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April 7, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Museum of Natural History

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Museum of Natural History has been operating in Mesa since the 1970s, exhibiting tens of thousands of scientific and nature objects and photographs. More than 1 million people have visited since 2000. We’ll take you on a video tour of the museum.
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: the arts, arizona, museum, natural, history, tour, exhibit,

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Ted Simons: The Arizona museum of natural history has been operating in Mesa since the 1970s exhibiting tens of thousands of scientific and nature oriented objects and photographs. Our sister station KUAT recently took a video tour of the museum.

Child: An elephant.

Kathy Eastman: It looks like an elephant. Has a big, long trunk, but the tusks go all the way up like that. That was a mammoth. Believe it or not, Arizona prehistoricly was home to five different species of elephants and even when you walk into the lobby you can see three kinds of elephant kin. I think that's really exciting. It's a great place to spend time with your family, your friends and enjoy an outing together. Our mission is to inspire wonder and understanding of the cultural and natural history of the southwest. I know that's really broad but we want to bring it to life with dioramas, spectacular skeletons, with the factor of a flash flood. It's grown. It's become part of the community, and we see generations of people that remembered coming here as a child. They bring their children here. That's one of my favorite things.

Karen Scholl: Parents get busy doing the day-to-day things so I like to take my niece and nephews and do historical things, indoors, nice and cool, something enjoyable for everybody. It's something that has become a memory for them as well as something interesting and fun for me.

Joselina Lynch: I have never been here before so my aunt took me for the first time. So far I love it. I like about the walks and how they were formed. Also the fossils. They are really amazing.

Karen Scholl: So beautiful. It just takes your breath away just to see what is preserved here and what's presented here. I think it really gives you a perspective of where we are. Our world seems so big and huge, yet when you see it in the bigger picture of things it's very moving to see where we are in the grand scheme of things.

Robert McCord: We have a very -- lot of horned dinosaurs. This is Pentaeratops. Behind us is triceratops. How many have heard of that before? There you go. We're standing in a portion of the museum where we go through the geologic record time by time or era by era so you go from ancient Arizona to 300 million years ago to 200 million years ago to 100 million years ago and look at the changes through time. That's kind of cool. Kind of like snapshots in a photo album. Behind us is one featuring what I call the knocko ocean, ancient shallow sea that covered Arizona 300 million years ago. This is one of several times the ocean covered large parts of Arizona or sometimes just small parts of Arizona, stringer of the ocean came in.

Joselina Lynch: I just finished learning that. It was really a long time ago it was under water, really surprising to me.

Alison Stoltman: This was a pit house. Can you imagine all of you living in a pit house like this, the whole family? This is the southwest gallery. Here we got to learn about the amazing Hohokam people that lived here over 1,000 years ago. They were truly amazing, the first farmers of the desert. Incredible artisans. Right now we're standing in a village. They covered a large amount of Arizona actually up as far as deer valley and down as far as Tucson. They have quite an extensive area. The museum has everything. We follow the whole history of the life on the planet right from single cell organisms to the mighty dinosaurs on to our anthropology section, learning about the amazing Hohokam, and there's lots of wonderful hands-on activities to do here. Kids lo love it. Parents love it. Really enriching and lots of information.

Karen Scholl: It opens up a world and they start thinking, maybe I could do that, maybe I could study geology and be fascinated by these amazing things all around us yet sometimes we don't pay attention to it.

Ted Simons: For more information on the Arizona museum of natural history check out their website at

AZ Giving and Leading: Audubon Arizona

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  • We’ll take you on a hike along the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area in Phoenix. That’s where Audubon Arizona holds regular hikes, talks and events to promote awareness about the diverse wildlife in our state. Find out how 600-acres were transformed from an industrial dump into a home for more than 200 species of birds, jackrabbits, coyotes, beavers and other wildlife.
Category: Giving/Leading   |   Keywords: giving, leading, audubon, rio salado, phoenix, wildlife, industrial,

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Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona giving and leading, producer Christina Estes and our photographer introduce us to people involved in wildlife Audubon Arizona.

Amber Houston: We're going to head west over here.

Christina Estes: Amber Houston's office has a pretty nice view.

Amber Houston: I'm the weekend teacher at Audubon Arizona.

Christina Estes: Here's her version of ringing phones, emails and texts. There are no angry customers out here. Only curious ones.

Amber Houston: You see where the beaver have chewed. You can see their teeth marks. They have just taken off the portions of the branches they really want and they drag them away.

Boy Scout: Whether they bite do they leave germs on?

Amber Houston: Maybe. That's a good question.

Christina Estes: These Boy Scouts are learning about the habitat restoration area.

Amber Houston: This is the Salt River. This is what used to be very, very full.

Christina Estes: That was before the dams were built. When the river dried up people started dumping along the riverbed. They destroyed more than 90% of the native habitat.

Sarah Porter: This was the most degraded place in Phoenix 15 years ago.

Christina Estes: Audubon Arizona executive Sarah Porter witnessed the transformation. Phoenix removed nearly 1,200 tons of tires and added more than 75,000 trees, shrubs and plants.

Sarah Porter: The Sonoran desert is the most biodiverse in the world. It's an extraordinary place. We're lucky to live here. We have amazing diversity here.

Christina Estes: They have identified more 200 species of birds. The 600 acre restoration area is also home to Jack rabbits, coyotes and beavers. All less than two miles from downtown.

Amber Houston: What is so neat about coming out and seeing place likes this?

Boy Scout: You're not in the city any more. There's no loud noises. It's just nice. Open, quiet.

Amber Houston: Like being out in the middle of nowhere.

Boy Scout: I'm like, especially at night when you can look up and see the stars, you can't see that in the city.

Christina Estes: In southeastern Arizona Audubon manages an 8,000 acre ranch devoted to grasslands research.

Sarah Porter: We know that humans have had a huge impact on native lands in Arizona. When we have a place where we keep it aside we give land managers a chance to have a baseline for one thing so they can learn what a healthy native grassland would look like. It allows scientists to see whether there are ways we could control the impacts of invasive grass species like Buffel grass.

Christina Estes: Audubon also conducts annual bird surveys and offers educational and volunteer programs.

Tour Guide: An acoma is a red tail hawk.

Sarah Porter: We think when people get a chance to be personally involved in protecting the environment then they are going to be really informed when environmental questions come in the future. Besides it makes people feel really good.

Boy Scout: In the city I know it's beautiful, but sometimes we need to go get some nature.

Ted Simons: Audubon Arizona is holding its annual migration celebration in Phoenix this weekend. The free, family-friendly event will feature live animals, arts and crafts. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

Congressional Spending

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  • The Arizona Republic reports that spending by outside groups on congressional campaigns in Arizona has tripled since a controversial supreme court ruling on campaign financing. Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic will talk about her report.
  • Rebekah Sanders - Journalist, The Arizona Republic
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, congressional, spending, campaign, financing,

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Ted Simons: The Arizona Republic reports spending on congressional races tripled following a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. Here with more is Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic. Thanks for joining us. Great work on this project. That was 2010 to 2012. From 2010 to now it's exploded, hasn't it?

Rebekah Sanders: That's right. It remains to be seen will this flood of money into congressional races from outside groups continue? We do have fewer competitive races than we had in 2012. But what's interesting is that up until today, the pace of spending has superseded any previous election cycle. So we could be in for a record year.

Ted Simons: I think we have a graphic here from 2008, 2010,2012 and to date in 2014. Goodness gracious, that is ridiculous.

Rebekah Sanders: That's the spending to date in each of those election years T. really shows that at least for this cycle it looks to be on track to eclipse any of the previous years.

Ted Simons: Who is spending this money?

Rebekah Sanders: We're talking about money that outside groups that are not affiliated with any of the candidates or their campaigns are spending on these elections. This doesn't include the millions that candidates raise and spend themselves every election. These are groups that usually have the kind of ideological bent or represent special interest groups, whether that's veterans or dentists or what have you. Even medical professionals, for instance, have supported some candidates in Arizona.

Ted Simons: It seems as though early on the big money groups, the ones making the most noise, conservative groups.

Rebekah Sanders: Nationally that is the case. Conservative groups have far outspent liberal ones, but interestingly, when I did the analysis of the spending here in Arizona congressional races they were nearly even. Slightly more on the conservative side. What's interesting is also we counted up the number of groups that have played in Arizona since 2010. More than 100. It's really mushroomed since the Supreme Court decisions loosened these rules.

Ted Simons: Again, these are groups made up mostly of anonymous donors. We really don't know who is behind these things.

Rebekah Sanders: Sure. It depends on the way that the group is created under which part of the tax code or part of the campaign finance rules. Super packs, those do have to disclose their donors. Can spend unlimited amounts and collect unlimited amounts. 501c4, which are the other main type of group, don't have to disclose their donors, so there's a question of anonymity, and is that good for the voter or not.

Ted Simons: You mentioned citizens United, from people corporations and unions, we recently had this discussion that looked at the over all number of donations and talk to us about this. The thinking is this latest decision might take some of the effect off of citizens United because it gets the money back into political campaigns.

Rebekah Sanders: We'll see what effect this Supreme Court decision that came down last week will have. It's called McKutcheon versus federal election commission. Essentially it struck down another of the campaign finance rules which limits the total donations that an individual could give to campaigns and party committees. Previously it was around $123,000 per election cycle. Now they can give as much as to as many candidates and party committees as they want so that might mean that candidates say, don't give to that outside group, give it directly to me, I can do a better job with it, maybe that will decrease the outside spending, or maybe donors will just be adding more zeros to their checks to both different entities.

Ted Simons: The water level will be rising for all ships I imagine here. As far as the information you got, the center for responsive politics. Talk about those folks.

Rebekah Sanders: This is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group in Washington D.C. which is one of the premier organizations that tracks this money in politics. We work with them frequently to help us understand and get the data on these campaigns and so they provided some of this data, especially on the to-date spending, which would have been much more difficult task if we had taken it from the FEC ourselves. We analyzed the data and came up with these trends.

Ted Simons: There are no Senate races this year, yet we saw the graph, it's ridiculous for 2014. Mostly conservative groups seem to be early spenders, but that race to replace Ed Pastore, you have Democrats fighting amongst themselves. I would imagine a lot of outside groups may be interested in that race.

Rebekah Sanders: That should be interesting. It's a democratic primary. Safe democratic seat. Really a Republican doesn't have a chance. We won't see Republican spending. What's going to happen potentially is outside groups that represent different demographics, different interests may play in here. For instance Rubin Gallego is an Iraq war veteran. There's probably going to be a veterans organization coming to back him. Mary Rose Wilcox might get a women's democratic group. Steve Gallardo may get an LGBT group backing him. We may see this kinds of proxy battle, these groups supporting candidates with that.

Ted Simons: What they are doing is donating money to get mostly television ads but ads in general out there. There is any research to show how effective these ads are? Because I know a lot of people the minute they see these things, especially later on in the election cycle, they are not only gone they look at the ad, I'm not going to trust that person, it could boomerang, couldn't it?

Rebekah Sanders: It's an open question there is research to show that just the volume of negative advertising that has really been raised in recent election has turned off a lot of people from politics. There's one string of thought that this may have an overall negative effect on turnout on people trusting and wanting to vote. But then again, some of these races have -- the tide has turned with infusions of money. Money talks sometimes.

Ted Simons: I was going to say if it doesn't work they wouldn't be spending the money. It does work. People watch ads and make the move. Great work. I assume this story is to be continued.

Rebekah Sanders: Absolutely. It's still early in the election cycle so we'll be watching it through November. To read the full story people can go to and search.

Ted Simons: Thank you.

Legislative Update

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  • The state legislature brokers a budget deal. Jim Small of the Arizona Capitol Times will give us an update.
  • Jim Small - Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislative, update, legislature, state, budget,

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Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. An apparent breakthroughs as lawmakers reach an agreement on a spending plan. Here's an update with Jim Small of the Arizona Capitol Times. We don't say this much, breaking news at 5:30, they got this thing figured out?

Jim Small: It looks like they should have a budget done by the end of the night. Probably not -- few more hours. They came up with a deal. That's proposal made that the Arizona house and the governor's office Thursday last week made a proposal to the Senate. Said, here's where we're at. This is kind of take it or leave it. The Senate over the weekend worked on it, looked at it, made a couple of minor changes, couple of small tweaks to it and today the Senate said okay, we can live with this. We can agree with it. Let's see if we have the votes. They found the votes so this afternoon the House and Senate met at a conference committee to put the final amendments on to the budget package.

Ted Simons: It seemed like the governor and house were on the same page here heading in, but it sounded like Senate president Biggs, who was going to be on the program tonight, we thank you for coming in, obviously he's busy now, it sounded as though president Biggs was saying give me the names, show me the votes. I'm not doing anything until you're sure you got this.

Jim Small: We talked to folks in the Senate about that issue. Why the insistence that we see this list of names and who is going to vote for it? There was a general feeling in the Senate that they had agreements in the past on the budget with the house. You know, so that they passed the first budget, sent it to the house, expected it to pass and the house said no, we won't pass it this way. There were a half dozen Republican legislators who said no, we want certain things addressed. So the house made changes, sent it back to the Senate, Senate wasn't happy about that so they made their changes back. Ostensibly with the understanding that the house would support that. The house didn't support those amendments. That's how we got here. Seems there was a desire to avoid a situation where they agree on something and the house goes, wait, sorry, just kidding. We don't have the votes for it.

Ted Simons: So let's talk with the child agency funding. That's a very big aspect of this. What does the deal say about that? Is everything up front or are we going to see more funding later on?

Jim Small: The funding levels will stay where they're at in terms of compromise I think around $20 million. The governor initially asked for 25 million. It's going to stay at 20 million, but the bigger deal with the new child welfare agency is it's an intent language. The house when they passed it put intent language on it that said the legislature intends to deal with this problem and address -- provide adequate funding to address all these needs issues that may arise with the new agency. The Senate changed it, said, the legislature will do it but only after the agency is completely separated from the department of economic security and there's certain threshholds met. The house didn't like. That the governor's office clearly didn't like that language. So the final version will have the language that the house passed a couple of weeks ago.

Ted Simons: The intent language stays.

Jim Small: Yes.

Ted Simons: The house and governor went on that won. What about the charter, district charter program? That was a big issue.

Jim Small: That was really the driving issue in the house, the thing that led primarily the six Republicans to dig their heels in. So the Senate had proposed getting rid of all funding for the district charter schools for basically the current fiscal year. The house said, well, let's leave it for this year and scrap it in the future at a cost of $33 million. The Senate said, we'll cut it in half. The final place where they landed is going to be 24.5 million, not quite the full amount, the 33 million, but just a tick under 25 million. Which gets them through most of the year and obviously going forward into next year this program is going to be ended.

Ted Simons: Basically allows them to land the plane. The plane isn't going anywhere after this year.

Jim Small: Correct. The school district has to figure out how to handle it.

Ted Simons: What about university funding?

Jim Small: There's a little bit more added in. I think the governor was looking for 15 million. They are going to end up around 4.5 million in new money, down from the 5.5 the house wanted but a little under three that Senate budget had last week.

Ted Simons: Getting back to child welfare agencies, there was so much talk about let's get preventive services funded to keep kids out of whatever comes after CPS. Did those services see any bumps, any significant bumps?

Jim Small: Not in terms of new spending. The spending levels will stay what they have been. One of the big ones, there was a lot of push for child care subsidies, which is basically a subsidy given to working poor families. Generally single mothers so they can go to work and put their kids into a daycare. That cost is subsidized as anyone with a child knows that cost can pile up real quick. There's some funding in the budget for that but it's in the new funding over what has been in past budgets. It means the backlog will continue. I think something like five or six thousand, people backlogged on to this list.

Ted Simons: There are caps on that program.

Jim Small: correct.

Ted Simons: I heard, probably read in your paper somewhere, that one of the problems the Senate had with coming back and addressing CPS in a special session or at a later date was that was a way to get rid of the caps and they don't want to see those caps go away.

Jim Small: That's an issue. There's kind of a divide even amongst Republicans as to whether that kind of spending is a hand out -- there are a number of Republicans who say this is exactly the kind of government subsidy, if we're going to have one it allows people to go to work, put their kids in a safe place and not having to make a decision about showing up at your shift or putting your kids in a dangerous situation.

Ted Simons: What happens next? Will we have a special session coming up?

Jim Small: Yes. Looks like we will. The governor said she expects a special session to deal with some of the policy work required to create that new agency and no doubt if though need additional funding the intent language says the legislature will provide that.

Ted Simons: But a done deal. Great work. Good to have you. Thanks for stopping in.