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September 2, 2010

Host: Ted Simons

Gubernatorial Debate Recap

  |   Video
  • Political analyst Chris Herstam gives perspective on the recent gubernatorial debate.
  • Chris Herstam - Political Analyst
Category: Government

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Last night's gubernatorial debate here on "Horizon" included some strong words and some awkward moments. It also illustrated how the candidates differ on a number of issues. For some perspective on the debate, we're joined by Chris Herstam, a former state lawmaker with a long history in state politics, he was chief of staff for governor Symington and served on the transition teams for both Republican and Democratic governors. Today, he's in charge of government relations for the law firm of Lewis and Roca. Thanks for joining us.

Chris Herstam: Thank you.

Ted Simons: General thoughts on the debate last night?

Chris Herstam: Well I think Barry Hess actually was the most eloquent. I thought he was very good. But I think overall what will be remembered from the debate forever is Governor Brewer's performance in the first minute and then frankly, the impromptu news conference right after the debate. It was painful, that first minute of her opening remarks. I've never quite seen anything quite like that. The awkwardness and the 13-second pause and so forth and that's all over websites. "The Washington Post," etc. and it's being talked about a lot. And afterwards, when she got upset with the local media right outside of the studio, when you were asking her about the beheadings issue and she was upset with their questions and turned around and walked away and they groaned and so forth. That’s the kind of thing we might see in some campaign commercials later in the campaign.

Ted Simons: The idea of style in general, and obviously, the early part, the opening statement is something that everyone is focused on. But in general, the style, from all the candidates but seems like the governor in particular, talk about how much that impacts folks watching and listening to a debate.
Chris Herstam: Well you know when you look at polling data. I’ve taken to many political science courses over the years, most debates don't change a lot of viewers on who to vote for. The Brewer people, will stick pretty much with their candidate no matter the performance and the same with the Goddard folks. Really it's the undecided voters or the independent voters that the candidates worry about. I think the governor's style was a bit shrill. A bit condescending at time and the opening and end of the debate afterwards in the news conference and those are things that I'm sure she's not pleased about. I thought Goddard had command of the issues. He's a trained lawyer and used to this. And you would expect him to be a bit smoother. Or someone who is supposedly 19 points behind in the polls, he didn't go for the jugular as I would have expected him to. I think he needed knockout punches and I don't think he delivered it.

Ted Simons: One issue in particular, I want to get to. But first, I want to show a piece of tape, a part of the debate and this dealt with education and how to fund education. Let's roll that and we'll talk about it later.

Jan Brewer: Terry, where's your plan? Where are you going to get this money?

Terry Goddard: My plan is out on my website, we’re going to grow the economy. That's what needs --

Jan Brewer: You have no plan.

Terry Goddard: You're the governor and you need a balanced budget and you haven't done that yet.

Jan Brewer: Terry, Terry, you know, you're the attorney general, you have to have a balanced budget. Read the constitution, you should know that. Of all people you should know that and we balanced the budget. Make no doubt about that.

Terry Goddard: You're budget was $450 million out of balance and it took 10 months to do it. It was $150 million out of balance and --

Jan Brewer: Terry, Terry, Terry.

Terry Goddar: Today your --

Jan Brewer: Terry, Terry, Terry --

Ted Simons: That kind of exchange. When people watch that at home, what are they seeing?

Chris Herstam: I think they're seeing Goddard using facts and figure, the lawyer. A debate preparation, that skill. Where the governor seems condescending, treating him like a child and that was a strategy on her part do so but I don't think it plays well.

Jan Brewer: The idea you have no plan worked well for the governor in the primary debate for governor. She basically won that thing in part because she said, you have no plan. Give me your plan. And it shut a lot of people up at the table. Did it work last night?

Chris Herstam: I don't think it worked as effectively with Goddard. Buzz Mills it worked well with, and it was true. He had to plan. And Goddard, he has the facts and numbers memorized and the long website and it's harder to make that stick.

Ted Simons: Another piece of tape from the debate. This one dealt with private prisons and after we watch this, there was something not mentioned in this exchange that you were surprised about. Let's roll that one.

Jan Brewer: The private prisons and the classifications were put in place years ago and then reviewed again in 2005. And Terry Goddard signed off on the new classifications to allow those classifications, those classified prisoners he just related to go into the Kingman prison.

Terry Goddard: That's not true.
Jan Brewer: And Terry Goddard did that without any public hearing or anylegislative oversight.
Terry Goddard: You know that's not true and it's on your watch that the haven't centimeters were moved to a facility -- criminals were moved to a facility design for DUIs. They never knew it was going to be anything different. 400 violent offenders moved to that facility.

Ted Simons: Ok. That was a bit of a gotcha by the governor, a response by the attorney general. But before the show, you were talking about how the attorney general could have gone for the jugular in that moment. Explain.

Chris Herstam: Well I think there's stories this week about the Goddard campaign, and channel 5 has done investigative reporting that's been on national shows, about gubernatorial staff that are lobbyists for private prisons and this is a hot issue. The Goddard people think it is. But he never mentioned your own staff is benefiting or whatever. Perhaps, perhaps the Goddard people thought that was too inside baseball and perhaps going to let other individuals and websites and stations go -- they were doing a good job of going after that so they didn't need to do that. So Goddard kept with the facts and statistics and what happened in the Kingman prison and so forth. I thought Goddard was pretty effective on that issue. I thought that was his strongest issue, the private prison issue is probably the best issue he has going right now but is that enough to make up a 19-point deficit? I question that.
Ted Simons: Most folks seem to think if you read the pundits and they're throwing in opinions right and left that the attorney general did better in this debate than the governor. This was done on September 1st, the election isn't until November 2nd. That's a lot of water still ahead of us here. Talk about a debate of this magnitude this early in the campaign.

Chris Herstam: I don't know exactly why it was chosen to be this early. Maybe that's the only date the Brewer people had available and so clean elections had to go with it, but the fact it came so many weeks before early voting starts, it will probably a lot forgotten. If Goddard was privately financed and could take clips from this debate and like we saw and Tom Horne did against Andrew Thomas where they kept running and running it. Then it would get legs in this debate. But they have a million from clean elections and that's not a big buy, and it will be harder for the Goddard people to get out. One thing they're probably counting on because the governor's performance has gotten so much national publicity maybe that will excite the democratic party and they may come in with some independent expenditures and give her performance some legs.

Ted Simons: The poll numbers have to change. Nobody gets excited 19 points down.

Chris Herstam: I think Goddard has a enormous mountain to climb. For two reasons, the first the illegal immigration issue. The governor has this issue down cold. She's been on the fox news network and national networks and they want to talk about it and she's done it and she's prepared and the fact that it's such a popular bill, S.B. 1070, and national and here in Arizona and all she has to say is, Terry, Goddard, you were against that bill. That's all she has to remind people of and that hurts him. And the big plus that she used skillfully, is just wrap him up in Barack Obama. Barack Obama, President Obama, approval rating in Arizona is only 39%. According to the latest polls. Nationally its 46%. I'm told that Arizona has the worst Obama approval rating in the country and the Republicans know that and they're going to wrap every Democrat they can in the Obama administration. So illegal immigration and Obama, two -- two issues that Goddard is going to have a mighty tough time overcoming.

Ted Simons: Before you go, a quick clip from the person that started the conversation talking about, and that's libertarian candidate, Barry Hess, by many -- by a lot of accounts did fairly well. Let's watch.

Barry Hess: I was for private prisons, I'm all about privatization and I've had second thoughts because of this and probably there's a place in some circumstances. Maybe for the drunk drivers or the minimals, but -- I'm having reservations, the state should be in control of their prisons.

Ted Simons: A libertarian being reflective on the idea of private prisons, that a moment.

Chris Herstam: And he assisted Goddard on that issue. Questioning whether the private prisons are running amok, he helped Goddard. But Barry Hess has run for governor three times and he's got it down well and he was impressive last night.

Ted Simons: Where do the campaigns go from here?

Chris Herstam: Goddard will try to drive home the economic issue, the lost jobs. Frankly, Polling say that people don't blame governors, they blame presidents. But he'll try and stay away from mission and as I mentioned, Brewer, it's Obama and immigration, and she's going to keep riding that horse probably to the finish line and probably successfully.

Ted Simons: Chris good to see you, thanks for joining us.

Chris Herstam: My pleasure.

Joe Arpaio Lawsuit

  |   Video
  • Paul Davenport of the Associated Press discusses the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Apraio is being sued for refusing to turn over documents regarding a civil rights investigation of the MCSO's Police & Jail Operations.
  • Paul Davenport - Associated Press
Category: Law

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The U.S. Justice Department has sued Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The suit was filed in U.S. district court in Phoenix. Arpaio is being sued for refusing to turn over documents regarding a civil rights investigation of the MCSO's police and jail operations. The Justice Department says it's been decades since a sheriff has refused to cooperate with an investigation. Here now to talk about the suit is associated press reporter Paul Davenport. Good to see you, thanks for joining us.

Paul Davenport: Hi, Ted.

Ted Simons: Give us information why the Justice Department is suing Arpaio.

Paul Davenport: The Justice Department has been looking into his department since about mid 2008. The preliminary inquiry at the start and then more formal proceeding starting in early 2009. They are looking at allegations that Arpaio's department has engaged in discrimination against Hispanic in jail policies and police practices.

Ted Simons: And there was a deadline for him to turn over certain information earlier last month.

Paul Davenport: In August, that's right and there have been meetings and letters going back and forth and to some extent, it's a he said, she said situation about what Arpaio has actually done and what he has refused to do, what he has agreed to do. The suit filed today is fairly bare bones in that extent. It lays out some of that process but doesn't give specifics on what documents are being sought exactly and what is yet to come and what he's already turned over.

Ted Simons: And this deals with police procedure in the field and at the jails or only in the field?

Paul Davenport: Both. The lawsuit clearly states it's both and Arpaio talked about how he has offered to make senior jail officials available to let the Justice Department folks into the facilities and conduct interviews and that sort of thing. There's a gamut here.

Ted Simons: I thought may be the Justice Department was getting sufficient information regarding the jails it was just out in the field that was a problem. But you're saying both?

Paul Davenport: That's what the lawsuit says.

Ted Simons: What's the response from Arpaio?

Paul Davenport: He's denouncing it and calls it a witch hunt and says he's being made a whipping boy because according to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he's cooperated. The feds say it hasn't been full cooperation. They have a hammer in that the legal case is grounded on a requirement when you get federal money for various programs you agree to cooperate with certain investigations. And civil rights investigations being one of them. And they say that's what is at stake here.

Ted Simons: So basicallythe county -- how much money? Is it county funds, funds for the sheriff's department? Both?

Paul Davenport: Both. Its over 100 million dollars. The supervisors today it includes something like $50 million in health money. We looked at the points in the lawsuit and they added up to about $15 million, $16 million for the sheriff's department.

Ted Simons: So the sheriff is basically saying I've given you information or your not being specific enough in telling me what kind of information you want? Is that what he's saying so far?

Paul Davenport: Every point in this case is virtually in dispute. Whether he’s given how much. What he's agreed to do, apparently there's a meeting between his lawyer and the feds in Washington and he's saying they smile and the next thing he knows, they're suing him.

Ted Simons: This is separate and apart from another federal investigation regarding abuse of power, correct?

Paul Davenport: That's a grand jury investigation. And we know they've called a lot of witnesses regarding reports of alleged intimidation attempts by the sheriff's office.

Ted Simons: I know we've covered this already, but in a general atmosphere, how did it get to this? You mentioned meetings and letters going back and forth. Has it just been----How did we get here?

Paul Davenport: They've obviously hired lawyers up to the fullest extent they can and Joe Arpaio doesn't want anybody telling him how who run his department, that’s his record

Ted Simons: What abut the other county officials? What are the county officials' part in all of this? Do they have a part in all of this?

Paul Davenport: They do to the extent they run the rest of the county and have a role in terms of funding and some of that funding could be at stake. They issued a statement, the supervisors, they're worried about the taxpayers and the federal funding that could be at risk.

Ted Simons: And the money it would take to defend the sheriff. Who is defending the lawyer here?

Paul Davenport: I'm not quite sure of that?

Ted Simons: I should say Arpaio here. We've mentioned it's been a long time the Justice Department had to sue to get information. How unusual is this?

Paul Davenport: They say it's unprecedented. My colleague Amanda Meyers talked to a former U.S. attorney who told us that may be overstating things a bit.

Ted Simons: So not necessarily as unusual as they want to make it out to be.

Paul Davenport: Possibly not.

Ted Simons: So what's next? What's going on here?

Paul Davenport: As I said, the lawsuit is fairly bare bones in terms of specifics, what is sought and what may happen. I think we'll see filings in the near future talking about specifics. Laying some of that out. So it's going to be in court and we are going to start to see the case get flushed out.

Ted Simons: Any changes in day-to-day operations for the sheriff's department. Anything they are going to change while this hovers around the courts?

Paul Davenport: We've heard no indication of that.

Ted Simons: So keep an eye out for what happens here and keep an eye out for other investigations and other possibilities. They seem to be flying around all over the place.

Paul Davenport: This is the most recent of several federal lawsuits of one sort or another involving Arizona. You have the 1070 challenge and there was one regarding hiring practices at a local college district and some advocates are saying this is pushback by the federal government against Arizona for various actions on immigration.

Ted Simons: You mentioned-- the last question here, you mentioned a response by Arpaio so far. Was there any hind, is there any hint of a conciliatory nature or is this still a pushback on his effort as well?

Paul Davenport: I don’t hear any tone of conciliation when using terms like whipping boy and witch hunt.

Ted Simons: Very good. Paul, great job and we'll keep an eye out.

Paul Davenport: Thanks, Ted.

Real Estate Update

  |   Video
  • Arizona Republic reporter Catherine Reagor has the latest news on Arizona’s real estate market.
  • Catherine Reagor - Arizona Republic
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Home prices have been flat recently, although they are up year-to-year. And investors continue to have a heavy presence in the local housing market. Here to talk about the latest in real estate is Catherine Reagor, a real estate reporter for "The Arizona Republic." Good to see you again, thanks for joining us.

Ted Simons: How active is the market right now?

Catherine Reagor: It has slowed, the home buyer credit that expired in June really gave us a boost. Maybe people who were going to buy there September, October, bought then and sales are down in the double digits. The summer doldrums and it's tough to get a loan right now. Really stellar credit and a lot of money down.

Ted Simons: Do we have hot areas, not so hot areas? What are you seeing out their?

Catherine Reagor: We are seeing some hot areas in parts of the east valley and Tempe and Gilbert where they was priced out five years ago and now you can buy a home for $200,000 in area where is they were selling for $600,000. There are little pockets. And it just depends really how many foreclosures and short sales are in the neighborhood.

Ted Simons: Lets talk about that, how much are foreclosures and short sales, how much are they driving the market?

Catherine Reagor: We saw the nice dips in may and felt good about the federal loan modification program and then started to climb again. Foreclosures, particularly. On short sales they continue to grow. Many people who can't get loan mod of courses, that's their option to avoid foreclosure and people who have lost a job. That's the way to go. And short sales are better for home prices than foreclosures, but they're still selling for less. And part of the market for a couple of years.
Ted Simons: You mentioned the federal loan modification program. How is that factoring in?

Catherine Reagor: There are some going well and unfortunately, a lot of people are getting knocked out of the trial period after they paid and it's either foreclosure or how do you make that payment? The federal government is pushing lenders to do more. They're trying to up the program. Here in Arizona, we get $125 million for the hardest hit markets and the Arizona housing department will begin taking applications later this month and force for those who couldn't get loan modifications, this should help and there's high hopes and the government sees -- a state-by-state issue. In Phoenix, where home values dropped 50%, you have to do something different.

Ted Simons: The rental market, how is that affecting the rental markets?

Catherine Reagor: There are a lot of happy landlords because -- and particularly for homes with two to three bedrooms in nice suburban neighborhoods because people who can't buy because of their credit, lost a home to foreclosure, they want to rent and a lot of times they want to stay in the neighborhoods where their children's schools are and the rental demand is strong for the three-bedroom, two-bath suburban neighborhoods

Ted Simons: The condo market, we have -- in general, the condo market, is worse when things are bad.

Catherine Reagor: We're seeing good signs, some projects open back up. That had been -- that have been in foreclosure. And there's definitely interest. It's just that they have to work it out and get completed and really, the condo project at center point.

Ted Simons: Yes, talk about that.

Catherine Reagor: You got the news. But you know, that's been on the market and costs more than $200 million, the loans, tied back to the mortgages unlimited but mark Winkleman, has been trying to sell that and we've had top bidders --

Ted Simons: Sounds like a company out of Cleveland, looking at $30 million. Obviously has to closed and the I's dotted and T's crossed. But $30 million, if that's the price, talk to me about that price for that project.

Catherine Reagor: It's a great deal for the developer, but it's also a good deal for the investors who have been waiting to get paid back. It will pay them something and it won't drag it out any longer. And needs work, so the developers have to put more money into it and that's an issue and see what they can do with it. If they can sell condos, or talk about high-end dorms or apartments. And for that price they could probably do it.

Ted Simons: Whatever they do will take a while because there's still a lot of work, its still a construction site.

Catherine Reagor: The first building, mark said 90% done but they have to do some things, retrofits, it would be nice to be completed and not empty and great for one of our biggest lenders, the investors to get money.

Ted Simons: Talk about the idea of double dip in terms of prices. How much was the upswing in the first place and how far could it go down again?

Catherine Reagor: I think we went up 58% during the boom and we hit what looked like for now, is the bottom in April of last year. We went down to about $118,000 for a medium price. If you bought when the medium was $265,000. And we were trekking up, $130,000, it's going in the right direction, but last month, foreclosures climbed but the jobless rate issues and sales dropped, after the first time tax credit expired and prices dropped two to three percent and if you look at pending sales which we have indexes, they're supposed to drop again in September and could drop to $119,000 in September – which would put us to our low.

Ted Simons: Back.

Catherine Reagor: And that would be a double -- if we climb back up, that's great. But that's not what it looks like. But we need more buyers and more people to be able to buy and want to buy.

Ted Simons: We nee more jobs, that gets more buyers.

Catherine Reagor: And fewer foreclosures.

Ted Simons: We'll get you back when it starts climbing back up again.

Catherine Reagor: It may be a while. But hoping sooner.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Catherine Reagor: Thank you.