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July 30, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

CT Scan Radiation Doses

  |   Video
  • Since 2001, a team of diagnostic radiologists and medical physicists at Mayo Clinic have been developing and implementing new techniques to lower doses from CT scans. Doses of radiation from CT scans have dropped 50 percent. Dr. Amy Hara, a diagnostic radiologist at Mayo Clinic Arizona, will talk about the new techniques.
  • Dr. Amy Hara - Diagnostic Radiologist, Mayo Clinic Arizona
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: radiation, CT,

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Richard Ruelas: A team of diagnostic radiologists and medical physicists at Mayo Clinic have been developing and implementing new techniques to lower radiation doses from CAT scans. Doses of radiation have dropped 50% in that time. Dr. Amy Hara, a diagnostic radiologist at Mayo Clinic, Arizona, is here to talk about the new techniques. Thanks for joining us this evening.

Amy Hara: Hi.

Richard Ruelas: What would be important about lowering the dosage of radiation? How much radiation does someone get when they get a C.T. scan or a CAT scan?

Amy Hara: The doses can range anywhere from millisieverts 3 to 10 to 20, depnding on the type of study you're getting.

Richard Ruelas: Which doesn't sound like lot but the media has helped to scare people. They talk about it being a megadose, 100 to 200 times an X-ray. Sorry. Have we helped make people overly anxious or scared of the radiation in a CAT scan or a C.T. scan?

Amy Hara: The medical community is divided about the risks associated with radiation. Some believe any exposure is going to increase your risk of cancer. Others believe the low doses aren't going to cause any increased risk. It's helpful for us to put into perspective. What I like to tell patients is we're all exposed to radiation in a day in Arizona. That's equal to about one or two head or chest C.T. scans. Other places like Denver, the radiation is several millisieverts per year.

Richard Ruelas: I guess what the Mayo has done is try to take the argument off the table. How much lower have you been able to make the dosage?

Amy Hara: We have reduced the doses by anywhere from 50 to 70% compared to just five years ago.

Richard Ruelas: With just as effective imaging?

Amy Hara: Right, correct.

Richard Ruelas: How that is possible?

Amy Hara: I think a good analogy is if you take a picture with your camera, if it's not too bright, you brighten it up and sharpen it. There's a similar technology that has developed that allows us to do the same thing. We can use computer techniques to make it better.

Richard Ruelas: So a lower dose image may be a less crystal clear image, and you're able to sharp it in the lab?

Amy Hara: We can pull the information out and make that information better so it looks just like a higher dose exam.

Richard Ruelas: What looks like a C.T. scan, people might associate that with an MRI. There's an industry that's cropped up for people to try to avoid the C.T. scan, right?

Amy Hara: There are other different images tests available like MRI or ultrasound that don't use radiation?

Richard Ruelas: But doctors prefer C.T. for certain things like cancer?

Amy Hara: For certain indications C.T. is the best test, for others MRI could be just as good or even better.

Richard Ruelas: Making the dosage 50 to 70% lower makes it more of a medical issue than, I scared myself on the internet issue.

Amy Hara: We are going to minimize the dose as much as we can for patients, in case there's an increased risk, which is very controversial.

Richard Ruelas: How long has this work been going on?

Amy Hara: Since about 2008. Mayo is really on the leading edge of reducing radiation dose, educating other physician busy how to do it.

Richard Ruelas: Is this as low as it can go?

Amy Hara: I expect in the next five or years they want to go as low as they can go.

Richard Ruelas: Again, taking the fear off the table.

Amy Hara: Correct, right. The C.T. is a life-saving test and people shouldn't be afraid of it. We're trying to minimize the fear as much as possible.

Richard Ruelas: So people can get diagnosed.

Amy Hara: Absolutely.

Richard Ruelas: Thanks for joining us.

Amy Hara: Thank you.

Focus on Sustainability: Mesa Recycling Program

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  • Club Blue, “Mesa’s Young Recycling Squad,” is helping Mesa kids beat the summer heat by offering interactive recycling workshops. We’ll take a look at the recycling program.
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: mesa, sustainability, recycling,

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Christina Estes: Members are on a mission to protect Mother Earth.

Anthony Camacho: If we don't recycle, the whole world will just get like brown and gray. Like an old movie.

Christina Estes: First they see what happens when people don't recycle.

Mariano Reyes: This was actually buried in 1965. So way before you guys were born. We actually uncovered it in 2008. If you look up close you can read some of the newspapers.

Christina Estes: This is what nearly 1,000 Styrofoam cups and lunch trays look like after being melted for seven hours.

Mariano Reyes: It was actually Taco Tuesday on the day we did this.

Christina Estes: Mariano Reyes explains what happens when people don't just toss things into trashcans.

Mariano Reyes: Within 45 to 100 days we could have a brand-new can if we recycle a can today. Did you guys know the government actually recycles money that's no longer being used? This is an example. What they do is shred it up and make it into other things like insulation. They put this in insulation that might be in your home.

Jennifer Cleavenger: What about for the items in our blue barrel?

Christina Estes: It's believed these are a big reason Mesa has a 32% diversion rate. That's everything that has been diverted from the landfill and gone to be recycled.

Jennifer Clevenger: The kids knew what went into the blue barrel and the parents went, really?

Mariano Reyes: Who can tell me what this is?

Christina Estes: Parents and kids are pretty impressed by this 40,000 pound machine.

Mariano Reyes: It's a garbage truck, and this is one of our operators.

Christina Estes: They discover a typical route involves picking up about 1,200 barrels.

Driver: Grab the steering wheel. Now pull yourself on up.

Student: It's cool and it's high. I'm not used to being in high trucks, but it's cool to feel it, too.

Christina Estes: They are showing off picture frames they decorated and showing lessons learned.

Anthony Camacho: If you didn't recycle through time itself, all time, future, past, every time. Nothing would be -- it would smell really, really bad. Recycle more and throw away less.

Richard Ruelas: Club Blue launched last fall and already has more than members.

Glendale Open Meeting Investigation

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  • The State Attorney General’s office is investigating possible open-meeting law violations by the Glendale City Council. Glendale City Attorney Nick DiPiazza will discuss the allegations.
  • Nick DiPiazza - Attorney, City of Glendale
Category: Law   |   Keywords: law, glendale, violation, investigation,

View Transcript
Richard Ruelas: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Richard Ruelas, in for Ted Simons. The state attorney general's office is investigating possible open meeting law violations by the Glendale City Council. Glendale city attorney Nick DiPiazza is here to discuss the allegations. Thanks for joining us this evening.

Nick DiPiazza: My pleasure to be here.

Richard Ruelas: They have sent you a letter asking you for information, correct?

Nick DiPiazza: Correct. The letter was sent to the interim city manager, essentially informing us there were complaints made of the possible violations of the Open Meetings Law, and asking for information with respect to the incidents that are the subject of the complaint.

Richard Ruelas: Do you -- does Glendale know who or how many complained? If it's citizens' organizations or --

Nick DiPiazza: The letter refers to several complaints. The details of the complaints are probably a subject best asked of the attorney general's office.

Richard Ruelas: And probably one you didn't care as a city attorney, you just gave them the information they wanted.

Nick DiPiazza: The law requires us to respond. We certainly take these matters very seriously, we don't have a history of complaints. When we received the letter it was referred to the city attorney's office. It was my function to conduct an investigation. So the steps that we took essentially were to speak to the council members involved. We have seven council members. The allegation was that six engaged in three separate meetings and that the city manager also involved himself in a meeting. I spoke to the people involved and determined the details of the meetings. And then I also spoke to the last member of the council who did not participate in the meetings, just to ensure that after the meetings there wasn't any cross-discussion, which could have resulted in a violation of the Open Meetings Law.

Richard Ruelas: I guess we should let our viewers know what the Open Meetings Law is. If a public body meets, they should let the public know 24 hours in advance what the agenda is?

Nick DiPiazza: The Open Meetings Law requires that all meetings of public bodies in the state of Arizona be conducted in open session with some very few exceptions. What the law requires is that an agenda be developed, that the agenda be posted so that people know what is going to be the subject of discussion, and then of course the meetings are conducted in a manner where people can be present and observe the proceedings. In this particular case there were no meetings within the definition of the meetings under the Open Meetings Law. Every gathering isn't a meeting.

Richard Ruelas: So what we had, this was Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, back in May, they were one of the possible bidders of the Coyotes, the National Hockey League essentially was bringing them in to get to know the members. There were no members of the public there for the meet and greet.

Nick DiPiazza: The city of Glendale does not own the team. The team is owned by the NHL. The NHL conducts its own process to determine possible qualified purchasers. After their vetting process, which is conducted, again, very privately, they approach the city and introduce the prospective buyer to the city, so the city can undertake to negotiate with the buyer with respect to two things, essentially: Leasing the arena and managing the arena. On very short notice the NHL asked to get together with Glendale officials. We're talking about a very high level, the commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, and the stated purpose of the gathering was something to introduce the principals of RSE to the city.

Richard Ruelas: If it was on very short notice, did they have the idea to make it a series of meetings? It seemed there was a meeting with the mayor, another meeting planned with two people, another meeting planned after that, three or four. Did they want it to be over the course of an afternoon? Was it scheduled and didn't coincide with the councilmembers?

Nick DiPiazza: They just asked to get together with the City of Glendale officials. They didn't communicate with the city attorney's office so it was handled by other staff. They wanted to be able to come in and make the introductions and they had limited time. Our sense was that these introductions had to be made in a very time compressed period.

Richard Ruelas: But the most time compressed would be everybody together at once.

Nick DiPiazza: Yes. The difficulty is that, if you were to do that, the appearance would be that there was a meeting within the definition of the word "meeting" under the Open Meetings Law. There was not going to be a meeting where there were going to be discussions of details, deliberations, any consensus reached, any vote taken. So if there were a quorum, it would present a problem. There would be the appearance that there was an official meeting. So I think --

Richard Ruelas: But it would only be the appearance of a meeting if someone wasn't there. But the meeting could have been opened to the public, to the press, and there wouldn't have been the worry about the appearance of it, because people would have seen it was essentially a presentation or people getting together to talk about the weather. Again, was it someone's advice or someone's desire that it be more of a private session?

Nick DiPiazza: Well, candidly, the city attorney's office wasn't consulted before the gatherings took place, so I can't say. And I don't have specific knowledge with respect to what the process was. I think the intent was to avoid the appearance of a meeting, because a meeting was not intended.

Richard Ruelas: Also, I guess, to avoid a meeting, to avoid having it be posted in public --

Nick DiPiazza: I don't think to avoid a meeting, but to avoid perhaps the -- again, the appearance that there's a meeting and an expectation by people that business was going to be conducted. There are times when council gets together not as a council but just as individuals, you know, for instance they may go to a public event and there happens to be --

Richard Ruelas: They can go to a hockey game.

Nick DiPiazza: They could.

Richard Ruelas: Looks like here there were no notes taken, people said there was no real meat discussed, it was essentially a meet and greet.

Nick DiPiazza: My understanding was there was no agenda. I spoke to all the participants. There was no agenda for the meeting, it was just meet and greet. As a matter of fact, that expression was used by one of the members to describe his meeting. There was no agenda, there was no business discussed. I think there were no notes taken at the time. No one indicated to me that they brought notes into the gatherings to read from. And I think it's important to know that at the time there were no proposals from RSE. It wasn't until perhaps a week or so after these gatherings that the City of Glendale received its first proposal for a deal from RSE, the purchaser. So there were no indications, again, that there were any deliberations, discussions --

Richard Ruelas: A getting to know you chat.

Nick DiPiazza: We're going do business with this entity and these people. Before you enter into a $225 million deal it's probably not a bad idea for everyone to feel comfortable, to be able to look into the eyes of the person you're going to do business with and shake his hand. I think that was the purpose of the meeting.

Rihcard Ruelas: I guess as we quickly wrap it up, did the attorney general let you know what they think of your answer?

Nick DiPiazza: Yes. What we did is respond by letter and of course it's a matter of public record and it was provided to the media. We responded in a timely manner. Now the response and the information in that response will be considered by the attorney general's office and they will decide their next steps.

Richard Rueals: Again, it wasn't your decision to have the meeting in the manner it was, you advised them on how it wasn't a violation of the Open Meetings Law. I guess we would have to have the mayor and council here to ask why they chose to do it in the manner they did.

Nick DiPiazza: I think it was a staff decision. I don't know that it was a conscious decision by the mayor or council for this particular format. I think they were informed there was a request for these gatherings to take place and they were conducted.

Richard Ruelas: We'll see what happens when the attorney general makes a decision. Appreciate you joining us here this evening.

Nick DiPiazza: Thank you for having me.

Ricahrd Ruelas: Thank you.

Same-sex Immigration Rule

  |   Video
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced last week that it will allow people who were legally married to a same-sex person in another state to apply for a visa and a path to citizenship, even though Arizona does not allow same-sex marriage. Phoenix Immigration Attorney Regina Jefferies will talk about the new rule.
  • Regina Jefferies - Immigration Attorney, Phoenix
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: immigration, citizenship, arizona,

View Transcript
Richard Ruelas: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced last week it would allow people legally married to a same-sex person in another state to apply for a visa and a path to citizenship, even though Arizona does not allow same-sex marriage. Regina Jefferies is here to talk about the rule. Thanks for joining us this evening.

Regina Jefferies: Thanks for having me.

Richard Ruelas: They announced this Friday. Was it in response to a question? Was there someone pressing a case that asked the federal authorities to rule on this?

Regina Jefferies: What happened was in June the Supreme Court came out with the Windsor decision, which effectively struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. They said the federal government cannot regulate marriage. As long as it's legal in that state, the federal government has to recognize it. And that decision flows down to every benefit under federal law, and immigration is one of those benefits. What happens, what happened was there were individuals who had been attempting to apply for benefits under the federal immigration law previously that had been denied, based on the fact that they were in a same-sex marriage, even though it was lawful in the state that allowed for it. As soon as the decision came out these cases came up, and the immigration service was putting out guidance so that the agency was aware and their offices were aware the agency would have to follow the Supreme Court's decision.

Richard Ruelas: Once gay marriage became legal in certain states, some couples were getting married with an immigrant spouse, then trying to apply for a visa. With the Defense of Marriage Act still in place, immigration authorities were saying no because it's not recognized federally. Now that that law is off the books, these people are trying again.

Regina Jefferies: That's correct, that's correct. In fact, some of the cases that had been denied under DOMA were actually being held by the immigration service, because some of them were only denied on the basis that DOMA was still on the books. As soon as DOMA was overturned they reopened them to re-adjudicate those cases because they can now approve them since DOMA is no longer on the books.

Richard Ruelas: So you mentioned some cases just being held back because of DOMA. That was the last step, the next thing is now they are just -- the spouse is allowed in? The spouse is given a visa and a path to citizenship?

Regina Jefferies: The way it would work, a really common scenario is someone is, say, attending ASU on a student visa, and they are from another country. They meet the love of their life in college, they are the same sex, they decide to get married in Iowa, which allows for same-sex marriage. Previously the U.S. citizen could not petition for that spouse to become a permanent resident. But now with the new Supreme Court decision, that U.S. citizen's spouse can now petition for the students to become a permanent resident to stay permanently in the U.S., There's an option if someone is outside of the U.S., if they are married in another country that allows for same-sex marriage like France or England now, a U.S. citizen could petition for that person to enter the U.S. as a permanent resident, as well. There are a number of immigration benefits now open to lawfully married same-sex couples that weren't allowed before.

Richard Ruelas: France, England and of course Iowa. Does Arizona have a lot of these couples? Do you know? Do you see it happening in Arizona?

Regina Jefferies: Oh, yes. I've worked with a number of couples since the date the decision was overturned. Many, many couples in Arizona are people married in other states. California allows for same-sex marriage, as well. There are many couples living in the state now filing for immigration benefits.

Richard Ruelas: It would stand to reason, given our proximity to the border there will be more immigrants, colleges, there's a lot here. When you mentioned the number of cases you've been handling personally, a dozen? 10? Couple of dozen?

Regina Jefferies: Already at least 10 or 12 and more every day. I think as people sort of learn about the benefits that are now available, they are realizing, oh, I can actually do this now. There's these are people who have been together for almost 20 years as partners. And then have been legally married and are just now able to position for a spouse to stay here.

Richard Ruelas: Is there anything the state can do that would put a damper on any of this?

Regina Jefferies: There's really not. The Supreme Court was pretty clear earlier this year that the state of Arizona really has nothing to do with federal immigration law. In this particular situation, the long-standing rule under federal immigration law is that a marriage is valid as long as it was valid in the state in which it was performed. You won't have couples getting married in Arizona because the Constitution prohibits same-sex marriage. But the State is unable to stop anyone who wants to legally marry in another state. To go across the border to Iowa, and bring the item back and have it validated by the federal government? The federal government is granting the benefit, they are adjudicating, the state really has no role in the process at all.

Richard Ruelas: Boy, that Supreme Court decision knocking down DOMA affected many small aspects that people probably didn't consider right away. I imagine for these couples they probably considered it as soon as the ruling came out.

Regina Jefferies: Yes.

Richard Ruelas: Appreciate you joining us, thank you so much.

Regina Jefferies: Thank you.