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January 27, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

  |   Video
  • Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton makes his monthly appearance on Arizona Horizon to discuss the latest issues in the city of Phoenix.
  • Greg Stanton - Mayor, Phoenix
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, arizona, phoenix, mayor, city, issues,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Attorney general Tom Horne has reportedly reached a settlement with a former employee who claims that Horne retaliated against her for her political leanings and initiating an FBI investigation of Horne. The Arizona Capitol Times reports that Margaret "Meg" Hinchey today reached an agreement in her $10 million suit against the state, and Horne is looking to settle separate allegations he illegally worked with an independent campaign committee. Well, once a month, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton joins us here on "Arizona Horizon" to discuss city issues, including tonight, some concerns about the budget and some good news regarding homeless Veterans. Here now is Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. Good to see you again.

Greg Stanton: Great to be back. We do this once a month, we should do it more often, it’s fun!

Ted Simons: We'll see if you feel that way after we are done. Acting city manager says we have 39 some odd million, give or take a third here or there. Deficit this fiscal year, what's going on?

Greg Stanton: This is part of the budget process, and early on the city manager presents the up to the minute budget situation, and last year, the budget estimates were that we thought this recovery was going to be faster than it is, as you know, and this recovery has been the slowest on record, and not just here in Phoenix but throughout the country. This recession hammered us, and the rest of the country in the worst economy since the great depression, and the recovery has been very, very slow, last year's budget estimates were based on a faster recovery, and the economy hasn't recovered as quickly as we would have liked, so, look, in my two years as Mayor, we dealt with some very, very difficult budget situations, and obviously, we did significant reform to the pension, and reformed pension spiking, as well, both the measures will save us $800 million over the next 20 to 25 years. We’ve balanced our budget every year, we have to focus in on efficiency, and we have got to focus on innovation and job creation, we will balance the budget and make the tough decisions like we do every year, again, I was hopeful that the economy would have approved more quickly -- and the budget situation would have been better than it is, but we have got to deal with reality the way it is.

Ted Simons: Are you surprised it's $39 million?

Greg Stanton: Well, look, the budget estimate was dependent on growth at 6% and came in a little over 4%, so it was about 2% lower, and that's a wider diversion than it should be. We need to make sure as we do our budget estimates, that and the reality come in as close as possible. I've been involved in city, city, city council since the year 2000, and normally, the budget office gets it almost exactly right. This year where there is a bit of divergence, again, it's all based upon the economic analysis coming from a variety of information sources. We have got to look back and see how can we do better in the future. In the meantime, we're going to be doing dozens of budget hearings, we're going to do it both live and in person, as well as online through social media, and we're going to make tough budget decisions but we're not going to do it without first hearing from the people in the City of Phoenix about what they want to see more of and what they want to see less of. At the same time, we're having ongoing negotiations, and with the labor groups representing many, many city employees, and so, we have to make sure that, that the budget realities are reflected in both those conversations but I'm not going to prejudge what the outcome will be other than I want to listen to the public before making a decision.

Ted Simons: The acting city manager report mentioned that slowing tax collections were greatly to blame and the city, this is a quote, sales tax collections lag state collections, why?

Greg Stanton: Well, first off, we are a bit behind as you know the way that they do the, the sales tax analysis through state share revenue. We have come behind in terms of the state share revenue from what the cities are, but separate and apart from that, we need to make sure that we offer in the City of Phoenix places to go and places to shop that people want to, to, to shop in, and look, we have been a high growth community with a lot of growth on the outskirts of town, a lot of development on the outskirts, that's the reality of Phoenix, Arizona. My job and the job of the council and those that care about the future of Phoenix is to make sure that areas inside the City of Phoenix, downtown areas, the Biltmore area, the Desert Ridge area, the Metros centers, which is revitalizing, Arrowhead mall, so many other malls within the city, they are doing as strong as possible in terms of sales and, and we have to do as much as we can to support those malls, as well.

Ted Simons: And services, will services be cut? Will they likely be cut? We got to 39 this year, and maybe 26-54 to next fiscal year? A possibility?

Greg Stanton: Well, I think that it's not likely, but I want to go through the public process, first and foremost. Look, we've been able to deal with much more significant budget deficits within the City of Phoenix and, and done so in a way that minimized any service cuts, and obviously, the number one thing that we want to do is to minimize any chances that it's going to hit police and fire and public safety, the core service that we provide at the city. So, I have a track record of success in that regard and I think this council does, of dealing with very, very difficult budget issues but do it in a way that minimizes cuts to our core city services, most especially, public safety.

Ted Simons: And Phoenix, the first U.S. city to house all chronically homeless vets. 222 off the streets since 2011. What's going on?

Greg Stanton: I made a commitment when I became Mayor that ending homelessness would be one of my top priorities, for many years I was chair of the of the continuum of care, which is the region-wide advocacy group to end homelessness, and the President of the United States challenged cities, big cities across the country, to try to be the first to really work hard to end chronic homelessness among the Veteran population, and obviously it's one of the great shames of, of this country, so many Veterans that served us served us well and even in combat positions, that they, themselves, have come back to the United States of America and fallen on hard times, including being homeless, and we have got to do more, and that's what Phoenix did. Not just the City of Phoenix, but what I would say Phoenix, I mean, the city, business leaders, through the Valley of the Sun United Way, and nonprofit leaders, through great nonprofits like Community Bridges, which go out and try to get the Veterans to, to, to build a trust relationship with them so they get of off the streets and into a housing situation, and working with the housing providers, and the county and the faith community, and we have all come together to work on this important cast, and because we worked with such a team effort and focus to get the job done, yes, Phoenix was the first in the country to end chronic homelessness among the Veteran population, and our friends in Salt Lake City, Mayor Becker, a friend of mine, finished second, and right about the same time. And that's why the President was so complimentary of, of both cities, and here's the trick. You have got to make sure that you are not just providing a roof over the Veteran's head. But also, provide them the support services to treat what ales them. Maybe it's maybe mental health treatment, maybe it's substance abuse treatment, whatever is causing their homelessness, make sure that, that you provide services so that you can break the cycle of homelessness. And that was the stretch called housing first. That was the strategy that we employed and by doing so, we have a 94% success rate. Meaning when we get someone off the streets and in housing, there is a very small likelihood that they are going to end up on the streets, housing first works and that's why we are doing it.

Ted Simons: Indeed, and housing first provides homes even if some folks still have the problem with drugs and drink with the idea being to get them housed you get to attack those problems easier than if they are not housed. With that in mind, vouchers from the Federal Government. How much of a factor in terms of the effort?

Greg Stanton: A huge factor. The stimulus program put many more housing vouchers available to us and we chose to make housing Veterans, those that had served us, in military and in some cases combat situation, we chose to make Veterans our highest priority, so the availability of housing was a huge force. Look, the chronically homeless Veterans that we served, the over that we found housing for, had been on the streets an average of eight years. And many were abusing drugs and alcohol. We know that just putting a roof over the head is not going to be the cure all. You have got to provide them treatment and you have to give them a second chance if they occasionally abuse. We know that the chances of them breaking that cycle are highest if they have more certainty that they are going to continue to have a roof over the head and the support services so they can break the cycle of homelessness, and that's what we are trying to do.

Ted Simons: That treatment, that care, that effort, let's dovetail back to the first topic. How much when you see a deficit projected for the next fiscal year, do you look at those services? The impact, what do you see?

Greg Stanton: Let me tell you something, the good news is, is that ending chronic homelessness is not just the right social policy, it's the right thing for our fellow human beings that have fallen on hard time. My opinion, and my belief, from the bottom of my heart is but for the grace of God go you or I, they could be you or I on the streets if our lives spiral out of contorl, but it's not just the right thing to do for fellow human beings, it's good economic policy. Study after study shows that finding a solid, consistent housing, safe housing for people, and the medical treatment that they need is a lot cheaper than spending so much time in the emergency rooms. It's four times more expensive than to provide them that than solid housing, so it's not just good social policy but good economic policy, it the right thing to do.

Ted Simons: Last question, we'll tie it all together. We’ve got the Vice President giving you a shot out there at the national conference of Mayors and we talked about the deficit as far as that is concerned. How do you see growth -- you talked about the fact that the sales tax collections are down. Ok. The growth rate is not what it was expected. It can be better. How do you make it better?

Greg Stanton: Our focus, our number one focus as it has been in my two years in office, and will continue to be for however long I am lucky enough to serve as Mayor of the City of Phoenix, is the right kind of job creation. What worked in the past, where we relied on growth, we almost atrophied in a way. We relied on it and thought that was going to be the fix to the economic issues. And I think that we were overly reliant on this. We need to focus on building the right kind of economy and jobs, which means that we need to get more of our young people graduating college, we need to increase the college attainment rate if we are going to be competitive for science-based jobs, and engineering and mathematics. We have to do a better job of having an increased college graduation rate, which what happens at the legislature at the University funding, is important for the future of cities, we need to make sure the best and brightest young people stay here in Phoenix to have their lives and careers and make sure that we are attracting entrepreneur that is will create the jobs of the future here, and which means, we need to have not only a competitive tax policy and programs that can compete but also, we need great neighborhoods, and great arts and culture, and things like, like multi-modal transaction and not just light rail but biking and a more walkable city. All the things that make us competitive as people have choices as to where they want to live. It's what's going to build the economy of the future. And that's why I champion those things as Mayor of Phoenix.

Ted Simons: All right, Mayor, good to see you again and thanks for joining us. Always.

Greg Stanton: I love it, thank you.

SB1070 Film

  |   Video
  • The PBS show “Independent Lens” has produced a film titled “The State of Arizona,” which takes a look at the controversy of Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona from all sides. Hear from those who lived through the SB1070 roller coaster ride as they reflect on the nearly four years that have passed since the bill was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. State Senator Steve Gallardo, Republican Representative John Kavanagh and pollster Bruce Merrill discuss SB1070 and how it impacted our state.
  • Steve Gallardo - State Senator
  • John Kavanagh - Republican Representative
  • Bruce Merrill - Pollster
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, arizona, republican, representative, sb1070, state, pbs, independent lens,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: It's been almost four years since SB-1070 set off a national firearm over illegal immigration. It is the focus of the independent lens, which looks at the issue from all sides. We hear now from those who lived through the SB-1070 controversy. Joining us is democratic state Senator Steve Gallardo, and Republican representative John Kavanagh, and poller Bruce Merrill. Thank you very much for joining us, and we're on here at 5:30 and again at 10, so we're sandwiched around the program. SB-1070, how much is Arizona still defined by this?

Steve Gallardo: A lot. A lot. You look at what is still remaining in terms of SB-1070. The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a portion of it, but the one issue that drives this debate is the section 2-b, and that is the, show me your paper, portion of SB-1070. I think that that's the, the one portion of, of SB-1070 that we would like to see gone. And I think that it's one of the worst parts of legislation passed by the Arizona State legislature, and it has cast a black cloud over the State of Arizona and will take us forever to, to get out from underneath. It has hurt Arizona's reputation, and it's something that should be, should be repealed, and if it's not, I can tell you right now, eventually it will be found unconstitutional, under the 4th and 5th amendment, and you will see the U.S. Supreme Court strike the rest of it down.

Ted Simons: Four years later, are we still -- obviously, the arguments are there and the court cases continue but are we defined in many ways by SB-1070?

John Kavanagh: Well, I think so. The fact that we refer to it by the bill number, as opposed to its name, shows the monumental effect it had on the U.S. But, by the way, I take issue with most of it being found unconstitutional. There are actually 12 segments of SB-1070, seven of them were found constitutional, and three of them not constitutional, and those were like wishes about forcing Federal law, and two are still up in the air. And the, the so-called police questioning one, which was the heart and soul, and the sanctuary city ban, those were found to be constitutional. So, overall, it fared quite well.

Ted Simons: I think the criticism would be the meat of the bill still is not in place, and is still a question mark.

John Kavanagh: The meat of the bill was, the meat of the bill was the section which had police asking people if they had suspicion about their status and the ban on sanctuary bills, and both of those are in effect.

Ted Simons: Do you agree with that?

Steve Gallardo: Well, there is portions of SB-1070 that the Supreme Court did, did go ahead and let it go into effect. Those were not concerned with, when you start cleaning up language, we're not concerned with that, what we are concerned with is section 2-b. That's where the Supreme Court said come back and prove to us that this is racially profiling, and that we are detaining people, that is in violation of the section of the constitution, and show us where, where it is unconstitutional. Come back and, and indicate, and that's what is happening right now.

John Kavanagh: And they allowed it to continue because they could not have a facial challenge, and it's very hard to prove that there was a conspiracy of racism by the legislature. SB-1070 is the law --

Steve Gallardo: And, and I can tell you right now, eventually, it is on life support, section 2-b is on life support, it's only a matter of time before the Supreme Court says it's a violation of the 14th amendment.

Ted Simons: And now, it's either on life support, or it's alive and well. That's just here at the table and here in the state. In general, in America, around the world, is Arizona defined by SB-1070?

Bruce Merrill: I think that it is. It's hard to separate, however, just, just the bill by itself without talking about Joe Arpaio. I mean, when you go around the country, people really think first of Joe Arpaio and the enforcement provisions, and what's happened with the Justice Department. So, I think that, that, that there is no question that people know about Arizona, in terms of the bill, and I think that, that unfortunately, they tend to see it in a very negative light here in Arizona, that we're, we're a very harsh state, that we're, we discriminate against people unfairly and as I say, it's hard to separate SB-1070 without talking about Joe Arpaio.

Ted Simons: Has that image changed over the years? Was it like that initially and now four years later, is it easy?

Bruce Merrill: No, you know, I think that, that it's about the same. It depends on what's happening in the media. I mean, it's there. But, when the media really covers it, people get more excited about it. It's kind of like putting heat underneath boiling water.

John Kavanagh: I don't think it's a bad thing that we're defining it that way. At the time, the polling showed that, that the support was in the 60% level, and the opposition was in the 30s, and I just googled it today, and there was a, the Phoenix Business Journal reported a poll that, that was done in 2010, June 2012, rather, not too long ago, and 52% of the people said that they still like SB-1070, and 11% said that we should have a tougher law, so again, you see the two-thirds for and one-third against, so, if that defines us, the country loves us because this is a wildly popular bill.

Ted Simons: Great thing for Arizona. You agree?

Steve Gallardo: Not at all. The fact is, two years ago, there were business leaders that came together, signed a letter to the state legislature, and asking us to stop this attack or this, this is to, to stop the immigration of, of legislation there at the capitol because it was hurting the image of Arizona and business and tourism. We continue to suffer. Who is going to want to move their business to the State of Arizona? Knowing that we had this cloud of controversy? So, does it hurt the State of Arizona and our image? You bet. And I think that as long as we continue to try to push this type of legislation, it's going to continue to hurt us. You have 60 business leaders that agree.

Ted Simons: Are you saying no bad effects on business? No bad effects on tourism?

John Kavanagh: No, what I'm saying is, that it was wildly popular with the public, it is still wildly popular, and my job title as, is representative so I have to represent, and I agree, I agree with the law, also, but beyond that, who opposed SB-1070? You had some liberal media people, especially people in the entertainment industry, and you had a number of liberal academics, and especially with some of their, the associations which refused to come here. And although, certain conventions didn't come or plan to come here in the first place, and you did have some business leaders who were worried. We did lose a certain amount of tourist business, I don't deny that, but a lot of that was because of the opponents of SB-1070. In that one week between when we passed it, and when the Governor signed it, there was a full court press, especially by the Arizona Republic but other opponents, which distorted the bill, which lied about it, and said, it allowed for the swooping up of people because they were Hispanic, the whole country believed it because the legitimate newspapers were reporting this, and that's what turned people off. Although, a quick point. Even when people thought it was a license to racially profile, which is not, it was still polling in the 60% range.

Ted Simons: Wildly popular here, and popular around the country. Agree?

Bruce Merrill: No. John is right, it's up to two years ago, it was about 60-40 in favor of the bill. And but again, it's, in the eyes. Average voter out there, it's hard to separate this out from the border issue and for what to do with people that are in the country illegally, and I can tell you this from my own polling, that, that people in Arizona really distinguish between those two issues. 85% of the people in Arizona believe that we should have a stronger border presence. And to prevent illegal immigration coming across. But the interesting thing, particularly with the censure of John McCain this last week, two out of every three Arizonans favor John McCain's earned path to citizenship. In two out of every three Arizonans support giving the young people that were brought here illegally, a path, immediately to citizenship.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, do you see, um, opinions of SB-1070 over the past four years changing?

Steve Gallardo: Yes, well, first of all, I think when you start talking about, about Mr. Kavanagh's polling, I think you are looking at frustration. A vast majority of people wanted something done and wanted Congress to get off their hineys and do something, and I think you are seeing it now. You are seeing Senator John McCain and Senator Flake being part of this gang of 8, moving comprehensive immigration reform. And the vast majority, including myself, want Congress to do something. That's what you are seeing in the polling. They want Congress to resolve this immigration issue and not allow the state to continue to push legislation that, that continues to divide the state and continues to, to polarize the capital and continues to put a black cloud in the State of Arizona. We don't need SB-1070, were he need Congress to do their job.

John Kavanagh: Two points, I'm not prepared to dismiss polls that very explicitly say, do you like SB-1070, and there is wild approval for it as being misguided or confused. I don't think that that's true. But, beyond that, you know, this is talk that the ground swell of support for immigration reform, when you had a democratic Congress, House and Senate, and a democratic President, they could not pass immigration reform because once you bring it to the edge, the people realize what's happening, and they revolt against this type of amnesty. So, I don't think that it's as popular and I think that, that -- I don't think that the reform is not popular and I think that SB-1070 still is.

Ted Simons: And the Senate has a plan right now. It is going nowhere in the house. So, obviously, something is happening on Capitol Hill.

John Kavanagh: Well, there’s always nibbling around the edges but when it gets close and the grassroots say see what's going on, they start making calls and then come back off. They have always done it.

Bruce Merrill: I would caution us to look at -- there is often a difference between the average guy out there. It's very complex. They don't understand the details. There is often a difference between the elected officials, who tend to get elected in the primaries, and intend to have stronger, more polarized views on this than the average guy out there. And I can tell you, there is a big difference in Arizona on that, among the average person, compared with the people in the legislature.

Ted Simons: Let's go around the table here, how will historians look back, 50 years from now on SB-1070?

Steve Gallardo: That it was the worst piece of legislation ever passed by the State of Arizona, is a piece of legislation that, that has put a black cover over the State of Arizona, that has ruined our reputation, it really has. And this is something that has been very polarizing, and particularly, to a large growing Latino population in the State of Arizona, and I think this would be looked at as the one bill that has, has mobilized and, and energized the community, to get involved politically, to get involved at the election time, and run for office, and I think that this is what you are going to see in Arizona, the Latino community will come out in force.

Ted Simons: 50 years from now what do you think?

John Kavanagh: It's hard to go five years down the road much less 50.

Ted Simons: Give it a try.

John Kavanagh: I would say this. You know. You look at historians and the more traditional school history books and they have to be politically correct. And most of the books, conservatives are not too thrilled with so I think among those who are not and write pure books for whoever wants to buy it, people tend to be conservative, will look, well on it and those who are liberal will look bad, but, you know, if you look bad, on SB-1070, if you look -- if you look bat on immigration laws, and the same thing. SB-1070 was simply saying local police enforce Federal law. If, if SB-1070 is racist, so is the Federal immigration law, and neither are racist in my opinion.

Ted Simons: 30 seconds. What will the future historians say about this bill?

Bruce Merrill: I don't really -- I can't see that it's a very positive thing, but I don't think that it's negative. We're going to have -- the media has a short half life, and there is going to be other crises and they are going to forget all about this one somewhere.

Ted Simons: Oh, my goodness we have got something more controversial?

Bruce Merrill: I'm sure we will.

Ted Simons: Great discussion, and good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.