The morning daily recently reported that Pima County is in the midst of developing a conduct policy to define appropriate off-duty behaviors forall county employees. The policy was inspired by complaints that flooded the county about Legal Defender Isabel Garcia's involvement in a July 10 protest of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's book-signing at a Barnes and Noble in Tucson.
The complaints (fueled by listeners of local right-wing talk radio) focused on Garcia picking up the head of an Arpaio piñata and carrying it over her shoulder. Yet, in a report from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, Garcia told the county she picked up the head and walked to the sidewalk to move protestors further form the store entrance in order to prevent further escalation--not insight violence.
While Garcia was cleared of any wrongdoing by Huckelberry, his office moved forward to create a policy for all county employees. Pima County Board of Supervisors Chair Richard Elias and Supervisor Ray Carroll made it clear that they aren’t 100 percent behind the policy proposal.
But if you’re a county employee wondering what you can and can’t do that could irk the public or the county administration, Garcia may have proven that irking those in charge of your budget can eventually pay off.
Meanwhile ... it was reported in The New York Times on Thursday, Dec. 4, that Garcia was awarded one of five 2008 Lannan Cultural Freedom Awards, which comes with a $150,000 cash award . The Lannon Foundation honors individuals working on behalf of communities struggling to uphold and defend their right to cultural freedom and diversity.
Garcia was recognized for her border activism and work with Derechos Humanos.
See, sometimes speaking your mind (and not worrying about what your boss will think) can pay off.
(Full disclosure: Mari Herreras is married to a Pima County public-defense attorney, but he does not know Garcia or work in her office.)