Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 17, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Amtrak

  |   Video
  • Amtrak is looking to increase service to southern Arizona. It coincides with a move to try and get rail service between Phoenix and Tucson. Sean Holstege, an Arizona Republic reporter, talks about the developments.
Guests:
  • Sean Holstege - Arizona Republic
Category: Government   |   Keywords: amtrak,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," we'll talk about efforts to increase travel by rail in Arizona. Also, a debate on the death penalty as the state closes in on a possible application of capital punishment. And meet the new director of the "Heard Museum." That's coming up next on "Horizon." Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. More than a dozen major civil rights groups filed suit against Arizona's new immigration law today. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the NAACP, and the Asian Pacific-American Legal Center were among the groups that joined to file suit. The groups claim that the law infringes on the federal government's authority over immigration, invites racial profiling and violates the free speech rights of day laborers. One plaintiff in the lawsuit is a U.S.-born man of Spanish and Chinese descent who says he's been asked for his papers twice. Another plaintiff is an ASU student with a New Mexico driver's license, which does not prove his citizenship. And, a Dallas group is asking for Frito-Lay to remove its brand name from the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl game, this to protest Arizona's immigration law. The game is played in Glendale at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Frito-Lay has sponsored the Fiesta Bowl for 14 years. Amtrak is looking to increase service to southern Arizona. It's a move that coincides with the state department of transportation developing a rail plan that includes a passenger route between Phoenix and Tucson. Sean Holstege is covering the story, he's transportation reporter for the Arizona Republic. Good to see you again, thank you for joining us.

Sean Holstege:
Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons:
Daily, long-distance, Amtrak service to southern Arizona. Is there a demand for this?

Sean Holstege:
There is demand for it and it is surprising given the current system. Right now, three trains a week run through Tucson and Maricopa. They run in the dead of night. Before they changed the schedule, they were running at roughly 2:00 in the morning. Nevertheless, Amtrak has been forced by the government to look at its business model and in doing so she realized they can grow riders by 122,000 a year, which doesn't sound like much but consider they only carry 78,000 a year now. Tucson, despite the terrible schedule, is the busiest station on that entire track that runs from Los Angeles to Texas.

Ted Simons:
Where does Phoenix play in all of this?

Sean Holstege:
Phoenix has been out of the loop since derailment in 1995. After that derailment, in 1996, Amtrak was given the choice by the freight car railroad, buy our track, repair our track or accept that you're going to run your trains on our main line, Transcontinental, through Maricopa. A lot of people don't realize that Amtrak, which is a government-funded corporation, doesn't own any of the tracks it runs on. It relies on the freight carriers for access to those tracks.

Ted Simons:
So Maricopa is as close as it gets. The plan includes, what, busing folks down to Maricopa and the train from there?

Sean Holstege:
There are two approaches. One is short-term and one is long-term. Short-term, Amtrak wants to introduce daily service, we never had it. And secondly, reintroduce this bus connection, which is common in U.S. cities. That is the short-term. If negotiations between Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad come to fruition, we could see that by the end of the year. That's the short-term. On the long-term, how do you connect Phoenix by rail rather than bus to anything? That is what A-Dot has been working on.

Ted Simons:
And what about the idea of Phoenix to Tucson, passenger rail. How does that fit into all of this?

Sean Holstege:
That is the second leg of this whole strategy that A-Dot is proposing. They have to go to Yuma where the derailment occurred. That is not complicated. They store trains on a disused line. The other part goes to east valley, that's where it gets complicated. There is a line that connected up to the Transcontinental but Union Pacific uses that for freight. There are other lines that dead end that could be extended to Transcontinental that would require investment to improve them. A-Dot has new lines to avoid the whole freight interaction problems that plague Amtrak across the country.

Ted Simons:
In negotiations with these companies, how are they going and how do they usually go?

Sean Holstege:
Right now, there are two train companies, both have tracks in the valley, depending on the company and depending on the usage of the track, those negotiations can go at various rates. Generally speaking, the freight carriers want to protect their freight business. That's what they make money doing, and they generally consider passenger rail as an interference. So if the state can come up with the money to make Union Pacific and Burlington whole, or trade land or trade access or trade improvements to the track, they get interested. But the money has to be there before they do get interested.

Ted Simons:
The operative phrase, if the state can come up with the money. Who's going to pay for all of this stuff?

Sean Holstege:
Nobody knows. The good news, and the reason this is getting in the papers recently, is in Washington there is this whole new effort by the Obama administration to folks on passenger rate of all kinds. So there's money coming out of Washington that never really existed before. The problem is it's not enough. The problem is, the State of Arizona has to match that money, and the State of Arizona doesn't have any money with which to match. So we have to see how that plays out and that's the political dynamic.

Ted Simons:
And remember, last time we talked was when the stimulus money, and all the folks looking at where the best trade, lines and train routes would be say, I don't think so. How does this play into all that?

Sean Holstege:
It is a good news bad story there. At the time, Arizona did not have any plan for state-wide rail. In order to even be at the table with the federal government, you have to have two things, matching money and a plan. At the time, we didn't have either. A-Dot is about to release a plan in June, so they're better poised than we were a year ago to find that money.

Ted Simons:
They could possibly get some kind of grant money here, that is in the future, but in order to get that you have to get something going here and we've got nothing going here.

Sean Holstege:
In the meantime, they have some federal grant money from last year which they're planning the first time of the Phoenix to Tucson plan and work ultimately further down the road.

Ted Simons:
Last question, people hear Amtrak and think failure, it never makes money, why are we getting involved in this again. Has Amtrak ever made money?

Sean Holstege:
Amtrak has never made money. Supporters will say neither has any other transportation in the United States. It burns money quicker than other forms of transportation. There is a long debate about it. It is essentially boutique service for people who want to go long distances and willing to spend a lot of time. It will never make money. Is it a realistic alternative to people? Amtrak says it is congress wants to support it.

Ted Simons:
We should see this daily service through Tucson, southern Arizona, by the end of the year.

Sean Holstege:
Subject to the negotiations.

Ted Simons:
Thank you, appreciate it.

Sean Holstege:
You're welcome. Thank you.

Death Penalty

  |   Video
  • This week, the Arizona Supreme Court will consider issuing a death warrant for a man convicted of killing a 13-year-old girl in 1984. Join us for a discussion about the death penalty with Timothy La Sota, a former Maricopa County prosecutor who is now chief of staff for the Scottsdale mayor, and Dan Peitzmeyer, vice president of Arizona Death Penalty Forum.
Guests:
  • Timothy La Sota - Former Maricopa County prosecutor
  • Dan Peitzmeyer - Vice President, Arizona Death Penalty Forum
Category: Law   |   Keywords: death penality, Arizona Death Penalty Forum,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
On Thursday, the state supreme court is scheduled to consider issuing death warrants for two Arizona men convicted of murdering young girls more than two decades ago. Here to share their very different views on the death penalty is Tim La Sota, a former special-assistant Maricopa county attorney who now serves as a special assistant to the mayor of Scottsdale. And also here is Dan Peitzmeyer, vice president of the Arizona Death Penalty Forum, an organization that seeks to abolish capital punishment. Good to have you both here. Thank you for joining us.

Tim La Sota:
Thank you.

Dan Peitzmeyer:
Thank you, Ted.

Ted Simons:
Let's start with Donald Beattie, a name that folks will remember why is it so important he be put to death?

Tim La Sota:
Great, yes. In fact, he is one of the poster child, if you will, for the death penalty. He was a child molester and then unfortunately, Christianne Fornoff was collecting for her newspaper in her apartment complex, he took her, raped her and dumped her in a dumpster. It is 26 years we've waited for justice in this case. Here is a guy that molested his own daughter, tried to sell his own kid before this happened and tragically he murdered 13-year-old Christianne Fornoff. If you could just -- if there were two words that could justify it would be Donald Beattie.

Ted Simons:
Why should Donald Beattie not receive the ultimate punishment?

Dan Peitzmeyer:
I don't think anyone needs to experience capital punishment. Murder does not justify murder. It is not a question of what feels good or revenge or vengeance, it is a question of public policy issue system. Is this what we want to spend our tax dollars on? Capital punishment costs far, far more than life in prison without parole. We taxpayers are not getting sufficient bang for our dollars; it is a waste of money.

Ted Simons:
It's a waste of money.

Tim La Sota:
Under the current system it costs far too much but that's because someone like Donald Beattie has been able to spend 26 years on death row, appeal after appeal after appeal in front of the, unfortunately, 9th circuit which has been particularly unwilling to allow justice to move forward. He's been on there, 25 years on death row, 26 years from his crime and he has admitted to the crime. It does cost too much money but that's not an argument for it. In fact, that is an argument we get death penalty opponents who like to see it cost that much so they can say it costs too much.

Ted Simons:
Why not spend more money, more time in order to get this particular punishment right?

Dan Peitzmeyer:
It's not effective; it's not a deterrent. If you ask police chiefs how would you like to spend this money, they would rather have the money to put policemen on the street, get more boots on the street, open up cold cases. The death penalty does not protect us. States which do not have the death penalty have a lower murder rate than states which do have the death penalty.

Ted Simons:
The death penalty does not protect us. Do you agree?

Tim La Sota:
I absolutely disagree. Let me give you an example how the death penalty could have protected us. Randy Greenawalt was executed in 1997, and unfortunately, it came too late because he was already in prison for murder and escaped with the notorious Gary Tison Gang and they got out and murdered five more people. That is one example of who the death penalty would have protected us from. The death penalty has been shown in study after study to be a deterrent. If you actually have a death penalty and use it on occasion, it will deter some of these monsters out there from killing other people.

Ted Simons:
It would seem as though it is a deterrent. You're saying it is not?

Dan Peitzmeyer:
It deters the individual who is executed; it does not deter other criminals. People do not consider the crime when they execute the crime.

Ted Simons:
Lethal injection. You consider it cruel and unusual punishment. Explain.

Dan Peitzmeyer:
It has proven to be cruel and unusual in Ohio when they spent five hours trying to execute a convict and then had to return him to his cell. It's not as humane as what's done to animals in vet's clinics.

Ted Simons:
The idea of lethal injection as cruel and unusual.

Tim La Sota:
Well, Ted, I think that's laughable. A needle, consider we have John Young on death row; he burned his young daughter to death. The Supreme Court ruled even with some of the more liberal-leaning justices saying lethal injection not cruel and unusual punishment.

Ted Simons:
There is a line of thinking that says even if you don't think capital punishment is cruel, even if it is more money, more time, there is still a sense of justice that society needs to experience when the Donald Beatties and Shawn Grells and these sorts of folks do these heinous crimes and society needs to see them die for these crimes. Do you agree?

Dan Peitzmeyer:
No, I don't. And I don't disagree with Tim in these are miserable crimes and the term he uses, monsters. These are not people I want as neighbors, but I don't feel that killing them is a satisfactory solution for society. As I said, it's public policy. You know, we are the only first world nation that executes. Who do we want to be aligned with, the access of evil?

Ted Simons:
I think China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the only other countries that execute more than us. What does that say about us?

Tim La Sota:
I think the public here simply supports the death penalty because we realize that some crimes are so awful that they just justify the death penalty. You know, I mean, there's just no question that, as you said before, what if we are to get our hands on Osama Bin Laden. I mean the notion that after the 3,000 lives he took in September 11, the notion there is any other punishment that is fitting for him, let's go back to Adolph Hitler, say we would have captured him alive, for people like them, there is only one appropriate punishment and the others simply fall short.

Ted Simons:
How do you respond to that?

Dan Peitzmeyer:
I don't deny it is a feel-good solution. They took a life, they took 3,000 lives, we’re going to take their life. I don't think it's the solution. 150 years ago, a human being could own another human being. 90 years ago, women couldn't vote. 50 years ago, schools were segregated. That was all right. It was legal, but it wasn't right.

Ted Simons:
Are you looking at capital punishment from a public policy perspective as much as a moral perspective? I mean, is it ever right to take a life?

Dan Peitzmeyer:
Speaking only for myself, I think not. But I think the argument to abolish the death penalty has to be looked at from a public policy issue.

Ted Simons:
The idea of taking a life, there's a lot of morality, a lot of religions look at it in a variety of ways. How do you get past that and say we need to end a life here? We need to coldly and calculatedly take a life.

Tim La Sota:
It's not something done cavalierly. There is years of appeals and everyone facing the death penalty gets two attorneys assigned to them and the attorneys, there is lots of review to make sure the attorneys are competent, but the bottom line in this world, sometimes it is necessary to take other people's lives. Look at wartime. We have obviously found the need in order to defend our interests, to defend liberty, to defend freedom we have had to kill other people to do it and it is an unfortunate reality but one we live in.

Ted Simons:
We have to stop it there. Thank you for being here.

Tim La Sota:
Thank you.

Heard Museum

  |   Video
  • A conversation with Dr. Letitia Chambers, the Heard Museum’s new director.
Guests:
  • Dr. Letitia Chambers - Director, Heard Museum
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: Heard Museum, Native American,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
The "Heard Museum" is internationally known for its extensive collection of Native American art. And, for the first time in its history, the "Heard Museum" has a Native American director. We'll hear about her vision for the museum. But first, Mike Sauceda tells us about the latest exhibit to "pop" up at the heard.

Mike Sauceda:
The Campbell's Soup can painting by Andy Warhol, a popular image. You will see lots more examples of pop art by Native American artists this weekend at what the "Heard Museum" simply called "pop."

Diane Pardue:
We were excited about some of the younger artists working in a pop art style, so we wanted to place that in a larger context of a pop art movement. And to do that, we included work by Andy Warhol and other artists, even Indian-American artists working at the time.

Mike Sauceda:
They plan to juxtapose mainstream pop art with Native American pop art.

Diane Pardue:
This is another section of the exhibit with two prints by Andy Warhol. One is carvings and the other is the Indian head nickel. This was the last series that he did. It was in 1986 and he passed away in 1987. The piece that we have partnered it with is by Jon Smith and it's a painting with collage with mixed media. It is abstract but it has the pop art iconology feel and the use of bold colors you see in pop art.

Mike Sauceda:
In a room bursting with bold colors, you will see different types of media used by artists from traditional Native American art.

Diane Pardue:
Not only are there paintings and prints but also beadwork. We have a pair of beaded sneakers by Terry Greaves. A pair of beaded shoes called "Clearly Red Hot Mama" by Paula Dede. There are ceramic pieces in the show. There is a bustier and we have a range of jewelry. There is beadwork and also jewelry made from canceled gift cards, Starbucks cards, then silver jewelry that references children's toys like barrel of monkeys and Lego’s.

Mike Sauceda:
She hopes people who see the exhibit will come to understand how Native American artists have been influenced by and have influenced pop art.

Diane Pardue:
We hope they have the understanding that native artists often reference contemporary work that there's been, by putting it in the context of the larger pop art movement that native artists have been active for some time doing this work. And that, again, artists don't work in isolation, there is a community of artists both American Indian and mainstream artists, and they look at what each other are doing and get influenced by each other, both native and non-native.

Ted Simons:
And joining me now to talk about her new role as director of the Heard Museum is Dr. Letitia Chambers. Good to have you here, thank you for joining us.

Letitia Chambers:
It is a pleasure to be here.

Ted Simons:
You've been here since January?

Letitia Chambers:
Yes, indeed.

Ted Simons:
Not much goes on around here, as you noticed.

Letitia Chambers:
Yeah. [Laughter]

Ted Simons:
We saw the pop exhibit at the Heard. What was the thought behind this?

Letitia Chambers:
The pop exhibit is -- pop has become a forum for a lot of our young Indian artists for social and cultural commentary, and that grows out of the original pop movement of the '60s so we thought it was an important thing to feature. Also, some of our more famous Indian artists began in the '60s in the pop movement there acting with Warhol and others in the effort to create this sort of new iconic movement. And so it was appropriate for us, we felt, to put our younger Indian artists in the context of both the Indian artists who started pop and the non-Indian.

Ted Simons:
And it helps, as well, break a stereotype I'm sure is out there, people think of American Indian art, they think of tradition, they think of the old ways, but American Indian art can be as avant-garde as the next.

Letitia Chambers:
It sure can be. Our young artists are part of the mainstream just like the artists that show across America in our museums, and they're exciting artists and they work in various genres, and it's important that we see native cultures as dynamic living cultures. Certainly the Heard has a wonderful reputation for its historic art and it has a history of putting that art in context of the cultures from which it came, the geography, and we want to continue to have shows that draw from our rich collection of traditional art, but we feel it's important to have that balance so that native cultures today are recognized, as well as historical cultures.

Ted Simons:
How is the Heard doing? These are tough economic times. How are you doing?

Letitia Chambers:
We've had a wonderful spring. We had very strong attendance over the course of February and March and April. We've had good attendance at our special fairs, like our hoop dance, our Indian fair and market. We have an exhibit we partner with, the desert botanical garden, featuring sculpture at the garden and sculpture and painting at the Heard, so that's been successful. So we actually had a recovery this spring. That said we're now worried because 65 percent of our audience is tourists, and if tourism drops off dramatically because of the new immigration law, that could hurt us.

Ted Simons:
Are you starting to see any of that yet, sensing any of that yet, or worried about the future?

Letitia Chambers:
We have not been able to tell yet if there has been a difference. This is the time of year that admissions usually drop off as the season ends, so we're not sure what's going to happen. We are concerned about convention goers, that may not come, but we're going to try to do everything we can to get those tourists who do come to the state to continue to come to the Heard. Plus, we are putting in place some programs to draw more local audiences.

Ted Simons:
Last question. Your ethnic heritage, what do you think that brings to this position?

Letitia Chambers:
Well, I think being of American Indian descent gives me a sensitivity about the Indian cultures that a non-Indian-related person might not have. In addition, I think the knowledge that I have of Indian art and artists is a plus. So in addition to my long career in business and education and working on museum boards and other things, I think that -- which is probably the reason the trustees hired me, but I think that special sensitivity from having native heritage will hopefully make a difference.

Ted Simons:
Very good. Welcome to town. Congratulations on the job. The exhibit looks fantastic.

Letitia Chambers:
Thank you, it is a pleasure to be here.

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