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April 22, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Artbeat: Phoenix Art Museum Director

  |   Video
  • Phoenix Art Museum Director James Ballinger is retiring after 40 years with the organization. Ballinger will look back at his career and his influence on the Phoenix art scene.
  • James Ballinger - Director, Phoenix Art Museum
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: the arts, phoenix, art, museum, artbeat, influence, career,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Arizona Artbeat" focuses on a major player in the development of the arts in Arizona, Phoenix art museum director Jim Ballinger announced his retirement after years with the organization. He joins us now to talk about his decision and his career. Good to see you again.

Jim Ballinger: Good to see you.

Ted Simons:40 years, how many --

Jim Ballinger: seems like yesterday.

Ted Simons: Yeah. 32 as a director. Correct?

Jim Ballinger: Almost 33.

Ted Simons: So you're -- Why now?

Jim Ballinger: Well, I think it's just -- It's a math problem, basically. 40 years at the museum, 33years as director, and then there's the eighth grandchild on the way, and it's like, maybe it's time for somebody else to have fun, and it's not something you can do immediately when you have led something this long. So I wanted to make sure not only am I announcing a retirement, but asking the board to put a succession process in play, and also to make sure we have a great transition, which could take a year or more.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask, how long --

Jim Ballinger: I don't know, I'm in there to make it go well, because just like the board has their responsibility, I've been there a long time, we've all seen a great institute move forward, and we want to keep the momentum going for new and great things with someone else.

Ted Simons: Was this a difficult decision?

Jim Ballinger: Um, at first it was, but then it started getting easier all along, I think, as you start looking at what's the right thing to do, and what you've got left. I mean, I've been invested in this community for a long time, and Linda and I aren't going anywhere, and we're going to stay involved in many ways, I'm sure.

Ted Simons: You started in 1974 with the museum as curator of collection. What brought you here?

Jim Ballinger: My job. I had two job opportunities coming out of graduate school. One was in North Carolina at the museum there, state run, there was a small recession then, they froze that job, so I had a choice -- Phoenix or no job.

Ted Simons: And we're looking at the new face right there, and that is a young face, mister.

Jim Ballinger: I had a five-year plan. I was going to be here five years, and then go to a real museum. But instead we had the joy of building one over all these years.

Ted Simons: You were named director in 82'?

Jim Ballinger: Correct.

Ted Simons: All things considered, did you see -- When you first got here, when you were named director, when you had all that hair, did you think you'd be here this long?

Jim Ballinger: No. No clue. No plan. And probably years ago I real -- There was a moment where you thought, OK. Either you're in it for the long term, or it's time to perhaps look for greater challenges. But Ted, every time here I look for greater challenges, we always just brought them and built them. And I think it's probably true of a lot of people in Phoenix. The growth is staggering. Few cities have gone through what we've gone through, so when I started, we had staff members. We had a budget of $364,000. Now it's $11.5 million, and it's just -- So each time there would have been that thing to go do somewhere else, we just did it here instead. So it was great.

Ted Simons:72,000 square feet when you started. Four times that amount right now. You're more than a museum director, though. You're a big player in downtown Phoenix. Talk about what you have seen change in downtown, the good, the bad, and the in between.

Jim Ballinger: I don't know that there's a lot of bad. Unless you just call it slow. We've always known that we needed a really active downtown when mayor Goddard had a great plan that didn't quite get funded way back, could have been a great fulcrum, and now with ASU down here, it's huge. But arts and culture are a big player. And I think people -- We may not do a good enough job of letting people know how important arts and culture are to a lot of different things. It's now starting to happen, mayor Stanton certainly grasps that, as does President Crow at ASU. So you're seeing it play out in a lot of different ways. But when you look back, the bond elections that have happened have been crucial to ASU. They've been crucial to arts and culture not only in downtown, but across the community. The one thing I do believe, we've got to do, we've got to get to a position of a new dedicated funding source for arts and culture if we are going to have anything transformative happen in this arena. There's just not enough corporate giving, there's not enough tax capabilities, and Frankly there's not enough philanthropic ability within the state, because we have so many needs and we're so new, that it's got to be ASU arts and culture, human service, environmental issues, all those, quite often the same people are helping all the time. So we've really got to figure out a bigger plan on how to go at it.

Ted Simons: As far as the museum is concerned, your vision when you took over in 1982, what was your vision, has that vision panned out?

Jim Ballinger: You know, I think we've gone beyond what my vision was in many ways. My first task I thought was to really to professionalize the museum. And that's not to say it wasn't before, but it was a way of creating measurement, creating metrics that we could grow the institution. Also that we could get Phoenix on the map nationally. We weren't at all, so we spent a lot of time talking to colleagues nationally to bring shows. So that was the first phase. Then we got the building first expansion done, and then it was how do we bring bigger exhibitions and to bring great from all over the world to the people of Arizona, which we see as a daily mission. And that became kind of that second phase.

Ted Simons: Did you have -- Did you get any advice early on that kind of stuck with you over the years, and second question, what advice now would you give your successor?

Jim Ballinger: I operated one way that my colleagues couldn't believe what I did over the years. When we faced a problem with the board, because we were a new board, we were a new city, I'm a director whose -- My experience was here. I reached out to the very best directors in the country on whatever the issue was and asked them to come and address our board of trustees. Well, my colleagues thought I was insane, why would you bring a star in to make you look bad, because then your board -- It wasn't on my radar screen. I thought we need help to get the very best to come in. So I did that many times -- So I did that many times over the years and would continue to do so, and I would advise anyone in any field to do that. But you have to be confident yourself to do that, and you have to have the confidence of your board to do that in order -- Because when you ask for somebody's advice, I was told years ago, ask me for advice, you have to take it. Otherwise ask me for input. [laughter]

Ted Simons: I like that. So challenges now. You talked about it, trying to get a dedicated funding source for the arts in general. Looking for the philanthropic folks, which -- And you've been here long enough, that has changed, hasn't it? Major players, people who have a stake in this community, they're not here anymore.

Jim Ballinger: You know, you stand back and look at the musical instrument museum, the children's museum, there are new museums doing great jobs here, Phoenix art museum has grown, the science center, on and on. But we're all facing the same issue. We're tapped out, we're stressing, and if you are the size of any of these institutions and get a five or 10% boost, you're not going to transform the museum. So that's where that -- That's very, very important and it's important that that group keep working together, which we're doing very well in the last few years in order to make sure that kind of message gets out there. And many, many ways, education, economic development, these are things that for the future of this state, this community, depends on quality workers. We're part of that. Depends on strong economic environment. We're part of that. And I don't think people sometimes think that way. We're not an add-on extra.

Ted Simons: Why aren't people thinking that way?

Jim Ballinger: Well, I think, again, that comes back around to our responsibility. We don't do a good enough job in our field perhaps of establishing some of those parameters and making them well known. If you look at schools now, where arts and cultural experiences go away, core curriculum, teachers are working on that. How do we make ourselves relevant to core curriculum? So we get marginalized a little bit, and then you have a generation or maybe two generations now of teachers who did not have that experience, so they don't feel comfortable saying, let's go to the art museum, wherever it might be.

Ted Simons: I'd like to get you back on before you finally say goodbye.

Jim Ballinger: I think it's going to take a little longer than what we think.

Ted Simons: Congratulations on many decades of success.

Jim Ballinger: Oh, you bet.

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

Around Arizona: Wildfire Update

  |   Video
  • Arizona’s Wildfire season is expected to start early because of a dry winter. Wildfire reporter Jim Cross of KTAR radio will give us an update.
  • Jim Cross - Reporter, KTAR Radio
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: environment, wildfire, update, arizona, season, winter, dry,

View Transcript
Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," concerns that the state's wildfire season is starting earlier than usual. A new report criticizes the governor's moratorium on new state regulations. And Phoenix art museum director Jim Ballinger talks about his decision to retire. Those stories next, on "Arizona Horizon."

Narrator: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The Arizona court of appeals today ruled that Republican lawmakers do have the constitutional standing to challenge last year's expansion of Medicaid. The lawmakers argued that the expansion required a two-thirds majority vote due to the plan's assessment on hospitals. The legislature wound up passing the plan with a simple majority. The governor says she considers today's ruling procedural and not focused on the merits of the case. She says she'll go to the state Supreme Court if necessary to protect Medicaid expansion as it now stand.

Ted Simons: A dry winter is leading to an early start to the wildfire season in Arizona. For more on what we can expect is KATR reporter Jim cross who has covered wildfires in Arizona for many, many years. In fact I remember talking to you up there at the rodeo fire on the scene up there which was 2002 ?

Jim Cross: July of 2002.

Ted Simons: Since then we've had bigger fires, and we've had deadlier fires for sure. Are we just -- Is this expected now every year?

Ted Simons: Well, since 2002, we've had nine of the state's largest fires, top largest fire on record just since 2002. Rodeo fire was the second, they seem to be getting more dangerous every year, last year it was the deadliest year with the Yarnell hotshots dying up there, but they seem to be getting more dangerous every passing year.

Ted Simons: What are we seeing about ?

Jim Cross: We're early. About a month early right now. The conditions are what they should be in mid may. We have five of the six national forests under fire restrictions, Coronado in southeastern Arizona will probably be within a matter of days. Much of the state lands are under fire restrictions, BLM by the end of the week. Some of the conditions I'm hearing about the high country, they're comparing this with 2002. Based on this. Some of the fire commanders are telling me the downed lumber, they're doing core samples on is dryer than stuff you'd find at a home depot or Lowe's. That wood has more moisture right now than they're seeing on the ground.

Ted Simons: What have we seen so far in terms of fire? Flagstaff, Sierra Vista, how big have those fires been?

Jim Cross: The one by Flagstaff was 175 acres. They got in there pretty quick and knocked it out. Five or -acre near Sierra Vista last weekend, lightning caused. The one that was a concern was a 200-acre brown fire, they sent a type one team down there, the same team that handled the Yarnell fire last year that knocked that fire out, they sent that team down for a -acre fire. So they're hitting them early and hard.

Ted Simons: What kind of resources are out there? I ask because as bad as things are here, they're worse in California. And they are expecting major fires over there. With that kind of attention to California, what's happening over here?

Jim Cross: Right now we're in good shape. We have plenty of manpower, we can always tap into more manpower nationally. They have plenty much air tankers. California, we're in the bull's eye, Arizona is. And we're going to be for weeks. But California is in such horrific shape right now, it's almost inevitable they're going to go up and we're going to see very large fires in California this spring and summer.

Ted Simons: As far as Arizona is concerned, are we more concerned about the high country, are we more concerned about lowlands, desert, grasses, what's the major concern?

Jim Cross: I think they're concerned about everything. The timber, we had one-third of the snowpack, approximately, we should have had. We've had two rainstorms in the valley, and around southern Arizona since mid December. And just enough to grow more stuff that's now drying out and is going to burn. The timber has been in bad shape for days. The forests are going into restrictions, this one is going to be on people in spring and summer, at least until the monsoon.

Ted Simons: It seems in the past if you had a good winter rainy season to a certain degree, it seemed like would you worry a little bit more about the grasslands and desert areas because they would grow things you wouldn't ordinarily grow, dry out quicker, boom, there you go. If it's dryer than usual, it seems like you would be concerned more with the high country because they're not getting the snowpack, and as we talked earlier, the weather has changed. It's different than it had been in the past.

Jim Cross: I have never seen a winter -- If you can call it a winter, like this. We went from fall to spring. We had very little winter, very little snowpack, very little rain. We're approaching 100 degrees this time of year, the windstorm today, today was problem it will worst fire danger all year with all the wind. Still is.

Ted Simons: That's the nature -- April and may are always the high wind months, and you got June and July with high temperatures. Then you hope the monsoon gets here quickly, but the monsoon is a problem itself because of the lightning strikes.

Jim Cross: And they say the El Nino is building up, the warming of the Pacific Ocean waters which could bring us a strong winter with a lot of rain and snow. But some of the weather guys are telling me that that El Nino build-up is starting to maybe pull some steam out of what would have been, you know, at least a moderate monsoon. So we'll see what happens.

Ted Simons: As far as the firefighting community is concerned, the mood after last year, what are you sensing out there, and have any procedural changes been put in place due to the Yarnell hill tragedy?

Jim Cross: They're hesitant to tell us what took place as far as changes. There are many lawsuits remaining out there. But they are going to try GPS tracking systems on some of the firefighters they would carry, they're going to test those out. Them and the forest service. We're seeing already that they're hitting fires very hard, very early on, IE. the brown fire in Sierra Vista. When I heard a type one team was going down there, was that was a surprise. That is the best of the best teams. They hammered that fire, knocked it out.

Ted Simons: As far as the mood overall, I imagine the attention to detail, a little more pronounced? Though it's always there, but would I imagine there's an extra emphasis this go-round.

Jim Cross: Certainly. You can't go through a tragedy like they did and not have changes. Certainly the way they do things, and the way they emotionally fight fires.

Ted Simons: All right. We'll see how it goes. What you're saying is it's going to be pretty rough and pretty early.

Jim Cross: We're really set up for a bad fire season. It's as bad as I've seen in Arizona.

Ted Simons: It's always a pleasure. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Cross: Thanks, Ted.

Moratorium on Regulations

  |   Video
  • One of Governor Jan Brewer’s first actions as governor was to impose a moratorium on new regulations. A new report is out on that issue. The Grand Canyon Institute’s report, “Why Arizona’s Regulatory Moratorium is Unnecessary,” reveals how moratoriums can lead to less public oversight and are not meeting the stated goal of creating more jobs. Grand Canyon Institute fellow Karen Smith, who wrote the report, will discuss her findings.
  • Karen Smith - Fellow, Grand Canyon Institute
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, jobs, moratorium, regulations, report, issue,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Grand Canyon institute is out with a new report that's critical of the governor's moratorium on new regulations. Grand Canyon institute fellow Karen Smith is here to talk about the study. Welcome to the program. Good to have you here.

Karen Smith: Thank you.

Ted Simons: You wrote this study. What was the actual focus?

Karen Smith: Well, the focus, Ted, was really on the state's regulatory moratorium, and for those of our listeners who may not know what that means, we do rules, state agencies do rules to implement laws. That's what they do. And so what happened with this moratorium was, in 2009 the governor issued a stop, essentially, on nearly all regulations. So except for those for public health and safety. So what we were interested in seeing was, you know, what was behind that. What was really behind that. She had claimed that they were job killers, and she is not alone in that. There are many people who believe that. And so the emphasis of our report was to look at, you know, was that true?

Ted Simons: How do you look at something like that?

Karen Smith: What we did in our analysis was take a time period. We took 2000-2012, we looked at all the regulations that had been approved in Arizona by year, and then we sort of looked at that against the background of Arizona's economy. To see where job growth was happening, and the state of the economy generally. And all of the regulation that occurred in Arizona on Kurd during the decade of really robust economic growth.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, previous governors, hall, Napolitano, what did we see as far as regulations during their administrations compared to this moratorium with Governor Brewer?

Karen Smith: One of the really interesting things that we discovered in our work was that 30%, about 30% of all the regulations that were approved during this -year time period occurred during governor hall's administration. She had one-fourth of the study period. And 40% of all the environmental regulations took place during governor hall's administration. I think that's something that a lot of people would find surprising. Governor Napolitano was governor for six years of our -year study period. I think not a surprise that about half of the regulations took place during her administration.

Ted Simons: Now, your report says that the public could be at risk because of this moratorium, especially on environmental regulations. But regulations in general is the public at risk?

Karen Smith: I think at risk is probably a bit strong. I think what we have said in our report was that these moratoriums can cause harm, and they can cause harm in a couple of different ways. It prevents state agencies from updating their rules to operate both in a current environment, and making sure they can operate in a future environment. You may remember the board of medical examiners had some difficulties a few months ago. One of the reasons that they had difficulties was that their rules were outdated. And that they were operating in that kind of an outdated environment. Certainly not the main reason for their troubles, but it was a reason. So that's one reason. A second reason that these moratoriums are harmful is that they create an antiregulatory bias that essentially paints all regulation as bad. And that's trouble going forward.

Ted Simons: So when the governor's office says that the state agencies now, because much this moratorium, they are more efficient, and this moratorium helped turn Arizona's economy around from the bad old days not too long ago, how would you respond?

Karen Smith: I would say that I would love to see the evidence for that. That's what I'd like to see. Because clearly, the evidence that we saw does not suggest that that is the case.

Ted Simons: And the evidence that you saw does not suggest that there's an added burden on the private sector when you talk about regulations, and that a moratorium on regulations or at least a radical easing helps create jobs and helps retain jobs, you're just not seeing that?

Karen Smith: We didn't see that having this regulatory moratorium had much of an effect on job growth at all. And in fact, when we looked at the early part of our study period, we had very robust growth at the same time that we had very robust regulatory activity.

Ted Simons: Now, I know in the study, environmental regulations were at the forefront. Other regulations were considered as well, correct?

Karen Smith: Yes.

Ted Simons: Which ones were those?

Karen Smith: We looked at all of the approved regulations that had taken place from -. And these run the gamut from the big major agencies, like the department of health services, and AHCCCS, to the little boards and commissions like the barber board and the cosmetology board. All of those agencies, boards, and commissions do rules. So what we were interested in seeing with all of the regulations was first, how many. Where were they occurring? And when were they occurring? In which administrations did we see more of this occurring? And what the Arizona story suggests is that most of the regulation that we have comes from health and human services. That's not surprising. The second largest area, transportation. That's also not surprising. The third largest area, environment. But very low in the scheme of things.

Ted Simons: All right. And real quickly, the Grand Canyon institute, talk to us about the institute.

Karen Smith: Grand Canyon institute is a new centrist think tank, it is a nonpartisan group, made up of former elected officials, many Republicans, many democrats, then others, some academics, some economists, so it is a group that really is focused on a centrist way of looking at public policy.

Ted Simons: All right. We thank you for joining us to tell us about the report. Good to have you here.

Karen Smith: Thank you.