Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 13, 2007


Host: Howard Fischer

Journalists Roundtable


  • Don't miss HORIZON's weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Mike Sunnucks - Business Journal
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
>>> Howard Fischer:
It's Friday, July 13, 2007 in the headlines:

>>> Howard Fischer:
Two business groups filed suit this afternoon that may prevent the employer sanctions law from ever taking effect.

>>> Howard Fischer:
It's been a bad week for Senator John McCain in his bid to become president.

>>> Howard Fischer:
And the Scottsdale city council votes to allow lap dances at strip clubs. All that next on "horizon."

>>>Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of 8. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>> Howard Fischer:
good evening, I'm Howard Fischer and this is the "journalists roundtable." joining me to talk about these and other issues are Mike Sunnucks of the Business Journal, Matthew Benson of the Arizona Republic and Paul Giblin of the Tribune newspapers.

>>> Howard Fischer:
A lawsuit was filed this afternoon challenging Arizona's new employer sanction law. Other business groups could soon join the suit. Matt, which groups filed this lawsuit? About 4:00 this afternoon some groups went to federal court and asking a judge to say this is illegal. What are they alleging?

>>Matt Benson:
We are talking about the Arizona contractors association along with the Arizona employers seeking immigration reform. They are speaking saying this law is unconstitutional and asking the court to keep it from taking effect in January.

>> Howard Fischer:
Based on what? Anybody with $200 can file a lawsuit. What are they saying is unconstitutional?

>>Matt Benson:
They are saying this is a federal issue that the state has no business wading into in terms of enforcement against these employers the role.

>> Howard Fischer:
I guess do states have roles?

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Georgia is one of the states that go after employers that hire illegal immigrants. They are kind of throwing spaghetti at the wall. They do due process, interstate commerce and separation of powers and make federal responsible. It's kind of let's throw all of the things and hope the court picks one and blocks this thing.

>>Paul Giblin:
There's no surprise this was coming. Even on the day when signed into law, the employers I spoke to didn't seem overly concerned. At the time it was puzzling but now we know why because they knew that was back pocket.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
They will challenge this and if they take an initiative to the ballot it will pass. And if there's an initiative on the ballot will the voters will oppose it?

>>Matt Benson:
Opponents of this law could end up with a stricter law because this figures to give added steam to the ballot initiative which the businesses dislike more.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah. It shows consistently that voters want the sanctions across the board, republican and democrat. That's why Janet signed it.

>> Howard Fischer:
That's the interesting question as matt points out, this law says first offense for known violation, you may have license suspended for 10 days. The initiative says first offense, you're out of business. Are we playing with the law saying get rid of this law and leave the initiative?

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah, I think they are. They want these laws and passed easily. The public is behind them. They are hoping they have the legal argument and the economic argument that it will hurt the state's economy. I think a lot of people don't look at the unintentional stakes, the ones that get dupped by them. They are looking at the ones that obviously are hiring illegal immigrants intentionally. There are a lot of companies out there. Reports shown that the ones with the fake i.d.'s and fake social security numbers. It's a select group that's doing this.

>>Paul Giblin:
I disagree with you. You said voters want this. Voters want something. Perhaps you work for a high-tech company and someone doing custodial work gets busted. Now the company has to close down. You can't make your mortgage payments, the other 599 people there.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
I think it will not shutdown the whole company. The company needs to follow the laws in this state. Companies that are knowingly doing this should be punished.

>>Matt Benson:
I don't think anybody knows. This is a giant social concern. We don't know what the answers are going to be. We don't know what's going to happen as of January when this goes in effect.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
I think you have two sets of things where it's unintentional and a big company and an undocumented and they get dupped. Then you have the group that people are thinking about, the folks cheating the system, paying under the table: construction, agriculture, hospitality. Folks they know are undocumented and the i.d.'s are fake. Business people are not stupid and they know what they are doing lot of times. They know they are not here legally and turn a blind eye.

>> Howard Fischer:
Paul, are business people stupid?

>>Paul Giblin:
No, business people are not stupid. You're wrong about that. You say they knowingly hire illegals. Someone comes in with an ID. And says I'm a legal resident.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Our reporter talked to a manufacturing company and said I know a lot of my workers are illegal. It's not my job to do it. It's the governments. The government will.

>> Howard Fischer:
I'll come back to you, matt. You've looked at the law. It seems to me if any company uses the basic pilot verification program. Paul comes in and says my name is Paul Giblin and here's my social security number and you match it through. It doesn't matter for him to turnout illegal because you protected yourself. How can anybody claim we're being dupped here? You run it through a basic pilot program. And it seems like you have protection.

>>Matt Benson:
You're right about this. One thing we're hearing from businesses is one more regulation and one more hurdle not to relocate in Arizona or go to New Mexico or any other state. That's the issue here. And the concern that prosecutors will be going after all sorts of complaints. No one knows how this will play out.

>> Howard Fischer:
Prosecutors abusing their powers. I'm shocked that you would suggest that.

>> Howard Fischer:
Matt, there's actually two groups involved in this. We have the group that filed suit this afternoon. Another group you came across Wakeup! Arizona. Who are they and what's their argument?

>>Matt Benson:
They are some of the biggest leaders of the state a McDonald's mogul and Jerry Colodgeyo. They are arguing against the ballot issue and putting a measure of their own on the 2008 ballot. They will call--it's not going to go as far as the current law.

>> Howard Fischer:
That raises an interesting question. We talked about this. Federal law preempts estates from doing anything. The only thing federal law says is you may deal with their license. If you can deal with their license, what's less five strikes and you're out? 10 strikes and you're out? How do you do that?

>>matt Benson:
That's something they have not come out with yet. It's early in the process. They will probably kick it off next week. I expect based on deep pockets, we will hear a ton from these folks.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
I think you'll see what happened out of the state trust land. The home builders put on second a state trust land referendum that confused the voters and failed. If you see Goldwater, no strikes you're out initiative on there. The business counters with something that confuses voters and both lose.

>> Howard Fischer:
Or they both pass. I don't know, Paul, you take the temperature of folks out there. Do you believe that people if they are asked to vote on employer sanctions, will vote for it? Do you think they can be talked out of it and wait for congress?

>>Paul Giblin:
I think they can be talked out of it. People will be worried about not making mortgages.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
I think the amount of phone calls you saw go into office from the John McCain office. I think they'll vote for the toughest sanctions bill on there.

>>Matt Benson:
This is not about the illegal immigrants. This is about you as a legal Arizonan, a legal citizen, losing your job when your company gets closed down.

>> Howard Fischer:
The other side of the argument, I suppose, if you're an employer hiring people illegally and are you getting unfair competition from companies that knowingly hire illegals?

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah, paying them under the Table and not paying workers' comp. Insurance and they pay them less. I work for the business journal and then there's another one out there hiring illegal immigrants and don't give them benefits, that hurts me.

>>Paul Giblin:
These laws don't touch these guys. It goes after those that do it legally.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
The problem is we haven't enforced any laws. The business fox--

>>Paul Giblin:
You don't solve that problem with putting a bad law on top of it.

>> Mike Sunnucks:
There's no enforcement.

>> Howard Fischer:
This bill has an enforcement provision. Federal law. We've seen a handful of companies being sanctioned by the feds. I believe the belief is perhaps with Andy Thomas as a county attorney he will go after companies.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Business folks as a whole are disingenuous on this issue. They want to hire illegals. A lot of people believe it. Whether that's true or not, that's the perception. I think a tough initiative will pass.

>> Howard Fischer:
The other petition wakeup! Arizona wants to do the law that was passed to defeat the initiative and get rid of several Arizona legislatures. Is that a long-term solution?

>>Matt Benson:
Side effort. They will form packs, some of the same big interests. Big dollars, big dollars will be flowing into the pockets and going after the folks who were pushing this new law including representative Russell Pearce and speaker of the house Jim Weirers.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
They don't mention the governor or hold it against her for signing it. Do you voice enough skepticism? These are republican guys and they are the business wing of the Republican Party and go after the red meat conservative wing.

>> Howard Fischer:
They are only going after some of the people who voted for it. How do they decide who are the good bad people and the bad bad people?

>>Matt Benson:
That's a good question. You bring up the governor. We're stuck with her. She's reelected for four more years. Not much they can to do there. They can go after targeted races and have an impact on the landscape of the legislature.

>> Howard Fischer:
Paul, let's assume they put up something against Karen Johnson or Russell Pearce, people firmly entranced in their districts. Are people in these districts going to listen to what they think is a business-oriented group trying to unseat their legislatures and say this person is my person?

>>Paul Giblin:
You know money talks in the politics. If you have enough money behind a candidate, we could elect you to office.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
I don't know about that.

>>Paul Giblin:
Honestly no matter who gets elected to the office whether it's the red meat crowd--as you call it--or the business crowd, it will continue on.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Approach and going after Weires and Pearce. Those are republican-oriented districts. You will put up somebody that the other side will present as pro-amnesty, pro-illegal immigrant. I see that as a big challenge.

>> Howard Fischer:
We saw a study this week about the affect undocumented workers have on the economy. It's 8.2\% or $29 billion. Do you buy that figure?

>> Mike Sunnucks:
The study extrapolated that from the number of non-citizens that are here. Obviously the immigrants that work here are a big economic factor. They take a lot of service jobs and hard jobs. There are a lot of costs related to them being here with schools, hospitals, prisons, security. There are a lot of folks that come over to work, granted. And a lot come to bring drugs and smuggle various illegal things in. I don't think that study took that into account. There are benefits but it didn't look at the cost at all.

>> Howard Fischer:
One of the things that happened this week had to do with our good friend john McCain who has been in trouble with the support of the immigration bill and the support of the war. He seems to be running out of money. How much longer can he hang on?

>>Mike Sunnucks:
Top campaign guys, Teri nelson and John Levier stepped down. It's a shakeup. The second big shakeup he's had and fund-raising issues. He dipped in the polls. Immigration is hurting in the right with the red meat folks and war has hurt in the independents. The question is whether he can stick around. He had a press conference saying he plans on staying in. I think he should stay in. There's a lot of question marks about other candidates Rudy Giuliani, Ronnie or Thompson who knows if they will be around come January. Kerry was dead in the summer before the 2004 election. Dean imploded and he stepped in. That's the best case scenario for John McCain right now. One thing he should do is stop talking so much about the war. Since Donald Rumsfeld left, he's been talking about the war as a popular war. I think that's hurt him.

>>Paul Giblin:
He'll stick to his issues whether you like them or not. He will continue to talk about them.

>> Mike Sunnucks:
He consistently is a hawk, consistently on the business side of the immigration issue, consistently against the repeal of the state tax which works against him in the primary. You're right. He's probably the most principle's candidate out there.

>> Matt Benson:
The war is his issue. There's no way he can runaway from that. If he made mistakes, he made them and hitching himself to an unpopular war and an unpopular president.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
He can make it for the democrats who voted for the war when it was popular and evidence was there. He's consistent on this and sticking to it and believes it's right.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
He's taking defeat but has principle.

>> Howard Fischer:
Paul, does it become the last man standing assume Rudy Giuliani implodes and Mitt Romney is level one more time.

>> Paul Giblin:
The presidential race is a race of nutrition. Everybody else is brand new and you find out about him. He has bad breath and doesn't match his socks and falls out of the polls. I don't know if John McCain may be a survivor. I wouldn't be surprised. Some names you can't think of will rise to the top.

>> Howard Fischer:
The word is next week he will tell us actually he's in the red. It seems to me people who give money, look for people who already have money. If he reports he can't get the donations, does that become a cycle?

>>Paul Giblin:
It changes the flavor of his campaign. We're not seeing it here because we're not an early primary state. Other state there's a lot of TV. Ads already up. He'll have to do more person to person campaigning to survive and ideal would be survive past the first couple of primaries and other candidates drop off.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
He has no quantity and high media and is friendly and media accessible. He might be able to overcome the money since he's well-known versus Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

>> Howard Fischer:
Anybody want to give me a guess what day John McCain will dropout assuming he does.

>> Paul Giblin:
I don't think he will dropout until he can't win the nomination.

>> Howard Fischer:
Do you want to take a bite?

>> Matt Benson:
I think he will go until he runs out of money. If he can get there until February 5th.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
I say the day of the South Carolina primary. If he losses that, he's done.

>>Paul Giblin:
I don't think he ever officially dropped out of the race. Correct me if I'm wrong, didn't he suspend his and never quit. I believe he will run the 2008 until he's elected or dies.

>> Howard Fischer:
Sounds good. You can play along at home if you want to send in your guess to horizon.edu. The day he drops out of the race, whoever gets closest, I will personally buy you dinner.

>>> Howard Fischer:
Let's turn to a lighter note. Scottsdale is trying to tell the dancers how much clothes they have to have. What does the new ordinance allow? What body parts can we see?

>>Paul Giblin:
It's a confusing fight there going on two years and mostly the mayor of Scottsdale and Jenna Jameson who is an adult film star who owns entertainment operations in Scottsdale. They have been fighting for a long time. Scottsdale wanted to ban lap dances. This is close-contact dances between the entertainer and patron. It's called close contact because the entertainer sits on the customer and dances. The mayor backed off and realized it was infringing on the first amendment rights. They do require them to wear g-strings and pasties.

>> Howard Fischer:
Martha Washington, we have a shot of her in a g-string. Opposed law allows simulated sex acts and not touching with sexual intent. Will you explain that?

>>Mike Sunnucks:
That's the city attorney of the--they have two strip clubs in Scottsdale. It's not like a big red light issue. The voters played going against restrictions. It's not a big issue. Going up Grand Avenue there's a lot in phoenix on Washington, a good bit. In Scottsdale it's not a big business. It's libertarian roots. We don't want governments sticking its nose in there. It's an adult business and adults know what they're going in there for, I guess.

>> Howard Fischer:
Is this first amendment? Is this a question of expression? Where are the lines here in terms of what we end up deciding is in fact a first amendment case?

>>Matt Benson:
That's the issue and cities and courts and council members and elected officials have been wrestling with it for years. I believe it's where you sit. Where the lap dances are. It seems to me a lot of the activity they are allowing in the strip clubs are less risqué than what's going on in the clubs in downtown Scottsdale a mile or so away.

>> Howard Fischer:
Paul, as somebody who represents Scottsdale. Is Scottsdale different? Are we better than the rest in terms of what we allow in dancing versus Grand Avenue?

>> Paul Giblin:
Wow, I don't know why you think I'm an authority on strip clubs.

>> Howard Fischer:
I said authority on Scottsdale. I haven't insulted you yet. That's coming.

>>Paul Giblin:
It usually takes my driving record to get there. It's up to the business community. There's a lot up and down Scottsdale and a lot of people coming in for conventions go to the strip clubs. It's important to the business. As for what happens in the businesses, no one is surprised when it happens there. Are they a better quality? I don't know.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
It's not like, you know, a big, you know, there's not 20 in a row there. There's two. I don't think there's really any plans to build any more. And, you know, the government overreached and the people said why are we doing all these rules and people look at these things. We're laughing about it. Why is the government making all these silly rules?

>>Paul Giblin:
What's with the language? Curious language. Intentional touching is legal and unintentional? I'm not sure if I touch you like this, is that an intentional touch?

>>Paul Giblin:
I think if you did it with sexual intent that would be illegal. If you did it to get my pen, will be legal. It will give cops a lot of time with people drinking and trying to ascertain what's intentional and unintentional.

>> Howard Fischer:
Business journal has the Expense account on that.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
I haven't been given the go ahead.

>> Howard Fischer:
Matt, one more quick thing. Something you touched on this week. A first amendment issue that had to do with the use of dead soldiers' names on materials and passing anonymously. We found out this week a couple of lawmakers said we didn't know what we were doing.

>>Matt Benson:
We have democrats and representatives that are saying we didn't realize it. It was a senior moment.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
We were dupped.

>>Matt Benson:
We were dupped. Hard to believe since that was a measure that received almost most of the publicity of any this legislative session. I imagine they were hearing from some of their unhappy constituents.

>>Mike Sunnucks:
It can be challenged in court under first amendment grounds. It could get thrown out. Politically are you going to support--these are the dead troops and families. Are you going to support them or the ACLU? Obviously they had a change of heart. It could come back to bite them.

>> Howard Fischer:
Do you think the governor's attorney figured I'm not going to fall on my sword? I'm not going to be the one to veto it.

>> Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah, she signed it. Should a guy in flagstaff be able to take a dead soldier's name and put it on the t-shirt without asking the families? People that don't believe in the constitutional law, probably like the idea.

>> Paul Giblin:
You can't legislate good taste.

>> Howard Fischer:
On this show, you proved it.

>> Howard Fischer:
Thank you very much, Paul, Matt, Mike. We'll be right back.

>>> Howard Fischer:
Tuesday, we'll tell you about implementation of a clean air law passed by the legislature.

>>> Howard Fischer:
Wednesday, we talk about aims test results that will be released that day.

>>> Howard Fischer:
Thursday, a review of the U.S. Supreme court session.

>>> Howard Fischer:
Friday, we'll be back with another edition of the "journalists' roundtable."

>>> Howard Fischer:
Coming up next on "now," an interview with the mother of a gay crime victim, Matthew Shepard, on federal legislation that would expand hate crime protection to homosexuals. That's next on "now." all of us are going up to Babes cabaret. Meet us up there and we'll buy you a drink. Have an incredible weekend. Good night

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