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July 17, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Weather Update

  |   Video
  • An update on the drought that’s gripping the nation and a look at Arizona’s monsoon season with Randy Cerveny, a professor of geographical sciences who directs the meteorology program at Arizona State University.
  • Randy Cerveny - Professor of Geographical Sciences, ASU Meteorology Program
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: weather, update, enviornment, drought, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona got a good soaking over the weekends but the state is still in a drought that's been around for the last 13 years and Arizona's not alone. More than half of the country is experiencing what is being called the worst drought since 1956, and the dry conditions keep on spreading. Joining us is Randy Cerveny, he is a professor of geographical sciences and director of ASU’s meteorology program. Good to see you again, thanks for joining us.
Randy Cerveny: Thank you.
Ted Simons: Before we get started here, what is the definition of a drought?
Randy Cerveny: [Laughs] That's actually one that’s fairly controversial. Depending on who you talk to there are different definitions. A farmer will say not having enough water to meet their crop needs. A hydrologist will say how much water do we have behind the reservoirs and use the drought to find off of that. It's dependent on upon who is talking as to what the definition is.

Ted Simons: Someone says 55% of the United States is suffering through drought conditions. What's to say they're right? What's going on out there? Why is this happening?

Randy Cerveny: Well, we can actually the way that we work with that in terms of a national determination is that state climatologists from around the country make some determinations about our particular areas and the state climatologist for Arizona is Nancy Sullenger has kind of defined that. But what has actually happened that is kind of interesting is that we're in a kind of a periodic drought cycle that a lot of people don't realize this but when you talk about the dust bowl days of the 1930s or the big drought that we had in the 1950's that there's a certain period that we see with droughts. People here at the University of Arizona tree ring laboratory have done quite extensive research across the country looking at tree ring records and they find a fairly pronounced 20-year cycle to droughts. We had it in the 30s, in the 50s, again in the '70s, again in the '90s. It's not unusual to expect we would have it this decade.

Ted Simons: Well that’s very interesting. But why would it come in these 20-year cycles? There's got to be a reason for that, isn't there?

Randy Cerveny: That's what climatologists try to figure out. Is there anything in nature that follows that same kind of cycle. And oddly enough the one thing that we can find that has a very pronounced roughly 20-year cycle is the sun spots on the sun, the type and the number of sunspots follows a 22-year cycle that corresponds very closely to the drought over the United States.

Ted Simons: Well, so corresponds but do we know why? Why would a sunspot affect weather to that degree here?
Randy Cerveny: Well, unfortunately we don't know. We can make some speculation, and the current idea is that it has to do with the amount of cosmic rays that come from the sun that changes on high sun spot years compared to low sun spot years. So the driving force on clouds and rainfall for the world seems to be how much cosmic rays we have. Therefore, if you have a variation in sunspots you vary the cosmic rays, you might vary the precipitation in some regions of the earth.

Ted Simons: So if someone is saying that Lannion or El Nino or lack of either one is playing a factor into what's happening now, would that be a secondary issue as opposed to sunspots or is Lannion a factor?

Randy Cerveny: It's a secondary factor, kind of like mother nature rolls the dice and now all the die are snake eyes. We're getting the jackpot of situations where you have just the right conditions in terms of maybe sunspots but you also then have situations in the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific, this El Nino, Lannion situation that is going on. Plus you have changes in the jetstream that can modify where the storms are actually traveling.

Ted Simons: So back to the definition of a drought, we're looking at maybe 20-year cycles, but for much of the '70s, we had some monster rainstorms that closed bridges and everyone was standing idly in their cars waiting. But with all this going on, can a drought just come up out of nowhere? How long does it have to be dry before you call it a drought.

Randy Cerveny: Uh, again that's dependent upon who you talk to. For Arizona we can come in and out of droughts fairly quickly. The amount of water that's needed to replenish the crop situation here isn't that much. We don't get that much, so it doesn't take a lot to change it. But you get into a place like Texas or Oklahoma or Kansas and it takes substantially more water to get them out of a drought situation. So that's what the big problem is. You all remember that a few years ago we had this tremendously dry situation in Texas. Frankly it hasn't gotten any better because they haven't had tropical storms coming through. So you had this going on for years and years and the soil starts to transform itself, becomes less producible.

Ted Simons: So after last week, last question here, after last week here in the valley with all that rain and all that clouds and beautiful temperatures, absolutely fantastic, do sunspots, does the drought elsewhere, is any of that a factor in the monsoon?

Randy Cerveny: No. It really isn't. The monsoon is driven very much by local circumstances. By how much heat we get and where the winds are coming from. Last week we had a very nice situation where the winds were all coming up from the Gulf of California and it just dumped on us. We had four days of rainfall. That's the first time in four years we have had four consecutive days of rainfall in Arizona.

Ted Simons: SO here's my last question then. If a drought can be a flash drought, come up quickly, can you end the drought rather quickly or is that more gradual process?

Randy Cerveny: For us, it can end fairly quickly. We can get several storms and for farmers at least a drought might be over. For people at SRP, talking about how much water is behind the reservoirs, it might take longer. For a place like Texas it takes a lot longer. They need a lot more rainfall because they need each year to have a lot more rainfall for their crops. We don't. So we can get out of a drought much faster than they can.

Ted Simons: Alright, good stuff Randy. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Randy Cerveny: My pleasure.

Maricopa Community College District

  |   Video
  • As the Maricopa Community College District is celebrates its 50th anniversary, Dr. Rufus Glasper, the Chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges, talks about the role of community colleges in Arizona.
  • Dr. Rufus Glasper - Chancellor, Maricopa Community Colleges
Category: Education   |   Keywords: maricopa, community, colleges, ,

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Ted Simons: 50 years ago the Maricopa community college district was created to address the growing need for affordable higher education. To talk about the history and the future of community colleges is Dr. Rufus Glasper, Chancellor of the Maricopa community college district. Good to see you here. Thanks for joining us.

Rufus Glasper: Good evening.

Ted Simons: 50 years ago, what were community colleges intended to do?

Rufus Glasper: Well 50 years ago, community colleges were established as Junior colleges. Primary focus at that time was transfer to the four-year institutions, complete the first two years then transfer to a university or to a college. And as we have transitioned over the years, in 1971, the Arizona state legislature changed the Junior college to a community college to broaden our mission realty. Mission realty is we do technical training and we do other types of training that support our community and our mission.

Ted Simons: Talk about the models. From your research, I don't think you were here quite at the 50-year Mark, but did Arizona look at other community colleges, Junior college programs around the country, or was this something pretty much invented here or started here and you learned as you go?

Rufus Glasper: No, there were other community colleges, Junior colleges established. In 1920, Phoenix College was established as a Junior college, as a transfers institute to the existing state universities.

Ted Simons:Why were there no other Junior colleges or few others?

Rufus Glasper: At the time, we did not have the population growth. Since the establishment of Phoenix college in 1920, in the early 1960s, 1962, we started expanding into additional colleges. Since then we have expanded from three colleges to now we have ten community colleges and two skill centers.

Ted Simons: is there difficulty working with the municipalities? Seems there are so community colleges now and a lot of cities have one, cooperation, collaboration there or is it sometimes a push and shove?

Rufus Glasper: I think there's always a little pushing and shoving, however I believe our cooperation is great. As a matter of fact, we are working with cities and towns as part of what I have termed empowerment zones. Our resources are diminishing in many cases and so are cities and towns, so we're looking at ways to establish sites such as in surprise. We're looking at one right now in queen creek. This is to bring in the cities and public libraries as we did in south Phoenix.

Ted Simons: Talk about collaboration with four-year institutions. Is there cooperation with for-profit universities? How is that whole dynamic working?

Rufus Glasper: The cooperation with four-year institutions both public and private is at an all time high. Within the last three years we have established articulation agreements unprecedented in history. Our students are now able to transfer to the university and I’ll use ASU as a primary focus. We can now transfer students into the university and into individual colleges. We currently have a Maricopa ASU pathways project that maps back individual programs to our colleges and students can transfer seamlessly if they follow those paths. We currently have 800 students in that program today.

Ted Simons: Also as far as the future and development you have to look at home learning, online learning. How is that working in the community college world?

Rufus Glasper: We have received a number of home learning students but we also have expanded our online. The price point of higher education in general is becoming unaffordable for many. So we're trying to figure out ways to keep the costs down and online education, hybrid education where you take part of your course work in the classroom and part online is becoming more and more the norm. It allows students who have evening jobs, night jobs and others to get their course work in but it's great for other students who have other obligations as well.

Ted Simons: with that in mind, we talked about what community colleges were intended to do some 50 years and before, has that mission changed over the years? Have the goals changed?

Rufus Glasper: Our primary mission has stayed relatively the same. Our mission is teaching and learning and public service, however, we have expanded in terms of our outreach from being just a transfer institution to now being a provider of both technical support and a broader curriculum. We are the largest provider of work force training in the state of Arizona. We provide education for more police, fire, teachers, and allied health programs than any other institution in the state of Arizona.

Ted Simons: talk about budget cuts.

Rufus Glasper: They have impacted us dramatically. We have gone from a high in 1986 or '87 of about 27% from the state where we're down to about 1%. But we're working. We understand the state has its budget to balance. We're trying to balance our. We have become more effective, more efficient. We have balanced our budgets. This year we balanced our budget and did not increase tuition or property taxes.

Ted Simons: Will we see in the future four-year community colleges?

Rufus Glasper: I believe they are the desirable four year community colleges in the state of Arizona. Probably within five years I 17 think that the momentum will build. We have great transfer relationships with our state universities and I would like to try to exhaust that as much as we can.

Ted Simons: All right, Chancellor thanks for joining us.

Rufus Glasper: thank you.

Phoenix Coyotes Arena Deal Referendum

  |   Video
  • Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall explains why the city rejected petitions calling for a referendum on the City’s arena lease deal with a potential buyer of the Phoenix Coyotes, and where the City goes from here.
  • Craig Tindall - Glendale City Attorney
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: Glendale, coyotes, sports, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The city of Glendale has rejected petitions filed by city residents who are trying to stop a deal approved by the city council to lease the Phoenix Coyotes arena to a potential buyer of the team. The city claims the petitions were not valid, they were filed late and a number of signatures was insufficient. Here with more is Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Craig Tindall: Thank you Ted, it’s great to be here.
Ted Simons: Before we get to these petitions and another issue regarding these petitions, the deal with the Jameson group looking to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, the lease agreement deal that the City Council passed, has that been signed?

Craig Tindall: It hasn’t been signed yet. People need to remember this is a deal that involves not just the city and new arena manager but the NHL and team owner. That part of the transaction is very complex all by itself and needs to be taken care of by those two parties. So right now they are focusing on that. Once that gets far down the line and ready to go we'll turn back to ours and get ours signed and finalized and ready to go.

Ted Simons: Ok, so that has to happen first before that deal gets signed?

Craig Tindall: That will happen basically together but they don't always move in sync.

Ted Simons: Ok, let's talk about the petitions regarding the group trying to overturn the city council’s lease agreement. Why were those petitions refused?
Craig Tindall: Well, the primary reason is that it was too late. The statute requires that the petitions be turned in 30 days after the legislative act. There's an exception in the statute but it doesn't apply in this case. So the petition, the committee who was fostering the petitions turned them in about three days late. Then when they turned them in they didn't have a sufficient amount of signatures. The signatures are calculated for referendums on a particular city-wide election. That would have been our election in 2008. So calculating using that number they didn't have a sufficient number of signatures.

Ted Simons: Talk about the deadline first. The group is saying that the paperwork was not available until a few days after the city council's vote so it's for the fair to say the 30 days starts with the vote as opposed to when the paperwork was available.

Craig Tindall: Well, that's the exception I mentioned before. If you come in and fill out your application for what's called a petition serial number, if it's not available at that point in time then you do get a grace period until it's available and can be provided. So when our ordinance was passed there was a few days while it went through the standard process to be signed, but the petition, the political committee that was fostering the petitions had not come in and ask for their serial number. They didn't do that until several days after it was available. So it's the statute is meant to provide an opportunity for individuals to have a little more time if the city has not done what it needs to do. When they came in to get their petition serial numbers the ordinance was available to them, so the time ran as of the legislative enactment.

Ted Simons: So it's up to them to come in and make sure the city is doing what it's suppposed to do?

Craig Tindall: No. What could have happened, because after an ordinance is enacted it's routed through several people to get signatures on it, becomes official and is filed with the clerk. Normal process takes three, four days. That's what it took in this case. If they ask for a petition serial number the people could have walked down the hall and could have gotten signatures right then. And they could have made it available to them at that point in time. So again, it's meant to provide a grace period if when someone comes in to do the complete application process it's not available. And again, they came in later when it was available to them. So they don't have any grace period.

Ted Simons: Back to the number required signatures
Craig Tindall: Right.
Craig Tindall: Who decides--, I think you touched on this. But give us a better explanation of who decides and what is the determining factor of how many signatures are needed for something like this and was that communicated to this group?

Craig Tindall: Well actually the Arizona constitution decides that. And what the constitution says for a referendum you need 10% of a vote. Along with the constitution, the legislature has passed statutes that implement the process of referendum. Those statutes for referendum purposes say it's the last city-wide election. We are a city of districts. So we have one council member, the mayor, who is voted for city-wide. That's our last city election, which would have been when she was last selected, which was 2008. So the statute says 10% of the votes that occurred in that election determines the number of signatures on the ballot.
Ted Simons: Was that something communicated to this group?
Craig Tindall: When you come in to get a referendum packet, you are given a whole lot of information including all the statutes and the constitutional provisions and things like that, so it's pretty clear in there. Now, there's a bit of difference in another similar type of process that isn't keyed on a city-wide election, so that was probably the source of their confusion. But nonetheless, it's pretty clear.

Ted Simons: That information regarding the summary, that was a problem as well as far as what the city saw. The requirements regarding a written summary. Those are available and provided as well?
Craig Tindall: And that's actually right on the application process but the statute is specific too. When you fill out an application you need to provide a summary. A lot of times called a 100 word summary because it has a 100 word limitation. If you haven't provided that you haven't completed your application package. So that is another problem and I didn’t mention that at first. But you're right, that is another problem.
Ted Simons: How long do they have to challenge the fact that they can't challenge?
Craig Tindall: They have five days after our letter went out. Our letter went out on Monday, so you count starting with Tuesday and five days from Tuesday.

Ted Simons: Alright. There's another referendum initiative process going on regarding the city sales tax. This is a big one. This would affect city services quite a bit, however, those petitions to reverse this sales tax increase, those petitions were denied as well. Why were those refused?

Craig Tindall: It’s a different process. An initiative is different than a referendum. A referendum essentially is over turning a law that's been passed, a citizen referendum, legislative bodies can refer as well. But a citizen referendum is meant to overturn a law that’s been passed. An initiative is to pass a new law. That's an important distinction. It's important all the way through the process. In this case, the initiative was rejected. It was rejected because they had a problem with their application as well. But more importantly, the description which they did file in this case and which appears on all petitions right above where the signature lines are, so it's something that's read by each person who signs the petition at least it's supposed to be. And it's an important information. In that respect it was deficient in two different areas. It was inaccurate and misleading as far as what it was describing that the ballot measure would do.

Ted Simons: Who decides it was misleading?

Craig Tindall: Well, it's a matter of law. What the description said is that the ballot measure would reverse the tax increase and would require any future increases to be voted on by the voters. I'm paraphrasing. That's not exactly what it says but that's the essence of it. A ballot initiative, when passed, are prospective only. Our Supreme Court has ruled that they only operate in a prospective manner. They don't operate to reverse matters. This is a charter provision. This isn't just addressing an ordinance, it's addressing our fundamental law, the organic law of the city is our charter like a constitution is for a state. So they are attempting to change that by implementing a new requirement. But it wouldn't change existing law. It would not reverse as they said in their description what was already enacted, which would have been the sales tax increase. It also deals only with levies. A levy, with respect to our charter provision, is the initial imposition of the tax rate. It's not an adjust of the tax rate. So the fact that their 100 word description said that any future increases would be voted on or would have to be voted on by the voters is incorrect in two respects. Their 100 word statement was misleading and inaccurate.

Ted Simons: And also there was a deadline problem here. Before we go, I am curious about this because the election is coming up in August for this. Would be coming up in August for this. Yet the city council passed the sales tax increase in June and you're telling folks they need -- this has to be filed four months previous. How can you do that four months previous when it was passed in June and the elections are in August?

Craig Tindall: Well Ted, I am not telling this. That's what the Arizona constitution says. The constitution says that ballot propositions such as an initiative need to be presented four months prior to an election. As I said, statutes have been passed by the legislature to implement what the constitutional provisions are, and those statutes say for a municipal election the ballot measure being proposed goes on the next ensuing election. The next ensuing election for the city is the primary on August 28th. So when they turned in their ballot measures -- I forget the exact date. It's clear it was in July, so clearly not four months prior to August 24th.

Ted Simons: That sounds like a shut-down move there.

Craig Tindall: The courts have been clear that unlike referendums, who have a 30-day period of time, initiatives can be done at any point in time. What people, political committees fostering an initiative petition need to select the appropriate time to submit their petition.

Ted Simons: Alright, well it was good to have you on the show. I know it’s kind of deep weeds. And it was good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Craig Tindall: Absolutely. My pleasure.