Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 10, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Electric Cars

  |   Video
  • Jonathan Read, the President and CEO of Scottsdale-based Ecotality, talks about his company’s involvement in the largest roll-out of electric vehicle infrastructure in U.S. history.
Guests:
  • Jonathan Read - President and CEO, Ecotality


View Transcript
Ted Simons: PHOENIX COMPANY IS LEADING THE CHARGE TO PUT MORE ELECTRIC VEHICLES ON OUR NATION'S ROADS. LAST YEAR, E-TEC WAS AWARDED A NEARLY $100 MILLION FEDERAL GRANT TO CONDUCT WHAT IS BEING CALLED THE LARGEST ROLL-OUT OF ELECTRIC CARS AND CHARGING STATIONS IN U.S. HISTORY. JOINING ME WITH THE LATEST ON THAT EFFORT IS JONATHAN READ, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF SCOTTSDALE-BASED ECO-TALITY, THE PARENT COMPANY OF E-TEC GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

Jonathan Read: GREAT TO BE HERE, TED.

Ted Simons: I KNOW HE-TEC WAS THERE FOR THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS. SUBSIDIARY, SUBSIDIARY. THAT'S QUITE THE HONOR.

Jonathan Read: IT WAS GREAT. IT REFLECTED THAT DON CARTER AND HIS TEAM WERE WORKING ON THIS FOR THE LAST 18 YEARS AND THE PRESIDENT AND HIS ADMINISTRATION COMMITTED TO ROLLING OUT GREEN JOBS.

Ted Simons: THE PRESIDENT ALSO MENTIONED THE STIMULUS BILL IS HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES, GREEN BUSINESS LIKE ECO-TALITY, LIKE E-TEC.

Jonathan Reed: ABSOLUTELY. STIMULUS PROGRAM IS A WONDERFUL PROGRAM BECAUSE IT DOES BUILD JOBS, LONG-TERM JOBS IN AN INDUSTRY WE THINK IS HERE TO STAY. WE'VE HIRED LOTS OF FOLKS. WE HAVEN'T RECEIVED OUR SINGLE FIRST CHECK YET FROM THE GOVERNMENT BUT WE'VE HIRED WELL OVER 20 FOLKS IMMEDIATELY IN THE AREA AND LOOK TO HAVE OVER 750 NEW JOBS DIRECTLY AFFECTED BY US OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS.

Ted Simons: IT'S A STIMULUS CHECK BUT IT'S ALSO A STIMULUS KICK IN THE REAR END A LITTLE BIT, TOO, RIGHT? YOU GUYS NEED TO GET INTO ACTION?

Jonathan Read: ABSOLUTELY. WE NEED TO COMPLETE THE ROLL OUT OF THIS BY THE MIDDLE OF THIS YEAR TO THE MIDDLE OF NEXT YEAR. THAT'S A TIGHT SCHEDULE TO ROLL OUT 15,000 CHARGERS AND IN FIVE STATES. PLUS, ANOTHER THING PEOPLE DON'T RECOGNIZE IS THAT THE STIMULUS MONEY IS MATCHING FUNDS. WHILE WE GET $100 MILLION FROM THE GOVERNMENT, WE ALSO HAD TO RAISE $100 MILLION TO MATCH THE STIMULUS FUNDING IT STIMULATED US QUITE A BIT.

Ted Simons: SOUNDS LIKE IT LET'S TALK ABOUT THE PROJECT. WHAT EXACTLY IS IT? WHY ARIZONA'S INVOLVED. HOW YOU GOT INVOLVED.

Jonathan Read: E-TEC IS A LEADER IN THE ELECTRIC ROLLOUTS. WE ACQUIRED E-TEC AND HELPED PROPEL IT TO A POINT WHERE IT COULD BE A NATIONAL PLAYER IN TERMS OF PROVIDING ELECTRIC VEHICLE INFRASTRUCTURE. ARIZONA IS A GREAT STATE THAT'S USED TO TESTING VEHICLES, MOST EVERY CAR COMPANY HAS HAD A TEST TRACK HERE. IT'S A NATURAL THING TO STIMULATE THE ELECTRIC VEHICLES.

Ted Simons: BASICALLY THE IDEA IS THAT WE'LL SEE INFRASTRUCTURE, CHARGING STATIONS ALL OVER THE PLACE AND THE ELECTRIC CARS ALL OVER THE PLACE. THESE NISSAN LEAF CARS, CORRECT?

Jonathan Read: INITIALLY, THEY'LL BE NISSAN LEAF CARS. WE'LL BUILD OUT THE PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE WILL ALLOW YOU, THE BUYER, TO BE ABLE TO CHARGE IT WHEREVER YOU GO. IN FRONT OF A STARBUCKS, SAFEWAY, MOVIE THEATER AT A MALL, PLACES WHERE YOU NORMALLY GO TO PLAY AND SHOP IT REALLY IS A PROGRAM THAT'S GOING TO MAKE THE ELECTRIC VEHICLE AND THE CHARGE STATION AN EASY PART OF YOUR LIFE.

Ted Simons: AND THE IDEA AS WELL, I'M JUDGING FROM WHAT WE TALKED TO DON CARTER ABOUT THIS, YOU CAN HAVE THIS AT YOUR HOUSE AS WELL?

Jonathan Read: BSOLUTELY. EVERY CAR WILL HAVE A CHARGER BUILT INTO THEIR HOME SO THEY CAN CHARGE IN TWO TO THREE HOURS AT HOME. SOME OF OUR CHARGE STATIONS COULD CHARGE A CAR IN UP TO 10 TO 15 MINUTES. THAT'S REALLY GOING TO CHANGE THE DYNAMIC OF HOW PEOPLE PERCEIVE ELECTRIC VEHICLES.

Ted Simons: YOU CAN ALMOST SEE THE COFFEE SHOPS WITH CHARGING STATIONS OUTSIDE. YOU GO INSIDE, GET YOUR LATTE OR WHATEVER YOU'RE GOING TO GET, COME OUT AND GO TO WHERE YOU NEED TO GO.

Jonathan Read: WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU COULD GET A LATTE IN 15 MINUTES AT STARBUCKS?

Ted Simons: SOME IF SOMEONE IS WATCHING RIGHT NOW SAYING I WOULDN'T MIND A CHARGER IN GARAGE OR DRIVEWAY, I WOULDN'T MIND GETTING A NISSAN LEAF, HOW DO THEY GET INVOLVED?

Jonathan Read: EVPROGRAM.COM IS THE WEB SITE TO FIND OUT MORE. YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR THE PROGRAM. NISSAN AND OURSELVES WILL CONTACT YOU AND PROVIDE YOU WITH THE INFORMATION ON THE VEHICLE. IF YOUR HOME COULD FIT IT AND YOU'RE SORT OF SUITABLE IN TERMS OF YOUR ELECTRIC LOAD, WE'D INVITE YOU TO BE PART OF THE PROGRAM.

Ted Simons: THAT'S EVPROJECT.COM.

Jonathan Read: CORRECT.

Ted Simons: OK. WHEN YOU'RE PART OF THE PROGRAM THOUGH, YOU HAVE TO COOPERATE IN TERMS OF GIVING INFORMATION AND LETTING PEOPLE KNOW YOUR HABITS, WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T, CORRECT?

Jonathan Read: CORRECT, BUT REALLY THAT'S ALL DONE BY JUST MONITORING YOUR CHARGING HABITS. THAT'S ALL DONE REMOTELY. WE KNOW WHERE YOU CHARGE, WHEN YOU CHARGE AND WHAT -- HOW YOU'RE TREATING THE BATTERY OF YOUR CAR SO THE INVOLVEMENT -- YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE PROGRAM ISN'T MUCH GREATER THAN JUST DEALING WITH YOUR CAR AS YOU WOULD ON A REGULAR BASIS.

Ted Simons: KIND OF TIME FRAME ARE WE LOOKING AT HERE? FIRST FOR THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE NISSAN LEAF CARS?

Jonathan Read: WE ROLLING OUT INFRASTRUCTURE LATER THIS YEAR IN THE SUMMER. FIRST CARS WILL BE ON THE ROAD IN THE FOURTH QUARTER OF THIS YEAR. WE'LL HAVE ALL THE INFRASTRUCTURE UP BY THE MIDDLE OF NEXT AREA. WE EXPECT TO HAVE 5,000 VEHICLES JUST IN OUR PROGRAM IN FIVE CITIES OUT BY THE MIDDLE OF NEXT YEAR.

Ted Simons: WE'RE TALKING AGAIN MOSTLY ABOUT E-TEC HERE AND THIS WHOLE EV PROJECT BUT ECO-TALITY IS INVOLVED WITH OTHER PROJECTS. TALK ABOUT THE CHALLENGE OF GROWING REVENUE. YOU RUN A BUSINESS. THE IDEA IS TO MAKE MONEY HERE. TALK ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF DOING THAT WITHIN A GREEN TECHNOLOGY ENVIRONMENT.

Jonathan Read: I'M PASSIONATE ABOUT BEING GREEN. I'M ALSO PASSIONATE ABOUT BEING PROFITABLE, BECAUSE GREEN IS A WONDERFUL CONCEPT IF YOU CAN -- IF YOU CONTINUALLY HAVE THE GOVERNMENT PAY FOR IT. THAT WON'T WORK. IT'S GOT TO BE PROFITABLE. WE'RE REALLY PUSHING TO SHOW THAT ELECTRIC VEHICLE INFRASTRUCTURE AND ELECTRIC VEHICLES WILL BE PROFITABLE AND POSITIVE FOR THE CONSUMER. IF SOLAR DOESN'T WORK AND IT'S NOT PROFITABLE FOR THE BUSINESSMAN, IT'S GOING TO FAIL. RELIANCE ON GOVERNMENT FUNDING IS A VERY SHORT-TERM STIMULUS. WE EXPECT THAT ALL OF THE PUBLIC CHARGE STATIONS THAT COME OUT HENCEFORTH ARE GOING TO BE PAID FOR BY THE PRIVATE SECTOR BECAUSE IT ENTICES CUSTOMERS INTO THEIR PLACES OF BUSINESS AND FOR A HOST OF OTHER REASONS.

Ted Simons: TIME LINE FACTOR HERE. AT ONE WHAT POINT SHOULD YOU START SEEING SOME OF THESE NEW REVENUE COMING IN? SOME OF THIS NEW REVENUE COMING IN AND SHOWING THE KIND OF PROFIT OR AT LEAST BREAKING EVEN THAT YOU'RE EXPECTING?

Jonathan Read: WE EXPECT TO BE PROFITABLE IN 2011. SO WE SEE A NUMBER OF OTHER COMPANIES IN OUR SPACE THAT ARE REALLY LOOKING TO HAVE HIGH REVENUES AND BE PROFITABLE WITHIN THE NEXT TWO YEARS. SO IT IS A SHORT FUSE BUT IT'S A HUGE INFRASTRUCTURE THAT'LL BE BUILT OUT NATIONWIDE.

Ted Simons: SO WE'RE LOOKING FOR INFRASTRUCTURE IN THE SUMMER AND LOOKING FOR THE NISSAN ELECTRIC CARS, THE LEAFS BY WINTER TIME, SOME MAY BE COMING OUT IN THE WINTER AND THEN WE'LL SEE HOW THE WHOLE THING WORKS.

Jonathan Read: WE'LL SEE REALLY EXCITING VEHICLES AND CHARGING AT PLACES YOU WOULDN'T NORMALLY THINK OF.

Ted Simons: VERY GOOD. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. WE APPRECIATE IT.

Jonathan Read: THANK YOU, TED.

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • An Arizona Capitol Times reporter provides a mid-week legislative update.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times


View Transcript
Ted Simons: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "HORIZON." I'M TED SIMONS. THE HOUSE GIVES THE GO-AHEAD FOR A BUDGET PLAN THAT INVOLVES LEASE-BACK SALES OF STATE PROPERTY AS WELL AS BORROWING FROM FUTURE LOTTERY PROCEEDS. JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THAT AND OTHER NEWS FROM THE STATE CAPITOL IS JIM SMALL, A REPORTER FOR ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

Jim Small: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Ted Simons: BEFORE WE GET TO THAT, APPARENTLY IT WAS QUITE THE DAY AT THE CAPITOL. TALK TO US ABOUT THIS.

Jim Small: YEAH, THERE WAS ONE FINAL BILL THAT WAS LEFT TO DO IN THE SPECIAL SESSION FOR THE BUDGET AND IT INVOLVED DELAYING ABOUT 450 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF PAYMENTS TO K-12 EDUCATION AND UNIVERSITIES BASICALLY PUTTING IT OFF INTO THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR. IT'S AN ACCOUNTING GIMMICK TO MAKE THE BOOKS BALANCE. WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING, THE BILL WENT THROUGH THE SENATE BY BIPARTISAN SUPPORT AND CAME TO THE HOUSE. THERE WERE CONCERNS ABOUT WHETHER -- MEMBERS IN THE HOUSE WERE CONCERNED ABOUT ADDING ON MORE DEBT TO ESSENTIALLY WHAT'S ALREADY BEEN BORROWED. THERE WAS AN AMENDMENT THAT WAS PUT ON TODAY BY A REPUBLICAN FROM TUCSON NAMED FRANK ANTENORI. IT BASICALLY SAID, OK, THIS DELAY OF PAYMENT WILL GO THROUGH BUT ONLY AFTER THE SENATE APPROVES AND THE GOVERNOR SIGNS THE HOUSE JOBS BILL WE VOTED ON ABOUT TWO AND A HALF OR THREE WEEKS AGO. SO THAT HAPPENED. IT WAS AN AMENDMENT. HOUSE SPEAKER KIRK ADAMS I KNOW WHEN THE AMENDMENT WAS FIRST BROUGHT TO HIS ATTENTION WASN'T TOO HAPPY IT FROM THE PEOPLE I'VE TALKED WITH. HE HAD SPOKEN WITH MR. ANTENORI TO SEE IF THERE WAS A WAY TO KEEP THAT AMENDMENT FROM GOING ON. IT SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGES THE LANDSCAPE OF THINGS NOW. SO NOW YOU'RE AT A POINT WHERE THIS BILL BEING IS SENT BACK TO THE SENATE. THE SENATE HAS NO INTENTIONS OF HEARING THAT JOBS PACKAGE UNTIL AFTER ALL BUDGET WORK IS DONE SO THAT BILL IS, I THINK FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES, KIND OF DEAD.

Ted Simons: SO WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF AN AMENDMENT THAT REALLY WASN'T GOING TO GO ANYWHERE?

Jim Small: THE PURPOSE OF THE AMENDMENT, I THINK IN THE EYES OF YOU KNOW PEOPLE LIKE MR. ANTENORI AND IN MOST PEOPLE IN THE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS WAS TO, A, SHOW HOW SERIOUS THEY ARE ABOUT THIS JOBS' BILL, HOW MUCH THEY WANT THE SENATE TO ACT ON IT AND PASS IT AND, B, I THINK IT PROVIDED A LEVEL OF COMFORT FOR A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHERE THEY SAID, YES, WE'RE BORROWING SOMETHING NOW BUT WE'RE NOT GOING TO IGNORE WHAT THEY SEE IS THE UNDERLYING CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM WHICH IS AN ECONOMY THAT'S TOO SUSCEPTIBLE TO SWINGS.

Ted Simons: SENATE PRESIDENT BURNS HAD TO WORK HARD TO GET BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR THE GOVERNOR'S PACKAGE, MOST NOTABLY THE SALES TAX INCREASE BUT THE ENTIRE PACKAGE THROUGH BY AMONG OTHER THINGS PROMISING DEMOCRATS NOT GOING TO BE LINKED TO FUTURE TAX CUTS OR OTHER IDEAS ESPECIALLY THE HOUSE OR JOB RECOVERY ACT. THAT'S WHEN DO TO THAT RELATIONSHIP?

Jim Small: ALL THE OTHER BILLS HAVE ALREADY BEEN SIGNED SO EVERYTHING -- ALL THE BORROWING AGAINST THE LOTTERY, SALES TAX, THE GENERAL CALLING OF THE SPECIAL ELECTION FOR THE SALES TAX, THAT'S ALL BEEN SIGNED. AS SOON AS THE SPECIAL SESSION INITIALLY ENDS, THOSE THINGS WILL BASICALLY GO INTO EFFECT OR THE TIMER WILL START FOR THOSE THINGS TO GO INTO EFFECT. IT KILLS THE EDUCATION MONEY BILL. AT THE END OF THE DAY, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S IMPACT IS GOING TO BE. REPUBLICAN LEADERS SAY THEY'LL ROLL OUT THE BUDGET FIX FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR'S DEFICIT AND THE UPCOMING DEFICIT IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, MAYBE EVEN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. I’M SURE, I THINK AT THIS POINT EVEN THE EDUCATION, THE DEFERRAL PAYMENT WILL JUST BE ROLLED OVER. IT'LL JUST BE INCLUDED INTO WHATEVER THE NEW PACKAGE IS. SO I THINK THIS BORROWING AND THEN THIS -- THIS IS STILL GOING TO HAPPEN BUT IT'S JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE WAY THAT WAS ORIGINALLY PLANNED.

Ted Simons: LAST POINT ON THIS, DEMOCRATS COULDN'T BE TOO PLEASED.

Jim Small: DEMOCRATS WEREN'T PLEASED. A NUMBER OF THEM HAD -- WERE RELUCTANT ABOUT THE IDEA OF PUSHING OFF EVEN MORE MONEY TO EDUCATION BUT THEY SAW IT AS A BETTER ALTERNATIVE INSTEAD OF SPENDING CUTS OR INSTEAD OF SOME OF THE OTHER PROPOSALS REPUBLICANS HAD PUT OUT THERE EARLIER. SO THEY WERE GOING TO SUPPORT IT. I THINK IT PROBABLY -- IF IT HAD GONE UP THE WAY THAT IT PASSED THE SENATE IT PROBABLY WOULD HAVE PASSED. IT MAY NOT HAVE GOTTEN SO MANY REPUBLICAN VOTES BUT WOULD HAVE PICKED UP DEMOCRAT VOTES. AS IT WAS TODAY IT PICKED NO DEMOCRAT VOTES.

Ted Simons: BEFORE ALL OF THIS, WE HAD THE HOUSE PRETTY MUCH OKING THE BALANCED BUDGET PLAN. VERY CLOSE VOTE HERE. SWITCHING BACK AND TWITCHING GOING ON BEFORE THE FINAL VOTE?

Jim Small: YEAH, YEAH, THERE WAS SOME, ESPECIALLY IN YESTERDAY'S VOTE WHICH INVOLVED BORROWING AGAINST THE STATE LOTTERY AND SALE LEASE BACK OF MORE STATE PROPERTY, ANOTHER $350 MILLION, THAT ONE, THERE WAS A LOT OF BACK-AND-FORTH. REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE WERE REALLY WARY OF THE DEBT LEVEL OF WHAT THE STATE'S ALREADY BORROWED AND WHAT IT ALREADY COMMITTED TO PAY BACK OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS AND THEY WERE REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE IDEA OF ADDING MORE ONTO THAT.

Ted Simons: AND THIS -- YOU'RE TALKING -- I THINK ONE OF THE REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS MENTIONED THE STATE WILL HAVE TO PAY $350 MILLION A YEAR JUST FOR PMI JUST IN TERMS OF THAT?

Jim Small: YES. THEY'VE BORROWED, I MEAN, SOMEWHERE IN THE ORDER OF ALREADY MORE THAN $1 BILLION, MAYBE UP TO $2 BILLION. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THAT YOU'RE PAYING THAT BACK OVER 20 YEARS. THOSE INTEREST PAYMENTS START TO STACK UP. YOU HAVE TO PAY A LOT.

Ted Simons: YES, OK. LET'S GET TO A REPLACEMENT NOW IN THE SENATE. JIM WARING'S SEAT REPLACED. WHO IS ED BUNCH?

Jim Small: HE'S A BUSINESSMAN FROM THE DISTRICT. HE'S BEEN ACTIVE IN THE DISTRICT POLITICS, REPUBLICAN POLITICS THERE. HE HAD KIND OF POSITIONED HIMSELF AS SORT OF THE ALTERNATIVE CANDIDATE. THE SUPER SUPERVISOR SAID, LOOK, THE ON TWO ARE REPRESENTATIVES THAT WILL BE VYING FOR THE SEAT IN THE FALL IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION. LET ME HAVE IT. GIVE IT TO ME I WON'T BE RUNNING AGAIN. THAT WAY WE CAN HAVE THE SEAT BE OPEN THE WAY IT WAS INTENDED. JIM WARING WAS AN OPEN TERM. IT WAS GOING TO BE AN OPEN SEAT. LET'S NOT DISRUPT THINGS AND PICK A WINNER.

Ted Simons: THERE ANYTHING WITH BRASWELL WHO HAD INITIALLY, I SHOULD SAY, EARLIER APPOINTED AND BUNCH? ANYTHING THAT THESE GUYS HAVE IN COMMON? WHAT ARE WE SEEING HERE?

Jim Small: YOU KNOW, I HAVEN'T HAD THE CHANCE TO TALK WITH EITHER OF THEM SINCE THEY WERE APPOINTED AND SWORN IN. BUT CERTAINLY I THINK THAT AMONG REPUBLICANS, THEY SEEM TO HAVE GOOD REPUTATIONS AS BEING SOLID REPUBLICANS, YOU KNOW, SUPPORTING THE CONSERVATIVE IDEALS THAT MOST PEOPLE WERE LOOKING FOR. SO I THINK WE'LL REALLY GET THE CHANCE TO SEE -- I MEAN, CERTAINLY BOTH OF THESE GENTLEMEN WILL GO THROUGH A BAPTISM BY FIRE HAVING TO DEAL WITH 3+ BILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS.

Ted Simons: LAST QUESTION REAL QUICKLY, DEADLINE FOR BILLS HAS PASSED. MORE THAN USUAL? FEWER THAN USUAL?

Jim Small: MORE THAN LAST YEAR BUT FEWER THAN WHAT WE'VE SEEN IN THE PAST FIVE OR SIX YEARS. A LOT OF THAT IS BECAUSE OF THE STAGGERING DEFICITS THAT LAWMAKERS ARE FACING. YOU KNOW, THE LEADERS HAD KIND OF TOLD PEOPLE, LOOK, WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE HEARING A LOT OF THESE BILLS. FEEL FREE TO DROP THEM. DON'T EXPECT ANYONE TO GET HURT. WE'RE SEEING TO A CERTAIN DEGREE A LIGHTER WORKLOAD FOR COMMITTEES AS THEY'RE NOT PUSHING THROUGH AS MANY BILLS AS THEY NORMALLY WOULD.

Ted Simons: GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE TO UPDATE US.

Jim Small: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Rabbi Plotkin & the Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center

  |   Video
  • One of the Valley’s premier leaders in the Jewish and interfaith communities, Rabbi Albert Plotkin, died February 5th at the age of 89. Phoenix Attorney Paul Eckstein, who was in Rabbi Plotkin’s first confirmation class at Temple Beth Israel in 1956, shares his memories about Rabbi Plotkin. Plus, we take a look at the new Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center that’s opening in the newly restored building that was the first Jewish synagogue in Phoenix.
Guests:
  • Paul Eckstein - Attorney


View Transcript
Ted Simons: RABBI ALBERT PLOTKIN, ONE OF THE VALLEY'S MOST BELOVED COMMUNITY LEADERS DIED LAST WEEK AT THE AGE OF 89. HE GRADUATED FROM NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY AT THE TOP OF HIS CLASS. HE CAME TO PHOENIX IN 1955 TO LEAD THE TEMPLE BETH ISRAEL CONGREGATION AND BECOME A PROMINENT LEADER IN THE VALLEY'S JEWISH COMMUNITY. HE'S REMEMBERED OF BRINGING PEOPLE CLOSER OF ALL STATES AND THAT TRADITION IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE, I SHOULD SAY AT A NEW JEWISH EDUCATION CENTER THAT BEARS THE RABBI'S NAME. THE CENTER IS RIGHT NEXT TO THE BURTON BAR LIBRARY IN PHOENIX. AND AS DAVID MAJURE REPORTS. IT'S GOT A RATHER SIGNIFICANT PAST.

PKG: NOT IN 1921 IS THE VALLEY'S FIRST JEWISH SYNAGOGUE THIS BUILDING FACED AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE IN 2001. THAT'S WHEN RABBI ALBERT PLOTKIN LEARNED IT MIGHT BE SOLD TO DEVELOPERS.
RABBI PLOTKIN TOOK THAT KNOWLEDGE TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY AND THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY. THEY SCRAMBLED TOGETHER ENOUGH MONEY TO PURCHASE THE FACILITY.
THE PRICE $540,000.
SO WHEN THIS BUILDING WAS FIRST CONSTRUCTED, IT'S INTERESTING THAT IT COST $14,000 TO BUILD THE FACILITY AND, OF COURSE, THE IRONY IS WE SPENT $2.5 MILLION TO RESTORE IT SO IF ONLY THINGS TODAY WOULD HAVE COST AS THEY DID IN 1921.
AFTER MAJOR FUND-RAISING, THE BUILDING WAS RESTORED TO A HISTORICALLY ACCURATE VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL.
ORIGINAL FLOOR. THE WINDOWS HERE ARE ORIGINAL. PEOPLE KNOW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THESE OLD WINDOWS, THEY HAVE A ROPE LIKE A COUNTERWEIGHT SYSTEM TO KEEP THEM OPENED. THAT'S ALL BEEN PAINSTAKINGLY RESTORED LIKE I SAY. OUR VISION FOR THIS PLACE IN THE FUTURE, THIS IS ACTUALLY GOING TO BE WHERE OUR MUSEUM GALLERY SPACE IS AND SO THE ACTUAL EXHIBITS PEOPLE WILL COME AND LOOK AT AND LEARN FROM, THE EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES WILL TAKE PLACE IN HERE. IT'S A SMALL SPACE BUT WE REALLY INTEND TO TRY TO UTILIZE TECHNOLOGY AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO REALLY MAXIMIZE THE ADVANTAGES OF IT. I THINK IT'LL MAKE A WONDERFUL GALLERY.
FUND-RAISING FOR THE MUSEUM CONTINUES BUT SOON THE ARIZONA JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY WILL REOPEN THE BUILDING AS THE CUTLER PLOTKIN JEWISH HERITAGE CENTER.
REALLY A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE OF ALL DIFFERENT FAITHS COULD COME AND LEARN ABOUT EACH OTHER AND ALSO TO LEARN ABOUT THE JEWISH EXPERIENCE IN ARIZONA.
HE SAYS RABBI PLOTKIN WANTED IT THAT WAY.
I REALLY SEE THIS AS IN MANY WAYS FULFILLING MUCH OF HIS LEGACY, THIS CENTER WILL DO MANY OF THE THINGS HE TRIED TO DO.
LIKE PROMOTING INTERFAITH EDUCATION AND BRINGING DIVERSE COMMUNITIES CLOSER TOGETHER.
AND THE BUILDING ITSELF THAT WE'RE SITTING IN IS AN EXAMPLE OF THIS. I MEAN, WHAT COULD BE MORE AMERICAN IN A WAY THAN HAVING A BUILDING THAT WAS A JEWISH SYNAGOGUE, IT BECAME A CHINESE SPEAKING BAPTIST CHURCH AND THEN BECAME A SPANISH-SPEAKING CHURCH AFTER THAT AND SO ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT IMPORTANT ETHNIC COMMUNITIES IN PHOENIX ALL SHARED THIS SPACE. IT'S HERE IN THE BONES OF THE BUILDING. THE HISTORY OF PHOENIX IS WRITTEN IN THIS STRUCTURE. AND IT'S A HISTORY THAT INVOLVES A LOT OF DIVERSITY.

Ted Simons: FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CUTLER PLOTKIN JEWISH HERITAGE CENTER, VISIT THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY ON LINE AT WWW.AZJHS.ORG.

Ted Simons: HERE TO SHARE HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT RABBI PLOTKIN IS PHOENIX ATTORNEY PAUL ECKSTEIN WHO WAS PART OF PLOTKIN'S FIRST CONFIRMATION CLASS AT TEMPLE BETH ISRAEL ALL THE WAY BACK IN 1956. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

Paul Eckstein: THANK YOU, TED.

Ted Simons: TALK MORE ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE RABBI.

Paul Eckstein: I FIRST MET THE RABBI AS YOU NOTED IN 1955-'56 AS A MEMBER OF HIS FIRST CONFIRMATION CLASS. I GOT THE TO SAY IT WAS ALMOST HIS LAST CONFIRMATION CLASS. WE WERE ABOUT AS UNRULY AS ANY GROUP COULD BE. I THINK WE WERE SENT BY GOD TO TEST THE RABBI. HE PASSED THE TEST. AND HE MANAGED TO STICK AROUND FOR AWHILE. HE WAS UNLIKE THE TRADITIONAL RABBI. HE WAS SOMEONE WHO WAS A APPROACHABLE AND A LOT OF RABBIS AT THAT TIME WERE SCHOLARS AND AUSTERE AND NOT SO APPROACHABLE. HE WAS JUST THE OPPOSITE. HE WAS THE LIFE OF THE PARTY, A GREAT DANCER, A GREAT SINGER AND A GREAT STORY TELLER.

Ted Simons: HE SOUNDS AS IF HE WAS INTERESTED IN THINGS, CURIOUS IN THINGS, ENERGETIC, OPTIMISTIC, ALL THOSE AND MORE.

Paul Eckstein: I CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING HE WASN'T INTERESTED IN. HE WAS A RABBI AND THEREFORE INTERESTED IN THEOLOGY AND VERY MUCH A SCHOLAR OF THE PROFIT JEREMIAH. HE WAS SOMEONE WHO WAS ACTIVE IN THE PHOENIX COMMUNITY, CERTAINLY THE JEWISH COMMUNITY AND ABOUT EVERY JEWISH ORGANIZATION THAT ONE COULD IMAGINE AND EVERY JEWISH ORGANIZATION THAT EXISTED AT THE TIME AND WAS A LEADER IN THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT IN PHOENIX AND CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. A TENNIS PLAYER ALTHOUGH AS HE SAID A NOT GREAT TENNIS PLAYER BUT ONE THAT ENJOYED IT HE REALLY GOT THE MOST OUT OF LIFE. I CAN'T IMAGINE ANYONE GETTING MORE OUT OF LIFE THAN RABBI PLOTKIN DID.

Ted Simons: HOW IMPORTANT AND/OR INFLUENTIAL WAS THE RABBI? WE'LL START WITH THE PHOENIX JEWISH COMMUNITY AND THEN TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY.

Paul Eckstein: THERE ARE TODAY I THINK SOMETHING LIKE 36 SYNAGOGUES IN THE PHOENIX AREA. WHEN HE CAME TO TOWN, THERE WERE THREE. HE WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN BUILDING, HELP BUILDING THE JEWISH COMMUNITY AND AMONG THE RABBIS WHEN HE WAS AN ACTIVE RABBI, HE WAS REGARDED AS THE LEADER OF THE RABBINICAL COUNCIL IN PHOENIX. BUT THAT WASN'T ALL HE DID. HE WAS REALLY A LEADER IN THE COMMUNITY IN PHOENIX. HE REALLY FOUNDED AND LED THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT IN THIS CITY.

Ted Simons: I WAS GOING TO SAY THE INTERFAITH MOVEMENT IN THE PHOENIX METROPOLITAN AREA, IT SOUNDS LIKE HE WAS RIGHT THERE AT THE FOREFRONT. HOW IMPORTANT THAT WAS TO HIM?

Paul Eckstein: IT WAS -- I WOULDN'T SAY EVERYTHING BUT IT WAS A LOT. AND UNTIL VIRTUALLY HIS DYING DAY, SEVEN DAYS BEFORE HE DIED, HE GAVE A 10-MINUTE SERMON AT ALL SAINTS EPISCOPAL CHURCH WHERE HE WAS THE RABBI-IN-RESIDENT AND RECEIVED A STANDING OVATION AT THE END OF HIS TALK. HE WAS -- I THINK IN PART BECAUSE HE WAS EDUCATED AT NOTRE DAME, SOMEONE WHO WAS COMFORTABLE IN THE NONJEWISH COMMUNITY. MANY RABBIS ARE RAISED SOLELY IN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY AND DON'T HAVE CONTACT OUTSIDE OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY. RABBI PLOTKIN FROM HIS DAYS GROWING UP IN SOUTH BEND AND NOTRE DAME WAS VERY COMFORTABLE IN THE NONJEWISH WORLD.

Ted Simons: DO YOU THINK THAT BACKGROUND, BEING RAISED AS HE WAS AND BEING -- HAVING THE EDUCATION AT NOTRE DAME, COMING OUT TO ARIZONA -- KIND OF THE WILD WEST KIND OF A NEW FRONTIER KIND OF AN AREA, UM AND LEADING THE JEWISH COMMUNITY, WAS IT GOOD TO HAVE THAT KIND OF PERSONALITY AS OPPOSED TO THE MORE SCHOLARLY RABBI THAT YOU MENTIONED EARLIER IN THE INTERVIEW? IT WAS A PERFECT FIT IN OTHER WORDS THAT HE WAS HERE AT THAT TIME?

Paul Eckstein: IT WAS A PERFECT FIT. HIS PREDECESSOR, RABBI KROHN WHOSE NAME WAS RABBI ABRAHAM LINCOLN KROHN WAS SOMEONE WHO WAS ACTIVE IN THE COMMUNITY AS WELL, BUT I KNOW FROM MY PERSONAL ASSOCIATION WITH BOTH OF THEM THAT RABBI KROHN WAS NOT AS OPEN AND MORE OF THE OLD SCHOOL RABBI THAT RABBI PLOTKIN. HE -- IN A WAY HE WAS DESTINED TO COME TO PHOENIX AND HAD BETH ISRAEL AND DESTINED TO BE A RABBI. HE WAS BORN ON THE JEWISH NEW YEAR IN 1920, IN ROSH HASHANAH 1920. TEMPLE BETH ISRAEL WAS CREATED IN 1920, WAS FOUNDED IN 1920. AND BEING BORN ON THE JEWISH NEW YEAR WAS HARD TO BE ANYTHING BUT A RABBI EVEN THOUGH HE WAS A TALENTED YOUNG MAN AND THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE, HE HAD THOUGHT OF GOING INTO VAUDEVILLE. HE WAS A SINGER, A DANCER, AN ACTOR AND PEOPLE WERE SURPRISED AT NOTRE DAME THAT HE DECIDED TO GO INTO THE RABBINANT AS OPPOSED TO STRIKE IT BIG ON BROADWAY.

Ted Simons: AS FAR AS THE JEWISH COMMUNITY IS CONCERNED, DO YOU SEE IDEAS, PHILOSOPHIES OF LIFE THAT YOU SEEM TO DESCRIBE WITH THE RABBI, VAUDEVILLE. DO YOU NOW SEE THAT AS SOMETHING THIS COMMUNITY EMBRACES NOW THAN WOULD HAVE OTHERWISE?

Paul Eckstein: I THINK HE CERTAINLY WAS INFLUENTIAL IN THAT. I LISTENED TO A LOT OF HIS SERMONS. WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I DIDN'T ALWAYS UNDERSTAND THEM BUT LATER IN LIFE, I KEPT HEARING THIS PHRASE THAT HE USED IN HEBREW -- [ SPEAKING IN HEBREW ] IT'S MOSES' CHARGE TO JOSHUA AS THEY'RE ABOUT TO GO INTO THE PROMISED LAND IT TRANSLATES "BE STRONG AND OF GOOD COURAGE." THAT WAS HIS MANTRA IN MANY WAYS, BE STRONG AND OF GOOD COURAGE. HE SAID IT SO OFTEN. HE DIDN'T END EVERY SERMON THAT WAY BUT DID HE MANY AND THAT'S HOW I REMEMBER HIM.

Ted Simons: REMARKABLE MAN. PAUL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS.

Paul Eckstein: THANK YOU, TED.

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