Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 19, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Don't miss HORIZON's weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Howard Fischer - of "Capitol Media Services"
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
It's Friday, August 19, 2005. In the headlines this week, there were several new developments in the ongoing battle on the border, including a state of emergency declaration, and a proposal to build a fence along the border. New voting rules proposed by Secretary of State Jan Brewer to satisfy Prop 200 have been approved by the Attorney General and the governor. And John Greene, a Republican candidate for governor, has filed a complaint over tourism billboards featuring the picture of Governor Janet Napolitano. That's next on "Horizon."

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>> Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. This is the Journalists Roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services, Chip Scutari of the "Arizona Republic," and Mark Flatten, returning from the "East Valley Tribune." Issues related to Arizona's border problems with Mexico dominating the news this week. Several developments designed to protect the border and to get the attention of the federal government, culminating today with the joint news conference between Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and the governor of Sonora, Mexico. Howie, you spent some time on Interstate 19. What did they have to say at the press conference?

>> Howard Fischer:
Well, they're both very unhappy with their federal governments. I mean, it's nothing new Janet is unhappy with our federal government. She has been saying it all along. She says they owe us $217 million, for example, for not paying for illegals who commit state crimes we're housing in state prisons. She said they haven't lived up to the responsibility to protect the border and therefore we have costs in Arizona. Eduardo Bours is the governor of Sonora and he has problems. Now, you say, what's his issue? The problem is that all these folks hoping to get into the United States end up in Sonora, end up in Nogales and end up in Agua Prieta and the other border communities. They have crime problems there. They take jobs from people there. So he's unhappy his federal government hasn't controlled not only the migration from the interior of the country but people coming up from El Salvador and Nicaragua and Honduras. So he wants some action. What they decided is, look, we sit hear and we can wait for the feds or we can do something. Earlier this week, the governor declared an emergency, freed up $1.5 million. That's going to pay for some border police departments to have overtime for their officers to work on border-type crimes. Eduardo Bours is going to use his power to set up internal checkpoints in Sonora on state roads to check people coming north to find out who they are, are they committing crimes, and build up a database and run them against lists of people wanted in the U.S. They figure there's only so much they can do but they're at least going to start it.

>> Chip Scutari:
Did one of the governors get a more positive reaction, did Bours or Napolitano get a more positive reaction or did it look political?

>> Howard Fischer:
Did it look political? Does almost anything these guys do look political? The interesting thing is, of course, Bours is ineligible for reelection. They serve one term there. Of course, he would like his party to continue in power, so he needs to look active. Obviously this governor would like to be reelected and clearly she is very vulnerable on the immigration issue. I don't know there were any surprises in what was announced. Obviously they made a big thing. This is an historic meeting. Well, no. Then they signed this joint Arizona-Sonora cooperative task force to share information. Well, to a certain extent border police departments have been doing that all along. Some of it is show, but some of it is saying, we need to do something at the state level because the feds aren't doing the things --

>> Mark Flatten:
I think the governor, our governor, not their governor, has -- well, throw Bill Richardson into the mix from New Mexico who kind of got this border emergency declarations going. I think Governor Napolitano has figured out that at some point between the 1500s and today that the immigration problem has worn on people's patience, and voters, Republican and Democrat, are just tired of it. For years her and other governors were able to say, well, you know, if only the federal government would do their job, and the first several years of her term, she said, well, we need to get the federal government to send a check. Well, it became clear the federal government isn't going to send a check. So I think that the realization now is, okay, what are you doing besides begging for money? And so in the last six months or so she has become a lot more active in this issue.

>> Howard Fischer:
Well, and the political reality, having done one of these and stuck her finger in the air and figured out which way the wind is blowing, is after having vetoed a number of bills, including official English, last year she vetoed in front of a hispanic group, a voting issue before Prop 200. She has vetoed bills --

>> She --

>> Howard Fischer:
And the cops enforcing local law enforcement.

>> Mark Flatten:
That, I think, is the one that could haunt her the most, because that plays into what she is sort doing now. She vetoes a bill that would have allowed local agencies to get involved and then in a post-Prop 200 world realizes, oh, my goodness, that's probably not a good thing to do, and now what is she trying to do? Well, we have to get the state police involved.

>> Howard Fischer:
Just briefly, she is trying to split the hair -- she says, we are not going to have the local police involved in immigration enforcement. We are going to have them enforcing the laws caused by the problems of illegal immigration, car theft, human smuggling, drug smuggling, et cetera. I know -- I understand that, but --

>> Mark Flatten:
What are you going to do when we get a situation like we had last year in Mesa where DPS pulled over a van-load of illegal immigrants, INS won't respond, as INS frequently doesn't respond to these calls, and DPS had no alternative but to let them go. Is anything she's planning going to change that?

>> Howard Fischer:
Actually, one of the things that occurred also this week was she had originally announced a plan during her summit to have 12 DPS officers cross trained by immigration and customs enforcement to pick up these people and take them to a federal detention facility. Well, what's happened while secretary Michael Chertoff, who is homeland security chief in Washington, said I like the idea, some of the local folks have been a little less anxious to work with them. So she is trying to pressure them to do that, so, to get back to your point, so there is something DPS is doing.

>> Michael Grant:
In fact, Chip, she sent a letter to Chertoff complaining that they had rejected the idea, but I'm not sure they actually rejected the idea.

>> Chip Scutari:
What happened is, the governor, like Mark was saying before and like Howie was saying, she's been very -- really frustrated with the federal government. She sent three invoices for $200 million to pay for illegals who are incarcerated here. Now she is stepping up the rhetoric. In July she came up with this plan to have 12 DPS officers help with those catch-and-release cases that Mark is talking about. Phoenix P.D. goes to a drop house, there's 20 illegals, they call I.C.E. and wait hours and hours and have to release them. Her plan was to have DPS partner with them. They had a Flagstaff summit in July where they kind of hashed these things out. They had a contract or a memo of understanding with the federal government. They thought things were on the right path. Then the governor's people will tell you that, Hey, first they tried to work with border patrol to team up with DPS. Then they tried to work with I.C.E. and they were given a lot of resistance. I think what she is doing now, she fired off this letter to Chertoff to kind of get a bug up his you know what to get him to do something, and it's working, because today we did the story, and homeland security guys are calling us, whoa, we're still with you, we're working, wait until you see what we come up with next week. I think that's part of the governor's plan. She is going to paw at the federal government and annoy them and annoy them until they actually do something.

>> Mark Flatten:
But I think part of the frustration with I.C.E., which stand for immigration and customs enforcement, seems to have an attitude and has for years, yeah, we'll take care of it, we'll get to it. That's the attitude you saw in some of these instances where they can't, local police pick up a group of illegal aliens and it's after 5:00 and they can't get I.C.E. to respond. You saw that to some degree with the Minutemen where I.C.E. would say, hey, that's our job. We're not going to do our job, but it's our job.

>> Howard Fischer:
It's like the old days with unions, the railroad unions, only we're the ones empowered to uncouple the cars and things like that, and so it's kind of, this is our turf, and nobody else is smart enough to know how to pick up somebody who is here illegally, nobody knows how to transport somebody who is here illegally except us.

>> Chip Scutari: The other thing about I.C.E., they were formed in 2003 under the umbrella of the homeland security, and they've been pretty much a rudderless ship. They've had acting special agents and acting special agents. There's really no leader in charge. I think that's been frustrating for the Napolitano administration to deal with, hey, it's Joe Smith this week, two months later it's another guy. They can't get anything coordinated. I think they had several meetings with I.C.E. and they weren't getting anything done on this DPS plan. So that's when she sent the letter.

>> Michael Grant:
Mark, from just a political analysis standpoint, can the governor seize the high ground on this issue from this standpoint? It seems to me the more she elevates the more she does allow Republicans on the other side to say, Well, welcome late to the party and why did you veto this and veto that and that kind of thing? Seems to me that that is a possible significant downside to the strategy.

>> Mark Flatten:
I don't think it's a downside. I think she will realizes that she needs to get a handle on the issue, that the path she was going down before was a dead end, and so six months ago they could point at her and say, look, she's all talk, she's not doing anything. In fact, when we try to do something, she vetoes it. Now with what's happened in the last six months, she's gaining some --

>> Howard Fischer:
Just this week, I mean, look, she took what essentially was one event, the declaration of emergency on Monday, and the giving some of the funds today, made two events out it, which gets her two headlines, two live shots, two front-page articles, and so she wants her name connected over and over again about, "we're doing something about immigration."

>> Michael Grant:
But my point is, with those stories -- with each --

>> Howard Fischer:
What's her choice? She can either continue to do nothing or do that. She's trapped. She has to do something. Even if she were to come out and say, "Look, maybe I was a little late in realizing it, we have -- here's what we've done," list point, point, point. That's what she is trying to do, is rack up points.

>> Chip Scutari:
And we insiders know she has been slow to pick up this issue, but by September 2006, when most Joe Six-Packs are paying attention to the governor's race, like Howie said, she will have a full bullet point list of, I declared an emergency, I did this, this and that, and they might say, wow, she's doing something.

>> Mark Flatten:
That's what's going to come up in the debate, the Republican, whoever it will, could be anybody at this point --

>> Michael Grant:
Or no one.

>> Mark Flatten:
Or nobody. -- is going to point at her and say she vetoed this bill. And then she will get up in her two minutes and say, Look at what I've done just in the last year alone. Let's leave the other years off the table. But let's looks at what I've done in the last year alone.

>> Howard Fischer:
Let me go, she's even set it up to put the Republicans on the defensive. I asked her today, you know, this million and a half doesn't go far and I realize it's still more of an emergency fund-she said, you know, we could go back to the legislature to come up with more money for more cops along the border.

>> Mark Flatten:
But has she tried to?

>> Howard Fischer:
Well, again, the million and a half is just allocated. So my --

>> Mark Flatten:
She hasn't gone --

>> Howard Fischer:
No. She hasn't gone and done that. My guess is that at some point when all that emergency funding is gone she's going to ask the feds, the feds are going to say no, and she is going to go to the legislature and puts them in the position of they either they come up with the money in which case she declares victory or they don't come up with the money, in which case says, I had a plan and they refused it.

>> Chip Scutari:
I think by the time we get to the 2006 race, it's going to be who is willing to put up a wall at the border, which we're going to talk about, who is willing to put up guards at the border. It's going to elevate to that level of discussion.

>> Michael Grant:
What's with the wall?

>> Howard Fischer:
Mr. Pearce, tear down this wall. Russell Pearce has concluded, rightly so, that people have had it up to here, or in the case of a wall, up to about here, with the issue of immigration. We have a problem in Arizona because the federal government built a very large impenetrable wall in San Diego, have had a lot of enforcement in Texas, which leaves Arizona. The feds have been unwilling to build that kind of wall here, at least not in any length. He knows the state can't build right on the border, so he's proposed to go along the southern fence boundaries of everyone who has property along the border, with their permission, and with perhaps some tax rebate money, some donations, maybe even, he thinks, some tax dollars because of what we'll save from the problems of illegal immigration, and build a wall. Now, my first reaction was, nobody is going to agree to this other than perhaps a few folks down in Bisbee, but I talked to Vivian Saunders, she is the tribal chairwoman of the Tohono O'Odham nation. They have 75 miles of border. They have been so effected by the problems of the pollution and the bodies on the reservation, she's willing to talk about letting the state put up a fence along their southern border.

>> Mark Flatten:
You know, you envision this big wall, this 20-foot-tall wall, but if you've ever been down to the border, several years ago I went down to Douglas, and it's comical. There is this huge 15-foot-high unpenetrable wall in Douglas. You get on the border road and drive two miles out of town and maybe you've got a strand of barbed wire or two. You drive three miles out of town and you have nothing except little international markers except saying eh, -- so when we talk about a wall, I mean, we can kind of laugh or take it seriously, that proposal, but when you look at what's there now, there's nothing there.

>> Howard Fischer:
What Russell Pearce says, even if we can't build it along, whatever, 300 miles of border that we have, to the extent that we can take 100 miles and make that impenetrable, it allows border patrol then to concentrate their efforts on the places where there is not a wall. It has some sort of sense. He would like to take this to the voters in 2006. If he can get it on the ballot, we're down to the question we've all been talking about, voters are frustrated, and Lord knows what they would approve.

>> Michael Grant:
The Governor and the Attorney General signing off on the Prop 200 plan by Secretary of State Jan Brewer?

>> Howard Fischer:
After a lot of gnashing of teeth and false starts and accusations, the Attorney General said, Look, I realize that these rules will require people to present some I.D. when they come to the polls. Whether it's the one photo I.D., two other forms of I.D. They did expand the list of what would be allowed to things like cell phone bills and everything else. But he finally came around, which is a position he wasn't in, of saying if you show up without I.D., despite everything else, you're going to have to go home or you don't get a ballot. It's just the way it's going to be. He's not happy about it. Will some people be turned away? Yes, but he recognized that's what Proposition 200 requires.

>> Michael Grant:
Before we leave the segment, follow-up on from state lawmakers on your story a couple weeks ago some of the money intended for border tech not reaching the border.

>> Mark Flatten:
Again, this plays into the whole overall issue. They're frustrated because for years we've been hearing this chorus about, oh, we need to get this technology down there and start getting control of the border and they're seeing that when the money that's appropriated disappears, what they see that as is just more rhetoric from Washington, more double talk from Washington, and they're determined that somebody, this time, unlike years past, somebody get to the bottom of this, and at some point that the money that we need for this stuff on the border doesn't get tied up in Washington, that it actually reaches the border.

>> Michael Grant: It has attracted some congressional attention, has it not?

>> Mark Flatten:
It's attracted a lot of congressional attention, both in Arizona and in California.

>> Michael Grant:
Republican gubernatorial candidate John Greene taking aim at those Arizona tourism billboards featuring the face of Arizona's Governor Janet Napolitano. Chip, what action did Mr. Greene take?

>> Chip Scutari:
Well, Mr. Greene, who is running for governor, is an attorney, he filed a complaint with Terry Goddard's office, the Arizona Attorney General, basically complaining that -- or pointing out that Governor Napolitano is using taxpayer funds on tourism billboards and also a letter, welcome back to school letter, for parents of school children, as kind of an easy way to campaign for 2006 on taxpayer dime. One of the things he points out, the tourism billboards, everyone knows about, her face is on these various billboards, the letter is even more interesting, because if you see the letter, it has a big nice-size picture of her in the upper right-hand corner, I counted about 10 "I's" in it, I did this, I did that, and it's almost written like a campaign brochure. It says what she has done in the past, like all day kindergarten, and what she promises to do in the future. It clearly looks like a campaign piece. I asked Jeanine L'Ecuyer, who is the governor's press secretary, to say, if you have done this in the past, let me see it. I still have not seen previous letters, similar letters back to parents.

>> Michael Grant:
And on the letter, the method of distribution is precisely what? I'm a little fuzzy.

>> Chip Scutari:
They posted it, e-mailed it to various superintendents, public school superintendents, and then the governor wrote a letter to each superintendent saying you can either post it on your district web site or, you know, distribute it in school and have the kids take it home in their backpacks. Feel free to do whatever you want. Wink, wink.

>> Howard Fischer:
Some of the school districts we contacted actually are mailing it home to the parents. So you really are using public resources here for what is from my way of looking at it a thinly disguised campaign piece.

>> Michael Grant:
Mark, when I read, there have been two or three stories over the past week on this general subject. I was trying to go back through the memory bank what other governors have done, and certainly there have been self-promotional efforts. There's no doubt about that. This does seem to be at a level, though, above what I can recall.

>> Mark Flatten:
Yeah, this is probably a little more blatant. It's certainly not unique among past governors. You talk about the school letter, it's fun, too. But the billboard, I think is kind of cool. That's, the most recognizable feature of Arizona is certainly the face of our governor. It's not the Grand Canyon. It's not the superstitions. It's the face of the governor. And that's sort of her explanation.

>> Howard Fischer:
Well, that was the explanation of the office of tourism, which insisted that it was their idea, Margie, who happens to be dependent on Janet Napolitano for keeping that job, says it was her idea to do it. It goes beyond that. You can't look at any one event and say this goes over the line. In fact, the state law says what is advocating someone's reelection? There's some lines about express advocacy. Go to the department of tourism web site and you will find on there an interactive slide show, and you click on a city and it says, Flagstaff, and it shows the slide show of Flagstaff. Here's the governor looking at trinkets. Here's the governor looking at the Grand Canyon. It's sort of like, if you are trying to convince people to go see Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, why would you show pictures of the governor there? It is a whole host of things that have just as a whole -- the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

>> Mark Flatten:
Isn't part of her explanation, well, Arnold did it?

>> Howard Fischer:
That was part of the interesting explanation when I asked Jeanine L'Ecuyer about the whole issue of the billboards. She said, well, Arnold is the face of California. Well, he made 72 kazillion dollars on a movie. And he is probably recognizable by children in Rwanda.

>> Mark Flatten:
He is probably recognizable outside the borders of California.

>> Chip Scutari:
Just to provide historical perspective, you asked before what other governors, Fife Symington, the former Republican governor, got in trouble in '92, I believe, when he wanted to put his name on the gas pump stickers, which Napolitano has also done. So he got in trouble for that. This is a lot different than that.

>> Howard Fischer:
I don't know that I would want my name on the gas pump stickers at $2.65 a gallon.

>> Michael Grant:
Admittedly you have a lot of time to kill while you're watching the thing move at light speed these days. Slade Mead back in the hunt for office. Which one?

>> Chip Scutari:
He is going to run against Tom Horne for Arizona school superintendent. He was a Republican when he was in the state Senate. Now he switched parties, became a Democrat, to challenge Horne. As you may recall, he and Senator Linda Bender from Lake Havasu city were kind of the G.O.P. renegades. They were the ones who helped Governor Napolitano win her budget battle. They held out for more money for education, things of that nature. So he's going to run as a publicly funded candidate against Horne. Should be a pretty lively race. They're both not afraid to be in the paper.

>> Howard Fischer:
The central issue on this is going to be the AIMS test. Tom Horne believes we need a standardized test. He didn't like the provision the legislature put out where you can use your grades to give you bonus points. Slade Mead believes the whole AIMS test is a failure. What's going to be interesting is the election is going to come several months after the 2006 graduation. The class of 2006 would have to pass. What parent whose child has failed is going to vote for Tom Horne? The more kids that fail -- every kid that fails is a vote for Slade Mead.

>> Chip Scutari:
There are still about 23,000 students that haven't passed from the class of 2006.

>> Michael Grant:
The real important issue is where does Slade Mead stand on junk food.

>> Howard Fischer:
I honestly haven't asked him. Personally I wouldn't come and do the show without chocolate.

>> Michael Grant:
How does Tom Horne feel --

>> Howard Fischer:
Here's what happened. As you remember, the legislature last session passed a bill directing the Department of Ed to come one a list of things forbidden in schools and said essentially use the federal nutritional guidelines from the U.S. department of agricultural. Tom Horne came out with a preliminary plan, and what he did is he said if it has more than 30\% fat, more than 10\% saturated fat, or trans-fatty acids, more than 30\% sugar, less than -- if it has less than 1 gram of fiber, it's off limits. And so -- the funny thing is, here's the problem. He started then putting --

>> Mark Flatten:
Do we see a dichotomy here? There are 23,000 kids that can't pass AIMS and the Department of Education is busying itself figuring out how many grams of fat you can have in a candy bar.

>> Howard Fischer:
But the math of looking at those little wrappers is very good in terms of figuring out percentages. The interesting thing is it's created some interesting dichotomies. For instance, Quaker Valley Chewy Granola Bars are off limits but Quaker Valley Crunchy Granola Bars will be okay. You get into weird things. Sugar-or--Natural juices, which are packed with sugar, are okay, but sugar-free sodas are not okay. And so there's going to be a lot of discussion now between -- now and the time that the rules are formally adopted later this year, is the line drawn in the right place, and have we really helped?

>> Michael Grant:
Democrats got themselves a new party chair?

>> Chip Scutari:
They're officially going to appoint or name Harry Mitchell, the state senator from Tempe, on Saturday, tomorrow, up in Flagstaff. The Republicans are just breathing a huge sigh of relief. They won't do that publicly but they know Jim Peterson, the former Democrat chair, who probably is going to run against Jon Kyl, he spent about $7 million, pumped about $7 million of his own money into the party since 1999. Really built up their party infrastructure. Harry Mitchell, legendary mayor of Tempe, but he doesn't have the deep pockets and he's not known as a fund-raiser. I think the Republicans are pretty ecstatic that Jim Peterson is going on his merry way.

>> Mark Flatten:
Mitchell said something along the lines of I'm going to continue down the path of Peterson which is going to be kind of tough on a retired school teacher salary.

>> Michael Grant:
Former Tempe mayor Neil Giuliano got a new assignment?

>> Mark Flatten:
He is going to head a national group called Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. It's actually a pretty influential group. It's gotten some weird shows taken off TV, I guess, and it's -- it's a fairly mainstream group advocating for gay and lesbian causes.

>> Michael Grant:
All right. Well, panelists, we're out of time. Interesting week.

>> Howard Fischer:
But we didn't talk about my marijuana bust up near Strawberry.

>> Mark Flatten:
Not your --

>> Michael Grant:
We're saving that for next week.

>> Howard Fischer:
Okay.

>> Michael Grant:
If you would like to see a transcript minus that discussion of tonight's program, please visit our web site at www.azpbs.org. When you get there, you can click on the word "Horizon." That's going to lead you to transcripts, links and information on upcoming shows.

>>> Reporter:
What's causing the Valley's housing market to explode? And who is buying? Home sale prices are impacting families struggling to afford a home. Meantime the housing market drives our state's economy in many ways. What happens if the so-called housing bubble busts? Join us for this special Housing Arizona Tuesday at 7:00 on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
Next Friday, of course, we will be back with another edition of the Journalists Roundtable. Coming up next on the "now" program we will take a look at efforts of local communities to protect their own backyards from pesticides. Thank you very much for joining us on this Friday edition of "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Have a great weekend. Good night.

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