Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 10, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Don’t miss HORIZON’s weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week’s top stories.
Guests:
  • Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
It's Friday, February 10, 2006. In the headlines this week governor Napolitano, legislative leaders meeting face face-to-face on Thursday in an effort to resolve the stalemate over English language learning. A house committee this week voted to spend $10 million to use the Arizona National Guard along the border with Mexico. And the state's wildfire season has gotten an early start as the February fire near Payson has burned over 2,000 acres. That's next on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by the friends of channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona p b s station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. This is the journalists' roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services, Kathleen Ingley of the "Arizona Republic" and Paul Giblin of the "Scottsdale Tribune." There appears to have been some progress this week in the ongoing dispute between the governor and legislature on how to resolve the lawsuit over English language learning. Keep in mind we've been wrong before. The two sides met fate to fate on Thursday. Howie, it sounded to me like maybe they had made baby step progress.

Howard Fischer:
I think that after hissing at each other for the last 12 to 14 days, both sides felt they actually had to come to the table with something new. Because it was interesting because a week ago the governor had said, I'm going to send you a proposal designed to move things forward. It was the same old you know what rehashed. The republicans have dug in their heels saying, we think our proposal should go to the judge." and nothing has moved. So I think that they finally realized, look, even if the fines are accumulating and eventually will be used for English language learners we're approaching that $10 million range here. We need to actually come up with a resolution. Otherwise the rest of the legislative session is doomed.

Michael Grant:
House Speaker Jim Weiers was actually complimentary of the governor, said that she had moved a little bit. The plan being that they'll get a proposal on Monday? What's the current?

Howard Fischer:
Whether they get an actual proposal -- both sides have proposals. As we've talked about on the show, the problem isn't the amount of money but how you allocate it. The governor wants a flat amount. Republicans want schools to identify their teaching methods, costs, their other available funds and get the balance from the state. Clearly -- I don't know that there is a middle ground there other than perhaps saying, maybe we'll raise this base, this $350 a student to some level and maybe allow districts to come back and ask for something additional. That way each side can claim a partial victory. There's going to need to be some element of accountability in there which is making sure the money is being spent on true English immersion programs as the public mandated. There's also going to need to be something in there for choice issues. In other words, some money to go to allow some of these English language learners children to go to private schools --

Michael Grant:
Haven't they landed on that solution, though, cap it at 5 million bucks? It seems acceptable to the governor. That's what they put on the table last year.

Howard Fischer:
Understood. Last year was actually for everything. They came back this year and had no limit on it then 50 million on it. But I think you're right, that's exactly where we're headed.

Kathleen Ingley:
Yeah. Now the question is -- interestingly accountability is a big issue for the republicans in terms of money. Then when you come over to the tuition tax credit there's no accountability because their argument is parents will take responsibility. Therefore we don't need to tell the schools to do anything where as we need to micromanage the public schools. The governor had been arguing and sent them a detailed list of what she wanted private schools to do. I don't know if they're going to budge on that accountability. Whether when you have something as specific as English language learning.

Howard Fischer:
One of the overall points is, and Kathleen lit on is, that if you're going to allow public money, at least indirectly to go there, in other words diverting these tax dollars should there at least be a requirement for certified English language learner teachers? Maybe. Should there maybe be a requirement for testing? Sure. The governor was overreaching. She said for these schools to get tax credits they have to provide meals. That's plain silly and she knows that.

Kathleen Ingley:
Right. But it would make sense to test the kids going in. How about testing them and see if they learned anything?

Michael Grant:
They're microwaveable you could have your instructions in English. That could be sort of -- but anyway, Tom Horne met with the editorial board. Did he shed any light on this?

Kathleen Ingley:
Well, actually he shed a lot of light on actually what's happening out there in the field. What's happening in the field is, voters are -- well, who knows what voters voted on. But what they voted on was something that basically kids should be in something called structured English immersion. A few other terms. The idea being put them in a class where they're learning the subject and learning English for a year. Then you boot them out and they're in the system. As it happens, almost no school is doing that. They are doing some variations of it. Like having kids who know English and kids who are learning English together and having aids and tailoring the instruction. They seem to be having some success. So he's kind of hesitant to go in and whack them over the head and say you're not doing exactly what you're supposed to do when it works.

Michael Grant:
Now that's interesting because Tom Horne ran a very aggressive on this issue of forcing English immersion in the campaign. Did he such on how this epiphany happens to have come about?

Kathleen Ingley:
There's a certain real world. I think that probably you could argue, well, it's immersion because they're all speaking English. But I think he does admit some of these do not fall into the strict definition of the law. If they work why would you throw them out?

Howard Fischer:
I think part of Tom's concern was under the old system and particularly the funding system it was -- if you got an extra $400 for every kid, if you could keep them in these programs for 7, 8-years then you get the extra money and the kids never advance. I think his real concern is getting them out in one or two years. The methodology he's willing to be flexible on.

Michael Grant:
Which is an incredibly logical seguing to paying bonus moneys to schools to put in healthy food instead of junk food.

Kathleen Ingley:
Absolutely. This is -- well, let's hope that you can keep a straight face there, Howie. It stems from the rule now that the schools at the lower levels can't have junk food. But then the problem becomes, okay, what about the high school? The legislature is pretty dug in. Not going to tell the high schools to do anything. So we have the idea, all right. Well, how about a little bonus? Maybe if you give them a little incentive then they'll get rid of the junk food.

Michael Grant:
What more seriously which I hate to be, but the high schools have made the point that this is a profit center for us and we're going to lose some money. That point is debatable, but I guess part of it could be to compensate for that.

Paul Giblin:
Isn't it also part of the policy there would be a bouncy only the first few schools that changed over, bet get the bonus?

Howard Fischer:
It would be first 50 schools to rush in and say, we will incorporate into our high schools the standards adopted for elementary school, middle schools, junior high schools. We will give you 50,000 and you have to keep that program for four years. The idea once you have it in maybe you'll keep it. The big fight is coming from the soda manufacturers. They say, you shouldn't impose this. We have voluntary standards. The standards say if you have 6 slots only 3 can be for sugared sodas. And Tom Horne says, that's not a compromise at all because if schools are getting around the will of parents, if parents don't want their kids to have sugared sodas, to have candy bars and potato chips at school really undermines the role of the parents. Parents are free to send this stuff to school with their kids but he doesn't think it should be offered there.

Kathleen Ingley:
And actually none of this is as draconian as everybody thinks. They allow potato chips and low fat cookies.

Howard Fischer:
Have you tasted baked potato chips? I'm sorry. That's not a potato chip. It's a piece of fried something.

Kathleen Ingley:
No, it's not fried. That's the point.

Paul Giblin:
Those are awful. But where are teachers on that? Have they weighed in on this?


Howard Fischer:
Teachers have kind of stayed out of it. The Arizona education association said, look. We've got a lot of other issues out here. This has really been a fight between Tom Horne and Mark Anderson on one side, both of whom are health food nuts. Tom Horne will admit he'd rather have broccoli than a candy bar, which makes me wonder about his sandy. The soda manufacturers are the people who are making money by selling junk to kids.

Michael Grant:
Sticking with the primary education theme of this segment, representative Laura Knaperek with her let's have community colleges of four-year degrees stressing a couple of issue, accessibility and affordability, retread from last year. Bill's been changed. What do you think of the ultimate chances on this?

Howard Fischer:
Well, the funny thing was that her original bill from last year was to tell community colleges, you can offer four-year degrees in certain areas where they think it's needed. Teaching, fire science, police science, things like that. Where if you need a degree you otherwise have to come to a major campus. What's happened is the universities already have been doing some of these two plus two programs so that NAU was running programs in snowflake where you could get your degree up at pioneer community college. This new bill actually backs off of that, encourages more of these cooperative programs. Also you make some money available for coordination, puts back in the community college, that curiously we got rid of a few years ago. The people who seem to be unhappy with it this time are the private schools. You've got the university of Phoenix and those folks. They say, now, wait a second. We're offering these four-year grease. You can get these on line or something else. To the extent they see it as competition they may try to deep six it.

Michael Grant:
And of course, the universities and the board of regents are not real happy with having their turf invaded, either.

Howard Fischer:
But they like this version better because this came out of negotiations with community colleges. To the extents that it is still the universities offering the degrees, although sometimes through the community colleges, this is more accessible to them. Whether this survives I think there's something in this bill for everyone to hate.

Kathleen Ingley:
On the other hand, financially it is much, much more favorable. Once you add that whole accreditation process and what you have to have becomes extremely expensive.

Michael Grant:
Legislature trying to crack down on cities and their ability to use eminent domain in relation to private property.

Howard Fischer:
This stems from a couple of things. Of course, the old Bailey's brake shop case with Mesa, but what sort of got folks interested was an U.S. supreme court decision last year where the court said Connecticut agreed to take people's homes to create a retail project. They said that becomes a public use. How? Well, the city will make more own off of taxes in the retail project than they do from the homes. The court said at that time, states are free to enact greater restrictions. We do have some constitutional restrictions in Arizona. But lawmakers got alarmed that somehow this U.S. Supreme Court decision would somehow spread to Arizona. So they passed three major bills. Number one specifically says, increase revenues does not make it public use. Number two, the presumptions on the question of whether it's for public use now the burden is on the cities rather than the land owner to prove it's not. Number three, it allows the property owner a jury trial. There are several deals dealing with open meetings. I think lawmakers recognize when it comes to property rights we need to restrain cities.

Paul Giblin:
Are they spinning their wheels right now? Isn't this before the Supreme Court that's changing? Is this a subject worth dealing with right now?

Howard Fischer:
I think it is. Because whether the Supreme Court has become more or less conservative with Judge Alito on this issue it's hard to say. They're also concerned that while our court of appeals and our supreme court through lack of action has upheld some of the decisions like Bailey brake, their fear is that our court could change and still some holes and you need to change this.

Michael Grant:
Before we move on I want to touch on $10 million for the National Guard on the border. Do we know how much National Guard that would buy us on the border?

Howard Fischer:
I'm not even sure how many bullets it buys.

Paul Giblin:
More importantly how many votes does it buy? That's the real issue there.

Howard Fischer:
That's what it comes down to. Several years ago, the governor wasn't terribly interested in using the guard on the border. Then in her state-of-the-state she said, I'll use the guard on the border if we get federal money. She's even talking about mobile lookout points. Legislature says, okay, if this is such a good idea, we think $10 million of state money, given the hundreds of millions we're spending on illegal immigration makes sense. Going to put a bill on her desk and she's got to decide, what does she do with this. If she doesn't sign it then governor, were you really serious about this or not?

Michael Grant:
In the state-of-the-state. Yeah. Well, in what could be a very bad sign of things to come, Arizona's wildfire season has gotten off to a very early start this year. The February fire near Payson already raising concerns about the danger Arizona faces. Kathleen, you know it's bad when you have a fire before you've had Lincoln's birthday, Valentine's Day and George Washington's birthday. It looks pretty bad for this weekend, too, with high winds.

Kathleen Ingley:
Oh, yeah. The name itself, when you normally don't have a fire this bad until May tells you how bad it is. The forecasts are for a hotter summer than usual, a dryer summer than usual. We have already had November, December, January, driest three months ever. Flagstaff had like an inch of snow when they should have had about 57 or so inches.

Michael Grant:
The snowfall accumulation reports that were in the paper this week were just terrible.

Kathleen Ingley:
Yeah, awful.

Michael Grant:
Three\% of normal, 6\% of normal. Just bad.

Kathleen Ingley:
And then we have leftover problems. We have 25 million dead trees from the bark infestation. And now they're fallen over. It's bad enough they're standing upright and they could camp but now they're like a whole ladder of flames. It looks serious. And last winter's heavy rains, the deserts are full of nonnative grasses. Those are going to burn. The state forester has a slide show and he has a picture of the cave creek fire and this is where it ended. Right next to it there's all this grass. It's kind of like, is this going to continue this year? Meanwhile, the president's budget proposal is to cut money for fire fighting and prevention.

Paul Giblin:
I was speaking to some people at the Boy Scout camp where that fire is, and they said that the forest service was using chippers and taking some of these downed trees and putting them through chippers. I've been covering wildfires for years. I have never seen that before. That is a very serious problem that you brought up. They also said that ashes are floating into the camp and they look like snowflakes. They said embers are blowing a quarter mile. It could be a rough time up there.

Kathleen Ingley:
Oh, my gosh. It is a scary, scary year. Now, the state forester did say that these budget cuts are for fiscal '07. So everyone feels like they have the money so far by creative juggling, push the money here, there and everywhere. What they don't have is they don't have as many air tankers as they need. You may remember there was a big problem a year or two ago with all the big tankers, a question about whether they were safe. They had 44 then, now they're down to 16.

Howard Fischer:
Although the governor said she has obtained the services of several to fill in the bit-- stopgap.

Michael Grant:
Scottsdale fire department worried about some fairly expensive homes on the north side.

Paul Giblin:
They're pro active about this. The firemen were out there earlier this week and walking around tromping around in the desert. They're showing some of the grass you mentioned earlier. It's crinkled. Next to the grass are these overgrown Palo Verde trees and next to them are million dollar homes. Some of them are along golf courses and homes and they say a single cigarette or four-wheel-drive heating up the grass and the whole thing could go up.

Howard Fischer:
People neat to understand while you like to have the house necessary willed in the pines, you need that fire break, A, because of the fact that the fire jumps. B, it gives a place for the fire firefighters to get in between your house and that fire. It's amazing. People say, oh, it can't happen to me. What part of desert do they not understand?

Kathleen Ingley:
Actually if you could get 30 feet, 30 feet around your house you could be -- except for a really, really bad blaze, protected.

Michael Grant:
Things have not -- I'm going to go out on a limb here. Things have not generally been going well for the national hockey league. And they haven't been going well for the phoenix coyotes.

Paul Giblin:
This more so than that losing streak they're on.

Michael Grant:
This week it was not good. It was almost as bad as the fire season.

Paul Giblin:
That was bad, yeah. We were watching the NHL go up in flames. There's a whole betting scandal breaking, it broke in New Jersey and involves Wayne Gretsky and kind of a peripheral way his assistant coach has been implicated as being involved in this illegal betting scheme that involves perhaps mob figures. Gretsky's wife apparently throws a lot of money away on bets.

Michael Grant:
Apparently $5,000 on who would win the super bowl coin flip.

Paul Giblin:
That's a lot of money on a coin flip. That's a lot of money period. $75,000 total just on the super bowl. She's upwards of half a million dollars in the span of six weeks, I believe. And people who gamble will point out, well, that's some recycled money. Presumably she won some and reinvested it.

Howard Fischer:
It's also relative. Not only do you have Wayne's salary but she has an active acting career. It's sort of like, you know, I've got a bet with the governor's press aid over the outcome of the line item veto. 100 bucks may be big money. Where as for her it falls out of her pocket and it's not even missing.

Paul Giblin:
Yes and no. Those kind of friendly bets, everything gets invested. You either lose the 100 and you buddy eats your money or vice versa. What make it is illegal is they're skimming it, taking some for the house.

Howard Fischer:
Not a question. But people can say, oh, she's betting this much on a coin toss. If you've got more it's all relative.

Kathleen Ingley:
Although I don't think the whole issue is so much the amount but what a stain on hockey, on Gretsky. Everyone is saying, he's not involved. But now we have these news about the wiretap.

Howard Fischer:
This comes back to the whole Pete Rose thing. If you're not betting on your own sport. Leaving aside the issues of New Jersey gambling laws.

Kathleen Ingley:
Excuse me.

Howard Fischer:
If you're not betting on your own sport, who carries cares? You're not in the position to fix a basketball game or coin toss at the NFL.

Michael Grant:
What sports advances every since the 1919 world series fix, you do have to get involved with unsavory people like gamblers and that may come back and hurt you in your own sport. That's the concern.

Howard Fischer:
I appreciate that. But this idea -- it comes down to this whole idea that sports figures are supposed to be role model. Charles Barkley, bless his heart says, I'm not a role model.

Paul Giblin:
You're missing the point. Gretsky has said many times, I don't make any bets. I don't bet. He keeps repeating that. What he hasn't answered is, did he know the guy sitting next to him on the bench was running an illegal bookie operation. If he knew that and allowed the guy to continue to participate in hockey that's a really bad thing for hockey for the reason Michael already explained.

Kathleen Ingley:
Hockey has its problems.

Michael Grant:
I'm not certain if the wiretap they had on Gretsky, where he was talking about the thing, necessarily implicated him. It sounded to me more like he was saying, how can I protect my wife from the impact of this looming atomic bomb.

Paul Giblin:
The information is just coming out in little bits and pieces and mostly from the New Jersey star ledger. They indicated that Gretsky and Tikkutt were wiretapped a few weeks ago. The nature of the conversation hasn't been unearthed. But the interesting thing on Tuesday night Gretsky said he learned about this on Monday night when he was talking by phone. So if he learned about it on Monday night but the wiretaps were a couple weeks ago, --

Michael Grant:
That could be problematic.

Paul Giblin:
Right. And if he was trying to protect his wife from any implicated illegal gambling, that would indicate he knew it was illegal.

Michael Grant:
Can we safely assume that the international Olympic committee and perhaps even team Canada is not going to be ecstatic to see Wayne Gretsky in Torino on Sunday?

Michael Grant:
Gretsky obviously is a standout in that sport and a standout in sports all over. But it takes this publicity right to the Olympics. I've got to think they're not too ecstatic.

Paul Giblin:
Takes it to a world stage. That's a bad place to air your dirty laundry.

Michael Grant:
Well, real quickly. Scottsdale city council referred the new rules on strip clubs to the ballot. Have you got a prediction on the outcome?

Paul Giblin:
Well, it was interesting. Promoters of that wanted it to go on a special ballot so they could try to shepherd the pro stripper vote to show up that day. The city council put it on the general ballot, which presumably voters will turn it down.

Howard Fischer:
I think a lot of people will say, this was a stupid ordinance and let's get rid of the councilman while we're at it.

Michael Grant:
All right, journalists, we are out of time.

Mike Sauceda:
This is a relatively new fire station in south phoenix if voters approve bond measures on the bat lot on phoenix march 14. Others like it will be built. It would pay for many other improvements to the city's infrastructure. Learn more about bonds in a 4 part series starting Monday on Horizonte.

Michael Grant:
Tuesday we continue our bond series, Phoenix Bonds 101 with a look at propositions 3, 4, 5. Also county elections officials are explaining how proposition 200 voting id requirements work. Wednesday we'll tell you about phoenix bonds 6 and 7. Thursday we wrap the series. Thank you for joining us on a Friday evening. Have a terrific weekend. I'm Michael Grant. Good night.

Announcer:
If you have comments about Horizon, please contact us at the addresses listed on your screen. Your name and comments may be used on a future edition of Horizon.

What's on?

Content Partner:

  About KAET Contact Support Legal Follow Us  
  About Eight
Mission/Impact
History
Site Map
Pressroom
Contact Us
Sign up for e-news
Pledge to Eight
Donate Monthly
Volunteer
Other ways to support
FCC Public Files
Privacy Policy
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Google+
Pinterest
 

Need help accessing? Contact disabilityaccess@asu.edu

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University    Copyright Arizona Board of Regents