Village Voice Media Execs Released

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An update to our earlier piece about the arrest of two Village Voice Media execs over a Phoenix New Times story:

They’re out of jail. Both Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were released early this morning.

Phoenix New Times reporter Stephen Lemon reports that the pair were taken to two seperate jails: Lacey to the 4th Ave. Jail and Larkin to a substation in Mesa, AZ. PNT reporter Ray Stern was also issued a citation for taking pictures of Sheriff’s Office documents at a Phoenix law firm — the paper claims he was only taking pictures of press releases.

There was a public statement from Lacey:

Lacey was released on a $500 bond. His co-author on that story, VVM Chairman and CEO Jim Larkin was arrested on an identical misdemeanor charge Thursday evening and released hours prior to Lacey. Unbowed and surprisingly lucid for a man who’s just spent the night in jail, Lacey spoke with a gaggle of reporters including yours truly and Channel 3’s Mike Watkiss. The journalist and alt-newspaper titan, who along with Larkin founded New Times in 1970 as a reaction to the war in Vietnam, vowed to continue the fight against abuses of power by County Attorney Andy Thomas, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Thomas’ paid attack hound, lawyer Dennis Wilenchik. “We’re going to keep publishing, and with God’s help, we’re going to keep printing,” he declared. […] “We’re being arrested for raising hell,” Lacey remarked. “It’s sort of a tradition journalism has.” Lacey went on to place in context the online revelation of Arpaio’s address, pointing out that Dougherty was at the time inquiring into parcels of land Arpaio paid for in cash, sometimes close to a million dollars in cash. Arpaio’s real estate records were being hidden from the public, even though the Sheriff’s home address was readily available in county public records and on numerous sites online. “Our question during the election cycle was: How is it that a guy [the Sheriff] who’s making $72,000 a year has nearly a million dollars in cash to invest in these parcels?” wondered Lacey.

Over at the Village Voice, EIC (and former PNT employee) Tony Ortega is calling Arpaio “America’s most cowardly sheriff“:

The owners of The Village Voice were thrown into jail last night, and I wish I could say that it was my fault. Instead, I have to give that credit to my former Phoenix New Times colleague, John Dougherty. […]

When I moved to New Times Los Angeles in 1999, John Dougherty returned to the Arpaio story and really turned up the heat. Though the constant parade of television journalists arriving breathless with admiration for Arpaio’s “courage” never slowed, Dougherty pressed ahead with the real story: that there has hardly been a more untrustworthy politician in Arizona, and perhaps in the rest of the country as well.

Taking advantage of post-9/11 privacy statutes, for example, Arpaio had convinced the county to remove from public view records of the million-dollar commercial real-estate transactions he was making. How, Dougherty wondered, was a modestly paid county sheriff making those kinds of deals? Arpaio blocked every attempt to answer that question, and then did something even more outrageous: He convinced the county attorney to charge New Times and Dougherty with a felony for including his home address in the Internet version of a story about his real-estate dealings.

As New Times pointed out, that address is available in multiple places on the Internet from various official and government sources that anyone, to this day, can access.

Taking advantage of a pliant county attorney and the thug he’s hired to go after New Times, Arpaio is waging a war against my former colleagues’ First Amendment rights. Although Dougherty has since moved on and I’m now editor of The Village Voice, New Times journalists Steve Lemons and Paul Rubin and editor Rick Barrs continue to expose Arpaio for the megalomaniac that he is.