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August 13, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

AZ Giving and Leading: Paper Clouds Apparel

  |   Video
  • See how the owner of a local clothing company is giving more than just the shirt off his back to help those with special needs.
Category: Giving/Leading   |   Keywords: giving, leading, paper clouds apparel, local, clothing, company, special, needs,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona Giving and Leading looks at a Phoenix man who's found a unique way to raise money for special needs organizations. Shana FISCHER introduces us to --

Shana Fischer: With every T-shirt printed, Paper Clouds Apparel is changing lives.

Robert Thornton: Artwork individual with special needs created, transfer that to the shirts, hats, bags, and we team up with different special needs cause every two weeks and we sell their artwork on the web site. For two weeks, 50% of the proceeds go back to that special needs, school, cause, organization.

Shana Fischer: Robert Thornton started Paper Clouds Apparel after a visit to his parents' house. Robert noticed a drawing on the refrigerator. His mom is a school bus driver for children with special needs. The drawing was made by a little girl on the bus.

Robert Thornton: I spent the entire night mesmerized by this drawing. It was different, but different in a cool way. I spent the entire night staring at it. The next morning I woke up, I thought, man, that would look cool on a T-shirt.

Shana Fischer: Before long, he had the idea for Paper Clouds Apparel. He chose to focus on people with special needs because they're often overlooked by society.

Robert Thornton: You know, for too long, people have treated those with special needs like they kind of -- they want to put them in the corner, don't have to deal with them, I want to be like no, I want to put you on a pedestal and show you that you are talented, that you can contribute to society. You have skills and you need to be appreciated.

Shana Fischer: Paper Clouds Apparel has raised money for dozens of organizations across the country. Not only does Robert showcase drawings made by kids with special needs, he employs adults with special needs in the packaging department.

Robert Thornton: 80 to 93% of adults with special needs aren't employed. That's ridiculous. If more businesses focused on helping people instead of just the bottom line, bottom line, bottom line, like this world would be a much better place.

Shana Fischer: Robert is determined to make the world a better place one T-shirt at a time.

Robert Thornton: I just feel that I'm doing what I was brought here to do. You can change the world. You know, you just have to believe in it. It is not going to be easy, you know, but if you -- if you're doing the right thing and you work hard at it, you can do whatever you want to do.

Ted Simons: Paper Clouds Apparel is always looking for new designs. If you know someone who would like to contribute a design, visit their web site,

Ted Simons: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon," self-driving car developed by students at the U of A and around the country. How new online privacy rules in the European Union could affect you. That's Thursday evening at right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Light Rail Expansion

  |   Video
  • A committee has been formed by the city of Phoenix to triple the length of the light rail over the next 30 years. Phoenix city councilwoman Thelda Williams will talk about the plans.
  • Thelda Williams - Councilwoman, Phoenix
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, light rail, expansion, phoenix, committee, plans,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The city of Phoenix wants to triple light rail over the next 30 years. The city has formed a committee to look into light rail expansion along with street and bus service improvements. Here with more on the plans is Phoenix city councilwoman Thelda Williams. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Thelda Williams: Thank you, Ted.

Ted Simons: Citizens committee formed, again, the focus is on expansion, light rail, bus service, street, how much expansion are we talking here?

Thelda Williams: We're hoping a lot. Everywhere -- we're hoping we come up with maybe a 30-year plan that we could actually get the light rail not only to Metro Center in the north, west Camelback, down central, and ideally if the economy improves, we could get to Paradise Valley Mall.

Ted Simons: I want to get some of the lines in particular in a second. Are those lines approved by anything or anyone or are those just plans that have been -- somewhat in concrete?

Thelda Williams: Well, actually, the Metro design is underway. Camelback, going out around the capital, out Camelback, that one is on the books, ready to go. And south of Down Central is just in the preliminary stages.

Ted Simons: Let's go to these. We will start with the one going from Christown to Metro Center. There is the map there. This would start in 2016 and end, what, in 2026, something like that?

Thelda Williams: Well, that's what it is on the books for. I'm optimistic that it would be much quicker than that.

Ted Simons: Yeah, although I read somewhere this may not start until 2023 until some of the money starts to come in.

Thelda Williams: It depends on the funding, and the fed funding.

Ted Simons: Another one from downtown, west out to the capital and then along I-10. How far along --

Thelda Williams: I think that is no longer the plan.

Ted Simons: It has changed already.

Thelda Williams: I-10 didn't work for many reasons. It probably will go across Camelback in some fashion.

Ted Simons: What we are looking at here may not be the end result. How would it go straight north then? How -- I don't understand.

Thelda Williams: It kind of winds around to get up north. That had so many problems, and it was going to be so much more expensive that they had to abandon that plan.

Ted Simons: But it would still go out to the capitol.

Thelda Williams: Around the capitol, north and then west.

Ted Simons: North of maybe 19th avenue perhaps?

Thelda Williams: Yeah -- kind of winds.

Ted Simons: Okay. All right. We will wait until it happens. Another one 19th avenue west to maybe like Grand Canyon University and on out to Glendale.

Thelda Williams: Right.

Ted Simons: That one has a good chance?

Thelda Williams: Oh, yes, absolutely.

Ted Simons: And another one would follow as you mention maybe state route 51 up to Paradise Valley Mall?

Thelda Williams: Well, that's a possibility. That alignment hasn't been studied yet. I'm very optimistic -- Dunlap has -- go not only west to --

Ted Simons: I see.

Thelda Williams: West Metro, but could go east --

Ted Simons: Indeed.

Thelda Williams: And there is -- right of way there, we could get there.

Ted Simons: And last one you mentioned was downtown, south along Central to Baseline. What is the deal with that one?

Thelda Williams: That one is just beginning, under study. It takes -- we have to go through all of the different studies, environmental, set the routes and do all of the analysis, and then cost figures before we can get approved.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about some of the cost figures. How much funding needed? Give us a ballpark figure here.

Thelda Williams: We're probably talking a billion.

Ted Simons: A billion.

Thelda Williams: We've spent $1.4 billion on the 20 miles that we have constructed right now.

Ted Simons: And this would be --

Thelda Williams: And this is more than that.

Ted Simons: Yeah. Where would the money come from?

Thelda Williams: It's -- hopefully we are going to have to go out and get the 2000 tax renewed, optimistic that the voters will approve that and we can use that money and begin construction. But I think -- if we have five tenths or six tenths of a cent, we are able to not only do that -- we can address the bus -- we have poor bus service, let's face it. We could provide resurfacing of a lot of streets.

Ted Simons: Current voter approved sales tax ends in 2020. That is four tenths of a percent on the dollar. You are thinking maybe go to the voters next year with five or six tenths of a percent?

Thelda Williams: That's what I'm hoping. What happened to us, the economy, when it tanked, revenue didn't come in. And so what we expected to have built didn't happen because of that.

Ted Simons: What if the voters say no? Is there a plan B, C, D, or E?

Thelda Williams: Well, not yet. The state transportation tax expires shortly after ours. That would probably give us money to operate the current system, but it couldn't be -- we couldn't be expanding.

Ted Simons: From what I saw, it sounds like only five miles could be built in the next six years, before that -- the existing tax -- five miles, that is not a heck of a lot.

Thelda Williams: Nothing.

Ted Simons: And good luck with bus and street service.

Thelda Williams: Oh, absolutely.

Ted Simons: And there is a public -- $130 million shortfall, is that what it is, public transit system program?

Thelda Williams: Transit system -- transit doesn't pay for itself.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Thelda Williams: Cash-wise, it never will. Was not designed to. The infrastructure is very expensive. Operation is expensive. But we have so many discounts on tickets, veterans, schools, companies, different corporations buy at a different rate. We discount so many tickets because we want the ridership. EPA requires we keep the air clean, keeps traffic off the street, and it makes a lot of people in my district happy when you get the cars outs of the way coming downtown. Advantages that we pay for when we subsidize it.

Ted Simons: And you do need to get some committed funds, I think it is operating costs in order to get the federal dollars. Federal money is not going to come unless there is a plan in place.

Thelda Williams: Exactly. Unless we have it in place early. We can't wait until 2018, 2019 . It's too late. Because they program out their funds. And we all know they have less funds, more competitive. So, we have to have our package ready. We have to get in there early to be a legitimate candidate to receive federal money.

Ted Simons: And that is what this committee is designed to do. Who is on this committee, anyway?

Thelda Williams: We're lucky it is -- we have former secretary of transportation, Mary peters and Marty Shultz -- the cochairs, and then we have people who are interested. We have transportation people from other areas, and citizens from our districts.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask about a resident input. What do you need there and how can folks just say, here, I have an idea? A pothole in front of the street. Let's get it fixed.

Thelda Williams: We get lots of calls every day.

Ted Simons: I bet you do.

Thelda Williams: Well, we are setting up a web page. I think it is, if I recall right.

Ted Simons: I think it might be dot ORG.

Thelda Williams: Yeah -- and once we have a couple of meetings, going out to the community for input and we welcome it.

Ted Simons: Want people involved.

Ted Simons: I know when people do get involved, you are going to hear a lot about bus service and you are going to hear a lot about street improvement. Is there anything in general that you are looking at right now -- we hear a lot about light rail, but what about the bus service and what about improving the streets?

Thelda Williams: They're essential. There are already recognized over $500 million of street repairs we need. $500 million. That's a lot of money that we don't have. It is only going to get worse. Everything from your residential streets, but when you stop and think it's not just the arterials, the main streets, but all of them and we have over 5,000 miles of streets in the city of Phoenix that should be on a 20-year maintenance schedule that are on a 40-some maintenance schedule. No wonder they're falling apart.

Ted Simons: We will see what the committee comes up with and the input you get from residents. Good to have you here. Thank you so much.

Thelda Williams: Thank you for having me.


  |   Video
  • A storm that dumped over three inches of rain near South Mountain in Phoenix is being called a 1,000-year event. State climatologist Nancy Selover, who lives in the affected area, will tell us more.
  • Nancy Selover - State Climatologist, Arizona
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: environment, storm, phoenix, arizona, south, mountain, rain,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Heavy rains hit the valley last night resulting in flooding, downed trees, and over a dozen water rescues of stranded motorists. Joining us now is Nancy Selover, the state climatologist, and a resident of an area near South Mountain that was hit especially hard. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Nancy Selover: Thank you.

Ted Simons: What did you see -- you're by South Mountain, correct?

Nancy Selover: Yes.

Ted Simons: What did you see last night?

Nancy Selover: We had an extreme rainfall event that was tropical moisture. We had some dynamics, very unstable atmosphere and everything came together to squeeze that water out. We had 3.37 inches at my house in 100 minutes.

Ted Simons: What is 3.37, or three and a third -- in a little over an hour and a half?

Nancy Selover: Yes.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask if this is typical. That doesn't sound typical.

Nancy Selover: No, that is not typical.

Ted Simons: What happened here?

Nancy Selover: We just had an incredible amount of moisture that had come up from Mexico, tropical moisture. We saw low cloud levels, and it didn't take much to raise that up and get that -- get those rain events to start happening. And it just sat over South Mountain for an extended period of time. There was graphic lifting, surface heating, some dynamics, what we call an inverted trough, low pressure system and additional positive – spinning that cause uplift.

Ted Simons: It seemed like it parked over South Mountain. It came from Mexico. Could you see it building? Was it waxing and waning?

Nancy Selover: The weather service knew the moisture was up there. The storms themselves, a single storm doesn't form down in Mexico and typically continue just as one storm. It is just a continual reformation of a storm cell. One dies out and the next one forms.

Ted Simons: It forms in Mexico, moves up here in various forms. This one parked over South Mountain and went nuts on your house in that area out there where they stranded motorists and everything. Where does a system like this go? How far north does it go?

Nancy Selover: This one didn't go too terribly far past South Mountain and kind of fell apart. There was a little redevelopment, later in the day,a little formation over the west valley as it went north but it dumped its load on South Mountain. There wasn't enough moisture left after that to really provide too much rainfall.

Ted Simons: Monsoon, storms in general, it seems like they bounce off the rim and come back. Or go straight up. They don't go to Canada. How far north do they go?

Nancy Selover: Monsoon moisture typically goes into Northern Arizona. If we get a storm or a system that moves up the Colorado river, lower Colorado river valley, it will go up through into Las Vegas and it will dump a bunch of precipitation on them up there and it doesn't usually -- moisture doesn't usually go much further north than that.

Ted Simons: So, obviously, this was -- you said -- what happened on South Mountain could legitimately be described as a once in a thousand year event.

Nancy Selover: Yes, based on the annual return interval from the NOAA Atlas precipitation frequency tables, yes.

Ted Simons: The fact that it parked on the mountain, not necessarily the amount of moisture in the storm but that it stopped there and dumped.

Nancy Selover: Tables are calculated based on how long a time it rains and how much rain falls in that time. If you had two inches in 10 minutes, that would be a very, very significant event. Something that you would not anticipate happening frequently. In this case, we had a 200-year event, if I looked at 10 minute precipitation, highest 10 minute value. But looking at the highest 50 minute value, and the highest 90 minute or two hour value, we were at a thousand year event.

Ted Simons: Looking at washes, I think these were around your house and the washes, something like this, will change the nature of the landscape, won't it?

Nancy Selover: It absolutely will. When you get that – it’s very steep terrain up there. When you get that water that falls that quickly, it doesn't infiltrate. It just runs off the surface and as it moves, it gains power and steam and more and more water comes down and it picks up and carries larger and larger particles, and pretty soon gravel and rocks and then it is ripping trees out and carrying limbs and bushes down. When it gets to the end of the wash, for example, in our neighborhood, we have culverts that go under the street to drain the wash. Culverts about / foot in diameter with a grading on them. The bottom part of the culvert got filled with mud and sand. But then the top part was blocked when all of the bushes and branches and things came down. The water came up over the wash, out of the wash, over the street, down on the other side of the street and started to scour out the dirt over there.

Ted Simons: So, the concept of cleaning up after the storm, yeah, you have to clean up. You also have to look at what has changed and start preparing for the next storm.

Nancy Selover: Sure, sure. We have to clean out the washes and get those things unblocked so that the water stays where it is supposed to stay.

Ted Simons: The monsoon so far, other than this obviously, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? Other than that, pretty typical.

Nancy Selover: So far normal -- Sky Harbor, this year, donut hole -- Tucson airport last year -- a lot of rain in Tucson but not at the airport. This year, the airport here has not yet had its rainfall. I think it still will.

Ted Simons: You think the monsoon has some punch left in it.

Nancy Selover: Another four weeks.

Ted Simons: And that would be not so unusual.

Nancy Selover: No.

Ted Simons: Does it seem like in the old days, East side, East Valley, eastern parts would always get the rain and you would feel sorry for the folks, almost like in the West Valley, they wouldn't get the storms. They wouldn't get the rain. It seems like they're getting a lot of storms these days. Is that just me? What's going on here?

Nancy Selover: Partly depends on where that moisture and where the core of the monsoon sets up in Mexico. If sometimes it is over to the east side, so the Southeastern part of Arizona gets that or the storms go up through western Mexico, and some years the central path is up the lower Colorado River. And then sometimes just up through Central Arizona. So, where in Phoenix that splits, East Valley, West Valley, it's always hard to say. It is not a pattern. It is not just creeping in one direction.

Ted Simons: We are not seeing necessarily --

Nancy Selover: A trend --

Ted Simons: More people out there, and more people saying it is raining out there.

Nancy Selover: They're noticing it.

Ted Simons: EL Nino -- what is going on this winter?

Nancy Selover: Coming and going and on again and off again. At the moment, it looks like it will have something. Looking like it might be moderate to weak, not necessarily strong, although that keeps changing. It is hard to say. If it is a moderate EL Nino, then we typically would get a little more precipitation in the winter than we usually get. And the past three winters have been consecutively dry. We're happy for anything.

Ted Simons: Moderate EL Nino is a good thing. What does that mean for the mountains in Colorado?

Nancy Selover: It doesn't make so much difference. Colorado -- EL Nino, southern tier states that provide us with more moisture than normal. Colorado, Northern California, they don't usually get a huge impact.

Ted Simons: The Colorado River water, the mountains, hard to tell though.

Nancy Selover: The good news for us, last year it was our third consecutive dry year in the state, but Colorado, Rockies got a lot of precipitation, they had a lot of snow pack and that helped bring -- up a little bit. Not huge.

Ted Simons: That is still a major concern. Good to have you here.

Nancy Selover: Thank you.