Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 2, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable

  |   Video
  • Local reporters review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Mary Jo Pitzl - The Arizona Republic
  • Steve Goldstein - KJZZ Radio
  • Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Mary Jo Pitzl of "The Arizona Republic," gold Steve Goldstein of KJZZ radio, and Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services. Governor Jan Brewer gets the ok from the legislature to sue the feds over healthcare reform. Mary Jo, this was all that was supposed to be involved with the special session, correct?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
A limited three-day session. The eighth one that this legislature held to give the governor a little more authority she felt she needed to go after the feds on healthcare reform.

Ted Simons:
She signed it?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Signed it last night and what's the strategy? She going to go with the Virginia, do her own thing?

Howard Fischer:
What will it cost? What is one of the problems that the Democrats were having. 13 other states have filed lawsuits. Me too is not going to change the outcome so why do we want to spend the money? $18 million, we could restore kids care and they're contending it's frivolous and political. Terry Goddard is running for governor as the democrat. He says there's no legal violation, it's a waste of time and criticizing the Governor for not balancing the budget. And she's saying he shouldn't be governor at all. That's what this is all about.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
One of the arguments, house speaker Kirk Adams, why the state -- they've got a unique claim, but Arizona is among a handful of states that has to put more money out in the short run because of the conditions of the healthcare reform bill. It will cost the state $3.8 billion over the next couple years because it requires to keep kids care going and serve the Medicaid population which they decided to reduce.

Howard Fischer:
That's the key. The argument is there's a mandate on the state to spend the money. It's more of a golden rule. He who has the gold makes the rule. If you don't want the money, you don't have to spend. That hardly becomes a mandate. It becomes a de facto mandate because we're addicted.

Ted Simons:
Indeed, it is a de facto mandate, you can say no thank you and none of the money comes in, but you can't say no thank you.

Steve Goldstein:
Last night, Rebecca Rios was saying where is the money going to come from between now and 2014 when it comes into effect. This is making Governor Brewer look decisive. The fact she's decided to go right ahead and taken advantage of the special session. She went ahead and did it, I think that looks good for her.

Howard Fischer:
Any time you take on the federal government you can look decisive. It doesn't matter. Janet Napolitano -- everybody does it. Where do you think the tea party came from? Of course, this makes her look good.

Ted Simons:
It may making a stand, this sort of thing, but we're not sure what kind of strategy is going to be involved.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
We don't know what kind of strategy, what the cost to the state would be and that could come back and be a black mark depending on the size of the legal bill. Of course, that's nothing compared to the billions at stake here, but as you recall, the state -- the legislature hired Ken Starr two years ago to represent them. He got a win.

Ted Simons:
I know that there are all sorts of names bandied about, including someone doing it pro bono. But the Goldwater Institute, they can't get involved, they've got their own fish to fry and may be a conflict of interest there.

Howard Fischer:
I think there are enough folks who want to take on the federal government and see this as an opportunity to raise money, whether it's the Goldwater Institute or institute for justice or any of those groups. I think an attorney could also see this as good publicity. You don't get Starr until you have a few cases under your belt.

Ted Simons:
Go ahead.

Steve Goldstein:
It would be nice if we knew the answers as to what this healthcare package does. We don't really know concretely what it's going to look like. I think that makes everything a challenge.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Along with the bill, the legislature also, one of their famous postcards, a resolution, it was originally written at the governor's behest to say, Washington, we don't like this healthcare bill, but if you're going to force it down our throats, then give us the money. Pay us. That doesn't make sense, we're going to sue because we don't like the law, how can we ask for the money? He convinced his colleagues to switch the language. We're going to say repeal. So the governor was looking like she was trying to have it both ways, the legislature says she has no control over the postcards. How this will play out -- it looks good in the short term because of the anger and raw feelings, but if the suit gets thrown out or winds up costing the state while we're in a deficit --

Howard Fischer:
Right now, the budget that was adopted, drop 310,000 people from AHCCCS, the state's Medicaid program and get rid of Kidscare. If the federal government comes up with more stimulus dollars, that pushes that back which means we don't need to come up with more money until June 30th of next year and maybe some additional stimulus dollars so the thing could be moot.

Ted Simons:
I don't want to get into the idea of the federal government mandating something on a individual because that aspect of the suit, I think a lot of people aren't hot on. But let's talk about winners and losers right now from that particular action. Goddard and Brewer. Who wins and who loses?

Steve Goldstein:
Brewer looks like a winner in the Republican primary. But I don't think it makes Terry Goddard look bad. He looks like he's supporting a democrat, President Obama, and Brewer, against a Democrat. Brewer may be a little bit more of a winner.

Howard Fischer:
When we ought to talk about that is a week before the November election.

Ted Simons:
That's why I'm asking that now. Because we don't have that luxury. Right now?

Howard Fischer:
I think that Jan Brewer is the winner and Terry looks like he's shirking his responsibility. Part of the bill that was passed -- it's his job to make a half-hearted effort to defend the law and he's not.

Ted Simons:
What are you saying? Did Goddard get hurt by this?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I think it's along partisan lines and Democrats and middle of the road folks will probably say it's a wise move and there's a general consensus that these lawsuits aren't going to go far so why get into it.

Ted Simons:
State parks, no mandate surcharge?

Howard Fischer:
The back story, budget being -- overall, talking about it for years, when lawmakers went looking in the cushions of the couch, they took money from the parks. They don't get general fund tax dollars. Fund yourself. They have admissions and special dedicated revenues, tax on the boaters and concession fees and the legislature said, you remember those monies we told you to raise? We got them. Left the parks board where they closed several facilities and need to close more. One of the things that was suggested by both Republicans and Democrats is to have a surcharge on the vehicle license fee. You pay $10, $12 and perhaps as part of that, you get free admission to the parks and we can raise $22 million a year to keep the park system open. Representative John Kavanagh would not here hear that and said it's unconstitutional. And what got out of the house the other day, we're going to put a check box on your vehicle registration form if you would like to give $10 to the parks.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
The argument about this being unconstitutional, that's why Rep. Russ Jones wants to amend the constitution so you can change that and Kavanagh refuses to let that bill advance so we're in a situation where maybe there will be a voluntary check off but nobody believes that's enough to keep the parks going.

Ted Simons:
Critics say this kind of action, you don't get dedicated funding in there, the entire parks system could completely collapse.

Steve Goldstein:
It's possible, Ted, I go back 15 or 20 years ago, when you have people coming from all different states and countries and saying, Arizona state parks, this is why I wanted to come here. It would be nice if you had those letters to the editor but they're not out there, because people are worried about their own situation and not spring and summer vacation.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Some of the parks are staying afloat because partnerships have popped up and they'll partner with the historical foundation and various cities and towns and to be fairly short term, not permanent, but you don't know what will play out in the long run.

Howard Fischer:
There are people in the legislature who believe that the states have no business running parks. That's fine. If you have a lake Havasu that makes money, you'll get somebody to buy it and run it, operates Catalina state park. If you're talking about the Tombstone courthouse, it doesn't bring in enough in fees. So we have to have a discussion -- are people willing to pay for it?

Ted Simons:
There's a plan bubbling up here regarding urban land, preservation, using that money to shift it toward parks.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
This is an idea that Representative Ward Nichols is touting. He had this idea last year, to take the money out of the growing smart fund and use it to prop up the parks -- those dollars are voter protected and if they do that, they may be asking for a legal challenge.

Ted Simons:
Nothing new.

Howard Fischer:
When the legislature cut those people from AHCCCS, that contradicted what the voters said they wanted years ago. So lawmakers are willing to say let's sue over gun rights and AHCCCS, federal healthcare, you would think a bunch of people who claim to hate lawyers would not want to pay them so much.

Ted Simons:
Do you think just the headlines that might -- might get out with the interweb -- [Laughter] -- that people are hearing the parks in Arizona, not doing so well, how much damage is this doing?

Steve Goldstein:
There are going to be great efforts to preserve this. I hate to be cynical where people are fighting -- unemployment is high, and people are worried about themselves and may not notice it as soon as they should and then realize there's a precious resource we don't have as much of.

Howard Fischer:
You go to Winslow and Tonto and those are the people being hurt. Half of the lawmakers are based here in Maricopa County where there are no state parks.

Steve Goldstein:
And so much of what we emphasize in terms of tourism and getting people here is getting them in a fancy resort, and state parks --

Ted Simons:
Governors getting threatening letters, do we know about this?

Howard Fischer:
We don't know if they're left group, terrorist, saying to 30 governors, we want you out in 30 days or we will force you out. 30 governors get these letters you go in and say be careful out there. This could be a very large hoax but given what's going on today, you don't --

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Why Arizona's governor -- I don't know what the full list of the 30 is, and why not the other 20 -- it seems random.

Steve Goldstein:
I think Terry Goddard did it.

Ted Simons:
Why don't you run with that, Howie? Immigration bill allows the police to arrest, if you can't prove -- I mean, I want to get to the school thing in a second, but start with this business.

Howard Fischer:
It's a little -- I'm a child of the '60s and plead guilty to certain paranoia. But there's little bit of [German Accent] you show me show me the papers or I'll take you downtown.

Ted Simons:
That's more like the '30s and '40s.

Howard Fischer:
This says if you don't have your alien I.D. card with you, we can charge you with a crime. I'm brown, and I don't have my I.D. card with you. Given what's gone on with the certain Maricopa County sheriff, the ability to take people in until they can prove who they are is a little disconcerting to some.

Ted Simons:
Russell Pearce says that police ask for identification all the time. Every time they stop someone for a traffic violation.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
The question is what's the grounds for stopping people? I get stopped when I do a crazy turnaround a corner and rightfully so, but the concern is people might be stopped because of the color of their skin.

Howard Fischer:
My wife and I go for a walk every night in the dark; I do not bring my wallet. I get stopped by a deputy -- what are you doing? Walking. Where's your I.D.? I don't know, Howie.

Ted Simons:
I don't know, Howie? You're on a first-name basis?

Steve Goldstein:
I'm going back to the late '90s, when Chandler had that dubious roundup that led to a lot of things -- charges of racial profiles and where citizens were cited and there's a concern when someone like Russell Pearce says trust your police officers, a lot of people came to not trust the police officers.

Ted Simons:
A lot of people, they're divided over this, there's not a unanimous consent this is a good idea.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
No, the police chiefs are categorically against it. Rank and file officers are split. But strong support from the union in favor.

Howard Fischer:
There's another provision in this bill that says if you as a citizen do not believe your police department is being allowed to enforce federal immigration law, you can file a suit. So if I believe the Phoenix police department has a policy you're not properly questioning people you're coming into contact with, I sue. I'm in court forcing the city to defend itself. That concerns the officers, the chiefs.

Ted Simons:
And schools checking on kids and by virtue, parents as well. Legal status is making noise as well.

Howard Fischer:
This is making a lot of noise. There's a U.S. court case that says you cannot deny students an education based on their resident status. Russell Pearce said we want the state department of education to require every kid when they register, bring in proof of legal residence. Is that per se illegal? Not as long as your denying them admission. But just by asking them to bring in proof, it will have a chilling effect and keep kids from getting the education they need.

Ted Simons:
Russell Pearce is saying this is no different than asking if the kid is vaccinated and in the proper school district, and, by the way, is the kid legal?

Steve Goldstein:
I'm not going to answer anything that Senator Pearce says. Technically correct, but we know what the spirit is behind it. I'm not going to go any further than that.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
We had a debate in the legislature last month over gun checking, proof of citizenship at gun shows and that got shut down by senator Pearce. And you got to show I.D. if you're going to buy a gun at a gun show. That argument works when certain parties want it to work and doesn't in others.

Howard Fischer:
And Russell is spoiling for a legal fight. He figures somebody will challenge it and get the Texas case back before the U.S. Supreme Court and many bush appointees may say, yes, you don't have to educate children of illegal immigrants.

Ted Simons:
Go ahead and sue. Speaking of suits and the law, Andrew Thomas resigns to run for attorney general. Why yesterday? A little earlier than people thought.

Steve Goldstein:
Because it was April's fools -- April fool's day and wanted to show that the timing is interesting and some people wonder about the tastefulness of the timing in that he put out a campaign video indicating he's going to fight border issues and wants more protection at the border for the United States. The issue then it goes back to rancher Robert Krentz who was killed in Arizona and he's talking to the Cochise county sheriff who is the lead investigator on that case.

Howard Fischer:
This is video shot two days after the rancher was shot.

Ted Simons:
Two days after or before?

Howard Fischer:
Two days after.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
The talk between Thomas and the Cochise county person.

Howard Fischer:
Andy insists I already was going to go down there -- I'm going to take shots of me talking to the sheriff along the border and you can see the pillars and I look like I'm tough on immigration.

Ted Simons:
Is it going to work?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I think tough on immigration talk is helpful and when running for a law enforcement position, it will. Thomas will have other challenges. He's got legal problems that he actually is not going to leave behind when he leaves Maricopa County on Tuesday.

Howard Fischer:
And we're teaching illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense. This can be who can be furthest to the right and then come back to a centrist position come November.

Ted Simons:
How do you think it's shaping up? Tom Horne.

Steve Goldstein:
You now know, I spoke to [inaudible] today who lost to Tom Horne in a primary and Tom Horne likes to get down and dirty. Statewide name recognition, even though Thomas has a relationship with Joe Arpaio --

Howard Fischer:
One other factor in this, public funding, Andy Thomas is going to run with public funding. The match only goes up to three times, Horne has buckets of money. He'll outspend Thomas by a factor of two-to-one and at a certain point that becomes a factor.

Ted Simons:
Does that become a couple of scorpions in a budget with a couple of Democrats coming from the outside --

Howard Fischer:
I think there's a long history when there was a fight for the U.S. senate seat which led to a Democrat from Tucson. You bet whoever survives the Lujan race is saying thank you, thank you.

Ted Simons:
What does it do to the position in Maricopa County?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
The supervisor is scheduled to pick a replacement. That power fell to them. Thomas has said, you guys can't pick my successor. You have a problem with this office and you've been investigated by this office. Still being investigated. He wants that appointing power to go to Governor Jan Brewer. The board seems unswayed and they're taking applications and will sit down the middle week of April and perhaps make a decision by April 16th.

Howard Fischer:
Let's throw out an interesting name. Grant Woods. Grant likes being a fixer and this would only be for November when the election comes up. I don't know if Grant has any particular love of Andy Thomas.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
But I think that Thomas' point is he sees a potential conflict with the board and Jan Brewer wouldn't have that conflict of interest.

Steve Goldstein:
But having been a county supervisor, she'll respect the right to do that. And -- if the supervisors don't decide to pick someone who isn’t under their thumb and Rick Romley would run for an election, wouldn't just --

Howard Fischer:
And kick butt as far as Joe Arpaio goes.

Ted Simons:
Years ago, people were saying this county isn't working because Arpaio and Romley can't get along.

Steve Goldstein:
I heard he doesn't like to be irrelevant and he has for the last couple of years.

Ted Simons:
We'll leave it there. Thanks a lot of appreciate it.

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