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November 15, 2010

Host: Ted Simons

Gerrymandering, the Documentary

  |   Video
  • In many political districts, the outcome is a foregone conclusion. It’s no accident. It’s the way the lines for the districts are drawn. Learn more about the once-a-decade process in a new documentary, “Gerrymandering.” Director Jeff Reichert will discuss his new film.
  • Jeff Reichert - director
Category: Government

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Every 10 years, boundary lines for political districts are redrawn. In Arizona, a redistricting commission made up of Republican and Democrats and often Independents assist responsible for drawing the new maps. In many other states, the legislature does the job. With politics a major part of the process. A new film takes a look at how that process can be man up lated. I'll talk to the film's director and a former political candidate and lawmaker about the new documentary, "Gerrymandering," but first, here's a trailer for the film.

Trailer for “Gerrymandering”: Republicans want half a million more votes than the democrats. But the Democratic Party won 31 more seats.
Too many districts today. People's vote probably won't make a difference. There's an image of an American democracy that is open to change. This image –
Whoever runs in November is going to win, whether you like them or not.
Work out the districts behind closed doors.
There are other systems than having hacks drought lines.
The president needs this.
There is no such thing as two partisan. There's only part son.
This is about politics. This is about who holds power.
Gerrymandering is maybe the greatest election scam ever perpetrated on the American people.
In the spring of 2001, he began the process of redrawing his own district. A huge turning point in Obama's political career.
The deck is stacked against us.
Voter discrimination must end.
The myth of Democracy is that.

Ted Simons: Here to talk about "Gerrymandering" is its director, Jeff Reichert, and also here is Ken Clark, a former legislator and now chairman of the Arizona competitive districts coalition. Thanks for joining us. Let's define terms. What's gerrymandering?

Jeff Reichert: Gerrymandering is the manipulation of district lines for some sort of gain. That gain could be political, to vantage one party or another, an ethnic group or racial group, or protect an incumbent.

Ted Simons: So compare gerrymandering to straight redistricting.

Jeff Reichert: Redistricting is the sort of banal term for an administrative things we're supposed to do every 10 years, adjust for population changes so everybody gets equal representation. The problem is, in something like 46 states, that process is left entirely up to the hands of the legislators. So the people running under those lines determine what their districts look like.

Ted Simons: Not so long ago in Arizona we decided to go ahead with a commission as opposed to letting the legislature do that. How it is working out?

Ken Clark: Mixed. The commission was qood at making more compact districts for the large part, but we have only half as many competitive districts as we had in the 1990s. I should say we only drew half as many of the districts, We've grown in competitive districts but mostly because people have moved around.

Ted Simons: Did the idea of the commission, though, was the-to-keep that from happening. Is this a good way, it is the best way we know how here in Arizona to avoid these problems? Because if the problems are still there, what do you do next?

Ken Clark: We can't change the commission. It is what it is now. The biggest problem we have I think is that almost half the voters in the state effectively have no voice. Because whoever they vote for in the primary is probably not going to win in the general. It's that partisan. We believe we could get more than 10 out of 30 competitive districts in the legislature, and four out of nine in the new congressional mapping.

Ted Simons: Have you found the idea of a commission, citizens commission, whatever, as opposed to legislatures going ahead and redistricting? Is that an improvement?

Jeff Reichert: I think in most cases you will see some improvements. It's depends on how you constitute the commission. At least you're taking obvious self interest out of the process. In California, they've adopted commission that looks like Arizona's, it's bigger, it has certain different search guards, but they're going to do all their districting by a 15-member commission starting in 2011.

Ted Simons: Your film also deals with some pretty obvious curiosities in the system, including what happened in Texas with what, Democratic lawmakers basically fleeing the state because of gerrymandering operations?

Jeff Reichert: In 2003 Tom Delay decide I didn't get as many seats out of the election from Texas as I wanted, so he went back down, and figured out that you could technically redistrict the state as many times as you like. So they had already redrawn the lines in 2001, he went back in 2003 to create a new partisan plan that would knock out seven senior Democratic lawmakers from Congress. He eventually succeeded.

Ted Simons: And we should mention that both parties, this is what Pete Wilson says, politics at its worst, he said, both parties have involved. They're both at fault.

Jeff Reichert: Both parties are very, very guilty of redistricting.

Ted Simons: In Arizona, we have both parties involved in the commission. You got two and two, and you find out they get together and they pick one as the chairman, it's somewhat convoluted, but the idea is when you got two and two, someone is going to have to agree with the other side to pick that last one, so you should have some sort of balance here. We've got balance here?

Ken Clark: We don't. Of the six criteria used for redistricting, one is called Communities of Interest. Long story short, it's -- it creates a huge loophole through which people can use to Gerrymander districts.

Ted Simons: Communities of interest meaning what, religious communities, ethnic communities new don't want to --

Ken Clark: It's never really defined. It's defined as who I do want to live next to, do I see myself as living in a downtown district, a farm area? And it's meant to be vague. But like I said, that's what allows people to Gerrymander.

Ted Simons: The idea you've got one party, and usually the party in control wants to stay in control, but you also have the minority party, which has its own interest, and in order to have any kind of say whatsoever, isn't it often the case the minority party stacks an area because at least they know they're going to get something, some representation at whatever state legislature they're going to.

Ken Clark: And I think many times they shoot themselves in the foot, whether the minority is a Republican or Democrat. Personally I'd rather live in a meritocracy. Whoever's best ideas win. That's not what we have when it's predetermined. And we've got to get away from that.

Ted Simons: This idea of gerrymandering, it's a pejorative, but is there anything good about it? Can minorities who may not be able to be represented anywhere at least have certain focus communities of interest here in Arizona, focused areas where they get their --

Jeff Reichert: I think racial gerrymandering overall has had a net positive effect on democracy, at least when it's done to create representation for minority communities. Obviously it has a flip side. Sometimes it's done to carve African-American and Latino communities up into many different pieces. But in as much as we can look to districts that were drawn to help that representations that reputation, we can look at our Congress and see our Congress is not a bunch of old white guys. That is because of racial gerrymandering.

Ted Simons: As far as Arizona is concerned, we're under some sort of judicial watch because of voting rights problems some 40 years ago. How does that play into what we're trying to do?

Ken Clark: We shouldn't eliminate that. We can't eliminate that. It's good we have minority, majority districts, but even outside of those, we still believe that you can get more than 10 competitive districts. It's still a possible thing for us.

Ted Simons: How do you do it?

Ken Clark: Well, you have people who are down there fighting for the concept of competition. We had only very few people down there last time. And they were -- their voices were drowned out by people trying to gerrymander districts.

Ted Simons: How do you make sure, again, my group, I'm in the minority, there's no one out there to represent me, there's a few people like me, but if you want -- the only way we can get representation is making sure we're all on the same -- how do you make sure that you're not gouging somebody else by getting everyone represented? How do you do that?

Jeff Reichert: There's no perfect system. There's no perfect plan which everybody is going to be happy. But I think we should embrace that and say that's part of what democracy is, sometimes you're on the losing end of the stick. You show up for the next election and try and win. Sometimes you're going to get a map you're not that happy with, or maybe you feel you ended up in a district that isn't the district you wanted to be N go to the hearings next time and testify and fight for it and struggle, and let's have the arguments out in the open, put all the politics on the table and have the discussion. That's -- it's the founding part of the -- how democracy works.

Ted Simons: Very quickly, screening of the film is tomorrow?

Jeff Reichert: Yes.

Ted Simons: In Tempe?

Jeff Reichert: At the Historical Society Museum.

Ted Simons: All right. Very good. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us.

Jeff Reichert: Thank you.

Medical Marijuana

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  • Arizona voters have approved Prop 203 which allows the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions. Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Service, talks about how medical marijuana will be governed.
  • Will Humble - Director, Arizona Department of Health Service
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. It's official -- Arizona voters have approved prop 203, which allows for the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions. The citizens' initiative was approved by 4300 votes. Now the state health department that's come up with rules governing medical marijuana in Arizona. Earlier today I talked about that to state health director, Will Humble. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Will Humble: Thanks for the opportunity.

Ted Simons: Let's get to some basics. Basic questions -- how will be able to dispense the marijuana?

Will Humble: Okay. Well, eventually by April of 2011, we'll have an application online that people can apply to become a dispensary in Arizona. We have a period of time, a little over a month, to evaluate those dispensary applications, and those that are successful get through the application process would get a license from the department to become a dispensary. We're the only state to have a limit on that number, in an Arizona we'll be limited to 124 dispensaries.

Ted Simons: Where can those dispensaries be located?

Will Humble: That kind of depends on local government. One of the things the initiative says is that with that application to become a dispensary in Arizona, the applicant needs to show that they're in accordance with local zoning. So one of the things that is happening across the state right now, and I was at the league of cities and towns last week to talk about this issue, is cities are starting to get together and decide what it is they want to do in terms of zoning. Some of them play want, for example, to make sure you don't have a dispensary located right next to their public pool. That kind of thing. Those are the things that cities need to decide. If they don't put anything in place, then we're obligated to approve a license for a dispensary even though it may be right next to something that they really don't want to have happen.

Ted Simons: OK. What kind of dose are we talking about here?

Will Humble: Dose you mean how much can they buy?

Ted Simons: Yes.

Will Humble: OK. So the initiative says that a qualifying patient can buy 2½ ounces of marijuana every two weeks. So 2 1/2 ounces every two weeks. Interesting, one of the things we have to do in this initiative, our I.T. system. We've got to build an infrastructure within our computer system to track patients. In other words, for example, we don't want somebody buying 2½ ounces of marijuana at dispensary A, getting in their car, driving down to dispensary B that afternoon and buying 2002½ ounces. The computer system has to track that. And make sure that a person is only buying that amount.

Ted Simons: And that person has to be a qualified patient. What constitutes a qualified patient?

Will Humble: There's a whole host of qualifying conditions that are in the initiative that the folks voted on. One of those qualifying conditions is chronic pain. That's one of the things that I was most concerned about when prop 203 was in that debate phase. This issue that in many states that have medical marijuana law, the vast majority and the card holders get cards for chronic pain. Which is difficult to measure and manage in terms of the doctor-patient relationship. One of the things that I want to get after as we develop the regulations in the next 120 days is to make sure that we put some criteria on what that doctor-patient relationship really is. Because in the states that have a big problem with people walking in and getting recommendation after a 15-minute appointment, the reason they're having those problems is because they haven't identified what that relationship exactly is between the physician and the patient. In other words, what kind of criteria did the doctor use before they wrote that recommendation?

Ted Simons: And it is a recommendation, not a prescription. Correct?

Will Humble: It's not a prescription. This is a recommendation. So it's not a script that would you -- you think you normally prescriptions you go to the drugstore, it's not like that. It's a recommendation that goes on to a form that the physician would send in to the department, we merge that with the application, the patient sends in, and then that person would get a qualifying patient card.

Ted Simons: For those 2½ ounces, what's the price here? What are you talking about here?

Will Humble: You stumped me. I've done a lot of interviews today and I don't know the answer to that question.

Ted Simons: Fair enough. How does this law and how will the implementation differ from what's going on over in California?

Will Humble: Well, California's a really an extremely loose initiative. Or law, I don't know exactly how it run there's. The closest analogy for Arizona is Colorado. Colorado has a medical marijuana law that's similar to the Arizona law that the voters vote order a couple weeks ago. There's some things we can improve on from Colorado, in terms of we talked about the doctor-patient relationship. Colorado also has no limitation on the number of dispensaries. So we are in a better position than California -- in Colorado in terms of managing those numbers of dispensaries, so I think we have some advantages that some of the other states don't have.

Ted Simons: How much is all of this going to cost the state in terms of regulation, oversight, the whole nine yards?

Will Humble: Well, over the long run we're going to be able to pay for this full program with the fees we collect for the qualifying patient cards and the dispensary licenses. That's over the long run. Our challenge in the short run is that we have no revenue right now, in other words, we're doing the prep work for the next 120 days to get this program up and running, but we are not selling cards. So we've got no revenue coming in to the system yet. So we're keeping track of all the staff time that we're using to write the computer program, and those -- the regulatory code called the administrative code, we're keeping track of all that so that as we progress and as we begin to sell qualifying patient cards, we're going to recoup those monies in the future and pay back the state for the about $600-800,000 that we expect to spend in staff time between now and late March.

Ted Simons: OK. Last question -- what concerns you most about implementing this law?

Will Humble: There's really two things that I want to make sure we do a good job managing. That we'll make -- that will make us better than the other states. Number one is that qualifying patient criteria to become a qualifying patient in terms of what happens during that doctor-patient relationship. That's absolutely critical. Because if we don't have good criteria there, then we could have these mills open up where doctors are giving out recommendations all day long. We've got -- we've lost our -- we lost the whole battle there. Here's the other thing. I want to make sure that we have some control over the inventory. By inventory I mean the marijuana that's going to be sold in the dispensaries is supposed to be grown in Arizona, cultivation facilities. I want to be able to track what they're cultivating so we know the marijuana they're cultivating in the facility makes it to the dispensary, right, and that the dispensary is accounting for all that inventory through qualified patient cards through sales. So you don't have the cultivation facility creating much more marijuana than they need for their dispensaries, and then selling it out the back door for a profit that ends up on the street. So I want to make sure that we do a good job there, and with the qualifying patients, but having said that, there's about 150 decisions we have to make in the next 120 days, and it will all be a challenge, but we’re up to the task.

Ted Simons: Good luck to you and thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Will Humble: Thanks.

State Schools Chief-elect

  |   Video
  • State Senator John Huppenthal discusses his goals and priorities as the next Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • John Huppenthal - Superintendent of Public Instruction
Category: Education

View Transcript
Ted Simons: State senator John Huppenthal has long been involved in Arizona education policy, having served as chair of the senate education committee. His next job, superintendent of public instruction. Here now is superintendent-elect John Huppenthal. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

John Huppenthal: Thank you for inviting me.

Ted Simons: You've got a couple thousand schools, you've got about a million or so kids, you've got a lot of folks to be careful to kind of monitor and be careful monitoring. Are you ready for this?

John Huppenthal: I'm ready. We know that where it starts. If we expect schools to support parents and to support students, we have to support those schools and those school districts. So we're going to put in place a system of acute excellent service levels to districts and schools, superintendents, school boards, parents, all the way down the line. Teachers. So that we have a culture of -- so when they call the department asking questions and needing support, we have a culture of excellence. We're going to be doing this in a challenge, the department has already shrunk from 478 down to 438 members, and undoubtedly we'll be shrinking more. But we have to show -- we expect school districts to offer -- we have to show the same thing. We're going to put the metrics in place, they'll be open to the public to see just how well we're doing supporting those school districts.

Te Simons: You mentioned accountability, accountability for school districts, obviously very important for you. But how do you account -- how do you encourage, how do you reward progress in schools?

John Huppenthal: Well, as we look across the nation, see what's working, we're really looking at that accountability at the school district level. It's where we have accountability right now. People elect a school board. They really need to have voters informed about how their district is performing in a very scientific basis relative to other districts. We think that will galvanize school districts dramatically. Particularly when we add two new accountability measures. What percentage the teachers say it's an excellent place to work, we'll see dramatic school districts doing a different job in supporting teachers, and what percentage of parents say their child is getting an excellent education. We'll see a difference there as well as the academic gains.

Ted Simons: You're talking a lot here, obvious about metrics, it's a very human endeavor. How do you have a dynamic there?

John Huppenthal: Well, the metrics are measuring the human side of it. That's one thing we want to bring in place that's been missing from other school reform efforts. They just by focusing on test scores you can dehumanize your processes and in the end not motivate your students or engage your parents. By including teacher job satisfaction, that's a very human aspect. It's that teacher energized everyday when they come into work? We think that's revealed by what percentage their school is an excellent place to work, and the same way with engaging parents. The most critical element in the process. Getting that teacher into conferences, what percentage say their child is getting an excellent education.

Ted Simons: Obviously when we talk accountability and testing and such, AIMS test has to come up. Are you going keep it, push forward, change it?

John Huppenthal: Well, AIMS test comes under for a lot of scrutiny and abuse, but the studies I've seen say it's a fairly good job of measuring what it purports to measure, which is mathematical skills and reading skills. And we're going to do a complete scrub-down out. We want to introduce history, we want to introduce civics into that mix and science. And we want to scrub it down to make sure it's doing the very best job in math and reading too. Continual operation, but also we have to have an accountability, it's a pretty good test right now, we need time prove it some more.

Ted Simons: For those who say all aims done is encourage teachers to teach to the test, and from what you were talking about with accountability and these things you'll find out having school districts or schools or teachers basically trying to please instead of trying to get the job done and teaching little minds. How do you respond?

John Huppenthal: Well, I think it's the mix of the whole thing. You have to see -- what you want to see is a school district which is doubling the nationwide academic gains. And you measure that through tests. If they're getting that they'll view that as enforce can. If they're not, they're libel to abuse the test. You also want to see that great relationship in parents and supporting teachers. You want to see all three. High parent rating, high teacher ratings and academic gains. Those go hand in hand. They're not at odds with each other.

Ted Simons: You were among those who look at Florida as a model perhaps for Arizona. Some folks more than others. Let's talk about Florida a little bit here, because they do things there differently than here. Do you still want to model Arizona after Florida's reforms? Some of those reforms are based on spending more per pupil, which I don't think we'll be doing here for a while.

John Huppenthal: I think as you look at Florida, they did a lot of things. And so it's like a jigsaw puzzle. You have to look for clues as to which things were more effective. As I look through there and I see their reading gains were higher than their math gains, and I see all the work being done at the Florida center for reading research and how powerfully effective that was, I want to move that technology here to Arizona, every school district should be highly familiar with what they did and how they broke through those higher levels of literacy. They moved their literacy rates 30% relative to Arizona for low income minority students. That's powerful stuff.

Ted Simons: Is that is what is holding back third graders? You wind up with fourth graders taking third grade classes, which naturally would improve the scores. How do you work that in Arizona?

John Huppenthal: Well, the things that were powerful about the Florida retention model -- retention didn't work in New York, it didn't work in Chicago or Arizona in the late '70s. So I've been very leery about retention. The thing that was different about Florida, was all the early warning alerts to parents, your student -- your child is not on track to be able to read by the end of third grade. Those early alerts were to me the most attractive thing about it. There are questions about retention, and the long-term effects of retention. We need to follow those and be guided by the ongoing studies of what's going on in Florida. There are some concerns and I'm open to further deliberation on those.

Ted Simons: Very good. Tuition tax credit law. Controversial here, "East Valley Tribune" with a report staying it's not working the way it's supposed to be, a flawed system. How do you feel about that? Any changes necessary for that program?

John Huppenthal” I'm a proponent of vouchers, and I -- my preference would be a voucher system for school choice. Every child should get a public education in the school they choose. I'm a full-blown proponent of school choice. The tuition tax credit is an imperfect way to provide, that but it's the best way we have that's legal.

Ted Simons: Last question, I know educators right now are watching this and saying, uh-oh, he’s a proponent of vouchers, he's going to they think favor charters over public schools, in your position as you oversee both of them. How do you convince those in education right now that you are going to fight for them?

John Huppenthal: Well, I'll just give you one example, and it's called the career ladder program. I have spent more hours on that career ladder program than any other policymaker in the -- in Arizona, and perhaps the United States. It's a program that's only available to district schools, it is only -- it's probably the only successful ladder program in the nation. The whole thing has collapsed from 14 states to just four states. Our district schools educate most of our students, that's where most of my energy will go, to improving, and so you'll judge my performance and my willingness to work for district schools.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here, thank for joining us.

John Huppenthal: My pleasure.