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October 17, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Earthquake Preparedness

  |   Video
  • Millions of people worldwide practiced how to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” during an earthquake at 10:17 a.m. on October 17* during Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills! Although Arizona is not known for devastating earthquakes, the event was held here as well. Michael Conway, Chief of the Geologic Extension Service from the Arizona Geological Survey, will talk about the event and Arizona earthquakes.
  • Michael Conway - Chief of the Geologic Extension Service, Arizona Geological Survey
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: earthquake, preparedness, geology, arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Millions worldwide practiced how to drop, cover, and hold on during an earthquake preparedness drill today. Arizonans took part in the event, too, even though the state isn't known for devastating quakes. We're joined now by Michael Conway, chief of the Geologic Extension Service from the Arizona Geological Survey. Good to have you here.

Michael Conway: Ted, thanks for having me on.

Ted Simons: What exactly happened on 10/17 at 10:17 this morning?

Michael Conway: Well, across the western United States, there were a number of states that participated in this. A number of people in the neighborhood of millions and in the state of Arizona, 116,000 people dropped to the ground, found cover, and held on to that cover to simulate what would happen in the event of ground shaking.

Ted Simons: And, again, 10/17 because of…

Michael Conway: It is coming up every Thursday in mid-October. The rationale behind the 10:17 a.m. time, this is really targeting school-aged kids. Working a lot with the K-12 community.

Ted Simons: I thought it was because of the San Francisco Earthquake on October 17 --

Michael Conway: Last year, it was 10/18.

Ted Simons: I would have been really confused about that. So school kids, universities, who else was involved?

Michael Conway: There were businesses involved, health care folks. The hospital in Yuma was involved. A number of people. This is only our second year. We were at 60,000 last year. 116,000 this year. We will continue to grow this and make it a statewide event.

Ted Simons: It is designed to do what?

Michael Conway: It is designed to teach people what to do in the event of an earthquake. All too frequently, if the ground starts shaking, first, immediate response is for people to get up and run away, out of the building. That is not what you should do. If the ground starts shaking, indoors, drop, find cover, and hold on to that cover.

Ted Simons: If you realize what's going on.

Michael Conway: That's exactly right.

Ted Simons: A lot of times Earthquakes start. By the time you realize what is going on, it is well through the process. Let’s talk about Arizona. We don't do many topics on earthquakes on this show; we don't get a heck of a lot of them. We are maybe in “small E” earthquake country.

Michael Conway: We get about 100 earthquakes a year. Most in northern Arizona, and most are small. We have a number of faults in the state. There is a potential for moderate to large earthquakes. We could see those. They are not going to happen with any great frequency, but it doesn't have to happen frequently.

Ted Simons: This is, I believe, fault lines we are seeing?

Michael Conway: These are the fault lines. These are faults that we have identified as active faults in the state of Arizona. You will see the majority of them in the northern Arizona area, it’s called the Northern Arizona Seismic Zone. That’s where most of our faults are. Keep in mind of course that Yuma is 40, 50 miles from the San Andreas fault. Faults have no respect for political boundaries whatsoever.

Ted Simons: We’ve also learned that a fault, many, many miles away can do a certain amount of damage.

Michael Conway: You bet.

Ted Simons: A long way away, if those --

Michael Conway: That's right. Seismic waves generate outward and three dimensions from that particular, from the epicenter. They move outward at a very rapid pace. So that an event that occurs at the San Andreas Fault would be felt in Yuma in just a handful of seconds.

Ted Simons: Now as far as fissures are concerned, there is a map of fissures as well. Difference between a fault line and a fissure.

Michael Conway: Fault line is really an area in which the rock is weakened and there is movement along the rock on either side of that particular fault. A fissure is just a crack in the ground. Fissures that we see, and we see them in four counties, Maricopa, Pinal, Pima and Cochise County -- those are result of subsidence from groundwater harvesting. They are just long, open fractures.

Ted Simons: And that is not necessarily an earthquake concern.

Michael Conway: No, it is not whatsoever.

Ted Simons: Our next map I think we can show the epicenters in the state. When you talk northern Arizona, close to California, hello. Look at all of that.

Michael Conway: You bet. You bet. In our catalog, I think we've got several thousand earthquakes, historical earthquakes from about 1852 to 2013, and you can see all of that activity to the west of us along the San Andreas and Imperial fault over there in California. Lots of earthquakes occur. Most of the earthquakes in Arizona will be small, will go unfelt. But we have the potential to have larger felt earthquakes.

Ted Simons: Within the state boundaries, what is the biggest quake we have ever had?

Michael Conway: Within the state boundaries, actually the biggest quake that has impacted us was the 1887 event, just south of Douglas, in Sonora, Mexico. That was a magnitude 7.5. That did damage in the Tucson area and throughout the southwest and it was felt all throughout Arizona territory at that time.

Ted Simons: We think of Arizona and look over to California. You have Mexico, New Mexico as well. Are those -- Mexico is, what about New Mexico?

Michael Conway: Baja, California, certainly. Utah, Nevada, probably more likely to impact us in northern Arizona, with earthquakes and faults.

Ted Simons: Are there misconceptions regarding Earthquakes in general and in Arizona in particular?

Michael Conway: You know, I think the biggest misconception is that people don't recognize that we have earthquakes. One of the questions we get whenever there is an earthquake, we get calls at our office asking, does Arizona have earthquakes? And since when has Arizona had earthquakes? And our response is we have lots and lots of earthquakes. Most are unfelt. You will feel earthquakes once in a while.

Ted Simons: I worked for a time in the bay area and I was up there for the October 17 quake in the upper deck of Candlestick Park, had a short conversation with God toward the end there. Every once in a while, you walk along and the furniture shakes. Anyone who lives in California knows this. Things shakes, things move, and everyone moves on their merry way. Are we too comfortable right now with earthquakes in America?

Michael Conway: You know, I think we are. And some of that came to a stop of course because of the earthquake a year, year and a half ago now in the D.C., in the Virginia area. That impacted people up and down the east coast. The east coast is -- the rock there is very hard and solid. It transmits seismic energy very effectively and people, millions of people felt that. Probably the first time many of them had ever felt an earthquake. And it certainly changed the attitude towards earthquakes in that area.

Ted Simons: But as far as Arizona it concerned, northern Arizona, by California, especially, maybe down the south to New Mexico, but the Phoenix area looked from the epicenter map looked pretty clean.

Michael Conway: You don't have a lot of earthquakes in the Phoenix area and you are far enough from the San Andreas, Baja, California, from the big faults in Northern Arizona that you probably are not going to have a lot of earthquake risk here. The fault -- the map we just showed you shows the earthquake, the faults that we're aware of. There are other faults that we're probably not aware of. They don't rupture frequently. They are very sparsely distributed. But there are going to be faults that we're not aware of that are going to rupture in the future.

Ted Simons: And they will say hello in a big way.

Michael Conway: They are.

Ted Simons: As long as we know how to drop, cover, and hold on, which is what today’s event was all about, we should be in relatively good shape.

Michael Conway: We had 81,000 kids participated today that know a little bit more what to do in the event of ground shaking now.

Ted Simons: Well that’s fantastic. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Michael Conway: Great to be here. Thank you.

Political Impact of Washington Fight

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  • President Obama has said there are no winners in the fight over the debt ceiling and government shutdown. However, the fight could impact upcoming elections. Arizona State University Pollster Bruce Merrill will talk about winners and losers from the drama in our nation’s capitol.
  • Bruce Merril - Pollster, Arizona State University
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, shutdown, impact, capitol,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. President Obama says there are no winners in the fight over the debt ceiling and government shutdown. But how much will that fight impact upcoming elections? ASU pollster Bruce Merrill is here to look at potential winners and losers from all the drama. Good to see you again.

Bruce Merrill: Good to see you again.

Ted Simons: Speaker Boehner, his quote after all of this was over, we fought the good fight but just don't win. Does most of the Republican Party consider this a good fight?

Bruce Merrill: No, the party is seriously divided. Even before this all started, remember Karl Rove was saying that the far right of the party could cause a terrible split in the Republican Party and cost them election seats coming up in the next election. So, I think you're going to see a party that is going to be divided. It's going to be divided nationally, and in Arizona.

Ted Simons: It's in Arizona as well, because Arizona is pretty solidly red right now?

Bruce Merrill: It is pretty solidly red, but we're talking about within the Republican Party. What has happened within the past 10 or 12 years, right wing of the party, particularly the tea party people, have driven many of the more moderate republicans frankly almost out of the party. And with this rift now, it may very well be that you will see increased conflict between a more developing moderate wing in the Republican Party, compared with the right wingers that control the institutional party.

Ted Simons: Well, with this battle, did the tea party gain more influence or lose some influence?

Bruce Merrill: It depends on what your frame of reference it. Keep in mind, that the interesting thing is that the people, the tea party people, did not represent the majority of people in America. But they only have to represent the people in their own particular districts. And in those districts, these people are going to be seen as heroes. It is actually going to help them. Because we've got this situation where you have 435 individual constituencies, and it doesn't matter what the national interest is. If you want to get reelected, you better understand and espouse the interest of the people in your district.

Ted Simons: In Arizona is that the case as well?

Bruce Merrill: Sure, I don't think enough has been made of it. Keep in mind, in Arizona, our four republican Congressmen were involved in this split, this anti-, being very somewhat negative towards what was happening in the country. And what is particularly interesting to me, while all of the Republican Congressmen were actually more supportive of what was going on with the tea partiers, at the Senate side, John McCain has been very vociferous saying this was a mistake. I told them they could not win with this strategy. They didn't win and won't win in the future.

Ted Simons: The strategy initially was to defund and get rid of the Affordable Care Act. With all of this going on, what happens to efforts to destabilize Obamacare?

Bruce Merrill: Obamacare probably isn't going to go away. As more and more people get on to Obamacare and get the benefits from it, it will be harder and harder to make big changes. I think anybody feels that we could do a better job. The bill needs to be improved. The service needs to be improved. And it will be. But I think, Ted, one of the most significant things that I hope there is more discussion about is this wasn't business as usual. I mean, there has always been since the beginning of this country states’ rights people, tea partiers, etc. But what was different about this to me is one of the most basic values that we have taught, and you probably remember when you were a kid in grade school, that the electoral process is one where we have fights during the elections. The majority wins, and there is kind of a responsibility for the minority to support the majority position until the next election. What happened this time is a small group of extremists said we're not playing that game anymore. We're not waiting until the next election when we fight this out. We want our way right now. And I think they frankly made a mistake.

Ted Simons: How do we get to the point where a small group of extremists can have this much influence and can basically say either I get my way or I shut everything down?

Bruce Merrill: Well, it has to do partially with the rules of the Senate and the House and the power of somebody like Boehner, but it also has to do a lot with the media. The media loves this kind of conflict. Whether or not this is going to affect the candidates individually a year and a half, two years from now, it depends on what media crisis exists a year from now. If the election were held today, it would have hurt the Republicans badly. Who knows what the next media crisis is going to be a year, year and a half from now?

Ted Simons: Who knows who the next face of both parties will be. Obviously the Democrats have a president in office and they have Hillary Clinton, kind of the lady in waiting there. Who is the face of -- is Ted Cruz the face of the Republican Party right now?

Bruce Merrill: No, and the reason -- in fact, what's happened, you have to keep in mind that while these -- the tea party is a very small percentage of the Republican Party overall, and even in Arizona. I've done research where my estimate is that even among registered Republicans in Arizona, about 15% are hard core tea partiers, and about another 15% are supporters of the tea party, but not in the extreme way. Even in the Republican Party in Arizona, the tea party is not a majority of Republicans. Most voters in Arizona and in the nation are moderates. And that's one of the interesting things that we've seen through this conflict in the leadership is the leadership is very extreme, where the mass public is pretty moderate. They're not -- the moderate people aren't being represented in this battle at all.

Ted Simons: Very quickly. I will give you some names. Quick profile of how they came out of all of this. John Boehner.

Bruce Merrill: Well, within the organization, he probably came out all right. In the sense that he’s still speaker and it is very hard to unseat a speaker.

Ted Simons: Mitch McConnell.

Bruce Merrill: I have a lot of admiration for him. He's running in an area where he's got a tough tea party opponent in the primary, and yet he came out and was, along with the women, was probably the person that brokered this deal. You have to respect him in that he did what was the right thing to do rather than just worrying about getting reelected.

Ted Simons: Harry Reid.

Bruce Merrill: Harry Reid is Harry Reid. I mean, his expression hasn't even changed over this period. And Harry Reid depends on what happens with the Democratic Party in the future.

Ted Simons: Nancy Pelosi.

Bruce Merrill: Nancy Pelosi is Nancy Pelosi. I don't think you can change either of their images very much.

Ted Simons: Last one, President Obama.

Bruce Merrill: Well, you know, he is an interesting person in that he did stand up for what he believed, and you have to keep in mind that this Affordable Health Care Act is his legacy. And he was fighting for the most important part of his administration and you have to admire that he stood up for it.

Ted Simons: Are we going to go through this whole song and dance again come January and February, government shutdown and debt ceiling coming back up again?

Bruce Merrill: I wish we could say that we weren't. My guess is that we will. I can't see any reason, if you listen to the tea party people, they don't accept the fact that they lost in this election or this outcome. They're ready to go again. And I think we're going to have a lot of conflict in another three months.

Ted Simons: Good to see you.

Bruce Merrill: Good to see you.

Washington Deal/Debt Ceiling

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  • How exactly did Congress achieve a deal on the debt ceiling and ending the shutdown, and what is the debt ceiling and why is it so important? Arizona State University Dean of Social Sciences Patrick Kenney will answer those questions.
  • Patrick Kenney - Dean of Social Sciences, Arizona State University
Keywords: debt ceiling, shutdown, congress, deal,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: How exactly did Congress finally agree to raise the debt ceiling and get the federal government back up and operational? For some insight on that, we welcome Patrick Kenney, the dean of social sciences at ASU. Political science, go-to guy there. Good to see you again.

Patrick Kenney: Nice to see you.

Ted Simons: What was the actual deal here? What was agreed to?

Patrick Kenney: What was agreed to, first of all, open the government and allow the government to continue to borrow money. Those two things. Push those into next year. And then secondly, I think there was a very minor time delay in one minor aspect of the Obamacare, and that is a little bit tighter verification when people start to come on.

Ted Simons: And how did the deal finally get done? Give us the kind of machinations here. What happened?

Patrick Kenney: I think the reason that we finally got a deal, first of all, was that both sides -- there were majorities in both houses, both the House and Senate who could have voted to open the government all along. The Speaker of the House did not want to bring any kind of vote before the House that didn't have a majority of Republican support.

Ted Simons: Why is that? This is the Hastert rule.

Patrick Kenney: Right, which is named after Speaker Hastert. It comes during this time of real difficult negotiations between the parties. He was Speaker about a decade ago or so. And because the speakers owe to their own party, at least to bring legislation that has the balance and support of the majority of support in their party. It is in their interest and the interest of the cohesion of the party is why they try to do that.

Ted Simons: Basically the speaker could have voted on this all along, but because he didn't have a majority in his own party he never allow it to happen.

Patrick Kenney: Correct.

Ted Simons: What happened in the Senate? What was going on over there?

Patrick Kenney: Both parties had enough individuals that didn't want to see this happen. Both short- and long-term consequences to this, to the economy, standing in the world, with voters, with citizens. They didn't want to see that happen. On the Senate side, the reason it probably got brokered a little easier than on the House side, a few more moderate Republicans in the Senate, in particular women, who started to negotiate with some of the Democratic senators and that deal started to take shape.

Ted Simons: So we basically had -- it sounded like Mitch McConnell made the call to Harry Reid and said let's get the ball rolling.

Patrick Kenney: Right, exactly. A lot of pressure was mounting on both parties in particular. Polling was showing drops for both parties in approval, Republicans sharper than Democrats. But I suspect there was a lot of pressure from typical constituents that support the Republican Party (business, small and large, corporate support) that wanted this deal to get done.

Ted Simons: Antifraud measure was included, maybe a small hike in the debt ceiling. Shorter continuing resolution here as far as the government, but, again, critics look at this and say that all could have been handled weeks ago.

Patrick Kenney: Yes, exactly. What you had was a tactic by the Republicans in the House, all right, to try to get some changes in Obamacare, in the Affordable Care Act. They're in the minority across the House, Senate, and the presidency. They control one of the institutions. So, think the idea was if we put enough pressure on the President to not shut down and not go past the debt ceiling that we can get some changes, right? That was the logic. Most people don't think that logic ever was going to play out. The president wasn't going to go along with this. Let alone the Democrats in the Senate.

Ted Simons: Logic based on what critics of the move called a hostage-taking situation. Basically saying do this or else.

Patrick Kenney: That was the argument that they made. I think -- I think both houses of Congress have this ability to do this to one another, right, because of the way the system is set up. More of like a lever -- I mean leverage. They wanted leverage. They know they weren't going to get these changes otherwise, so they thought if we put leverage on these two important things, shutting the government down and the debt, we might get some movement on it. But most people didn't believe we would see any movement.

Ted Simons: We talked --

Patrick Kenney: One thing in particular, that the president -- I can't imagine an executive, Democrat or Republican yielding to this kind of pressure. That is very hard for a president to negotiate under those kinds of circumstances. I didn't think at any -- let alone whether it was on Obamacare or not, to have the House of Representatives saying to the president, you either do this or, very difficult time for the president to negotiate.

Ted Simons: With that level of leverage, if you will, I've asked this before, this seems like a recent phenomenon. We saw this in the 90's, do this or else. The or else this time, and again not too long ago, includes the debt ceiling, which includes perhaps a default which includes instability and problems in the world and U.S. market. Have we seen things get that far, even as leverage, using something like that?

Patrick Kenney: That's unusual. We started it in the 80's really, with where you saw the -- where you saw the yearly deficits start to increase during the 80's and they had to move that debt up more than they wanted. And that's kind of continuing on. We always have these negotiations where the budget could be used to select different priorities. The spending around these programs. What is more dramatic now, I think, all right, is the parties are so far apart on these attitudes on about what they want to do. The two parties are so far apart that you get these kind of dramatic tactics and I think that's what is going on.

Ted Simons: Last question here. Obviously the tactics are designed to get something, to win something. By delaying this, by stretching this out and getting what you wound up getting, did the Republicans get momentum? Did they get a small W win, a small L lose? What was gained by all of these weeks of fussing and fighting?

Patrick Kenney: Right. I don't think they probably gained virtually nothing on this, the Republicans, and probably lost in standing. And I think one of the reasons for that is that the cost of this tactic, shutting the government down, whether we do financial cost, whether we do creditability around the world, on citizens, is pretty significant for what they could have gained right? The gain we always knew was going to be pretty small. The Senate Democrats weren’t going to go along with it. Democratic president was not going to go along with this. There is a lot of cost for what was potentially there to gain probably.

Ted Simons: With that in mind real quickly, would you be surprised -- These things only go to January, February, would you be surprised to see the same tactics brought up again?

Patrick Kenney: I would not be surprised to see that. However, I think politically, it's way less likely in that short a term. I think there was enough damage done to the parties that there should be some negotiation between now and then, between the president and Democrats and Republicans to avoid that. But I would not be shocked, let's put it that way.

Ted Simons: All right. Good stuff. Thank you so much for joining us.

Patrick Kenney: You're welcome.