Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 8, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Don't miss HORIZON's weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Howard Fischer - of "Capitol Media Services"
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
It's Friday, July 8, 2005. In the headlines this week, in the hours following the terrorist attacks in London, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon began increasing security on valley metro buses, as the alert level was raised to orange. Governor Janet Napolitano says Arizona's Homeland Security Office is working to make sure the state is safe, and she won't cancel a planned trip to England. And the State of Arizona and the federal government are going to team up to fight the problem of human trafficking. That's next on "Horizon."

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>> Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant, and this is the Journalists' Roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Howard Fischer of "Capitol Media Services." Chip Scutari of "The Arizona Republic." And Robbie Sherwood, also from "The Arizona Republic." Shortly after Thursday's terrorist attack in London, officials here in Arizona started working to make sure nothing like that happens here. A news conference was held at the State Capitol to detail what steps were being taken. Howie, what steps were being taken?

>> Howard Fischer:
Truthfully, not a heck of a lot, but the Governor felt the need to stand there and have the TV cameras gathered around her with Frank and a half ret by her side to assure us, don't worry, I'm in charge. The fact is, this was not a general alert. When they raised the alert level to orange, it was not for the whole state or the whole country. It was specifically certain kinds of mass transit, buses, trains; we don't have any trains here, other than the Amtrak that runs through once a day, so it really came down to the city. And it wasn't even a mandatory alert in the sense that what they did is asked each city to go ahead and decide what they should do. It was really Phil Gordon who made the decision to put police officers in some of the bus buses, to have additional security at the bus yards and things like that. The feds did put up some more folks to watch the border just generally, you like to do that any time you have a heightened state of alert, but truthfully, people went about their business and nothing much changed.

>> Michael Grant:
I understand one of the reporters asked the question, well, gee, isn't this kind of attack maybe an indication that we shouldn't be building a trolley system in the City of Phoenix?

>>Howard Fischer:
Yes, and, of course, the Governor, who is not wanting to cave to terrorists, said we will not let the terrorists determine our mass transit system here in Arizona.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
It was odd to hear them say that the orange alert didn't apply to airports.

>> Michael Grant: That was strange.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Without the -- they are not going to give us the details of their decision-making process or conference call to the homeland security department, but it's like well, they didn't attack an airplane in England, so they won't attack one anywhere else. It just seemed odd.

>> Howard Fischer:
And part of it as stuff leaks out today, apparently the British had some information six weeks ago in some of the chatter was that Al-Qaeda, having been -- by the success of the attacks on trains in Spain had specifically decided to target things like trains and obviously deciding, look, it's easier to get to a train station than to an airport, never mind this fool who crashed through the gate here at Sky Harbor, because look particularly at commuter lines. You look at a place like New York, people bring all sorts of boxes and things onto the subway because nobody delivers anything. People have bicycles and people have boxes. You are transporting 6, 7 million people a day.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Same thing could be said for buses. Some of Gordon's rhetoric, while it is a good idea to up the security, to say that our buses are safe, that message is really wishful thinking when you think about how the bus system works. People can get on at any point on the line and they just get on and throw their 57 cents or $1.25 and they are on and they could have anything on them or under or in their bags. There is nothing you can do about that unless you install a metal detector in front of every bus.

>> Howard Fischer:
That's the issue. You cannot prevent suicide bombers, but you can make people more aware if you see a box that looks a little crushed with oil leaking from it in the back of the bus, first thing you do is ring the bell, stop at the next stop and say I'm out of here, Mr. Driver, you may want to take a look at this.

>> Michael Grant:
All right. Chip --

>>Chip Scutari:
I love the way Howie is always looking out for his fellow mankind. He is going to get off that bus, see you later everyone, let the bus explode. Go ahead. I had to get that in there.

>> Michael Grant:
I want to sneak up on this fun political story that you did gradually, so I'm going to transition this way. The Governor is headed for Russia and at the end of that, she'll be back in London, and she did say that she was not going to cancel the London leg of that trip; correct?

>> Chip Scutari:
Yes, she is going to Russia for a personal vacation for a week and then she has some trade meetings in London and she's going to Dublin, kind of a follow-up on her kind of trade mission from last November, I believe. So she said she's going -- she is not going to be scared off by terrorists, and she's heading to Russia on Sunday.

>> Howard Fischer:
I'm going to do your segway here. But will she be scared off of going to London and spending time there over the possibility that somebody may try to take over her office?

>> Chip Scutari
:Well, the Governor sounded a little built like Alexander Hague when she said I'm still in charge no matter where I am.

>> Michael Grant:
I had a flashback to Alexander Hague.

>>Chip Scutari:
I'm no legal scholar like Howie, but when the Governor is out of the state, the Secretary of State is the acting Governor, and it was probably created at a time when Governors went out of the state on horseback and we couldn't find they will so the Secretary of State had to fulfill their duties, but Jan Brewer, a Republican Secretary of State, the highest ranking GOP state official, kind of disagreed and they got snorkey with the Governor saying If you are not the law, why do you have to notify me, Governor? It was a fun play back and forth. We had the instance in late 1970s in California with Lieutenant Governor Mike Kurb, a conservative Republican and Jerry Brown, Governor of California, who was running for president and when he went out of state, he would try to appoint a judge or veto bills. It's interesting what can happen when the Governor goes out of town.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
As an amateur legal scholar myself, I would say the constitution of Arizona did not foresee the advent of the black berry, and that's where Napolitano's people are coming in. It is very clear.

>> Howard Fischer:
That's the problem, look, the constitution does not say the Governor is not the Governor when she's out of communication range or out of range of satellite phone or just can't be reached on horseback at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It says when you are out of State. Now, to a certain extent, this is one of those media hype stories. It was a good story, but I'm not criticizing, but the fact is, the Governors and secretaries of state have been going through this for years. And there has always been for lack of a better term a gentleman's agreement that when the Governor goes out of state the Secretary of State does not go crazy. We've had Democratic secretaries of state with Republican Governors and vice versa. There is no reason to believe Jan was going to start --

>> Michael Grant:
It has been tense between the two of them.

>>Howard Fischer:
And it has, but they met this afternoon, they sat down, they reassured each other. I mean, Jan made her point this afternoon that said, you know, I am the Governor but don't worry, I'm not planning on doing anything crazy.

>>Robbie Sherwood:
I wish they hadn't done that. It would have been better in a fun case for Jan Brewer to show up on Monday with her lunch pale and go up to 9th floor and say Cunningham, get me some coffee and move some stuff around.

>> Michael Grant:
Here's my theory, Chip, I think Monday morning, we'll have a call for a special session and that pesky tuition tax credit thing.

>> Chip Scutari:
We were spit balling ideas today. Howie had the idea of what Jan Brewer should do is pass some benign proclamation like declaring July 18th Sandra Day O'Connor day, how can you be offended by that? The Governor has to let it stand or rescind it whip would make her look bad. Something fun like that.

>>Howard Fischer:
If she lets it stand she sets a precedent and that's the whole issue. The other thing is, in terms of the special session, because I was talking to bill Brotherton last night, let's assume Jan does this, I get up on the floor of the senate, I can hold that microphone for a lot of hours until the Governor gets back and I quite frankly asked Bill, I said how good is your bladder and he said that's what they make depends for.

>> Michael Grant:
Let's go back to security issues, Robbie. They are investigating that fence breach and security breach at Sky Harbor airport last week, we had another episode last night.

>>Robbie Sherwood:
The City of Phoenix appointed a taskforce to make sure that everything is okay there. It's one of those oddly worded statements again where they said, we believe our security is adequate and then they stop to say "more than adequate in fact," however we are going to shore up all of the place where the guy in the pickup truck busted through and made us look bad by having police follow him around.

>> Michael Grant:
if nothing else, It demonstrates that chain link fences on the perimeter of the airport are not a real good idea.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Perhaps. And another disconcerting and very scary thing happened very early this morning, that might come up in this same taskforce meeting, in which another criminal in a stolen vehicle led police onto the airport again, not on to the tarmac just the public area outside terminal four, but got into a very massive shootout in which three officers were shot, the guy finally killed himself and -- but a lot of bullets were exchanged in a very public area. Luckily it was 3:00 in the morning and nobody was there.

>> Howard Fischer:
There is not much you can do. Look, the airport runs two miles by one mile, and you know, how much are you really going to be able to do to make the whole area safe. Particularly if you want people to park on airport. Remember after 9/11, you couldn't park near the terminals? They can do that, then you have a bunch of empty parking garages.

>> Michael Grant:
The state is trying to find convicted child molesters who don't register?

>> Howard Fischer:
Who didn't register initially or who may have moved since they registered. Arizona law for years has required anybody convicted of certain specific crimes, child molesters, rape, sexual offenders to register. In fact, that got goosed up in 96'with Megans law And then there is the community notification law. Well it turns out that when Roger Van Der pool came in as the head of DPS, he said what do you mean we have 950-some people we can't find?

>> Michael Grant:
A sizable number.

>> Howard Fischer:
And he looked around and saw that they have a four person squad to keep track of 14,000 sex offenders and he said this isn't going to last. What he's going to do is add some more people there which will help, but he's more significantly, he's told his S.W.A.T. team and fugitive squad, one day a week, you are out looking for these people. Now, you are never going to find all of them. Some of them may have left the state. Some of them stay below the radar, but to the extent you have more people looking for them, and to the extent you make out warrants that any time a cop stops them, you can arrest them. It can make a difference

>> Chip Scutari
Who is to blame? It's always the previous administration.

>> Howard Fischer:
Even when the law was changed back in '96, there were already people who were missing. So some these have been on the books for a long time. I think it's the nature of the beast is you've got people who are convicted of crimes, guess what, they didn't follow the law and register.

>> Michael Grant:
Next Tuesday, Governor Janet Napolitano will convene her summit on illegal immigration. This week, some details of her plan were revealed. Chip, we get to The Summit in a couple of minutes, but what's on the drawing board from that standpoint?

>> Chip Scutari:
Basically Governor Napolitano is realizing that this issue of illegal immigration which was taboo three or four years ago which politicians didn't want to touch is now probably going to be a defining issue in her reelection campaign next year. What she did, she threw out a three-pronged proposal. One is to track down fake IDs that illegal immigrants might use or coyotes might used to give to illegal immigrants. Another one was to team DPS officers with border patrol agents, which has never been done in the country, according to Governor Napolitano, and they would be focused on these catch and release cases where illegals are held at a police department, because they don't have the resources and ICE can't get to the police department, and that's another angle. The third one is putting high-tech cameras in southern Arizona along I-19 to catch stolen vehicles who may or may not be dealing with human or drug trafficking. Those are three areas she's going to tackle.

>> Michael Grant:
So the logical follow-up is because she vetoed a couple of bills in this area, I talked to her about this area, the consular ID bill, and the local option to allow police to enforce immigration law, so the logical follow-up is, is she going to successfully sort of navigate the political mine field on these issues having vetoed several others?

>> Chip Scutari:
Well, Republicans, of course, are saying she is a Johnnie come lately, but what she says to rationalize why she vetoed the local law enforcement bill was it was an unfunded mandate on local police forces that all of the police agencies asked her to veto it and with her plan, she is taking DPS officers and border patrol agents to do the job so local police can do their job, the taxpayers are paying them to do. You know, crime, criminal enforcement matters, so to kind of expedite these catch and release cases, she says that's a distinct difference from Senate Bill 1306.

>>Howard Fischer:
It's also a pile of -- the fact is there is no unfunded mandate. The bill was permissive. If the city council wanted to, a city, a sheriff's department may enforce federal immigration law, may transport folks, and I think she's looking for cover. You know, go back to your original question, will she successfully navigate it? She is the Governor. She can keep this thing on the burner. Look what I'm doing, she can have an agenda where she can show she's been firmly on both sides of this issue.

>>Robbie Sherwood:
I don't dispute Howie's characterization on where the Governor stands on this issue, but, to maybe articulate why the police forces didn't want even the permissive language was, I think, because it created as the Governor told you last night, an expectation, then, to go --

>> Michael Grant:
They thought they were going to get local heat to follow through on the option that they had.

>>Robbie Shrrwood:
So -- and also it may create in somebody who might take the permissive language and with no training and go out and botch something the way they did in the Chandler roundup where you just start willy-nilly targeting Hispanic people who may or may not be U.S. born citizens and you have civil rights issues. You want to do it -- I think she's trying to do it in a more concentrated way, training these guys with border patrol agents and teaching them how to do it.

>> Howard Fischer:
Understood. The other piece was police departments didn't want it because they don't want the immigrant community to see the police as an extension of immigration authorities, because then you don't report crimes or cooperate with police. So I mean, I understand all of that, but overriding all of this is Chip's point. This is a great political millstone. It's an albatross for her. She needs to successfully navigate this or she's a one-time Governor. This was not exactly a landslide last time against a candidate, a Republican candidate who was outspent.

>> Michael Grant:
Now, Chip, what's she hoping to accomplish? She has this summit of local law enforcement officials next Tuesday, July 12th. She won't be there. She's in Russia. Jan Brewer will be Governor, but that -- back to --

>>Chip Scutari:
think of the possibilities.

>> Michael Grant:
What's supposed to happen in Flagstaff?

>> Chip Scutari:
She wants these various law enforcement agencies, mostly state and local law enforcement agencies. There is U.S. Border Patrol there. U.S. Attorney's office will be there, to come up with recommendations over the next two or three months, how state and local law enforcement agencies can help crack down on illegal immigration, various facets of it. So that's her plan. Now, The Summit is being criticized heavily, because one, some Republicans, Senate President Ken Bennett says what she orders, and then she doesn't go, two, it's going be close to the public and the press, there will be a press conference afterwards. What do they have to hide? And three, what is a 2-1/2 hour segment going to really accomplish? So some Republicans and others are saying this reeks of political oppurtunism and we'll see what happens because I think Howie and I will trek up there for nice weather and see what happens.

>> Howard Fischer
:We're a big fan of political opportunism.

>> Michael Grant:
Will you try to crash the gates?

>> Howard Fischer:
We will both be there at 10:00 when they explain it's closed and we'll say what do you have to hide and I'll stick a microphone in someone's face and Chip and I will be unceremoniously butte booted out by a bunch of people who carry guns.

>>Chip Scutari:
It does raise the question if some Republican leaders go up to complain, hey, we're the ones who have to be implementing these laws that you come up with or these ideas you come up with, why shouldn't we be allowed into this summit. It looks partisan.

>>Howard Fischer:
Actually, I talked to Ken Bennett this afternoon, and I said are going up and I said were you invited and he said no, we've been assured by DPS if he shows up he will be included.

>> Michael Grant:
He gets to attend?

>> Howard Fischer:
Yes.

>> Michael Grant:
Speaking of law enforcement issues, Los Abogados coming out with their analysis of whether or not Andrew Thomas should have charged -- was it --

>> Howard Fischer:
Sergeant Haab. You may remember Sergeant Haab was returning from San Diego and stopped at a rest stop on I-8. The original story was that he saw six men coming toward him so he took his weapon and he ordered them to lay on the ground and was defending himself, along with another guy, he also forced on the ground. He was arrested, charged with 7 counts of aggravated assault. The case went to the county attorney, and low and behold, the story changed a little bit. Turns out that in this group of 7 was a coyote, somebody smuggling these people, Andy Thomas said under the laws of Arizona, people can make citizens arrests for felonies committed in their presence, and because there was a felon in the bunch, and the other six were conspiring with that felon to smuggle themselves, under the facts of the case, he wasn't going to prosecute. Now, look, the fact is, a lot of it was political. There is there was no way he was going to get a conviction of an Anglo guy holding seven illegals.

>> Michael Grant:
The seven of them also were telling anywhere from four to six different stories.

>>Howard Fischer:
So what happened the Los Abogados Hispanic bar association in connection with the Mexican-American legal defense fund came up with a conclusion that in fact under the law and facts of the case, you should have prosecuted. Now, their concern is more than just this narrow case. Their concern is the precedent. Their fear is any time some gringo comes across people of color, he's going to say, well, there's got to be a coyote in here somewhere, and as long as a reasonably believe that, look at the president set here and they don't want that to be the issue.

>> Michael Grant:
So the advocacy group and Andrew Thomas will have dueling press conferences?

>> Howard Fischer:
Yes, Los Abogados is going to trot out no doubt by means of paper to explain the legal reasoning and then Andrew Thomas will follow a half an hour later to explain their disarrey.

>> Michael Grant:
In the meantime, what's going on between the attorney general and the Secretary of State? This program, all roads lead to Jan Brewer, to implement the voter ID provisions of proposition 200?

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Well, Lieutenant Governor, I mean, Secretary of State brewer got together with Terry Goddard and key lawmakers who were behind proposition 200, Russell Pearce and some surprise visits from the house and senate leadership as well to hash out remaining pieces of Prop 200 that hasn't been implemented. That is the requirement that a voter present identification in order to vote at the ballot box. The Governor had vetoed a bill that would require, you know, no ID, no vote type of bill, because she felt that if you were a registered voter and somehow forgot or lost your ID or had it stolen somehow that you should get a provisional ballot. That was rejected. Well, Goddard, to the Governor's surprise, signed off on a bill or on a plan with the Secretary of State, still requires the Governor to sign off on it, but it's two-thirds of the way there now, that would mean that, you know, if you have no ID whatsoever, you don't vote. However --

>> Michael Grant:
You can't pull a provisional ballot.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
They have widened the scope to make sure that as many people vote as possible, including things like cell phone bills and other types of utility bills, tribal identifications, that sort of thing, but there still is a hypothetical possibility that someone could show up, not have any acceptable forms of ID, still be registered to vote and turned away.

>>Howard Fischer:
That's the lawsuit to come that we will be sitting around whether it's after the '06 election, because somebody will argue, an Rodriguez has already argued that under state law and federal law, if your name is on the roll, and you show up and you don't have ID, you are entitled to vote a provisional ballot. And the idea to a provisional ballot You sign the envelope on the outside, and they take it back to county election headquarters and compare the signatures. The issue is that prior to Prop 200 passing, it wasn't so clear what kind of ID you needed to register to vote in the first place, so you could have people on the roll who has may not have been here legally.

>> Michael Grant:
But the attorney general is saying that this is okay? If you show up with no ID, you don't get a provisional ballot?

>>Howard Fischer:
It is. I think part of what happened is, you know, Terry, to his credit, has -- while he never was a supporter of Prop 200, has looked at the law and tried to parse it as best as possible to say, okay, here's the laws on provisional ballots. You get a provisional ballot if you are challenged, you get a provisional ballot if you have ID and you don't show up on the rolls. He says I can't find anything there that contradicts Prop 200, that says if you are on the rolls but show up with nothing, or no acceptable ID, which as Robbie points out, as broad as possible, you get to cast a ballot.

>> Chip Scutari:
This could be a major nightmare next year.

>>Robbie Sherwood:
I don't think they can get a plan even if the Governor signs it precleared in time for local elections but there are local and city elections beginning in November and again March or May that they want a place for simply as a test case to work out any wrinkles or bugs to see where the weasels are in the wood pile before the 2006 election which is a big one statewide and all of that.

>> Michael Grant:
We're going to have a special census in Maricopa County?

>> Howard Fischer:
Well, and the bottom line is money. Money, money, money. Arizona divides up about a billion dollars a year of fixed pots. There is about $300 million in sales tax sharing that the state collects. $300 some million in income taxes and highway user funds, gasoline taxes, registrations. But the percentage that each city gets is based on their population. Now, obviously virtually every city has increased. You can use DES estimates to find out where you are, but Maricopa County cities believe that a special census will give them higher numbers, more money, and the heck with anybody else.

>> Michael Grant:
It will give them a more accurate count. They are interested in accuracy.

>>Howard Fischer:
Accuracy.

>> Michael Grant:
Panelists, we're out of time. Thank you much. If you would like to see a transcript of tonight's program visit the web site at www.azpbs.org. When you get there click on the word "Horizon." It's going to lead to you transcripts, links and information on upcoming shows.

>> Larry Lemmons:
More people around the world are developing diabetes, but the Native American community has programs in place to treat and prevent the disease. The housing boom is keeping the valley economy on track, but is there a bubble? And the Wrigley mansion reflects a time in the valley when the desert was a retreat for the rich and famous. Monday night at 7:00 on Monday night's "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
Tuesday, we'll talk about the recently-ended Supreme Court session, the retirement of justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Wednesday we will tell you about an immigration summit called by the Governor. Thank you very much for joining us on this Friday edition of "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Have a great weekend. Good night.

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