Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 21, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

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  • An examination of the volatility of gas prices, the reasons, the politics, supply and demand. Guests include ASU Law Professor Orde Kittre.
Guests:
  • Paul Giblin - of the Scottsdale Tribune
Category: Energy

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Michael Grant:
It's Friday, April 21, 2006. In the headlines this week, immigration issues continuing to dominate the headlines. Senator John McCain calling for everybody to tone down some of the rhetoric in the immigration debate, while Senate candidate Jim Pederson unveils his immigration plan. Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed the immigrant trespassing bill, upsetting some lawmakers. A lawsuit has been filed to block the AIMS test from being used as a graduation requirement. Those stories next on Horizon.

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Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. This is the Journalists' Roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Paul Giblin of the Scottsdale Tribune, Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services, Chip Scutari of the Arizona Republic. Illegal immigration continues to be the number-one issue in our state. This week, Senator John McCain back in town, holding town halls, talking with constituents. Paul, he told everybody to chill out.

Paul Giblin:
Right, that was at Scottsdale. He, as you mentioned, he's done a lot of these town halls, but the one in Scottsdale, he was pretty pointed with the crowd. There was about 300 people there, and he asked people to stop using the words illegal alien and the word amnesty. Illegal alien seems kind of funny; he said that gives the impression of people coming down from outer space in spaceships. He suggested that we use the word illegal immigrant.

Michael Grant:
Let's say the alien came down lawfully, would that work?

Paul Giblin:
I suppose, but congress would probably try and regulate that as well.

Howard Fischer:
Well, I think part of the issue is, you know, he wants the rhetoric toned down. Basically, he wants the attacks on him toned down. I mean, that's really what it comes to. I mean, for example, a couple of weeks ago, when he was talking to a labor group in Washington, he made a statement, as he - his, I think, mouth ran ahead of his brain, telling people, well, none of you people would work picking lettuce in Yuma for $50 an hour, which led to a big demonstration by people in front of his Phoenix office holding heads of lettuce and saying, give me that job, because 50,000 -- $50 an hour is 100,000 a year. So he's been on the receiving end of it, so that's what the rhetoric is about.

Paul Giblin:
Right. And also protecting himself a little bit, he asked people not to use the word amnesty any more. He said people are saying that his immigration reform policy is amnesty. He doesn't like that terminology.

Howard Fischer:
Of course he doesn't like the terminology because he says, well, they'll be required to pay a fine, so therefore they will have purged themselves of their illegally coming into the country.

Paul Giblin:
Well, there's more than that. They have to pay a fine, they have to pay their back taxes, they have to show that-a work's-what's the word I'm looking for? A work history-a work history for six years, they have to learn English, things like that. He likes to call that earned citizenship.

Howard Fischer:
I think it's amnesty-lite.

Paul Giblin:
Okay.

Chip Scutari:
Well, I mean, what most people don't realize, what Senator McCain mentioned, is his bill with Senator Edward Kennedy, Howie's favorite senator from Massachusetts, is an 11-year path to citizenship, and I don't think the average Joe on the street realizes it's an 11-year path. It's not you pay this fine and, click, you're an American citizen. And I was surprised by Senator McCain-I stopped by to watch a little bit of his town-hall meeting-he was using words like god's children, very calm, kind words which sound reasonable to most people, but I don't know if they're going to be used against him in a republican primary where a lot of these red-meat, you know, republicans are going to want, you know, hey, it's an invasion rhetoric like that.

Michael Grant:
Sharp sense of déjà vu all over again, Jim Pederson brings out his immigration plan and it looks a lot like McCain-Kennedy?

Chip Scutari:
Yeah, I think you could just erase the name and put McCain-Kennedy. He came out with a new T.V. ad today, and basically he's blasting Senator Kyl because he says McCain criticized Kyl's illegal immigration reform bill. He says it borders on fantasy, and he said his, Pederson's, bill will be tougher on enforcement-let me know if you've heard this-you know, guest-worker program, fines, make these people learn English, so he's trying to carve out that middle ground, and Senator McCain yesterday in Scottsdale said that about 70-75\% of people in a recent Washington Post poll favor a guest-worker program or like that idea. So I think the real battle now between Kyl and Pederson is if Arizonans buy the guest-worker, the earned citizenship, amnesty-lite as Howie said, or they want this hard-charging, you know, build-a-wall, you know, top everyone at the border.

Howard Fischer:
But now we're down to the terminology, because Kyl insisted his program also has a guest-worker program. I mean, the only one who doesn't is J.D. Hayworth. So everyone is claiming that they are, a, hardening the border, b, dealing with internal enforcement, c, dealing with employer sanctions, and, d, have some sort of guest-worker program for the jobs that quote-unquote Americans won't take. So we're really down to a question of who's definition you're buying.

Paul Giblin:
Well, those-the reason that they say that is because they all do include those aspects. The only big difference between the McCain-Kennedy bill and Kyl's bill is that McCain envisions telling illegals who are already in this country, you can apply for legal status here and eventual citizenship while staying here. Kyl's says, you can be here for five years working-six years, depending on how the details shake out-and then you go back to your home country and you fill out the paperwork there. That's the big difference.

Chip Scutari:
I think the good thing for Arizonans is that they're finally talking about this on a national level, not-maybe something will get done. Probably not this year because it's an election year, but maybe next year when the rhetoric's toned down and the November elections are over.

Michael Grant:
Well, and part of that, Paul, goes back to the a word that Senator-yeah-that Senator McCain asked no one to use again, that's why I'm referring to it as the a word, because everybody's a little-you know, it used to be social security was the third rail, but immigration, to a certain extent, is becoming the third rail of politics mainly because they can't figure out precisely which way to jump on-

Paul Giblin:
Oh, right, I think it'll be the issue for the fall elections. It certainly will be in the federal races, and I think we're seeing that in the state races as well. And I think we can credit a lot of this to these marches that we had earlier this month and last month. I mean, before you got 100,000 people walking through downtown Phoenix, it was easy to ignore it. And walking through downtown Chicago and Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., everyone thought it was real convenient to ignore it. But now it's top of mind, and I think we're going to see some action.

Michael Grant:
Okay, Governor Napolitano vetoes the trespass-criminal trespass legislation, how is that going to play in November?

Chip Scutari:
You know, I really think it's going to depend on how the session ends for Governor Napolitano. Does she get a, as she likes to call it, comprehensive border-security package? Do they get a smart fence at the border or at least money for that? So I think it's tough to take these piecemeal bills and see how she's going to do it. I think in the short term, if you were going to do polling, I would guess her approval numbers aren't at the gaudy 79, I'll bet you they're down in the mid-50s because of the floor as the English-language learner, the attacks on her on illegal immigration, and her abortion vetoes, which we're probably going to talk about. But I think it really matters on how the session ends, how she ends up looking to voters in November.

Howard Fischer:
But at a certain point, her rhetoric is going to start wearing thin. I mean, every week at the press conference, we talk about immigration, and she's got this little button that she pushes on the side of her head, and she-

Michael Grant:
Is it a federal issue? I can't recall.

Howard Fischer:
Yeah, that-something's like that. This is a federal issue, we need the federal government to step up. You know, it-we need them to provide the resources, yadda, yadda, yadda. Same old spiel. Now, at a certain point, voters are going to say, okay, that's nice, and maybe the feds will or won't step up, depending on what happens with the election year, but at some point we want something done. A lot of her future is going to depend on what else is happening in Arizona. If we have lots of busts, if we have a crime wave along the border committed by illegals, a lot of this could overtake her.

Chip Scutari:
Well, speaking of déjà vu all over again, last year the conservative republican legislature sent her a raft of illegal-immigration bills, and she vetoed it. And almost for every one, she'd say, law enforcement groups are against it, it's an unfunded mandate. So this year, again, they send her up bills with a-whether it's the national guard at the border or this criminal-trespass bill, and she can say it's an unfunded mandate. You'd think that someone might want to say, hey, put a little money in this so she has to come up with a new defense. I mean...

Howard Fischer:
And-and of course, the bill to send her the money is actually on its way to her, you know, this coming week. The other interesting thing is going to be to see what she does with an employer-sanctions bill. She said during State of the State, I'd like a bill to punish employers. There is a bill coming, sponsored by Representative Russell Pearce and Senator Barbara Leff, they're variations on the same thing, which most democrats-or a good number of democrats-have voted against, and so it's going to be interesting to see, once she gets a bill that provides at least some employer sanctions, does she sign it or does she say, no, it's not part of the comprehensive package, like it should all come on her desk at one point.

Chip Scutari:
And I think her staff, what they're doing behind the scenes, is massaging that bill with business groups, making it more palatable when it reaches her desk so she can sign it.

Michael Grant:
Can sign it.

Chip Scutari:
Yeah.

Michael Grant:
Yeah. Speaking of marches, the May 1 march/protest-they backing away from that?

Paul Giblin:
They sort of are. They had a lot of-we're talking about the organizers of that last march. They had a lot of ideas in the hat. They were-one idea was to form a human chain; it might have stretched from east Mesa all the way to the state capitol in downtown. They're talking about prayer vigils, economic boycotts, that sort of thing. And the one that was really getting some traction was this human chain idea until the I.N.S. rounded up all those illegals in a bust earlier this week-we're all over the country-and so now the organizers are saying, well, maybe that's not such a good idea, to put all of our supporters, many of whom are illegal aliens, all in one place where the I.N.S. can back up a van and just start loading them all in. So they were re-thinking that, and they have a meeting tonight, on Friday, and they might be meeting about it over the weekend to see if they maybe want to do something different.

Michael Grant:
That bust was nationwide. Obviously-what, 30 arrests in-at the west Phoenix locations.

Howard Fischer:
In fact, the number of arrests out there at the IFCO company, which makes pallets, was so much that the company had virtually no one left to finish the pallet-manufacturing process. I-it's interesting, I mean, this IFCO investigation, as you point out, was nationwide, I think it was pending for awhile to find out what the company's policies are, because I'm sure everybody has paperwork saying these people are legal, and they clearly had to have some evidence that the paperwork was forged and that the company knew it. What's interesting about it becomes the timing because as congress is considering these measures, as the state is considering various measures, and as republican congressmen are coming under increased fire for not doing anything, I can't help but believe this is part of the effort by the Bush administration to lean on ICE and say, we want some high-profile busts to show we are doing something about it. It's not just a question of, once you're across the border, ollie ollie oxen free.

Michael Grant:
In making that comment, are you aware that Michael Chertoff said that there was no connection between the timing on the bust and the recent marches?

Howard Fischer:
I think I'm making the comment despite Mr. Chertoff. Look, Mr. Chertoff is a very nice guy and he's a very loyal soldier, and maybe there's no comment-connection with the marches. Now, did he say there was no connection with the November election and perhaps keeping republicans in control? Not so much.

Paul Giblin:
You know, that brings up a good point. Most of these illegal alien reform packages that they're talking about, they would include better documentation. For instance, our social security cards are just these little paper things that can be, you know, made in a Xerox machine. Well, why not do something better, like an ATM card where you get a magnetic strip in there and you could say that Howie Fischer is indeed a U.S. citizen and you could swipe it and say, all right, he's a U.S. citizen, we'll pay him to appear on Horizon.

Howard Fischer:
Well-well, one of the interesting things about that is you have people on-I hate to use the terms right and left-but now you're down to a national identity card, which I think drives some people crazy because you couldn't only say that brown people are going to be required to carry these cards. Do you really want something like that? Look, there are people in Arizona-if you look at the new licenses, they actually have not only a magnetic strip but a digital image on the front that is encoded with stuff, and there are people who don't want to carry those because they're convinced the government is tracking them.

Chip Scutari:
You know, as my good friend Glenn in Chino Valley says, why can't we all just get along? You know, I just don't understand this.

Michael Grant:
Today we march, tomorrow we vote, but apparently not many of them...is that what you're saying?

Chip Scutari:
Yeah, the march drew about 125-, 150,000, depending on what estimate you believe of the crowd, and apparently they only registered 121 people. They say they were a victim of their own success, there was too many people around the tables, you know, the crowd was too young, but I think skeptics will once again point to, sure, these people can protest and they can march, but they're not registering, and if they do register, they haven't shown up at the polls, so until they show up at the polls and make a difference in a big election, people won't take them seriously.

Paul Giblin:
Well, McCain spoke on that topic at the end of his discussion in Scottsdale. He was taking questions one-on-one afterward, and a reporter was asking him about that. In fact, it was a reporter for the Hispanic television station, and he said this is a challenge to the Hispanic people. He says, Hispanic people don't vote in good numbers, and this is an opportunity for you to stand behind your marches. He said, marches are good but votes count for more in Washington.

Michael Grant:
A couple of public interest groups filing a lawsuit this week to block the AIMS test from being used as a graduation requirement... Howie, this one came out of the blue. [end of first segment]

Howard Fischer:
Well, in a way it didn't. Because the William A. Morris center for justice had actually asked the U.S. Department of Education a number of years ago to block the use of the AIMS test as discriminal story against poor people. That went nowhere. So now with this being the year the class of '06 they're in state court. Their argument is the state constitution requires the state to educate children. But if in fact perhaps 30\% of kids have not yet passed all three sections of AIMS they're not doing a good job. Now, some of their claims are colored in the issues of protected classes. That the failure rate is hire among kids from economically disadvantaged families, kids who are minorities and kids who are English Language Learners. Now some of that overlaps. Their argument to the judge is, you cannot in fact keep these kids from graduating when the state didn't meet its requirement. In a lot of ways it's very similar to what Tim Hogan got a federal judge in Tucson to agree to on English Language Learners. And that's now been held up by the ninth circuit. So the theories are the same. Just a broader category.

Michael Grant:
There you have, though, a specific federal mandate, some would argue, aimed toward a particular class. Here you seem to be obviously painting much more broadly and just alleging sort of a general system breakdown.

Howard Fischer:
This is the shotgun approach to litigation which some lawyers have been known to use where you cite provisions of the state constitution, the federal constitution, equal protection arguments, civil rights violations, anything that you think will stick. And I think that they're hoping that some judge says, well, that's at least a credible claim. Because what they're going to do now given the last of the AIMS test happened earlier this month they're going to have for an injunction to at least stop the graduation from being held up.

Paul Giblin:
What does that mean for high school kids?

Howard Fischer:
Well, at the moment it doesn't mean anything because the law still is, you know, you want that diploma. You've got to pass AIMS. If the judge issues an injunction, which of course is only a temporary stay, it's an interesting question. So they get their diploma on May 20. Judge dissolves the injunction. Does somebody take back the diploma because they didn't pass AIMS? I mean you've got all sorts of scenarios on this one.

Chip Scutari:
Seems like we'll talk about the AIMS test for 20-years. When did Lisa Graham Keegan come up with this? Back in the mid-90s?

Michael Grant:
'96 probably?

Howard Fischer:
This was supposed to have gone into effect 4, 5 years ago and they've always found excuses. Now of course they jiggered with the scoring. They jiggered with the fact that you can get bonus points for your grades. And even then a certain percentage of kids are still failing. Now, Tom Horne says it's not a failure because most of these kids wouldn't have graduated, anyway.

Paul Giblin:
I have a feeling there's be a second generation of kids and they'll still be arguing. You know, today's seniors will have kids.

Michael Grant:
Graduating class of 2525. This is fun. Arizona Democratic Party may get a really early caucus in 2008.

Chip Scutari:
Yeah. They're one of three southwestern states who went to New Orleans for D.N.C. meeting this week to pitch for an early caucus. Basically what they wanted to do is right after the Iowa caucus, after them and before New Hampshire which is traditionally the first national primary. It would be kind of neat in 2008 because the rumors are that Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack is going to run for president. He'll probably win the Iowa caucus because there were big ties there so this would be the fist true test for a democratic candidate. And the neat thing about a caucus is, I talked to some people who worked for the first Bush in the Iowa caucuses back in '88 and they said, you have to spend months and months in the state. Because there's going to be about 420 different sites at schools, libraries, churches, private homes. You can't just do a TV ad blitz and rum a primary.

Michael Grant:
And Chip, the reason for the caucus format is because it -- aren't the internal rules such that you cannot have a primary before New Hampshire? Is that why-is that the window they crawl through?

Chip Scutari:
I believe so. But also for the Arizona democrats it's a greater party-building exercise; it's a great way to raise money for the state party. And also one of their selling points was that Arizona is big enough to have an urban center like Phoenix but small enough to do retail politics. And also that we have a Native American population and a healthy Latino population which is a reflection of the United States, where as some might say Iowa and New Hampshire don't reflect the cultural diversity of the United States.

Paul Giblin:
Do the Republicans have to get on board with this?

Chip Scutari:
No.

Paul Giblin:
Or can the democrats do their own thing?

Chip Scutari:
They can do their own thing and the republicans will decide if they want a primary. They'll probably have a primary. What they're thinking of is having a super western regional primary where they have 5 or 6 states vote on the same day?

Howard Fischer:
And the difference is if it's a primary the taxpayers pay for it where as if it's a caucus the party has to pick up the tab.

Paul Giblin:
Is there any other state where the party does one thing and the other party does the other?

Chip Scutari:
I believe in 1996 -- Arizona had that before where one had a caucus and one a primary. So it's been done before.

Michael Grant:
When will they know?

Chip Scutari:
The D.N.C. will not make a decision until after November election so we'll probably hear at the end of the year if Arizona gets this early caucus.

Michael Grant:
Kind of an interesting development in the Mike Harris gubernatorial campaign.

Howard Fischer:
Mike Harris got a little bit of attention because of the fact that he's the only major candidate to say he's going to run on private funding. And one of the things he did was say, I'm going to put a quarter million dollars of my own money into the campaign. In fact he says he's already put 100,000 on that. What caught our attention was quite frankly we did a little tiptoeing through some court records. And he has had a fairly contentious post divorce with his former wife, Pamela Rigs. She's taken him into court for running like two years behind on spousal maintenance. He convinced a judge last year that he was so poor that he had to have a child support cut from half from 2,000 a month to 1,000 a month for his 7-year-old child. And I went out to talk to him. And I said, wait a second, Mike, now okay, how are you going to fund the campaign? My finances are better. I was close to bankruptcy last year. So I said to him, so you are going to go back and restore the child support. And of course is comment was, well, I think at one child for four years of marriage, 1,000, a month, that's pretty darn generous. I'm not sure that's the kind of quote you want on your campaign literature when in fact you're touting yourself as a successful businessman with a family-oriented agenda.

Chip Scutari:
And that just raises a simple question. I mean, I'm far from being the brightest bulb on the tree, but why subject yourself and your family to that when you know reporters are going to be digging through your court records and everything in your life. And also, with 250,000 sounds like a big chunk of change to us, but for a governor's race, it's not that big of a deal because a publicly financed candidate will get about 454,000 in the primary. So he's going to have to raise a lot more money than that. So it just raises some question, what motivates people to run for political office. I can't figure it out sometimes.

Howard Fischer:
Thank goodness they do, otherwise, Chip, you and I would have nothing to do for November.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of bucks, are we making any progress down at the state's capitol on the budget?

Chip Scutari:
They're just in the first stages of the battle of the war. There's going to be a lot of interesting issues this year where, you know, they're talking about income and property tax cuts. Another big deal is about transportation. Are we going to expedite hundreds of millions of dollars possibly to widen the I-10 to fix the problem on I-17. And I think like in the 90's when the tax cut was the republican's calling card there's still a lot of support for that. But there's a lot of voters out there who sit in traffic every day and say, we want our roads fixed and we want the traffic alleviated.

Howard Fischer:
What really helps this year is they recognize the big windfall this billion dollars extra over last year is not sustainable. There were some one-time capital gains and other things. You figure you have one-time money. You can either give an one time rebate in taxes so people get enough for the burger, fries and coke or you can aggregate it and go with one time expenses likes widening I-10 and I-17. And they decided that that's a pretty good idea to use the money.

Michael Grant:
Have we got any timetable on this? I know we don't have a timetable. But do we have any, okay; I think we'll be there in two weeks?

Chip Scutari:
I think people are choosing to get done before Memorial Day. Another three or four weeks because they have to start the meetings, the legislative leaders have to meet with the governor, both sides are going to get upset with each other and these things drag out. As far as I can tell, Howie might have more information but the rank and file isn't on board with any plan yet. They're just throwing out comments. So we're a long way from the finish line, unfortunately.

Howard Fischer:
And that's a really big point because many of the rank and file members are upset-going back to your point-that they say wait a second, there are some real important needs out there we didn't fund when we were lean so does it make sense to do a tax cut. And of course the Russell Piercees, the Dean Martins of the world say, but that will stimulate the economy will help provide more money for the social service programs.

Michael Grant:
Almost out of time but a few more vetoes by the governor this week. Two or three?

Howard Fischer:
She's been very busy. She's up to 19 with something she did today on something dealing with the single subject rule. Aside from the trespass bill she vetoed a bill that would have made it a crime for a woman to sell her eggs for cloning research. She said that's none of the government's business. She also vetoed a bill that would have precluded her during a state of emergency from taking someone's guns or regulating the sailor possession of fire arms or ammunition. Now she came up with the reasoning and said, I don't want to take your guns. But here's the deal, if there's a forest fire and a cache of weapons in the middle of the forest I won't be able to order them moved. I think that's a bit of a stretch but this is her cover story.

Paul Giblin:
You could find a cache of weapons in the middle of the forest.

Chip Scutari:
Republicans are calling her Napoliveto now. So that's her new nickname.

Michael Grant:
Raises an interesting question. What if a gun goes off in a forest and there's no one there to cease it in an emergency? Would anyone hear it?

Howard Fischer:
You're presuming the democrats don't have spice everywhere to see that.

Michael Grant:
Panelists we are out of time. Thank you very much for the input.

Larry Lemmons:
In the first of a four-part series on the use of gas and electricity in our state, we look at the demand for power in Power Hungry. Also we examine APS's request for a rate hike and we profile the conductor and music director of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra Monday night at 7 on Channel 8's Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Join us as we continue our energy series, power hungry. We look at how to develop more energy resources. Thank you very much for joining us on this Friday edition of Horizon. I hope you have a great weekend. I'm Michael Grant. Good night.

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