Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 11, 2006


Host: Lew Ruggiero

Journalists' Roundtable


  • Donít miss HORIZONís weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the weekís top stories.
Guests:
  • Dennis Welch - the


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Lew Ruggiero:
It's Friday, August 11, 2006. In the headlines, next week finally arrives for Republican gubernatorial candidate Don Goldwater as he turns in his contributions to qualify for clean elections funding. On the Democratic side an audit has cleared Governor Janet Napolitano of any wrongdoing in the dispute over her campaign expenses. And a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge rules the Protect Marriage Arizona initiative does not violate the single-subject rule but that decision is being appealed with the State Supreme Court. All that's next on Horizon.

Lew Ruggiero:
Good evening. I'm Lew Ruggiero filling in for Michael Grant. And joining me to talk about these and other stories is Dennis Welch of the East Valley Tribune, Howie Fischer, Capitol Media Services and Bob Robb of the Arizona Republic. There were several developments in the gubernatorial race. Don Goldwater finally filed for clean elections funding while the clean elections commission issued rulings on complaints filed against Republican candidate Len Munsil and Governor Democratic Janet Napolitano. Dennis, let's start with the Goldwater development. Took him a while to get enough signatures needed, 4,200, to qualify for that state money. Now he can get the state money. But what's the timing on this?

Dennis Welch:
What do you mean, finally? What's all this "finally" talk? I mean, if you go talk to Don Goldwater and his people, say, well, we're right on track. This is what we have been planning on doing and if you go back and look at other campaigns historically they don't get their money till August. But I mean, even, I mean, he says despite the fact that for the past two months he's been saying, well, I'm filing next week. Basically what took him so long was he wanted to go through each and every name on this list, each and every one of the donors make sure they were clean, registered voters, and make sure it would stand up to a challenge.

Howard Fischer:
And part of the issue for him is going to be assuming he gets his money, let's say last next week, finding there are 4,200 signatures and valid $5 donations how quickly can he use it? It's not muff money to run a statewide campaign. TV doesn't make sense because you can eat up half of that with one set of commercials. So how does he get it out there and how does he target it for the people who will likely support him? Get out vote campaigns? Phones, a lot of radio, I am assuming and he's got to get it fast enough because as we know early voting actually started yesterday.

Lew Ruggiero:
For the primary. That's the point. The primary comes up in the Republican Party September 12. Is it a lock that Don Goldwater is even if he gets money tomorrow is going to be the nominee, Bob?

Bob Robb:
Well, he doesn't need to be a challenge. There is an all check that occurs by sending these $5, the people who sent $5 checks out to the county recorders to see whether they are valid.

Lew Ruggiero:
A sample.

Bob Robb:
And the way it works, if you get over a certain percentage over 100\%, you get the money. If you fall below 95\%, I think, you don't get the money. If you fall in between, then there's a check of each and -- each signature, each contributor. Now, the clean elections commission recommends about 5,100 or 5,200 in order to ensure that you have got enough to -- enough more than the minimum necessary in order to withstand this check. Goldwater fell kind of in between what's required 4,200, and the 5,200, with about 4,700.

Howard Fischer:
That goes to the question of his lack of a real organization. See, Len Munsil who knows how to put together these kind of grass roots from his time as head of center for rid policy, had the foot soldiers out there, had the people and the organization ready to do this, whereas Goldwater who has been relying on name I.D., shoved into the race by some of the elements of the right wing of the Republican Party, is just kind of relying on his good looks and his name.

Lew Ruggiero:
The 4,200 names just not too fine to opinion out those 4,200 contributors have to be registered Arizona voters, just like checking a petition signature on an initiative and that's what we are worried about here. Even if they all check out and he gets that money, 8:00 tomorrow morning, what are his chances to get to past the primary to become the nominee?

Dennis Welch:
Still pretty good. I mean, if Luke at polls since the beginning of the year, he's been leading. He's had a comfortable lead over Len Munsil and the other two candidates. I mean, if anything, the basic rules of war say it's easy to defend than it is to attack. And these are guys that -- Munsil is the guy that's been spending money to try to get his name I.D. out there and try to overcome his relative anonymity.

Bob Robb:
Munsil only began spending his money this week. And I think the public polls need to be largely discounted. Drilling down to actual primary voters is a very difficult undertaking and unless you are looking at a historic list of primary voters, chances are less than half of your sample is going to be actual primary voters.

Bob Robb:
I think a lot of those ought to be set aside. Munsil has the political organization to generate turnout in a low turnout primary election. I think that that's probably a superior asset at this point than the Goldwater name with no money. Now, if you get the Goldwater name with money, it becomes a much even fight.

Howard Fischer:
That's really the key about Rob's point about the low turnout. Let's assume you get 250,000, 300,000 Republicans turning out, that means a four way race, somebody with 80,000 votes can actually become the nominee. From Don Goldwater's perspective, again, with that name I.D., never mind his views are seemingly opposite of his more famous uncle, people go to the polls, I know that line, and you put the name in there. Len has a very committed core. His job as Dennis mentioned is to get beyond that core. He's got perhaps 17 to 20\% of the Republicans who will vote for him. He needs broaden that a little bit.

Lew Ruggiero:
Let's move on to another clean elections issue which is Governor Janet Napolitano had a complaint filed against her about possibly jumping the gun on using some clean elections money. What has happened on that?

Howard Fischer:
Well, it wasn't even clean elections money at that point. The state law says you cannot spend money until you have a campaign committee. She set up the campaign committee early March. And that very day a website went up and so the question came up, excuse me, how did this happen?

Lew Ruggiero:
She had to have that waiting in the wings. She already had contracted for that and had it ready to go.

Howard Fischer:
That's the key. She insisted that first of all, that we had $2,500 in the bank which the audit seems to have suggested there was that much that came in that day. That all this was done basically on spec. It was a very simple website. There were no contracts signed and therefore, there was no violation. Now, what the audit said, yes, she did have $2,500 in the bank. The clean election commission still needs to decide whether there were contract and encumbrances because that becomes the key issue. Both this one and the one we will talk about with Munsil was money encumbered before she had it? And the commission wants a little more investigation on that.

Bob Robb:
It's really all whiffle ball politics. All of these complaints. You get these questions of whether consultants are being paid a little early, a little prematurely. You have got accusations that people aren't putting the right disclosures on their websites. And it's unfortunately substituting for any substantive decision of the issues truly facing the state. None of these accusations thus far amount to anything of any degree of significance that really ought to be of concern to voters.

Lew Ruggiero:
Len Munsil's, I believe, consultant is Nathan Sproul. That was another clean elections issue. More whiffle ball?

Bob Robb:
Absolutely. Comparable to--very similar to the accusation with, about Napolitano prematurely engaging a consultant. The accusation here was he was engaged, disengaged and reengaged and again, these things, there's a lot of flexibility in the way that you set up a consulting contract. He's got a certain amount of money. The more he gives to his consultant the less he has for actual voter conductivity and it's a relatively negligible amount of money. None of these are substantive accusations that ought to concern voters of whit.

Howard Fischer:
That's the opinion. Charges are filed largely because they know that at some point, Dennis and I write in our news columns and Rob occasionally gets into this, too, about them and they are counting on slinging mud. I mean, the charge against the first charge against Munsil that at one point on his website it did not have "paid for by Len Munsil," like any idiot couldn't figure out this wasn't his website and the Republicans say they didn't have it and this is just silly.

Lew Ruggiero:
Did you approve this message your snow level.

Howard Fischer:
This message has been approved by Capitol Media Services and is solely responsible for its content.

Lew Ruggiero:
Speaking of politics and money, Jim Peterson running against John Kyl presumptively, a race that will draw a lot of attention, we had a major national player and I believe that was Senator Harry Reid. How is Peterson working with the money? He's got the bucks.

Bob Robb:
Well, he's put in $4.67 million of his own dollars. He's been advertising heavily for several months as has the Kyl campaign. So this is one election that is engaged. And I will give both candidates credit. They do seem to be engaged on the issues particularly in their television advertising. Reid, I presume was in town to raise a little bit of somebody else's money. And while Peterson is not anxious to be tied to the National Democratic Party, you can hardly ask the guy in town to raise you a few bucks and not appear publicly particularly since by him appearing publicly you will get some media attention. And Reid was able to stress some of the issues that Peterson wants to highlight with respect to Kyl.

Howard Fischer:
One of the funny problems that Peterson has is he needed the early money of his own to get the publicity out there to make him seem viable to try to attract additional money from outside. It hasn't come in as fast as he thought. Perhaps because outsiders say maybe he's not viable. So therefore he goes back to his wallet. Goes back, writes out another check thinking that at the point he moves more in the polls then folks will say now he's viable.

Lew Ruggiero:
He will argue he's priming the pump. Others might say this is getting to do point where it's a vanity publishing situation.

Howard Fischer:
Here's the problem. You have got -- I love this campaign. You have Kyl saying, look at Peterson putting in all of his own money, and he's the fat cat. Meanwhile, Kyl has gathered money not only in terms of presidential visits, from every special interest he could find in Washington and has $10 million and saying, oh, I'm the poor guy in this race.

Bob Robb:
This is another race where I don't know that the public polls could be entirely trusted because, again, drilling down to who's going to vote in November, particularly this early, is difficult to do. But Peterson's been hurt by the rhythm of those polls. They initially showed the race tightening to pretty close to single digits, small double digits. Now the public polls are showing that expanding back to nearly a 20-point lead.

Bob Robb:
Because, again, I don't trust the polls. I don't think that they are drilling down to the people who actually vote. But to the extent Peterson needs to prove viability in order to attract money other than his own, the way in which the public polls have played out have hurt his cause.

Lew Ruggiero:
Well, Dennis, I want to turn to you a little bit. There are a number of initiatives coming up on the ballot. We are going to talk about protect marriage and that whole court decision in a minute. What are some of the other major initiatives coming to the citizens? What's been approved? What hasn't been approved? What's in the pipeline? When will we know?

Dennis Welch:
There's one of if you smoking banish actives that have been approved for the ballot. The one that was approved this week was the one that would -- the most comprehensive, that would ban smoking in almost every public place, I understand. And from what I understand from talking with those folks is the hardest thing he got to overcome is confusion with a competing ballot --

Howard Fischer:
We call the nonsmoker protection act which is funny. I mean, clearly, the whole purpose was confusion. If you look at the fact the nonsmoker protection act which is fund largely by R.J. Reynolds, which you got to wonder in the first place. The fact they are already running TV suggests there's going to be a lot of money in this campaign. If they look in the ads they say it's a comprehensive solution. It will protect children and nonsmokers rights and provides a statewide solution. Their statewide solution is like the final solution, if you will, because it says even if let's say voters in Tempe want to ban smoking in bars, I'm sorry, we are making a statewide decision. We are not going to allow it.

Bob Robb:
I don't think it is just for confusion and I actually give the campaign higher marks than Howie does for candor. The issue is whether you are going to permit smoking in bars.

Lew Ruggiero:
The difference between the two.

Bob Robb:
That's the difference between the two. And the tobacco companies want to maintain that ability. The bars want to maintain that ability. And their ads make it very clear that that is the one of the points of differences. It shows a check on the other initiative as banning smoking in bars, and their initiative permitting it. So there's a substantive issue here. And I think the campaign has been pretty straight forward about it.

Dennis Welch:
But it comes down to the question of people working in this environment. I mean, they want to try to protect them from working in this -- in an environment with secondhand smoke that, you know, it's proven to cause cancer.

Bob Robb:
That would be the argument on the other side and I presume that the other side will bring that out in its advertising.

Lew Ruggiero:
I want to come to a city initiative that's been pushed call protect our city. The former candidate for mayor, he wants Phoenix police to be enforcing federal immigration law. He does not want the city pulling the plug on that. What's happening with that?

Howard Fischer:
Essentially, he came up short, and the city ordinance allows somebody, if the first count comes up short, gives them an extra time so he says he is going to turn this in supposedly on Sunday, turn in some additional signatures. He claims he's enough to put this on the ballot. This is the city version of what was trying to be done at the legislature, the idea we are not going to have, quote-unquote, sanctuary policy, we are not going to allow police to go to a rally, to go to house and not ask about their immigration status.

Lew Ruggiero:
Does it get on the November ballot and thus possibly become convoluted with gubernatorial politics or does the city push it off until next spring?

Bob Robb:
To the extent the city has any discretion in the matter and that will depend in part on when it gets validated, I believe they will try pushing it away from the November ballot.

Lew Ruggiero:
Why.

Bob Robb:
If it is on the November ballot then I think it creates great difficulty for Napolitano. Because it is a policy which she opposes. And there is some evidence that the voters don't understand why their local cops turn their back on it.

Lew Ruggiero:
I oppose it because local law enforcement, police chiefs, don't want to do this. They are already overburdened. I'm on the side of the cops.

Bob Robb:
I understand that that's her position. That does not appear to be the majority sentiment among the voters of Arizona. And if there's a ballot proposition and people in Phoenix voting on it in November, that raises the saliency of that issue in the gubernatorial race. That's -- and because the Phoenix city council tends to be populated with people who are supportive of Napolitano, to the extent there's any discretion, I am pretty confident it will be exercised and not put on the November ballot.

Howard Fischer:
I don't know. It makes any difference. There's several immigration measures on the ballot not the least is the expansion of prop 200. This one going ahead and knocking out adult education, child care, and in-state tuition. So the issue will be squarely on the ballot.

Lew Ruggiero:
That was already there?

Bob Robb:
Official English on the ballot. And you got no bail for illegal immigrants. But they aren't nearly, in my judgment, as substantive and bringing the sides to a comprehensive clash as this problem position would be.

Lew Ruggiero:
And speaking of wedge issues, less than a week after hearing arguments on the legality of the protect marriage Arizona initiative, Maricopa county superior court judge Douglas Rayes issued his ruling on that initiative saying the proposal could appear on the November ballot. Now, Howie, what was the basis for the judge's decision this was not sort of two mints in one?

Howard Fischer:
In essence our constitution says if you are going to amend it, you have to have a single subject. The idea is you don't want to go log rolling. You don't take something that you know people want and put on something totally unrelated figuring you have to take people along. The judge acknowledged that this thing does three things. In fact, the initiative organizers acknowledge it does three things. It constitutionally makes marriage in Arizona defined as one man and one woman. That's already in statute. This would put it in the constitution. Number two, it prohibits the legislature or the courts from imposing civil unions like some states have done as an alternative. And number three, it says there's no legal recognition for domestic partner benefits for public employees. So, in other words, for example, in the city of Phoenix fire department, unmarried couples same-sex, opposite sex, can get benefits, insurance benefits for their partners. The judge acknowledged that. He acknowledged the polls show if you actually segregate them out there are different levels of support for each of them. But he said if you look at it, it is part of a single comprehensive scheme to protect against imitation marriage. The idea being if you simply define marriage as between one man and one woman and allow, lets say, the legislature to grant everything else that deals with marriage without the "m" word, then, essentially you have undermined marriage. He said it was a very close call. Obviously, the opponents will take this to the Supreme Court with briefings next week.

Dennis Welch:
I mean, their chances aren't very good as far as the trends across the country. Other states, in other states they have argued the same thing that it violates their single subject rules and most recently in Georgia, they struck down that argument.

Bob Robb:
Some states have struck down comparable measures on the single subject rule. It's real hot potato for our Supreme Court which over 60 years of jurisprudence has had a very inconsistent approach and an unpredictable approach to the outcome. There has been some indication that there's some recognition on the court that they have made sort of a hash of this area of the law and that they need to straighten it out. This has got to be the worst possible issue to try to have sort of a detached, dispassionate view of what the single subject rule requires, particularly with two of the justices -- Chief Justice Ruth McGregor and Justice Andy Hurwitz -- on the ballot for retention. So this thing's fraught with politics and legal complexity and it's sort of unfortunate that it will be one of the issues that the court will use to try to straighten out its jurisprudence.

Lew Ruggiero:
When is the court likely to have a ruling? We are coming up on Labor Day in three weeks.

Howard Fischer:
We have been told the absolute drop dead deadline is August 31. That gives them time for briefings. They haven't said we want to hear directly from the attorneys but it gives them time to do that. Essentially, if they rule by August 31, they are fine. There's no federal issue here. It's not like it could be appealed into federal court. This is strictly an interpretation of the state constitution.

Lew Ruggiero:
And so by August 31, it's going to be done and we will know one way or the other? There will be no federal appeal?

Bob Robb:
This is the Supreme Court. It would be good for them to rule by August 31 for the Secretary of State and the printing of the ballots. There's utterly nothing which compels them to do so. I think they will.

Howard Fischer:
And we have actually had ballots in prior years that have had measures printed on the ballot and people told, you can vote any way you want, we will program the machines not to recognize it. It's not a fatal flaw if they decide November 2.

Lew Ruggiero:
There's a ruling about emails.

Howard Fischer:
This is a fascinating ruling because it's always been presumed that if a documents exists in a public office, or on a public computer, it's public. But what the court of appeals said -- this was in regard to the Pinal County Manager who got in trouble last year supposedly for spending money on guns for the sheriff's department. The Republic went in and said, look, we want all of his emails for a two-month period and the trial judge said you are entitled to them. The court of appeals said the test is not where it is but what it is. And the definition under title 39 is something you have to keep in memorial of your duties, have to keep as required by law and the fact he may have been -- arranging his vacation on his public computer, the fact he may have been sending mash notes to his girlfriend on the public computer is immaterial.

Lew Ruggiero:
But we just went through that, speaking of mash notes, out in Mesa with city employees, did we not?

Howard Fischer:
There's two issues here. The court said certainly because of the fact that Mr. Griffith signed a statement saying these items on your computer belong to the county; they can certainly fire his derriere for that. They are certainly free to do what they want. But they are saying a third party, in this case, the Republic, can't come in and demand it. This is an interesting case. I have a feeling the Supreme Court wants to have a look at it. The public records law goes back essentially to the days pre-computer, a lot of ways pre-television. And this whole idea of what, in fact, constitutes a public record, what is a record anymore? How about texting on your cell phone if it's a public cell phone? And where are these records kept? And if a record only exists in cyberspace, is it a record? You have got some really fascinating issues for the court to deal with here.

Lew Ruggiero:
Do we have any idea when there might be a ruling on this or when it might come to the fore, this year?

Howard Fischer:
I talked to an attorney for the Republic and he said there will be an appeal. Now, how quickly that can occur he obviously has, you know, essentially 30 days to go ahead and ask the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court could reject it out of hand which upholding the written court of appeals decision or they could decide to hear oral argument.

Lew Ruggiero:
We have only got 30 seconds but serial shooters, indictments. I think everybody expects Mr. Hausner and Mr. Dieteman to be indicted. Nobody expected a preliminary hearing to go public.

Dennis Welch:
Certainly, I didn't expect that at all.

Lew Ruggiero:
We shall see how that comes out. That's a long case and the baseline murder case.

Howard Fischer:
Of course. He stops granting interviews until his attorney walks in, that's part of the reason you want a preliminary hearing.

Lew Ruggiero:
Thank you. I'm Lew Ruggiero for Michael Grant, coming up, can artists help fix our broken world? That's next. Good night.

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