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October 31, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Airport Expansion

  |   Video
  • Plans are progressing for a $500 million expansion at Sky Harbor Airport. Airport Deputy Aviation Director Deborah Ostreicher will discuss the expansion plans.
  • Deborah Ostreicher - Deputy Aviation Director, Sky Harbor Airport
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: airport, expansion, sky harbor airport,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The Phoenix city council last night awarded an $18 million design-build contract to expand Sky Harbor Airport. The plans include closing one terminal and increasing the capacity of another. Here with more is airport deputy aviation director Deborah Ostreicher. Thank you so much for joining us. Again, this was -- This is not an $18 million project, this is just the project to get the project started, right?

Deborah Ostreicher: Exactly right, Ted. This is kind of what we call plan to plan. What the Phoenix City Council approved yesterday was our ability to move forward with designing what it is we're looking at here with expanding terminal three.

Ted Simons: What are we looking at? It sounds like terminal two goes away, terminal three gets bigger?

Deborah Ostreicher: Our main concern is modernizing terminal three, which was opened in 1979. It is just not efficient enough at this point to serve into the future. So we want to expand that, and make some plans so that we can eventually move the airlines from terminal two into terminal three.

Ted Simons: And expanding by how much in terms of the gates, double the size? Something along those lines?

Deborah Ostreicher: We don't know the exact plans yet, but you're right, we plan to add additional gates eventually, expand the security checkpoint lanes, and add food, beverage, and concessions.

Ted Simons: And eventually closing terminal two.

Deborah Ostreicher: Our ultimate plan is that terminal two, which is even older than terminal three, was constructed in the late 50's, early 60's, opened in 1962, it definitely is no longer the best terminal to serve one of America's busiest airports.

Ted Simons: If terminal two is closed, what happens to the structure? Does it stay, does it go?

Deborah Ostreicher: We don't have any plans for that yet. Our main focus at this time is to modernize terminal three so that it can meet the needs that we know this community desires, so there are no plans at this time to do anything other than move the airlines from terminal two into terminal three.

Ted Simons: Wasn't there, I seem to remember there being some expansion plans involving the west side, like a 33-gate, just a humongous plan that seemed to go away and now we're hearing about this. What's going on?

Deborah Ostreicher: You're absolutely right. Before the recession and before airlines began cutting capacity throughout the country and throughout the world, we did have plans for a new 33-gate terminal. But we want to be really smart and strategic on how we expand and build, so we can meet the needs of the community and now, today our best bet is to go with this plan. We still have another concourse we can expand in terminal four, because that was also built to expand. And in terminal three, right now that is the most strategic move for us, to modernize terminal three, and sometime in the future we could still build an additional terminal.

Ted Simons: In phases, this modernization of terminal three?

Deborah Ostreicher: It is. It's in phases because, again, we want to be very smart about how we do this, and prioritize. So the first area is going to be to expand the security checkpoints so that we have enough lanes to get through there. Anybody who's flown there in a busy time has seen it can get very busy at those security checkpoint lanes.

Ted Simons: This is on, so anybody who wants to see the plans can check this out. You're expanding security checkpoints, any idea how long that would take? Any idea what kind of disruption we're talking about?

Deborah Ostreicher: We're hoping to keep disruption to a minimum, as always. We'll do everything we can do make sure the airlines can continue to run efficiently, because that is very important of course. And also that passengers are comfortable as they move through the airport. So as far as timeline, we're looking at around five to seven years for all of these things we're talking about. But we'll know a lot more after we get through this design process over the next year.

Ted Simons: And the second phase was upgrading ticket counters and luggage carousels, drop-off zones?

Deborah Ostreicher: Exactly. We want to make sure efficiency and comfort is number one, and right now the way the terminal, which was designed in the 70's, it's not exactly the best terminal to meet the needs of the future. So we want to make sure we design the ticket counters, all of the processes, baggage claim and everything else, to best serve passengers in the future.

Ted Simons: And the third phase, final phase, beginning from the video we saw those gates, that's a lot of gates, is this -- It sounds more organic than that 33-gate big project before the recession on the west side. Is that the idea, to be able to adapt in case new forms of transportation, new forms of air travel, new forms of everything start popping up between now and then?

Deborah Ostreicher: I'm so glad you mentioned that. I know you keep hearing me say strategic, but we really need to be. You're right, the industry continues to change, and we want to be very thoughtful and careful about how we move through this. And strategic as we make these plans.

Ted Simons: Costs. General ideas? I know there's no firm plans, but what are you looking at?

Deborah Ostreicher: We don't know yet, but in today's dollars, we think it could be around $500 million over this many-year period as we do this designing. But we'll know more about that as we go through the process.

Ted Simons: Where would the money come from?

Deborah Ostreicher: Definitely no local tax dollars, no general fund. This is all through airport user fees, if you use the airport, we generate revenue there, and that's how we pay for everything we do.

Ted Simons: No general fund at all?

Deborah Ostreicher: No general fund at all.

Ted Simons: Retail, food, parking those things?

Deborah Ostreicher: Exactly.

Ted Simons: So what's next? We had that design-build plan, the preplan to the plan approved last night. What's next?

Deborah Ostreicher: Now we move forward with what we call a 30% moving forward. Where we can get a look at all of the three phases that you mentioned, so we can start to get an idea of exactly what we're talking about. The video you showed gave us an idea what we need to look for. Now we're going to get a little bit more into the trenches and figure out what does that really mean when we talk about expanding the security checkpoints?

Ted Simons: And last question here, again, we were talking about adaptability and being able to move the goalposts, if you will. With transportation, does Light Rail play a factor here? Does the Sky Train play a factor? How does that work its way in?

Deborah Ostreicher: Sky Train plays a huge factor, and as of April 8 it connects to Light rail so you can get to the airport through the station at 44th and Washington. By Super Bowl 2015 we'll have the Sky Train station open in terminal three, and you will be able to continue to walk a very convenient pathway to terminal two, and that will be the Sky Train, and it will go to all three terminals by 2015.

Ted Simons: OK. So even -- But you gotta think this expansion project should be started by Super Bowl 2015?

Deborah Ostreicher: Absolutely. The project will be started at that point, that's our expected time frame. But it will certainly not be finished by then, but the Sky Train will be open.

Ted Simons: Interesting stuff. All right. Good to have you here. Good information.

Deborah Ostreicher: Nice to see you, Ted.

Daylight Savings Time

  |   Video
  • Most of the nation will be switching to Daylight Savings Time Sunday. However, most of Arizona will not make the switch. Arizona State University climatologist Randy Cerveny will talk about why Arizona does not switch
  • Randy Cerveny - Climatologist, Arizona State University
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: climatology, arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Most of the nation will be changing clocks and watches to daylight savings time this Sunday, but most of Arizona will not make the switch. Arizona State University climatologist Randy Cerveny is here to talk about why Arizona does not fall back or spring forward. Good to see you again.

Randy Cerveny: Good to be here.

Ted Simons: Let's talk -- Give us -- Define some parameters. What is daylight savings time?

Randy Cerveny: Well, it's a concept that dates back all the way to Benjamin Franklin. It's the idea that by switching or clocks we can have more sunlight in the evening hours in the summertime so that we could do things like harvest, and we could play baseball games in the evening hours, that we wouldn't be able to do if the clocks weren't adjusted.

Ted Simons: And we wouldn't have to use lights for most of the country, thus electricity, once electricity was discovered. That was an energy saver.

Randy Cerveny: Right. That's why daylight savings was originally known as wartime. It was put forth in World War I as a way to save energy during the war. And it was reinstituted back in World War II as a way to save energy.

Ted Simons: So World War I is in place, after that it stops. World War II it's in place, then it stops. Were folks getting tired of the back and forth?

Randy Cerveny: Arizona never liked it. We got off it as soon as we possibly could but then it was mandated in the 1960s when the whole country would go on a single time standard. We tried it for a year and said no, we don't want it.

Ted Simons: And for obvious reasons. This is the one place where really in the summertime you don't need more daylight especially late in the day.

Randy Cerveny: Our high temperatures usually occur around 3-4 o’clock in the afternoon. If you go on daylight savings time those degrees would be at 4 and 5 o’clock in the evening and we would have hotter temperatures into the evening hours and we simply didn't want that.

Ted Simons: Now, in Arizona, Navajo reservation, no daylight -- Daylight or no? What are they doing?

Randy Cerveny: The Navajo reservation goes on daylight savings time. So they'll be coming off of it this weekend. The reason for that is because they span more than just Arizona. They also have Window Rock, New Mexico. So they want to be all on the same time. They didn't want Window Rock to be two hours different from the rest of the reservation. So they go on daylight savings time. The Hopi reservation, entirely in Arizona, is surrounded by the Navajo reservation, doesn't go to daylight savings time. So there are a number of pockets.

Ted Simons: You could go back and forth in time as you travel across the state.

Randy Cerveny: Some travelers when they go up to the Hopi reservation expect an open gas station, might find it's already closed or vice versa.

Ted Simons: Any other states? I thought Indiana for a while didn't follow daylight savings time.

Randy Cerveny: Until about 2006, there's a time zone that cuts through the middle of Indiana and they wanted to try to keep on the same time. So they -- up until 2006 said we're not going to do that, but now they do. So the whole state does go on daylight savings time. Really, the only other state other than Arizona that doesn't go on daylight savings time is Hawaii.

Ted Simons: I guess they're so close to the equator, it doesn't make that much difference.

Randy Cerveny: They're so -- Again, it's very important in terms of commerce that when you're flying from one place to another, you want to keep the clocks in a consistent manner.

Ted Simons: So you don't hear much controversy regarding daylight savings time anymore. Is it going to stay this way for a while do you think? Is something going to happen in the future where things will change? What are you seeing?

Randy Cerveny: There are a lot of companies that would absolutely love to have us go on daylight savings time. You had the person on from Sky Harbor, the airline industry would actually love us to go on daylight savings time, because they have to adjust all their schedules and take into account that we don't go on. So companies that do interstate commerce would like us to go on daylight savings time.

Ted Simons: In terms of energy consumption, to have us with another hour of daylight would be murder.

Randy Cerveny: Yeah. That's not a big concern here. It's just simply -- It would actually probably add to our bill because with the extra air conditioning in the evening hours.

Ted Simons: All right. So we'll look forward to that Sunday as we become part of the Rocky Mountain west instead of the West Coast, which is an interesting psychological thing. Real quickly, recently we have had dust storms, and not monsoon haboob kind of dust storms. Just blankets of dust, seems like the Picacho peak is a magnet for it. What's going on?

Randy Cerveny: That is a very deadly stretch, and the reason why, this was not our typical Arizona monsoon thunderstorms that we had this last week that caused the big accident. This was a cold front that came through. But the winds are right around Picacho and the mountains on the east side, they get funneled right through that road. And when you funnel in the winds, the winds can increase in speed. While the winds outside that little gap area were less than 35 miles an hour, nothing the weather service was concerned about, when they funnel in that area they picked up speeds to 50 or 60 miles an hour.

Ted Simons: Are these winds of a certain direction? Do they have to come from the southwest or the southeast to funnel up that way?

Randy Cerveny: I think they were coming in from the northwest and right through that gap. So they were funneled into a very narrow area that caused the winds to be concentrated into a much higher value than they would otherwise be.

Ted Simons: Are these dust storms, again, unlike what we see during the monsoon, the monsoon they just march, they're like a marching army moving north. Do these move, do they stay stagnant? What happens?

Randy Cerveny: This was associated with a cold front passage. As the cold front was coming through, and it's what's given us our nice cool weather, as it went through, then the dust storm falls apart very quickly. So it's not nearly as sustained, it's not going to reach all the way from Phoenix down to Tucson or Tucson to Phoenix. It's just going to fall apart.

Ted Simons: Which is one of those reasons why we didn't see anything happening here but we heard about stuff down there.

Randy Cerveny: Exactly.

Ted Simons: Because of those mountains you're talking about, is that a problem during the monsoon?

Randy Cerveny: It can be. As you say, that seems to be one of the big trouble areas. The other reason why that's such a big trouble area, it's open land. So when those winds blow over that land, it's very easy to pick up that dust. It's not been covered up with landscape or anything. So it's very, very dry stuff that can be picked up into a big dust storm.

Ted Simons: We've got about 30 seconds -- El Nino or La Nina? What do you think?

Randy Cerveny: Actually, it's neither. It's what we calling neutral phase. That makes it hard for us to predict a winter. Right now we're saying it's going to be a near normal winter.

Ted Simons: OK. So in other words, expect anything.

Randy Cerveny: Pretty much.

Ted Simons: All right. Randy, good to have you here.

Ted Simons: Friday on "Arizona Horizon," it's "The Journalists' Round Table." A referendum on a controversial state election law heads to next year's ballot. And a change in leadership for senate democrats leads to charges of racism and sexism. Those stories and more on "The Journalists' Round Table." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Food Stamp Cuts

  |   Video
  • More than one million Arizonans will be impacted by cuts starting November 1 in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps. Cynthia Zwick, executive director of Arizona Community Action Association, will talk about how the cuts will impact Arizonans.
  • Cynthia Zwick - Executive Director, Arizona Community Action Association
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: food stamps, arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Starting tomorrow, more than 1 million Arizonans will be impacted by cuts in the supplemental nutrition assistance program, otherwise known as food stamps. Joining me now is Cynthia Zwick, executive director of the Arizona Community Action Association. It's good to have you here. When we talk about food stamps, we hear food stamps, we hear SNAP, what is SNAP? One and the same?

Cynthia Zwick: They are the same program. SNAP is the new name for food stamps and it stand for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Ted Simons: And there was a temporary boost back in 2009. Correct?

Cynthia Zwick: There was. It was part of the stimulus that was the recovery act program, and there was a significant increase to the program at that time.

Ted Simons: And the concern now is that that temporary boost ends tomorrow.

Cynthia Zwick: It ends tomorrow, which means every individual who’s currently on food stamps in Arizona today or on the SNAP program, will see a reduction in the benefit they receive.

Ted Simons: And how many again in Arizona?

Cynthia Zwick: There's 1.1 million Arizonans on the SNAP program today, which is one of the highest numbers we've seen over time. And it is in direct response to a number of factors, but obviously coming out of the recession, more and more families are struggling, and enrolled in the program for help.

Ted Simons: Talk to us about kids. How many kids included in that and/or other numbers?

Cynthia Zwick: I don't have the exact number for the kids, but the households that are receiving SNAP, of those households, about 70% are seniors, children, and disabled families. So it's significant. About 50% of the enrollees are children.

Ted Simons: And about 109 or some-odd million cut from SNAP benefits to Arizona.

Cynthia Zwick: That's right.

Ted Simons: What does that mean to every person receiving the increased amount of food stamp money now, or the food stamps now? What were they getting, what are they getting now, what's going to happen tomorrow?

Cynthia Zwick: The average -- The program doesn't help a family completely feed it. It is supplemental, so it doesn't completely take care of food needs. Right now the average benefit on a monthly basis is $125. So what that really averages out to is about $4.19 a day, or $1.37 a meal. So what's going to happen at the end of this -- At the end of this day is tomorrow essentially a family of four will see a $36 cut, which works -- A month, which works out to 20 meals a month for that family. They're not no longer going to be able to purchase 20 meals.

Ted Simons: In terms of percent, 7-10%?

Cynthia Zwick: Yeah. It's about 7% I believe.

Ted Simons: So -- What are they based on? Is it just across the board? Household size? What goes on here?

Cynthia Zwick: The cut is essentially the reduction in the increase through the stimulus fund. So all of that is being wiped out. But they're doing it -- The percentage is based on the number of people in a home, or the number of people receiving food stamps in that home. So for a single person they're going to see an $11 reduction for a month. And up to the $36 for a family of four.

Ted Simons: What kind of assistance will be out there for these? Meals on wheels, food banks and those things?

Cynthia Zwick: So here's the difficulty. This is a first step in potential cuts. So if Congress enacts additional cuts through the Farm Act, Farm bill that's sometime pending in Congress, there could be additional cuts. The programs that are currently in place have seen reductions over time, and so they're really -- there are inadequate resources to feed these families. So people will turn to food banks, which are already struggling with capacity, and enough food to serve families. They'll be turning to charities, churches, they'll be turning to other resources. The reality is, though, that as the families in need continue to either grow or be sustained, the resources are being cut. So there will not be enough to go around.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the new farm bill. It sounds as though deeper cuts really are in the offing here. How much will they cut below the 2009 level before this temporary boost happened?

Cynthia Zwick: They're looking at cutting another $5 billion in the next fiscal year, and another 11 billion dollars for the next two years. So another $16 billion is going to be reduced from the current funding, which will significantly reduce, again, the number of people who are able to receive the benefit and the level of benefit that is available.

Ted Simons: What we're hearing from Washington, and these are arguments on the other side regarding SNAP and saying, first of all, this was a temporary boost because of the dire situation back in 2009, never meant to be permanent, it's time now to go ahead back to those levels or the farm bill dictates, even previous to that. What do you say?

Cynthia Zwick: I say that's going to create huge hardship for families across Arizona and across this country. Here's part of the problem. All of those families are that lost their jobs or became under employed during the recession are not fully employed. We still have an 8% unemployment rate in Arizona. They're making minimum wage or they're underemployed so they're not working full-time. Or they're working two part-time jobs but making minimum wage. So they still don't have the resources to support their families. And the SNAP program is intended to be a temporary program, and on average across the country, it's about a nine-month enrollment. In Arizona it's about two years now. So it's gone up because our economy has not completely recovered, there are still too many people that can't support their families and they’re still struggling to make ends meet.

Ted Simons: Once again, to give you an argument from the other side, that is that SNAP is -- I've heard this said, it's a disincentive for those who receive SNAP, it's a disincentive for those on food stamps to get a better job.

Cynthia Zwick: I don't agree with that. What I would say to those folks, these are hard-working people, working one or two jobs, most of the people on food stamps are employed. And it's $4 a day. I don't know that anybody is going to turn away a good job in order to reach the $4 a day supplement. But the other thing that's happened is, if folks are trying to go back to work, many of the support systems that are in place or had been in place in Arizona, things like child care, temporary assistance for needy families, emergency services, all of those funds have been cut. So there are a lot of barriers for people being able to get back to work fully, sustain their families without some support. And this program provides support. I’d also like to mention that for every $5 of SNAP money that comes into the state and is expended into this communicated, it's a return of about $9. So investment in that program really is a benefit to the economy ultimately.

Ted Simons: So as far as what you want to see done, do you want to see at least back to the 2009 levels? If not that, obviously you want to see this temporary increase stay until -- What parameters would make sense, OK, now we can roll this back? Because you got -- In D.C. they're looking for ways to roll back the budget.

Cynthia Zwick: I know they are. And I think part of the problem is they're looking for ways to roll back the budget on the backs of people who don't have the resources currently to support themselves. And so what we're asking for is that this money be restored after tomorrow. If that is not possible, we're asking for no future cuts to come along until the economy really turns around and people are able to sustain themselves and find work that can support their families. And we'll be able to see that, because this program is sort of countercyclical: as people begin to do better they'll fall off the rolls and the enrollment will drop. So during the recession we were seeing about 600,000 people, 500,000 people and it's climbed to the 1.1 million. So it's been direct response to a difficult situation.

Ted Simons: And we're still not seeing that ease off much at all?

Cynthia Zwick: We're not yet, in Arizona, seeing that ease off. We are seeing many -- We know things are starting to turn around or we're hearing things are starting to turn around in the housing market and other places, but I will tell you for poor families who are working at minimum wage and as I said, are underemployed, working part-time, they're not seeing a turnaround yet.

Ted Simons: Last question, as far as state lawmakers are concerned, and state leaders, what do you need to see regarding support services?

Cynthia Zwick: We need the restoration of funds to the safety net programs, and we need to see some policies and modifications in the public policy to support families getting back to work.

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

Cynthia Zwick: Thank you.