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April 30, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Breast Cancer Collaboration

  |   Video
  • Arizona State University, The Mayo Clinic and T-Gen have joined forces to fight breast cancer. The three organizations have formed the BIG Group (The Breast Cancer Interest Group) to investigate the role of testosterone in developing and treating some of the toughest breast cancers. Dr. Karen Anderson, who is a member of the BIG Group and who has a joint appointment at ASU and Mayo Clinic, will talk about the BIG Group’s efforts.
  • Karen Anderson - BIG Group
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: cancer, breast cancer, BIG Group, ASU, Mayo Clinic,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona State University, the Mayo Clinic and T-Gen have joined forces to fight breast cancer. The three have formed the breast cancer interest group or BIG group to help research some of the toughest breast cancers to treat. Joining us is Dr. Karen Anderson; she has a joint appointment at ASU and Mayo Clinic. Good to have you here.

Dr. Karen Anderson: Thank you very much.

Ted Simons: Talk about this collaboration. First exactly what is BIG and what about this collaboration?

Dr. Karen Anderson: So a couple of years ago we realized that different centers within the valley had different types of expertise in researching and treating breast cancer. We really felt we needed to come together and collaborate and join forces to target some of the most resistant types of breast cancers.

Ted Simons: Were those the areas of focus, triple negative breast cancer. We have heard about that and endocrine resistant -- what are we talking about here?

Dr. Karen Anderson: Breast cancers are very different. Very heterogeneous. There are many types. Those are two particular types that are resistant to current treatment. We need to be able to develop new treatments and ways of diagnosing and going after those cancers.

Ted Simons: Those are things that basically chemo is all you got?

Dr. Karen Anderson: Yes. Either chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and for both types of cancers there's limited amounts of opportunities really to treat those. So we need to come up with new drugs and combinations to get there.

Ted Simons: We keep hearing about testosterone and testosterone receptors being a key. Talk to bus that.

Dr. Karen Anderson: So some breast cancers express the receptor, the endrogen receptors, present normally in prostate type cancers. There's a whole set of studies looking at can we use some of the drugs we use to trait prostate cancer can we also use those though treat breast cancer. We need to understand which benefit from that, how they work, how to combine them with the therapy we have.

Ted Simons: How do you better understand that?

Dr. Karen Anderson: We're starting to understand how the receptors work, which cancers are expressing those, how we can detect that and looking at trying to combine the therapy.

Ted Simons: As far as genomics on development treatment --

Dr. Karen Anderson: I can't underestimate it enough. Right now what we're doing is both obtaining breast cancer samples from women with breast cancer and asking what is different between these. What is different between how those cancers develop? If you're going to develop therapy you need to understand heterogeneity. You know, TGEN really brings such expertise in how we think about not just mutations but how the genome rearranges and all the parts. So we can look at the genomics and we at ASU also work on protenomics. If you integrate that you can start to understand how those cells will respond to therapy.

Ted Simons: Regenerative medicine… is that what we are talking about here as well?

Dr. Karen Anderson: Well, it is a different off shoot, but if you can get to the primary cells and get them to grow, then we can start to push on them with different drugs and combinations to understand what is actually going to be used for treating women with breast cancer in real time. Can we actually take cancers and try to understand in real time so we can target their therapy specifically.

Ted Simons: It's almost like finding the environment they like and go in there and cause them some harm.

Dr. Karen Anderson: Exactly.

Ted Simons: The collaborative effect, you have ASU, T-Gen, Mayo Clinic Clinic. What were the challenges of getting these big brains together to fight breast cancer?

Dr. Karen Anderson: Well, we have a common mission. That makes it much simpler. The mission is driven by what our patients need. From that there's logistical challenges, obviously. We have three centers, three different institutions. We meet regularly, and we think about projects. We develop projects, grants, we co-publish papers. Right now we're actually starting to develop new clinical trials based on some of this to try to bring these forward for people here.

Ted Simons: How far along is medicine in general in just identifying and treating these aggressive forms of cancers?

Dr. Karen Anderson: I think we're not far along enough yet. There's no question if you ask any woman who has any of these cancers they have to go through chemotherapy, hormone therapy, a lot of surgery, radiation. Still we can't say you're cured. We never get to say that. We have a long way to go. We have made strides, no question survival rates are steadily getting better, but it comes at a cost. It's a lot of therapy. We would like to be able to target these better. For some women we need newer, better drugs for this.

Ted Simons: Take us back five, ten years. What more do we know now than we did then?

Dr. Karen Anderson: I think what we really are appreciating now is like I said that heterogeneity both between patients with cancer, the fact on the outside they may look the same, but internally they are different. Also even within a cancer, they can be different. I think that's something the whole field is starting to appreciate.

Ted Simons: What should we watch for as far as research? What's the next big news or big focus I guess?

Dr. Karen Anderson: Big focus in BIG?

Ted Simons: Yes.

Dr. Karen Anderson: I think that a number of projects one is on androgen receptors and what we can do. I think that will be coming out. We're starting to develop new vaccine and immunotherapy. We have a lot of expertise in the valley on that. Trying to develop new protocols, trials, trying to recruit the immune system to fight breast cancer when chemotherapy and hormone therapy doesn't work. Getting out the genomics, how can we find that earlier? Diagnosis is a big part of that.

Ted Simons: The fact there's a T-Gen, Mayo Clinic, ASU. Talk about the valley's importance in this particular line of medicine and research.

Dr. Karen Anderson: I think that the valley is emerging as a very dynamic, very innovative research endeavor. Absolutely state of the art. As a scientist I find it very exciting to work here. We have the opportunities with these types of collaborations to have an impact in ways that I think is really unique.

Ted Simons: As far as you're concerned, there is optimism, is there not?

Dr. Karen Anderson: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Everyone knows someone who has had some sort of contact with breast cancer whether it's immediate family or somewhere down the line. Is there optimism?

Dr. Karen Anderson: Absolutely. First of all, the majority of women who get breast cancer will live long and healthy lives and will survive their breast cancer. In part because of the treatments, and in part because of newer treatments coming down the pike. What we use to treat now compared to five years ago, ten years ago, completely different. It changes every single year. I think women and their physicians and the centers have to really keep up with what is the newest, latest medications, the newest treatments we can do and bring that to women in the valley.

Ted Simons: It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Union Work Time Ruling

  |   Video
  • A judge issued an injunction that stops Phoenix police officers from doing union work while on the job. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, a police union, says it will fight the injunction that was issued after a lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute. Clint Bolick, the lead attorney for Goldwater, will discuss the issue along with Mark Spencer, the Southwest Project Coordinator for Judicial Watch.
  • Clint Bolick - Lead Attorney, Goldwater
  • Mark Spencer - Southwest Project Coordinator, Judicial Watch
Category: Law   |   Keywords: union, bill, police, law,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: A recent court injunction stops Phoenix police officers from doing union work while on the job. Phoenix law enforcement association says it will fight the injunction issued after a lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute. Joining us is Clint Bolick, lead attorney for the institute, Mark Spencer, Southwest Coordinator for Judicial Watch, formerly with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

Both: Good to be with you.

Ted Simons: What does relief time mean?

Clint Bolick: This is when full-time city employees are released from what they were hired to do in this case patrolling the streets and allowed to do union work full-time. This goes on not just in the police department but in throughout the city of Phoenix and in most cities across Arizona.

Ted Simons: How do you define release time?

Mark Spencer: It's a benefit that is purchased by Phoenix police officers. In other words, the city manager comes to the table says I want you to do a job. Run the gunfights. Those police officers say we'll run the gunfights but you need to pay us, so the city manager provides a $330 million total comp packages, wages, insurance, vacation, sick leave, then .005 or one half percent of that total package they pay for those police officers buy through reduced wages six full-time release positions to make sure they have representation.

Ted Simons: Sounds like it's negotiated in a labor contract.

Clint Bolick: Oh, it certainly is. But unfortunately, what is being done is the mission of the Phoenix police department and other departments in Phoenix is being diverted toward union activities. These officers and Mark was one of them report to union headquarters, they lobby in some instances against the city's own position, they collect guaranteed overtime, they qualify for the same pensions as police officers who risk their jobs every day. This is a gift to the police union and to other unions and that's exactly what the judge found.

Ted Simons: Does this union work include lobbying, political activism, these sorts of things?

Mark Spencer: Absolutely it does. You don't have Phoenix police officers' best interests in mind. It's not your job. The Goldwater Institute doesn't have their best interests in mind. So who has their best interest in mind? They’re willing to take $322 less per officer per year to make sure they have access to 24/7 representation. That's crucial.

Clint Bolick: Ted, in the private sector union members would be paying for this out of their own pockets. They're not here. I would love to see police officers get that $322 and figure out what to do with it. Guess what? They wouldn't be buying a diversion of police officers to sit at union desks instead of doing their jobs. That's what they are afraid of.

Mark Spencer: It's clearly not a gift. Police officers agree to run the gunfights for a total comp package. One half of 1% of that total compensation which equals about $22 per officer is used to purchase those release positions. It's clearly not -- what's happening here is we're using the courts to push a political agenda. We don't like the way police officers spend their money. So we're going to tell them you can spend it on health insurance and dental insurance and life insurance but when it comes to job insurance you're not going to spend it.

Ted Simons: Quickly, I hear the argument it's employee money. It's not additional --

Clint Bolick: It's not employee money. It's money that could be used to hire more police officers. We have had a hiring freeze for several years. Just how many officers could we hire for that additional million dollars? This money is being used against the city's interests when we buy health insurance it promotes the city's interests. Just this last year the police union solicited 100 grievances against the city while being paid by the taxpayers to do that to challenge the police uniform policy. That is something that should be paid by union dues, not with taxpayer money.

Ted Simons: Why not pay for this if it comes out of salaries, employee money, why not use union dues for this?

Mark Spencer: Why would you use taxpayer money when you have access to officers who are willing to take reduced wage, even in a ruling she makes the comment with 2,600 police officers release time would cost each police officer $322. So what happened here now is a judge came in with a gavel and a robe and said injunction, I'm going to take that time from you. Those officers paid for that $322 in released wages. If you do that with a stocking cap and a gun that's called robbery. Make these officers whole if you're going to take that $322 away from them. They are still running the gunfights and not getting their compensation.

Ted Simons: How do you respond to that?

Clint Bolick: I respond by saying if there's robbery going on here it's the union robbing the taxpayers. That's exactly how the judge saw it. Our gift clause prohibits gifts to private entities like unions. Here she looked at the contract and she said, what are the taxpayers getting in return for this money that we're giving to the union? And the answer was absolutely nothing except for a bunch of headaches.

Ted Simons: What are the taxpayers getting in return?

Mark Spencer: That's a good question. You have an asset, a unique investment called a police officer. Could be a $1 million asset. You have intensive training. To expose that asset, that unique investment to flip an accusation, the police department hires 30 investigators and supervisors to investigate misconduct against Phoenix police officers. Who defends them? Taxpayers go out of their way, rightfully so, to make sure a child molester has a public defender. Police officers go out of their way out of their own pockets to make sure police officers have representation --

Clint Bolick: Actually, Ted, two police officers are on standby hours a day to handle those kinds of complaints. That is not affected at all by this injunction. What is affected is the sort of stuff Mark did before he went on retirement and on pension. He was lobbying full-time, not for the city, but for the union, but the taxpayers were paying him to do that. They didn't hire Mark to lobby. They hired him to patrol the streets.

Ted Simons: Does some of this activity, though, include grievance matters, disciplinary matters, training, task forces -- Maybe lobbying is included in the mix but are there not other things --

Clint Bolick: Sure. What the city did this year was came back and said let's try to fix this problem. Let's list the things that they are going to do for the city like training and that sort of thing. We'll pay for that, but the lobbying, you guys are to pay for. The political activities, grievances you have to pay for. Guess what police said to that. They said we will quote “torch this place” if that change is made. That's the attitude we see. By the way, the union negotiators negotiating that contract are paid with taxpayer dollars.

Ted Simons: What about that change? What's wrong with that idea for change?

Mark Spencer: I think what's important is, and here's what's alarming from a conservative point of view is when we try to pursue legislation from the bench. I can't get the voters to change their minds says Goldwater, I can't get elected officials to change their minds says Goldwater, so I'll get a judge to legislate from the bench and change the contract at the expense of $322, it was her ruling to the officers. I had a police chief tell us you keep your boys on a leash. The chief's job isn't to have police officers' best interests in mind. It's to run the police department. So due process is something that police officers are willing to pay for out of their own pockets.

Ted Simons: I kind of want to get back to what you just said. People elect their lawmakers to -- we had a similar conversation regarding Glendale. You elect city council and the mayors to do the city's work. They believe these kinds of contracts do the city's work. Why is the Goldwater Institute getting involved?

Clint Bolick: What's the first thing an elected official does before he or she starts enacting legislation? They take an oath to the constitution. The constitution is above any kind of law and certainly above any kind of contract. So you go to court to protect constitutional rights. We do it over and over again. In this instance the judge said, this contract exceeds the constitutional authority of this city.

Ted Simons: The judge also said that this place is public funds at the disposal of the unions, the mission is the safety of the community and this does not advance a public purpose. Is the judge wrong here?

Mark Spencer: Clearly wrong. Does it advance public purpose? Does that release time advance public purpose? Does vacation time advance a public purpose? Does sick leave advance public purpose? Does dental insurance? I take my kids to Disneyland for a week. Does that advance public purpose? We want our officers healthy, we want them to have access to life insurance but we don't want our officers to have access to representation? They don't like the way police officers are spending their money, so they want to change it to an injunction.

Clint Bolick: One of the things that union folks did this year on union time, the police chief asked some of them to wear taser cams on their helmets. The union put out a notice saying don't obey the chief. If he forces you to do it we'll file a grievance. They threatened to follow the police chief to see if he was talking to other unions about the uniform issue. Are these advancing the public purpose? Absolutely not. Are they legitimate functions of a union? Yes, but the union should be paid with union dues, not taxpayer money.

Ted Simons: Back to Mark's point regarding vacation time, sick time, other things that are negotiated into contracts, does the Goldwater Institute are you going to start getting involved if someone looks like they are taking too much vacation time?

Clint Bolick: Of course not. What the constitution forbids is making public funds available to a third party. The city object if officers were placed suddenly at the disposal of McDonald's? Of course they would. That's exactly what's happening here. PLEA is an independent entity, a labor union with its own interests. A lot of the police officers are not even members yet they are paying for this stuff.

Ted Simons: Sounds like the argument is tax declares are being used to promote union interests. Is that accurate, A, and B, how do you respond?

Mark Spencer: Bottom line she says in her own ruling each officer pays $322 less in wages to acquire this .005 -- that's one half of a percentage of that total compensation, 1.7 million out of a $330 million contract. Health insurance, Cigna is a third party provider but we contract with them. These officers knowingly work in a volatile environment. Everybody loves a firefighter but when the police officer comes to your house normally a law has been broken and there's a victim. It's easy to generate false allegations. So you have that asset investigated. Why is due process less important than a vacation or sick leave?

Ted Simons: Last question. Critics say the Goldwater Institute is basically union bashing. You're not saving taxpayer money. It's a ruse, just another way to go after the unions.

Clint Bolick: Public employee unions around the country are bankrupting cities and states. The excesses have gone on for too long. The unions should do what they feel is in the best interests of their members but should do so with their own resources, not taxpayer dollars.

Ted Simons: we have to stop it there. Great discussion.

Clint Bolick: Sorry we couldn't disagree more.

Ted Simons: You did well enough. Thanks for joining us.