoff, who told me Monday that the arrests were a clumsy retaliation for the lawsuit. "These raids on Friday were conducted by a task force which was organized for the express purpose of arresting four people for misdemeanors that carry no more of a penalty than if you have your dog off of a leash in the city of Phoenix limits," Hentoff said angrily.

Perhaps that's true. Or perhaps a distressful situation for Hentoff is actually a reason for celebration among the rest of us.

Honest, hardworking citizens don't want to believe that their city and its police department would waste taxpayer money in a transparent effort to get even with the plaintiffs in a pesky lawsuit. We'd prefer to believe that if the police can devote an entire task force to arrest four people for misdemeanor charges, it must mean there's nothing else for them to do.

No unsolved murders. No lingering assault cases. No rapes. No robberies. No drug investigations. No thefts. No gang problems. No arson. No fraud. No drunken driving. Not even any shoplifting.

This means I must have missed the announcement that the murderer of Angela Brosso had been found.

She was a lovely 21-year-old whose headless torso was found in November 1992. I have spoken to her tortured mother several times over the years. She worries that her daughter's case will be forgotten and a killer will roam free.

The Brosso case must have been solved or the city wouldn't have expended the funds necessary to chase after the owners of a club where consenting adults do naughty things in private.

Likewise, they must have solved the murder of 13-year-old Myron Traylor. He was a boy who disappeared years ago from near the corner of 16th Street and Southern Avenue. I must have missed the big announcement saying his body was found or his killer was caught. After all, our local government wouldn't dare to squander money chasing loose men and women while actual criminals are on the loose.

These are difficult economic times. The state is considering a reduction in funds for local police agencies. If the only "crime" we've got to worry about involves grown-ups meeting other grown-ups in private clubs, budget cuts make sense.

I've left word at City Hall that I'm interested in knowing the time and place of the press conference at which local officials announce the end of crime in Phoenix and the resolution of all unsolved cases. They haven't gotten back to me yet.

Reach Montini at ed.montini@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-8978.

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