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April 3, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Diamondbacks New Season

  |   Video
  • Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall talks about the home team and their surprising success from last year, the high expectations for the upcoming season and the record-breaking numbers of last month's Spring Training.
  • Derrick Hall - Diamondbacks President and CEO
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: sports, baseball, fall, league,

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Ted Simons: The Arizona Diamondbacks were a surprising success last year. With that success now comes high expectations for the upcoming season. Indeed, D-backs fans showed up to spring training games last month in record-breaking numbers. Here now to talk about the home team is Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall. Good to see you again.

Ted Simons: I was excited, last time we saw you, you had an ASU player on the roster.

Derrick Hall: It all came together really good. We had a very long spring, as you recall. Kirk Gibson really had them working so hard it just clicked. They took on the persona of their manager. They were never out of their game. They played gritty baseball for 27 outs, 48 come-from-behind wins. All of Arizona fell in love and embraced these guys.

Ted Simons: Could you pinpoint a time when you knew, this is going pretty well, something special could happen here.

Derrick Hall: There were several points, but in particular I remember a series where we took over first place, we were up in San Francisco. We took two out of three from the Giants. I remember going down to Kirk Gibson's office. I said, just think when you get the talent coming up from the minor leagues. He says we've got talent right now, it's called heart. But you look at the coaching staff, Allen Trammel and Don Baylor and Eric Young and Glen Sherlock best coaching staff in all of baseball. Players say, I've got to listen to these guys and learn from them.

Ted Simons: No malcontents from my point of view. It’s important to have the players buy into all of that.

Derrick Hall: And it's important, and they have bought into it. It's amazing how well they all get along. You can accomplish so much more when you're not concerned with who gets the credit it is truly a team.

Ted Simons: Last year, about an out away from the World Series there, getting awfully close for a chance at the World Series, you had expectations this year. Talk about those challenges.

Derrick Hall: We do, and it is a challenge. Now you've got a target on your back and they are gunning for you. I prefer where you're really flying below the radar and sneak up on everybody. We caught our fans and the other teams by surprise. There is no surprise this year. Some of the headlines, the biggest surprise in baseball last year was the Diamondbacks. The biggest surprise this year will be the Diamondbacks not winning the NLS. You can see how quickly you can turn it around. We have a lot of depth of talent in our minor leagues, too.

Ted Simons: Let's say you start out of the gate at 500, the first month. How do you keep folks not only engaged but in it for the long haul?

Derrick Hall: Regardless of how we're playing, if we keep doing what we're doing at the ballpark, fans will want to come out and root for this team. They know the guys give 100% every night. The effort is there, and I think the results will come, as well. As long as we keep providing the most affordable ticket in all of baseball, the cleanest, safest, most beautiful ballpark that's fan interactive, we'll be fine.

Ted Simons: I don't think anyone would argue you have the best training facility in town. Even during what little bad weather we had -- how do you get those fans? Is it a problem with people maybe spending disposable income in spring, and then how do you get past that hurdle?

Derrick Hall: I think the fans are getting in the habit of going to baseball games again and rooting for this team, building relationships with our players. They do take so much time to sign autographs and take pictures. The loyalty spills over into the regular season. It's affordable at Chase Field, as well spring training. They are not going to get their wallets gouged going from one facility to the other.

Ted Simons: Talk about the fan experience, very proud the fact that there's a lot of things going on there, and you're in the entertainment business, as well. What changes this year?

Derrick Hall: We're fortunate that we had the all-star game so we made that ballpark look as good as new. There was very little we had to do this year. If you have your MLB at-bat application when you come into the ballpark, from there they can order food from their seats, get an alert when their food is ready, go to a specific line to pick it up. They can look at bios, information about Chase Field. So much going on that we need to make sure we have an advantage to those visiting rather than those watching at home.

Ted Simons: I bring my iPad I can watch the replay right there in Section 102?

Derrick Hall: You can indeed, you go into our app and you will get all of that info.

Ted Simons: How is your health doing?

Derrick Hall: Thank you, Ted, very well. I had my diagnosis of prostate cancer back in September, I actually had treatment and surgery in November, and it hasn't been too long. But I had a very important blood test the other day and got the results today. Nondetectable today, and very good news, feel great.

Ted Simons: Was it difficult going public with that?

Derrick Hall: Not at all, being able to take the platform and drive awareness and get people to get in and be tested. Early detection is the key to treatment. I looked at it as an opportunity.

Ted Simons: A lot of people would say leave me alone.

Derrick Hall: I had a lot of people; you're crazy going out there. I had a number of people either call or write and say, thank you, because of you I went in to get tested and I have been detected. Or thank you, I did get tested and I don't have it. I'm pleased that people are going now. It's a simple test.

Ted Simons: Great year last year, very interesting year for you last year in a variety of ways. You're the president and CEO of a baseball team. From a personal standpoint do you ever sit back and go, goodness, gracious, this is the life.

Derrick Hall: All the time. You've got the life, too, but all the time, I do. I pinch myself because this is what I always wanted to do, growing up.

Ted Simons: Some folks want to play third place, some people want to be a fireman, and you wanted to be the president of a baseball team?

Derrick Hall: I love baseball, love Major League Baseball my entire life. I wanted to be in it, didn't know how. I wanted to be a team president and here I am. If you truly love what you're doing you'll never work a day in your life. I do that. I love our staff and culture and camaraderie. The culture lately, it's the icing on the cake.

Ted Simons: We can't wait for the season to be started Friday. Good to have you.

Autism Increase

  |   Video
  • New Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate more children than previously thought have autism. The increase is attributed to wider screening. Dr. Bryan Davey of the Arizona Autism Coalition Board and Director of Behavioral Services at ACCEL (Arizona Centers for Comprehensive Education and Life Skills) will discuss the new numbers.
  • Dr. Bryan Davey - Arizona Autism Coalition Board and Director of Behavioral Services at ACCEL
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: autism, mental, health, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: One in 64 Arizona children has some form of autism. That's according to new estimate from the Centers for Disease Control. Nationally the autism rate is one in 88, almost twice what it was six years ago. Here to talk about these troubling numbers is Bryan Davey, Director of Behavioral Services for ACCEL, a Valley-based non-profit that provides education and life skills for special needs children and adults. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

Dr. Bryan Davey: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Before we get into this now, let's define terms. What is autism?

Dr. Bryan Davey: Autism is a genetic and neurobiological disorder that affects many individuals, it affects young children, it can affect adults. It's early onsets are around 18 months, two years, three years of age. It's really a hallmark and characteristics of repetitive behaviors. We'll see some antisocialization. Some may have a lack of language.

Ted Simons: Okay. With that in mind, why are these numbers increasing the way they are? What's going on out there?

Dr. Bryan Davey: That's really the million-dollar question. We have some answers to the increase. We know that we are better at diagnosing at this point. We are better at identifying those that are at risk. And those that have -- that are on the spectrum at some level, either severely affected or mildly affected. That takes care about 50% of that increase. The other 50% we're really unsure of as a field at this point.

Ted Simons: Better diagnosis and screening helps a little bit. How do you diagnose autism?

Dr. Bryan Davey: It's done typically by a developmental pediatrician or developmental psychologist. They run a battery of tests to identify whether or not somebody is affected by autism spectrum disorder.

Ted Simons: As a definition, as a diagnosis, has that changed over the years?

Dr. Bryan Davey: We do not have a change in the definition of what autism is at this point. We will have a change in the DSM about what will encompass autism. There's still some debate, how it'll shake out is not yet seen.

Ted Simons: Is it likely to be expanded more?

Dr. Bryan Davey: It's not being expanded. It may be contracted a little bit.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Dr. Bryan Davey: We just don't know how the chips will fall from the different associations looking at that.

Ted Simons: Autism is more common in boys, do we know why?

Dr. Bryan Davey: No, again we don’t know why it’s more common. In Arizona you mentioned one in 64, and we're looking at about one in 40 boys. That is just a shocking number for us. In terms of classrooms, in Arizona that's one child for every two classrooms that's going to be formed. Nationally we're looking at almost a million children affected by some form of autism spectrum disorder. The other thing to think about in terms of this dataset, most disturbing to some of us in the field of research, CDC is working with numbers that are already four years old. I understand, we all understand we have to look at those numbers and it takes time to gather and analyze those. But that is still alarming for us, we still don't know today what that number is.

Ted Simons: From what you see, your experience out there in the field, do you think it's more prevalent than from four years ago?

Dr. Bryan Davey: I've seen this continue to escalate in my career. Regardless of the geographic location, we see this prevalence continuing to grow. In the public school system it's hit very hard by this. In the districts we work with and our own school, children and adolescents are coming to us with severe behavior problems, severe deficits in communication. They are having to be addressed in difficult settings. That could be in a classroom with 10 to 12 student or even more than that. That falls on our special education teachers, behavior analysts, SLPs to be able to engage these students, design plans, track their progress, and make database decisions. We have to adjust. Every single plan is individualized. This is a disorder that we just can't have a cookie cutter approach to. Because it is a spectrum disorder, individuals are affected in different ways it's just not one particular approach that solves the problem for a particular child or adolescent.

Ted Simons: You mentioned nationwide one in 88, in Arizona one in 64. I know other states, in Utah the prevalence is even higher. Is that because of better screening and diagnosis? There are areas where it seems rare and others where it seems more common?

Dr. Bryan Davey: One could make the assumption that Arizona has better screening, however we -- again, we get back to the idea that we know about 50% of the reason why we're seeing this increase and the rest is really unexplained.

Ted Simons: You mentioned genetics, a biggie here. We hear about childhood vaccines maybe being a factor. What are your thoughts?

Dr. Bryan Davey: The data is clear that there are no links between vaccines in children and autism spectrum disorder. That being said, the onset of autism is around three years of age or younger. It correlates well with vaccinations being a given. There is that very emotional attachment to this happened, I gave my child these shots and this was the cause of that. We cannot discount that for parents who feel that way, and we have to take into account the emotion. The data is very clear that just doesn't exist at this point.

Ted Simons: What about illness in a pregnant mom, medications taken by a pregnant mom?

Dr. Bryan Davey: We have a lot of research conducts across the United States looking at prenatal issues that may go on in utero between the mother and child. Again, that research is preliminary at this point. But you cannot deny that there are some environmental factors that are going into this.

Ted Simons: Last question: With everything we've talked with all the numbers now being crunched, do you believe autism is an epidemic in America?

Dr. Bryan Davey: One in 88 affecting over a million children, it's hard not to call it that. Recently, Autism Speaks mentioned if you combine childhood cerebral palsy, cancer, and others, you could not get to the number of children affected with autism spectrum disorder today.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Dr. Bryan Davey: Thanks for having me.

Valley Housing Market

  |   Video
  • The housing market could be coming back to life in the Valley. Inventories are down, foreclosures are down, and prices could soon be up. Real Estate Reporter Catherine Reagor of the Arizona Republic will give an update.
  • Catherine Reagor - The Arizona Republic
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: housing, market, real estate, update, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: If you're waiting for the home prices to bottom out before you buy, you may have waited too long. Prices continue to rise as the homes on the market decline. Here with an update is Catherine Reagor, reporter for the "The Arizona Republic." I told you next time we get you on will be for some good news.

Catherine Reagor: This looks like pretty good news. We have been making our way towards it. Foreclosures have been slowing, sales have been climbing. We kept hearing prices will climb when that all happens and they are. They are climbing fast, almost as fast as during the boom.

Ted Simons: As high as 10% a month?

Catherine Reagor: In some. It was tracked per square foot, and he tracked an 8.6% in 30 days climb over all in the Valley's median price. And that is second -- Well, that beats the boom in 2005, when it climbs 7% in a month.

Ted Simons: We're seeing a lot of bidding wars out there between, what, investors and regular buyers?

Catherine Reagor: Yes, because there just aren't enough homes on the market. Foreclosures are down, and lenders, the homes they have are slowly being let out so they don't dump them on the market and drop prices. If they feel they can make some money, that's going to even out. People waited for the bottom and they see we're past it.

Ted Simons: As far as investors are concerned, who are these people?

Catherine Reagor: International -- last time around we had individual investors, you take out a home equity loan and buy two other houses. This is not millionaires, it's billionaires buying on the courthouse steps. They want $10 million, $20 million per home, and they want to hold this for 10 years. The return on their money they get on rentals is better than they can get on any stock market, stock or currency right now.

Ted Simons: The report had 60% of homes sold in the past year in cash?

Catherine Reagor: Just in the past month. We've fluctuated, sometimes we've been 70% a month, but yes. 99% of cash buyers are investors. And they can close like that, they can close as is, they don't have to go through the appraisal, the inspection. You know, the bidding war, the cash is there. They win out most of the time.

Ted Simons: Is it -- mostly the activity we're seeing still mostly on the lower end? Is the higher end of homes still kind of in a slump?

Catherine Reagor: It's really below $350,000. That's our loan limits, that's what Fannie and Freddie will back. People who have 20% or 10% down, that's really their limit. That's where we're seeing the action. Homes that sold for $600,000 five years ago are now selling for $300,000 and it's a great deal.

Ted Simons: Those lower priced homes I would imagine would be some of those areas that were the first to get hit by the crunch, are they the first to recover?

Catherine Reagor: Yes. But now it's closer in. Gilbert and Chandler, median prices are up to 180. When the overall median price is 120, 125, that's really good. The schools and shopping, they are just coveted neighborhoods. North Phoenix, parts of Arcadia, we have shifted from the foreclosure to the short sale. Lenders realize they can make more money on the short sale and they are closing them faster. The homeowner gets nothing from the short sale but the lender gets more money. As a homeowner next to that house, it's going to be a higher price.

Ted Simons: You would certainly hope so. With all this investor activity, is this healthy? Short and long-term, what does it mean for the market?

Catherine Reagor: The concern is the investors, the bubble. This is different money. I don't want to say it's smart money, I want to say it's kind of Warren Buffett-ish money. You may call that smart money. These people have advisors, they have looked at the market, they want to buy in bulk and rent for a long time. These aren't the flippers. These are the people, eight to 10 years, they can make the money on the rents. And they are paying cash. Do you walk away from cash?

Ted Simons: What does it mean to neighborhoods when the houses that were all owner occupied are now becoming rentals?

Catherine Reagor: Yes, it's true. If one buys them and Fannie May and Freddie Mac aren't just holding them and they are standing empty and getting graffiti, at least they are fixing them you the and trying to get renters. We had a lot of people that walked away and wanted to rent. A new generation of 20-somethings who see this happening to their parents and, I don't want to buy. I can rent a three-bedroom condo in Tempe. Rent in this great high-rise. I'm going to wait.

Ted Simons: When did this rebound, do you think, really start? Was it late last year?

Catherine Reagor: Yes. We hit like our third bottom in August. Our median price went down to $113,000 and we all went, oof. Not great. Since then, steadily increasing. But this year literally neighborhoods are seeing 5% to 10% increases a month. The experts are saying, Mike Orr, they are all saying you can't look at a deal that was started 90 days ago and just closed, the prices changed that much. You have to look at deals that are negotiated three weeks ago to look at a price.

Ted Simons: Lot of activity and encouraging news here. Still, the median price is still below like 2002.

Catherine Reagor: It is. It's better than 113. I'm going to be the optimist. I've been fighting for this housing market. But it is going up. And we do see the buyers and the demand, and the chain of supply. And that is $20,000 off our 2002 price, which would be a normal price. If we continue to climb steadily, we're on our way back. For the past four years we've been up and down, not knowing the bottom. Here we have six months of continuing increases and so much demand from not just investors but first-time home buyers that are preapproved. They want to get in, they want their own home.

Ted Simons: As long as the banks don't flood the market, you say that's not the case because they are kind of slowly leaking.

Catherine Reagor: Our mortgage delinquency rate, which is people behind on their mortgages dropped. We had one of the biggest drops in the country. Unlike Florida, California, Las Vegas, they didn't. Why are they reporting the delinquencies in California, Nevada and Florida? Why wouldn't they report them here? That's another good sign. We see the jobs coming.

Ted Simons: You're just all full of good news, aren't you?

Catherine Reagor: Well, I hope.

Ted Simons: It's always good to have you here, good or bad news. Good to see you, thanks for joining us.

Catherine Reagor: Thank you.