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January 28, 2010

Host: Ted Simons

Keeping the Chicago Cubs in Mesa

  |   Video
  • Mesa Mayor Scott Smith discusses efforts to keep the Cubs’ spring training home in Mesa, AZ.
  • Scott Smith - Mayor of Mesa
Category: Culture

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Ted Simons: The Chicago cubs are giving mesa one year to secure funding to build a new spring training complex. If that happens, the club says it'll keep its spring training center in Arizona. The announcement came yesterday during a press conference at the state capitol.

Ted Simons: On behalf of the family and the Chicago cubs we're very excited to say that we have reached an understanding with the city of mesa that will give us a framework to go forward to work on keeping the cubs in Arizona and the cactus league. [Applause]

Ted Simons: And joining me now is Mesa mayor Scott Smith. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Scott Smith: Great to be here.

Ted Simons: The deal is one year exclusive talks.

Scott Smith: It's about like that. We have some milestones that we have to achieve and that will take about to the end of the year.

Ted Simons: As far as a deal is concerned, 25-year commitment.

Scott Smith: Minimum 25 years.

Ted Simons: Is there an opt-out clause.

Scott Smith: There is, and that's standard in the industry but the one thing that's different about this, under this proposal, the Chicago cubs will make a substantial investment not only in the stadium with the land but in the area around that. While the deal is for 25 years, if the cubs go through and make the millions of investments, we feel they're there for a long, long time.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the area around the complex. $84 million or so, this development called Wrigleyville west. Who pays for what?

Scott Smith: We have the stadium and the practice facilities and that will be paid through hopefully tourist -- a combination of tourist taxes and the city of mesa funds and also the private investment. Then outside of the stadium, that's private investment. That will be led by the cubs but all private money. No government or public funds.

Ted Simons: That will include -- what? -- eateries and hotels?

Scott Smith: Hotels, eateries, things that the Chicago cubs, they're passionate fans and brand can come in and enjoy. During spring training and after. It's a concept that goes above anything you've seen.

Ted Simons: Let's start with the legislature. A tourism tax, something along the line of hotels and rental cars needed?

Scott Smith: I don't know exactly how it will play out, but it will be tourist directed. This is the same mechanism that's been used to build stadiums in Glendale, the university of Phoenix. All we're asking is to continue the same mechanism. Whether it's rental cars or hotels, that's decided by the legislative process.

Ted Simons: The city of place action there needs to be -- what? -- two things that need to pass or -- I know a charter is involved with something. But basically is a yes or no, anyway, correct?

Scott Smith: It is a yes or no, and we're looking at the part of the facilities that the mesa will build is the dual use. The practice fields used by the cubs during spring training and off times, used by the public for little league. And we anticipate paying for those with bonds like any other park. And any time we pay over a million and a half dollars, we have to take it to the voters.

Ted Simons: One question, one vote. But got to get that vote. Are you confident? Are you concerned?

Scott Smith: Well, I'm always concerned. But I'm also confident. I think that the citizens of mesa understand this is not one of your pie in the sky type of proposals. This is not an economic development, but an economic retention with some icing on it. Because the cubs bring in literally tens of millions. The most recent study over $100 million the cubs bring in to the economy from out of state. Tens of thousands from out of state. We know how long they stay and what they spend. If the cubs aren't here, they don't come here. They go to Florida and that money is pulled out of our economy every year for the next 20-25 years. But the Wrigleyville west, which is an additional development that will bring people in from out of state, we hope to increase the economic impact that the cubs have on Arizona.

Ted Simons: And yet everyone is going to look back to the cardinal football stadium vote and say mesa doesn't want it bad enough. How do you convince your constituents?

Scott Smith: Like we told them with the gay lord, and the bond election that passed 2-1, it's a good investment in the community. Mesa voters, under estimated. They're savvy. When they see something they believe is a good investment, they support it. When they see something they don't think is a good investment, they won't. I think the citizens of mesa will look at this for what it is. A good investment, even in these bad economic times, it's a time we need to keep investing.

Ted Simons: Let's go back to the legislature. How concerned are you there that the votes are there?

Scott Smith: Once again, I'm always concerned but I'm confident. Because the -- we have good support. The bill is being sponsored and run by house majority John McComish and we have the support of the speaker of the house. We have senators behind it. Everyone understands the importance of the cubs. You know, I know there will be a lot of debate and discussion to how we get there. But on both sides of the aisle, we have strong democratic groups and Republican support. We'll find a solution that will get us there.

Ted Simons: We haven't mentioned where this could be located. A couple of sites?

Scott Smith: A couple of sites. One in the northeast part of the city. Right off the 202 which affords participants and fans -- If you're sitting in the stadium, you have an unobstructed view of the superstition mountains. Either place will provide an experience that fans aren't getting anywhere else.

Ted Simons: How close is mesa to losing the cubs? How serious is the offer in Florida?

Scott Smith: Very serious. We know the proposal given by the Florida group was a substantial proposal. We know that the cubs considered it very, very strongly. There were times when I honestly believed they might be going to Florida and this was not a case of here is Florida's bid. Top it. That was never done to us.we knew that Florida was serious. They had the money and they had political support and the governor threw $15 million on the table and it was serious. The press conference that the Florida group had after the cubs announced mesa, they were confident and arrogant to the point that, listen, the cubs will be back. We don't think Arizona is going to perform. We don't think they understand what they have. They're going to be back. They're confident that the cubs will move to Florida.

Ted Simons: If they keep that kind of language up, they could be your best supporters.

Scott Smith: I think people need to understand this was simply opportunities and Florida was very, very aggressive because they recognize the economic impact.

Ted Simons: What do we look for next in all of this?

Scott Smith: Right now, we passed the first hurdle. The cubs chose mesa and the city has presented their package. The next thing is the legislature. We need them to take action and the bill will be introduced within the next week or so and hopefully within a few weeks, have a bill out of the legislature and work on a final agreement with the cubs that we can present to the mesa voters in November.

Ted Simons: Thank you.

Scott Smith: Thank you very much.

Mental Health Services

  |   Video
  • Arizona is under a court order to provide services for people with serious mental illnesses, as required by state law. But as part of her budget plan, Governor Jan Brewer wants to remove that law from the books and eliminate most non Title XIX (Medicaid) funding for 14,600 adults with serious mental illnesses. Attorneys Charles “Chick” Arnold and Anne Ronan discuss their concerns and possible repercussions of the Governor’s plan.
  • Charles “Chick” Arnold - Attorney
  • Anne Ronan - Attorney
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Governor Jan Brewer suggests change to the state's mental health system for people with serious mental illnesses. Those laws are at the heart of a decade's old lawsuit. More on that in a moment, but first, David Majure takes us to the state capitol where advocates were meeting earlier this week.

>> This yellow sheet summarizes the proposed cuts.

David Majure: They showed up to learn more about the proposal to eliminate services for those with serious mental illnesses.

David Majure: They're protecting -- they organized the meeting of consumers who rely on services the state provides.

Mitchell Klein: They're scared as hell right now. And they don't know what to expect.

David Majure: Mitch Klein expects the worst. Especially if Arizona reverts to a crisis-based system of care for people with serious mental illnesses.

Mitchell Klein: There will be people who go to jail. Who go to the hospital and the emergency rooms. There will be people who won't be able to function anymore. There will be a significant number of people who do crash. And unfortunately, some of them will commit suicide.

David Majure: Klein says waiting for people to crash is unacceptable, especially since Arizona has laws on the books that requires the state to provide comprehensive community-based services for the seriously mentally ill.

David Majure: In 1981, a class action lawsuit was filed to compel the state to fund a community residential treatment system mandated by state law. Nearly 30 years later, services have improved but the case is not closed. Now the governor is proposing to scrap the laws that the case is based on. She says it may be a way to balance the budget.

Mitchell Klein: I don't think they're going to save a penny. I think they'll spend more than they're trying to save in the long run.

John Hokanson: The governor concedes this point. That it will be cost shifting on to the counties and cities and hospitals and the costs will not go away. This is a zero-sum game. The mentally ill need this treatment and if they don't get it from the community-based service, they'll end up in the emergency room or worse.

David Majure: Klein says he's proof it doesn't have to be that way.

Mitchell Klein: I was depressed and non-functional. I wasn't working or paying taxes.

David Majure: Severe clinical depression rocked his world and destroyed his family.

Mitchell Klein: In 1997 I was told I would never work again. Now I'm at CEO of a corporation that works with seriously mentally ill adults on a peer-to-peer basis.

David Majure: He says it's due to the medications and the services he gets in the community.

>> They're here to express their concern with budget cut backs, particularly those that effect AHCCCS and behavioral health.

David Majure: It's a message he wants the state lawmakers to hear. [Applause]

Ted Simons: Joining me are two attorneys who have spent much of their careers fighting for people with serious mental illnesses. And joining us, chick Arnold and
Anne Ronan. Thanks for joining me. And an overview. The difference between seriously mentally ill and those with general mental illness?

Anne Ronan: I would say the fundamental difference, a person found to be a person with serious mental illness needs extensive support and treatment in order to live successfully in the community. A person with what they call general mental health needs needs treatment and support, but they can function in the community with treatment. Persons with serious mental illness have difficulty working and having relationships in the community.

Ted Simons: What numbers?

Anne Ronan: I believe statewide currently enrolled in the public system are somewhere around 35,000 to 40,000 persons with serious mental illness.

Ted Simons: And the governor wants to amend the law, wipe it out that, provides community services to the seriously mentally ill, correct?

Chick Arnold: That's contained in the current budget proposal. That's correct.

Ted Simons: And amending the law kind of removes the court order and that pretty much does the trick, correct?

Chick Arnold: The trick is established by the law. It's the statute that gives rights as entitlements to persons designated as persons with serious mental illness. What the court case did was interpret that statute in an way to recognize the mandatory duty created by that statute. In the statute is changed that would have an impact on the legal case that flowed from that statute.

Ted Simons: If the statute is changed, is there legal recourse?

Chick Arnold: Well, it's unclear, exactly what the effect of a proposed change would be. There's lots of options being discussed if terms of the nature of the change and there are other statutes involved that create the kind of obligation that the statute seeks to recognize. Indeed, it happened in 1979 at a time that recognized our community's commitment to persons with serious mental illness as reflected and embodied in that statute.

Ted Simons: If the governor's plans go through, the legal recourse could be there but not quite sure?

Anne Ronan: I think like chick said, there are a number of ramifications of the governor's proposal that are unclear and we don't know what the language is and don't know what the full impact is. But what we understand is that the intention is to eliminate the obligation on the part of the state to provide services to people with serious mental illness in the community. That's the intention behind the budget proposal.

Ted Simons: And the seriously mentally ill would then be treated the same as those with general mental illnesses?

Anne Ronan: No, no, there's a distinction based on whether or not you're Medicaid eligible to some degree. Some of the services that persons with serious mental illness who are Medicaid eligible would continue. For instance, the mandate is for community-based services. So housing, and employment support and other supports that help people with serious mental illness live in the community. They would be gone as a result of this proposal, regardless of whether you were Medicaid eligible or not.

Ted Simons: Interesting, so the Medicaid eligible part is a factor but not the full factor.

Anne Ronan: Right, that's correct.

Ted Simons: The -- so the seriously mentally ill -- I want to get it right now -- by way of the governor's plan, the services would basically, possibly, not necessarily, be guaranteed only by AHCCCS eligibility. That would be the new dividing line of sorts?

Chick Arnold: That is possibly the result of the current proposal. It's critical to recognize some premises inherent. Treatment works. People in our community are better off for having received case management services that helps with people who might otherwise become isolated. Crisis services that might help address a potential crisis before it manifests itself. Vocational rehabilitation. Treatment that's been provided and support consistent with the statutory requirement works.

Ted Simons: What happens to these folks then if this goes through and these folks -- Medicaid eligible or not, especially the ones who aren't eligible. What happens?
Chick Arnold: Our community is better off with having the treatment in place. The emergency rooms are no longer the dropoff points for persons in mental health crisis. Institutional care is reduced. Those things would be expected. I expect our jail population would -- our jail population of persons were serious mental illness would rise and we'd find use of emergency rooms as crisis intervention spots. It's not a good solution for our community.

Anne Ronan: And the interesting thing, the lawsuit was actually filed back in the late '70s, early '80s, because people did not have the support in the community and they were rotating through crisis and in-patient. And this population, they're estimated close to 17,000, we would be right back where we were prior to the lawsuit for those folks.

Ted Simons: According to the governor's plan, there could still be some money for crisis services, medication, maybe some housing. Is that correct?

Anne Ronan: That is correct. It's not clear how a person would get the medication because there would be -- according to the way we understand the plan, there would be no doctors or nurse practitioners to prescribe or monitor the medication. With respect to the housing, it's not clear that people who are not Medicaid eligible would get the housing support because these dollars support housing for people who are Medicaid eligible as well. And particularly, for anybody new who comes into the system, there's no new housing, certainly.

Ted Simons: It sounds you're talking about forced evictions of folks with serious mental illnesses.

Chick Arnold: That could be the case.

Ted Simons: Wind up in jails and hospitals and on the street?

Anne Ronan: Right.

Chick Arnold: It's critical to remember the genesis of the statutory requirements. In 1979, recognized the commitment of our community. We cared about persons who were under-served and left to wander the streets. To reverse that, I would suggest would represent a dramatic shift in the lives of many in our community.

Ted Simons: Back to the finances, how do matching funds, federal matching funds factor into in this or do they?

Anne Ronan: They do not.

Ted Simons: I know the government -- the governor, I should say, seems to think that the state can take care of who it can manage to take care of, and everybody else, there are crisis services out there that should be able to handle the load. Is that just wrong?

Anne Ronan: Absolutely, and I'm not sure the governor thinks that. I don't think she believes that crisis services alone can actually provide services and support to this population. You know, they are -- at the point you need crisis services, you know, a lot of the effort and possibilities for that person are gone. The real commitment is the ongoing day-to-day support from case management and employment support and housing that keep people out of crisis that allows people to recover and live with their mental illness.

Ted Simons: Again, back to where these people go and what happens to these folks, more of them in jails, more in hospitals, where does that money come from? And how does that cost factor into what we're discussing now?

Chick Arnold: That's a terrific issue and an appropriate way to look at that would be globally and recognize the cost of not providing preventive services. The support that Anne is discussing is what was envisioned by the statute. The kinds of non-medical based support that help people succeed. That are in need of the basic life skills training and assistance.

Anne Ronan: And I think if you're talking about where does the money come from, I think to a significant degree, the cost will go back to the counties for the incarceration of people with serious mental illness. And there will be more people -- the police will have to respond to more crisis for which they have nowhere to turn and they'll be back in that neighborhood again and again, because even if they were able to get them into crisis, that person will not have the support. The private hospitals will see these people with no reimbursement. There will not be an in-patient benefit to transfer those clients to another -- a funded hospital.

Ted Simons: So basically talking about turning back the clock to pre-1980?

Anne Ronan: That's what it looks like, exactly.

Ted Simons: Is the state ready for that?

Anne Ronan: I would hope not. I don't think the communities are ready for that. We're talking about 17,000 people, potentially, who many of whom have high needs and who living in our communities with supports and they will be without those supports.

Ted Simons: But the governor and lawmakers, many say there simply is not the money and structural changes need to be made to the budget and this is one way. And I think we're familiar with the governor and her ideas regarding mental health services. This is something close to her. She said on this program, it was difficult for her to do. But there simply isn't the money.

Chick Arnold: It's critical, Ted, we not allow the financial crisis. To stifle our creativity, our imagination, how we can continue to honor the moral and statutory commitment we've made to persons with serious illness. We can't hide behind the crisis. In order to take away rights, that have been embodied in the statute.

Anne Ronan: The truth of the matter is wherever this is looked at, the cost of not providing the community-based services far exceeds the cost of providing it. I was at a housing conference in which they gave the number, and for folks who went through crisis after crisis after crisis over a year's time, they spent close to $100,000 in emergency medical and hospitalization and crisis, and to provide them with housing and case management in the community was like $25,000 a year. So it's -- it's not a budget solution.

Ted Simons: All right, well, we'll stop it right there. Great discussion. Thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizon."

Chick Arnold & Anne Ronan: Thank you.