Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 6, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable

  |   Video
  • Local reporters discuss the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Ryan Gabrielson - East Valley Tribune
  • Mark Brodie - KJZZ radio
  • Casey Newton - Arizona Republic
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on “Horizon” -- a new plan of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's is causing controversy. And the battle between he and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and we'll look at the latest efforts on dealing with the state's money problems and how the federal economic stimulus plan could help Arizona. That's next on “Horizon.” Hello and welcome to “Horizon.” I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight, Ryan Gabrielson with "the East Valley Tribune," Mark Brodie with KJZZ radio, and Casey Newton with "the Arizona Republic." Sheriff Joe Arpaio is making headlines again this week. We have segregated -- undocumented immigrants segregated.

Ryan Gabrielson:
It’s been touted as a cost-saving move. He marched 220 immigrants to a tent city, as I understand it, with the idea it's going to save money because it will make it more efficient and designed to get maximum press attention. You have to call the media and have us set up our cameras and march them off in chains. It's similar to what happened when they opened up a new jail facility and moved all of the inmates, I think in their underwear, into a new facility with the cameras rolling.

Ted Simons:
Do you know how much money can be saved?

Ryan Gabrielson:
I don't believe we've seen concrete details on how this will save money or prevent from having to make other budget cuts. There's a fracas between him and the board.

Ted Simons:
And I was wondering about that. Is this just another shot across the bow at the Board of Supervisors?

Ryan Gabrielson:
No one would really say, but it can be taken as such. There's been a lot of friction between the two parties. The board, in the wake of the indictment of Don Stapley. And for the first time, created a rift between Arpaio and the board when normally they're chummy and approve anything that comes along the way.

Ted Simons:
And the county attorney, his position?

Ryan Gabrielson:
Today, he came out and said that he believes it's unconstitutional, separating inmates on an ethnic line. And prompted the board of supervisors saying are we putting ourselves at risk for a lawsuit here? It's a move by Thomas, he's been leading the way, involving immigration enforcement and he says it's a friendly disagreement between the two but pretty significant.

Casey Newton:
But also enables Thomas to seem like he's taking the more moderate position. They had been marching in lockstep. And here's a chance for Thomas to come out and say, this is too far and for a guy who could be running for attorney general next year that could help.

Ted Simons:
He can say it's too far and criticize it, but can he do anything about it?

Ryan Gabrielson:
He could, but he already said he won't do what he said he could do. He could file a lawsuit. But he said flatly, he won't do that. He thinks it's unconstitutional and will leave the actions to other.

Mark Brodie:
Thomas was involved, if I remember correctly, in the court system when they were setting up courts for separate groups of people. And trying to take action to stop it. So it's interesting in this case, that he's, yes, he's saying it's not ok but not willing to go the extra step and do something about it.

Ryan Gabrielson:
He’s trying to remain intellectually consistent while not taking action.

Ted Simons:
Not seeing the end of the Arpaio-Thomas relationship.

Ryan Gabrielson:
No harsh words exchanged.

Casey Newton:
I think we can look forward to many more joint press conferences.

Ted Simons:
The Sheriff has not identified the 20% cuts, by way of the board of supervisors so that still hangs out there.

Ryan Gabrielson:
It most certainly does. While other parts of the county are making cuts, Arpaio has not been doing that and pushing consistent against them.

Ted Simons:
The 287-G program, basically, Sheriff Arpaio's baby, because he gets to help with I.C.E. in terms of undocumented immigrants. Talk to us about the 287g program and the idea that now with former Governor Napolitano and homeland security she may take some away or add some more to it.

Ryan Gabrielson:
She's overseeing it and expanding since 2003 in which I.C.E. trains and dispatches local and state officers into the field as almost complete federal immigration agents with almost all the powers of I.C.E. and border control. Arpaio has about 1/5 of those officers and Arpaio's been using that to do all kinds of massive enforcements in urban areas. The stuff he does on the rural roads, he didn't need federal immigration power for that. But sweeping up day laborers, that's under federal authority and that's why that's important.

Ted Simons:
Is there any hint out of Washington what Napolitano might do?

Ryan Gabrielson:
There’s a review under way. It could go either direction. "The New York Times" came out, lashing their favorite target of late, Arpaio to shut down the 287g program, and it's a recipe for disaster and we've been seeing that here.

Ted Simons:
I want to get more of the Arpaio stories. We've got Captain Joel Fox and this call for emails and phone logs out of the county officials. Let’s get back to that. We had a press conference involving Governor Brewer today, and I don't think any bombshells were dropped but we did hear some things we've heard from some lawmakers, for example, this is all the previous administration's fault. It's worse than we thought. Those things.

Casey Newton:
That’s right. And this is something that Governor Brewer has said since she became the Governor but the key word was "anger." she said she was a little bit furious about the situation that's been dropped in her lap and it's going to be painful to pass the 2010 budget.

Ted Simons:
And wouldn't rule out anything.

Casey Newton:
The big catch phrase: everything is on the table. That means tax cuts and hikes and absolutely anything we could see as they put the budget together.

Ted Simons:
As far as her presence in the '09 fix and moving ahead to figuring out the 2010 budget, is she a dominating presence? Mysteriously absent? Somewhere in between?

Mark Brodie:
I think somewhere in between. She came in pretty close to the end of the process, in the '09 fix, when they were fixing it late last week, into Saturday, coming in and saying, we should restore this and this and this is what I want and the legislature was able to work that in. It seems that now that she has her feet under her and been in the office a little while maybe having a role with the legislature in coming up with the 2010 budget.

Casey Newton:
Not that much more. We're told that Governor Brewer only plans to release a blue print for what should happen. Which is -- a blue print for what should happen. I think it's worth pointing out on the '09 budget fix passed last Saturday, for a $1.6 billion adjustment, Governor Brewer has questioned -- requested changes only amounted to $18 million. There's been criticism that she's not offering substantial guidance.

Ted Simons:
Now we're hearing more fixes might be needed.

Casey Newton:
When the Governor signed the budget, she said more cuts were likely going to be necessary and we know a couple of areas that may be causing them to cut more. The Supreme Court issued a ruling that the $30 million that the legislature attempted to take from cities was an unconstitutional grab and sales tax revenue isn't getting better. And while there was about $90 million worth of wiggle room on the budget they passed Saturday, seems like that could go away quickly. Especially as the legislature goes back to look at the funds they swept, they're finding that the money isn't always there.

Ted Simons:
It seems like that's a major factor. As far as a tax increase, is that politically, feasibly -- is it viable? Can it happen?

Mark Brodie:
I mean, anything can happen and as Casey said, Governor Brewer from the first press conference said all options were on the table and we'll look at anything and wouldn't rule out tax increases. I think it's a safe bet it would be unlikely if this legislature with two-thirds majority needed to pass an increase would do such a thing, especially because some of the leadership, leadership, like Russell Pearce, who chairs the appropriations committee, I can't imagine a situation where he might support a tax increase. It may exist, but unlikely.

Casey Newton:
We may see it put to voters. Look, if you're not going to pass it, we might have to get rid of the all-day kindergarten and some of these other programs that the voters like. So they may put it on the ballot. Let the voters decide.

Ted Simons:
Back to the '09 fix, I know democrats saying it was hurried. A lot of them say we still don't know what's in the doggone thing. Were you hearing that and what's the reaction by G.O.P. leadership?

Casey Newton:
There was concern that the budget was being rushed and they were saying, look, we have at least $500 million coming from the federal stimulus package, why not wait and maybe that will reduce the amount we need to cut. From the Republicans' perspective, I don't think they would say it's rushed. This has been their number one goal since the session began on January 12th. The senate going so far saying we're not going to hear any bills until we pass it. And so they said we just have to cut while we can and then move on the next budget.

Ryan Gabrielson:
We’re also seven months into the current year, every day you wait, you have to spend money to keep people employed and lights on and such.

Mark Brodie:
I’m not sure necessarily that the feeling it was rushed is strictly a Democratic position. I talked to a couple of Republicans down at the capitol who voted for the budget but said it was passed in the middle of the night, like almost always is. Done quickly, but I’m comfortable of what I know of what's in it but don't necessarily know everything that's in it. A lot of the Republicans said, as Casey mentioned, we have to do something. This is our top priority. We need to pass it quickly because the longer we wait; the more difficult it becomes to make these cuts.

Casey Newton:
One note I would add, even today, the state agencies that have their budgets trimmed by about $600 million collectively, they're still not exactly sure what's gone. As I was calling around trying to get a handle, they're saying call back next week. We're still trying to figure it out.

Ted Simons:
The D.O.A., today 138 some-odd jobs were lost. What are we talking about here? Everything from one end of the spectrum to the other as far as jobs?

Casey Newton:
That’s right the department of administration provides support functions to all the other agencies. Like accounting and human services, they turn to the D.O.A. they said in order to comply with the budget, they have to lay off 138 people and institute a furlough for everyone that's left.

Ted Simons:
What’s next?

Casey Newton:
For the D.O.A.?

Ted Simons:
Whatever agencies.

Casey Newton:
The attorney general announced a furlough program. So everyone in Terry Goddard’s office who makes more than $50,000 a year is now going to have to take off 8 days, unpaid, between now and June 30th. We're expecting to see layoffs in a number of agencies.

Ted Simons:
There was a dust-up involving the house Speaker and one of his committee chairmen. Can we talk about in? Do we know anything more? Was it what we heard and that was Speaker wasn’t happy, Speaker punishes, Speaker takes back punishment? Was that the way it happened?

Mark Brodie:
It seems to be at least on the surface, the short answer of it, yeah.

Ted Simons:
We’ve got Representative Sam Crump from Anthem, and Speaker Adams, what is the 21st century fund?

Casey Newton:
It’s a fund that was a pet project that awards funds in the biosciences, that it will spur some entrepreneurship. That Governor Napolitano saw as essential to the future of Arizona. It was never popular with the republicans, who thought it was deciding in advance which industries were going to survive in advance. And Sam Crump, the pay-way posse, they got together and said, no, we're going to draw a line in the sand and not let them keep this money in the budget. Governor Brewer wanted it to stay in the budget and Speaker Adams and Crump and the pay-way posse said no. While Speaker Adams initially said we're going to take away your chairmanship, after negotiation, Crump came out with the chairmanship.

Ted Simons:
From what you heard, aside from how good the chicken is who won or lost here?

Mark Brodie:
There’s grumbling at the capitol. Nobody wants to go on record as opposing one or the other. Everyone has to work together at this point. But there has been some discussion that ultimately representative Crump won this. He got the money out of the budget and kept his committee chairmanship.

Casey Newton:
The other view might say any leader is going to have challenges. Just because there's Republicans, doesn't mean they're going to get along all the time. This shows that Speaker Adams is able to work out a compromise. But if Kirk Adams won this, it's not clear what Sam Crump lost.

Ted Simons:
Tell us about Sam Crump who seems to be making a lot of noise quickly.

Casey Newton:
He has a high profile. He has big defenders in the senate. Ron Gould and Jack Harper and those who are known for being anti big government. And he's saying we don't want to spend on these government programs.

Ted Simons:
Photo radar and things like that. He's come out. Speaking of being loud and not being afraid of the spotlight. Let's get back to the Sheriff. What is this business of demanding email, phone logs, and all sorts of stuff? County officials?

Ryan Gabrielson:
What’s most interesting is not that he’s demanding something, it's how. Through a long time nemesis. A public records request. He has a history of fighting press request for information and now use can the tools that we've used to get information as part of his criminal investigation of Don Stapley and if the board has done anything illegal in trying to protect him and cover things up. And he's going after the board of sups and basically anyone who is close to the recent conflict. Going after their personal information.

Ted Simons:
I heard someone suggesting it was a fishing expedition. It sounds --

Ryan Gabrielson:
There’s no specifics, no, you know, email that contain -- about this topic or time frames that sort of set a beginning and end. It's just emails from the beginning of electronic records to now.

Casey Newton:
And this is a ploy we're seeing the Sheriff make more and more. Remember last year when the Sheriff were having their dispute. They did the same thing. Requested all kinds of records and wouldn't say what they were looking for and there was a feeling in city council that this was just harassment. Creating busy work for the Sheriff and his way of getting back at him.

Ted Simons:
Kind of a shock-and-awe. Just overwhelm and that sort of thing?

Ryan Gabrielson:
To a certain extent, yes, sir. He's asking for thousands of records and at the same time, they're public records requests. And what might happen is the board might come back and say, can we narrow the scope here? Get it down to a thousand records --

Ted Simons:
Next Captain Joel Fox breaks his silence… kind of.

Ryan Gabrielson:
Kind of.

Ted Simons:
Who is Joel Fox?

Ryan Gabrielson:
He’s a relatively high-ranking captain in the Sheriff's office. August and September, he led a group called the Sheriff's Command Association who we don't know anybody who is behind that besides Joel Fox, who made $105,000 contributions to the state Republican Party. The Republican Party not too long after produced controversial commercials, one of who attacked Dan Sabin who was running for the Sheriff's seat and made all kinds of harsh attacks on him. The Democratic Party filed a complaint saying the big contention in the finance reports, all it said was for who gave all that money, $105,000, was S.C.A. three letters and find out later that means Sheriff's Command Association and that means this high-ranking guy in the Sheriff's office who has refused to answer questions about where the money came from. Until this week, he had a hearing before the state department of administration, the judge there, he's facing fines over this illegal contribution or what's been deemed by the Maricopa county as an illegal contribution. He disputes that. Because he gave money as an organization but then didn't list the organization.

Ted Simons:
Right. And we still don't know who is --

Ryan Gabrielson:
He says he doesn't have much intention of saying. His explanations don't add up, but that the people who contributed money to the fund, total $100,000. This was supposed to be a PR campaign to defend deputies from unfair media attacks, that they've been portrayed as racial profiles. But how giving the money in the middle of a harsh campaign would do anything to change the public view of deputies and detention officers.

Ted Simons:
And he's still facing a $315,000 fine.

Ryan Gabrielson:
If he can prove this wasn't from a political committee, yeah, he's in a lot of debt right now.

Ted Simons:
Another interesting story that I don’t think involves Arpaio, but we never know. The Sheriff might be here involving obscuring license plates.

Ryan Gabrielson:
I don't see a connection.

Ted Simons:
There might be one. Let’s work on it. [Laughter] This is a deal where you can't cover the word "Arizona."

Ryan Gabrielson:
The legislature passed a bill on which was an amendment saying that starting January 1 of 2009, the word "Arizona" at the top of the license plate had to be visible. Arizona has a lot of different kinds of specialty license plates in addition to the one with the sunset on it and everything. And there's been a lot of attention because a lot of people have license plate frames from car dealerships or sports teams or music groups or whatever that are big enough that obscure the word Arizona on the license plates. So Representative Bill Copaniki [sic] had a bill that would have rescinded that rule. In the house transportation committee this past week it was amended to say it would make obscuring Arizona a secondary offense. Meaning you couldn't be pulled over for only that. If you were pulled over for something else and the Arizona was obscured, you could still get a ticket. The fine was also reduced to $30 from $250. Everybody -- the people on the committee, representatives, both say it's a compromise. We'll let the law enforcement officers know what state it is but we don't want people to have to pay $250.

Ted Simons:
If they're a suspect in a crime, they can go ahead and cite the person because they're going after something else in the first place.

Ryan Gabrielson:
It’s like seat belt laws. You can't be pulled over just for not wearing a seat belt. But if you're making an illegal turn, you could be pulled over for that.

Ted Simons:
So car dealers and Diamondbacks and Cardinals and all sorts of ASU things, those are fine for now? As long as you don't do anything else wrong.

Ryan Gabrielson:
Not yet. Arizona still has to clear the law. If it passes and becomes law, then the other things will be fine.

Ted Simons:
What’s the latest on the photo radar?

Casey Newton:
There are a whole slew of bills that would modify, from forgetting it altogether to not allowing flashes after sunset to a lot of other things. We were talking about earlier, it seems like the legislature, which is sort of very anti-regulation this year, except when it comes to license plate frames, they're going to probably make a run at getting rid of it altogether, but there are initiatives on the ballot that it may go to the voters and decide. Most voters apparently like photo radar, and could survive a challenge at the ballot.

Ted Simons:
It’s going to be interesting. As you mention, a lot of polls. There's a noisy contingent that doesn't like it.

Ryan Gabrielson:
The State Department of Public Safety has stats suggest it might make a significant dent in serious accidents.

Ted Simons:
We’ve got to stop it. Drive safely. Have a good weekend. Monday on “Horizon” we'll take a look at how the housing market is doing. Also, find out more about bankruptcy and foreclosures. Plus, a look at the Phoenix Police Department's reserve program. That's Monday at 7:00 on “Horizon.” Tuesday we'll discuss the state's tuition tax programs. Wednesday, "Arizona capitol times" reporter Jim Small gives us a mid-week update on the legislature. Thursday, superintendent of public instruction Tom Horne joins me to talk about the state of education in Arizona. Friday we'll be back with another edition of the journalists' roundtable. That is it for now. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great weekend.

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