Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 10, 2013


Host: Ted Simons

ASU Peabody Award Winner

  |   Video
  • A very recent graduate of the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has won a prestigious Peabody Award for her work on a KNXV TV investigative series. The series exposed a deadly acceleration defect in Ford Escapes that led to a massive recall of the SUVs. Investigative Producer Lauren Gilger and Investigate Reporter Joe Ducey will talk about the award and their report.
Guests:
  • Lauren Gilger - Investigative Producer, KNXV TV and former ASU student
  • Joe Ducey - Investigative Reporter, KNXV TV
Category: community   |   Keywords: ASU, peabody, award, Ford,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Our continuing coverage of Arizona technology and innovation focuses tonight on the upcoming Intel international science and engineering fair set for next month at the Phoenix convention center. Here to tell us about this high-profile event is Renee Levin, Intel's community engagement manager, and Sarah Sakha, a student from Xavier College Prepatory School. Sarah will be competing in the science fair. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us. Give us an overview now of this fair. What are we talking about?

Renee Levin: This is the largest precollege science fair in the world. We're expecting 1500 students from 70 different countries, regions, and territories that will descend upon Phoenix may 13th-17th. They're competing for $3 million worth of prizes.

Ted Simons: Oh, my goodness. Age range, grade range?

Renee Levin: They are high school students.

Ted Simons: So 9-12.

Renee Levin: Right.

Ted Simons: And they made it to this level by winning earlier competitions?

Renee Levin: Most of them had a competition either at a regional level, a state level, or country level. Sarah won at the state level and she'll be competing in the competition.

Ted Simons: I want to get to Sarah in a second, but let's get back to the actual event. Is it a competition -- How do you compete? Other and judges throw flash cards?

Renee Levin: No. Each project is in an individual category. There's 17 different categories. Animal, science, behavioral science, microbiology, these are just some of the categories. There's a cadre of judges that will go around and each project is reviewed by 10 judges. And then the cohort of judges make the decision on who's the top prize in each individual category.

Ted Simons: That's very exciting. All right, Sarah, you won the state competition. Correct?

Renee Levin: Yes.

Ted Simons: Now you're the international competition, what is your focus? What did you present?

Sarah Sakha: Scientifically I'm in the microbiology, but the special part of this is that science social issues, so I delved into the social aspect of science and the practical application of sustainable Development.

Ted Simons: We're looking at some of your work. You're talking about emergency food products for famine relief?

Sarah Sakha: Yes. There's an increasing number of humanitarian emergencies worldwide today, and there's an acute and immediate need for food relief. And emergency food products or EFPs is provided as food relief, and I was watching a CNN special about the famine and drought in Somalia, and there was a shot of a little child trying to eat an unpalatable dried paste-like substance. Based on that I delved into social issues, and science, and did my project.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, we all watch television and see certain segments, rarely do we wind up trying to change the world because of it. Was it something you were leaning in that direction to begin with? Or did it just really hit you, that one story?

Sarah Sakha: I have a fond interest for social issues and politics, and I'm always catching up on the news, but when I saw the shots of a little child trying to eat it, that was particularly poignant and I decided to -- No better way to do a science projects.

Ted Simons: When you first started to when you won the state award and now you're competing internationally, has the scope or any aspect of the project changed?

Sarah Sakha: Definitely as far as extent of my further research, and I thought more and more about the implication was my project. But this is a continuation of my project last year and took to the competition last year. So the scope has changed.

Ted Simons: So you have you some experience at this level. The international competition, how did Phoenix land this?

Renee Levin:Society for science in the public is the organization that runs the fair. And they went out and determined that Phoenix, L.A., and Pittsburgh are the three cities that it will rotate within the next decade. So we expect -- We will have the fair here in 2013 ,2016 ,and 2019 .

Ted Simons: Wow. That sounds like a lot of responsibility. I would imagine it's not just throw up a sign, open up the airport and let everyone come in. The logistics must be tremendous for something like this.

Renee Levin: You're right. And there's a local arrangements committee made up of businesses, educators, all kinds of volunteers throughout the community, and we're really seeking community support for this program. We need a thousand judges, most of them at a Ph.D. level or bachelors, masters degree, plus six years of experience. We need interpreters from all different languages.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Renee Levin: we need people to help on the outreach day, which is the public day on Thursday, may 16th. And we will have 4,000 Arizona students attending the fair, and they're going to be doing all kinds of hands-on activities, and making sure the kids get to go through the arena to see all of the projects.

Ted Simons: What about housing? Transportation? Those sorts of things?

Renee Levin: They have booked pretty much every hotel room in Phoenix. We've been working with the local light rail, and the airport, they'll even need greeters at the airport to help the kids and their chaperones make sure they get on the right bus or light rail system to get to their hotel.

Ted Simons: We're looking at some of the folks from the Arizona fair, engineering fair. This is the big kahuna here. The idea of competing, does that spur you on in any way?

Sarah Sakha: It does, of course it's very intimidating with such formidable judges, and so many projects, so many students. But I think the experience of just being to learn from people with -- Like last year's winner, that's just where science lies today.

Ted Simons: But again, it seems like if you were just -- You do care about winning, right? You are gung ho --

Sarah Sakha: yeah. [laughter]

Ted Simons: I want to make sure.

Sarah Sakha: Definitely.

Ted Simons: And where do you plan to go on this? Do you plan to -- You mentioned social issues and science together. Where do you plan -- What's next for you?

Sarah Sakha: At this point it presents a viable food product, so I may try to explore the marketability as the product. But scientifically, doing more research on the potential of the come pounds within the spices. And refining the product itself.

Ted Simons: As far as college is concerned, you've got some places in mind?

Sarah Sakha: I do. I'm a junior so I have a little time, but yes.

Ted Simons: Arizona state is not too far away now. As far as the competition is concerned, again, where, when, and for folks watching this that they may not be able to be a judge, and they may not be able to take part, but they're fascinated by these kids doing these great things, how can they come and watch and be witness to all this?

Renee Levin: I hope they will realize there will be 1500 kids as smart as Sarah at this competition. On Thursday, it's the public day, and it's open, and it's free. So bring your families, bring your students, if you have a school, bring them down and just check out these amazing projects. The students will be there, I believe from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so you can meet with the students. But really, if you go on the website you can see the wide variety of people that we need.

Ted Simons: Give us that website address.

Renee Levin: WWW.societyforscience.org.

Ted Simons: I think we got it right up there. That's Intel --

Renee Levin: Intel iCEF 2103 .

Ted Simons: That's exactly what it is. And the dates again?

Renee Levin: May 13-17.

Ted Simons: Very good. Good to have you both here and good luck in the competition.

Sarah Sakha: Renee Levin: Thank you.

Lauren Gilger: This started as a nightly news story. A -year-old girl in payson, Arizona, got her first car from her dad, a Ford escape. And she was driving it back from Phoenix where they bought it up to payson, her mom was following her in a car, and the acceleration -- The accelerator stuck. The pedal stuck. She was speeding out of control, and she didn't know how to stop it. So she called her mom, her mom called 911, didn't know what to do for her. So there's would a recording of that and that's how it started.

Ted Simons: Traffic accidents, fatalities, these things happen all the time. What got you guys going on this one?

Joe Ducey: I think part of it, there was a -- call that was made because the mother was following her up to -- Behind her and saw this happening. So it was a heart wrenching dramatic call about "oh, my gosh, my daughter, what's going on! It's out of control, she's going to flip!" And I think that made it a little more something like, what's going on with this car? It could have ended up just a story that aired for 30 seconds on a weekend, but some people saw it, I have to credit our newsroom, took a look, said hey, you may want to take a deeper look, we did, and it's led to this.

Ted Simons: You take a deeper look and decide maybe even a more deep look here. The thought process that goes through on a story like this. Because you never know, you're going to wind up winning a Peabody, having god knows how many vehicles recalled. Take us through this and what you were thinking and what you were doing.

Lauren Gilger: It ended up being over 700,000 vehicles that were recalled. But yeah, it began with a document that was a public record that anybody could have found. But Joe and I called an expert in D.C., with the center for auto safety, and we called him and talked to him and said let's look up this car, and there was a recall on it. And we found there was a notice that had been sent out to dealers after that warning them about the recall repair. But it had never been sent to owners of the cars. So that's all we had to begin with. Then we just kept going with it. We followed it through the inspection of the car, and found that it seemed to be the exact defect that they expected to find is what they found.

Joe Ducey: The one the dealers forewarned about, people never Noe knew there could be an incorrect repair that could cause this other issue.

Ted Simons: How much resistance did you get in following this story?

Joe Ducey: From the station?

Ted Simons: From everyone. From the Ford motor company, to the station, to the whole nine yards.

Joe Ducey: the station was great about allowing these things to happen. They allowed it to be on the air, and as far as it needed to go. Ford never really came back at us. They talked to us, and they said, here's what we're doing, but they never denied what was going on in a lot of this. And they didn't really push us. I expected more and didn't get that.

Ted Simons: What about the family? What kind of relationship did you have with the family?

Lauren Gilger: Ryan bloom had a great story to tell, and we're grateful he told us. He sat down with us twice, once at the beginning and again with joe the day of the recall. And he was incredibly supportive and open, and we were lucky to have it, because without that, there would have been no heart to this story, and he was that.

Ted Simons: Was there a point in the story when you knew obviously you were on to something, and something was leading to something else. Was there a point when you realized we're doing a big thing here. This is not just another investigative report, this is a big investigative report.

Joe Ducey: Yeah, I think initially kind of the moment -- The ah-ha moment would be when we found that second remedy. Typically there's one remedy the recall is basically to fix the car. There was another one. There aren't usually two. Why is there this other one? And then when we had the car -- When the car was inspected by the independent inspector and they found exactly that, we knew there was something bigger.

Ted Simons: Same question to you. When you were in the process of all this, no one knows they're going to win a Peabody award, but you get the feeling you're doing something special, something different. Did you feel that early on or did that grow?

Lauren Gilger: For me it was when the inspection happened. We were watching that inspection, and we saw what we were looking for. I remember trying to understand, I learned a lot about cars through this, but I remember seeing the picture, they stuck a camera under the engine and looked at it. When you saw that cord stuck there and you saw the throttle wide open, that's when I went, oh, my God, this is huge. And yeah, it just got bigger from there. We connected it to the Mazda tribute and continued --

Joe Ducey: I think it's also surrounding yourself -- We're not experts, and you have to surround yourself with the people who know these things. It was crucial in this case. They lead us through the path.

Ted Simons: Kind of an off question here, but when did you know this investigative story was over?

Joe Ducey: That's a good question. I guess -- I still think it's going.

Lauren Gilger: I think it is.

Joe Ducey: There are parts of this that haven't been exposed. We interviewed people around the country who had the same issue even after Saige bloom's incident. And found this was widespread, that they knew about it for 10 years. So there were lawsuits that were settled, details weren't released, all along. So this has been an issue for a long time. And I still think there's more to it.

Ted Simons: Now let's talk about this Peabody award, this business here. How did you find out?

Lauren Gilger: I was watching the podcast at 7 a.m. with my dog, and called joe and he had left his phone at work and I couldn't talk to him all morning. We were like oh, my gosh, does he even know?

Ted Simons:You were you watching the podcast, that means you must have had some idea something could happen.

Lauren Gilger: We had entered, but we were -- I think we were both surprised. I don't think -- This is not something you think is going to happen.

Ted Simons: Your news director at the time noted your stamina, your focus, your passion. You haven't been in the business all that long.

Lauren Gilger: Not very long, no.

Ted Simons: Are you ready now to continue your career knowing that you've been to the mountaintop awfully young?

Lauren Gilger: Yeah, definitely. I've learned so much being at 15, the last year and a half, almost. Joe has been in the business for years and has taught me more than I can imagine. And it's just been a great ride.

Ted Simons: And the award ceremony?

Joe Ducey: It's because of me, by the way.

Ted Simons: All right. I was going to ask you what took so long. Award ceremony in New York City, what, may --

Joe Ducey: in hmm.

Ted Simons: Congratulations to both of you. It's great work, and the honor is something, to feel you made a difference and you helped at least one family, that's got to make you feel good.

Joe Ducey: That's the key. That's rare.

Ted Simons: Good to have you both here. Thank you.

Lauren Gilger: Thank you so much.

AZ Technology & Innovation: Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

  |   Video
  • The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair will be held May 12-17 at the Phoenix Convention Center, with aspiring scientists from all over the world competing. Renee Levin, Intel’s community engagement manager, will talk about the fair. Sarah Sakha, a student from Xavier High School, will talk about her winning project, which seeks to develop emergency food products used in famine relief.
Guests:
  • Renee Levin - Community Engagement Manager, Intel
  • Sarah Sakha - Student, Xavier High School
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: AZ, Technology, Innovation, science, engineering, fair, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Our continuing coverage of Arizona technology and innovation focuses tonight on the upcoming Intel international science and engineering fair set for next month at the Phoenix convention center. Here to tell us about this high-profile event is Renee Levin, Intel's community engagement manager, and Sarah Sakha, a student from Xavier College Prepatory School. Sarah will be competing in the science fair. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us. Give us an overview now of this fair. What are we talking about?

Renee Levin: This is the largest precollege science fair in the world. We're expecting 1500 students from 70 different countries, regions, and territories that will descend upon Phoenix may 13th-17th. They're competing for $3 million worth of prizes.

Ted Simons: Oh, my goodness. Age range, grade range?

Renee Levin: They are high school students.

Ted Simons: So 9-12.

Renee Levin: Right.

Ted Simons: And they made it to this level by winning earlier competitions?

Renee Levin: Most of them had a competition either at a regional level, a state level, or country level. Sarah won at the state level and she'll be competing in the competition.

Ted Simons: I want to get to Sarah in a second, but let's get back to the actual event. Is it a competition -- How do you compete? Other and judges throw flash cards?

Renee Levin: No. Each project is in an individual category. There's 17 different categories. Animal, science, behavioral science, microbiology, these are just some of the categories. There's a cadre of judges that will go around and each project is reviewed by 10 judges. And then the cohort of judges make the decision on who's the top prize in each individual category.

Ted Simons: That's very exciting. All right, Sarah, you won the state competition. Correct?

Renee Levin: Yes.

Ted Simons: Now you're the international competition, what is your focus? What did you present?

Sarah Sakha: Scientifically I'm in the microbiology, but the special part of this is that science social issues, so I delved into the social aspect of science and the practical application of sustainable Development.

Ted Simons: We're looking at some of your work. You're talking about emergency food products for famine relief?

Sarah Sakha: Yes. There's an increasing number of humanitarian emergencies worldwide today, and there's an acute and immediate need for food relief. And emergency food products or EFPs is provided as food relief, and I was watching a CNN special about the famine and drought in Somalia, and there was a shot of a little child trying to eat an unpalatable dried paste-like substance. Based on that I delved into social issues, and science, and did my project.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, we all watch television and see certain segments, rarely do we wind up trying to change the world because of it. Was it something you were leaning in that direction to begin with? Or did it just really hit you, that one story?

Sarah Sakha: I have a fond interest for social issues and politics, and I'm always catching up on the news, but when I saw the shots of a little child trying to eat it, that was particularly poignant and I decided to -- No better way to do a science projects.

Ted Simons: When you first started to when you won the state award and now you're competing internationally, has the scope or any aspect of the project changed?

Sarah Sakha: Definitely as far as extent of my further research, and I thought more and more about the implication was my project. But this is a continuation of my project last year and took to the competition last year. So the scope has changed.

Ted Simons: So you have you some experience at this level. The international competition, how did Phoenix land this?

Renee Levin:Society for science in the public is the organization that runs the fair. And they went out and determined that Phoenix, L.A., and Pittsburgh are the three cities that it will rotate within the next decade. So we expect -- We will have the fair here in 2013 ,2016 ,and 2019 .

Ted Simons: Wow. That sounds like a lot of responsibility. I would imagine it's not just throw up a sign, open up the airport and let everyone come in. The logistics must be tremendous for something like this.

Renee Levin: You're right. And there's a local arrangements committee made up of businesses, educators, all kinds of volunteers throughout the community, and we're really seeking community support for this program. We need a thousand judges, most of them at a Ph.D. level or bachelors, masters degree, plus six years of experience. We need interpreters from all different languages.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Renee Levin: we need people to help on the outreach day, which is the public day on Thursday, may 16th. And we will have 4,000 Arizona students attending the fair, and they're going to be doing all kinds of hands-on activities, and making sure the kids get to go through the arena to see all of the projects.

Ted Simons: What about housing? Transportation? Those sorts of things?

Renee Levin: They have booked pretty much every hotel room in Phoenix. We've been working with the local light rail, and the airport, they'll even need greeters at the airport to help the kids and their chaperones make sure they get on the right bus or light rail system to get to their hotel.

Ted Simons: We're looking at some of the folks from the Arizona fair, engineering fair. This is the big kahuna here. The idea of competing, does that spur you on in any way?

Sarah Sakha: It does, of course it's very intimidating with such formidable judges, and so many projects, so many students. But I think the experience of just being to learn from people with -- Like last year's winner, that's just where science lies today.

Ted Simons: But again, it seems like if you were just -- You do care about winning, right? You are gung ho --

Sarah Sakha: yeah. [laughter]

Ted Simons: I want to make sure.

Sarah Sakha: Definitely.

Ted Simons: And where do you plan to go on this? Do you plan to -- You mentioned social issues and science together. Where do you plan -- What's next for you?

Sarah Sakha: At this point it presents a viable food product, so I may try to explore the marketability as the product. But scientifically, doing more research on the potential of the come pounds within the spices. And refining the product itself.

Ted Simons: As far as college is concerned, you've got some places in mind?

Sarah Sakha: I do. I'm a junior so I have a little time, but yes.

Ted Simons: Arizona state is not too far away now. As far as the competition is concerned, again, where, when, and for folks watching this that they may not be able to be a judge, and they may not be able to take part, but they're fascinated by these kids doing these great things, how can they come and watch and be witness to all this?

Renee Levin: I hope they will realize there will be 1500 kids as smart as Sarah at this competition. On Thursday, it's the public day, and it's open, and it's free. So bring your families, bring your students, if you have a school, bring them down and just check out these amazing projects. The students will be there, I believe from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so you can meet with the students. But really, if you go on the website you can see the wide variety of people that we need.

Ted Simons: Give us that website address.

Renee Levin: WWW.societyforscience.org.

Ted Simons: I think we got it right up there. That's Intel --

Renee Levin: Intel iCEF 2103 .

Ted Simons: That's exactly what it is. And the dates again?

May 13-17.

Ted Simons: Very good. Good to have you both here and good luck in the competition.

Sarah Sakha: Renee Levin: Thank you

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • Join a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times for a weekly update on the legislature.
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislative, update, legislature, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Two new polls show conflicting results regarding plans to expand Arizona's Medicaid program. We get the latest from Jim small in our weekly legislative update with "The Arizona Capitol Times." Good to see you. Thanks for joining us. So we got one poll says what, and one poll says something else.

Jim Small: Yeah. A poll that was paid for by the state, Arizona state chamber of commerce, which is for the expansion, shows broad support for among voters for expanding the AHCCCS program, and even among all the different partisan groups, democrats, independents, and most importantly, Republicans. On the flip side, there's another poll also done by a national polling firm, we don't know who paid for it, but it seems as though it was opponents of the expansion who did -- Who funded it. And it shows narrow support overall, but among Republicans, like 2-1 opposition to this, and 3-1 oppositional most to legislators who vote to put a tax on hospitals in order to pay for the expansion.

Ted Simons: The first poll was done by public opinion strategists, a pretty well-known outfit, the second poll by Magellan Strategies, these are reputable companies.

Jim Small: They're both Republican polling firms, they largely do congressional races, senate races, presidential races, and different states, stuff like that. Magellan in the past here as polled the flick car moan -- Flake race, the Romney-Obama race, public opinion strategies has worked for -- More congressional candidates than you can count.

Ted Simons: How do we explain the disparity?

Jim Small: You know, a couple things. I think the biggest reason for the disparity is the way the questions were posed. In the public opinion strategies poll, we haven't seen all of the questions they asked, but we've seen some of them. And there's a lot more information. They try to lay some of the ground work for the actual facts. This is a complex issue. There's a lot of things going on whereas the Magellan strategies poll was an automated poll, and the question was fairly short and simple, and really didn't explain some of the financial underpinnings to this move, and what state would stand to gain from expanding its Medicaid program.

Ted Simons: With these two polls floating around, are we getting any new information regarding talks? Down at the Capitol.

Jim Small: looks like you've got the two sides digging in. I talked to one person today who likened it to trench warfare in World War I, where you wake up every morning and you haven't moved. You're in the exact same place and you're fighting the same fight over and over again. And no one is making any progress. So the polls -- I think each speak to -- They reinforce each side's view, whether they're accurate or not or whether they're viable representations of how the electorate feels, I think both sides can use the poll they like best to their own advantage to bolster their view and defend either supporting the expansion or opposing it.

Ted Simons: all right. A bill to raise caps on campaign donations looks like it's passed the senate, party line vote. What are we talking about?

Jim Small: This is a bill that's gone to the governor's desk now that it will essentially dramatically increase the campaign contribution limits to statewide and legislative and local candidates. Right now Arizona has some very low campaign finance limits, that were set back in the 's and in the mid- to early s, and this would increase them from about 440 dollars for a legislative candidate, that anyone can write a check for, to $2,000. And it would increase Pac contributions up to $4,000.

Ted Simons: This is the reason among the many reasons here is that some figure this could be unconstitutionally too low. Correct?

Jim Small: There's been an argument for years that because we artificially set our campaign finance limits low, and ratchet them down a lot, that following some of the Supreme Court decisions and court rulings in other states striking down low campaign finance limits as a violation of the first amendment, that Arizona's limits were potentially unconstitutional. The only problem is no one has ever sued over Arizona's campaign finance limits, so we don't have a ruling. The rulings in other states don't apply to our situation, so we've been left with these low limits.

Ted Simons: So what are we left with as far as candidates who run on clean elections, and those who run -- It sounds like those who run private now could raise more than the clean elections candidates.

Jim Small: Oh, yeah. There's always been the potential for them to raise more than the clean elections candidates. This would make it easier. If you're running for a legislative office, to go out and raise $20,000 in $400 increments is one thing, to do it in $2,000 increments is something entirely different.

Ted Simons: And this is a party line vote here. Any word on the governor's likely to sign this do you think?

Jim Small: I think a lot of people are hopeful she will. Certainly she's -- I think this is viewed as a conservative issue and a pro-Republican issue. So I think there's the hope she will. There's some constitutional questions that have been raised about whether doing it the way they're doing it is actually legal, because there's some intertwining between the campaign finance limits and the clean elections act, and some questions that I think haven't been litigated as to what needs to be done to help clean elections, whether anything needs to be done to help clean elections to raise the campaign finance limits.

Ted Simons:Got about 30 seconds left, Tom Horne wants more money to patrol at Colorado city. An effort earlier in the session to do something about the Colorado city police department did not get out. Will this get in?

Jim Small: It will ultimately be rolled into the budget talks. And so those will only progress -- We'll only see something move really quickly on budget once this Medicaid thing gets done, because that's the linchpin for everything. He wants about $400,000 to fund some patrols, outside patrols to provide law enforcement other than the law enforcement that they allege is controlled by the fundamental Latter Day Saints church.

Ted Simons: We should mention, the previous legislation in this session I think passed the house with flying colors, got to the senate, and nothing.

Jim Small: Yeah. And that's -- This is an issue they fought really hard for last year as well there. Were two or three different versions, and same thing this year. Just trying to push this thing across the finish line and haven't been able to do it yet.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Jim Small: Thank you.

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