Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 17, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Local reporters discuss the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
It's Friday, February 17, 2006. In the headlines this week, Len Munsil, the former head of the center for Arizona policy formally announcing he's running for governor. Another week has gone by without a resolution to the English Language Learner lawsuit- little progress being reported, and the state's senate has approved a bill that would ban cities like Scottsdale from using photo radar on freeways. Those stories next on Horizon.


Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by the Friends of Channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS 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, Mary Jo Pitzl of the "Arizona Republic," and Mike Sunnucks, he hails from "The Business Journal." Conservative republican Len Munsil, former president of the center for Arizona policy, formally announced his campaign for governor on Tuesday. Howie, I understand you had to pry his platform out of him.

Howard Fischer:
Well, I mean, it was a typical launching speech. Current governor: bad. Me: good. Napolitano: photo opt governor. Me: for morality, families, etcetera. What's interesting is that here's a guy who has 10 years heading center for Arizona policy. This is a quote, unquote, "family friendly lobbying group." Antigay marriage, anti-abortion, pro money in private schools, anti-gambling, anti-even Arizona lottery. And he said this is sort of what my precursor to running. Yet when we tried to get specifics, he said, "I am pro-life." Okay, what does that mean in terms of abortion? Does that mean you're against abortion in case the life of the mother, the health of the mother? What about rape, what about incest? "Well, you know, those are broad strokes and we'll talk about them later." Well what about prayer in schools? Do you want public money going directly into these schools despite the constitutional provision? Essentially he kind of blew us off and said, "We've got plenty of time. We'll discuss that later."

Mike Sunnucks
I think what you're going to see out of him, is a focus not on the social issues, on immigration, for tax cuts across the board, and try to appeal to the middle of that. He's already got the republican base, the evangelicals on his side, and he's trying to get away from that. If that's all he's got, the social issues, he's not going to beat Napolitano.

Howard Fischer:
Given everyone else that's in the race, and, you know, it's not exactly third or fourth string. I mean, we're down below that now. I mean, he's got a certain amount of name I.D. certainly has a group that can go out and get his support. I mean, he's already got more than 1,000 --

Michael Grant:
Fundraising and organizational support for --

Howard Fischer:
Sure. More than the 1000 of the 42 $500 donations he needs, and that will help him. What happens though, in the primaries, people tend to run to the right. And so it won't surprise me to find him talking more issues.

Mike Sunnucks
I don't think he runs to the right. He's already on the right.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
There's an argument that given that it's presumed that he's a frontrunner and that he might well face Napolitano, he can use this as a platform to advance the things he's been talking about for 10 years. No need to back away from it.

Howard Fischer:
But even on the other issues, again, I'm for doing something about illegal immigration. What exactly, Len? "Well, we're going to crack down, do more than the current governor." well, what, Len? "Don't worry, I'll have a plan." Again, I recognize that his handler doesn't want him talking specifics, but at some point if he wants to get the press, if he wants to get the name I.D. that done Goldwater has just by virtual of having my uncle being a US senator, he'll have to get out there and have specifics.

Mike Sunnucks
I think you'll see him focus on immigration. He does need to get specific, and offer different views from the governor, maybe the border wall, something like that. And on taxes, the governor doesn't support the across the board tax cuts, wants them more targeted, so he needs to differentiate himself on that pretty quickly, I think.

Michael Grant:
In the meantime, we have a, I understand, a political group, wholly unassociated with Governor Napolitano, running ads which are remarkably coincidental with the state of the address.

Howard Fischer:
What's funny, I heard a commercial that said, "We think people want something new in Arizona. We think they want higher teacher salaries, they want tax credits for companies to offer health insurance to their workers, and they don't want across the board tax cuts."

Michael Grant:
This is a sharp sense of déjà vu all over again.

Howard Fischer:
Exactly. I've said, wait, where's the governor's state of the state? And this program for Arizona's future is a 501c4, a charity group, technically not a campaign group. I figured, let's find out who's behind it. So I call them up and say, so who's funding it? We're not going to tell you. Well, what do you mean? Well, well tell you when we're required to file our disclosure which is in November after the election. But we have a bipartisan group, for example the former vice mayor of Gilbert in there. So I call her up. And she says, yes, I'm a republican, but I voted for Napolitano so--

Mike Sunnucks
Steve May is on there also.

Howard Fischer:
Steve May's on there who would certainly not support anyone like Len Munsil for governor. A couple of valley businessmen on there who have tended to support Napolitano. And somehow they want to slide under the radar and think as great nonpartisan group. This is a way of getting around the campaign finance laws.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Howard Fischer:
See, when mainstream Arizona formed and starting running commercials on behalf of people, it gave matching public money to the foes. This way they're not campaigning for Napolitano, not campaigning against anyone, and so they think they're going to slip under the campaign finance law.

Mike Sunnucks
The director for the group worked for John Edwards, I think in Minnesota and New Hampshire, the press secretary for the group worked for Mark Warner, the governor of Virginia, worked for the Virginia Democratic Party. Napolitano has kind of moderated her after him, a centrist governor.

Michael Grant:
Former governor, Sam Goddard, the memorial service, Mary Jo at the State Capital

Mary Jo Pitzl:
The memorial service this afternoon , attend by a couple hundred people out on the mall under threat of rain, but none fell. It was a rather lively ceremony. They even sang a Gilbert and Sullivan song by --

Michael Grant:
He was a singer.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Yea, he was a singer and an opera fan.

Michael Grant:
Yea. Well, okay. Let's drop a little further down the ballot, Mike. May have some activity on the state treasurer race?

Mike Sunnucks
Yea, there's some speculation going on that Peterson won't run for re-election, and that the Martin state senator will step in and run it. Martin would probably be a pretty formidable candidate in that race. He's pretty well known. He's been on financial issues. He has his fingers in a lot of tax and finance type bills down at the legislature.

Michael Grant:
Now, are we going to rename the office of secretary of state lieutenant governor? Because I've never heard of that concept in the past four minutes.

Mike Sunnucks
It's come up a couple times before that there's been proposals to rename secretary of state lieutenant governor. That's what it serves as in states. Most states have a lieutenant governor, people like that title, because it allows them to run for governor or U.S. senate, some higher office. Secretary of state, people aren't sure what that means at the state level. There's a proposal to get it on the ballot this time.

Howard Fischer:
But here's the interesting thing. In a lot of states where people come from, the lieutenant governor and governor run on a ticket. The idea is you are electing an administration, like a president and vice president. This would do nothing but change the name. Salary would probably remain the same, although I'm sure that whoever's the next quote, unquote, "lieutenant governor" will want more money. The duties remain the same, in charge of elections, in charge of certain --

Mike Sunnucks
The title, lieutenant governor, the lieutenant governor of Maryland, Michael Steele is running for U.S. senate. Tim Cane was lieutenant governor of Virginia, and ran for governor. It's all about prestige.

Howard Fischer:
What I'm saying, how does that benefit the people of the state of Arizona?

Mike Sunnucks
It benefits the politicians.

Howard Fischer:
Okay, as long as we understand what this is really about here, that all this is that Jan Gore figures if she gets re-elected to the post, and becomes defacto lieutenant governor, that it will boost her chances perhaps run somewhere down the road.

Michael Grant:
I think part of the strategy though here, Howie, is because earlier versions have proposed some of those changes, where your political position may be a ticket, change in salary, change in duties. They're avoiding all that and saying, "Well just vote for the name."

Mary Jo Pitzl:
If this were to go through, there's nothing to prevent two candidates from running for governor, lieutenant governor, on the republican ticket and running as a ticket. People do it for the corporate commission, and there's no requirement--

Howard Fischer:
Understood, but the fact is you could end up with a situation, like what happened in California, where the lieutenant governor suddenly feels "I've got power." Every time Jerry Brown left the state --

Michael Grant:
That was fun.

Howard Fischer:
Mike Brown would --

Mary Jo Pitzl:
When Dick Mahoney was secretary of state, he made noises.

Howard Fischer:
But never fired anybody, never followed through.

Michael Grant:
Are we going to land the republican national convention for 2008?

Mike Sunnucks
Well, it's a little warm here in August when they usually have these conventions. So I think it's probably a long shot, but the GOP asked 31 cities to present bids, your convention facilities, those types of things. Phoenix is on the list. Obviously McCain is a leading presidential wannabe, and that would be a good fit, but it's awful hot here.

Michael Grant:
Would the trolley be up and running?

Howard Fischer:
No. And even it were up and running, not like you could get anywhere that --

Mike Sunnucks
The city finance hotel will be --

Howard Fischer:
That's the thing. Even assuming they could take the trolley, we've got basically two hotels downtown, and the trolley doesn't run by anything else that allows the conventioneers to get around. So tell me why they would want to come here?

Mike Sunnucks
There are a couple of cities in Florida that are on the list, Tampa was second. To New York last time, New Orleans is on the list, too. If they've rebuilt it and reformed their image, that might be a nice GOP place, if it's still in the quagmire it is I don't think they're going here.

Michael Grant:
What did Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon have to say?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Vote for our bonds. They have seven bonds on the ballot for a variety of purposes, but the bulk of the money is going for downtown Phoenix infrastructure and to help build a campus downtown for ASU and that is the mayor's alleged singular focus now is to turn out the vote for that in a big way.

Mike Sunnucks
There's not much opposition to that. All the business folks are for it.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I saw an opposition sign this morning, but very small.

Mike Sunnucks
There's a few Phoenix bond signs, a few pro signs, just a couple sitting out there.

Michael Grant:
Those started popping up six weeks ago. Right, at the holiday season. State lawmakers working on legislation regarding companies who hire illegal workers. This week a senate committee approved one bill regarding employers while rejecting another one. I think there's a third in the play. Mary Jo, sort this out for us.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
A lot rattling around out there. Everyone says the worm has turned and this legislature is going to put sanctions on employers if they hire illegal workers. And that got a boost from the governor-supported similar measures, but what came out of the senate this week is a bill that would not do too much different. It takes all the employment and state laws and federal laws, puts them under one umbrella and tack a fine on it, and says to the attorney general go enforce it with no money to enforce it. That won with the hardy endorsement. Business community. At the same time a bill that was feared by the business community, that would have required employers to run their new hires social security numbers against the federal database failed.

Mike Sunnucks
That was a democratic bill.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
A democratic bill.

Mike Sunnucks
Supported the governor.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Correct. That provision of it is identical to what Russell pierce has in the house.

Mike Sunnucks
70\%, 80\% support for the -- if the legislature sides with the business folks on there, they're going against the voters' will.

Howard Fischer:
That's the interesting thing. As Mary Jo pointed out, if you fill out the I-9 form, which you have to, already under federal law on your employs, which shows you've checked the documents, keep copies of the documents, which you have to do now, and don't pay anybody illegally under the table. If you do all three things, poof, you haven't broken the law. Now, if all of this worked, we wouldn't have half a million illegal immigrants in Arizona. Essentially this bill was crafted by the business community to make it look and to make Barbara look like she was doing something on this. This is a do nothing bill. It's all it's meant to do, is make it look like something's happening as opposed to do it.

Mike Sunnucks
This is a big political opportunity for the governor. If she comes in and fights hard for something that has teeth, that's good for her in November, I think. That's a no-brainer politically.

Howard Fischer:
Although the funny thing is she doesn't want to offend her friends in the business community, either. She really is going to do one of those things, putting her finger in the air and seeing which is better.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
There are questions of what you can do that would have teeth. A lot of businesses have raised questions about this program being pushed. It's a volunteer program, the chamber doesn't even know how many members partake in it. It's untested on a large scale. They don't want to go down that path until they know there's support.

Mike Sunnucks
Not even sure how to deal with the day labor question. The bill didn't have a lot of answers. They pick up migrant workers for a day's work and don't know how to document that.

Michael Grant:
Incidentally, the governor has extended that --

Howard Fischer:
Technically she didn't do it, she had her department of emergency services do it, homeland security. It's not really even extending the state of emergency. When she declared it, it was basically done for bureaucratic purposes, allowing her to spend some money. She had $200,000 she can spend on her own. Then her emergency council, all her appointees, and the attorney general said basically you can spend the $1.5 million. The agencies applied for the money haven't sought for the reimbursement yet, they don't have the receipts. This basically extends the time they can apply for the money.

Michael Grant:
So fill out the forms.

Howard Fischer:
The border situation hasn't been solved yet.

Michael Grant:
Here's a solution -- you build a wall down there and come up with a financing mechanism for it that is not any kind of general tax increase.

Mike Sunnucks
Russell Pierce again on the border issue, wants to put on a ballot, a state-built wall, and fund the wire transfers from Arizona to foreign countries. Folks here from Mexico and other countries send a ton of money back to their home countries. I think it's $20 billion a year nationally goes from the US back to Mexico. It's a huge part of their economy. They put I think a 7\% tax on it -- 8\% tax on that and build it. Obviously the governor doesn't port -- support the wall very much.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
You wonder how the tax would work if we cracked down on employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, we'll start reducing that pool that --

Michael Grant:
What will happen, the wall will get shorter.

Howard Fischer:
Pierce admits that you have people who are here, who are US citizens, who send money back to their families in Mexico and Honduras, and wherever. They would have to pay the tax. Now, if I want to send money to my sister in New Jersey, I don't have to pay the tax. And somehow they've determined, well, we're going to just take them all. If you're sending money to Mexico, basically you must be doing something wrong. That's an interesting question. Now, if he gets it on the ballot, I don't know the voters are going to see the problem with that.

Mike Sunnucks
I think they pass it easily, just like prop 200 last time. They want something done.

Howard Fischer:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
A chicken in every pot and a united states flag in every classroom.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
That's also coming from Russell Pierce. He wants to require that in every classroom, k-postgraduate, I believe.

Mike Sunnucks
I thought there were flags in every classroom anyway. Any school I ever went to --

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Well, US flags.

Howard Fischer:
And also have to be made in the United States, none of these Chinese flags. His real concern is community colleges and universities. He wants to make sure the kids going to those schools know exactly what country they're in. Now, interesting thing about this, I talked to the president of university of Arizona, and he said, "you know, I don't think he understands the problem. University classrooms, unlike high school classrooms, where you have a teacher there or it's locked, are left open. So you leave something on the wall, whether it's a flag, it disappears. Do we have to replace the flag every morning? Are we really ready to do that?"

Mike Sunnucks
We need a flag parole, like a border patrol. I think we should paint the border wall with American flags all along it.

Michael Grant:
Mary Jo, last time -- last week this time we were very, very optimistic the legislature was going to solve the English language learning issue with the governor's office. Mainly it was Howie that was optimistic. The rest of us were realistic about it. I don't sense a whole lot of movement on that this week.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I don't pick up a lot of movement. The big dispute, where is the money that's needed. Senate president Bennett when asked this week how things are going with the ELL, the English language learner issue said just put an h in front of it. [laughter]

Michael Grant:
Howie, federal court has still not ruled on what they do with the fine --

Howard Fischer:
Exactly.

Michael Grant:
Which could tip this one way or another on how the ruling comes down.

Howard Fischer:
The judge said it previously that he'd like the funds essentially sequestered, put aside for the benefit of the English language learners. The governor wants to send that money back out immediately to the school districts, in which case she might as well say, forget it, I'm not signing anything, because the money's going out. State school superintendent Tom Horn wants it kept until they reach a deal. He's filed an appeal in the ninth circuit. I'm hoping for a great oral argument at the ninth circuit because I know a great place for desserts there and I want to go for the argument.

Michael Grant:
You've done ninth circuit duty together.

Howard Fischer:
We've done a live remote. Mary Jo and I will go up for a live remote with a fake picture of San Francisco behind us.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I'm wondering if all the accumulating fines for ELL is part of the reason Dean Larson wants to run for state treasurer. That's a lot of money to oversee.

Mike Sunnucks Education has been the governor's issue. Always seem to look unreasonable in the negotiations. They've not been able to turn it around on her. I don't see how this works out for them.

Howard Fischer:
Well, again, you know, if the four of us were sitting around a table, I think we could craft something as we've talked about, not just a question of one amount of money versus another, it's how do you determine it? If they get data that shows on average it costs at least this much to teach English language learners, if they at least make the base that high, currently at $355 a student, saying you can apply for more, maybe there's middle ground to be had, but there needs to be an increase in the base level funding. Can't make it strictly a grant application.

Michael Grant:
Photo radar, Mary Jo, I heard that they clocked some people going like 110 miles an hour. Legislature moving a bill on banning photo radar?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Yes. The senate has moved out a bill that would do just that, but allow the city of Scottsdale to go through with its experiment in photo radar, at which time, I guess, no matter what the results of that experiment are, they won't be able to do it anymore.

Mike Sunnucks
You know, the voters are so up in arms about photo radar out there. I don't see why they're spending so much time on this issue. You know, they can't solve this funding crisis, but they seem to go around in circles on this photo radar thing.

Howard Fischer:
But that's typical. It's like we talked about in the show, like with the state budget. If you say, "I want, you know $180 million for child protective services for some additional services," they can't relate to that. They can relate to "we want to spend 29 cents for pens versus 28 cents," and they will argue over that. It's something they can relate to. The flagpole, the flags in the classroom. They understand stuff like that, whether you can order wine. One of the bills says if you were going to a community college or university, and one of the books in the required reading offends you, you can get another book. Now, personally, I'm offended by algebra, and I personally think if that bill passes, I'm going to get that masters degree of mine and be offended by many of the books.

Michael Grant:
You not only did a segue way there, you actually described the -- there's no follow-up question left for me on this bill, Howie.

Howard Fischer:
I'm trying to get your job, you know. [laughter]

Michael Grant:
Let me see. What about fining motor vehicles division, if you make people wait in line too long?

Howard Fischer:
This is a perennial issue. From time to time people have said, you know, look, why do we have to wait a half hour, hour and a half in the motor vehicle office? They've done a lot of things, to renew your driver's license or registration on phone, get a duplicate driver's license, but some people have to go in still. They now have fewer clerks, and longer waiting times, average waiting time over a half hour. So the bill considered this week says if you're there for more than half hour, we'll give you a $5 inconvenience fee. There for more than another half hour, we'll give you another $5. If we keep taking it out of their budget, maybe they'll get smart and hire more employees.

Michael Grant:
Senate judiciary committee this week dealt with the so-called three strikes bill, which some other states have.

Mike Sunnucks
California and a few other states have these. If you commit three serious felonies, life in prison, essentially, or 25 years, very long sentence. They want to get on the ballot for November. There's some republicans kind of pushing this as part of a law and order, it's a good turnout thing for them. I think if it's on the ballot, it probably passes.

Howard Fischer:
One of the interesting flaws, if you want to call it about this, one thing to say if you're convicted of a crime, do your time, you keep getting in trouble, then clearly you're a recidivist. If you've got a drug problem, you go out -- if I go out and I rob you, then I rob you, rob you all in the same day, that's not three strikes, minimum 35 years in prison.

Michael Grant:
Uh-huh.

Howard Fischer:
Is that a little on the harsh side for somebody that maybe needs rehabilitation? Probably. Will they fix it? I'm not sure.

Mike Sunnucks
They have a list of pretty serious crimes. California had the case of the guy that stole the pizza, right, and that made a lot of news.

Michael Grant:
Video rentals, too. Life in prison.

Mike Sunnucks
They've kind of crafted this to get more serious things. Armed robbery obviously.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Don't we have a three strikes law?

Howard Fischer:
Essentially what we have, judges can use prior convictions to enhance the punishment. While there are sentencing ranges, there's no mandate there. This basically says you will be sentenced to life in prison and you will serve 35 years.

Michael Grant:
Ok. Panelists, we're out of time. Thank you very much. Monday on "horizon," we'll have a preview of the upcoming "transforming American healthcare national symposium 2006" sponsored by the WP Carey School of Business at ASU also a discussion with the homeland security official about the botched response to hurricane Katrina. And here's what is on "horizon" the rest of next week.

Larry Lemmons:
It's one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs ever embraced by drug abusers. Methamphetamine is an accessory to countless crimes and a potential killer. Horizon devotes an entire program to the problem of meth from law enforcement to the personal damage. A special edition Tuesday night at 7:00 on Channel 8's "Horizon."

Michael Grant:
On Wednesday, we'll take a look at the fire season with a meteorologist and a fire incident commander. Thank you very much for joining us on this Friday edition. Have a great weekend. I'm Michael Grant. Good night.

Announcer:
If you have comments about Horizon, please contact us at the address listed at the bottom of the 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