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July 22, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: Dry: A Summer Art Event

  |   Video
  • We step into the air-conditioned space at R. Pela Contemporary Art in Phoenix to examine life in the desert. Through the eyes of local and national artists, “Dry: A Summer Art Event” features the unusual aspects of our desert lifestyle.
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: the arts, art, artbeat, summer, event, desert, lifestyle,

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Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona Artbeat looks at a new exhibit that focuses on the challenges of living in the desert during the summer. Producer Christina Estes and photographer E.J. Hernandez have more.

Robrt Pela: The exhibit is called Dry. And it is about summertime in Phoenix. It's about more than just how hot it is or how uncomfortable we are, or how we sometimes feel trapped here in the summertime, but about all aspects of why we're here, and why and how we deal with summer.

Christina Estes: Curator Robrt Pela asked 11 artists to contribute pieces that reflect their take on our heat. In Desert traveler, Lisa Albinger reveals the bond between Arizona and her former home.

Robrt Pela: The snow globe is a snow globe of Wisconsin, and it actually says Wisconsin on the bottom. She uses a lot of texture in her work. And there's a connection between the figure and its heart, and the snow globe depicting Wisconsin. But then the figure is surrounded by desert imagery.

Christina Estes: Downtown Phoenix is where photographic artist Hector Raul Primero grew up.

Robrt Pela: He's taking old images in downtown Phoenix and combining them with new images that he's shot himself. He combines them in a way that is full of melancholy. If you look at his work, it's joyful because it's so beautiful, and because it's celebrating the fact that downtown Phoenix is essentially being reborn as it's being redeveloped. But there's also a great deal of sadness because many of the buildings he's showing on top of these new images are gone.

Christina Estes: The largest piece in the show belongs to Phoenix college student Ben Peck.

Robrt Pela: He's using acrylic paint as oil, which I'm fascinated by. And he is telling stories about the dichotomy between empty lots and very, very quiet or very dry and dead areas that are in very busy parts of town.

Christina Estes: Surrealist painter Cindy Schnackel can generate smiles from the weariest summer residents.

Robrt Pela: When this piece, which is called "Good China in the Bad Desert," um saguaro cactus are menacing a tea service. And the tea service has everything is figurative, so the plates, the cups, the tea pot, and the saguaro have all been sort of humanized. They have faces, and they're looking alternately ghoulish or confused. It's a beautiful piece.

Christina Estes: Pela never expects everyone to like every piece of art. But he hopes visitors who step inside his air conditioned gallery enjoy moments of cool calmness.

Robrt Pela: That calm that we feel when we're standing before something beautiful, something that maybe we would not have thought of or couldn't do ourselves. And in the summertime, we need that.

Ted Simons: The exhibit runs through July. You can find more information at

Arizona’s Future: Young Entrepreneurs

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  • In another edition of the feature “Arizona’s Future,” we take a look at an Arizona State University program geared at producing new entrepreneurs. Sidnee Peck is an entrepreneurship instructor at ASU, and she was recently chosen to speak at a White House event about the importance of teaching young entrepreneurs. Peck will talk about developing young business talent.
  • Sidnee Peck - Entrepreneurship Instructor, Arizona State University
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, asu, entrepreneurship, business, talent, teaching,

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Ted Simons: In tonight's edition of Arizona's Future, we take a look at an ASU program aimed at producing new entrepreneurs. Joining us is Sidnee Peck, she's an entrepreneurship instructor at ASU, and she was recently chosen to speak at a White House event on the importance of developing young business talent. Good to have you here.

Sidnee Peck: Thank you.

Ted Simons: You're at this center, ASU's center for entrepreneurship. What is that?

Sidnee Peck: So it's actually a whole new thing that we have launched as of January. And it resides in the business school, so it’s at the W.P. Carey School of Business, but it serves the entire ASU population as well as our Arizona business community. And the whole goal for the center for entrepreneurship is access and awareness for both students and community members. When you're a young entrepreneur you’re and thinking about starting something, it's really overwhelming, really confusing, and a lot of times so intimidating that students might not start until their last semester of school. What we hope to create is an opportunity for students when they're freshmen and sophomores to come in and say hey what is this, how do I get connected into entrepreneurship?

Ted Simons: And so when they do come in as freshmen and sophomores and say hey, what is this, what is entrepreneurship? Give us a definition.

Sidnee Peck: Sure. So it's different to a lot of people. If you look at it from a University standpoint, President Crow through the new American University wants to embed entrepreneurship in everything that we do at the university. So from that standpoint it's creating something new, being innovative, being problem solvers. For more of a business school standpoint it's creating new ventures that solve a problem and create an economically viable venture that is taking both the risk and the skill of putting resources around that risk to make it happen.

Ted Simons: And with that in mind, can you teach entrepreneurship, or is it something that's in the DNA?

Sidnee Peck: So there's been a lot of research on this and there hasn't been any research that has pointed to a particular type of person or characteristic that defines an entrepreneur. It's a lot of different types of people, there's a lot of different types of businesses. So we don't know necessarily that we can teach you, we can take someone who has no desire to be an entrepreneur and turn you into an entrepreneur but we certainly can teach you the tools and methods, that if you have that desire and you really want to start something, make an impact, we can teach you some ways to start your business off on the right foot, we can connect you with the right resources, networks, and help you build that capability.

Ted Simons: So for something like risk taking and perseverance and just reimagining what's possible, it seems so creative and kind of out there, yet you're trying to focus in a classroom or in a teaching setting. How do you do that?

Sidnee Peck: Right, so our class I get a lot of pushback from students, and the students lose their minds when they take my class. It's so ambiguous and it's very scary because that's exactly what's happening. I give them a very general call, and it's to solve a problem and to create a solution for that. And they are to marshal their resources around that and make it happen. We also teach a course called creativity and innovation to teach them to think differently than we've basically been training them to think for their entire education up until this point, so yeah it's very different than a traditional educational setting, and we also have a lot of programs that support outside of the classroom to mimic what is it really like to take that risk?

Ted Simons: I want to get to those programs in a second some interest and stuff.

Sidnee Peck: Certainly.

Ted Simons: So when you deal with your students -- What -- Even the ones you can just tell they're off and running they’re -- what trips them up the most?

Sidnee Peck: You know, a lot of times at this stage in life they're 19, 20, they're in college, it's the hard work.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Sidnee Peck: It's sticking to it.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Sidnee Peck: So we think maybe when we’re 18 or 19 we have this idea and we're going to change the world, and this is the best thing and this is how I want to spend my life. And then we spend six months on it and realize this is really difficult. This is challenging, and it takes a lot of time. So it's helping them have those little starts and stops, until they find exactly where their passion lies. And to be honest, most of our students will not start businesses right out of school. Most of them will learn these skills, they'll go work somewhere for a little while to kind of get that experience, get a mentor, learn what it's like to be in that environment, and then they'll start their businesses five, ten years later.

Ted Simons: Interesting, because the segment we're trying to look at the future of Arizona, trying to find encouraging visions of the future, and these are the people that are going to do it, but you mention , 18, 19-- Sometimes maybe it's a good thing they don't have that perseverance quite yet and then when like you say, a few years later they look back and go oh, yeah, I learned all about that.

Sidnee Peck: Yeah, and so it's funny, we see both right. We see those who I would say please go get a job for a little while. You need to learn a little bit more. And there are some who know from the age of 17 they're running a business before they even get to ASU. And they use our tools, our programs to learn more tools and get more connections. But these kids are solid, they already know exactly what they want to do and the will run businesses. So it's all over the map, but what we try to do is just give them environment so they can connect the dots as they see fit.

Ted Simons: As far as working with executives and mentors and those sorts of things, describe those programs and those resources.

Sidnee Peck: Yeah so a lot of that is housed out of our entrepreneurship and innovation group, which is at SkySong. So that’s our off campus resource, I'm the center for entrepreneurship, well not me, I represent the center for entrepreneurship on campus for our students. But we have a very strong, I want to say over 300 mentor network at SkySong, through that facility there. And then it's -- We get very close mentorship in specific programs. So I teach a class called lean launch where students take a business idea and very rapidly show it to customers, talk face-to-face with potential customers and really fine tune and pivot as needed that idea. They get very specific mentors in their industry and past entrepreneurs to guide them through that. So it's very -- Our mentorship within the center for entrepreneurship is targeted on students who have identified a business that they want to launch. From more of a practical standpoint we also have a lot of start-up companies and small businesses in the community who need students to help them with maybe a new go to market plan, they have a new product they want to launch, and so we bring together teams of students to work on those projects for a semester, and that’s the way they get to interact with local entrepreneurs.

Ted Simons: And again, it sounds very encouraging and I know that just by the very nature of this class you've got a lot of go-getters there and you've got to kind of herd --

Sidnee Peck: Yes I do.

Ted Simons: Do you ever have to tell a kid, you just don't cut it? You just don't have it? I don't see it in ya.

Sidnee Peck: So I don't usually have to say anything. They find out for themselves if this is not the path for them.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Sidnee Peck: I have definitely had students come up to me at the end of a semester and say thank you Ms. Peck, I will never be an entrepreneur. And that's ok. That's victory to me because I helped them learn more about themselves, and understand that that wasn't the right path for them. And then I have students who will leave class and will start a business and will come back and say, this is the business I was working on in your class. So I don't -- It's not up to me. I don't tell them if it's a good idea or a bad idea, I show them what the experience is like, and then they're pretty bright and they find their way and understand this is or is not for me.

Ted Simons: Indeed and conversely, it must make you feel good to know that you really are launching some careers here, A, careers, but B, ways that could improve Arizona immensely down the road.

Sidnee Peck: Arizona is on a fast track to some really cool things. I'm watching things that are going to really hit media and become really big in the next five to ten years that students are just building in the early stages now. And it's really really exciting. We have a lot of really cool stories, companies, young students who have just come out of school who have really stuck with it for two or three years and you know that they are going to stay with it. They have financial backing, they have really strong products, so I think we're going to see some really awesome stories, and I'm just thankful that I get to work in this space every day.

Ted Simons: Is there a story that you can tell real quickly? Anything come -- pop in mind, top of mind, that we could be hearing about here shortly?

Sidnee Peck: Sure. So there's so many. One of my favorite students because I got to see him from a very early stage, is a student named Keith, and he has a company named Onvard. And Onvard started as he wanted to learn things online. He wanted to teach himself how to code, and there are all these resources online, but he didn't know which one was the best. So he started a website that essentially took all the resources to learn something and told you based on rankings which one was the best. We started that, there was no real revenue model there. So he learned and listened to his customers, he pivoted, and now that has turned into a training program for companies who have high turnover, so industries, maybe retail, places where there's a lot of training and he's now created a really easy-to-use platform for people to come in and train their new hires, and he just graduated last month.

Ted Simons: Wow.

Sidnee Peck: So he's done all this in his four years at ASU, and he’s real exciting.

Ted Simons: Before we go, I know you also have a lot of awards and events and things. There's a spirit of enterprise awards, I think we've actually talked about that on this program, sun devil select and the sun devil igniter challenge. Quickly what are those?

Sidnee Peck: Sure, so the spirit of enterprise awards, we're in our 18th year. This recognizes Arizona businesses for strong ethics, energy, and excellence in entrepreneurship. That's every November, we recognize those businesses. The sun devil select is to focus on sun devil alumni who have launched or are running high-growth successful businesses globally. And then the sun devil igniter, which is our student centric program which will create a competition for students, one student team will win $50,000 investment and a board of four advisors to help them launch their company.

Ted Simons: Competition is always good, isn’t it?

Sidnee Peck: Yes.

Ted Simons: Well congratulations, it sounds like you're doing great work and again, somewhere down the line you'll sit back and go I knew that kid when. Thank you for being here.

Sidnee Peck: Thank you so much.

LGBT Employment Discrimination

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  • President Obama issued an executive order barring discrimination against LGBT employees working for the federal government and federal contractors. Jeff Brodin, a Phoenix labor law attorney, will discuss the order and what it means to LGBT employees in Arizona.
  • Jeff Brodin - Labor Law Attorney, Phoenix
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, lgbt, employment, discrimination, federal, arizona,

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Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to Arizona Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. President Obama issued an executive order yesterday that bars discrimination against LGBT employees working for federal contractors and the federal government. Here to talk about the impact on workers and businesses in Arizona is Phoenix labor law attorney Jeff Brodin. Good to have you here. Thank you so much.

Jeff Brodin: Thank you.

Ted Simons: What exactly did the President do?

Jeff Brodin: Really two big things yesterday. One was to amend executive order 11246, which prior to yesterday prohibited discrimination by federal contractors, employees of federal contractors on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, and sex. To those categories the president added now, with his stroke the pen yesterday, sexual orientation and gender identity. So this protects federal or employees of federal contractors, which is about 25% of the work force.

Ted Simons: And this was originally, you mentioned along racial lines and sexual lines-- This was LBJ back in that day, correct?

Jeff Brodin: Correct. It’s 49 years old.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Jeff Brodin: The executive order. So pretty close to the same age as the Civil Rights Act which he signed the year before.

Ted Simons: And another one not too far along was I think President Nixon signed something regarding federal employees, that was amended as well?

Jeff Brodin: Correct. That's 11478. And that was signed by President Nixon I believe in '69 to prohibit federal government from discriminating against its employees. So federal employees gained the same protections as under the order that was signed by President Johnson. That was amended in '98 by President Clinton to add sexual orientation, and so what President Obama did yesterday is he added gender identity to the federal employee protection.

Ted Simons: And okay, so what about religious groups, especially with these federal contractors? How does that apply?

Jeff Brodin: There is no carve out as there has been proposed in some of the federal legislation. But under the Bush -- Second Bush administration, there was a religious clause that allows an employer that is a religious institution or association to favor a person based upon their religion. So say it's the Catholic church and they're looking to hire someone in their school. That they can favor someone who’s Catholic, but they can't exclude someone on the basis of the protected categories.

Ted Simons: Okay. So that wasn't necessarily amended, that's still is in play, but that has changed a bit by these amendments. Correct?

Jeff Brodin: Correct. It actually might become more important to some religious institutions because of the fact that it's a category that some churches view differently, sexual orientation or gender identity than the other protected categories. And it was a topic that was lobbied, President Obama was lobbied about prior to his signing. And there were a number of religious groups in favor of not having an exclusion, keeping it as it was and there were other religious groups that argued for a total carve out, an exception.

Ted Simons: So, before yesterday, was being gay a firing offense for federal employees and/or federal contractors?

Jeff Brodin: Yes.

Ted Simons: It was? I think that would surprise a lot of people.

Jeff Brodin: When they do surveys on what -- How many employees are protected on the basis of sexual orientation in particular, most people think it's already law that you can't discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation. However, that protection exists only in 18 states. And a number of municipalities, like Phoenix, and Tucson, and Tempe, there's a ballot initiative coming up in August to see if the action of the city council there will be affirmed.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned previously that there was federal legislation that was supposed to address this. Obviously that has not happened. What’s going on with that?

Jeff Brodin: Sure. The law is called ENDA, and -- I'm not even sure what the acronym stands for, but there's been some form of that in Congress proposed and considered over the last 40 years. It's come the closest in this session when the senate in November passed with the bipartisan majority, passed ENDA, but it stalled in the house, it looks like it would have a majority and pass if it came to a vote, but Speaker Boehner has made it quite clear he's not going to bring it to the vote.

Ted Simons: And the fact that he’s not doing that, thus the President says executive order, and the President can do this?

Jeff Brodin: Correct. This is an executive order. That's the type of thing only the President has the authority to do. It's federal employees -- It's exactly the nature of the type of action the chief executive has the authority to do.

Ted Simons: Ok. Where does Title VII play into this, if it plays into this at all? First of all, describe it Title VII.

Jeff Brodin: Title VII is the first name was the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Also then became known as Title VII by the number of the act. And that prohibits discrimination by an employer on the basis of the same categories and more, disabilities, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, some genetic information now is pulled under—But what Title VII does, it prohibits discrimination but it also gives employee as remedy. So that if they've been discriminated against or believe they have, they can go to the EEOC, file a claim, say I was discriminated against, they can get damages, the EEOC can ask for reinstatement. There’s -- It's really the statute that allows the employee to get redress if they've been discriminated against.

Ted Simons: And again -- What the President did was to the employer say you can't do X, Y, and Z, what Title VII would do, would be to the employee if they do X, Y, and Z here's your remedy.

Jeff Brodin: Correct.

Ted Simons: Is that pretty much it?

Jeff Brodin: Correct. What’s -- The development -- The new development in that area is that sexual orientation and gender identity are not specifically protected characteristics or categories under Title VII. But what the EEOC has currently takes a position is that Title VII does include protections against sexual orientation discrimination and gender identity under the prohibition of sex discrimination of Title VII. So as far as the EEOC is concerned, it's already there.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Jeff Brodin: And there is a district court case that is ruled the same way. So like same-sex marriage developed through the courts, I think this is an area that’s going to follow that. And the courts are likely to rule in the -- with the position of the EEOC. That’s a prediction at that point, but it looks like it’s a possible one.

Ted Simons: Aside from the critics who you look at this as yet another example, they see it as the President's imperial presidency and those kinds of criticisms, there's also concern that it opens employers up to the threats of costly legal action. Valid concerns? What do you think?

Jeff Brodin: Every time a category has been added to protections against discrimination, that's the argument traditionally that businesses have been – have made. This area, protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity, it's really been a sea change in the position businesses take. Businesses on the whole favor this protection. They believe it's good business to have these protections in their policies to have you know programs that really promote diversity, and this is an aspect of diversity. And I think in this day and age and economy and workplace, employers have really come to learn the value of diversity, so most employers do have policies that protect based on sexual orientation and gender identity. However, there are many who don't, and it's for those employees who may be working for one of those employers that they need the protection.

Ted Simons: Last question, impact of the executive orders on Arizona?

Jeff Brodin: Well Arizona, while 25% of the work force work for federal contractors, Arizona as a state, where we have a lot of federal contracts through the various big businesses we have in town. So that I've not seen statistics on it, but my guess is it would be even larger than 25% of the work force is now protected under the executive order.

Ted Simons: All right. Jeff, good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Jeff Brodin: Thank you.