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December 19, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

ADL Director Bill Straus

  |   Video
  • Bill Straus, the Arizona Regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, is stepping down from his position at the end of this year after 13 years at the helm. Straus looks back at his years running the Arizona ADL, including the murder of Mesa gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi days after the 9-11 attacks.
  • Bill Straus - Arizona Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League
Category: Community   |   Keywords: community, culture, Arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. For the past 13 years, Bill Straus has served as the Arizona regional director of the antidefamation league. In that time Straus has been visible, vocal, and persistent in fighting against bigotry and for civil rights. Bill Straus is leaving his post at the end of the year. He joins us now. Good to see you again.

Bill Straus: It's always good to see you. I love those adjectives.

Ted Simons: You better, we don't throw them around here lightly.

Bill Straus: No, you don't.

Ted Simons: You're stepping down, why?

Bill Straus: Short attention span. Thirteen years is about as long as I've ever lasted in any of my careers. And it's just time. You get that feeling, and when you get the feeling, I've done it twice before, it's good to act on it. So I'm going to step down, take a deep breath, and see what is next.

Ted Simons: When you took this job to begin with, 13-some-odd years ago, what did you expect and looking back now, did that come to fruition?

Bill Straus: Well, I was coming out of the radio business, and I expected it would have a huge media component. That I would be the face and the voice of an organization that I believed in. And I certainly embraced the mission of -- It became a lot more. There was a time when I remember driving home and thinking to myself, is it possible that I've bitten off more than I can chew? I haven't had that thought very often in my life. But I gotta tell you, there were many more times I got in my car at the end of a day and said to myself, thank god I'm in this position.

Ted Simons: Those times when you thought it might have been getting a little bit too much, what were those times?

Bill Straus: 9-11, you know, ADL, the mission stop to -- The defamation of Jewish people -- 9-11 had a double edge to it. Immediately Jews were blamed for 9-11 in the Middle East, but here in America too, 9-11 prompted -- There was an outburst of patriotism at the same time, we saw groups beginning to form, again, en masse.

Ted Simons: And that has -- The hate crime landscape, let's put it that way, from then to now, obviously we've seen a lot of -- And near Arizona we've seen far too much. Talk to us about what you've seen, how it's changed, how it's developed.

Bill Straus: Well, the big picture?

Ted Simons: Yes.

Bill Straus: Here's somebody that can really appreciate this. Thirteen years ago, debate had a purpose. When you debated, somebody learned, somebody was able to teach, and you were able to exchange those roles. Also, the purpose of debate seemed to arrive at some kind of truth. Today debate isn't productive like that. Debate is all about being right. It doesn't matter what the truth is. And learning and teaching is very little. Very little component of debate in the current world.

Ted Simons: Is that frustrating for you?

Bill Straus: Very. Very frustrating. I enjoy debate my whole life. Now I find it to be extremely frustrating.

Ted Simons: How did we get there? Why is this happening? We see this all the time here on "Arizona Horizon," we try to get elevated discussion, and responsible debate, and I think we do a pretty good job of it, but overall, no one is listening anymore.

Bill Straus: You do a better job than almost everybody. I think one of the problems is, people want easy answers. They want black and white solutions. When ADL issues a position on something, I will always get blowback. Always negative feedback. I've said to myself, nobody can be unhappy with this. I get a phone call in five minutes. The reason is, most of our positions are somewhat nuanced. The ADL lens doesn't show us a world that's black and white. There's lots of -- I used to hate when my mother would say to me, after I got in trouble at school, you've got to recognize there is gray area in the world. It's not all black and white. Like so other things, she was exactly spot-on.

Ted Simons: When you're speaking on panels and at forums, when you were speaking, and when you will continue to speak, what do you emphasize?

Bill Straus: That's a great question. In my role at ADL, I have been able to emphasize something that I really embrace. And that is that all of us have a value. And all of us are pretty much made up of the same DNA. And rather than looking at differences between you and me as an obstacle, which is a lot of people still do, I've been able to really look at it as an opportunity and seize the opportunity and that's a blessing. That's been one of the highlights of 13 years.

Ted Simons: We talked about debate, public debate. When you were speaking at these forums and panels, do you ever look out there and see some eyes widen, brighten, change? Do you think -- Do you know when you're connecting with folks?

Bill Straus: Yes. And it's the biggest difference between what I do now and radio. Because radio, you never know if you're making the connection. I would get phone calls, and that would be an indicator. But you see it in their faces. But I've done presentations, we did a presentation at the legislature in 2008, where we did three hours on vigilantes, and extremism at the border. We highlighted J.T. Ready, J.T. was in the audiences. We highlighted Chris Simcox. He was in the audience. Looking at groups that have that -- People that have that look, if they could kill you, they would. And that was the feeling I got. That's never fun. And that was always unsettling.

Ted Simons: All right. Let me give you some names, and just a brief response.

Bill Straus: Sure. I used to do this with Barry Goldwater.

Ted Simons: Did you really?

Bill Straus: He was better at I than I.

Ted Simons: You're probably better at it than I am, let's do it anyway. J.T. Ready.

Bill Straus: One of the worst individuals on my radar. He was on my radar, I think the first week at ADL. I was on his radar. That was troubling. But what was really troubling about J.T. was the fact that he was almost able to cross over from that extremist fringe into mainstream politics.

Ted Simons: Russell Pearce.

Bill Straus: Russell Pearce, I met with him one day for an hour and a half. What you see is what you get. That's the good side of Russell. He's denied many things about that meeting ever since. So -- And that's not the only incident of his disingenuousness.

Ted Simons: Joe Arpaio.

Bill Straus: There's an enigma. I've always said, Joe has a very charming side. When people ask me, how is he still popular? He's got a very charming side. I don't think Joe is ever got in this immigration thing for any reason other than the publicity that accompanied it.

Ted Simons: Balbir Singh Sodhi.

Bill Straus: Oh, my god. I never knew Balbir, he was shot four days after 9-11. We reached out to the Sikh community, and I became so enmeshed in that community and particularly the Sodhi family. I said to a family member, I lost my only brother, how knew. And I'm still unforgiving. You seem to be forgiving. He disregarded my comment and said, you lose brother, I lose brother. We'll be brothers. He has introduced me ever since as his brother, his big brother Bill.

Ted Simons: Isn't that something?

Bill Straus: Unbelievable.

Ted Simons: One last name here. Bill Straus.

Bill Straus: You want me to comment on myself?

Ted Simons: Of course I do.

Bill Straus: Throw humility out the window. I think that anybody who knows me knows that I will always shoot straight. I will tell the truth even when it hurts me.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, what are you going to tell your successor at the ADL?

Bill Straus: You gotta make relationships in this town, in any town. It's not just a job of process. It's a job of people. And if you mobilize the people, if you engage and touch emotionally those people that you're working with, it's a pretty tough team to beat, and I've always believed we were on the right side of things.

Ted Simons: So with that in mind, are you encouraged about Arizona's future?

Bill Straus: Oh, I am.

Ted Simons: Why?

Bill Straus: I tell people all the time, and I've told my kids for years, there are more good guys than bad guys. And if there weren't, I would lose hope. The fact is, I've talked to people on an ongoing basis who have plans for the future. I just met your next guest, Scott. He was explaining to me what he's going to talk about. It is so far over my head, but it is so encouraging to hear someone like that who has worked so long, so hard on a project that's going to do so much good. There's lots of that going on. We just aren't all aware of it all the time.

Ted Simons: Were there ever times in the last years where you did lose hope? For the state and its future.

Ted Simons: I think right after 1070 was signed by the governor was my lowest moment. And -- My lowest moment. And what resulted from that moment was a galvanizing of a team I've never known many of the people I met as a result of 1070. The Latino community -- We always -- I grew up here. We always had Latino leaders with a voice. The Latino community itself found its voice as a result of 1070. And it's gratifying. We have communities finding their voice all the time. The gay community, the transgender community, these are communities that are finding their voice now, and to watch it is tremendously satisfying.

Ted Simons: We're going to hear you voice back on radio any time soon?

Bill Straus: I got some ideas that I think might be good for radio, yeah.

Ted Simons: All right. Bill, congratulations, it was quite a run there, and you made some headlines and you made the good headlines and fought the good kind of fight. It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Bill Straus: Have me back.

Ted Simons: I think I will.

Bill Straus: Thanks, Ted.

All About Time Clock Repair

  |   Video
  • An Arizona man has a rare talent and intense passion for fixing clocks. Frank Beaudrot has spent decades bringing family heirlooms back to life. His shop is filled with a variety of clocks -grandfathers, mantles, and cuckoos- some dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. In special cases, Beaudrot even makes house calls.
  • Frank Beaudrot - All About Time Clock Repair
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, arizona, clocks, fixing, family, repairs,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: In this time of smartphones, tablets, and Google glasses, some might think a clock that tells time is a little out of sync. But producer Christina Estes and photographer Steven Snow found a place in Phoenix where clocks are king.

Man: I'm Gary, we talked on the phone.

Christina Estes: It's a story with a familiar ring.

Man: It still runs but it's not chiming properly.

Man: It's a family heirloom.

Christina Estes: Frank Beaudrot's clock repair shop is full of heirlooms.

Frank Beaudrot: These were made in the s, perhaps a little older.

Christina Estes: He's surrounded by timekeepers. There are grandfather clocks, mantle clocks, anniversary clocks.

Frank Beaudrot: They call it an anniversary clock because you wind it only once a year. And many people choose an anniversary or birthday as their reminder date.

Christina Estes: And yes --

Frank Beaudrot: When I hear that it reminds me of my granddaughter who goes nuts when she hears the cuckoo clock.

Christina Estes: When you see so many impressive clocks like this French one dating back to the 1700s --

Frank Beaudrot: It’s quite characteristic was the fact they had a stamped brass face. And you can see how thin it is. And the elaborate pendulum that was common for the French clocks.

Christina Estes: You might think Frank is a huge collector. But it's not their designs that draw him in. [chiming clocks] It's their trouble.

Frank Beaudrot: There's a sense of satisfaction that comes with being able to take something that's broken and fix it. I have my magnifier hood, and what I'm doing is polishing the pivots on the ends of the gears that come out of the clock.

Christina Estes: The most common repair he tackles is an overhaul. He takes the entire clock apart, cleans each piece, then repairs and replaces parts. Sometimes Frank makes the pieces himself before putting them all back together. There are times Frank says, when a repair may cost twice the clock's value.

Frank Beaudrot: We tell them that. Unless this is something you have a lot of attachment to, if this was grandma’s clock that was handed down to you, it doesn't make sense to put money into it.

Christina Estes: It makes sense to this customer.

Man: Do whatever we need to do as far as maintenance.

Christina Estes: Sometimes what Frank needs to do is step away.

Frank Beaudrot: I'll run into a glitch with a clock once in a while, all clock makers do no matter how much they know and how experienced they are, will run into a problem, and we'll have one that doesn't want to behave. And it will throw us for a loop. And so we'll put it aside, I'll put it aside for a day or two sometimes, and come back to it and all of a sudden, I've hit it. And it works.

Christina Estes: Time is not on Frank's side. He says he handles about 1,000 repairs a year. Providing an estimate takes three to four weeks while a major fix takes about six months.

Frank Beaudrot: I have approximately I would say about 50 clocks in the queue right now to be completely overhauled.

Christina Estes: He does all the work himself, even makes house calls, squeezing in seven or eight stops in one day.

Frank Beaudrot: Have you to be efficient. You have to be efficient. If we're not, time is money as they say, and so -- [chiming clock]

Christina Estes: After four decades, Frank has spent time enough around clocks that he ignores them at home.

Frank Beaudrot: I don't have them wound up. I don't keep them running. I just listen to them all day long here and I don't need to be listening to clocks when I get home. So I keep them all turned off.

Christina Estes: Frank says business has grown over the past decade, even during the recession.

Frank Beaudrot: They don't want to throw away and buy new, because it is still expensive to buy new items, and people don't have the money. They would rather put money into repairing or restoring their existing clocks.

Christina Estes: And he's happy to keep fixing them. Frank says it's not yet his time to retire. [chiming clocks]

Ted Simons: Frank especially likes fixing tower clocks. He enjoys getting outside and climbing 50 to 60 feet to work on them.

Friday on "Arizona Horizon" it's "The Journalists' Round Table." The state Supreme Court gives the OK for higher campaign contribution limits, and the latest on investigations into child protective services. That's on the "The Journalists' Round Table."

That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

AZ Technology and Innovation: Mesa Technology Accelerator

  |   Video
  • LaunchPoint, the Mesa Technology Accelerator, plans to stimulate the establishment and growth of small technology-based companies and other growth oriented businesses. It’s a collaboration between Mesa and Arizona State University. Mesa City Councilmember Scott Somers talks about LaunchPoint.
  • Scott Somers - Councilmember, Mesa City
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: technology, innovation, mesa, arizona, asu, accelerator,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: In tonight's focus on Arizona technology and innovation, we look at a new tech accelerator that was announced in Mesa yesterday. It's called LaunchPoint, and it's a collaboration between Mesa and ASU. The goal is to stimulate the establishment and growth of small tech-based companies and other growth-oriented businesses, and for more we welcome Mesa city councilman, Scott Somers. Thanks for joining us.

Scott Somers: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: What is LaunchPoint?

Scott Somers: LaunchPoint is a technology accelerator, and what we are focusing on are small businesses that are looking at technology as their main business, and they -- they're transitioning from the idea board into the marketplace. And we're going to provide them with some assistance.

Ted Simons: When you say a technology accelerator, we've done these shows before, an accelerator means you got the wheel rolling, we'll help you accelerate.

Scott Somers: That's exactly what that means. It's one step beyond an incubator, which helps build ideas. The accelerator helps take those ideas and market them.

Scott Somers: How do you do that?

Scott Somers: Well, you do that with a lot of support from the University who has a great business school, we have consultants that will help work in information technology, human resources, we have some in finance, we'll help them set up financing with angel financing, because that's one of the biggest obstacles of going to market, trying to find that financing.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, getting access to capital, seems like every time we talk about small businesses and ventures, the whole nine yards, getting that access to capital is major.

Scott Somers: And you've heard that from a lot of great guests. I know Barry Barry Broome is with the greater Phoenix economic council, has talked about one of the areas Arizona struggles with are those venture capitals, the angel funding, the folks who will provide the financing so that these innovative ideas can turn into small businesses and jobs.

Ted Simons: Providing guidance, insight, support by way of consultants. Who are these consultants?

Scott Somers: Well, they're consultants who are experts in their field. I mentioned a few, not by name, but information technology, human resources, business plan development, and marketing. Marketing is important for these businesses to get their name out there and let people know what their products are.

Ted Simons: Trouble-shooting big factor too.

Scott Somers: Trouble-shooting is a tremendous factor, sure.

Ted Simons: How do you decide what kind of company to help accelerate? Is there a decision process? Is there a winnowing process?

Scott Somers: There are a lot of types of incubators, accelerators. And you can have multiple accelerators in the community. Chandler has a fantastic one on the price corridor. What we did when we were looking at this idea is we looked at what it was our community wanted to focus on. What were our economic goals, what were our strengths? And in Mesa and around the gateway airport, and with ASU's Polytechnic campus, what rose to the top were high-tech businesses. Those -- The small businesses that really need a hand up.

Ted Simons: And this is located across the street from the airport.

Scott Somers: It's in a wonderful place. I've been to a lot of business accelerators in researching this project, and I found that some of them were located near an airport. Many of them were attached to a university, some of them even had a foreign trade zone or military reuse zone over the area they were located. None of them had all of that right on top of each other and that's what we have at the Phoenix-Mesa gateway airport.

Ted Simons: How long did it did -- Get this idea going from hey, let's do this to, hey, it's a done deal?

Scott Somers: It -- Longer than you would think. It's been about seven years. And it's been seven years because there's some complexities. Not only do we have all these strengths of the former military base and the reuse zone, the foreign trade zone, but there's also that intergovernmental red tape that comes with that. But while it took a long time to come to fruition, what didn't take a long time was for people to recognize the vision. And that this was a good idea. Everybody from Barry Broome to President Crowe to our staff and the mayor of Phoenix said -- Excuse me, mayor of Mesa, mayor of Phoenix too, said what a great place for this.

Ted Simons: So we're talking about launching LaunchPoint, which is, there's also something called landing pad. What is that?

Scott Somers: That is probably something for another show.

Ted Simons: OK, all right.

Scott Somers: We're going to let that one go.

Ted Simons: It sounds like the idea of -- You're not ready for LaunchPoint, sounds like it could be an incubator thing.

Scott Somers: It could be an incubator -- One of the things -- One of the ideas that is unique about this is that LaunchPoint itself is going to be a physical place, a physical presence. So we're going to take those high-tech companies, we're going to locate them in the accelerator, but there are going to be other ideas, or maybe even some technology ideas that aren't ready to locate there but could really use the assistance. So we're going to extend those services through virtual technology to other parts of our state. So this -- In some ways it's not just a Mesa centric idea, it is a regional, even state-wide idea.

Ted Simons: And thus a launch pad for those not ready for LaunchPoint. The idea is to grow tech business to create jobs. How do you know it's going to work?

Scott Somers: Well, I would say when you look at accelerators and incubators, they've been tremendously successful everywhere. I would also admit not every idea would work. But knowing what I know about these accelerators and what I've learned over these past seven years, I think this idea is going to work splendidly. Will every company that we bring in succeed? Probably not. But if we can help one or two or ten or 150 companies build and locate in the valley, potential for hundreds of high-tech jobs, high-wage jobs, and that's really our goal. The goal for the gateway area is 100,000 high-wage jobs. In order to accomplish that, we need every tool in the toolbox we can get, and this idea is going to help.

Ted Simons: Last question, those of us who have been here a while think of Mesa as a quiet place, not a heck of a lot happening, a quaint main street and let's go take a nap. Mesa has changed a lot here in the last decade or so, even less time than that. What's going on out there?

Scott Somers: New visions. Fresh leadership. New ideas. And I think you have city management and city council who aren't afraid to fail from time to time and take a risk. And our voters, our residents have seen that, and they're willing and ready to take the risk too because they're investing in the infrastructure, the bonds that pay for sewer and water, and streets that is necessary to grow the businesses out there. And not only that, it's a regional approach. The mayors of Gilbert, the mayor in Chandler, I said it before, the mayor of Phoenix have been involved in how do we take the Mesa gateway area, the airport, which is in Mesa, but it's a regional, it's a community asset. And everybody's involved.

Ted Simons: Well, congratulations on this, good luck with it. It's good to have you here.

Scott Somers: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Scott Somers: Thank you very much.