Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 22, 2011


Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Capitol Times: Capitol Roadshow

  |   Video
  • Arizona Capitol Times is preparing to travel across Arizona with its Capitol Roadshow. Ginger Lamb, Vice President and Publisher of the Arizona Capitol Times talks about this effort to educate and engage more Arizonans in the political process .
Guests:
  • Ginger Lamb - Vice President, Publisher, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: community   |   Keywords: capitol, times, roadshow, politics,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The "Arizona Capitol Times" keeps its readers well informed about state politics and the legislative process. Now it's taking its show on the road. Capitol Roadshow is an effort to engage Arizonans outside of Maricopa County in state politics and the legislative process. Here with the details is Ginger Lamb, vice president and publisher of the Capitol Times. good to see you, thanks for joining us.

Ginger Lamb: Thank you.

Ted Simons: What is this Capitol Roadshow? What are we talking about here?

Ginger Lamb: We have a publication called the citizen government guide. It was getting a little tired, it has content on boards and commissions in Arizona. The title didn't reflect a lot about citizen government. I pulled together a task force from the folks at "Arizona Capitol Times" and said, what can we do to rejuvenate this and bring more dimension to it? That's sort the how the roadshow was born. We started talking about how we could put content in citizen government that’s more advocacy related; how a bill becomes a law, what to do to get engaged in the process. And just putting content like that into the publication to expand it. Then we talked about events, because we love events at Arizona news service. We talked about how we could take it on the road and the thought came up, why don't we go on a roadshow around Arizona to talk about the political process and how we can educate and engage folks in the process.

Ted Simons: The roadshow arrives in Flagstaff, let's say. I walk up to the roadshow. What do I see and hear?

Ginger Lamb: There will be registration. We will start the program at 8:30 with registration. 9:00 the welcome happens. Then we will have four panel discussions. The first discussion is how a bill becomes law. We have Joe Galley lined up from the Flagstaff chamber of commerce to lead that discussion. From there a panel discussion about if you want to be engaged in the process and reach out and talk to lawmakers, drive down the hill to the capitol to be heard on a particular issue or meet with a lawmaker, what do you do? We have a panel and we have Representative Tom Caven and Rick Travers from Nexus Consulting. We have invites out to other folks that will come back on that. We have a panel on social media. We anticipate it's going to be even bigger in next year's elections. Then we culminate with a panel the Arizona news service will run from the capitol to talk about the issues we face this year. The Russell Pearce recall, how that's going to play out next year when we come back to the capitol for the session. And then he's also going to visit other topics like redistricting and just what are some of the hotbed issues going to be next year at the capitol.

Ted Simons: So it basically is a bit of a performance in terms of panel and a bunch of folks interested in getting to ask questions, I would imagine? At the hard launch today what kinds of questions were asked?

Ginger Lamb: People reached back and said, I noticed that you're traveling North and south. What about coming east and west?

Ted Simons: They are interested in having the roadshow stop by?

Ginger Lamb: We would love to go all over the state, it's just a matter of putting everything together so we have the resources to go to those communities.

Ted Simons: As far as the panel is concerned, what kinds of folks will be on them?
Ginger Lamb: We're looking for a mix of folks involved at the capitol, that are in the communities, obviously, that they work and live in the communities that we're going into. Then we will bring some flavor in from Phoenix, obviously. But we want people engaged in those communities to lead the discussions. With help from us and our partners at centurylink.

Ted Simons: How do you measure the success of something like this? How do you know it's working?

Ginger Lamb: I think the success is really going to be measured by, you know, how many people end up subscribing to the "Arizona Capitol Times" that come to the event that say, wow, I want to know more about politics in Arizona. This really helps me get involved in the process, and it really help me make decisions that were related to what was going on at the capitol or in the elections next year.

Ted Simons: What kind of time frame are are we looking at here?

Ginger Lamb: We're going on the road September 8th in Flagstaff. Then we'll put together in the first quarter of next year, Tucson, Prescott and we'll culminate in Maricopa County. And then we'll go beyond that. I'd love to get to Lake Havasu, Yuma, and some of those other areas and then go beyond.

Ted Simons: That sounds great. Good luck on that, it sounds like a fun deal. Thanks for joining us.

Ginger Lamb: Thank you.

Arizona Child Safety Task Force

  |   Video
  • Task force chairman Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and vice chairman DES Director Clarence Carter, outline the issues the Task Force is dealing with.
Guests:
  • Bill Montgomery - Chairman, Maricopa County Attorney
  • Clarence Carter - Vice Chairman, DES Director
Category: community   |   Keywords: CPS, children, abuse, task force,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Governor Jan Brewer created the Arizona child safety task force to look into the state's child welfare system and recommend ways to better protect Arizona's children. Joining me to talk about the work the group is doing is its chairman, Maricopa County attorney Bill Montgomery and vice-chairman Clarence Carter, including child protective services. Bill, starting with you, what is the task force designed to do?

Bill Montgomery: Ultimately we're looking to make specific recommendations to the governor involving statutory, organizational management or protocol reforms to enhance the safety and security of children either under the state's protection or in the state's custody. Looking at CPS investigations, law enforcement investigations, CPS management, foster care, crisis and shelters for kids; really that whole area involving child protection.

Ted Simons: That's a lot of things to look at there. Task force up to this? Do you have enough time and resources?

Clarence Carter: The task force is absolutely up to it. While there are a broad number of issues that we're going tackle, it's not going to be exhaustive. This is as much -- will be some specific recommendations as really creating a broad framework for how the state moves forward on the issue of child protection.

Ted Simons: Bill, I know you were saying something initially along the lines of their being too much emphasis on reunifying families. The issue seems to go back and forth, one way or the other. Explain your position on that.

Bill Montgomery: There has been a philosophy, a generalized philosophy within child protection systems across the United States with an emphasis on family unification. What I've been saying is that an overemphasis on family unification or child removal is not always in the best interests of a child or conducive to protecting a child. What we really need to do is focus on child protection first. Then with that as the concrete goal, if the family reunification, providing social services to families in need is the proper approach to being able to protect that child, that's what we should do. But if the environment the child is in is no longer a home but really an ongoing crime scene, the proper response for child protection is to deal with that within the criminal justice system and prosecute the parents, who really are just criminals. We have to take into account the fact that that child is a victim of a crime.

Ted Simons: We're seeing the issue play out in heartbreaking details with this Jesse Shockley case. Obviously these are just allegations right now, and will move forward with that investigation. But the idea of reunifying families, do you think that has received too much emphasis of late?

Clarence Carter: The issue of the protection of children with preserving families is the most delicate endeavor of public policy. There is an absolute necessity to protect the child. But at the same time, we do want to be able to preserve families. Sometimes that pendulum swings a little bit too far in one direction. We have to make sure the safety of the child is issue number one.

Ted Simons: Can the task force find a way to work that pendulum and find the balance?

Clarence Carter: It certainly can. I believe this is an aggregation of very skilled, very experienced very dedicated Arizonans who will help us to calibrate this issue appropriately.

Ted Simons: Do you see that, as well? Can there be something coming out of this task force with this particular issue?

Bill Montgomery: Oh, it can be done. That's the unofficial motto of this task force. And the way we do that is by looking at how CPS is organized, the mission of DES, and having the involvement of the DES director Mr. Carter as the vice-chairman is exhibit A. We are going to be able to find a way to do this. Wanting to give CPS caseworkers the opportunity to do a job they are good at, to be able to focus on the importance of that initial crisis intervention and safety assessment, and ensuring our joint investigative protocol between CPS, law enforcement, prosecutors and medical personnel is followed as thoroughly as it can be.

Ted Simons: I want to get to that protocol in a second here. There is a line of reasoning that says instead of an emphasis or accent on removing children from families, find ways, resources to improve the family's condition. To treat the family. That is at play here, as well?

Clarence Carter: As I said, it's a delicate balance between protecting children and preserving families. We do not want government to be in the position of being the parent for the State. We want to absolutely -- we have an obligation to protect children. But at the same time we do want to preserve to the degree possible families. But I think the chairman makes an appropriate point. When a family is an ongoing criminal enterprise then we need to be able to act in the children's best interests.

Ted Simons: Sometimes you're suggesting that includes law enforcement trained investigators on serious cases. Isn't law enforcement supposed to be notified anyway if there is some sort of -- suspecting criminal activity?

Bill Montgomery: They are. But what we're talking about is trained individuals who are going to be those first responders. Calls come into a CPS hot line identify a priority and who's going respond, that's not always law enforcement initially. It can be CPS employees initially showing up and trying to assess the situation. We don't have to have an either/or approach to this. It shouldn't be either we're helping families or removing children. That's a false choice, I reject that. It should be both/and. The initial call, having someone trained with experience in the social services that can be delivered, as well as experience to know when to invoke the protocol to get law enforcement involved, maybe that is right away. Sometimes we have a child abuse investigator and police officer arriving at the same time. We can do that.

Ted Simons: Does that make sense to you?

Clarence Carter: It makes perfect sense. There are two very different orientations that are necessary here. The world view of a social worker is different than the world view and training of a law enforcement professional, both of those world views need to come into play in important circumstances here.
Ted Simons: We had Representative Katy Hobbs on the show last night and she wanted to be on the panel but she was not appointed. She has a history of social work. She brought up the idea of funding and resources. I want you to hear -- I want you to hear what she had to say and get your comments afterwards. This was Representative Katie Hobbs last night on "Horizon."

Katie Hobbs: I'm really concerned that Director Carter has put in his budget request for DES and hasn't requested any additional funding for Child Protective Services, and is defending that saying it's not a resource issue, it's an efficiency issue. I just really think it is a resource issue. We have workers that are working at 50% to 65% above the recommended case levels for whatever area they are in if they are investigative or in-home or out of home services. They are way above the recommended case levels. And turnover at the agency is 20% to 25%. At any given time there's a huge number of vacancies. I've heard him say we just need to fill 50-some positions. But that doesn't address the fact that, number one, new caseworkers can't take a big caseload. They can only take one or two cases for a certain number of weeks. There needs to be a continuous revolving door out of the agency. That's a huge issue.

Ted Simons: How do you respond to that, the idea that you're not necessarily on board with some folks who say they need more money?

Clarence Carter: With all due respect to Representative Hobbs, I didn't say it was not a resource issue. I said we had to be diligent about understanding and designing the most effective practice before we made a resource request. And that's what it is. I did not say it is not an issue of resources. We have looked at a portion of our practice where we had -- we were able to take 200,000 hours out of a poorly designed practice. I could not ask for a resource for a poorly designed practice. We are in the process of ensuring that the practice and the policy is effective, and then when we understand the resource we will make an appropriate and diligent resource request.

Ted Simons: Do we have the time for that?

Clarence Carter: We do have the time for that.

Ted Simons: Do we have the time for that?
Bill Montgomery: Yes, yes. I think what Director Carter is pointing is the most responsible and logical from an organizational development standpoint about how to address an agency like CPS with such a critical mission and employees dedicated to the task at hand. We have seen in the past, what has frustrated reform efforts was the clarion call for just more resources. If we do that, we could fix the situation. Representative Hobbs is pointing out one important issue. But that's not the entirety of what it is that we're looking at. Just asking for resources without understanding exactly how the organization is performing and where it needs to perform better is going to leave us with what we've had from before, which is the false assertion of reform and improvement.

Ted Simons: Can we have reform with added resources? That obviously can be on the table, can't it?

Clarence Carter: Absolutely, absolutely. Governor Brewer said to both of us, what can I do to exercise my executive authority to help in this issue? So part of what the task force is looking at, recommendations to put in front of her to be able to move forward. Everything's on the table.

Ted Simons: What makes this attempt to overhaul CPS different? I know it's probably unfair to ask you because you haven't been in Arizona all that long. But you know, you've been around long enough now to know the history here. What separates this effort from previous efforts that have led us to this effort?

Clarence Carter: What I feel like is in play here is a dynamic of cooperation and collaboration that, for me, signals the ability to succeed. I can't comment on what happened before I was here. But what I know is that these are discussions that the chairman and I have had ongoing, that they are members on this task force. That official task force meaning it was an open and willing environment about how do we make this better. I believe there's a collaborative spirit here that will allow us to succeed.

Ted Simons: And last question for you: How does this differ? We are in the midst of this horrendous case. How a woman who spent time in prison for child abuse winds up with her children under the same roof. How does that happen?

Bill Montgomery: Sometimes in circumstances like that you're never going to get satisfactory answers because the circumstances just defy general understanding from people who otherwise understand what it is to care for a child in your care. I'm speaking generally, not necessarily with the Shockley case here. I think that's part of what's going on. To underscore some of what Director Carter was saying to your question about why is this effort different. This time around we have a chief executive who is committed to seeing through what it is we're able to recommend. She's put on the task force with responsibility for seeing it through. She went ahead and deliberately or otherwise, made the chairman someone who's a former tank platoon leader. When I hit an obstacle, I go over, through or around. Director Carter and I working together on this, and the composition and the task force, it's bipartisan, multidisciplinary. Everybody is there to improve the system. And we're not just going ask for more resources.

Ted Simons: We'll stop it right there. Gentlemen, great conversation. Good to have you.

Clarence Carter: Good to be with you, Ted.

Arizona Wilderness Coalition

  |   Video
  • Sam Frank, Central Arizona Director of the Wilderness Coalition of Arizona talks about the group’s Wilderness Stewards Program a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to maintain, protect and restore wilderness areas.
Guests:
  • Sam Frank - Central Arizona Director, Wilderness Coalition of Arizona
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: wilderness, coalition, protect,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: the Arizona Wilderness Aoalition stays busy protecting and restoring the state’s wilderness areas and you are invited to help. Earlier I discussed the coalition's work and mission with the Central Arizona director Sam Frank.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon."

Sam Frank: Thank you for having me, Ted.

Ted Simons: Before we get into what the Wilderness Coalition of Arizona does, what is a wilderness?

Sam Frank: Great question. Wilderness in the sense of the work we do is federal lands, public land. And it's defined by a designation from Congress. So wilderness areas are pristine undeveloped areas, no roads, no buildings in them. And they are created by Congress. So tracts of land set aside for things like sources of clean water, clean air for wildlife, for recreation.

Ted Simons: We know what a wilderness is. What does the wilderness coalition do?

Sam Frank: We are a nonprofit organization and we're statewide. From all corners of the state. We are focused on wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers. So we're a little different from some of the national groups. If someone supports Arizona Wilderness Coalition all of that support stays right here in Arizona.

Ted Simons: There's a stewardship program aligned with the coalition, correct?

Sam Frank: Yes.

Ted Simons: What's that all about?

Sam Frank: We came up with this program last year. And right now it’s a pilot program on the Prescott national forest, this is a way to get people involved in wilderness forests, from just a weekend volunteer event or maybe more extensive training. It's sort of the eyes and ears on the land.

Ted Simons: This is basically open to anyone? Do they have to equal qualify, any experience necessary for this?

Sam Frank: No, they can volunteer on the weekends or come out with family or friends and try it out just to get out. Like I said, they can take it up another level and get trainings on traditional tool use or leave no trace principles and become certified in different things.

Ted Simons: So, are those the things that they can learn? What can they do? It is a learning process.
15
Sam Frank: Sure. The whole thing is a learning process. There's always something new people can learn. It's open to all experience levels. You can be on foot or horseback. It's eyes on the ground, people going out and letting us know the conditions of trails. If they see nonnative plants in these areas. Impacts from, say, a campsite or something like that. As they get more involved in the program they can help us set up events, as well.

Ted Simons: Who's expressing interest in this?

Sam Frank: It's really kind of been all over the board as far as age or gender or whatever, it's been all over, which is really nice. We'll have a mix of younger people and people who are middle-aged, family members, single people. It's really everybody.

Ted Simons: You guys are very much involved in repairing and trying to renovate and re-vegetate stuff damaged by the wall of fire.

Sam Frank: We realized the damage from the wall of fire all across Arizona. It's about getting people outdoors and giving back and trying to take care of some of the land here in Arizona. We wanted to give something back to the area when we saw it. We organized an event and volunteers did a little bit of trail maintenance so people could go back to these communities. It helps the communities economically as well as providing recreational opportunities for people. We removed some of the crime scene tape around the area where the fire actually started and just assess the conditions of the trail and the wilderness area.
Ted Simons: Let's take the wall of fire in particular. What would I have done on this particular project?

Sam Frank: A big part of it was a talk on fire ecology and the role fire plays in some of our landscapes here in Arizona. Some of the trail maintenance involved cutting back brush or getting some of the dead timber that had fallen and been burned off the trail. Removing some of that garbage. As well as monitoring, sometimes it's an opportunity for nonnative plants to pop up in there. We like to see if we can find those plants and remove them before they take hold in these areas.

Ted Simons: It’s the kind of thing where you can see immediate results, and then with the re-vegetation I would imagine you have to wait a while before you see something happening there. Other projects besides the wall of fire?

Sam Frank: Sure. We have a number of programs going on right now, the stewards program is a pilot program on the Prescott national forest. We have events listed on our website, people get e-mails from us. We have them going right through the winter this year. Events range from pretty easy day hike type was events to overnight events, some that are 14-mile treks through some of these areas. Those vary whether they are doing trail maintenance or monitoring or hiking or backpacking. It's about getting people out in the areas and getting them healthy and getting them exposed to the wilderness areas and the benefits they can provide.

Ted Simons: I'm thinking, in case people want to give it a shot, how do they get there?

Sam Frank: They can visit our website, which is www.azwild.org, and we have offices in Phoenix, Tucson and Prescott and they can find those on our website.

Ted Simons: How did you get involved in the wilderness? Did you grow up, camp outside in the backyard kind of guy?

Sam Frank: I did have a state forest behind my house growing up and that sparked my interest in being outdoors. Then I lived out west for a while and experienced wilderness. Once I got exposed to those I wanted to work with them through jobs and in a roundabout way I found myself working for the Arizona Wilderness Coalition.

Ted Simons: Does it seem like more and more people are interested in this, or is it something you still have to go out and recruit folks to get interested?

Sam Frank: I think more and more folks are becoming interested. It's an ongoing battle to get the word out to as many people as possible. People are realizing these are our public lands and they are there for us. There are no fees to go on them, and they can come out, get healthy, get some exercise and they are giving something back to our public lands at the same time.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Sam Frank: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Tomorrow on "Horizon," why family caregivers are an important piece of Arizona's health care puzzle. And a premiere science festival coming to Arizona, Wednesday at 7:00 on "Horizon." You can catch "Horizon" on the web, that's azpbs.org/horizon. That is it for now, I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us, you have a great evening.

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