Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

January 22, 2007


Host: Michael Grant

HORIZON 25th Anniversary


  • Former Governor Fife Symington is the third-most influential story HORIZON covered in the last 25 years.
Guests:
  • Tony Haffer - National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, Phoenix
  • Mary Manross - Mayor of Scottsdale
  • Thayer Verschoor - State Senate Majority Leader


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon", usually it's cold weather that grips the rest of the country and the Valley remains awash in sunshine. But, a touch of old man winter in our state. Also an ASU study confirms some positive effects of photo radar on the Loop 101. Will the state take up that program? And we continue our look at the top stories we have covered in the last 25 years. That's next on Horizon.

Announcer 1:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of 8, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon". I'm Michael Grant. Usually, this time of year, so-called Snowbirds have flocked here from the north to get away from the cold weather. Well, imagine the surprise of seasonal visitors and, for that matter, long-time valley residents, to see a winter scene usually reserved for the High Country. Joining us now to explain this month's unusual winter weather is the weather guy in charge of the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Phoenix, Tony Haffer. Tony, it's good to see you again.

Tony Haffer:
My pleasure to be here, Michael. Thank you very much for having me.

Michael Grant:
Notice how I neatly sidestepped "meteorologist".

Tony Haffer:
We tend to get sidestepped a lot.

[laughter]

Michael Grant:
Tony, I have seen some strange weather in the valley but yesterday, when you have rain, pretty good stretch of sunshine, and then snow, I don't think I've ever seen that combo in about a six, seven-hour period. What happened?

Tony Haffer: Well, we had a really interesting situation. We had some rain in the morning from the low pressure area that was south of us. And then there was a bunch of cold air moving in from the north. And as you recall before, the cold air got here, the clouds broke, and we had some sunshine for a few hours. And then, along towards dinner time, the cold winds started to blow, and the clouds rolled in, and some rain started and some snow started and we had just a wonderful diversity of weather in one beautiful day.

Michael Grant:
And as we can see from the video that we have got up here, this was not just, you know, a few snowflakes scattered here and there. This was actually a pretty good accumulation in some areas of snow.

Tony Haffer:
Yeah, absolutely. There were areas that kids did some sledding, had a few snowball fights. A few snowmen, snow persons were constructed. So it was not a trivial snow event by any stretch of imagination. Not for Phoenix.

Michael Grant:
You know, the past, I would say two or three storms, have been strange, I think, for the winter period. They almost seem to have been more Monsoon-like, from the standpoint of coming up from the south, and being on primarily the eastern side of the state, as opposed to what normally is the pattern, which is just a storm coming in from the west. Is it my imagination or is this a different pattern?

Tony Haffer:
Certainly it has been an unusual pattern for this time of year. We've been very dry, as we know, for all of the winter, or virtually all the winter. And what's been happening is we have been seeing a change in the overall weather pattern. If you recall, there was a tremendous amount of ice and snow and rain pretty much on a line from, oh, the Texas Panhandle up through Ohio. And that was kind of the channel that the subtropical moisture was flowing. So the storms normally come in from the west or the north and have moisture with enemy, and usually we see the rain --

Michael Grant:
And then move across the--

Tony Haffer:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Tony Haffer:
But they have been pretty dry so far this winter, and they were able to pick up some of the moisture from this plume that was running pretty much from the Southwest to Northeast direction, but still south of Arizona. So it kind of pulls the moisture in because the storms run in a counter-clockwise fashion from the east, much as we see in the summer.

Michael Grant:
Is it basically pulling the moisture from the El Niño Effect?

Tony Haffer:
Yeah, that's excellent point. El Niño usually pretends a wet winter for Arizona. Typically that winter doesn't get wet until the middle part of January. So here we are, mid-January, and we are starting to see, for the first time, thank goodness, the moisture coming into the state and the impact of El Niño on Arizona.

Michael Grant:
What do you think? February, March, everyone was talking very encouragingly about The El Niño and having a wetter winter than normal. What's it look like now?

Tony Haffer:
We are still encouraged. Although the actual El Niño itself in the Central Pacific, Equatorial Pacific is kind of peaking, in terms of its strengths, the impacts on North America and, hence, the Southwest United States, are going to be more noticeable for the next several months. So the forecast is for Arizona to have above normal precipitation from here through most of March. So we are hopeful that we will see plenty of snow, lots of rain in the valley, and replenish our reservoirs.

Michael Grant:
Put that in some context for us. Obviously, two years ago we had just a terrific winter in terms of rainfall and snow pack. That good? Not as good?

Tony Haffer:
Well, if you remember two years ago, we started the wet pattern a lot earlier--

Michael Grant:
We did. December.

Tony Haffer:
This year we have gone pretty much any precipitation from, oh, the middle of November until present time. So we only have a couple of months to have moisture return. And a couple of months of above normal moisture will unlikely be able to overcome the absolute or nearly absolute zero that we saw the first part of the winter and the latter part of fall.

Michael Grant:
I tell you what, Tony, we will take what we can get.

Tony Haffer:
You bet.

Michael Grant:
Tony Haffer from the National Weather service. Thanks for the information.

Tony Haffer:
Thank you,
Michael.

Michael Grant:
A study conducted by Arizona State University of Scottsdale's photo radar pilot program on the 101 has confirmed the cameras made driving safer on that stretch of highway. Last week, Scottsdale City Council voted unanimously to ask the state to take over the program. Governor Napolitano agreed the cameras made the freeways safer, but she's made no indication on whether or not she thinks the state should adopt the cameras. Here's what the study uncovered.

Reporter:
Before the cameras were turned off on this stretch of The Loop 101 in Scottsdale, Enough information had been gathered to study the effects of the program. ASU investigators were brought in by the city of Scottsdale about a month after the program began to manage the data collection and analysis efforts.

Simon Washington:
We looked at speed both in the speeding population, those exceeding 76 miles an hour, and we also looked at the average driver. The effect on the average speeds. Then we also looked at safety. And we have broken safety down into very detailed quantities, looking at the types of crashes that would be impacted by the program. Specifically rear-end crashes, side swipe crashes, and injury crashes and total crashes.

Reporter:
Strict protocols were followed in the analysis and after study. Researchers suggested that, by limiting wrecks, millions of dollars could be saved every year in medical and insurance bills. The study found all crashes were reduced.

Simon Washington:
On the safety side, what we saw is, and without going into great detail, we analyzed this several different ways with respect to safety. But the basic trend that we see is that all crashes were reduced and that is the crash frequency. So crashes are being eliminated by this program. And generally, that's a total picture. But if you look within total crashes, what we see that rear-end crashes increased. And the reason for that is because, if you think through the process, what you have got is some mechanism that's telling drivers to slow down and drivers see that. The problem comes in that many drivers follow too closely. And so the lead driver is not really the issue that's responding to the program, but the following driver who is following too closely and cannot respond to a driver that was perhaps apparently erratically applying their brakes to gear for the 75 miles an hour limit. And so you see an increase in rear-end crashes. The interesting thing, though, is that because these crashes are occurring at relatively slower speeds than they were before, that the injuries associated with rear-end crashes have not increased. In fact, they are about the same as they were before the program. And all other crash types have decreased. So the sideswipe crashes, the single vehicle crashes, and total crashes have gone down in frequency and across the board, except for rear ends, which stayed the same, the number of injuries resulting from these other crashes have also gone down. So, we are seeing fewer people injured in single-vehicle crashes and side swipe crashes and then total crashes.

Reporter:
After the program was discontinued, speeding reportedly spiked 850\%. Researchers say there are some caveats to this study because of the timeliness of reporting.

Simon Washington:
When you start looking at the severe crashes, which could be fatalities and severe injury crashes, there are very few of those. So if you miss one or two in your data collection effort, that can be very problematic in making that assessment. They tend to be high cost, they also tend to be rare. You can't miss them. So you go influence a very painstaking, careful data collection process and that's why, frankly, I have still got the caveats of limitations on the study results because there may be crashes that are still have not been submitted to the Arizona Department Of Transportation and that may be lacking in the database. I don't believe there are any serious crashes that have been omitted and so I am fairly confident that we aren't omitting -- missing any of those. But usually the lag in most D.O.T.'s around the country can be three to six months before a crash event gets into the database for analysis.

Michael Grant:
Joining us now to offer their views on where the program should be heading next is Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross and State Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor. Good to see both of you again. Mayor, there was some further study indicated. What did you and the council think in terms about the results of the study? Some of which were just highlighted in that piece of tape?

Mary Manross:
Well, the council decided unanimously that we felt that the results looked very promising, they looked positive. That along with all the anecdotal evidence over the many months showed clearly it was effective in changing driver behavior and reducing crashes and accidents, injuries and so forth, as you just heard, and the Council asked-- unanimously asked The Governor and the State to try to find a way to not only allow Scottsdale but other cities in the state to be able to have this kind of program if they so choose.

Michael Grant:
Any concern about the increase in the rear-end collisions? That was one of the concerns going in that it would get these lights going off, people all of a sudden hitting the brakes and unfortunately people follow too close.

Mary Manross:
Yeah. Well, the study showed, too, and Dr. Symington had mentioned -- we asked him about that at our council meeting. He said even with officers, any kind of change of enforcement, he said that's a common, a common result and that even though there was the increase in the number of rear-end collisions, the accident rate, the injury rate, went down about 2\%. So in other words people are going much more slowly so there's not the severity of injuries and crashes. So, I think that's all the other indicators were very positive, very high and that's one indicator that that wasn't --

Michael Grant:
That was not--

Mary Manross:
Barely perceptible.

Michael Grant:
Senator, I joked on the Friday Edition that, you know, it did seem to have been effective dropped average speeds nine miles an hour down to 97 miles an hour. But I was joking. The study seems to be pretty sound. It seems to indicate that it cuts speeds, it cut accident rates. What do you think?

Thayer Verschoor:
I think, I think there's some concerns, but I am not so sure how sound the study is. I think we are going to look at that. I think there's some concerns that we have with the use of photo radar in general, and in principle in the constitutionality of it, the effect of it on privacy, the equalness and fairness of the photo radar program. Some of the concerns that many folks have is, one, how equal and fair is it? Which is a requirement in many of our state laws. People who are not registered, their vehicles are not registered, they are not going to be ticketed. They're going to toss those tickets out. If you are driving your wife's car and it's registered to her and she gets -- you get the ticket, they are not going to go after her because clearly you are not the owner of the car. So I mean there's many instances -- illegal aliens that are driving cars illegally on the road. They will not be ticketed. So how fair is this that only those people who try very much to obey law right ones who are being penalized?

Michael Grant:
Without minimizing those points, though, is this the case of the perfect being the enemy of the good? I mean, you can have problems with any system that you come to, come up with at the margins.

Thayer Verschoor:
Mike, I'll tell you, I don't necessarily subscribe to that idea. I think, you know, I think we work very hard in our country to protect those folks that are innocent, to protect folks that are trying to do the right thing. You know, the study, I think -- I think it is significant, the increase in the rear-end accidents. They didn't do the off-peak hours, you know, they didn't do the peak driving hours as part of the study. I have some concerns with that. The number of accidents, I don't think there was any show of necessarily whether there was an increase or decrease in fatalities because as far as that goes that's one of the safest stretches of freeway in the state as far as fatalities go. So I think there's some concerns there. You know, I think one of the things that I am concerned about obviously are, you have a Constitutional right to face your accuser…

Michael Grant:
Right.

Thayer Verschoor:
In this case, the accuser has a vested interest. If that ticket isn't, a fine isn't paid on that ticket, they don't receive any payment, but yet, they are the ones testifying against you.

Michael Grant:
Mayor, what about that point? You obviously can't cross-examine a photo. You can't cross-examine a camera. And for that matter, there is the continuing suspicion that this is just simply revenue generation device, and really doesn't have the kind of things that it should have to have significant safety effects because the camera won't stop someone going down the freeway at 150 miles an hour.

Mary Manross:
The whole point, the whole point is this is to supplement public safety, not to supplant. So our state, and our city, have I think indicated strongly that they want to have the technology to help supplement public safety, supplement the D.P.S. to make the environment safer. There has not been a court case, I am quite sure, in the research I have done, not a court case in the state that has overturned this kind of technology. It's been held up through the United States constitution, and in every state that it's been challenged in. So that is not an issue. I just think that's kind of a bogus argument.

Michael Grant:
Senator, I think that's true. I mean, the general presumption is, if you are out on the public streets, possibly being a danger to the public health and safety, you know, you are fair game.

Thayer Verschoor:
I think, you know, that is a concern that we all have. We want our streets to be safe. We want to know that when we go to a work we're going to make it home safely. When we are out shopping, when our children are out on the roads that they are going to make it home safe. One of the things I am concerned about is, you know, I'm not so sure that it did supplement patrols in that area. I mean, one of the things we saw during the test period was a huge number of police officers and emergency vehicles receiving tickets or being flashed on this. And, you know, although I don't know that they did any studies on that, but anecdotally, there were comments to us down at the legislature that, you know, that certain police patrols tended not to go in that area because if they weren't in pursuit of somebody and they weren't using their lights or something, they were getting tickets--

Michael Grant:
They were getting tickets? Mayor?

Mary Manross:
That's--that's what I read - Yea, I read that in the paper.

Thayer Verschoor:
That's a problem.

Mary Manross:
That's the kind of thing that can be overcome if indeed a public safety officer is getting ticketed and they are working. I mean, you can always overcome that kind of issue. It seems to me the bottom line is that driving behavior changed on the 101 through Scottsdale. Everyone will tell you that it changed, and it changed for the better.

Michael Grant:
Senator, let me go to that point. I understand that you are articulating some concerns shared by others about civil liberties, whether or not it's effective, those kinds of things. Do you have any doubt with the basic stats that seem to indicate it slowed people down?

Thayer Verschoor:
You know, I have, you know, I have some concerns. I don't know that I would call them doubts, and I am not really going to question all of those results, and probably, there was some change in the behavior. I think the thing is that we have to look at is a couple of things. We have to address some of those concerns. Another big concern is Arizona, on our freeways; we don't have absolute speed limits, which means reasonable and prudent is the standards. And reasonable and prudent at 2:00 in the morning is maybe different than it is at 5:00 in the afternoon. Reasonable and prudent when it's icing up, like we saw this weekend, may only be 35. If we are going to address this, you know, we've got have some legislation. We have to address those Concerns.

Michael Grant:
OK. Senator Thayer Verschoor, thank you very much for joining us. Mayor Mary Manross, our thanks to you as well.

Michael Grant:
This year, Horizon is celebrating its 25th anniversary. For the next few days, we will feature some of the most important stories the program that is covered in that time. Our third most important story: J. Fife Symington III won the governor's race against Terry Goddard. Symington won reelection in 1994, but he resigned from office three years later.

Michael Grant:
Since 1972, Fife Symington has been a player in the Valley. He was only 27 years old when named to the board at Southwest Savings and Loan. At age 35, he formed his development company. And 11 years later, he was Governor; and a Governor secretly in financial ruin. That precipitated a series of events which brings us to the point we are today, six days from the start of the criminal trial.

Fife Symington:
I have never been one to linger, and I don't intend to start now. My law is to offer best wishes and full support, to say thank you, and to move on.

Michael Grant:
The governor announces he will step down from office after being found guilty on seven criminal counts. His bank fraud conviction nearly two years ago led to his resignation as governor. Today those convictions were overturned. That was base on the trial judge's dismissal Mary Jane Kote during deliberations. The Appeals Court ruled it was wrong to dismiss Ms. Kote.

Michael Grant: It was the end of a nearly decade-long legal struggle and it ended with the stroke of a pen. Former Arizona Governor Fife Symington the recipient of one of over 100 pardons from former President Clinton.

Michael Grant: You are 48 hours or so into this knowledge. What does having this 10-year-plus albatross off of your neck feel like?

Fife Symington:
Well, it sure feels like it's off my neck. But I am just getting used to living without that threat being there for 10 years. Many people don't realize this started before I ran for governor.

Michael Grant:
Howie, did the press not ask enough questions about Fife Symington's personal finances?

Howard Fischer:
I think that there's a good case to be made for that. None of us, and I came from business reporting background. But I couldn't look at Fife Symington's books while it was public. This is a privately held company and say, did he, in fact, lie on his financial statements? It took bringing that stuff public when, in fact, he was sued by the Pension Funds and you could compare what he signed and what other statements he was giving to someone else. Could we have reported it at the time? Certainly Terry Goddard was making that noise at time. Was it provable? Who knows? The other part is in 1994, everyone knew his financial condition and they reelected him anyway.

Michael Grant:
Yea, Terry did try to make an issue out of it in 1990, Kev, but it really got no traction.

Keven Willey:
It didn't get any traction. And even more than Terry Goddard, remember, the Republican primary --

Matt Salmon:
Barbara Barrett.

Keven Willey:
Thank you, I was blanking on the name. Barbara Barrett made quite an issue of this and really created a lot of smoke. Most of us at the time thought it was smoke that there wasn't fire. When you look back on it, she was really prophetic.

Matt Salmon:
Almost her entire campaign focused on the financial dealings.

Howard Fischer:
And that raised, of course, the question of, does that matter? There are a lot of people who say Fife Symington was a good governor, liked his policies, and was his private life that got in the way of it.

Michael Grant:
Interesting political point, Matt. Did he, did he run to the center, and then govern to the right?--

Matt Salmon:
Yeah, very much so--

Michael Grant:
Was that a sea change for Fife Symington?

Matt Salmon:
In his first campaign, he very much ran as a moderate and it's totally opposite from a typical Republican campaign because typically they run more to the right and then govern more to the left. It was just exactly opposite.

Keven Willey:
The irony I see is he ran as a successful businessman, and he ran as a Moderate Republican. Remember the "Poke in the Nose" quote? The five-way Republican primary against Evan Meacham, who deserved a poke in the nose, was the infamous quote. He governed as a financially embattled governor and as a very conservative governor. So he governed very differently on both counts than how he ran.

Howard Fischer:
And of course, the argument could be made; I asked him when he was governor, what changed? He said "it's not that I've changed", he said "I think I've been in here", and he said, "Maybe, the more you look at government you realize less that it's the answer. He was also very much against a lot of the Washington edicts and he was going to do his bit to show we are the sovereign state of Arizona.

Keven Willey:
Which is the real Fife Symington?

Matt Salmon:
I think when he first ran; I think this is a person that actually evolved, his ideology evolved while he was in office. He became more and more distrusting of government as time went on. I also think part of it, too, was the kind of people he surrounded himself with, the staff people. Remember his first Chief of Staff was Buddy Bannister, remember that? And then, when he changed directions in Chief of staff, they had more--

Keven Willey:
Then Chris…, then Wes Skully.

Matt Salmon:
Actually, there's one in between, I think. But, you know, he really moved along the continuum. I think the interesting thing to point out, though, in Governor Symington's tenure, because I was elected the same time he was. And we had passed a constitutional change in the state, you might recall, the 50-plus-one requirement for governor? And because of that, there was not a 50-plus-one between he and Goddard. And we were governor-less for first three months that I was in the State Legislature. It was really interesting.

Howard Fischer:
What do you mean governor-less? What do you think Rose Mofford was? Chopped liver?

Michael Grant:
Elected governor-less.

Howard Fischer:
OK.

Michael Grant:
Tomorrow night, "Horizon" will be preempted for the President's State of the Union Address. Wednesday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne will talk about the State of Education. Thursday, Chief Justice Ruth McGregor will tell us about the State of the Judiciary. Friday, don't forget to join us for the Journalists' Roundtable. Thank you for joining us on a Monday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

scottsdale Speed Cameras


  • scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross and State Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor discuss the freeway speed camera program that, according to a recent study, produced positive safety results on Loop 101. The Scottsdale City Council wants the state to take over the program.
Guests:
  • Tony Haffer - National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, Phoenix
  • Mary Manross - Mayor of Scottsdale
  • Thayer Verschoor - State Senate Majority Leader


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon", usually it's cold weather that grips the rest of the country and the Valley remains awash in sunshine. But, a touch of old man winter in our state. Also an ASU study confirms some positive effects of photo radar on the Loop 101. Will the state take up that program? And we continue our look at the top stories we have covered in the last 25 years. That's next on Horizon.

Announcer 1:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of 8, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon". I'm Michael Grant. Usually, this time of year, so-called Snowbirds have flocked here from the north to get away from the cold weather. Well, imagine the surprise of seasonal visitors and, for that matter, long-time valley residents, to see a winter scene usually reserved for the High Country. Joining us now to explain this month's unusual winter weather is the weather guy in charge of the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Phoenix, Tony Haffer. Tony, it's good to see you again.

Tony Haffer:
My pleasure to be here, Michael. Thank you very much for having me.

Michael Grant:
Notice how I neatly sidestepped "meteorologist".

Tony Haffer:
We tend to get sidestepped a lot.

[laughter]

Michael Grant:
Tony, I have seen some strange weather in the valley but yesterday, when you have rain, pretty good stretch of sunshine, and then snow, I don't think I've ever seen that combo in about a six, seven-hour period. What happened?

Tony Haffer: Well, we had a really interesting situation. We had some rain in the morning from the low pressure area that was south of us. And then there was a bunch of cold air moving in from the north. And as you recall before, the cold air got here, the clouds broke, and we had some sunshine for a few hours. And then, along towards dinner time, the cold winds started to blow, and the clouds rolled in, and some rain started and some snow started and we had just a wonderful diversity of weather in one beautiful day.

Michael Grant:
And as we can see from the video that we have got up here, this was not just, you know, a few snowflakes scattered here and there. This was actually a pretty good accumulation in some areas of snow.

Tony Haffer:
Yeah, absolutely. There were areas that kids did some sledding, had a few snowball fights. A few snowmen, snow persons were constructed. So it was not a trivial snow event by any stretch of imagination. Not for Phoenix.

Michael Grant:
You know, the past, I would say two or three storms, have been strange, I think, for the winter period. They almost seem to have been more Monsoon-like, from the standpoint of coming up from the south, and being on primarily the eastern side of the state, as opposed to what normally is the pattern, which is just a storm coming in from the west. Is it my imagination or is this a different pattern?

Tony Haffer:
Certainly it has been an unusual pattern for this time of year. We've been very dry, as we know, for all of the winter, or virtually all the winter. And what's been happening is we have been seeing a change in the overall weather pattern. If you recall, there was a tremendous amount of ice and snow and rain pretty much on a line from, oh, the Texas Panhandle up through Ohio. And that was kind of the channel that the subtropical moisture was flowing. So the storms normally come in from the west or the north and have moisture with enemy, and usually we see the rain --

Michael Grant:
And then move across the--

Tony Haffer:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Tony Haffer:
But they have been pretty dry so far this winter, and they were able to pick up some of the moisture from this plume that was running pretty much from the Southwest to Northeast direction, but still south of Arizona. So it kind of pulls the moisture in because the storms run in a counter-clockwise fashion from the east, much as we see in the summer.

Michael Grant:
Is it basically pulling the moisture from the El Niño Effect?

Tony Haffer:
Yeah, that's excellent point. El Niño usually pretends a wet winter for Arizona. Typically that winter doesn't get wet until the middle part of January. So here we are, mid-January, and we are starting to see, for the first time, thank goodness, the moisture coming into the state and the impact of El Niño on Arizona.

Michael Grant:
What do you think? February, March, everyone was talking very encouragingly about The El Niño and having a wetter winter than normal. What's it look like now?

Tony Haffer:
We are still encouraged. Although the actual El Niño itself in the Central Pacific, Equatorial Pacific is kind of peaking, in terms of its strengths, the impacts on North America and, hence, the Southwest United States, are going to be more noticeable for the next several months. So the forecast is for Arizona to have above normal precipitation from here through most of March. So we are hopeful that we will see plenty of snow, lots of rain in the valley, and replenish our reservoirs.

Michael Grant:
Put that in some context for us. Obviously, two years ago we had just a terrific winter in terms of rainfall and snow pack. That good? Not as good?

Tony Haffer:
Well, if you remember two years ago, we started the wet pattern a lot earlier--

Michael Grant:
We did. December.

Tony Haffer:
This year we have gone pretty much any precipitation from, oh, the middle of November until present time. So we only have a couple of months to have moisture return. And a couple of months of above normal moisture will unlikely be able to overcome the absolute or nearly absolute zero that we saw the first part of the winter and the latter part of fall.

Michael Grant:
I tell you what, Tony, we will take what we can get.

Tony Haffer:
You bet.

Michael Grant:
Tony Haffer from the National Weather service. Thanks for the information.

Tony Haffer:
Thank you,
Michael.

Michael Grant:
A study conducted by Arizona State University of Scottsdale's photo radar pilot program on the 101 has confirmed the cameras made driving safer on that stretch of highway. Last week, Scottsdale City Council voted unanimously to ask the state to take over the program. Governor Napolitano agreed the cameras made the freeways safer, but she's made no indication on whether or not she thinks the state should adopt the cameras. Here's what the study uncovered.

Reporter:
Before the cameras were turned off on this stretch of The Loop 101 in Scottsdale, Enough information had been gathered to study the effects of the program. ASU investigators were brought in by the city of Scottsdale about a month after the program began to manage the data collection and analysis efforts.

Simon Washington:
We looked at speed both in the speeding population, those exceeding 76 miles an hour, and we also looked at the average driver. The effect on the average speeds. Then we also looked at safety. And we have broken safety down into very detailed quantities, looking at the types of crashes that would be impacted by the program. Specifically rear-end crashes, side swipe crashes, and injury crashes and total crashes.

Reporter:
Strict protocols were followed in the analysis and after study. Researchers suggested that, by limiting wrecks, millions of dollars could be saved every year in medical and insurance bills. The study found all crashes were reduced.

Simon Washington:
On the safety side, what we saw is, and without going into great detail, we analyzed this several different ways with respect to safety. But the basic trend that we see is that all crashes were reduced and that is the crash frequency. So crashes are being eliminated by this program. And generally, that's a total picture. But if you look within total crashes, what we see that rear-end crashes increased. And the reason for that is because, if you think through the process, what you have got is some mechanism that's telling drivers to slow down and drivers see that. The problem comes in that many drivers follow too closely. And so the lead driver is not really the issue that's responding to the program, but the following driver who is following too closely and cannot respond to a driver that was perhaps apparently erratically applying their brakes to gear for the 75 miles an hour limit. And so you see an increase in rear-end crashes. The interesting thing, though, is that because these crashes are occurring at relatively slower speeds than they were before, that the injuries associated with rear-end crashes have not increased. In fact, they are about the same as they were before the program. And all other crash types have decreased. So the sideswipe crashes, the single vehicle crashes, and total crashes have gone down in frequency and across the board, except for rear ends, which stayed the same, the number of injuries resulting from these other crashes have also gone down. So, we are seeing fewer people injured in single-vehicle crashes and side swipe crashes and then total crashes.

Reporter:
After the program was discontinued, speeding reportedly spiked 850\%. Researchers say there are some caveats to this study because of the timeliness of reporting.

Simon Washington:
When you start looking at the severe crashes, which could be fatalities and severe injury crashes, there are very few of those. So if you miss one or two in your data collection effort, that can be very problematic in making that assessment. They tend to be high cost, they also tend to be rare. You can't miss them. So you go influence a very painstaking, careful data collection process and that's why, frankly, I have still got the caveats of limitations on the study results because there may be crashes that are still have not been submitted to the Arizona Department Of Transportation and that may be lacking in the database. I don't believe there are any serious crashes that have been omitted and so I am fairly confident that we aren't omitting -- missing any of those. But usually the lag in most D.O.T.'s around the country can be three to six months before a crash event gets into the database for analysis.

Michael Grant:
Joining us now to offer their views on where the program should be heading next is Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross and State Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor. Good to see both of you again. Mayor, there was some further study indicated. What did you and the council think in terms about the results of the study? Some of which were just highlighted in that piece of tape?

Mary Manross:
Well, the council decided unanimously that we felt that the results looked very promising, they looked positive. That along with all the anecdotal evidence over the many months showed clearly it was effective in changing driver behavior and reducing crashes and accidents, injuries and so forth, as you just heard, and the Council asked-- unanimously asked The Governor and the State to try to find a way to not only allow Scottsdale but other cities in the state to be able to have this kind of program if they so choose.

Michael Grant:
Any concern about the increase in the rear-end collisions? That was one of the concerns going in that it would get these lights going off, people all of a sudden hitting the brakes and unfortunately people follow too close.

Mary Manross:
Yeah. Well, the study showed, too, and Dr. Symington had mentioned -- we asked him about that at our council meeting. He said even with officers, any kind of change of enforcement, he said that's a common, a common result and that even though there was the increase in the number of rear-end collisions, the accident rate, the injury rate, went down about 2\%. So in other words people are going much more slowly so there's not the severity of injuries and crashes. So, I think that's all the other indicators were very positive, very high and that's one indicator that that wasn't --

Michael Grant:
That was not--

Mary Manross:
Barely perceptible.

Michael Grant:
Senator, I joked on the Friday Edition that, you know, it did seem to have been effective dropped average speeds nine miles an hour down to 97 miles an hour. But I was joking. The study seems to be pretty sound. It seems to indicate that it cuts speeds, it cut accident rates. What do you think?

Thayer Verschoor:
I think, I think there's some concerns, but I am not so sure how sound the study is. I think we are going to look at that. I think there's some concerns that we have with the use of photo radar in general, and in principle in the constitutionality of it, the effect of it on privacy, the equalness and fairness of the photo radar program. Some of the concerns that many folks have is, one, how equal and fair is it? Which is a requirement in many of our state laws. People who are not registered, their vehicles are not registered, they are not going to be ticketed. They're going to toss those tickets out. If you are driving your wife's car and it's registered to her and she gets -- you get the ticket, they are not going to go after her because clearly you are not the owner of the car. So I mean there's many instances -- illegal aliens that are driving cars illegally on the road. They will not be ticketed. So how fair is this that only those people who try very much to obey law right ones who are being penalized?

Michael Grant:
Without minimizing those points, though, is this the case of the perfect being the enemy of the good? I mean, you can have problems with any system that you come to, come up with at the margins.

Thayer Verschoor:
Mike, I'll tell you, I don't necessarily subscribe to that idea. I think, you know, I think we work very hard in our country to protect those folks that are innocent, to protect folks that are trying to do the right thing. You know, the study, I think -- I think it is significant, the increase in the rear-end accidents. They didn't do the off-peak hours, you know, they didn't do the peak driving hours as part of the study. I have some concerns with that. The number of accidents, I don't think there was any show of necessarily whether there was an increase or decrease in fatalities because as far as that goes that's one of the safest stretches of freeway in the state as far as fatalities go. So I think there's some concerns there. You know, I think one of the things that I am concerned about obviously are, you have a Constitutional right to face your accuser…

Michael Grant:
Right.

Thayer Verschoor:
In this case, the accuser has a vested interest. If that ticket isn't, a fine isn't paid on that ticket, they don't receive any payment, but yet, they are the ones testifying against you.

Michael Grant:
Mayor, what about that point? You obviously can't cross-examine a photo. You can't cross-examine a camera. And for that matter, there is the continuing suspicion that this is just simply revenue generation device, and really doesn't have the kind of things that it should have to have significant safety effects because the camera won't stop someone going down the freeway at 150 miles an hour.

Mary Manross:
The whole point, the whole point is this is to supplement public safety, not to supplant. So our state, and our city, have I think indicated strongly that they want to have the technology to help supplement public safety, supplement the D.P.S. to make the environment safer. There has not been a court case, I am quite sure, in the research I have done, not a court case in the state that has overturned this kind of technology. It's been held up through the United States constitution, and in every state that it's been challenged in. So that is not an issue. I just think that's kind of a bogus argument.

Michael Grant:
Senator, I think that's true. I mean, the general presumption is, if you are out on the public streets, possibly being a danger to the public health and safety, you know, you are fair game.

Thayer Verschoor:
I think, you know, that is a concern that we all have. We want our streets to be safe. We want to know that when we go to a work we're going to make it home safely. When we are out shopping, when our children are out on the roads that they are going to make it home safe. One of the things I am concerned about is, you know, I'm not so sure that it did supplement patrols in that area. I mean, one of the things we saw during the test period was a huge number of police officers and emergency vehicles receiving tickets or being flashed on this. And, you know, although I don't know that they did any studies on that, but anecdotally, there were comments to us down at the legislature that, you know, that certain police patrols tended not to go in that area because if they weren't in pursuit of somebody and they weren't using their lights or something, they were getting tickets--

Michael Grant:
They were getting tickets? Mayor?

Mary Manross:
That's--that's what I read - Yea, I read that in the paper.

Thayer Verschoor:
That's a problem.

Mary Manross:
That's the kind of thing that can be overcome if indeed a public safety officer is getting ticketed and they are working. I mean, you can always overcome that kind of issue. It seems to me the bottom line is that driving behavior changed on the 101 through Scottsdale. Everyone will tell you that it changed, and it changed for the better.

Michael Grant:
Senator, let me go to that point. I understand that you are articulating some concerns shared by others about civil liberties, whether or not it's effective, those kinds of things. Do you have any doubt with the basic stats that seem to indicate it slowed people down?

Thayer Verschoor:
You know, I have, you know, I have some concerns. I don't know that I would call them doubts, and I am not really going to question all of those results, and probably, there was some change in the behavior. I think the thing is that we have to look at is a couple of things. We have to address some of those concerns. Another big concern is Arizona, on our freeways; we don't have absolute speed limits, which means reasonable and prudent is the standards. And reasonable and prudent at 2:00 in the morning is maybe different than it is at 5:00 in the afternoon. Reasonable and prudent when it's icing up, like we saw this weekend, may only be 35. If we are going to address this, you know, we've got have some legislation. We have to address those Concerns.

Michael Grant:
OK. Senator Thayer Verschoor, thank you very much for joining us. Mayor Mary Manross, our thanks to you as well.

Michael Grant:
This year, Horizon is celebrating its 25th anniversary. For the next few days, we will feature some of the most important stories the program that is covered in that time. Our third most important story: J. Fife Symington III won the governor's race against Terry Goddard. Symington won reelection in 1994, but he resigned from office three years later.

Michael Grant:
Since 1972, Fife Symington has been a player in the Valley. He was only 27 years old when named to the board at Southwest Savings and Loan. At age 35, he formed his development company. And 11 years later, he was Governor; and a Governor secretly in financial ruin. That precipitated a series of events which brings us to the point we are today, six days from the start of the criminal trial.

Fife Symington:
I have never been one to linger, and I don't intend to start now. My law is to offer best wishes and full support, to say thank you, and to move on.

Michael Grant:
The governor announces he will step down from office after being found guilty on seven criminal counts. His bank fraud conviction nearly two years ago led to his resignation as governor. Today those convictions were overturned. That was base on the trial judge's dismissal Mary Jane Kote during deliberations. The Appeals Court ruled it was wrong to dismiss Ms. Kote.

Michael Grant: It was the end of a nearly decade-long legal struggle and it ended with the stroke of a pen. Former Arizona Governor Fife Symington the recipient of one of over 100 pardons from former President Clinton.

Michael Grant: You are 48 hours or so into this knowledge. What does having this 10-year-plus albatross off of your neck feel like?

Fife Symington:
Well, it sure feels like it's off my neck. But I am just getting used to living without that threat being there for 10 years. Many people don't realize this started before I ran for governor.

Michael Grant:
Howie, did the press not ask enough questions about Fife Symington's personal finances?

Howard Fischer:
I think that there's a good case to be made for that. None of us, and I came from business reporting background. But I couldn't look at Fife Symington's books while it was public. This is a privately held company and say, did he, in fact, lie on his financial statements? It took bringing that stuff public when, in fact, he was sued by the Pension Funds and you could compare what he signed and what other statements he was giving to someone else. Could we have reported it at the time? Certainly Terry Goddard was making that noise at time. Was it provable? Who knows? The other part is in 1994, everyone knew his financial condition and they reelected him anyway.

Michael Grant:
Yea, Terry did try to make an issue out of it in 1990, Kev, but it really got no traction.

Keven Willey:
It didn't get any traction. And even more than Terry Goddard, remember, the Republican primary --

Matt Salmon:
Barbara Barrett.

Keven Willey:
Thank you, I was blanking on the name. Barbara Barrett made quite an issue of this and really created a lot of smoke. Most of us at the time thought it was smoke that there wasn't fire. When you look back on it, she was really prophetic.

Matt Salmon:
Almost her entire campaign focused on the financial dealings.

Howard Fischer:
And that raised, of course, the question of, does that matter? There are a lot of people who say Fife Symington was a good governor, liked his policies, and was his private life that got in the way of it.

Michael Grant:
Interesting political point, Matt. Did he, did he run to the center, and then govern to the right?--

Matt Salmon:
Yeah, very much so--

Michael Grant:
Was that a sea change for Fife Symington?

Matt Salmon:
In his first campaign, he very much ran as a moderate and it's totally opposite from a typical Republican campaign because typically they run more to the right and then govern more to the left. It was just exactly opposite.

Keven Willey:
The irony I see is he ran as a successful businessman, and he ran as a Moderate Republican. Remember the "Poke in the Nose" quote? The five-way Republican primary against Evan Meacham, who deserved a poke in the nose, was the infamous quote. He governed as a financially embattled governor and as a very conservative governor. So he governed very differently on both counts than how he ran.

Howard Fischer:
And of course, the argument could be made; I asked him when he was governor, what changed? He said "it's not that I've changed", he said "I think I've been in here", and he said, "Maybe, the more you look at government you realize less that it's the answer. He was also very much against a lot of the Washington edicts and he was going to do his bit to show we are the sovereign state of Arizona.

Keven Willey:
Which is the real Fife Symington?

Matt Salmon:
I think when he first ran; I think this is a person that actually evolved, his ideology evolved while he was in office. He became more and more distrusting of government as time went on. I also think part of it, too, was the kind of people he surrounded himself with, the staff people. Remember his first Chief of Staff was Buddy Bannister, remember that? And then, when he changed directions in Chief of staff, they had more--

Keven Willey:
Then Chris…, then Wes Skully.

Matt Salmon:
Actually, there's one in between, I think. But, you know, he really moved along the continuum. I think the interesting thing to point out, though, in Governor Symington's tenure, because I was elected the same time he was. And we had passed a constitutional change in the state, you might recall, the 50-plus-one requirement for governor? And because of that, there was not a 50-plus-one between he and Goddard. And we were governor-less for first three months that I was in the State Legislature. It was really interesting.

Howard Fischer:
What do you mean governor-less? What do you think Rose Mofford was? Chopped liver?

Michael Grant:
Elected governor-less.

Howard Fischer:
OK.

Michael Grant:
Tomorrow night, "Horizon" will be preempted for the President's State of the Union Address. Wednesday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne will talk about the State of Education. Thursday, Chief Justice Ruth McGregor will tell us about the State of the Judiciary. Friday, don't forget to join us for the Journalists' Roundtable. Thank you for joining us on a Monday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

Wacky Weather


  • Tony Haffer, the head meteorologist at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Phoenix talks about the unseasonal weather we’ve been having this winter.
Guests:
  • Tony Haffer - National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, Phoenix
  • Mary Manross - Mayor of Scottsdale
  • Thayer Verschoor - State Senate Majority Leader


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon", usually it's cold weather that grips the rest of the country and the Valley remains awash in sunshine. But, a touch of old man winter in our state. Also an ASU study confirms some positive effects of photo radar on the Loop 101. Will the state take up that program? And we continue our look at the top stories we have covered in the last 25 years. That's next on Horizon.

Announcer 1:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of 8, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon". I'm Michael Grant. Usually, this time of year, so-called Snowbirds have flocked here from the north to get away from the cold weather. Well, imagine the surprise of seasonal visitors and, for that matter, long-time valley residents, to see a winter scene usually reserved for the High Country. Joining us now to explain this month's unusual winter weather is the weather guy in charge of the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Phoenix, Tony Haffer. Tony, it's good to see you again.

Tony Haffer:
My pleasure to be here, Michael. Thank you very much for having me.

Michael Grant:
Notice how I neatly sidestepped "meteorologist".

Tony Haffer:
We tend to get sidestepped a lot.

[laughter]

Michael Grant:
Tony, I have seen some strange weather in the valley but yesterday, when you have rain, pretty good stretch of sunshine, and then snow, I don't think I've ever seen that combo in about a six, seven-hour period. What happened?

Tony Haffer: Well, we had a really interesting situation. We had some rain in the morning from the low pressure area that was south of us. And then there was a bunch of cold air moving in from the north. And as you recall before, the cold air got here, the clouds broke, and we had some sunshine for a few hours. And then, along towards dinner time, the cold winds started to blow, and the clouds rolled in, and some rain started and some snow started and we had just a wonderful diversity of weather in one beautiful day.

Michael Grant:
And as we can see from the video that we have got up here, this was not just, you know, a few snowflakes scattered here and there. This was actually a pretty good accumulation in some areas of snow.

Tony Haffer:
Yeah, absolutely. There were areas that kids did some sledding, had a few snowball fights. A few snowmen, snow persons were constructed. So it was not a trivial snow event by any stretch of imagination. Not for Phoenix.

Michael Grant:
You know, the past, I would say two or three storms, have been strange, I think, for the winter period. They almost seem to have been more Monsoon-like, from the standpoint of coming up from the south, and being on primarily the eastern side of the state, as opposed to what normally is the pattern, which is just a storm coming in from the west. Is it my imagination or is this a different pattern?

Tony Haffer:
Certainly it has been an unusual pattern for this time of year. We've been very dry, as we know, for all of the winter, or virtually all the winter. And what's been happening is we have been seeing a change in the overall weather pattern. If you recall, there was a tremendous amount of ice and snow and rain pretty much on a line from, oh, the Texas Panhandle up through Ohio. And that was kind of the channel that the subtropical moisture was flowing. So the storms normally come in from the west or the north and have moisture with enemy, and usually we see the rain --

Michael Grant:
And then move across the--

Tony Haffer:
Right.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Tony Haffer:
But they have been pretty dry so far this winter, and they were able to pick up some of the moisture from this plume that was running pretty much from the Southwest to Northeast direction, but still south of Arizona. So it kind of pulls the moisture in because the storms run in a counter-clockwise fashion from the east, much as we see in the summer.

Michael Grant:
Is it basically pulling the moisture from the El Niño Effect?

Tony Haffer:
Yeah, that's excellent point. El Niño usually pretends a wet winter for Arizona. Typically that winter doesn't get wet until the middle part of January. So here we are, mid-January, and we are starting to see, for the first time, thank goodness, the moisture coming into the state and the impact of El Niño on Arizona.

Michael Grant:
What do you think? February, March, everyone was talking very encouragingly about The El Niño and having a wetter winter than normal. What's it look like now?

Tony Haffer:
We are still encouraged. Although the actual El Niño itself in the Central Pacific, Equatorial Pacific is kind of peaking, in terms of its strengths, the impacts on North America and, hence, the Southwest United States, are going to be more noticeable for the next several months. So the forecast is for Arizona to have above normal precipitation from here through most of March. So we are hopeful that we will see plenty of snow, lots of rain in the valley, and replenish our reservoirs.

Michael Grant:
Put that in some context for us. Obviously, two years ago we had just a terrific winter in terms of rainfall and snow pack. That good? Not as good?

Tony Haffer:
Well, if you remember two years ago, we started the wet pattern a lot earlier--

Michael Grant:
We did. December.

Tony Haffer:
This year we have gone pretty much any precipitation from, oh, the middle of November until present time. So we only have a couple of months to have moisture return. And a couple of months of above normal moisture will unlikely be able to overcome the absolute or nearly absolute zero that we saw the first part of the winter and the latter part of fall.

Michael Grant:
I tell you what, Tony, we will take what we can get.

Tony Haffer:
You bet.

Michael Grant:
Tony Haffer from the National Weather service. Thanks for the information.

Tony Haffer:
Thank you,
Michael.

Michael Grant:
A study conducted by Arizona State University of Scottsdale's photo radar pilot program on the 101 has confirmed the cameras made driving safer on that stretch of highway. Last week, Scottsdale City Council voted unanimously to ask the state to take over the program. Governor Napolitano agreed the cameras made the freeways safer, but she's made no indication on whether or not she thinks the state should adopt the cameras. Here's what the study uncovered.

Reporter:
Before the cameras were turned off on this stretch of The Loop 101 in Scottsdale, Enough information had been gathered to study the effects of the program. ASU investigators were brought in by the city of Scottsdale about a month after the program began to manage the data collection and analysis efforts.

Simon Washington:
We looked at speed both in the speeding population, those exceeding 76 miles an hour, and we also looked at the average driver. The effect on the average speeds. Then we also looked at safety. And we have broken safety down into very detailed quantities, looking at the types of crashes that would be impacted by the program. Specifically rear-end crashes, side swipe crashes, and injury crashes and total crashes.

Reporter:
Strict protocols were followed in the analysis and after study. Researchers suggested that, by limiting wrecks, millions of dollars could be saved every year in medical and insurance bills. The study found all crashes were reduced.

Simon Washington:
On the safety side, what we saw is, and without going into great detail, we analyzed this several different ways with respect to safety. But the basic trend that we see is that all crashes were reduced and that is the crash frequency. So crashes are being eliminated by this program. And generally, that's a total picture. But if you look within total crashes, what we see that rear-end crashes increased. And the reason for that is because, if you think through the process, what you have got is some mechanism that's telling drivers to slow down and drivers see that. The problem comes in that many drivers follow too closely. And so the lead driver is not really the issue that's responding to the program, but the following driver who is following too closely and cannot respond to a driver that was perhaps apparently erratically applying their brakes to gear for the 75 miles an hour limit. And so you see an increase in rear-end crashes. The interesting thing, though, is that because these crashes are occurring at relatively slower speeds than they were before, that the injuries associated with rear-end crashes have not increased. In fact, they are about the same as they were before the program. And all other crash types have decreased. So the sideswipe crashes, the single vehicle crashes, and total crashes have gone down in frequency and across the board, except for rear ends, which stayed the same, the number of injuries resulting from these other crashes have also gone down. So, we are seeing fewer people injured in single-vehicle crashes and side swipe crashes and then total crashes.

Reporter:
After the program was discontinued, speeding reportedly spiked 850\%. Researchers say there are some caveats to this study because of the timeliness of reporting.

Simon Washington:
When you start looking at the severe crashes, which could be fatalities and severe injury crashes, there are very few of those. So if you miss one or two in your data collection effort, that can be very problematic in making that assessment. They tend to be high cost, they also tend to be rare. You can't miss them. So you go influence a very painstaking, careful data collection process and that's why, frankly, I have still got the caveats of limitations on the study results because there may be crashes that are still have not been submitted to the Arizona Department Of Transportation and that may be lacking in the database. I don't believe there are any serious crashes that have been omitted and so I am fairly confident that we aren't omitting -- missing any of those. But usually the lag in most D.O.T.'s around the country can be three to six months before a crash event gets into the database for analysis.

Michael Grant:
Joining us now to offer their views on where the program should be heading next is Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross and State Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor. Good to see both of you again. Mayor, there was some further study indicated. What did you and the council think in terms about the results of the study? Some of which were just highlighted in that piece of tape?

Mary Manross:
Well, the council decided unanimously that we felt that the results looked very promising, they looked positive. That along with all the anecdotal evidence over the many months showed clearly it was effective in changing driver behavior and reducing crashes and accidents, injuries and so forth, as you just heard, and the Council asked-- unanimously asked The Governor and the State to try to find a way to not only allow Scottsdale but other cities in the state to be able to have this kind of program if they so choose.

Michael Grant:
Any concern about the increase in the rear-end collisions? That was one of the concerns going in that it would get these lights going off, people all of a sudden hitting the brakes and unfortunately people follow too close.

Mary Manross:
Yeah. Well, the study showed, too, and Dr. Symington had mentioned -- we asked him about that at our council meeting. He said even with officers, any kind of change of enforcement, he said that's a common, a common result and that even though there was the increase in the number of rear-end collisions, the accident rate, the injury rate, went down about 2\%. So in other words people are going much more slowly so there's not the severity of injuries and crashes. So, I think that's all the other indicators were very positive, very high and that's one indicator that that wasn't --

Michael Grant:
That was not--

Mary Manross:
Barely perceptible.

Michael Grant:
Senator, I joked on the Friday Edition that, you know, it did seem to have been effective dropped average speeds nine miles an hour down to 97 miles an hour. But I was joking. The study seems to be pretty sound. It seems to indicate that it cuts speeds, it cut accident rates. What do you think?

Thayer Verschoor:
I think, I think there's some concerns, but I am not so sure how sound the study is. I think we are going to look at that. I think there's some concerns that we have with the use of photo radar in general, and in principle in the constitutionality of it, the effect of it on privacy, the equalness and fairness of the photo radar program. Some of the concerns that many folks have is, one, how equal and fair is it? Which is a requirement in many of our state laws. People who are not registered, their vehicles are not registered, they are not going to be ticketed. They're going to toss those tickets out. If you are driving your wife's car and it's registered to her and she gets -- you get the ticket, they are not going to go after her because clearly you are not the owner of the car. So I mean there's many instances -- illegal aliens that are driving cars illegally on the road. They will not be ticketed. So how fair is this that only those people who try very much to obey law right ones who are being penalized?

Michael Grant:
Without minimizing those points, though, is this the case of the perfect being the enemy of the good? I mean, you can have problems with any system that you come to, come up with at the margins.

Thayer Verschoor:
Mike, I'll tell you, I don't necessarily subscribe to that idea. I think, you know, I think we work very hard in our country to protect those folks that are innocent, to protect folks that are trying to do the right thing. You know, the study, I think -- I think it is significant, the increase in the rear-end accidents. They didn't do the off-peak hours, you know, they didn't do the peak driving hours as part of the study. I have some concerns with that. The number of accidents, I don't think there was any show of necessarily whether there was an increase or decrease in fatalities because as far as that goes that's one of the safest stretches of freeway in the state as far as fatalities go. So I think there's some concerns there. You know, I think one of the things that I am concerned about obviously are, you have a Constitutional right to face your accuser…

Michael Grant:
Right.

Thayer Verschoor:
In this case, the accuser has a vested interest. If that ticket isn't, a fine isn't paid on that ticket, they don't receive any payment, but yet, they are the ones testifying against you.

Michael Grant:
Mayor, what about that point? You obviously can't cross-examine a photo. You can't cross-examine a camera. And for that matter, there is the continuing suspicion that this is just simply revenue generation device, and really doesn't have the kind of things that it should have to have significant safety effects because the camera won't stop someone going down the freeway at 150 miles an hour.

Mary Manross:
The whole point, the whole point is this is to supplement public safety, not to supplant. So our state, and our city, have I think indicated strongly that they want to have the technology to help supplement public safety, supplement the D.P.S. to make the environment safer. There has not been a court case, I am quite sure, in the research I have done, not a court case in the state that has overturned this kind of technology. It's been held up through the United States constitution, and in every state that it's been challenged in. So that is not an issue. I just think that's kind of a bogus argument.

Michael Grant:
Senator, I think that's true. I mean, the general presumption is, if you are out on the public streets, possibly being a danger to the public health and safety, you know, you are fair game.

Thayer Verschoor:
I think, you know, that is a concern that we all have. We want our streets to be safe. We want to know that when we go to a work we're going to make it home safely. When we are out shopping, when our children are out on the roads that they are going to make it home safe. One of the things I am concerned about is, you know, I'm not so sure that it did supplement patrols in that area. I mean, one of the things we saw during the test period was a huge number of police officers and emergency vehicles receiving tickets or being flashed on this. And, you know, although I don't know that they did any studies on that, but anecdotally, there were comments to us down at the legislature that, you know, that certain police patrols tended not to go in that area because if they weren't in pursuit of somebody and they weren't using their lights or something, they were getting tickets--

Michael Grant:
They were getting tickets? Mayor?

Mary Manross:
That's--that's what I read - Yea, I read that in the paper.

Thayer Verschoor:
That's a problem.

Mary Manross:
That's the kind of thing that can be overcome if indeed a public safety officer is getting ticketed and they are working. I mean, you can always overcome that kind of issue. It seems to me the bottom line is that driving behavior changed on the 101 through Scottsdale. Everyone will tell you that it changed, and it changed for the better.

Michael Grant:
Senator, let me go to that point. I understand that you are articulating some concerns shared by others about civil liberties, whether or not it's effective, those kinds of things. Do you have any doubt with the basic stats that seem to indicate it slowed people down?

Thayer Verschoor:
You know, I have, you know, I have some concerns. I don't know that I would call them doubts, and I am not really going to question all of those results, and probably, there was some change in the behavior. I think the thing is that we have to look at is a couple of things. We have to address some of those concerns. Another big concern is Arizona, on our freeways; we don't have absolute speed limits, which means reasonable and prudent is the standards. And reasonable and prudent at 2:00 in the morning is maybe different than it is at 5:00 in the afternoon. Reasonable and prudent when it's icing up, like we saw this weekend, may only be 35. If we are going to address this, you know, we've got have some legislation. We have to address those Concerns.

Michael Grant:
OK. Senator Thayer Verschoor, thank you very much for joining us. Mayor Mary Manross, our thanks to you as well.

Michael Grant:
This year, Horizon is celebrating its 25th anniversary. For the next few days, we will feature some of the most important stories the program that is covered in that time. Our third most important story: J. Fife Symington III won the governor's race against Terry Goddard. Symington won reelection in 1994, but he resigned from office three years later.

Michael Grant:
Since 1972, Fife Symington has been a player in the Valley. He was only 27 years old when named to the board at Southwest Savings and Loan. At age 35, he formed his development company. And 11 years later, he was Governor; and a Governor secretly in financial ruin. That precipitated a series of events which brings us to the point we are today, six days from the start of the criminal trial.

Fife Symington:
I have never been one to linger, and I don't intend to start now. My law is to offer best wishes and full support, to say thank you, and to move on.

Michael Grant:
The governor announces he will step down from office after being found guilty on seven criminal counts. His bank fraud conviction nearly two years ago led to his resignation as governor. Today those convictions were overturned. That was base on the trial judge's dismissal Mary Jane Kote during deliberations. The Appeals Court ruled it was wrong to dismiss Ms. Kote.

Michael Grant: It was the end of a nearly decade-long legal struggle and it ended with the stroke of a pen. Former Arizona Governor Fife Symington the recipient of one of over 100 pardons from former President Clinton.

Michael Grant: You are 48 hours or so into this knowledge. What does having this 10-year-plus albatross off of your neck feel like?

Fife Symington:
Well, it sure feels like it's off my neck. But I am just getting used to living without that threat being there for 10 years. Many people don't realize this started before I ran for governor.

Michael Grant:
Howie, did the press not ask enough questions about Fife Symington's personal finances?

Howard Fischer:
I think that there's a good case to be made for that. None of us, and I came from business reporting background. But I couldn't look at Fife Symington's books while it was public. This is a privately held company and say, did he, in fact, lie on his financial statements? It took bringing that stuff public when, in fact, he was sued by the Pension Funds and you could compare what he signed and what other statements he was giving to someone else. Could we have reported it at the time? Certainly Terry Goddard was making that noise at time. Was it provable? Who knows? The other part is in 1994, everyone knew his financial condition and they reelected him anyway.

Michael Grant:
Yea, Terry did try to make an issue out of it in 1990, Kev, but it really got no traction.

Keven Willey:
It didn't get any traction. And even more than Terry Goddard, remember, the Republican primary --

Matt Salmon:
Barbara Barrett.

Keven Willey:
Thank you, I was blanking on the name. Barbara Barrett made quite an issue of this and really created a lot of smoke. Most of us at the time thought it was smoke that there wasn't fire. When you look back on it, she was really prophetic.

Matt Salmon:
Almost her entire campaign focused on the financial dealings.

Howard Fischer:
And that raised, of course, the question of, does that matter? There are a lot of people who say Fife Symington was a good governor, liked his policies, and was his private life that got in the way of it.

Michael Grant:
Interesting political point, Matt. Did he, did he run to the center, and then govern to the right?--

Matt Salmon:
Yeah, very much so--

Michael Grant:
Was that a sea change for Fife Symington?

Matt Salmon:
In his first campaign, he very much ran as a moderate and it's totally opposite from a typical Republican campaign because typically they run more to the right and then govern more to the left. It was just exactly opposite.

Keven Willey:
The irony I see is he ran as a successful businessman, and he ran as a Moderate Republican. Remember the "Poke in the Nose" quote? The five-way Republican primary against Evan Meacham, who deserved a poke in the nose, was the infamous quote. He governed as a financially embattled governor and as a very conservative governor. So he governed very differently on both counts than how he ran.

Howard Fischer:
And of course, the argument could be made; I asked him when he was governor, what changed? He said "it's not that I've changed", he said "I think I've been in here", and he said, "Maybe, the more you look at government you realize less that it's the answer. He was also very much against a lot of the Washington edicts and he was going to do his bit to show we are the sovereign state of Arizona.

Keven Willey:
Which is the real Fife Symington?

Matt Salmon:
I think when he first ran; I think this is a person that actually evolved, his ideology evolved while he was in office. He became more and more distrusting of government as time went on. I also think part of it, too, was the kind of people he surrounded himself with, the staff people. Remember his first Chief of Staff was Buddy Bannister, remember that? And then, when he changed directions in Chief of staff, they had more--

Keven Willey:
Then Chris…, then Wes Skully.

Matt Salmon:
Actually, there's one in between, I think. But, you know, he really moved along the continuum. I think the interesting thing to point out, though, in Governor Symington's tenure, because I was elected the same time he was. And we had passed a constitutional change in the state, you might recall, the 50-plus-one requirement for governor? And because of that, there was not a 50-plus-one between he and Goddard. And we were governor-less for first three months that I was in the State Legislature. It was really interesting.

Howard Fischer:
What do you mean governor-less? What do you think Rose Mofford was? Chopped liver?

Michael Grant:
Elected governor-less.

Howard Fischer:
OK.

Michael Grant:
Tomorrow night, "Horizon" will be preempted for the President's State of the Union Address. Wednesday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne will talk about the State of Education. Thursday, Chief Justice Ruth McGregor will tell us about the State of the Judiciary. Friday, don't forget to join us for the Journalists' Roundtable. Thank you for joining us on a Monday evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

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