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February 6, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Alternate Redistricting Maps

  |   Video
  • Not satisfied with the new political boundaries drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission, House Speaker Andy Tobin has drawn his own congressional and legislative district maps that he wants voters to have an opportunity to approve. Speaker Tobin will speak about his alternative to the IRC maps.
  • Andy Tobin - Arizona House Speaker
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, redistricting, commission, Tobin,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: After months of public testimony, crunching numbers, and redrawing lines, the independent redistricting commission adopted final maps of Arizona's congressional and state legislative district boundaries. They're the maps that will be used for this year's general election, unless house speaker Andy Tobin gets his way. He drafted his own maps and he wants voters to choose those maps over the district lines drawn by the IRC. We'll talk with speaker Tobin in a moment, but first, here's what two analysts to say about the maps right here on "Arizona Horizon." What about the department of justice how would they look at something like this?

Steve Muratore: I think they will have a very significant problem with it. The IRC took extensive public testimony especially from minority individuals and coalitions, and obviously Andy Tobin didn't do that.

Bob Robb: I doubt legislators are going to go along with this. I think they've reconciled themselves and are making their decisions about how to run the IRC maps. If were to play out, the state would have the option of bypassing the department of justice and asking for preclearance of the maps after they've been approved by a three-judge D.C. circuit panel. And if you have a vote of public approval, it has been adopted by the voters. I'm not sure that -- and it satisfies the voting rights act requirements, I'm not sure that judges would decide to say to the voters they don't know how best to balance the considerations that go into drawing these maps.

Ted Simons: And here now to talk about his redistricting maps is house speaker Andy Tobin, a Republican from Paulden in Yavapai county. Why did you draw new maps?

Andy Tobin: Let's be clear. There is no map even submitted to this day. We're here on a Monday, there's no map that's been submitted to the department of justice right now even to be approved. So I'm getting anxious, because as everyone in Arizona should be getting, we've got -- we have an -- we haven't even gotten the strategy or the summary of what they did for the minority-majority districts. Usually you don't put maps together unless have you a strategy that has legal tenant to it. That's not even available. We're nervous we may not have maps at all.

Ted Simons: You're saying the IRC maps, the final adopted maps aren't final, aren't adopted, aren’t ready to go?

Andy Tobin: They haven't submitted anything yet. So what are we to do? We're supposed to continue to wait, the question is, is this a waiting game, are they trying to wait out any possibility for the legislature to act at all? 10 years ago when this happened, Jim Pederson had put money into the pot, said let's change the way we do things. I'm all right with that. Let the voters decide. So they talked about let's have open transparency, they said let's have some cooperation along the way, they talked about what else can we do? Let's get politics out of the way, make sure it's fair, make sure everybody is involved. There's no rural representation, I would submit to you there's no independent representation. You have an independent redistricting commission chair woman who is selected who voted 100% of the time. That's like me voting with Republicans. 100% of the time selecting president Barack Obama's strategic telemetry -- that's their consultant, hiring the democrats' attorney, but the nine Republicans. So you have to start thinking, is this an independent person? So if you go back since this initiative was only passed by about this much, 50.28% without any opposition that really came out in that election, what the voters really not -- would they not be offended by what's going on with the maps we have now?

Ted Simons: You asked would they not be offended. How would they not be offended by having a map drawn by one guy?

Andy Tobin: Let's put them up against the wall. At least I'm admitting it. We had the independent redistricting commission who spent money fighting open meeting law. Obviously I'm a leader of the Republican caucus at the state house. Of course I'm a partisan. But I took a 50,000 foot level and I will challenge you, I guess you'll see some maps soon.

Ted Simons: We've got them right there.

Andy Tobin: The maps I drew from this 50,000-foot level still upset some Republicans, but it's fair. It protects the minority-majority districts, it does it better. It actually makes more competitive districts.

Ted Simons: But that's coming from you who drew the map.

Andy Tobin: It absolutely is.

Ted Simons: Whereas the commission had untold numbers of meetings, untold numbers of public comments, thousands upon thousands of public comment, certainly consulted with minority voters and minority leaders, look the at how the department of justice meet certain requirements, we don't know what you considered how you considered or who you considered --

Andy Tobin: That's true. But you don't know who they considered. Who was there on the Monday morning surprise when the independent redistricting commission left the day and showed up Monday morning with maps with a doughnut hole in the center? Who was there at that table? I share with you at my table, I was very honest. I had a staffer, I gave them instructions. One of the instructions was, is there a way to protect rural Arizona? Nobody represents rural Arizona on this commission. It's extremely hurt by these maps. So let's give the voters a chance. They've never really seen one against the other.

Ted Simons: Did you consult with minority interests?

Andy Tobin: I had meetings with the minority long before the IRC started having meetings with the minority. And got their inputs from there, sure.

Ted Simons: You did consult with mionority--

Andy Tobin: Yes, I did. Not on these particular maps, but on their needs. They had come to us back in May and June, us the majority, to help them formulate maps to protect the minority districts. And I still kept --

Ted Simons: did you consult with fellow lawmakers on --

Andy Tobin: I did not -- I will say to you I did not consult with fellow Republicans because I didn't want them implicated as saying, did you redraw this because of your address. Did you redraw this because of yours. So I did it myself, because I'd rather take the punches from everyone and just say here's an alternative. Is this not something that we should at least consider?

Ted Simons: Did you take input from democrats?

Andy Tobin: No, I did not not.

Ted Simons: Why not?

Andy Tobin: Because they already own the IRC. There's three democrats running the independent redistricting commission. So I said here's your map, here's my map. Let's see, whose is better, because you always talk about competitiveness. My maps are more competitive. The law talks about compactness and communities of interest. So you can see by the maps you were showing, what they've got, they have Pinal county now as going to represent congressionally, they're going to have San tan all the way to Yuma, Lake Havasu, kingman. Does that -- is that really what the voters want?

Ted Simons: I think there were 200 and some-odd proposed maps when all was said and done. And now we've got yours, which I guess would technically be 225. But why would voters scrap an independent commission, flawed as it might be, but certainly went through the process that voters set up, and if we didn't find that information about the independent chairman, or chair woman, maybe you worked the process, maybe -- but why would voters take all of that, shove it aside, and say speaker Tobin, we want you?

Andy Tobin: I will say -- share this with you -- the only map that's being presented to the voters to really vote on is the map that I've just proposed.

Ted Simons: That's a special election in --.

Andy Tobin: It's a special election in may or June, wherever we can get it to the voters. That's the only real choice they have. Someone who is sitting in rural Arizona, your maps from the IRC have hurt you. Someone silting who is an independent anywhere, you don't have an independence in this process. The maps that we have driven better take care of the minority and majority interests. The district maps they drew, Ted, for the independent redistricting commission, are using a faulty percentage for the minority members.

Ted Simons: I hear what --

Andy Tobin: That were failed 10 years ago.

Ted Simons: We've heard those criticisms before. Will but isn't what you're doing, what the IRC was voted in -- was approved by voters to prevent from happening?

Andy Tobin: That's what I'm saying. The question the voters have to say, did what the IRC do, did they do that independently, did they follow the spirit of what we tried to accomplish? Did they do that or not? And I think when you start going down that list of things that they have done, no one can realistically say that they drew these maps in a competitive and nonpartisan way.

Ted Simons: Is there a way to go through the legal process as opposed to a special election that would cost some 8 million dollars?

Andy Tobin: We’ve been told it’s about 8 million dollars. I blame that on the independent redistricting commission. They brought us to this point. And we could likely get those funds from the clean elections commission from overcharges and fees and stuff. But I do blame it on them. We wouldn't be here if they had done their job.

Ted Simons: Last question, why not let the independent commission process work? See what happens?

Andy Tobin: I'm with you. But I just told you, and you didn't know, that the maps haven't even been submitted.

Ted Simons: But they will eventually be submitted.

Andy Tobin: when? At what point in time? They've had this process, they've over spent $400,000 in legal fees they want to say is because the chair woman was removed. But in reality, they have an investigation -- we're talking about open meeting rule violations that even Jim Pederson said to the capitol times, of course they were supposed to obey open meeting law. You have to decide, was this process stolen from the voters or was it not? If you believe it wasn't, you're not going to looks at my map. If you believe it was, you'll want an alternative, whatever that might be.

Ted Simons: Didn't the courts look at the question and decide --

Andy Tobin: Yes, there's been appealed.

Ted Simons: All right. It will be interesting to see what happens. It's good to have you on.

Andy Tobin: It's great to see you again. Thanks, Ted, very much.

Homeowner’s Bill of Rights

  |   Video
  • Arizona Republic real estate reporter Catherine Reagor discusses President Obama’s plans to stabilize the housing market.
  • Catherine Reagor - Arizona Republic real estate reporter
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: housing, market, real estate, update,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The latest gallup poll shows President Obama's approval rating in Arizona is down from 2009. The poll shows 40% of Arizonans approve of President Obama's performance, that's down from 55% three years ago. Congressman Ben Quayle announced he will run in congressional district six that. Sets up a showdown between Quayle and another incumbent Republican, David Schweikert. Quayle says most of his current constituents live in the proposed new district. And the Maricopa County sheriff's office met today with lawyers from the US justice department. It’s The first time the two agencies have met since the department of justice filed racial profiling allegations against the sheriff's office. President Obama recently announced his latest plan to help homeowners who are under water in their mortgages. It's called homeowners bill of rights. Here to give us some insight on what the program's designed to do is Catherine Reagor, who reports on real estate and growth for "The Arizona Republic." Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us. Homeowners bill of rights. What are we talking about?

Catherine Reagor: It's going to be probably multiple pieces of legislation, but what they're trying to do is help homeowners who are under water refinance. It started with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac homeowners, that's already going through. Because the government owned and think can do it. This is to help the homeowners with privately owned mortgages. That are owned by investors or the banks, because the government has to have something to push them to do it.

Ted Simons: Interesting. So it's basically what happened with Fannie and Freddie now moved over to the private sector.

Catherine Reagor: Yes. And maybe with more bells and whistles. Maybe with help in cutting principle, getting people into 20-year loans so they're building back their equity faster and some moves to expedite appraisals across the board, not just for Fannie and Freddie, cut refinancing costs.

Ted Simons: This is for folks under water. Can you be as underwater as the Pacific Ocean? What are the limits?

Catherine Reagor: I think as deep as it goes. I asked when HUD secretary Donovan was in town I asked him, he said, yes, you can be 200% underwater, which we have some people in Arizona on the fringes. We probably know them who are 200%. Those homeowners with Fannie and Freddie cannot apply until march. Because they have to get the program up to speed. But I would say call your lender, call your mortgage broker, you can find out if you're Fannie or Freddie on them, and get going on it.

Ted Simons: So you can refinance to a lower rate. Correct?

>> Yes.

Ted Simons: You mentioned principle. I know this was a sticking point, this was a problem with Fannie and Freddie, I’m sure it will be with private lenders as well. What's going on with principle?

Catherine Reagor: There’s different talk about different deals to make that work. If you put -- bring the loan down to 20 years you may be making the same payment but you're paying off principle. There's talk about cutting the principle as part of this. HAMP, the Home affordable modification program, which we all know unfortunately. did not do well.

Ted Simons: Dud.

Catherine Reagor: Yes. President Obama said himself, these programs have not done as well. Many will say they failed. HAMP is being expanded, so more people under water can get more help, because in the past Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would not cut principle on those loan modifications. And they're government owned. We own them.

Ted Simons: Yes. So what's the difference now? What gets them to do it now?

Catherine Reagor: They're telling the regulator, you need to cut principle. You need to do this. And we'll see if this legislation includes something. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, because they're quasi governmental and they have bond holders and shareholders, it's kind of a mess. So you have to change some laws and change their structures so they can do more of this, and the federal government can push them to do more.

Ted Simons: So let's do a scenario where you buy a house for $300,000, right now it's worth $150,000. And the mortgage is $200,000. So it doesn't -- there is something afoot to get that principle down closer to 150?

Catherine Reagor: Different cases. Home loan modifications, yes, with Fannie and Freddie. Making it cutting the term of the loan and in some cases possibly cutting the principle as part of a refinancing. If you are not late on your payment. There are several scenariosout there. I think it's going to be -- this is a political hot button. We know this. That's going to be the issue. What we end up with is going to be a compromise hopefully. And at the very least homeowners under water and there are 50% of homeowners in Arizona are, will be able to refinance from 6.5% to 3.5%.

Ted Simons: This has to affect a lot of folks in the Phoenix area. 60%?

Catherine Reagor: 50% in Arizona N. metro Phoenix we could be 60%. This is where the crash was. This is also true to reward the homeowners who didn't walk away. You understand when people got so frustrated,when they wouldn’t work with them, when they wouldn’t do the short sale, I understand all of those thigns. But there's some people who love their house so much, they just want to be there. And if you say, making your payment and staying there and holding on, we're going to cut your monthly payment by three to $500, you know, that's more incentive.

Ted Simons: And just to be focused on that, you can't miss more than one payment in the last six months.

Catherine Reagor: Yes.

Ted Simons: OK. As far as investors are concerned, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the new plan expand what investors can go ahead and own? And I mean expand by a whole lot?

Catherine Reagor: Well, yeah. In the past, part of this legislation is Fannie and Freddie have sold their homes like on the Maricopa County courthouse steps. One by one. Now they're pushing to do it in bulk. Because this are places not in Phoenix, but in Detroit, where there are 500 foreclosure homes owned by the government in a mile. Two miles. And here now they're going to be able to sell much faster, but they could sell cheaper.

Ted Simons: So home prices could be affected big-time.

Catherine Reagor: Yes. But we don't have a lot of distressed homes on the market and our foreclosures have dropped to one-third of what they were a year ago. Yes, Foreclosures are down, and preforeclosures. So it's a sign. And we have very few homes for sale. We're a different market, and we could be recovering quicker.

Ted Simons: Interesting. In one more aspect of this, standardizing the loan application and borrowing process, how does that work?

Catherine Reagor: The federal government has put out a loan application that everyone is supposed to use. It standardizes fees, it says you can shop for this but you can’t shop for this, you have to get an appraisal of this, and it's to cut down on mortgage fraud which was a huge problem in Arizona. And it never has been nationally standardized. Every state has a different system, a different -- go look when you go to get your paper work -- paperwork, it's this thick even to refinance. This would spell it out, and you don't have a four pages later that this is what your payment is, it would make it clearer, easier, and less open for fraud.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned earlier there are politics behind all this. This at least politics afoot in the surrounding area. We should mention Republicans are not too keen on this, because of the cost and the simple -- the nature of it instead of allowing the market to do what it wants to do, you're manipulating the market here.

Catherine Reagor: And also banks would be charged, and they're a huge lobbying group and they would pay a fee, which we don't know, but probably pretty hefty. To pay for the private refinancings. Obama's speech came right after Romney's speech in Las Vegas, where he said he was more concerned with the middle class. Well, homeownership is still very important to the middle class. And for -- to go after voters, that's --

Ted Simons: That will be interesting to see. Before you go, the mortgage debt relief plan, I believe ends at the end of this year. Correct?

Catherine Reagor: Yes.

Ted Simons: What is it and why should people be aware of this?

Catherine Reagor: It's where you could write off your losses due to foreclosures, etc. There is talk on both sides of the fence because it's a political rally, whether it will be extended or not. They extended the loan -- home loan modification for another year, so it would make sense to extend that as well.

Ted Simons: So we shall see.

Catherine Reagor: Yes. We shall see as they fight it out.

Ted Simons: Good stuff. Great information. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Catherine: Reagor: Thanks.

Project Humanities

  |   Video
  • Dr. Neal Lester, Dean of Humanities for ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences talks about the launch of “Project Humanities”.
  • Dr. Neal Lester - Dean, Humanities at ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Category: Education   |   Keywords: ASU, project, humanities,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: ASU launches project humanities this week, and here to tell us what the event is all about is Dr. Neal Lester, dean of humanities for ASU's college of liberal arts and sciences. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Neal Lester: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Before we talk about what project humanities is supposed to do, what are the humanities? I got a feeling this is touching the elephant. Everybody has a different idea.

Dr. Neal Lester: That's the million dollar question. It's interesting, because one of the ways we've tried to approach project humanities is not by defining it but showing what humanities do or does. It's bringing people together to recognize there are more things that unite us than separate us. And it's all around ideas. And the ways in which we try to make meaning of our existence.

Ted Simons: So things like arts, literature, the classics, liberal arts in general. That's all encompassing there?

Dr. Neal Lester: It's all encompassing, but problem is when you start with definition, the definitions are by nature not static. And what's easier is to talk about what humanities does. The skills that you get from humanities. When you start talking about the arts, literature, the question becomes, how do you define literature? How did you define the arts? We say when you bring people together to recognize those human ties, we are doing humanities.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Give us an example. That's a good example. But give us -- how do you live an ethical life? How do you share your experiences?

Dr. Neal Lester: That's right. One of the things -- what are the things that make us look at what it means to be human on this planet and what that means exactly is, there's nothing bigger than life. So one of the ways that research in humanities and those who teach humanities and those who self identify as humanists, we try to analyze, we try to critique. We also try to understand and to ask questions. And by talking and listening, the ideas that we will connect, and recognize we do not exact as a single object on this planet. And that nothing is created for the sake of its creation. That on some level it needs to have some connection with that person who created it, or the purpose of its creation.

Ted Simons: How do you connect, though, with folks who don't want to be connected? And there's a lot of them out there.

Dr. Neal Leste: Part of what we try to do with project humanities is to say, this is about humanities every day and every day humanities. So no one exists in a vacuum. And the way in which we make meaning is to find ourselves relative to other people. So we do humanities even when we don't acknowledge what it is. And the same way that people do things before we're able to name it. So humanities actually becoming -- the coming together and acknowledging those common a little, we don't have to explain, for example, why we pray or why we write notes, at times of great loss. At the Tucson tragedy, for example, nobody was told how to behave, people responded because there was something that went beyond those things that divide us. What we're trying to look at are those in between spaces so we don't have to look for a 9-11 to make us realize that we are more alike than we are different.

Ed Simons: So why do I keep hearing that there's a chasm between humanities and science, between -- or a problem with humanities and politics? It seems like humanities is always having to fight, defend itself and figure out, trying to convince people we're not bad.

Dr. Neal Lester: And -- part of that is trying to educate and also trying to better understand what humanities are. And to move away from this sense that we have to go to a dictionary definition in order to understand what it is. So by coming together and bringing people who are not necessarily identified as human, we talk about those things we share, we talk about stories, we talk about empathy, we talk about language, traveling to other countries. Where you learn about the culture through learning the language. So it's not so academic, but it is academic. We have research that's around language that impacts how we interact and how we make meaning of everyday experiences.

Ted Simons: So with that, we have project humanities all set to go. What are we talking about?

Dr. Neal Lester: Project humanities is a year old this February, and it's really an ASU University-wide initiative that does exactly what we've tried to do in talking about humanities generally. Bring people across the campus, students, faculty, administrators, staff, together talking about an idea, thinking about an idea. Talking, listening, and connecting. And recognizing that those experiences are just as important as jobs that we have.

Ted Simons: Interesting. Last question before we let you go, humanities place in society. I'm sure it will be talked about project humanites, what is it?

Dr. Neal Lester: It's like air. It's like air. We don't know it's there until we start losing it. And when we start recognizing moments of loss, when we start recognizing good experiences that we have from reading a book, or seeing a play, or seeing a movie and wanting to talk to somebody about it, that becomes humanities in action.

Ted Simons: Very good. Dr. Lester, it's good to have you here. Thank you for joining us. Good luck with project humanities.

Dr. Neal Lester: Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: And 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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