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June 18, 2009

Host: Ted Simons

Budget Fight

  |   Video
  • Can the Arizona Supreme Court make the legislature submit bills to the governor? Andy Hessick, ASU law professor, talks about the issue.
  • Andy Hessick - ASU professor
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Arizona's jobless rate hit 8.2% last month. The Arizona Department of Commerce released figures today showing that the unemployment rate jumped half a percentage point as nearly all sectors lost jobs. The jobless rate in the Phoenix metro area went up 6/10, to 7.9% while Tucson increased to 7.7%. Governor Jan Brewer wants the Arizona Supreme Court to force lawmakers to send over budget bills passed by the legislature back on June 4th. But is that something the court can do? Here to answer that is Andy Hessick, associate professor of law at Arizona State University. Andy, good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Andy Hessick: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: What does the constitution say about transmitting bills?

Andy Hessick: Well, two provisions of the Arizona constitution say that the legislature shall, it uses the word shall, transmit the bills. Any bills after they have been enacted by the two houses, to the governor. And shall by its terms seems to be a mandatory word as opposed to something like may. So that seems to require that the bills be actually transmitted to the governor.

Ted Simons: With that said does the governor's claim have any merit? As you see it?

Andy Hessick: The governor's claim has -- does have merit I think. Because the constitution says that the bill shall be transmitted to the governor, that suggests the legislature has to do it. Now, there's nothing in the constitution though that says the timing of when those bills have to be transmitted. But it seems to me that they have to be done in a timely manner and reasonably timely manner in order for that shall provision to have any force.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, with bills in general, you know, if there's no deadline, you can hold on to them until whenever. But this has a deadline and it would seem as though the court might look at that and say as you say, there has to be a reasonable assumption that you can get it, look at it, whatever, in a reasonable amount of time.

Andy Hessick: Right. Definitely. Otherwise you can imagine the legislature after they enacted a bill could hold on to it for years before transmitting it over to the governor and it would sort of thwart the whole process.

Ted Simons: The possibility of a government shutdown if nothing is done, does that play into what the court could look at here?

Andy Hessick: I think it does, though not so much to the merits. That's going to go more towards whether or not the court decides to hear the case, which is a separate question. Given that the government might shut down and might have a really extreme impact on the state, that might play into the court's decision to actually hear the case.

Ted Simons: Do you think the court could just look at this, say we don't want any part of this, this is legislative, this is us getting involved in two different branches, we're staying out of this?

Andy Hessick: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. The court has a number of decisions in which the court says that it will hear cases only if there's a particular injury to a person. Here the governor hasn't suffered a personal injury to herself. Her claim is that the governor's office has been hurt and the Supreme Court is usually pretty reluctant to intervene when it's a claim of that kind of institutional harm to an office, because it doesn't want to get involved in these political disputes. It thinks that the voters are the appropriate body to deal with these kinds of problems.

Ted Simons: Up to and including usurping power, a phrase the governor used regarding the legislature?

Andy Hessick: Well, I mean, that puts it pretty starkly, right. In those instances where the -- if the governor's power is actually nullified, if it were effectively nullified, in those cases the Supreme Court has indicated it will step in, for example, there was a former case in which the governor vetoed a provision that the governor had no right to veto, and the legislators filed suit, so it was the other way around. In that case the Supreme Court did step in and said look, you've effectively nullified the legislators' power to pass legislation through its votes and that's not ok. And so it will step in when there's an effective nullification, but there's a real question whether or not that effective nullification is happening here, because the governor still has power to veto, the power to sign, just it my be delayed somewhat.

Ted Simons: The -- can the Supreme Court, does it even have the power to force the legislature to do something?

Andy Hessick: The supreme court does, I think, have that power, though it's a complicated question, that’s pretty hard. They theoretically have the power, but they might not want to do it because of the political implications, the court only has power insofar as the other branches of government are willing to play along. I guess the legislature could retaliate against the court, it could cut funding to the court or change its jurisdiction, it could do all sorts of things I suppose. But under the state constitution, the Supreme Court does have the power to issue the ruling against the legislators.

Ted Simons: Last question, how unusual is this? Have we seen this happen in other parts of the country?

Andy Hessick: It's pretty unusual. It has happened before in New York state and New York state's highest court said that the legislature did have to transmit the bill to the governor, it issued that order.

Ted Simons: Ok, so we have a little bit of a precedent there but not a whole heck of a lot.

Andy Hessick: Not a heck of a lot.

Ted Simons: Interesting. They decide Tuesday whether or not they're going to go ahead and pursue this, and you say don't be surprised if they just say we'll stay out of it.

Andy Hessick: Right.

Ted Simons: All right. Andy, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Andy Hessick: Thank you.

Ethnic Studies

  |   Video
  • Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne talks about why he wants to ban ethnic studies in Arizona.
  • Tom Horne - Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne would like to put an end to ethnic studies in Arizona. Right now those courses are only taught in Tucson. Earlier this evening I spoke to him about why he wants an end to those courses.

Ted Simons: Tom, good to see you, thanks for joining us on "Horizon."

Tom Horne: I love being on your show because you always get into the depth of things.

Ted Simons: Well then let's do it, talk about ethnic studies courses in high schools. Why do you want to put a stop to them?

Tom Horne: I believe it's a very fundamental philosophical position, I believe that it is a fundamental American value that we judge ourselves as individuals and not based on whatever race we happen to have been born into. What can you do, what do you know, what is your character, what is your appreciation of beauty, not what grace did you happen to have been born into. Traditionally the public schools have been places that take students from diverse backgrounds and teach them to treat each other as individuals. And to transcend feelings about it matters what race you came from and the ethnic studies courses in Tucson they've done exactly the opposite. They've divided kids by race, taught them separately by race. I think that's totally wrong.

Ted Simons: The school board down there obviously agrees with these courses. Why not just convince the folks that they need to vote this school board out?

Tom Horne: Well, I tried that for two years actually. This started two years ago, and I started publicizing it in Tucson, hoping they would vote the school board out. They didn't do that. In fact, Congressman Grijalva's daughter's on that school board and she proposed expanding it, making it required and bringing it down to eighth grade, sort of giving me the defiant finger gesture, so this is plan B to get the legislature to pass a law to prohibit it in Arizona schools funded by Arizona taxpayer dollars.

Ted Simons: By getting past plan A, are you looking past the fact that apparently parents like the courses, there are waiting lists for students to get into these courses, why is it as to popular?

Tom Horne: I don't know that it's so popular. Some parents like it. My guess is that probably 90% of people whether they're Republicans or Democrats,Conservatives or Liberals, believe we should treat each other as individuals, not on the basis service our race but they have other things on their minds and I didn't succeed in getting their attention. I hope I have better luck with the legislature.

Ted Simons: The Tucson school district down there says that since 2002 the kids who take these courses have better AIMS scores than those who don't take these courses. It sounds like it's raising student achievement.

Tom Horne: I have two responses to that. One is John Ward who is one of the whistle-blowers because he taught down there and disclosed what was going on as far as the radicalization of kids in these courses challenged the legitimacy of those statistics and asked for backup statistics a year ago. They still have not supplied those, so there's a question about methodology, whether those statistics are valid. Even if they were, I analogized it to the good nutrition initiative that I had. When I said we should stop selling junk food, the school said we make money on the junk food, I said there's better ways to raise money than to push saturated fat and sugar on kids, and similarly there are better ways to raise test scores than divide kids up by race and teach them separately according to race.

Ted Simons: Are there better ways to teach kids about their cultural past?

Tom Horne: I think kids should be taught about all cultural pasts and we should teach kids about diverse cultures, diverse histories, I brought back the teaching of history in public schools in a big way and I'm very much in favor of teaching different cultures but you don't teach a student only about his own cultural past. That's the very kind of parochialism the public schools are designed to overcome and get the kids to transcend that and be interested in all cultures and people as individuals.

Ted Simons: But how do you get past let's say a Hispanic, Latino student who's learning about his cultural history in America, how do you say that, well, because he's taking that class he's only learning about his heritage, when an African-American student, a white student, might be taking the same class?

Tom Horne: Well, the classes are aimed at the people of that race. There are some people who have taken the classes that aren't, and but they're exceptions. The basic thrust of it is that the Raza studies are aimed at Hispanic kids, African-American studies aimed at African-American kids and Asian studies aimed at Asian kids and Native American studies are aimed at the Native American kids-- it's a terrible system of segregation down there and they're using desegregation funds to segregate kids. It's totally outrageous. On top of that in the Raza studies program, Raza Spanish for the race, it's a very radical program. We've got the materials, we've had teachers talk about it, Che Guevara's one of their heroes, as the textbook they have the pedagogy of the oppressed. These kids, their parents and grandparents came her mostly legally because this is the land of opportunity and we should be teaching them it's the land of opportunity and if they work hard they can achieve anything, we shouldn’t be teaching them that they are oppressed.

Ted Simons: Are they not learning that if you work hard you can do anything, but taking these classes? Are these classes just one part of a well rounded education?

Tom Horne: They really aren't. In fact they Senate Judiciary Committee which passed my bill on a party line vote, there was a girl who testified about how much she loved the course because before she took the course she didn't know she was oppressed. Now she knows she's oppressed. It's ridiculous what they're teaching. The book the pedagogy of the oppressed, he's a total open Marxist, the main sources in the book are Lenin, Marx, Che Guevara and the philosophers that influenced them, and they're teaching them that every society's divided between the oppressors and the oppressed and that they're oppressed and that the main culture are the oppressors. They're team teaching them to be against western culture, our government, teaching them they live in occupied Mexico. One textbook is called occupied America.

Ted Simons: How should ethnic studies in let's call it -- targeting Tucson here, how should ethnic studies be taught down there?

Tom Horne: Should be abolished. We should teach kids, have a history class where kids learn about all kinds of different cultures. They should learn the history of all different cultures and they should be taught that they're individuals, should be proud individuals, work hard, achieve what they choose to achieve by working hard and treat the other kids as individuals and stop the emphasis on race. It's time to transcend race,

Ted Simons: Can you teach a Japanese American, U.S. history, without mentioning internment camps?

Tom Horne: I'm all for mentioning things in the history class, but let's have all the kids together and let's mention all the things that are relevant. In fact in our standards we've done that. I worked hard for two years to have the most content rich history standards in the country, the chief historian of the History Channel said we were head and shoulders above the other 49 states. It's got programs in there dealing with all different cultures. All kids should learn all different cultures but we shouldn't have kids on a narrow course where they're just learning about the race that they happen to be born could into. That's totally wrong.

Ted Simons: Last question, is there a balance here? Can there be a compromise as opposed to just taking legislation and abolishing a whole course of study?

Tom Horne: I am a man of compromise and I generally like to be reasonable and like to compromise, but in this case we’re talking about an extremely important principle, and the principle is do we as American learn that we treat each other as individuals or do we have coursework in our public schools that separate us out by ethnicity and teach us to value our ethnicity rather than ourselves as individuals what we can achieve, and other people as individuals, what they can achieve and what is their character. I think we need to be individuals and not exemplars of a racial group that you happen to be born into.

Ted Simons: Tom, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Tom Horne: Great pleasure, thank you.

Mill Avenue Development

  |   Video
  • The current economic recession has taken its toll on downtown Tempe. We’ll explore the current state of Mill Avenue and plans to reinvigorate the area. Guests include Downtown Tempe Corporation’s Nancy Hormann, and longtime Mill Avenue retailer and property owner Vic Linoff.
  • Nancy Hormann - Downtown Tempe Corporation
  • Vic Linoff - Longtime Mill Avenue retailer and property owner
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe has an energy and an atmosphere that few valley cities possess. But when the economy tank's so did parts of Mill Avenue. As David Majure shows us, vacant retail space and unfinished high-rise condos are a testament to those tough economic times.

Casaundra Brown: Downtown Tempe is an entertainment district. This is where people come to have fun, it's one of the only areas you can come to and walk. You park and walk the whole area and go to a mix of stuff.

David Majure: But fewer things are in that mix. When the economy went south, stores closed. Redevelopment projects stalled, and luxury condos were left unfinished. Avenue Communities was building the Centerpoint condominiums until mortgages limited the company financing the project went bankrupt.

Casaundra Brown: They have had to go to court and rearrange their money and they've just been having to wait to hear back on where their financing is, so the project is currently stalled but they still plan on moving forward. It's just going to take a little longer than we initially planned.

David Majure: In the shadows of the empty high-rise is another property that's become a bit of a ghost town.

Casaundra Brown: We are at 6th and Mill right now where a majority of the Centerpoint on Mill complex is. And this is sort of the area that we've seen a little bit of issue, it's really all of Mill is doing all right except the south end of Mill Avenue.

David Majure: Centerpoint on Mill is a victim of bad timing. Before the economy turned sour, D.M.B.Pproperties had plans to sweeten the area by tearing down these buildings and starting over.

Casaundra Brown: Right when they decided they were going to redevelop, the economy tanked, so they obviously had let people out of their leases because they were going to tear down the complex and now with the economy the way it is, they're not going to redevelop and now they want to recruit businesses back in.

David Majure: But businesses are having a hard time finding money to move in, so store fronts remain empty and it's taking creative thinking to fill them up.

Casaundra Brown: We're working on a lot projects to reinvigorate this specific area. We have a retail competition going on offering 12 months rent to the winning business plan, also maybe some incentives for the top three business plans we receive. So we're really working on reinvigorating this part of Mill Avenue.

David Majure: Downtown Tempe community, a nonprofit that manages and promotes the Mill Avenue district, has renovated the former Harkins Theater.

Casaundra Brown: We're like what if we just programmed it with really affordable space for local musicians or performers. And really made it a really cool live performance venue, when you go inside they like to call it urban chic. We work D.M.B. and they were able to give us this building for $10 a year to open Madcap Theaters, which is the mill avenue district community arts project.

David Majure: If there's any silver lining to be found in this story, it may be the opportunity for downtown Tempe to reinvent itself and emerge from this recession stronger than ever.

Casaundra Brown: It gives us a chance to bring back the independent local retailers that make Mill Avenue a destination as opposed to the big change that we had before.

Ted Simons: Joining me now is Nancy Hormann, president and executive director of downtown Tempe community, a nonprofit that represents property owners in the Mill Avenue district and Vic Linoff, a former mill avenue retailer who plans to redevelop the alley behind the building he owns near 5th street and mill. Thank you both for joining us tonight on "Horizon." Nancy, I want to start with you, what happened to Mill Avenue?

Nancy Hormann: I think it was a combination of a lot of development coming all at one time. A lot of development happening that was planned and the economy going south before the plans could take off. I think in the long term Mill Avenue was trying to be something that it wasn't or would never be, by bringing in big chains and something that you could get in every shopping center in the whole valley. And it lost its independence.

Ted Simons: Hold that thought because I want to come back to that one. But Vic, your view, what happened down there? Talking about Mill Avenue but cities all around the valley going through similar experiences, maybe in a little different ways but Mill Avenue's kind of large right now. What happened down there?

Vic Linoff: Well, certainly Mill Avenue is experiencing the effects of the economy, but many of the problems Nancy did allude to are a result of a flawed business model that was created way back in the city in the '70s when the city was making decisions on what it wanted for the future of Mill Avenue, and part of that had to do with the replacement of very viable historic buildings with new buildings, and the minute you start new construction you're going to add significant cost to spaces.

Ted Simons: To Nancy's point, what does Mill Avenue want to be and, you know, connect that question with another one, what should it be?

Vic Linoff: Mill Avenue should be a street of unique innovative destination businesses. They don't have to be necessarily independent businesses. They can have a national affiliation. There are businesses like Urban Outfitters who don't go to malls. What you want to do is stay away from the businesses that will traditionally go to a mall because customers say if I have a choice, I'm going to go to the mall and not to downtown Tempe for that product.

Ted Simons: Is that what Mill Avenue should be, and is that what Mill Avenue wants to be? Is that what Tempe wants to see from Mill Avenue? We get a mixed message sometimes from the city as to what Mill Avenue wants to be.

Nancy Hormann: I think no win was really asking what Mill Avenue wants to be, and I think right now we are all in the same direction of making it an independent destination, a reason to come there. If you can find what's there in five other places in the valley, why are you going to go there? You're going to go to the one that's closest to you. We are all looking at Mill Avenue as destination retail, things that are something exciting to go to, as well as entertainment. We are the only walkable urban environment in the valley.

Ted Simons: Is the city helping out with this? What is the city doing? Because right now you walk down Mill Avenue from university and the first few blocks you see a lot of empty store fronts.

Nancy Hormann: The city is doing a great job at looking at the future, and what we’re doing is sitting down – and a lot of ordinances, very common in many cities, not just Tempe, the ordinances and all the things are written citywide, so the suburban ordinances are the same thing as the urban ordinances are. There's some of the things that would make us a little bit more eclectic and a little more edgy are not allowed because it's the same suburban rule. We are rewriting all of those and doing urban ordinances, urban rules and regulations for downtown, in order to encourage that. And the city is right there with us.

Ted Simons: As a property owner is the city right there with you?

Vic Linoff: The city is improving, regulation has always been an issue, and the city's had trouble distinguishing between what's needed in a dense urban area like a downtown and Elliot Road where it's an automobile driven corridor, and through activities of the chamber, the D.T.C. and other organizations, it's really been moving towards recognizing you have to have a different set of rules for downtown. There's one point I wanted to make that I think when you ask what Mill Avenue wants to be, for a long time the city philosophy was it's better to import creativity,
Borders makes more sense than a Changing Hands. And I would argue that we've had some really creative businesses that we can export, Changing Hands was the 1980 or 2008 book seller of the year for Publisher's Weekly awarded it that, one of the most successful bookstores in the country. Those kind of businesses can start in downtown. We've got a big university right next door. People with lots of ideas that want to begin to experiment, downtown should provide that opportunity.

Ted Simons: It all sounds great and I remember Changing Hands years ago, used to go there for years, one of the reasons they left and one reason I hear that other individual type shops, mom and pops aren't moving in, the rents are too high. First of all, is that a valid argument? And if it is, what do you do about it?

Nancy Hormann: I think it's a valid argument with some of our property owners. Absolutely. But not all of them. They are realistic now. I think that there's a change, the economy has changed everyone. And people are getting more realistic about the rental rates. And they're doing more things to attract people that can't -- could not have afforded to come in there and be an independent business. We're hosting a competition for the best retail concept that fits Mill Avenue, what do people think fits Mill Avenue and we are going to along with one of our property owners award that winner a year's free rent in one of our spaces because we're trying to encourage that entrepreneurism.

Vic Linoff: To your question, what you said earlier, we're working – Mill Avenue is essentially a linear street. There's very little off of MillAvenue, and I'm working with the owner of the two properties to the south to create what we're calling an off Mill experience, using the alleyway as a small intimate pedestrian corridor, because we own the properties and we've owned them for a long time, we don't have to go in and buy expensive land. All we've got to do is pay for the cost of buildings, so I think that in many cases we could provide small spaces for incubator startup businesses at half of the going rent on Mill Avenue and if you're successful in that incubator, then you graduate to the street or you move out to larger quarters, so that's one of the ways of keeping the rents down, encouraging longtime property owners to make some investment because again all we have to do is just pay for the cost of the building.

Ted Simons: All right. Very good. We have to stop it right there. I wish we had more time to talk though, but good luck and we hope the best for you and of course other cities around the valley facing similar problems, but Mill Avenue, everyone seems to know about Mill Avenue, not because of A.S.U. or just the things going on down there, so thank you again for joining us tonight.

Vic Linoff: Thank you very much, and thank "Horizon" for taking the interest in this issue.

Ted Simons: Very good. Thank you.