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October 10, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Congressional Redistricting Map

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has approved a draft map of new congressional district boundaries. Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb, and political consultant Barry Dill provide analysis of the preliminary map.
  • Bob Robb - Arizona Republic columnist,Barry Dill - Political Consultant
Category: Government   |   Keywords: congressional district, Independent Redistricting Commission ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Starting tomorrow, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is taking public comment on its draft political maps. Last week the Commission approved a draft congressional district map which brought much criticism, especially among Republicans. Here to provide analysis of the AIRC's preliminary congressional districts is "Arizona Republic" columnist Bob Robb, and Barry Dill, a political consultant with First Strategic, a Phoenix-based communications and public affairs firm.

Ted Simons: We'll take the 40,000-foot view and stay up there for the most part because we're talking about the entire state of Arizona. What are your thoughts?

Robert Robb: I think it's a very bad map and it does favor Democrats, but not as much as Republicans are complaining about. The district had to tilt the 10 status quo, either more towards the Republicans or more towards the Democrats, because we only got one additional congressional district. You couldn't maintain the status quo. They have preserved in my judgment the same number of competitive districts, the same number of safe Republican districts and the same number of safe Democratic districts. What they did, they took the same number of competitive districts and made it a strongly-leaning Democratic district. Basically with the new district, they made it strongly leaning Democratic, but it had to be one way or the other. The real problem is the way they did that. The communities of interest they run rough-shod over by picking up a large swath of Pinal County and throwing it into the western district, when it more naturally is a fit with the eastern district; and then creating a competitive district that divides the suburban cities of Scottsdale, Chandler and Mesa, which wasn't necessary.

Ted Simons: Thoughts?

Barry Dill: Well, first of all, I think that the commission has a really tough job, based upon the demographics of the state. And I think this commission; its major focus is on competitiveness. Whereas the commission 10 years ago was more on compactness and cultural boundaries and all that sort of thing. What I find amusing about the entire debate is what I told you a couple weeks ago. 11 The Republican talking points about why they dislike this particular commission and this map are exactly the ones that my party used 10 years ago with a more sort of Republican-leaning commission.

Ted Simons: You mentioned an emphasis on competitive districts. Republicans are saying there's too much of an emphasis on competition. Valid?

Robert Robb: Well, I reject the premise. I don't think you can explain this map by a primacy given to Republicans. Flagstaff is a Democratically-leaning area. It could have naturally fit demographically with the western rural district or the eastern rural district. It was placed in the eastern rural district. That required this odd skirting around the top of Maricopa County and going far east to pick up parts of Pinal County.

Ted Simons: And you're speaking of District 4, correct?

Robert Robb: District 4. It requires District 4 to pick up population in Pinal county, which doesn't naturally fit. If Flagstaff had been put in the western district 4 rather than eastern district 1, it would have made both 4 and 1 more competitive. The western district would be less Republican, the eastern district would be less Democratic.

Barry Dill: Let me tell you one premise that Bob's making I do not believe is true, is that the new district is -- even though by voter registration it would appear to have grown more 12 Democratic, but it does not take into account the traditional challenges that Navajo voters are actually going to the polls to vote, which include inclement weather, the fact that the federal elections and the tribal elections are not held either on the same day nor in the same locations, and it also does not take into account information we know that the biggest Navajo voters right now are young Navajos. They tend to be spread out in Tempe going to college, or at Tucson or Palo Alto or someplace else. By an actual turnout percentage, it's really not all that much Democratic and I would suggest is a swing district.

Robert Robb: Well, in 2010, which was a tidal wave election for Republicans-

Barry Dill: Absolutely.

Robert Robb: -- defeated Kirkpatrick by 6 percentage points. The map is potential competitive only in a tidal wave Republican election. Year in, year out, it's going to be a relatively safe Democratic district, if the Democrats field a --

Barry Dill: There's another interesting saga to the Flagstaff saga. We do know that originally both sides were talking about splitting Flagstaff in half, and having the east Flagstaff in the east district and west Flagstaff in the west district, thereby having two Representatives in essence. The City of Flagstaff is the one who turned that down.

Ted Simons: Bob, I now Democrats are saying how can Republicans say this favored Democrats, when they are -- I know you debate the competitive aspect of this -- the way Democrats see it, there are four strong Republican districts, two strong mostly voter rights districts favoring Democrats and they see three competitive. They would love to see four competitive districts because they think it makes it even closer.

Robert Robb: The voting rights act pretty much precludes three truly competitive districts. You just don't have enough Democratic population to create three competitive districts. I do believe the protest over the political map is overstated. You're currently four Republican, two Democrat, two competitive districts, you now will be four Republican, two Democrat, two competitive and one strongly leaning Democrat in my view. It had to be either leaning Democrat or leaning Republican. The problem with the map isn't its political results, it's the way it achieves them by running rough shod over natural political boundary.

Barry Dill: Democrats don't necessarily like what they got conclusion confuses the whole issue about why the Republicans are so upset. Democrats we know in asking for and wanting four competitive districts. They also wanted only one border district instead of what they have produced now. They have three. So Democrats aren't getting everything they wanted either, which suggests to me that if everyone's upset, it's probably 14 okay.

Ted Simons: The idea of communities of interest and geographic boundaries being pretty much run rough-shod, as opposed to competition or other aspects of the map, or even things that aren't constitutionally required to be an aspect of the map, do they get short sh rift here?

Barry Dill: Again, as I said earlier, to the subject of competitiveness as a primary concern over some of those other things, you know, you could make that case. The district is a big, sprawling -- it goes from the Mexican border, the New Mexico can border all the way to Utah and then to the mouth of Grand Canyon.

Ted Simons: Looking at it in blue, it's bigger than half the states in America.

Barry Dill: It is gargantuan. Less Republicans and Democrats fill the voter registration rolls because of independents. The demographics of the state are changing. So the challenge to make things as competitive as possible is great.

Ted Simons: Will the map change? Should the map change?

Robert Robb: I definitely think the map should change. Whether it will change I think by -- voluntarily by the commission will depend upon the amount of political leaders of these areas that are sort of thrown in with unlikely company, and the extent to which they show up at these hearings and how vigorously they protest their treatment under this map.

Barry Dill: My view that it's Republicans are trying to bully or at least 15 urge a big turnout, make a lot of noise, in order to try to force the commission to make changes. I quit learning to make predictions after the O.J. trial. I have no idea whether they will change or not.

Ted Simons: Thank you both, it's an interesting map with curiosities to it, but I guess that goes with the territory. Thanks for joining us.

Robert Robb: Thank you.

>>> The Independent Redistricting Commission is holding 26 meetings across the state for the public to comment on its draft maps for congressional and legislative districts. The first is tomorrow evening at the Phoenix College Auditorium. For more information go online to

La Nina

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  • Weather forecasters say La Nina is back, promising a warm dry winter and no relief for Arizona’s drought. Learn more about it from Randy Cerveny, an ASU professor of geographical sciences who directs the university’s meteorology program.
  • Randy Cerveny - ASU Professor of Geographical Sciences
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: winter, geographical sciences,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: It looks like we're in for another warm, dry winter thanks to the event known as La Nina. Randy Cerveny directs the audio audio's meteorology program. Good to see you.

Randy Cerveny: Thanks.

Ted Simons: What is La Nina?

Randy Cerveny: Well, La Nina is what goes on in the Pacific Ocean. It's a cooling of the Pacific Ocean waters. There's two parts to what we call the southern oscillation, a change that takes place in what the central Pacific Ocean is doing. It can be El Nino, which is a 16 warming, or La Nina, which is a cooling. Either one of those situations causes the jet stream to change or the storm track to change. And unfortunately, the situation when we have La Nina, the cooler Pacific Ocean, that forces the jet stream to push storms toward Oregon and Washington, leaving the southwest relatively dry.

Ted Simons: How soon can La Nina be detected?

Randy Cerveny: Pretty quickly actually, we're already into it. It's going to be stronger as the fall progresses. We have been in a La Nina, we had started to come out of it, and now we're heading back indict. Economists talk about a double dip recession, we're talking about a double dip La Nina. Looks kind of similar to what we've seen in the last two years of dry winters.

Ted Simons: Is it unusual to have back-to-back La Ninas?

Randy Cerveny: Well, yeah, of strong intensity like this is kind of rare. We are desert here and that's our normal type of situation. It does look like this is going to be more of a dry winter.

Ted Simons: The last La Nina, the winter started pretty wet, wet with rains and especially snow in the High Country. Late winter, spring, somewhere along there it just stopped. Is that typical of a La Nina?

Randy Cerveny: As it got stronger, yes, that's exactly what we would expect to see. It was even worse in other parts of south, particularly Texas. Texas has been bone dry for not only this summer, we heard about the wildfires and the drought 17 they have, but it was dry this past winter. It kind of extended its influence into Arizona as the springtime progressed. And then we started to feel more and more the edges of it.

Ted Simons: Could the same pattern develop or could we not have the good stuff in winter like last year?

Randy Cerveny: Hard to tell, individual storms can dump a lot of snow. That's what we're hoping, for that it could dump a lot of snow on the White Mountains and the salt and Verde Valleys. An individual storm can do that. We don't see the overall pattern is going to be really conducive to do that. Nevertheless, we'll still get at least one or two good storms.

Ted Simons: The map doesn't look good as far as the darker areas and less than good precipitation there. This means of course wildfire concerns, reservoir concerns, the whole nine yards, doesn't it?

Randy Cerveny: Exactly. If you don't get that precipitation that, snow cover, the vegetation dries out and then the slightest spark or a careless camper and then you'll have the wildfires again.

Ted Simons: Does the La Nina mean warmer temperatures?

Randy Cerveny: Yes, it does, without the storms and clouds you have more sunshine coming down.

Ted Simons: Looks like the temperature probability doesn't make us look too bad, does it?

Randy Cerveny: They say there's no determined outlook, it's called equal chance probability.

Ted Simons: Good luck.

Randy Cerveny: It's going to be likely more of a normal temperature. 18 Texas in particular looks to be really, really hot.

Ted Simons: That means -- we've mentioned wildfires and reservoirs, that means more of these haboobs next summer.

Randy Cerveny: Exactly. If you don't get the precipitation, the ground starts to dry out and becomes dust. When the summer circulation starts, you're going get those big dust storms.

Ted Simons: Last question: Can the La Nina change to an El Nino around Christmastime? Does that happen?

Randy Cerveny: Not very -- very, very rarely. The idea is that these surface temperatures do not change very quickly. The Pacific Ocean is a mammoth region, and to change the overall character of what's going on in the Pacific Ocean takes time. The forecast is usually pretty good once we start to see the indications.

Ted Simons: If anything, it could weaken and change to an El Nino.

Randy Cerveny: That's what we are hoping for, a less intense La Nina than we are expecting.

Ted Simons: Randy, good to see you again.

Randy Cerveny: My pleasure.

The Olivia Cortes Case

  |   Video
  • Olivia Cortes has withdrawn her candidacy in the Senator Russell Pearce recall election, but her name remains on the ballot. Attorney Tom Ryan, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Mesa citizen to try to keep Cortes off the ballot, talks about the case.
  • Tom Ryan - Attorney
Category: Elections   |   Keywords: recall election,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Olivia Cortes dropped out of the Russell Pearce recall election last week. She did so amid allegations that she was a sham candidate brought into the race to siphon votes away from Pearce challenger Jerry Lewis. Joining me to talk about the is Tom Ryan, who filed a lawsuit to disqualify Cortes from the election. Who did you represent?

Tom Ryan: A voter from LD18 named Mary Lou.

Ted Simons: Did you find her or did she find you?

Tom Ryan: I knew Mary Lou previously. She was a founder of the Mesa Republican Club. I was a Republican and I recently became an independent. At any rate, I had a discussion with her. She wanted to challenge the Olivia Cortes campaign and I told her I would represent her.

Ted Simons: Why would she want to challenge the campaign?

Tom Ryan: There was strong evidence there was fraud. The Pearce campaign had been having petition gatherers go out and get signatures in LD18.

Ted Simons: I want to get to more on those in a second. The but the initial ruling on this case, what were your thoughts on that?

Tom Ryan: I thought Ed Burke was brilliant in what he did. You don't ininquire into the motives of why someone would run. He found the people who put her on the ballot were not honest in what they had done.

Ted Simons: He said she should stay on the ballot?

Tom Ryan: Correct. He gave us an opportunity to do further investigation.

Ted Simons: When did you learn -- I think that opportunity was a major factor in this whole situation. When did you learn of the additional testimony that you were prepared to present last week, last Friday?

Tom Ryan: The Thursday before there had been a rather sizeable 4 evidentiary hearing in which the local media was present. Afterwards there was a tremendous amount of publicity about the evidence that had come out from that. Over that weekend other people came forward and identified additional acts. We had not had the information before the Thursday hearing.

Ted Simons: Were you surprised the judge allowed that additional testimony?

Tom Ryan: No, he had told us, look, if you show us that it was something other than just Olivia Cortes or that she was not being honest in her testimony, we will allow the additional hearing.

Ted Simons: Okay. What did you find? Give us some examples. Were there any bombshells ready to be dropped here? What went off?

Tom Ryan: Well, I think so. The testimony that would have come out would have been witnesses who saw Judge Lester Pearce driving his daughter around Mesa with Russell Pearce campaign signs in the back of his car, and his daughter was getting out and getting Olivia Cortes signatures on the petitions. That's totally inappropriate. He was literally working for two campaigns and I believe that's a violation of the judicial code of conduct. You're not supposed to be doing that.

Ted Simons: What about a criminal offense?

Tom Ryan: If you are stuffing a petition box, just like stuffing the voting box, that is a violation. 5 It's a classify V felony, a very serious allegation. This is some of the evidence we intend to turn over to the attorney general's office, the secretary of state's office and the count attorney's office.

Ted Simons: Have any of those offices expressed interest in pursuing what you have turned over and what you have learned so far?

Tom Ryan: The secretary of state is already investigating. During the testimony in the one hearing, Olivia Cortes and her campaign manager Greg Western testified they didn't know who put up the signs, who paid for the signs; they didn't know who paid for the petition pros who went out and got the signatures on her petitions. The secretary of state said wait a minute, so now they are investigating that.

Ted Simons: That aspect or more?

Tom Ryan: Well, we intend to turn over more evidence. I know it's a bit frustrating, but we don't want to just do a records dump on these agencies. We need to put the evidence in a useable fashion and put them in statements and so forth, so the attorney general, the county attorney and the secretary of state can have it in a useable form.

Ted Simons: So you're saying the testimony would have implicated the Pearce campaign?

Tom Ryan: Yes. Think about it for a moment. I'll give you this. It's highly improbable that a woman, Olivia Cortes, who's never run a campaign in her life, hires Greg western. In three days' time they get a thousand signatures, signs magically appear all over in the tricolors of the Mexican flag all over LD18. They don't know where the money's coming from. That's an incredible feat. Only the campaign of the most powerful man in Arizona would have been able to achieve it, had he done it.

Ted Simons: Did the evidence suggest he was implicated personally?

Tom Ryan: The evidence would have shown that Greg western and Russell Pearce were in a room in LD18, and someone thought they were going to a political party meeting, only to be pushed out because they were making this plan. I want to get that evidence, there's more, to the county attorney general's office so that they can evaluate it.

Ted Simons: Who is Constantine Corrard?

Tom Ryan: He's a political consultant, calls himself a vendor, he runs two companies in town. He has an incredible success rate supposedly, for the candidates that he runs. This is not the first time I've run into him.

Ted Simons: He was implicated in this additional testimony?

Tom Ryan: Yes. I believe that the evidence would show that the green and white and red signs with the Si Se Puede phrase came from Mr. corrard.

Ted Simons: What's your history with him?

Tom Ryan: The first time was 2004, he ran an early vote by mail center for the Republican Party. Unfortunately for him, the Republican Party had no idea he was doing that. The Maricopa County Republican Party and Tom Liddy asked me to help. Again, I did it for free. 7 We were in front of Judge Mark Armstrong and got an injunction shutting the process down and compelling him to turn in the early forms.

Ted Simons: We're talking history there. Do you have a history with Jerry Lewis?

Tom Ryan: No. I have never met Jerry Lewis. I look forward to the day that I could. It's not about Jerry Lewis or Russell Pearce, it's about maintaining the purity of the electoral process. That's what our constitution guaranteed.

Ted Simons: That's what they want to know, are you involved with the Lewis campaign.

Tom Ryan: I've not walked for him, donated money or spoken to him. I did not in any way help out the Lewis campaign.

Ted Simons: What about Russell Pearce? Any history there?

Tom Ryan: No, I've never come across Russell Pearce.

Ted Simons: Pro bono, why?

Tom Ryan: It's important to maintain the purity of the electoral process. I wanted to make sure we have a clean shot at whoever we elect to the office. I'm an officer of the court. Just like a judge or a member of the state legislature, I take an oath to preserve the Constitution and I take it seriously. This is an area I know, an area I love. When I see something going wrong like that, I will not hesitate to step in as I did in this case.

Ted Simons: Was there a deal? Seems like we're getting conflicting reports from you and your co counsel. Was there a deal? Cortes quits, you pull the lawsuit?

Tom Ryan: No. Here's what happened. Two nights before the first hearing I had said if he would withdraw, if Olivia would withdraw, then there would be no attorney's fees or costs assessed against his client. He or his client could withdraw at any time, and the moment she withdrew that ended everything. I told him we would not assess the fees and costs. He called me on the Thursday morning. He asked if the offer was still there for him to do. I told him to do it by noon. The reason was I wanted Olivia withdrawn from that race.

Ted Simons: As far as the overall information, is there -- are there things you know you have turned over that implicate other people or further implicate the people we've talked about tonight?

Tom Ryan: There are things I know that I have not yet turned over. We are putting them in an organized and useable format. It's a lot of material. I don't want to just do a records dump on somebody. I've had that done to me, and that's not fun. So there will be an easy to follow format for the county attorney, the attorney general, the secretary of state.

Ted Simons: Where do we go from here? Where does this case go from here, this whole affair?

Tom Ryan: I hope the media continues its attention and continues to ask the tough questions. 9 I'm frustrated. I wanted to go to that hearing and put the evidence out there. I believe that had we been able to continue on, we would have gotten higher up the food chain than we were allowed to do. Once they withdrew, I lost my subpoena powers and my power to depose people and get more information. Where it goes from here, I hope the media keeps the attention on it and the investigative and prosecutorial authorities take what we've got and follow through on it.

Ted Simons: Tom, good to have you. Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Tom Ryan: Thank you.