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March 18, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Diamondbacks

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Diamondbacks regular season gets underway soon. Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall will give us a preview of the season.
  • Derrick Hall - President, Arizona Diamondbacks
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: sports, diamondbacks, baseball, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Baseball's regular season is fast approaching. Opening day is set for April 1 st at chase field in downtown Phoenix and joining us now to talk about the upcoming season is D-backs president Derrick Paul. It's good to see you.

Derrick Paul: It's baseball season.

Ted Simons: It is. What does a team president look for and do during spring training?

Derrick Paul: People always ask me what's the off-season like? It's our season without games. We're more busy in the off-season than during the regular season. Our hours are longer during the season but spring training, there's so much excitement in the air. We're watching the roster but we're also getting our business plan still in place and preparing for the upcoming season promotionally.

Ted Simons: I'm hearing attendance is down.

Derrick Paul: It was a bit down at first for everybody across-the-board because we started early. It's colder and people aren't used to baseball in February. We're hitting it out of the park. Sellout crowds.

Ted Simons: What do you think of that world baseball thing? It kind of messes things up.

Derrick Paul: A little bit of a distraction for us because we had all of our players, new players in, and they got pulled off to other teams. Prada was gelling with the team and he goes off to Venezuela. I think it's good. If there's no baseball in the Olympics, world baseball classic, to have that global presence, that global competition, it's good for the game of baseball.

Ted Simons: Are you seeing as far as season tickets, spring training down initially, what are you seeing?

Derrick Paul: About the same as last year. I would like to see an uptick. We're at 12,000 season ticket-holders. We should be to 15,000- 20,000. I think as we win, we will get there again. It's also a sign that the economy needs to turn, getting a little better and people and consumers are gaining a little more confidence in spending so hopefully, that will translate. We're as portable as it gets for the most affordable ticket for six or seven straight 6 or 7 straight years.

Ted Simons: As far as the demographics, what do you see?

Derrick Paul: All across the bar. We've got aging demographics, we have young executives, we have college students that are buying special packs now, season ticket-holders represent really every age group, every demographic.

Ted Simons: And those special package tickets seems to be the way of the future.

Derrick Paul: They sell well and we have a four pack, for example, right now, any four games, 64$. You can hand select. Do you want this promo, the bobblehead, opening day, we have a six pack, the best seats behind the dugout for 100$. You can pick and choose what you want and it's been a nice way to customize for fans.

Ted Simons: And for the demographics, the target audience for that is a little bit different than folks who can afford to spend nights of their year?

Derrick Paul: Probably looking for someone that's not able to commit that much. We've got such great loyalty of ticket-holders and a lot of them also share. There's some that say I can't go to 81 games but if they can find partners, five ,six ,seven partners, they get together, have a draft, which games you're going to get. We're very happy with the season ticket-holders we have. They are so supportive of this club.

Ted Simons: For fans at chase field, any physical changes?

Derrick Paul: The old sliders building, the old restaurant out on the main plaza, that's changing now and it's going to be run and operated by ourselves and Budweiser and our restaurant partner and it's going to be the game seven grill and we've taken out the big pizza maker and replaced it with a huge smoker and you're going to have the smells of St. Louis barbecue. We're trying to bring more life to the plaza this year and that will be one way to do it. We've renovated between one and $2 million this off-season. Fans are going to be excited about the new look of that restaurant.

Ted Simons: What about inside the ballpark? Is there going to be change?

Derrick Paul: All the same. It's worked. We survey our fans at the end of each season, we'll ask the casual fan, what do you like? Great feedback on our in-game entertainment. Fan experience is what we're all about. Our game operations I think does as good a job as any team in the sport. The entertainment has been very classy, wholesome, that's not going to change.

Ted Simons: Something that did change was your broadcast team and for a variety of reasons the last crew isn't there. I think most Diamondbacks fans understand. How important was it to keep him around and how difficult this decision was?

Derrick Paul: We did hear some criticism, much more praise but we knew it was the right thing to do. He's done so much for the organization, he's an important part of the family. One of those world series heroes and always been great, such a good personality and he's had a successful career on the field. I thought his future is on the field as a coach or manager. Now, he's got the opportunity. He's in uniform, he's enjoying it.

Ted Simons: And you've got bob, again, the decision to hire a play by play guy who had never done play by play.

Derrick Paul: He's done maybe a handful of games. We saw the sampling of seven to 7-10 games that he did, big games, by the way. He had that New York Yankees Tampa rays game at the end of that the ’11 season that was the deciding factor in who was going to go to the playoffs, did a great job, college world series game, he's a great personality, he's got a cachet among baseball fans and if we're going to go that direction, we have to match with somebody who's very polished and experienced, that's why bob is going to balance that out. Steve is going to be good. Bob is the best analyst in baseball.

Ted Simons: He forecasts what happens. Justin Upton. that team’s seem like -- what was that all about?

Derrick Paul: I think it shows that a player of his ability certainly gets a lot of interest from other teams and when teams would call our general manager and ask if they could have discussions on Justin Upton. We were actually ready to start the season with him. We did have a deal in place for Seattle. I'm glad we made the deal with Atlanta because you've got pieces now, and in the future. But we were ready. We were just going to stick with our roster and have Justin come back and we would have been fine but Justin's in a really good place now. He's going to play with his brother. We're sure Justin is going to have a good career and he's going to be a little bit more comfortable with his brother and for us we were able to turn the page and bring in a player who's been an MVP candidate, who's a constant.300 hitter, a great clubhouse presence, he is a pro and the influence he's had so far on the other players is great.

Ted Simons: Last question and we only about seconds, how are you doing health-wise?

Derrick Paul: I had my second straight non-detectable cancer blood test so thank you.

Ted Simons: You've been very vocal about it. A lot of people appreciate it.

Derrick Paul: If everybody could get tested early, I'm doing great and I appreciate you asking.

Ted Simons: It's good to see you. And that is it for now. I'm ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Arizona Voter Registration Case

  |   Video
  • The United States Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on an Arizona law Monday that requires proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Arizona State University Law Professor Paul Bender will give us analysis of the court’s arguments.
  • Paul Bender - Law Professor, Arizona State University
Category: Law   |   Keywords: voting, vote, registration, law, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The U.S. Supreme court today heard oral arguments on Arizona's law that requires proof of citizenship when using a state form for voter registration. The law was approved by voters in 2004, but was quickly challenged by those who say that the law goes beyond a federal voter registration form that requires only a signature to prove citizenship. Here to tell us more about the case is ASU law professor Paul Bender. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us. Isn't that pretty much what we're talking about here?

Paul Bender: It's a very technical case. It's about the right to vote in some sense but those aren't the issues before the court. Congress passed a law that was meant to make it easy to vote because less than half the people in the country who can vote are registered. You can register by filling out a form and you say I'm a citizen, I'm a resident, I'm of age, and then you sign it. And you sign it and it says under penalty of perjury. So it looks like that's what the federal government wants you to be able to register to be able to register just to do that. The state has a law they should deny registration unless proof of citizenship is presented to the registrar. They give a whole list. The question is does that state law conflict with the federal law and basically, does the federal law mean that you should be able to register by swearing you're a citizen and if the state thinks you're not a citizen, they could challenge you and they would have to prove you're not a citizen but the state's position is in order to register, you have to prove you're a citizen.

Ted Simons: And the state's position is that you need to keep fraud from occurring.

Paul Bender: They can keep fraud from occurring at the polling place by challenging people. It's really a question of who has the burden of proof. If you say I've got this document or that document, you may get caught up in the bureaucracy, even though you're eligible to vote and go away and be discouraged. If the federal form is enough, it's very easy to register and the state would have to pick out the people who they think are ineligible and challenge them and they would have to bring the proof. The issue in the case is whether the applicant for registration has to bring the proof that he's a citizen or whether it's enough for him to say I'm a citizen, I swear to it, and then the burden would be on the state to show he's not a citizen.

Ted Simons: So does that mean there's a little bit more than whether or not Arizona is overreaching its powers here?

Paul Bender: That's the issue. The state under the Constitution, the state can regulate elections, and Congress can override them but only with regard to federal elections. So this statute, the federal statute only applies to federal elections. Normally, it's the same registration for both. So the federal government has overridden the state with the motor voter act and the state says we can still require proof of citizenship and the argument that federal government is making is no, that Congress intended that the applicant should not be forced to bring documentation with him. And there's some interesting legislative history, the judge who joined the majority holding it unconstitutional pointed to, which senator Simpson wanted to put in that statute that you must prove your citizenship and that passed the Senate. The House of Representatives took it out because it didn't want to do that. They did a conference committee and they discussed it and they said we're not going to put that back in, we don't want to make people prove their citizenship. If you pay attention to the legislative history, you would hold the state law preempted.

Ted Simons: We've got that background there, ninth circuit says unconstitutional, go to the Supreme Court. You heard oral arguments today. What did you hear?

Paul Bender: I didn't hear anything because I was in Arizona. If you wait a week, you can read the argument but they do give you the transcript of the argument a couple of hours afterwards. So after I got home from class, I read the transcript. It was a good argument. Everybody did a good job. A lot of really good advocates. I thought tom horn did a really good job, the challenge to somebody who was in the solicitor general's office, she did a really good job. And the deputy solicitor general did a really good job and the issues came out. It was a really interesting argument. It's clear to me from the argument how seven people on the court are going to vote. There's going to be four people who are going to say the state's statute is preempted. There are going to be three people, who will say that it's not preempted. So the question is what are Scalia and Kennedy going to do, if either of them joins the liberals, it will be preempted.

Ted Simons: People would be surprised to think of a possibility.

Paul Bender: If Kennedy joins the liberals, scalia will. Scalia raised the ground and said you've got to use the federal form because that's what it says, otherwise it doesn't mean anything. But if you think that the federal form is wrong and should have a requirement of proof of citizenship, you should raise that with the federal government and horn said we did and we tried to get them to put that in there and did you appeal? And he said no and he said why not and he said I didn't do that, my predecessor did and he said why didn't he appeal and he says who knows. And so that was Scalia’s point, and he agrees that the federal form should require proof of citizenship but he seems to say the way to do that is not to not use the federal form, it's to sue to get the federal form changed.

Ted Simons: And that would side him with the liberals.

Paul Bender: For a different reason. I could see an opinion of four saying it's preempted because the federal form is right and the state has to use it. Scalia saying the federal form is wrong but you have to use it until you get it corrected and the right solution is to go to court and get the federal elections commission to change the federal form.

Ted Simons: Well, I don't want to get too far afield but you mentioned Thomas was among those you were pretty sure was going to vote one way. Do they vote differently very often?

Paul Bender: Not a lot.

Ted Simons: But do you think Thomas might be swayed if Scalia goes another direction?

Paul Bender: No.

Ted Simons: No.

Paul Bender: No, I would be surprised. The issue that Scalia raised is not one that Thomas is very interested in. To me the key vote is always Kennedy. If Kennedy goes with the conservatives, it's hard for me to imagine scalia going the -- being the only conservative to join the four liberals. If Kennedy is willing to vote that the statute is bad, then I think Scalia would go along.

Ted Simons: Kennedy have much to say today?

Paul Bender: Not very much today. He made a couple of comments. The initial comments seemed to say he had a lot of trouble with the state's position, what was the federal form for if not to register? Later on, he said the state has a problem here so maybe we ought to defer to what they want to do. As usual, you can't tell what he's going to do.

Ted Simons: Is this one of those deals where it's going to be a narrow decision? Could this be broad in ways we can't anticipate? What do you think?

Paul Bender: Scalia's view would be very narrow, it would say try to get it changed. What the others want to do is say the federal law is that you have to accept the federal form. And that's a fairly broad decision because that would mean every state has to accept the federal form but they I think would leave open the possibility of you can give me the form, you're done, you've done everything you have to do. I don't think you're a citizen. Then I have to get proof that you're not a citizen and strike you from the roll. That's what it would mean. It wouldn't mean the states didn't have any way of protecting themselves. It would mean they would have to prove it. What the state wants to do is you've got to prove you're a citizen to register to vote and the problem with that is that barrier that a lot of people are not going to spend the time and the money that's necessary to get that proof together and they'll just be discouraged and go away.

Ted Simons: Well, all right. Good to have you here to help us figure out what's going on. We appreciate it.

Paul Bender: Nice to be here.

Phoenix Mayor Stanton

  |   Video
  • Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton makes his monthly appearance on Arizona Horizon to discuss Phoenix issues.
  • Greg Stanton - Mayor, Phoenix
Category: Government   |   Keywords: phoenix, mayor, stanton, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton joins us every month here on "Arizona Horizon" to talk about a variety of issues important to the city. We welcome Mayor Stanton to the show. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Greg Stanton: Happy to be back.

Ted Simons: Phoenix voters passed some pension reform, talk to us about it, your thoughts.

Greg Stanton: I'm super excited about the vote. 80% of Phoenix citizens decided to support our pension reform, I think it was fair both to taxpayers of the city as well as to the employees of the city. It will require that city employees, new city employees because of certain constitutional limitations, we couldn't adopt it for existing employees, new city employees will have to pay a lot more in order to receive a pension and we also increased the retirement age, a rule of and again, I thought it was fair, it saves the city about $600 million over years but also will still enable us to recruit and retain good employees. We took a balanced approach and that's why the people of Phoenix supported us.

Ted Simons: The changes include, 50-50 split, the city was what, three, four times?

Greg Stanton: A little more than that. Because of a cap in our charter of 5% of their salary, city employees only had to pay 5% of their salaries to the pension system, which means the city had to make up over 20%. It was over a 4-1 ratio and we're going to even that ratio out, being much fairer to the city employees themselves. That means they have to pay a lot more into the system to receive a pension

Ted Simons: I want to get to the retirement age in a second. Some thought it was too much of a balance and some thought it wasn’t enough.

Greg Stanton: Well as you know the issue of government pension is one of the hot issues and people think that we should be getting out of the pension business. One of our council members very publicly opposed pension reform, because they thought that we should be getting out of the pension business overall. Another council member thought that the rule of 87, having the highest retirement age of any government system in the state was too hard on the employees. So, you had criticism from the right and left, and that’s why I think we had the right balance in our approach.

Ted Simons: What is that rule of 87?

Greg Stanton: So it’s age plus years of service. Currently it’s the rule of 80. If you’re 50 years old with 30 years of service, you are eligible to retire. If you’re 55 years old with 25 years of service, then you are eligible to retire. That number will now be 87. Effectively increasing our retirement age by 3, 4, or 5 years. Again, this new rule of 87 is the toughest standard in the entire state. We thought that was fairest to the people who are paying this pension system, the voters in the city of Phoenix, and it was the right balanced approach.

Ted Simons: And the other side was saying something along the lines of what, a 401K system is better. Why would that not be the best, why do you think?

Greg Stanton: Well there’s a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it would cost the city a lot of money. Believe it or not, if we were to go to a 401K type system, we’d have to still pay the pension for those in the system and we’d have to put away money for the new people in the system. It would cost the city of Phoenix 100’s of millions of dollars. So, even our most conservative members decided to put the balanced approach on the ballot, because they realized that the way that the system is set up; going to that 401K would actually not be cost effective for our city.

Ted Simons: Last question on this. Was there much opposition of Unions?

Greg Stanton: No. The unions weren’t certainly supporting it, but there wasn’t a lot of active opposition from the unions. Look, there wasn’t a lot of active opposition from anyone. Which, anytime you’re dealing with pension reform, it’s such a hot issue around the country, you would expect that either people who are more conservative who say we have to get out of pension business would have come forward and opposed it. Or, there are those that think that we’re kind of a solution in search of a problem, and that we shouldn’t be doing any pension reform changes at all. It would come out against it. I think the lack of opposition is because we did take a very balanced approach. That’s the Phoenix way. We look at both sides. We try to find what’s fair for everyone involved. That’s exactly what we put on the ballot. I’ve been in this business a long time. You almost never get 80% of the people voting for anything, so I think it was a strong affirmation that our approach was the right one.

Ted Simons: The food tax. Still an issue. A lot of folks talking about it, a lot of folks still concerned about it. Do you still support ending this tax in April?

Greg Stanton: I've been consistent throughout time that we want to get rid of this, but if we can do it in a way that doesn't hurt our public safety which is the value of this community or hurt our credit rating, I know there's an issue about the political campaign a couple of years ago. Of course, I and virtually everyone else thought that our economy was much further along right now. Here's what I did, as we're going through the budget cycle, back in January, give us a budget that includes the food tax, give us a budget that doesn't include the food tax so we know we have them both side by side and we can see exactly what we would get with the food tax revenue source and what we will not get if we have to cut and then go to the very transparent public process. That's the most appropriate way of doing it. I want to get rid of that thing as soon as we possibly can but I want to do it in a way that reflects our community values.

Ted Simons: There are some who are concerned that the no food tax proposal is going to cause Draconian cuts. How will they be suggested? What will people see?

Greg Stanton: The city manager also presents a proposed budget and we take that budget out on the road and we're going to have over budget hearings, including a live on-line budget with myself and the city manager. I will personally be attending virtually every single one of these meetings because it's critically important but in addition to presenting a budget, I've also asked, he's going to fulfill this commitment of presenting a budget that doesn't include the food tax and the recommended cuts that would be associated with it. Here's the situation that we're in right now The budget is, the economy is getting better but it's not doing as good as we would have liked. We are significantly down in terms of revenue projections. Our contribution to the pension system is significantly increased. As you know, with the pay agreement we came to with our city employees were based on certain triggers for them to get the money that they gave up a few years ago to get that back, certain triggers have to be met. We're going to have to see from the city manager where those triggers were met, if we're actually going to be able to receive back the money that they gave back to the city a few years ago. We've got some big, big decisions to make and I want to hear from the public as much as possible before making this incredibly important decision.

Ted Simons: You know why we bring this up; you did say in your campaign that you've got to get rid of this thing by April. Was it in retrospect wise to make that pledge?

Greg Stanton: You make statements in a campaign based upon the best information. I think I took a balanced approach saying we should get rid of it by April but do it in a way that doesn't hurt public safety or the city's credit rating. I've got a long history in public service. I've always stood up for public safety. I have also always stood up for protecting the city's credit rating and that's an incredibly important thing. It's a gift that I've been giving and I want to make sure I hand that off to the next mayor after me that I hand off a perfect credit rating. You make the best decisions at the time but now that I am mayor, now that I am mayor, my obligation is to make recommendations, make votes that I believe are the best interests of the city as a whole. Politics is a tough business sometimes. And when you're campaigning, you try to make recommendations-- I've tried to have my first year in office be exactly based on what I ran on, I think I've got a pretty good track record of doing so. But now, I've got to let the city manager make this recommendation. Once I see the costs, I'm going to make a recommendation based on what's in the best interest of the people of the city and for our future generations.

Ted Simons: Mayor we appreciate you coming on. Thank you so much for joining us.