Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 16, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Arizona Town Hall


  • Every two years, more than 100 of Arizona’s most influential Arizona leaders gather to hammer out solutions to the state's problems. The latest Town Hall dealt with growth and how the state will handle it. HORIZON examines the solutions leaders discussed.
Guests:
  • Phyllis Rowe - Arizona Consumers Council
  • Luis Urre - Author
  • Chip U’Re - Chairman, Arizona Town Hall
Category:

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, average fuel efficiency for cars has not gone up much in the past ten years, and in some cases, it has gone down. We'll talk about an effort to try to improve gas mileage. You'll get to hear from the author of a book that was up for a Pulitzer Prize. The book details the trip of 26 illegal aliens crossing the desert to get into the United States. Plus, despite a slowing housing market, growth continues in the valley. That was the topic of the latest Arizona Town Hall. All that's next, on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by the contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS Station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening and welcome to Horizon. I'm Michael Grant.
You might intuitively think that gas mileage among vehicles has gone up in the past ten years. While that is true for individual models, overall gas mileage has decreased for many auto manufacturers as Americans drive bigger vehicles such as S.U.V.'s that, according to an analysis by a Washington-based consumer group, which is hoping to do something about gas mileage through a grass roots effort. I'll talk to an official of a local consumer advocacy group, but first, Mike Sauceda tells us more about the plans for fuel efficiency of vehicles.

Mike Sauceda:
A busy intersection at Cave Creek Road, Dunlap, and Seventh Street and chances are that newest cars at the intersection have the tame fuel efficiency or possibly even worse than cars ten years old. According to an analysis by the Consumer Federation of America, most manufacturers of cars sold in the U.S. have lower average gas mileage in 2005 than in 1996. The cafe average target is 27.5-miles per gallon for a manufacturers' fleet of vehicles. Most manufacturers do not meet that. Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation talked about that at an event sponsored by the Arizona Consumer's Council in Phoenix Wednesday.

Jack Gillis:
The overall fuel efficiency of America's automobiles and light trucks has been stuck in neutral for the last 10 years at about 25-miles per gallon. A key reason is the dramatic increase in the number of less fuel efficient S.U.V.'s and pickups. Once less than half annual sales, S.U.V.'s and pickups are now over half of the annual sales. The market is essentially replacing more fuel efficient vehicles with less fuel efficient vehicles. As a result, even significant improvements in the fuel economy of certain vehicles is being nullified by this ever- increasing, less fuel efficient vehicle category. We took a look behind this stagnated national average, and we first examined which manufacturers had the best and worst cafe ratings and how did those ratings change over a 10-year period. Of the 13 major manufacturers, amazingly, nine had lower cafe averages in 2005 than they did ten years ago in 1996. Only three manufacturers actually increased, and one stayed the same.

Mike Sauceda:
Gillis said that over the past 10-years car manufacturers who failed to meet the cafe standards have paid a quarter of a billion dollars in fines. Gillis said consumers want cars with better fuel mileage and said part of the proof is that manufacturers such as Ford and G.M. with lower fuel mileage averages are not doing well in the market place while Honda and Toyota are financially healthy. Gillis announced a three part plan to help increase fuel efficiency ratings.

Jack Gillis:
We are recommending a series of information specifically related to m.p.g. ratings. One, the disclosure of miles per gallon in ads for all new cars is, two, m.p.g. disclosures on new cars, and 3, instant m.p.g. disclosures on the dash boards of vehicles as they are driven.

Mike Sauceda:
Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation also spoke at the meeting. He says cars that get less than 15-miles per gallon should be prohibited from being advertised on TV. He said with the election of a democratic congress time is right for consumer action to demand better fuel efficiency for vehicles.

Mark Cooper:
Now is the moment to hopefully play a different tune in congress. And that can only happen if people across the country, a, take action, tell their congress people. There have been resolutions introduced in city governments about incensing different cars of cars, fuel efficient cars. And jack used the one interesting point. When I came up with the idea of banning TV advertising for gas guzzlers people got shocked. You mean you're going to infringe the First Amendment free speech rights of the car companies? You can't do that. Of course I can. When was the last time you saw a cigarette ad on television? We banned cigarette advertising from television because there's a compelling national interest in doing so. If our oil addiction, the turmoil in the Middle East does not convince you that there's a compelling national interest in doing so, then I don't know what will. But maybe your pocketbook will and maybe the market failures will and maybe the environmental problems will. So remember, I've got four good reasons why you ought to be doing that.

Michael Grant:
Here now to talk about fuel efficiency of cars and plans to try to increase that is Phyllis Rowe. She is with the Arizona Consumers Council. Phyllis, I haven't seen you for awhile.

Phyllis Rowe:
Hi.

Michael Grant:
Pickup trucks and S.U.V.'s. Biggest contributor to this phenomenon over the past ten years?

Phyllis Rowe: They've been a big contributor. Because more people are moving to these. Some cases they are moving to the pickup trucks because in some cases they don't have to abide by all the safety standards. So they cost a little less in insurance. And insurance is one of the big factors in purchasing a car.

Michael Grant:
That factor may also mean they may cost a little bit less period, right?

Phyllis Rowe:
That's true.

Michael Grant:
Okay. The S.U.V.'s have just become more and more popular.

Phyllis Rowe:
Yes. And people seem to feel that they need these and they're much heavier. However, I believe Toyota and some of the other companies are now beginning to produce the S.U.V.'s that are smaller. And those are meeting some of the gasoline standards.

Michael Grant:
Now Phyllis, as you know as gas prices spiked over the past years or so, a real market took off certain for S.U.V. sales. The market has a strange way of sending signals and getting reactions. Why don't we just let the market sort this thing out?

Phyllis Rowe:
Well, it's a big problem for us because of the limited amount of the gasoline and oil. There's a limited supply. And we are importing so much of it that gasoline's going to be over $3 a gallon. And we only supply about 3\% of the oil that we use. We import a great deal. So we're trying to get people to use less, to plan their trips, to check their cars, to do things that will reduce the amount of gasoline that they are using. It's estimated that people use about 10\% of their income for gasoline.

Michael Grant:

And is that -- I mean, one of the suggestions that's being made would be a requirement to list gas mileage on your dashboard. I guess that would give you a constant obviously reminder. It not only gives you a constant reminder, because I've had that on some cars that I've had, of what the heck gas you're getting, it also gives you some interesting tips on what's good and bad in terms of your own driving hasn't. For example, when you rapidly accelerate you see that gas mileage go down quite markedly.

Phyllis Rowe:
I've never experienced it, but I can see that it would have a deterring factor. But we're also suggesting that where people are buying a lot of used cars that they have mileage listed on the used cars and they are not doing that now. And people buy them, you know, they're told by the salesman that car has good mileage, but it's not necessarily the case. And we'd like to have it mandated on the older used vehicles.

Michael Grant:
One of the concerns that occurs to me there is it's one thing coming off the manufacturers' production line to state mileage figures. After, though, it's been driven two or three years, I would think the reliability of that mileage data might be impacted considerably by how well it's been maintained and a variety of other things that would not intuitively be known in trying to post an accurate bit of data as to this car gets 18-miles to the gallon.

Phyllis Rowe:
That could be a factor. We're trying to get people to maintain their cars, to check the air in their tires, to change their air filters more frequently, to keep their cars front ends well aligned so that they will use less gasoline if they take care of their cars. And I encourage people. I generally have a gas gauge, a tire gauge in my hand and I'll ask the women to check the air in their tires frequently. Because it does make a big difference in the gas mileage. And with gasoline as expensive as it is, they're projecting it will be over $3 for much of the next -- the rest of the century here. And we're just trying to tell people that they can do these things to cut their costs and to cut the greenhouse gasses, too, so it will be environmentally good.

Michael Grant:
Well, for the time being let's try to enjoy $2.19, though. Phyllis Rowe thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate the information.

Phyllis Rowe:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Recently acclaimed author Luis Alberto Urrea was in the valley to talk about his book "The Devil's Highway" that explores the fate 26 men who tried to sneak into Arizona from Mexico across a stretch of desert known as the Devil's Highway. The book profiled the lives and deaths of the group known as the Yuma 14. Larry Lemmons talked to him about writing the 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist book.

Larry Lemmons:
Let's talk about your personal background. You straddled the border your entire life. You were born in Tijuana to an American mother and Mexican father.

Luis Urrea:
Right.

Larry Lemmons:
How that is that influenced you in your work?

Luis Urrea:
Well, you know, it's put me in a strange position. I used to say when my first book came out that I felt like I was bisected personally by the border, you know? My dad was really Mexican even though he was blond and blue-eyed. But he was very chauvinistic about Mexico. My mom was a political conservative from New York, Red Cross woman, had been in World War II, had seen the death camps, helped liberate Buchenwald. So there was a weird camp between Mexicanness and Americanness in my household. I was always saying when I touring that there was a barbed wire going down the middle of my heart, which was a good metaphor. And one of the themes that I put in all my books now is that people in Mexico are as uneducated and unaware of what goes on in the border as people in the United States. We assume there's sort of a national conspiracy in Mexico, you know, to get people to the border. People don't know. They know as little about it in deep Mexico as they do in Chicago. I went to Mexico City and I was getting interviewed and I told the reporter my line. I said, you know, I have a barbed wire fence bisecting my heart. She was like, that's good. When the newspaper came out she misquoted me and said if you cut Luis's chest open with a knife you'll find a border patrol truck idling in his ribs. I thought, what does that mean? I thought the metaphor that would be exactly right for a Mexican; she had no idea what I was talking about.

Larry Lemmons:
Let's talk about the "Devil's Highway." It was nominated in 2001 for a Pulitzer. It tells the story of 26 people who were trying to cross the border. Only 12 survived. How did you choose that story?

Luis Urrea:
It chose me. I had worked as a missionary in Mexico for awhile. So my first books were about real poverty. So hoping people would understand what drives people north. Unfortunately that hasn't changed. In fact it's gotten worse since my first book. Then I did a memoir about my family's story. And as you know, I teach in Chicago so I was in my office one day and little brown contacted me. And I thought, this is kind of weird because this doesn't happen to writers. The publisher contacts them. But the story had been pre-9/11. This was just on the cusp. It was May 2001 when this event happened. And it was the largest single death event -- certainly the largest rescue effort in history. The border patrol gave it all up to try to save these people. And nobody knew how many guys. I mean, they're known as the Yuma 14, the 14 who died. I call them the Yuma 26 because they know 26 people were there because 12 survived. But it could be upwards of 30. Nobody really knows because some of the men vanished. One of the initial reports was there were 70 guys lost which is physically impossible for various details. But at least there were 26. So they asked me, can you write it. And knowing what you know about the border, can you use this story to insert realities about the Arizona desert and the crossing and the politics so Americans can learn and understand what's happening in the milieu.

Larry Lemmons:
"The Devil's Highway." What is it about that particular area of the border that make it is such a hostile environment?

Luis Urrea:
Well, it's extremely harsh. I mean, we know the Arizona desert, you know, here we are. But it's the old path running east to west that kind of parallels the Mexican border. And it goes from southeast of Tucson all the way to around Yuma. And it's some of the most god-forbidden territory in Arizona. Very little water. Very high temperatures. Very rugged terrain with a very dark history, not only of violence but kind of weird, sort of cult stuff -- occult stuff, too. A very scary region. In the middle of it is the Eisenhower bombing range -- I mean the Barry Goldwater bombing range out in the desert. You don't want to go there unprepared, no question. These guys from my book came from Vera Cruise. They had never seen a desert. Most of them had never ridden in an elevator or taken a plane. They walked into this thing and their smuggler got them lost. And the night they got lost a heat wave began and they were completely unprepared. Some of the guys had taken Pepsi thinking that would get them through the walk. So they didn't have any water. And as the heat literally cooks you from within, there's a section of the book that's particularly ghastly that talks about the stages of this heat death. But it's an awful painful, slow, agonizing, lonely death. So they paid the ultimate price. And even, you know, it's so harsh that a lot of the guys who survived that were here in Phoenix, by the way, they're meat cutters. They live over west side. A lot of them have kidney damage from what they went through, experiencing. It so it's a very harsh passage.

Larry Lemmons:
After you did the research, what did you take away from this entire issue?

Luis Urrea:
Well, I've got to confess to you that at the end of all this I was overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair. And I thought, there's just no way this thing is ever going to be settled. And there's no way to bring any peace to it. But you know, I realize I think the ultimate message to me about this whole process was that it's not about symbols, it's not about invasions, it's not about good guys and bad guys, even. It's about this group of human beings all of which, whether they're the illegal crossers, the coyotes and the smugglers who profit off them or the border patrol agents who have to hunt them, there are all these groups of complex human beings out in an alien territory. And you know, I started analyzing -- the process at the end of the book which I wish I knew then what I know now. Because since the book came out and got really visible, I hear from people constantly. Lots of border patrol guys, which is really cool, every once in awhile I think one of the smuggler gangsters shows up at a reading and that's really uncomfortable. I'll get a really angry Mexican looking dude in the back glaring at me. And politicians, mayors, senators. So I've accumulated a lot of information. And one thing I've learned in the process of this is that there is in fact I think hope, hope for change. There's a pattern bigger than most Americans I think realize in what's going on. But I also understood some of the complicity in the Mexican government and some of the pressure we should put on the Mexican government to have something to do with it. For me personally, I think the most amazing thing was getting to know the border patrol agents. Not knowing them, having seen them my whole life, you know, and having some certain opinions about them. And finding out what kind of human beings those guys were.

Larry Lemmons: You've been lauded, in fact, being very even-handed about the border patrol, calling them men of compassion. They were obviously worried about these people who were in the desert.

Luis Urrea:
My dad was a retired federal judiciary police officer for Mexico. So in some ways I was raised by a cop. I didn't realize it because he's no longer a police officer when I came around. But he was a police officer. And the more you know police officers, whether they're feds or local cops or stateys, there's a certain code of behavior, a certain comportment. And you don't always know that there's a level of compassion and caring. But of course we're human beings. And when you're out there in the middle of nowhere in the wasteland with an agent and he's telling you heart to heart as a human being how he feels about what he does, you can't help but feel compelled by that and closer to that human being. And you know, you were asking earlier, what were some of the benefits and gifts of this thing to me. One of them was to find out that we -- we bleeding heart liberals are just as prejudiced as the people we put down for being prejudiced rednecks, right? I walked in with all of my prejudice intact. Border patrol, bad guy. That's. It write them off. And it was kind of god's shock to me, little joke of the universe to say, no, wait a minute. Look again. This is going to be a really bad book if you don't understand.

Michael Grant:
Twice every year more than 100 Arizona leaders gather to tackle problems facing our state. It is the Arizona Town Hall. This year the group of leaders took up the issue of growth. Here to tell us about ideas generated in this town hall to deal with growth is Chip U'Ren chairman of the board of the Arizona Town Hall. Chip good to see you.

Chip U'Ren:
Michael good to be with you.

Michael Grant: This is truly sequel, son of growth.

Chip U'Ren: Son of growth indeed. It was the first time that we've run the same program twice in a row simultaneously. In the spring we dealt with Arizona's rapid growth and development and its impact on infrastructure. Then this fall at the Grand Canyon we dealt with Arizona's rapid growth and development, its impact on people and demand for services. So human elements.

Michael Grant:
Right. And human services is obviously a big category. Any particular sub entities inside human services?

Chip U'Ren:
We dealt with principally five areas. Work force development, education, healthcare, with public safety and with arts, culture and recreation principals.

Michael Grant:
All right. Let's start with education.

Chip U'Ren:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
What sort of facts and conclusions did we reach in relation to growth and how we tackle education?

Chip U'Ren:
There is an extraordinary demand on education that's both presented by the indigenous population as well as the rapid migration from other parts of the country that's outstripping our ability to deal with the education issues on a reasonable bases. There are a number of barriers that town hall identified to truly excel in education. But I think there were three principal priorities that came out of the discussion. One was that education, the formula for funding education needs to be fundamentally restructured such that we, among many other things, lower class sizes and increase teacher pay. Secondly, that we focus on aligning curriculum with national best practice standards of measurement to make sure that we really are preparing people to compete in a 21st century, global economy. And then third -- and I found this really interesting -- to truly move toward developing individual education or learning plans for students.

Michael Grant:
Public safety?

Chip U'Ren:
Public safety, very critical issue. The sense is that the funding mechanisms in place to deal with all aspects of public safety are quite deficient. It was interesting to learn that Arizona has an extraordinarily high rate of recidivism. That was an issue that emerged as a priority to deal with. Secondly, it was perhaps a statement of the obvious, but that funding needed to be directed at identifying truly effective means of addressing substance abuse, and that is to say to reduce substance abuse, and to improve treatment outcomes.

Michael Grant:
Well, remarkable number of the people in the system are tied in one way or another to drug and substance abuse.

Chip U'Ren:
We had several members of town hall who are subject matter experts, professionals in the field, who both quoted statistics and gave examples of cases where drug use and criminality are running rampant and it is increasing our crime rate at an exponential level.

Michael Grant:
Town Hall at the Grand Canyon?

Chip U'Ren:
It was at the Grand Canyon this year. If you have to exercise your mind that's a great place to exercise it.

Michael Grant:
And I take it everyone had a fine time. A lot of the value is in the process.

Chip U'Ren:
It is in the process. And people who go through that process typically will go back to their communities to find ways to replicate that process in civil discourse and consensus building. So it really generates that interest and level of commitment.

Michael Grant:
Chip U'Ren, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate the input on town hall.

Chip U'Ren:
Thank you, Michael.

Michael Grant:
Our thanks to you as well for joining us on a Thursday edition of Horizon. Please be here tomorrow night for our Friday Journalist Roundtable. We will wrap up the week news events. I'm Michael Grant. Have a very good one. Good night.

Fuel Mileage


  • since 1996, nine of the 13 major car manufacturers selling cars in the United States have actually had a decrease in the average gas mileage of the vehicles they sell. Phyllis Rowe of the Arizona Consumer Council will talk about a grassroots effort to increase fuel mileage of vehicles.
Guests:
  • Phyllis Rowe - Arizona Consumers Council
  • Luis Urre - Author
  • Chip U’Re - Chairman, Arizona Town Hall
Category: Energy

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, average fuel efficiency for cars has not gone up much in the past ten years, and in some cases, it has gone down. We'll talk about an effort to try to improve gas mileage. You'll get to hear from the author of a book that was up for a Pulitzer Prize. The book details the trip of 26 illegal aliens crossing the desert to get into the United States. Plus, despite a slowing housing market, growth continues in the valley. That was the topic of the latest Arizona Town Hall. All that's next, on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by the contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS Station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening and welcome to Horizon. I'm Michael Grant.
You might intuitively think that gas mileage among vehicles has gone up in the past ten years. While that is true for individual models, overall gas mileage has decreased for many auto manufacturers as Americans drive bigger vehicles such as S.U.V.'s that, according to an analysis by a Washington-based consumer group, which is hoping to do something about gas mileage through a grass roots effort. I'll talk to an official of a local consumer advocacy group, but first, Mike Sauceda tells us more about the plans for fuel efficiency of vehicles.

Mike Sauceda:
A busy intersection at Cave Creek Road, Dunlap, and Seventh Street and chances are that newest cars at the intersection have the tame fuel efficiency or possibly even worse than cars ten years old. According to an analysis by the Consumer Federation of America, most manufacturers of cars sold in the U.S. have lower average gas mileage in 2005 than in 1996. The cafe average target is 27.5-miles per gallon for a manufacturers' fleet of vehicles. Most manufacturers do not meet that. Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation talked about that at an event sponsored by the Arizona Consumer's Council in Phoenix Wednesday.

Jack Gillis:
The overall fuel efficiency of America's automobiles and light trucks has been stuck in neutral for the last 10 years at about 25-miles per gallon. A key reason is the dramatic increase in the number of less fuel efficient S.U.V.'s and pickups. Once less than half annual sales, S.U.V.'s and pickups are now over half of the annual sales. The market is essentially replacing more fuel efficient vehicles with less fuel efficient vehicles. As a result, even significant improvements in the fuel economy of certain vehicles is being nullified by this ever- increasing, less fuel efficient vehicle category. We took a look behind this stagnated national average, and we first examined which manufacturers had the best and worst cafe ratings and how did those ratings change over a 10-year period. Of the 13 major manufacturers, amazingly, nine had lower cafe averages in 2005 than they did ten years ago in 1996. Only three manufacturers actually increased, and one stayed the same.

Mike Sauceda:
Gillis said that over the past 10-years car manufacturers who failed to meet the cafe standards have paid a quarter of a billion dollars in fines. Gillis said consumers want cars with better fuel mileage and said part of the proof is that manufacturers such as Ford and G.M. with lower fuel mileage averages are not doing well in the market place while Honda and Toyota are financially healthy. Gillis announced a three part plan to help increase fuel efficiency ratings.

Jack Gillis:
We are recommending a series of information specifically related to m.p.g. ratings. One, the disclosure of miles per gallon in ads for all new cars is, two, m.p.g. disclosures on new cars, and 3, instant m.p.g. disclosures on the dash boards of vehicles as they are driven.

Mike Sauceda:
Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation also spoke at the meeting. He says cars that get less than 15-miles per gallon should be prohibited from being advertised on TV. He said with the election of a democratic congress time is right for consumer action to demand better fuel efficiency for vehicles.

Mark Cooper:
Now is the moment to hopefully play a different tune in congress. And that can only happen if people across the country, a, take action, tell their congress people. There have been resolutions introduced in city governments about incensing different cars of cars, fuel efficient cars. And jack used the one interesting point. When I came up with the idea of banning TV advertising for gas guzzlers people got shocked. You mean you're going to infringe the First Amendment free speech rights of the car companies? You can't do that. Of course I can. When was the last time you saw a cigarette ad on television? We banned cigarette advertising from television because there's a compelling national interest in doing so. If our oil addiction, the turmoil in the Middle East does not convince you that there's a compelling national interest in doing so, then I don't know what will. But maybe your pocketbook will and maybe the market failures will and maybe the environmental problems will. So remember, I've got four good reasons why you ought to be doing that.

Michael Grant:
Here now to talk about fuel efficiency of cars and plans to try to increase that is Phyllis Rowe. She is with the Arizona Consumers Council. Phyllis, I haven't seen you for awhile.

Phyllis Rowe:
Hi.

Michael Grant:
Pickup trucks and S.U.V.'s. Biggest contributor to this phenomenon over the past ten years?

Phyllis Rowe: They've been a big contributor. Because more people are moving to these. Some cases they are moving to the pickup trucks because in some cases they don't have to abide by all the safety standards. So they cost a little less in insurance. And insurance is one of the big factors in purchasing a car.

Michael Grant:
That factor may also mean they may cost a little bit less period, right?

Phyllis Rowe:
That's true.

Michael Grant:
Okay. The S.U.V.'s have just become more and more popular.

Phyllis Rowe:
Yes. And people seem to feel that they need these and they're much heavier. However, I believe Toyota and some of the other companies are now beginning to produce the S.U.V.'s that are smaller. And those are meeting some of the gasoline standards.

Michael Grant:
Now Phyllis, as you know as gas prices spiked over the past years or so, a real market took off certain for S.U.V. sales. The market has a strange way of sending signals and getting reactions. Why don't we just let the market sort this thing out?

Phyllis Rowe:
Well, it's a big problem for us because of the limited amount of the gasoline and oil. There's a limited supply. And we are importing so much of it that gasoline's going to be over $3 a gallon. And we only supply about 3\% of the oil that we use. We import a great deal. So we're trying to get people to use less, to plan their trips, to check their cars, to do things that will reduce the amount of gasoline that they are using. It's estimated that people use about 10\% of their income for gasoline.

Michael Grant:

And is that -- I mean, one of the suggestions that's being made would be a requirement to list gas mileage on your dashboard. I guess that would give you a constant obviously reminder. It not only gives you a constant reminder, because I've had that on some cars that I've had, of what the heck gas you're getting, it also gives you some interesting tips on what's good and bad in terms of your own driving hasn't. For example, when you rapidly accelerate you see that gas mileage go down quite markedly.

Phyllis Rowe:
I've never experienced it, but I can see that it would have a deterring factor. But we're also suggesting that where people are buying a lot of used cars that they have mileage listed on the used cars and they are not doing that now. And people buy them, you know, they're told by the salesman that car has good mileage, but it's not necessarily the case. And we'd like to have it mandated on the older used vehicles.

Michael Grant:
One of the concerns that occurs to me there is it's one thing coming off the manufacturers' production line to state mileage figures. After, though, it's been driven two or three years, I would think the reliability of that mileage data might be impacted considerably by how well it's been maintained and a variety of other things that would not intuitively be known in trying to post an accurate bit of data as to this car gets 18-miles to the gallon.

Phyllis Rowe:
That could be a factor. We're trying to get people to maintain their cars, to check the air in their tires, to change their air filters more frequently, to keep their cars front ends well aligned so that they will use less gasoline if they take care of their cars. And I encourage people. I generally have a gas gauge, a tire gauge in my hand and I'll ask the women to check the air in their tires frequently. Because it does make a big difference in the gas mileage. And with gasoline as expensive as it is, they're projecting it will be over $3 for much of the next -- the rest of the century here. And we're just trying to tell people that they can do these things to cut their costs and to cut the greenhouse gasses, too, so it will be environmentally good.

Michael Grant:
Well, for the time being let's try to enjoy $2.19, though. Phyllis Rowe thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate the information.

Phyllis Rowe:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Recently acclaimed author Luis Alberto Urrea was in the valley to talk about his book "The Devil's Highway" that explores the fate 26 men who tried to sneak into Arizona from Mexico across a stretch of desert known as the Devil's Highway. The book profiled the lives and deaths of the group known as the Yuma 14. Larry Lemmons talked to him about writing the 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist book.

Larry Lemmons:
Let's talk about your personal background. You straddled the border your entire life. You were born in Tijuana to an American mother and Mexican father.

Luis Urrea:
Right.

Larry Lemmons:
How that is that influenced you in your work?

Luis Urrea:
Well, you know, it's put me in a strange position. I used to say when my first book came out that I felt like I was bisected personally by the border, you know? My dad was really Mexican even though he was blond and blue-eyed. But he was very chauvinistic about Mexico. My mom was a political conservative from New York, Red Cross woman, had been in World War II, had seen the death camps, helped liberate Buchenwald. So there was a weird camp between Mexicanness and Americanness in my household. I was always saying when I touring that there was a barbed wire going down the middle of my heart, which was a good metaphor. And one of the themes that I put in all my books now is that people in Mexico are as uneducated and unaware of what goes on in the border as people in the United States. We assume there's sort of a national conspiracy in Mexico, you know, to get people to the border. People don't know. They know as little about it in deep Mexico as they do in Chicago. I went to Mexico City and I was getting interviewed and I told the reporter my line. I said, you know, I have a barbed wire fence bisecting my heart. She was like, that's good. When the newspaper came out she misquoted me and said if you cut Luis's chest open with a knife you'll find a border patrol truck idling in his ribs. I thought, what does that mean? I thought the metaphor that would be exactly right for a Mexican; she had no idea what I was talking about.

Larry Lemmons:
Let's talk about the "Devil's Highway." It was nominated in 2001 for a Pulitzer. It tells the story of 26 people who were trying to cross the border. Only 12 survived. How did you choose that story?

Luis Urrea:
It chose me. I had worked as a missionary in Mexico for awhile. So my first books were about real poverty. So hoping people would understand what drives people north. Unfortunately that hasn't changed. In fact it's gotten worse since my first book. Then I did a memoir about my family's story. And as you know, I teach in Chicago so I was in my office one day and little brown contacted me. And I thought, this is kind of weird because this doesn't happen to writers. The publisher contacts them. But the story had been pre-9/11. This was just on the cusp. It was May 2001 when this event happened. And it was the largest single death event -- certainly the largest rescue effort in history. The border patrol gave it all up to try to save these people. And nobody knew how many guys. I mean, they're known as the Yuma 14, the 14 who died. I call them the Yuma 26 because they know 26 people were there because 12 survived. But it could be upwards of 30. Nobody really knows because some of the men vanished. One of the initial reports was there were 70 guys lost which is physically impossible for various details. But at least there were 26. So they asked me, can you write it. And knowing what you know about the border, can you use this story to insert realities about the Arizona desert and the crossing and the politics so Americans can learn and understand what's happening in the milieu.

Larry Lemmons:
"The Devil's Highway." What is it about that particular area of the border that make it is such a hostile environment?

Luis Urrea:
Well, it's extremely harsh. I mean, we know the Arizona desert, you know, here we are. But it's the old path running east to west that kind of parallels the Mexican border. And it goes from southeast of Tucson all the way to around Yuma. And it's some of the most god-forbidden territory in Arizona. Very little water. Very high temperatures. Very rugged terrain with a very dark history, not only of violence but kind of weird, sort of cult stuff -- occult stuff, too. A very scary region. In the middle of it is the Eisenhower bombing range -- I mean the Barry Goldwater bombing range out in the desert. You don't want to go there unprepared, no question. These guys from my book came from Vera Cruise. They had never seen a desert. Most of them had never ridden in an elevator or taken a plane. They walked into this thing and their smuggler got them lost. And the night they got lost a heat wave began and they were completely unprepared. Some of the guys had taken Pepsi thinking that would get them through the walk. So they didn't have any water. And as the heat literally cooks you from within, there's a section of the book that's particularly ghastly that talks about the stages of this heat death. But it's an awful painful, slow, agonizing, lonely death. So they paid the ultimate price. And even, you know, it's so harsh that a lot of the guys who survived that were here in Phoenix, by the way, they're meat cutters. They live over west side. A lot of them have kidney damage from what they went through, experiencing. It so it's a very harsh passage.

Larry Lemmons:
After you did the research, what did you take away from this entire issue?

Luis Urrea:
Well, I've got to confess to you that at the end of all this I was overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair. And I thought, there's just no way this thing is ever going to be settled. And there's no way to bring any peace to it. But you know, I realize I think the ultimate message to me about this whole process was that it's not about symbols, it's not about invasions, it's not about good guys and bad guys, even. It's about this group of human beings all of which, whether they're the illegal crossers, the coyotes and the smugglers who profit off them or the border patrol agents who have to hunt them, there are all these groups of complex human beings out in an alien territory. And you know, I started analyzing -- the process at the end of the book which I wish I knew then what I know now. Because since the book came out and got really visible, I hear from people constantly. Lots of border patrol guys, which is really cool, every once in awhile I think one of the smuggler gangsters shows up at a reading and that's really uncomfortable. I'll get a really angry Mexican looking dude in the back glaring at me. And politicians, mayors, senators. So I've accumulated a lot of information. And one thing I've learned in the process of this is that there is in fact I think hope, hope for change. There's a pattern bigger than most Americans I think realize in what's going on. But I also understood some of the complicity in the Mexican government and some of the pressure we should put on the Mexican government to have something to do with it. For me personally, I think the most amazing thing was getting to know the border patrol agents. Not knowing them, having seen them my whole life, you know, and having some certain opinions about them. And finding out what kind of human beings those guys were.

Larry Lemmons: You've been lauded, in fact, being very even-handed about the border patrol, calling them men of compassion. They were obviously worried about these people who were in the desert.

Luis Urrea:
My dad was a retired federal judiciary police officer for Mexico. So in some ways I was raised by a cop. I didn't realize it because he's no longer a police officer when I came around. But he was a police officer. And the more you know police officers, whether they're feds or local cops or stateys, there's a certain code of behavior, a certain comportment. And you don't always know that there's a level of compassion and caring. But of course we're human beings. And when you're out there in the middle of nowhere in the wasteland with an agent and he's telling you heart to heart as a human being how he feels about what he does, you can't help but feel compelled by that and closer to that human being. And you know, you were asking earlier, what were some of the benefits and gifts of this thing to me. One of them was to find out that we -- we bleeding heart liberals are just as prejudiced as the people we put down for being prejudiced rednecks, right? I walked in with all of my prejudice intact. Border patrol, bad guy. That's. It write them off. And it was kind of god's shock to me, little joke of the universe to say, no, wait a minute. Look again. This is going to be a really bad book if you don't understand.

Michael Grant:
Twice every year more than 100 Arizona leaders gather to tackle problems facing our state. It is the Arizona Town Hall. This year the group of leaders took up the issue of growth. Here to tell us about ideas generated in this town hall to deal with growth is Chip U'Ren chairman of the board of the Arizona Town Hall. Chip good to see you.

Chip U'Ren:
Michael good to be with you.

Michael Grant: This is truly sequel, son of growth.

Chip U'Ren: Son of growth indeed. It was the first time that we've run the same program twice in a row simultaneously. In the spring we dealt with Arizona's rapid growth and development and its impact on infrastructure. Then this fall at the Grand Canyon we dealt with Arizona's rapid growth and development, its impact on people and demand for services. So human elements.

Michael Grant:
Right. And human services is obviously a big category. Any particular sub entities inside human services?

Chip U'Ren:
We dealt with principally five areas. Work force development, education, healthcare, with public safety and with arts, culture and recreation principals.

Michael Grant:
All right. Let's start with education.

Chip U'Ren:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
What sort of facts and conclusions did we reach in relation to growth and how we tackle education?

Chip U'Ren:
There is an extraordinary demand on education that's both presented by the indigenous population as well as the rapid migration from other parts of the country that's outstripping our ability to deal with the education issues on a reasonable bases. There are a number of barriers that town hall identified to truly excel in education. But I think there were three principal priorities that came out of the discussion. One was that education, the formula for funding education needs to be fundamentally restructured such that we, among many other things, lower class sizes and increase teacher pay. Secondly, that we focus on aligning curriculum with national best practice standards of measurement to make sure that we really are preparing people to compete in a 21st century, global economy. And then third -- and I found this really interesting -- to truly move toward developing individual education or learning plans for students.

Michael Grant:
Public safety?

Chip U'Ren:
Public safety, very critical issue. The sense is that the funding mechanisms in place to deal with all aspects of public safety are quite deficient. It was interesting to learn that Arizona has an extraordinarily high rate of recidivism. That was an issue that emerged as a priority to deal with. Secondly, it was perhaps a statement of the obvious, but that funding needed to be directed at identifying truly effective means of addressing substance abuse, and that is to say to reduce substance abuse, and to improve treatment outcomes.

Michael Grant:
Well, remarkable number of the people in the system are tied in one way or another to drug and substance abuse.

Chip U'Ren:
We had several members of town hall who are subject matter experts, professionals in the field, who both quoted statistics and gave examples of cases where drug use and criminality are running rampant and it is increasing our crime rate at an exponential level.

Michael Grant:
Town Hall at the Grand Canyon?

Chip U'Ren:
It was at the Grand Canyon this year. If you have to exercise your mind that's a great place to exercise it.

Michael Grant:
And I take it everyone had a fine time. A lot of the value is in the process.

Chip U'Ren:
It is in the process. And people who go through that process typically will go back to their communities to find ways to replicate that process in civil discourse and consensus building. So it really generates that interest and level of commitment.

Michael Grant:
Chip U'Ren, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate the input on town hall.

Chip U'Ren:
Thank you, Michael.

Michael Grant:
Our thanks to you as well for joining us on a Thursday edition of Horizon. Please be here tomorrow night for our Friday Journalist Roundtable. We will wrap up the week news events. I'm Michael Grant. Have a very good one. Good night.

Immigration Author


  • Recently, acclaimed Author Luis Alberto Urrea was in the Valley to talk about his book “The Devil’s Highway: A True Story”, which explores the fate of twenty six Mexican men who attempted to cross the border into southern Arizona through a stretch of desert known as “The Devil's Highway.” We'll talk to the author on Horizon.
Guests:
  • Phyllis Rowe - Arizona Consumers Council
  • Luis Urre - Author
  • Chip U’Re - Chairman, Arizona Town Hall
Category: Immigration

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, average fuel efficiency for cars has not gone up much in the past ten years, and in some cases, it has gone down. We'll talk about an effort to try to improve gas mileage. You'll get to hear from the author of a book that was up for a Pulitzer Prize. The book details the trip of 26 illegal aliens crossing the desert to get into the United States. Plus, despite a slowing housing market, growth continues in the valley. That was the topic of the latest Arizona Town Hall. All that's next, on Horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by the contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS Station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening and welcome to Horizon. I'm Michael Grant.
You might intuitively think that gas mileage among vehicles has gone up in the past ten years. While that is true for individual models, overall gas mileage has decreased for many auto manufacturers as Americans drive bigger vehicles such as S.U.V.'s that, according to an analysis by a Washington-based consumer group, which is hoping to do something about gas mileage through a grass roots effort. I'll talk to an official of a local consumer advocacy group, but first, Mike Sauceda tells us more about the plans for fuel efficiency of vehicles.

Mike Sauceda:
A busy intersection at Cave Creek Road, Dunlap, and Seventh Street and chances are that newest cars at the intersection have the tame fuel efficiency or possibly even worse than cars ten years old. According to an analysis by the Consumer Federation of America, most manufacturers of cars sold in the U.S. have lower average gas mileage in 2005 than in 1996. The cafe average target is 27.5-miles per gallon for a manufacturers' fleet of vehicles. Most manufacturers do not meet that. Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation talked about that at an event sponsored by the Arizona Consumer's Council in Phoenix Wednesday.

Jack Gillis:
The overall fuel efficiency of America's automobiles and light trucks has been stuck in neutral for the last 10 years at about 25-miles per gallon. A key reason is the dramatic increase in the number of less fuel efficient S.U.V.'s and pickups. Once less than half annual sales, S.U.V.'s and pickups are now over half of the annual sales. The market is essentially replacing more fuel efficient vehicles with less fuel efficient vehicles. As a result, even significant improvements in the fuel economy of certain vehicles is being nullified by this ever- increasing, less fuel efficient vehicle category. We took a look behind this stagnated national average, and we first examined which manufacturers had the best and worst cafe ratings and how did those ratings change over a 10-year period. Of the 13 major manufacturers, amazingly, nine had lower cafe averages in 2005 than they did ten years ago in 1996. Only three manufacturers actually increased, and one stayed the same.

Mike Sauceda:
Gillis said that over the past 10-years car manufacturers who failed to meet the cafe standards have paid a quarter of a billion dollars in fines. Gillis said consumers want cars with better fuel mileage and said part of the proof is that manufacturers such as Ford and G.M. with lower fuel mileage averages are not doing well in the market place while Honda and Toyota are financially healthy. Gillis announced a three part plan to help increase fuel efficiency ratings.

Jack Gillis:
We are recommending a series of information specifically related to m.p.g. ratings. One, the disclosure of miles per gallon in ads for all new cars is, two, m.p.g. disclosures on new cars, and 3, instant m.p.g. disclosures on the dash boards of vehicles as they are driven.

Mike Sauceda:
Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation also spoke at the meeting. He says cars that get less than 15-miles per gallon should be prohibited from being advertised on TV. He said with the election of a democratic congress time is right for consumer action to demand better fuel efficiency for vehicles.

Mark Cooper:
Now is the moment to hopefully play a different tune in congress. And that can only happen if people across the country, a, take action, tell their congress people. There have been resolutions introduced in city governments about incensing different cars of cars, fuel efficient cars. And jack used the one interesting point. When I came up with the idea of banning TV advertising for gas guzzlers people got shocked. You mean you're going to infringe the First Amendment free speech rights of the car companies? You can't do that. Of course I can. When was the last time you saw a cigarette ad on television? We banned cigarette advertising from television because there's a compelling national interest in doing so. If our oil addiction, the turmoil in the Middle East does not convince you that there's a compelling national interest in doing so, then I don't know what will. But maybe your pocketbook will and maybe the market failures will and maybe the environmental problems will. So remember, I've got four good reasons why you ought to be doing that.

Michael Grant:
Here now to talk about fuel efficiency of cars and plans to try to increase that is Phyllis Rowe. She is with the Arizona Consumers Council. Phyllis, I haven't seen you for awhile.

Phyllis Rowe:
Hi.

Michael Grant:
Pickup trucks and S.U.V.'s. Biggest contributor to this phenomenon over the past ten years?

Phyllis Rowe: They've been a big contributor. Because more people are moving to these. Some cases they are moving to the pickup trucks because in some cases they don't have to abide by all the safety standards. So they cost a little less in insurance. And insurance is one of the big factors in purchasing a car.

Michael Grant:
That factor may also mean they may cost a little bit less period, right?

Phyllis Rowe:
That's true.

Michael Grant:
Okay. The S.U.V.'s have just become more and more popular.

Phyllis Rowe:
Yes. And people seem to feel that they need these and they're much heavier. However, I believe Toyota and some of the other companies are now beginning to produce the S.U.V.'s that are smaller. And those are meeting some of the gasoline standards.

Michael Grant:
Now Phyllis, as you know as gas prices spiked over the past years or so, a real market took off certain for S.U.V. sales. The market has a strange way of sending signals and getting reactions. Why don't we just let the market sort this thing out?

Phyllis Rowe:
Well, it's a big problem for us because of the limited amount of the gasoline and oil. There's a limited supply. And we are importing so much of it that gasoline's going to be over $3 a gallon. And we only supply about 3\% of the oil that we use. We import a great deal. So we're trying to get people to use less, to plan their trips, to check their cars, to do things that will reduce the amount of gasoline that they are using. It's estimated that people use about 10\% of their income for gasoline.

Michael Grant:

And is that -- I mean, one of the suggestions that's being made would be a requirement to list gas mileage on your dashboard. I guess that would give you a constant obviously reminder. It not only gives you a constant reminder, because I've had that on some cars that I've had, of what the heck gas you're getting, it also gives you some interesting tips on what's good and bad in terms of your own driving hasn't. For example, when you rapidly accelerate you see that gas mileage go down quite markedly.

Phyllis Rowe:
I've never experienced it, but I can see that it would have a deterring factor. But we're also suggesting that where people are buying a lot of used cars that they have mileage listed on the used cars and they are not doing that now. And people buy them, you know, they're told by the salesman that car has good mileage, but it's not necessarily the case. And we'd like to have it mandated on the older used vehicles.

Michael Grant:
One of the concerns that occurs to me there is it's one thing coming off the manufacturers' production line to state mileage figures. After, though, it's been driven two or three years, I would think the reliability of that mileage data might be impacted considerably by how well it's been maintained and a variety of other things that would not intuitively be known in trying to post an accurate bit of data as to this car gets 18-miles to the gallon.

Phyllis Rowe:
That could be a factor. We're trying to get people to maintain their cars, to check the air in their tires, to change their air filters more frequently, to keep their cars front ends well aligned so that they will use less gasoline if they take care of their cars. And I encourage people. I generally have a gas gauge, a tire gauge in my hand and I'll ask the women to check the air in their tires frequently. Because it does make a big difference in the gas mileage. And with gasoline as expensive as it is, they're projecting it will be over $3 for much of the next -- the rest of the century here. And we're just trying to tell people that they can do these things to cut their costs and to cut the greenhouse gasses, too, so it will be environmentally good.

Michael Grant:
Well, for the time being let's try to enjoy $2.19, though. Phyllis Rowe thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate the information.

Phyllis Rowe:
Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Recently acclaimed author Luis Alberto Urrea was in the valley to talk about his book "The Devil's Highway" that explores the fate 26 men who tried to sneak into Arizona from Mexico across a stretch of desert known as the Devil's Highway. The book profiled the lives and deaths of the group known as the Yuma 14. Larry Lemmons talked to him about writing the 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist book.

Larry Lemmons:
Let's talk about your personal background. You straddled the border your entire life. You were born in Tijuana to an American mother and Mexican father.

Luis Urrea:
Right.

Larry Lemmons:
How that is that influenced you in your work?

Luis Urrea:
Well, you know, it's put me in a strange position. I used to say when my first book came out that I felt like I was bisected personally by the border, you know? My dad was really Mexican even though he was blond and blue-eyed. But he was very chauvinistic about Mexico. My mom was a political conservative from New York, Red Cross woman, had been in World War II, had seen the death camps, helped liberate Buchenwald. So there was a weird camp between Mexicanness and Americanness in my household. I was always saying when I touring that there was a barbed wire going down the middle of my heart, which was a good metaphor. And one of the themes that I put in all my books now is that people in Mexico are as uneducated and unaware of what goes on in the border as people in the United States. We assume there's sort of a national conspiracy in Mexico, you know, to get people to the border. People don't know. They know as little about it in deep Mexico as they do in Chicago. I went to Mexico City and I was getting interviewed and I told the reporter my line. I said, you know, I have a barbed wire fence bisecting my heart. She was like, that's good. When the newspaper came out she misquoted me and said if you cut Luis's chest open with a knife you'll find a border patrol truck idling in his ribs. I thought, what does that mean? I thought the metaphor that would be exactly right for a Mexican; she had no idea what I was talking about.

Larry Lemmons:
Let's talk about the "Devil's Highway." It was nominated in 2001 for a Pulitzer. It tells the story of 26 people who were trying to cross the border. Only 12 survived. How did you choose that story?

Luis Urrea:
It chose me. I had worked as a missionary in Mexico for awhile. So my first books were about real poverty. So hoping people would understand what drives people north. Unfortunately that hasn't changed. In fact it's gotten worse since my first book. Then I did a memoir about my family's story. And as you know, I teach in Chicago so I was in my office one day and little brown contacted me. And I thought, this is kind of weird because this doesn't happen to writers. The publisher contacts them. But the story had been pre-9/11. This was just on the cusp. It was May 2001 when this event happened. And it was the largest single death event -- certainly the largest rescue effort in history. The border patrol gave it all up to try to save these people. And nobody knew how many guys. I mean, they're known as the Yuma 14, the 14 who died. I call them the Yuma 26 because they know 26 people were there because 12 survived. But it could be upwards of 30. Nobody really knows because some of the men vanished. One of the initial reports was there were 70 guys lost which is physically impossible for various details. But at least there were 26. So they asked me, can you write it. And knowing what you know about the border, can you use this story to insert realities about the Arizona desert and the crossing and the politics so Americans can learn and understand what's happening in the milieu.

Larry Lemmons:
"The Devil's Highway." What is it about that particular area of the border that make it is such a hostile environment?

Luis Urrea:
Well, it's extremely harsh. I mean, we know the Arizona desert, you know, here we are. But it's the old path running east to west that kind of parallels the Mexican border. And it goes from southeast of Tucson all the way to around Yuma. And it's some of the most god-forbidden territory in Arizona. Very little water. Very high temperatures. Very rugged terrain with a very dark history, not only of violence but kind of weird, sort of cult stuff -- occult stuff, too. A very scary region. In the middle of it is the Eisenhower bombing range -- I mean the Barry Goldwater bombing range out in the desert. You don't want to go there unprepared, no question. These guys from my book came from Vera Cruise. They had never seen a desert. Most of them had never ridden in an elevator or taken a plane. They walked into this thing and their smuggler got them lost. And the night they got lost a heat wave began and they were completely unprepared. Some of the guys had taken Pepsi thinking that would get them through the walk. So they didn't have any water. And as the heat literally cooks you from within, there's a section of the book that's particularly ghastly that talks about the stages of this heat death. But it's an awful painful, slow, agonizing, lonely death. So they paid the ultimate price. And even, you know, it's so harsh that a lot of the guys who survived that were here in Phoenix, by the way, they're meat cutters. They live over west side. A lot of them have kidney damage from what they went through, experiencing. It so it's a very harsh passage.

Larry Lemmons:
After you did the research, what did you take away from this entire issue?

Luis Urrea:
Well, I've got to confess to you that at the end of all this I was overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair. And I thought, there's just no way this thing is ever going to be settled. And there's no way to bring any peace to it. But you know, I realize I think the ultimate message to me about this whole process was that it's not about symbols, it's not about invasions, it's not about good guys and bad guys, even. It's about this group of human beings all of which, whether they're the illegal crossers, the coyotes and the smugglers who profit off them or the border patrol agents who have to hunt them, there are all these groups of complex human beings out in an alien territory. And you know, I started analyzing -- the process at the end of the book which I wish I knew then what I know now. Because since the book came out and got really visible, I hear from people constantly. Lots of border patrol guys, which is really cool, every once in awhile I think one of the smuggler gangsters shows up at a reading and that's really uncomfortable. I'll get a really angry Mexican looking dude in the back glaring at me. And politicians, mayors, senators. So I've accumulated a lot of information. And one thing I've learned in the process of this is that there is in fact I think hope, hope for change. There's a pattern bigger than most Americans I think realize in what's going on. But I also understood some of the complicity in the Mexican government and some of the pressure we should put on the Mexican government to have something to do with it. For me personally, I think the most amazing thing was getting to know the border patrol agents. Not knowing them, having seen them my whole life, you know, and having some certain opinions about them. And finding out what kind of human beings those guys were.

Larry Lemmons: You've been lauded, in fact, being very even-handed about the border patrol, calling them men of compassion. They were obviously worried about these people who were in the desert.

Luis Urrea:
My dad was a retired federal judiciary police officer for Mexico. So in some ways I was raised by a cop. I didn't realize it because he's no longer a police officer when I came around. But he was a police officer. And the more you know police officers, whether they're feds or local cops or stateys, there's a certain code of behavior, a certain comportment. And you don't always know that there's a level of compassion and caring. But of course we're human beings. And when you're out there in the middle of nowhere in the wasteland with an agent and he's telling you heart to heart as a human being how he feels about what he does, you can't help but feel compelled by that and closer to that human being. And you know, you were asking earlier, what were some of the benefits and gifts of this thing to me. One of them was to find out that we -- we bleeding heart liberals are just as prejudiced as the people we put down for being prejudiced rednecks, right? I walked in with all of my prejudice intact. Border patrol, bad guy. That's. It write them off. And it was kind of god's shock to me, little joke of the universe to say, no, wait a minute. Look again. This is going to be a really bad book if you don't understand.

Michael Grant:
Twice every year more than 100 Arizona leaders gather to tackle problems facing our state. It is the Arizona Town Hall. This year the group of leaders took up the issue of growth. Here to tell us about ideas generated in this town hall to deal with growth is Chip U'Ren chairman of the board of the Arizona Town Hall. Chip good to see you.

Chip U'Ren:
Michael good to be with you.

Michael Grant: This is truly sequel, son of growth.

Chip U'Ren: Son of growth indeed. It was the first time that we've run the same program twice in a row simultaneously. In the spring we dealt with Arizona's rapid growth and development and its impact on infrastructure. Then this fall at the Grand Canyon we dealt with Arizona's rapid growth and development, its impact on people and demand for services. So human elements.

Michael Grant:
Right. And human services is obviously a big category. Any particular sub entities inside human services?

Chip U'Ren:
We dealt with principally five areas. Work force development, education, healthcare, with public safety and with arts, culture and recreation principals.

Michael Grant:
All right. Let's start with education.

Chip U'Ren:
Yes.

Michael Grant:
What sort of facts and conclusions did we reach in relation to growth and how we tackle education?

Chip U'Ren:
There is an extraordinary demand on education that's both presented by the indigenous population as well as the rapid migration from other parts of the country that's outstripping our ability to deal with the education issues on a reasonable bases. There are a number of barriers that town hall identified to truly excel in education. But I think there were three principal priorities that came out of the discussion. One was that education, the formula for funding education needs to be fundamentally restructured such that we, among many other things, lower class sizes and increase teacher pay. Secondly, that we focus on aligning curriculum with national best practice standards of measurement to make sure that we really are preparing people to compete in a 21st century, global economy. And then third -- and I found this really interesting -- to truly move toward developing individual education or learning plans for students.

Michael Grant:
Public safety?

Chip U'Ren:
Public safety, very critical issue. The sense is that the funding mechanisms in place to deal with all aspects of public safety are quite deficient. It was interesting to learn that Arizona has an extraordinarily high rate of recidivism. That was an issue that emerged as a priority to deal with. Secondly, it was perhaps a statement of the obvious, but that funding needed to be directed at identifying truly effective means of addressing substance abuse, and that is to say to reduce substance abuse, and to improve treatment outcomes.

Michael Grant:
Well, remarkable number of the people in the system are tied in one way or another to drug and substance abuse.

Chip U'Ren:
We had several members of town hall who are subject matter experts, professionals in the field, who both quoted statistics and gave examples of cases where drug use and criminality are running rampant and it is increasing our crime rate at an exponential level.

Michael Grant:
Town Hall at the Grand Canyon?

Chip U'Ren:
It was at the Grand Canyon this year. If you have to exercise your mind that's a great place to exercise it.

Michael Grant:
And I take it everyone had a fine time. A lot of the value is in the process.

Chip U'Ren:
It is in the process. And people who go through that process typically will go back to their communities to find ways to replicate that process in civil discourse and consensus building. So it really generates that interest and level of commitment.

Michael Grant:
Chip U'Ren, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate the input on town hall.

Chip U'Ren:
Thank you, Michael.

Michael Grant:
Our thanks to you as well for joining us on a Thursday edition of Horizon. Please be here tomorrow night for our Friday Journalist Roundtable. We will wrap up the week news events. I'm Michael Grant. Have a very good one. Good night.

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