DATE: Friday, Jan. 18, 2019
TO: Rep. David Cook, Rep. Mark Finchem, Pinal County Supervisor Steve Miller, Rep. T.J. Shope, et al.
CC’D: Mark Lamb, Pinal County sheriff
FROM: Andy Howell, chief critic and administrator of cheap shots
SUBJECT: Cowboy hats on the job
It has come to my attention that some of you insist on wearing cowboy hats while performing your duties. While not a violation of the dress code for politicians, the attire appears to be used only as a prop at media events or whenever cameras are present, and not for its intended purpose.
This has become a distraction and may be interfering with your assigned duties. The practice is now being openly mocked by those you seek to impress, which reflects poorly on your employers — the residents of Pinal County.
At a recent news conference, some of you decided to coordinate your dress with cowboy hats. Unfortunately not all in your contingent were able to produce the agreed-upon headgear. One came to the news conference wearing a derby. This made the event look more like a promotional tour for the new Laurel and Hardy movie rather than a news conference about the state’s drought water plan and its importance to area farmers.
The event was then mocked by journalists on social media. Television reporter Brahm Resnik tweeted out a photo of all of you with the line: “When dress code for newser is cowboy hat and all you’ve got is a bowler.”
As you know, the cowboy hat is a high-crowned, wide-brimmed hat best known as the defining piece of attire for the American cowboy. It is worn by many people, especially ranch workers and farmers. It is recognized around the world as part of Old West lore.
The shape of a cowboy hat’s crown and brim are often modified by the wearer for fashion and to protect against weather.
What used to be quaint attire for lawmakers representing rural Arizona has now become cliche and antiquated.
None of you need to wear cowboy hats while doing your jobs. Besides, donning the attire seems to be an inconsistent practice. Most of you don’t wear the hats at normal social events, only at campaign events, news conferences or for official portraits.
For instance, Rep. Cook did not wear a cowboy hat while appearing in that “educational” DUI stop video produced by the Department of Public Safety.
Also, since none of you have, I would like to take the opportunity to publicly condemn Rep. Cook’s behavior in that video. I know it’s not as grievous as a comedian making fun of Casa Grande, or a website ranking the “worst” cities, but I do believe it was an incident that should have resulted in some response from public officials in Pinal County, especially fellow lawmakers.
Your positions call for some courage and decorum in dress that doesn’t take away from the message.
There are still some places where wearing a cowboy hat is appropriate for politicians who aren’t in the ranching or farming industry. That would include any of the many rodeos held in Pinal County, O’Odham Tash, NASCAR, Country Thunder and other country music concerts, or riding a mechanical bull at the Pinal County Fair.
The Cowboy Caucus approach used to work when lawmakers were only lobbying on behalf of ranching and farming interests. While agriculture is still important to Pinal County’s economy, that’s not the case anymore. Area economic development officials want to diversify and create a progressive image of Pinal County to attract high-tech industry. Goofy-looking elected officials parading around as cowboy-wannabes doesn’t help that image.
I think it is time to toss the cowboy hats. They are becoming a joke.
You can reach Andy Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org.