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June 14, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: Contra Tiempo

  |   Video
  • Arizona ArtBeat takes a look at the Mesa Arts Center’s Culture Connect program featuring the Los Angeles-based Latin dance company, Contra Tiempo. The Company taught Salsa workshops to students in elementary schools and coached a select group of students for a performance piece that was included in Contra Tiempo’s public performance at the Center.
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: art, artbeat, contra tiempo, ,

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Ted Simons: On tonight's Arizona Artbeat, we look at the Mesa Arts Center's culture connect program, featuring the Los Angeles-based Latin dance company, Contra Tiempo. The company recently performed at the center and, while in residence, shared their approach to the art of salsa with students and the local community.

Anna Maria Alvarez: Our work really is about anything ranging from immigration to race resistance, to gender politics. We are really interested in engaging ideas of our society and our culture using the body as a tool for that and a way to really explore these ideas in a way that makes people think and also inspires people into action.

Announcer: Anna Maria Alvarez and her fellow performers are committed to transforming the world through their art. Members of Contra Tiempo, an urban bat lathe tin dance theater company based in Los Angeles, brought their unique style of choreography to the mesa arts center this past spring. They also brought an approach to dance that fuses multiple forms with multiple perspectives.

Anna Maria Alvarez: Contra Tiempo is a philosophy and mission is really to represent voices on the concert stage that aren't traditionally represented in that venue. And what I mean by the concert stage is through concert dance. So through performance really embodying the experiences and ideas and realities of the communities that we are part of and that we are represented by, which is particularly the Latino and African-American communities but really communities of color in general. Try it again. Basic set, inside. And --

Announcer: An important part of Contra Tiempo's mission involves community outreach. Prior to their performance, the company partnered with the Mays arts center to conduct a series of salsa dance workshops.

Anna Maria Alvarez: People in general, the capacity to dance. We are using dance as a way to empower individuals to create community and to teach this idea of compassionate partnership of being a part of a community and being a contribution to the world around. By doing that all through dance. Very nice.

Cindy Ornstein: We have been greatly expanding the roles our artists play in our community when they come here. Rather than just have them come and do a concert and leave, we really think there's tremendous benefit in wherever we can, wherever the artist has the expertise in having them spend more time in the community in the schools, in the community centers so that we can get the biggest benefit out of them being here.

Announcer: During their two-week residency, Contra Tiempo conducted workshops for students at five east valley elementary schools as well as at metro high school and mesa community college. All part of the mesa arts center's culture connect program.

Mandy Buscas: The culture connect program, the real goals of that is that students are coming together through shared arts experiences, and learning about diversity, work together as a team, they are really building these amazing 21st century learning skills that are vital to students being the work force. We actually did something unique with this program in that in order to build basic understanding of salsa, we sent mesa community college students into the classrooms that Contra Tiempo would be visiting ahead of their visit. So students were building basic salsa moves with those mesa community college students. Then Contra Tiempo came into the classrooms, and were really able to provide a deeper learning opportunity in salsa then.

Announcer: At the elementary schools, Contra Tiempo worked with sixth grade boys and girls on what was for most their initial experience with dance.

Anna Maria Alvarez: Our first introduction to each community that we work with is through a class which, it's a Cuban form of salsa that's done in a circle. It's kind of like square dancing with salsa. It's a lot of fun. People love it and it's a great way to introduce a dance form and in a nonthreatening environment where everybody is working together and learning alongside one another. We start with that class as a way to introduce salsa, as a way to introduce partnering, to introduce some of the Spanish vocabulary that comes with the dance and as a way to really have people learn the very quickly work together and get to know a little bit more about each other and about us.

Ruth Michalsccheck: You need to give children new experiences. We jump on it. We are not just interested in academics, we are interested in the culture and arts and interested in physical activities. We want our children exposed to all of those and so this was a wonderful opportunity for them to do something different, completely off the realm they have normally at school.

Antonio Alcala: Life experience, 24 kids walked in to where they normally eat lunch, and they were greeted by a professional choreography. And they were ready for it. But they still looked like maybe not in shock but they -- they were weary of what was going to happen, what they were going to have to do. They knew what the company was about so they walked in and immediately got in a circle and the instructor was very comfortable and kind of sent the message that today we are going to have a very comfortable dance lesson and everyone is going to have a good time. By the end they are. And they are clapping and celebrating and they feel good about themselves and they have done something that they normally wouldn't think that they could do. As well as so that's exciting to see.

Anna Maria Alvarez: Good job! [Applause]

Announcer: Following the school workshops, 22 sixth graders went on to appear with Contra Tiempo as part of their concert performance. While some of those selected to participate were among the more self assured students, others were chosen for a different reason.

Cesar Garfiaz: Usually they are successful at something else in some other aspect of life. Math, science, athletics, whatever, you know. And we are really looking to engage with those that don't have a moment of success, where they might have just too much energy, right, and in the classroom, it just cannot sit down, cannot pay attention. So we want that kid. Children really, they want to learn, you know. They ask for attention. They need it. And they are so willing to give themselves, you know, morning anything.

Yamilex Bajarano: I was a little girl, I used to like dancing a lot. I like moving a lot. I like all the steps to dancing. And it's pretty much about me being happy when I dance.

Announcer: It seemed an impossible task to prepare a group of young students with little training to dance on stage with the professional company after just a few weeks of practice. And yet -- the dancers came together in performance confirming once again the power and possibilities of the arts.

Anna Maria Alvarez: It was amazing. They were blowing our minds with how fast they were learning and how enthusiastic and excited they were and their parents were all sitting around and watching them feeling very proud. So it really is using dance as way to bridge communities and connect communities that maybe sometimes have never had interactions with one another or consider themselves kind of separate parts of town. Hopefully using dance to unite and empower young people

CD8 Special Election Politics

  |   Video
  • Political consultant Wes Gullett and pollster Mike O’Neil talk about the outcome of the special election to fill former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ empty seat in Congress and what it says about the current political environment.
  • Wes Gullett - Political consultant
  • Mike O’Neil - Pollster
Category: Elections   |   Keywords: elections, politics, special, district, 8, ,

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Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I’m ted Simons. Republican Jesse Kelly says he will not run for congress this fall. This after Kelly lost Tuesday’s special election to Ron Barber in a race to complete the remainder of Gabrielle Gifford’s' congressional term. It's the second time in less than two years that Kelly has failed to win that seat. Had Kelly decided to run again, he was expected to face a tough primary battle in the newly drawn congressional district 2. Some are looking at Ron Barber's six-point victory over Jesse Kelly as an early indicator of November’s general election. Others aren't so sure. I recently talked about the implications of Tuesday’s vote with pollster Mike O’Neil of O’Neil and associates, a Tempe-based public opinion research firm. And political consultant Wes Gullett, a partner in first strategic, a phoenix-based communications and public affairs company. And thanks for joining us tonight on "Arizona Horizon." let's get right to this. Mike, the results of CD 8, the special election, surprise?

Mike O’Neil: The margin was a little bit of a surprise. I thought it would be a little closer. But I look at that in conjunction with Wisconsin, and I look back over the last couple of election cycles. It says to me, '06 and '08 were tidal waves for the Democrat, 2010 was a tidal wave for the Republicans. We are getting a lot of mixed messages, I think, what it signals is 2012 liable to be somewhere in between.

Ted Simons: You saw this as a bellwether election.

Mike O’Neil: Yeah.

Ted Simons: You are seeing what?

Mike O’Neil: This was a bellwether election. I saw split decision.

Ted Simons: What did you see out of that vote?

Wes Gullett: I saw the same thing. I think it's the enthusiasm factor that carried Barber over the top. And that enthusiasm factor on Election Day, when you had gabby Gifford’s standing there with him, if anybody was on the fence, they swung over to Barber's side. And that, I think that's what happened with Wisconsin, too. That enthusiasm factor carried Walker over the line. So what we are seeing is, when people get excited, then, anything can happen.

Ted Simons: Are we also seeing kind of a, a fair play question? Where Walker was elected. You were talking about removing an elected official from office. Gabrielle Gifford’s was elected. You are talking about removing who she would like to see fill out her term for office. Was fair play at play here?

Wes Gullett: I think there were big hurdles for the opponents to overcome. And people, the Republicans got really excited about Jesse Kelly especially after Wisconsin. But the boomerang started back. I really think there's going to be a boomerang effect throughout this election, and we are starting to see it now.

Ted Simons: What do you think? Boomerang effect make sense to you?

Mike O’Neil: I think this election I think was nationalized. Most of the discussion was Obama care, and Nancy Pelosi, and is Jesse Kelly too extreme and tea party and all that? I think it's almost time to put tip O’Neil to bed. All politics is national. That's what we saw here and that's what we saw in Wisconsin as well.

Wes Gullett: But Barber did try to come back to, he was the constituent service guy. He was the local guy who had been there for the people. He tried to pull back to that and I think that helped him in the end a lot. Because he wasn't making it as the national kind of figure. So he went back to the basics for him, which was constituent service.

Ted Simons: Now, the same area much of the same area moves into a different congressional district in November for that vote which was coming up awfully quickly. Ron Barber will barely have time to get his seat warm. He's running again. Jesse Kelly is on the ballot again. What do you see?

Wes Gullett: There’s going to be a primary. This Mcsally lady is very strong, too. She is going to do very well in the primary and people might, the Republicans might have said, look, we've gone with Kelly three times. Let's go with somebody else and try a new strategy and see if that will work. So the primary is not in the bag for Kelly.

Ted Simons: Martha Mcsally seems to be a name everybody thinks is on the rise.

Mike O’Neil: Especially in the last 48 hours. Had Kelly won, I think she would be out of the picture. But having been beaten twice, I would expect that a lot of Republicans will be looking and saying, can we put up a stronger candidate? This new district is slightly -- well, both districts are very competitive but the new district is slightly more Democratic.

Ted Simons: With the new district slightly more Democratic what does that say to the Republican challenger, who the Republican challenger should be, and it seems to be Ron Barber as the opponent?

Wes Gullett: I predicted Jesse Kelly would win, so Yogi Bera says, never predict especially when you are talking about the future. I am a little bruised still but I think it's going to be tough, an uphill battle for the Republicans. But depending on what happens in the state and if Obama completely leaves the state and it also depends on what happens in that senate race. If Carmona is doing well, Ron Barber will win in a cakewalk.

Ted Simons: The whole down ticket aspect with that race and other races in Arizona, what do you see?

Mike O’Neil: I think the hidden thing that relates to the senate race and this race and even the presidential race is, are the Democrats able to put together a very significant Hispanic registration and get out the vote operation? Often promised, never delivered, but there were some signs in the Pierce recall and in the Valenzuela race in the city council that maybe they can actually, maybe there's enough feeling out that they can pull it together but that's a mighty big if.

Ted Simons: It’s a huge if. We hear that every election. Is that something that you think, is it groundswell happening or is that again mostly talk?

Wes Gullett: I don't think that you should bet the farm on that. But Carmona is a very attractive candidate. He is going to be basically the top of the ticket in that senate race. That could really, that could have enormous positive impacts downstream and the senate committee, the national Democratic senate committee will come in with money if they think Carmona can save the party for them. There could be a lot of money spent in Arizona even without a presidential race.

Mike O’Neil: I think it's all about who votes. If you go back again to the difference between '06 and '08 and 2010, most people didn't change their votes but what changed a whole lot was which constituencies came out to vote. It's about turnout.

Ted Simons: In Wisconsin, it was about obviously public unions seemed to be the major factor there. That is something may -- how much does that play into a presidential election and conversely, down in Tucson, a tea party candidate running against a kind of an anointed candidate from Gabrielle Gifford’s? Where does the attempt stand? Where do things like unions stand in this upcoming election? Can we learn anything?

Mike O’Neil: The firefighters in phoenix, I am hard pressed to find out where the union power in this state. There are people that like to run against it but other than the firefighters in phoenix, can't seem to find it.

Ted Simons: I am not saying necessarily that would be an issue here. What I’m saying is if you saw the left kind of with the unions, you saw the right with the tea party. And neither side did all that well here in these recent votes.

Wes Gullett: Well, the tea party, in southern Arizona, Jesse Kelly’s problem was he didn't do nearly as well as he should have been, Cochise county, very conservative county. Only won by 2,000 votes. You have got, you have got to really maximize your victory in the places that you are supposed to win. And when you don't, you are not going to be able to project a victory over time. There was a big turnout, too. Considering there was only one thing on the ballot. We got to give some credit to the people of southern Arizona for coming out and voting in that election. So -- and in a presidential election you are going to have 100% turnout. It isn't that way but it really is. You are going to have, I think that this election in Arizona is really going to come down to that senate race.

Ted Simons: Interesting. All right. Good stuff, gentlemen. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Monsoon Season

  |   Video
  • National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Woodall talks about the start of Arizona’s monsoon season.
  • Gary Woodall - Meteorologist, National Weather Service
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: weather, enviornment, monsoon, rain, national, service, ,

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Ted Simons: No thunderstorms in sight but according to the calendar, monsoon season starts tomorrow. Here to tell us what to expect is Gary Woodall, a meteorologist for the national weather service in phoenix. Good to have you here.

Gary Woodall: Thank you, ted.

Ted Simons: Why are we start, the monsoon on June 15th when it almost never ever rains?

Gary Woodall: For many years, we tracked the start and end of the monsoon by the trends of the dew point. For the start of the monsoon, we looked for days where we had an average dew point of 55 degrees for three consecutive days. That was a sign that the moisture was moving up and the moisture was in place. What we found, though, is that people were focusing more on when was the season starting versus getting prepared for the season. And the hazards and the dangers that we can face during the monsoon. So much like the coastal regions do with hurricane season, which has a specified beginning and ending date, we followed that pattern, and adopted June 15th through September 30th for the monsoon so we can focus more on the preparedness and making sure that we are ready for whatever the season holds in store.

Ted Simons: What do we need to be ready for? Talk about the dangers and the hazards.

Gary Woodall: Monsoon season brings a variety of hazards here in the vale and across Arizona. Lightning which is the number two killer from thunderstorms, of course, our storms are known for producing a lot of lightning when they move through. Flash floods which are the number one killer associated with thunderstorms and most of those flash flood deaths occur in vehicles, people driving across flooded areas and the water is deeper and more powerful. This year we are going to have an extra threat from flash flooding and that was the, that is the burn area from the sunflower fire which occurred up along the beeline up in Payson. A very large area of steep terrain and much as we saw following the Schultz fire and the Walla fire last year, that will be an area we focus on for a lot of runoff when the storms move through and a lot of water coming down through Sycamore Creek area. And then dust storms, of course, with the storms that we get, they produce a lot of wind, damaging wind in some cases, and if they move up from the southeast, from the Tucson or casa Grande area, they tend to pick up a lot of dust and move into the Casa Grande area like we saw last year.

Ted Simons: That is where the dust comes from. We were talking about how it's interest you can get south of Tucson, even Casa Grande, the dust storms are not nearly as severe or frequent. It's that huge expanse north of Tucson. That stuff just comes rumbling up here, doesn't it?

Gary Woodall: The storms that generate our dust storms, the thunderstorms that generate our dust storms tend to originate generally in the Tucson area. The peaks around Tucson or the higher terrain off to the west of Tucson, and as those thunderstorms intensify they produce the strong, local winds that will generally push downhill, push down towards us in the valley, roar across those flat open areas where a lot of agriculture also takes place. And it's just a prime setup for that dust to be picked up and blown into the area.

Ted Simons: So when does, when would you think, when does it usually happen? We get that third 55 degree dew point. When do the storms, it seems like it's always after the 4th of July.

Gary Woodall: Generally, around the first week to 10 days of July is when we traditionally look for the activity to start to pick up, and we certainly saw that in 2011 with a very active first week or so of July. Some thunderstorms down in the southeast valley and, of course, the huge dust storm that occurred July 5th, I believe it was, of last year. So typically around the first week to week and a half of July is when we look for things to really ramp up here in the valley.

Ted Simons: What kind of monsoon can we expect this go around? Or I have heard this before, can you even predict that kind of thing?

Gary Woodall: It’s really difficult to tell for sure, ted. Because unlike the wind season, which we have very large other scale weather features that drive our rain and our weather pattern, El Niño and La Nina, during the monsoon it may be very small-scale features, things that are very difficult to forecast more than a couple of days in advance, and in some cases, it's not until the day of an event that we see all the ingredients coming together. So it's really difficult to say for sure exactly how active it's going to be. But a couple of things that we are confident about. Number one, we will have storms. We will have dangerous weather. And so we do need to prepare for that. And in all likelihoods at least the first rounds of storms we get will be rather dusty as well since it's still very dry down in that breeding ground that we talked about in the southeast and south central Arizona.

Ted Simons: If we are going to get early storms we should hope some of those early storms hit the Tucson area and the Casa Grande area before they come up here.

Gary Woodall: Hopefully they will drop a lot of rain in that area and get the dust kind of wet down. Once that happens, usually the dust storms become a little less of a threat for us. Last year, though, we never really got the widespread rain across the area. And that's why we were dealing with so many dust storms even through the later portions of the season.

Ted Simons: The idea of having to have crazy hot temperatures before the storms move in, it seems like every year, we got to get to 115 to 120 in that range and all of a sudden over the Horizon come the clouds. Is that, is there some sort of pattern there?

Gary Woodall: That is sort of the progression that we will often see. And, in fact, we will probably see some very hot temperatures next week in the valley. What often will happen is an area of high pressure in the mid atmosphere, maybe three, four, five miles up in the atmosphere, will develop over the southwestern U.S. and with high pressure that is when we tend to get our very hot temperatures. As we evolve into the monsoon, that high pressure area will shift off to the east a little bit. And that will, we have clockwise flow, clockwise winds that blow around the high. So as we get on the west side of that high, that is what will tend to pump the moisture up into the area, and bring the on set of the monsoon. Now, we will have to see if that's how things play out for 2012. But typically that is what we will see, and our hottest temperatures typically late June, just before the moisture starts to arrive.

Ted Simons: All right. Very good. As far as predicting these storms and having any kind of idea how long the activity will be or what the activity is, just can't do it?

Gary Woodall: It’s as far as meteorology is concerned thunderstorms are very small scale, short-term. Be aware on days when we are expecting a more active day, because the storms may move in in a hurry, so be alert. Be prepared. Be ready to move to safety as storms threaten you.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Gary Woodall: My pleasure, ted. Thank you.