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May 26, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: Saving the Ice House

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  • The Ice House, a unique art space and gallery in Phoenix’ warehouse district, is on the verge of closing due to financial challenges, but a group of local artists is trying to rescue the place. We’ll show you what they’re doing to help.
  • Ted Simons - On tonight's addition of "Arizona artbeat," we preview an art show taking place tomorrow at the ice house. It's a grassroots effort to save the one-of-a-kind Phoenix art space. Dave Majure has more. David Majure - The building is a throwback to another era when refrigerators were powered with blocks of ice. Those frozen cubes were stored at fifth and Jackson in Phoenix. Dating back to 1910, the constable ice storage facility had outlived its usefulness. That is until 1990 when it was transformed into an maze can venue for artists and the art, known simply as the Icehouse. Hugo Medina - It's not a gallery or a museum. It's an alternative art space you can do so many unique different things for the arts and promote the arts and give artists, up-and-coming or established artists a venue to do artwork they can't do anywhere else. David Majure - The cavernous rooms provide unlimited possibilities and for years, the place has been a den of creativity. But now, financial problems threaten to put the icehouse into the old deep freeze. Peter Conley - The financial situation is pretty dire. The fact that we need to catch up on back taxes. All of these years, we've just kind of basically gone with Helen's vision of trying to be a raw energy for the community and unfortunately, she's done a lot just giving the space up and this year, we need to give back a little bit to make it happen. Hugo Medina - I read the article in the "times," scheduled to close the end of 2011 and Helen would owns it is a good friend of mine and I've known her for years, I called her, met her, we're taxed out. Her father who was helping her fund it, we don't make a profit and so to maintain it, it's been basically to maintain it for the past 20 years and since they don't make a profit and have all these back taxes, they couldn't keep the doors open. David Majure - Hugo Medina, a local sculptor is fighting to stop the icehouse from melting away. And organized a group art show to raise money to keep is afloat. Hugo Medina - We have over 111 artists, each doing two or three pieces. Artist #1 - I'm helping Hugo set up the show and I've delivered some paintings of mine, abstracts to show on Friday. Artist #2 - This is one of the most unique and oldest and largest art spaces in the valley. Artist #3 - The icehouse is probably my favorite building downtown. It's my absolutely favorite facility for everything. Artist #4 - It's one of the old icons that has -- icons that has lost its oomph and needs -- it's worth saving. Peter Conley - The beginning of 2012, to make this float, we're implementing a non-profit as we speak right now, and so that's how we're choosing to forward. Initially, it's $60,000 is what our goal is in the very short term, by basically October of it year. Then after that, the nonprofit will start to be raising funds to actually purchase the building. The artist donate at least 15% of their is an sales but many are doing much more. Some are donating 100%. Some 20%, some 30%. Hugo hopes the show will raise new money to buy some time. And remind people why the icehouse is worth saving. Hugo Medina - It's vital to a growing city like Phoenix to have a place as unique and special as this for artists to be able to create and move forward and develop. Ted Simons - "Quick, before it melts," the art show and sale to benefit the icehouse, takes place tomorrow afternoon. The show runs from 5 - 00 to 11 - 00 p.m. at the icehouse, which is located at 5th Avenue and Jackson in Phoenix. A $5 donation is the recommended price of admission. Coming up on "Horizon" -- Hear the latest response to the Supreme Court's ruling on employer sanctions. The governor wants the courts to decide if Arizona can legally implement medical marijuana. Laws. That's Friday on "Horizon's" Journalists' Roundtable. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us the you have a great evening!
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: ArtBeat, Ice,

Medicaid Cuts Lawsuit

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  • The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest is suing the State over budget cuts to Arizona’s Medicaid program known as AHCCCS. The Center’s Executive Director, Tim Hogan, explains the lawsuit.
  • Tim Hogan - Executive Director, Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: medicaid,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Arizona center for law in the public interest recently filed a lawsuit challenging state budget cuts to Arizona's Medicaid program, known as AHCCCS. Here to talk about the lawsuit is Tim Hogan, the center's executive director. Good to see you again thanks for joining us. Why did you file this special action?

Tim Hogan: Well, the governor's Medicaid reform plan that the budget has allowed her to go forward with, and which cuts the AHCCCS program by $500 million, would either freeze eligibility for people who should otherwise be eligible according to a initiative passed by Arizona voters 11 years ago, or would terminate coverage for those people, and that violates the will of Arizona voters and where voters absolutely said you can't do that, people should be covered with healthcare up to 100% of the federal poverty level.

Ted Simons: Expand on that, who are we talking about here? The people that are affected?

Tim Hogan: Well, there are two populations that will be affected by either a freeze or termination. One is the so-called childless adult, without dependent children. The federal poverty level for a single adult is about $10,000 a year. So right now, because of the proposition, Arizona voters approved, those people are covered up to 100% of the federal poverty level. The governor's plan would either freeze eligibility, meaning on or after July 1, any poor, childless, adult would not be eligible for healthcare coverage. The other is what they call higher income parents and for parents with children at a certain income level for poverty level, generally $15,000 or in that neighborhood, they want to reduce the eligibility from 100%, where it's at now, again, because of the initiative, to 75%. Effective October 1st.

Ted Simons: Ok. How many folks are we talking about here?

Tim Hogan: For the childless deputies over a year they expect that the population on AHCCCS would be reduced by 140,000.

Ted Simons: You've mentioned that the plan violating the will of the voters. You've mentioned how the plan violates the state constitution because of the initiative, you can't mess with something the voters put into place. That's basically the crux of what you're talking about?

Tim Hogan: Yeah, it’s pretty simple. Arizona voters approved this. Voters also approved a provision, an amendment to the Arizona constitution, that prohibits the legislature from amending or repealing a voter initiative. And so by doing this, that's exactly what they're doing. They're saying, well, we don't have enough money do what the voters wanted. The initiative anticipated that and said use the tobacco settlement funds but if that's not enough, you need to use any other available source, including legislative appropriations and federal money to support this healthcare.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, because coming from the governor's office in particular, the state is broke, there's no other available source. The available sources have been dried up. Not viable? Not a valid argument?

Tim Hogan: I've never understood that. They've projecting revenues for $8.3 billion. By freezing these populations they're only going to save $200 million. Which is what? -- 2.5% or something like that of the projected revenues. I'm sure if they were inclined they could find the money to support this population out of $8.3 billion.

Ted Simons: The money affected is what? A couple hundred million.

Tim Hogan: A couple hundred million for a freeze. If they terminate coverage or all existing participants, childless adults and these higher income parents, it would be closer to $500 million.

Ted Simons: The speaker, the speaker of the house said if your side were to win this, there would still be no guarantee he would find a way to even get a special session to approach the topic and that pushes to another question. Are you worried if you succeed that, could mean further cuts to other services in the state?

Tim Hogan: Sure, I'm worried. I'm worried whatever of the legislature is going to do. And, you know, it's predictable they would respond by saying, well, we're going to have to cut K-12 education. Well, that's to scare people into thinking that's their only option. They have a infinite number of options here, though. For example, they funded the Arizona commerce authority. This past session with $30 million. Instead of meeting their legal obligation to provide healthcare to these people. They've got a whole lot of different options to pursue here. They just have focused on the ones they know people are going to be resistant to.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about a timetable, because this is somewhat confusing, especially since we're waiting for the feds to take action, correct?

Tim Hogan: Correct. In order for a freeze on July 1, the federal government has to approve it. That hasn't happened yet and we wanted to get this lawsuit file so that it was there, ready to go, if and when the federal government takes action because we'll have to take action quickly then to stop any kind of freeze from going into effect. By the same token, if the federal government were to deny the state's going forward with a freeze on eligibility, it's already indicated you can simply file a new plan and exclude this population with your new plan effective October 1st. So that's why we have the range of money we're talking about. If they can't freeze, they're going to terminate. And save the $500 million that way.

Ted Simons: And that's why you're trying to see the special action that the Supreme Court moves as quickly as possible.

Tim Hogan: Correct. Well, if the federal government approves this, we'll be in court the next day asking for an immediate hearing, if we can't get that in the Supreme Court, we'll get it in a lower court.

Ted Simons: Is it your sense the feds will act here shortly?

Tim Hogan: They're being very guarded what they're going to do. They haven't let on at all about when or what is going to be their determination.

Ted Simons: All right. Tim, good to see you, thanks for joining us.

Tim Hogan: Thanks.

Memorial Day Weekend Travel

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  • This holiday weekend, drivers will pay more at the pumps than on past Memorial Days. Michelle Donati of AAA Arizona talks about holiday gas prices and how to stay safe on the road.
  • Michelle Donati - AAA Arizona

View Transcript
Ted Simons: If you have big travel plans this Memorial Day weekend, be prepared to pay big bucks at the pump. Joining us now with more on holiday gas prices is Michelle Donati of AAA Arizona. Thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon."

Michelle Donate: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Before we get to the big buck, let's talk about travel figures. What are you expecting? How does that compare?

Michelle Donate: Well, we're expecting more than 714,000 Arizonans to travel more than 50-miles from home and that's flat from last year. It's not necessarily a bad thing. Last year we experienced quite a bit of travel recovery, about 7.5% over 2009. We've been able to maintain that recovery this year but not necessarily growing travel figures.

Ted Simons: Ok, gas prices, how are they impacting those numbers?

Michelle Donate: Well, if gas prices were lower, we could see more people travel. The people are saying it's not necessarily impacting their travel decision decisions. Six in ten said they weren't impacting them said they’re not impacting our decision at all. Of the remaining four, 70% said they're impacting but we're going to make accommodations in spite of the fact that gas prices are 92 cents per gallon higher than last year.

Ted Simons: Where are we now and the areas in the valley that are the highest, where are the lowest?

Michelle Donate: The statewide average is $3.60 per gallon. Prices have dropped for two weeks now, this week dropped by four cents. Again, we're still paying 92 cents over the time last year. Tucson drivers, they’re paying the lowest, in the $3.50 range, Flagstaff the highest, in the high $3.80 range, low $3.90 range.

Ted Simons: Talk about the national average, and where we stand. Seems like -- recently done well.

Michelle Donate: The national average is $3.81. There's a number of states above the $4 mark. If anyone’s heading over to California, I would recommend a fill up before you head of town because you’re probably not going to find a fuel price under 4 dollars in California.

Ted Simons: But still, this is the most, correct me if I'm wrong, the most we've paid heading into a Memorial Day weekend, here in Arizona.

Michelle Donate: That’s right. In 2008, the weekly average heading out to Memorial Day was $3.63. at $3.68 this is the most Arizonans have paid heading into Memorial Day weekend.

Ted Simons: You talked about how things are kind of trending down for the last few weeks. What are you seeing for the rest of the summer?

Michelle Donate: It's difficult to say, a couple of things at play. The price of crude oil has been relatively calm, in the $100 per barrel range and in addition, we're seeing, you know, the fact that the demand is -- we're heading into summer travel season and that's going to play a factor. Also, hurricane season will begin soon. We typically don't see the season extremely active until later in the summer. Last year, didn't experience much activity at all. But we know from years past that if there's a storm that causes any damage to infrastructure, then there could be an impact later on in the summer. So, it's difficult to say where prices are going to end up at the end of the summer, but barring unforeseen circumstances, we should continue to see prices continue to ease in the short term.

Ted Simons: That's relatively good news. Not so good news, an increase in roadside assistance at AAA. What’s going on here?

Michelle Donate: We're projecting we're going to serve 135,000 motorists between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. That's an increase of 3% over last year.

Ted Simons: Because? What's happening?

Michelle Donate: It's a lack of preventive maintenance. Half the calls we respond to could be prevented with preventive maintenance and there's a trend of motorists holding on to their vehicles longer. Older vehicles on the road and as the vehicle gets older, may need more maintenance and care to make sure you don't experience a failure.

Ted Simons: We've talked about this in the past with AAA, and I’m wondering if this is in the projections as well. People because of these high gas prices trying to squeeze every gallon and a lot of times they don't make it, do they?

Michelle Donate: That's right. Fuel delivery calls even with gas prices almost a dollar lower, the top four calls for service. The top call was for battery-related calls. Not a surprise given the heat. Number two was tire related calls and you know when you -- when temperatures are in the 100 digit range and triple digit, we start to see shreds of tires on the road and three is lockouts, which can be dangerous in Arizona summer heat and the fourth topical last summer and likely be one of the top this summer, and it will likely be the top this summer, fuel delivery. Interesting given the fact last year we were paying about a dollar less. This year, quarter one of 2011, 2010, we've experienced over 6% increase in the number of fuel calls we've received.

Ted Simons: You mentioned batteries number one?

Michelle Donate: Number one. The lifespan of an battery in Arizona is substantially lower than other parts of the country. That’s just given our heat. If your battery is about two years, that's when you really want to make sure you test it before you go out. The one thing to keep in mind, if you're driving and your battery dies, you're not going to experience that failure until you stop the car and turn it back on. It's more of an inconvenience than a safety issue. But the tires are a safety issue. We know a number of people are injured and killed as a result of tire failures every year.

Ted Simons: Very good information. Thank you for joining us.

Michelle Donate: Thank you.

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling: Employer Sanctions

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  • ASU Professor Paul Bender discusses today’s Supreme Court opinion upholding Arizona’s employer sanctions law.
  • Paul Bender - Professor of Law, Arizona State University
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: Immigration, ASU, Supreme Court,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A big victory today for the supporters of Arizona's employer sanctions law. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law by a 5-3 vote. Here to tell us what the court said is ASU law professor Paul Bender. Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Paul Bender: Good to see you, Ted.

Ted Simons: Was it a surprise?

Paul Bender: No, it wasn't a surprise. It's a hard case, most thought. And people who saw the oral argument had the sense that the court was going to go this way. Especially justice Kennedy suggested that he was going on this side. It's wrong though.

Ted Simons: Well, we can go that direction. But let's get the issue first.

Paul Bender: The issue is a very narrow issue, quite different from 1070, for example. The issue is when congress made it a federal offense to hire a illegal immigrant, it stopped the states from doing the same thing. It stopped -- it preempted the states, from imposing criminal or civil sanctions on those who employ or refer for a fee unauthorized aliens. If that all was in the statute, the Arizona statute would be unconstitutional. Because it is a sanction on people who employ. So in general, congress wanted to say, we the federal government are going to do this. We don't want the states generally imposing sanctions but they put in statutes an exception. That's what is involved. It says you can't impose civil or criminal sanctions other than through licensing and similar laws, so the question is what does that licensing and similar laws mean. Does the Arizona statute come within that. The court says it's a license law so comes within the state statute. The reason I think it's wrong, that makes no sense. Why would congress say to a state, you can't impose a $100 fine on somebody who hires an illegal immigrant, but you can force them to close their business and prohibit them from ever doing business in your state again. That doesn't make any sense. Generally stopping states from imposing sanctions, taking away a business license is an enormous sanction. But they just use the word licensing, it's true. That's why it's a hard case. But you should think about it not in terms of the dictionary definition of licensing, but what was congress was trying to do? Congress was trying to stop the states from enforcing a prohibition on people hiring illegal immigrants. Why? Because congress was afraid if states felt free to do that a lot of employers would not feel free to hire people who looked like they would be illegal. And result in ethnic and racial discrimination.

Ted Simons: Back to congress putting that exception in the law. Why did they put that in there if they didn't want something similar?

Paul Bender: The dissents in that case -- they have two explanations. Justice Soto mayor dissent says, what they meant, if the federal government accusses an employer of hiring an illegal immigrant and convicts them or imposes a penalty, then the state can take away their license but they have to wait until there's a federal determination. That the person violated the statute. She thinks that's what it means and there's something in the legislative history that says that and that seems to be a plausible reason. And that seems to me to be plausible. The other thing they might have been thinking of, hey, if the state is given licenses to people to be lawyers and doctors they can refuse to give you a license for a lawyer because you're an illegal immigrant. That is they meant real licensing proceeding in the sense that the question, this isn't when business apply for a license. This is taking away a license. It's not a licensing thing, it’s a penalty thing. So I think probably the court meant the latter. They wanted to let states deny people licenses because they were illegal to do things like be a doctor or taxi driver.

Ted Simons: Much is speculated this would be some sort of precursor, some sort of harbinger, a hint of what the court would do with S.B. 1070, do you agree?

Paul Bender: I find very little in here that's going to help you -- help you guess what's going to happen in 1070 if they take the case, because this is so narrow. This is about what does the word license mean in the statute. 1070 doesn't have a preemption statute. 1070’s question is the state program inconsistent with the federal general administration of immigration laws and there's a lot of stuff in this opinion which suggests the majority would think 1070 was different. Chief justice Roberts went out of his way in upholding the statute to say, saying this statute doesn't let the states make their own decisions how to enforce this. They're really under the supervision of the federal government. That's not true of 1070. And so that may be in there in order to prepare for a distinction with 1070, you can’t tell.

Ted Simons: And I was going to ask that, the narrow exception you were talking about. If you're looking at it 'with that fine tooth of a comb, that narrow exception, maybe for 1070 they'll look at narrow definitions and such.

Paul Bender: But in 1070, you can't do it by narrow definitions. In 1070 the question is are you going to let state police, city police decide to detain and hold people because they think they're illegal? And there, the question is well, will that interfere with the way the federal government wants to enforce immigration laws. That wasn’t a problem here, because here nothing as bad is going to happen -- let me put it this way. One of the reasons why the ninth circuit held 1070 unconstitutional it, might cause foreign policy problems if state's sheriffs detained foreigners who were, in fact, not illegal. That can't happen here. Because here, the penalty is not on the illegal immigrant. It's on the business, and the business is American businesses, so this isn't going to stir up the kind of possible foreign policy issues that 1070 would. And 1070 leaves the police and the state prosecutors much freer to make decision about who is to detain and prosecute than this does and since the court went out of its way to say is that that the states not absolutely free, they have to do the what federal government tells them, it suggests -- on the other hand, since the courts split with the conservatives on one side and the liberals on the other here, conservatives think things like 1070 is good. So that’s a suggestion the other way. That's why I think it's close to predict how they'll deal with 1070.

Ted Simons: Paul, always a pleasure. Thanks for joining us.

Paul Bender: Same here.