Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 30, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Closing the Food Gap

  |   Video
  • Mark Winne, author of �Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty,� talks about current shortages and rising prices of food and how our nation�s food policy impacts low income families across America.
Guests:
  • Mark Winne - Author
Category: Sustainability

View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
As food prices rise, it becomes especially difficult for low income families to put healthy food on their tables. The book "Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty" examines a variety of strategies for ending hunger. The author, Mark Winne, talks about his book tomorrow night at the Phoenix Public Library. I spoke with him yesterday.

>>Ted Simons:
Mark Winne, thank you for joining us on "Horizon".

>>Mark Winne:
Thank you, Ted.

>>Ted Simons:
Let's start with the basics here: what is the "Food Gap"?

>>Mark Winne:
"Food Gap" is people not having enough food. And in this country, we have about 35 million Americans that are considered hungry or "food-Insecure". Another aspect of the Food Gap, however, which is that a large number of Americans, particularly those living in lower income urban and rural areas, don't have sufficient access to a good, affordable supermarket like most of us are accustomed to. And then I'd say what the third aspect of it is that many of us are now gravitating toward more healthy and organically produced food. Locally produced food. And again, that food is often too expensive for low income people. So that's another feature of the Food Gap.

>>Ted Simons:
And you write that Food Gap has actually gotten worse since the 1960s.

>>Mark Winne:
Absolutely. Right. I mean, we have increased the number of Food Banks in this country from almost zero in the 1970s to over 200 today. It's one of the largest charitable institutions in the country. And we're unique among Developed Nations in that we actually rely so heavily on Food Banks to feed our people.

>>Ted Simons:
But I would think people would be surprised to hear anyone say anything negative about a Food Bank.

>>Mark Winne:
Well, I think in the richest country in the world, that we rely so heavily on food that has been donated - oftentimes surplus, oftentimes just simply wasted food, that we have - you know, they'd be surprised that we have sort of our safety net, the fact that we don't provide enough money for people to buy food, that they don't earn enough from their jobs in order to buy food, I think they'd be surprised to think that we have become so dependent on a form of charity to actually feed ourselves.

>>Ted Simons:
And yet, some would say: at least we're feeding ourselves. It may be an imperfect model, but something's getting done.

>>Mark Winne:
That's right. No, it is, and I think it's an important way that we, as a community, come together and try to solve a problem. But I would say that we have to stop and think about what we've been doing, and if this is really the best way to take care of people who are in need.

>>Ted Simons:
Now, I know you've been very much involved in things like Inner-City Garden and Inner-City Farmers' Markets and Community Gardens and these sorts of things. Is that a direction to go, instead of Food Banks?

>>Mark Winne:
It's not instead of Food Banks at all. I think it's important, again, for communities to come together to work with farmers to bring food into areas that aren't well-served, to take vacant land that can be turned into Community Gardens, and allow people to be able to produce their own food. That's a direction that's made a lot of sense. But I think that it's time for the public sector - and by that, I mean Government, the Local Government, State Government and Federal Government - to step up again and say, we're going to take responsibility, and make sure that everybody in this country has enough - not just enough to eat, but they have enough healthy food to eat, and that they can afford to buy good, healthy food. We don't have that commitment right now in this country.

>>Ted Simons:
Underlying what I'm hearing you say is not so much we don't have enough food, we don't have the right food, it sounds like more of a "War on Poverty" than a war on a Food Gap.

>>Mark Winne:
Exactly. I mean, we have spent so much of our effort, in terms of our approach to poverty, to conserve the social welfare of this country from the aspect of food - that we are going to actually address or manage poverty. That's the way I put it in my book. We're actually managing poverty by relying so heavily on food. Because we, as a nation, are compassionate, we're not going to let somebody starve to death. However, we're not going to go after the root causes of hunger, namely poverty. And that's what I think is unfortunate, that we have backed away from this commitment to ending poverty, and instead are simply deciding, we're going to give people enough so they don't starve to death.

>>Ted Simons:
Your involvement with the Hartford Food System: what is that, and why did it work, and how did it not work?

>>Mark Winne:
Well [chuckles], I was involved for 24 years in Hartford, Connecticut, and I did everything, I think, that anyone's ever done, with respect to food. And some of it did not work, and some of it did. But again, it was that kind of rallying together that communities often do so well, and we found that Farmers' Markets were a great way to help people. I started a Food Bank in Hartford. I started Community Gardens. We tried to bring supermarkets back into a city that had been virtually abandoned by supermarkets over the course of 20 years. We didn't succeed at that. That was a very difficult task. Again, I think what we learned is that the more we could engage the public sector, in this case, it was the City, oftentimes the State of Connecticut in working with the private sector, nonprofit organizations, sometimes the supermarket industry itself, we could solve problems together that we could never solve alone.

>>Ted Simons:
How do you answer those critics that would say it's all fine and dandy that we all eat whole foods, and we all eat holistic foods, and everything is picked from a Backyard Garden. But for folks who are hungry and need food, any port in a storm. They got their food. Why can't we be happy with that, as opposed to something that's holistic and organic, etc, etc?

>>Mark Winne:
Well, I think the question here is how important and how healthy and how necessary is organic food? And again, I would say that if most of us actually believe that organic food is better for you than conventionally-produced food, then I think that everybody ought to be entitled to having the best food available. Now, the "any port in the storm" approach often suggests that we eat food that has way too many calories in it, and not enough nutrients. So, if we have to make a choice, let's go for healthy food. Let's forget the organic. But let's at least find healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products. These are the things that often are the most expensive.

>>Ted Simons:
And you talk about expense, last question. Rising food prices right now. A big concern are here around the world. How does that factor into all this?

>>Mark Winne:
It's a huge problem. It's affecting everybody in all income groups. But it's affecting the poor the most.

>>Ted Simons:
Alright. Mark, thank you so much for joining us. "Closing the Food Gap." interesting stuff.

>>Mark Winne:
Thank you.

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • A mid-week legislative update with Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Reporter, Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon": State Lawmakers are working on bills that may affect how Child Protective Services does its job. The Governor has been busy signing and vetoing bills; A Capitol reporter gives us an update. And a long-time food activist talks about his new book and his thoughts on hunger and poverty. All coming up next, on "Horizon".

>>Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by the "Friends of Eight": members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
Hello and welcome to "Horizon", I'm Ted Simons. Just this week, Governor Janet Neapolitan vetoed bills related to immigration, concealed weapons, and DUI. Here to tell us more is Jim Small, a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times. Jim, good to see you.

>>Jim Small:
Good to be here.

>>Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us. The veto of the new DUI law. This was supposed to be a compromise, wasn't it?

>>Jim Small:
Yea. This was something that was kind of got born out of a lot of frustration earlier in the session. There were a number of DUI bills that put out, mostly in the Senate. They got over to the House, and Speaker Jim Weiers triple assigned them. There was a lot of - people speculated as to why that happened. The prevailing theory was that Liquor Industry didn't like what happened last year by requiring first-time DUI offenders to put an Ignition Interlock (device) on their cars for a year. And so, the idea was that they were using Speaker Weiers to try to kill some of these efforts to try to change the law. What ended up happening was Speaker Weiers worked with the proponents of the DUI Legislation with Senator Linda Gray and Senator Jim Wearing, and they came to a compromise, reduce the interlock to only six months, instead of a year, if the person successfully goes through a treatment or counseling program. And the bill also includes a number of other things. It rectified a conflict in the law with how people with higher Blood Alcohol Contents are sentenced. And it also applied the same standard in the current law to operating watercraft, so boats. And the Governor vetoed it, saying, you know, that it was too soon to go ahead and get rid of that one year.

>>Ted Simons:
The interlock thing.

>>Jim Small:
The one-year interlock thing. She said it hasn't been in place long enough. We've only got a partial year's worth of data. We need to take a look at it, and see what the results of this really are before we starting with it.

>>Ted Simons:
OK, what were her reasons regarding the penalty for carrying concealed weapons without a permit.

>>Jim Small:
Well, similar to something she did last year. This bill came up last year. This year was Representative Russell Pearce's bill, last year was Senator Karen Johnson from Mesa. And what the bill would have done is, instead of it being a crime punishable by a hefty time and jail time for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, would have made it a petty offense, a couple, $2-300 fine, get off, basically, a slap on the wrist. The Governor said that we have laws for concealed carry permits in the State for a reason, and people, if they want to be able to carry their weapons, can certainly go through the process to get that permit.

>>Ted Simons:
OK. And earlier in the week, there was a veto requiring police departments to work with the Feds in terms of training and cooperation, regarding immigration control and such. Veto as well. Again, reasons?

>>Jim Small:
Reasons for that was she claimed it was going to be an Unfunded Mandate on the State. The way the law was structured is it required law enforcement agencies across the State to develop a relationship with Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), either through just a working relationship, or through training, or through embedding some of those ICE officers within the actual department. She looked at it and said, you know, if this training happens, it would be required to be paid for by the State if there's no Federal dollars. So, if every department went out and said we're going to comply with this law by putting our officers through this Federal training, and there's no Federal money, that charge comes back to the State. Ergo, we face $100 million at a time when we're obviously facing almost $2 billion in deficit.

>>Ted Simons:
Representative John Nelson said it was "absolutely disgraceful", as far as the vetoes were concerned. Some harsh words there.

>>Jim Small:
Yea. There's been some very critical reaction, from Republicans especially, and the people who supported this bill. I think a lot of people saw it as a way to do something, to get law enforcement involved in this, without doing some of the Mandates that have been out there with requiring training or requiring certain policies to be put in place.

>>Ted Simons:
Any word, finally, on Employer Sanctions, the revisions? I know it's on her desk. Anything? Any word, anything?

>>Jim Small:
We haven't really heard anything yet. The Governor didn't have her typical weekly press briefing today. She was out of town. I believe she was down in Tucson. But all indications are business community is neutral on it. They're not opposed to it, which is really, I think, the best you could hope for as far as getting a piece of legislation like this out. And I think everyone would be very surprised if this came back vetoed.

>>Ted Simons:
And real quickly, all indications are the two initiatives this bill was designed to thwart: they're going ahead.

>>Jim Small:
Yea. And that's something, in fact, that we reported in The Capitol Times months ago. The proponents of that said - each one says they don't know what the other one's doing. Don Goldwater says he wasn't going to back down off of his more strict proposal, because he didn't know what the business community was going to do, and he needed to make sure to cut them off at the pass. The business community said, well we don't know if he's going to get this one that they find really onerous on the ballot. They need to put a counter one up there.

>>Ted Simons:
All right, busy times. Jim, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

>>Jim Small:
Thank you.

Protecting Arizona's Children Part 3

  |   Video
  • State Representatives Jonathan Paton and David Bradley talk about legislative efforts to make Child Protective Services more accountable, in part by providing public access to CPS records about cases that result in a child fatality or near fatality.
Guests:
  • Jonathan Paton - State Representative
  • David Bradley - State Representative


View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
When a child abuse investigation goes wrong, it can be difficult to find out why. Most of the information Child Protective Services (CPS) obtains is confidential, but State Lawmakers want to change that in certain cases. In part three of our series, "Protecting Arizona's Children" David Majure shows us how lawmakers are trying to improve CPS.

>>David Majure:
At the Arizona State Capitol, lawmakers are looking for ways to make child protective services more accountable to the public. One attempt is House Bill 2454. It requires CPS information to be made public in child abuse cases that result in a fatality or near fatality. One exception is when a County Attorney demonstrates that doing so will harm a criminal investigation. The very same language can be found in House Bill 2455. That bill goes further, by reclassifying when child abuse cases must be investigated jointly by CPS and law enforcement. Current law categorizes child abuse, child sex crimes, and felony domestic violence as "Extremely Serious Conduct Allegations": all of which require joint investigation. The bill changes the wording to call these things "Criminal Conduct Allegations." an attempt, according to the bill's sponsor, to treat kids who are abused as victims of crime. About one-third of the cases in Pima County during 2007 that should have been jointly investigated were not, according to a county prosecutor. One provision in the bill seeks to find out why. It requires both law enforcement and CPS to file separate annual reports listing the total number of child criminal conduct investigations, how many were investigated jointly, how many were not, and the reasons why a joint investigation did not take place. Another bill, House Bill 2159, deals with CPS and other public bodies by requiring them to maintain disciplinary records of employees and to make those records available to the public.

>>Ted Simons:
Joining me to talk about CPS legislation is Representative Jonathan Paton , a Republican from Tucson who was sponsoring a couple of the bills we just heard about. And Representative David Bradley, a Democrat, also from Tucson. He operates La Paloma Family Services, which provides group home and foster care services for children. Bradley is also a former employee of CPS Thank you both for joining us here on"Horizon".

>>Jonathan Paton, David Bradley:
Thank you.

>>Ted Simons:
Jonathan, are you sponsoring these bills as a direct result of some very high-profile cases in Tucson?

>>Jonathan Paton:
Absolutely. We heard about some very tragic cases in Southern Arizona. We held hearings on those cases, and eventually, we were able to construct some legislation to fix some of the problems that we found.

>>Ted Simons:
Are these - are we looking at things that should have been addressed, and maybe looked at years ago?

>>Jonathan Paton:
Well, I think there were important issues that maybe have not been addressed, but they really came to light because we sued, along with the Arizona Republic and other news organizations to open up the records in those cases. And that revealed some serious problems that we're trying to address.

>>Ted Simons:
David, before we get into some of the specific legislation, does CPS have the resources it needs to do the job?

>>David Bradley:
Well, it depends on how you define the job. It's a broad task that they have. The Child Protective Service system is broader than just CPS. it involves law enforcement, it involves the education system, faith-based organizations, mental health and substance abuse treatment agencies. All of us are involved, and the community as a whole is involved in the protection of children. CPS certainly has a specific task that they have to do to protect. But it is a huge task. There are over 23,000 children that are involved in the Child Protective Services system today. About 9,000 or so are in out of home care, another 14,000 are provided in-home services. It's an enormous task, enormous responsibilities. Hard to get people to do the job. for a variety of reasons. So do they have all the resources? Not as much as they need, and not as consistent as it needs to be. It needs a Legislature that will support them on a consistent basis.

>>Ted Simons:
Do you think the Legislature, right now, does not support CPS?

>>David Bradley:
I think in the time that I've been in the Legislature, we've had to fight tooth and nail to get support services in place for child protective services, particularly for substance abuse services, for in-home services. Every year, we've had to go to battle on those issues, and it's something we shouldn't have to do every year. Those things have to be in place in order to prevent the very things that we're trying to deal with here.

>>Ted Simons:
Jonathan, is that a fair assessment? you think that the Legislature is not quite up to speed as far as CPS is concerned?

>>Jonathan Paton:
Well, I think we have a lot of priorities we have to deal with. But one of the things that I've noticed in this whole process is that with the tremendous responsibility that Dave's talking about, you also have to have tremendous oversight and scrutiny. And that's why some of the key bills that we sponsored were to deal with transparency, opening up the process. We're talking about people who have an amazing responsibility to determine whether a child should be in a home or not, ultimately. Obviously, it goes to a judge. But what do you do if there is mistakes made? How can we improve the Agency as time goes on? Money is certainly important, but it's not the only factor that's involved. And you have to - we know that reform can only happen in an open, sun-lit environment.

>>Ted Simons:
And to that end, 2159, House Bill 2159 keeps employee disciplinary records open. Why is that important?

>>Jonathan Paton:
Because these are individuals that are being paid with taxpayer dollars. We see that already at the Municipal and County levels. Those records are open right now for City and County employees. But they're not for the State. It makes no sense in my mind to have those closed. We have some serious cases in Southern Arizona, media reports reported that we had a CPS worker that had a relationship with an abusive father, for example. That never would have - we never would have known that if someone had not leaked that. We want to make that simply open to the public to find out if there were those kinds of things happening.

>>Ted Simons:
David, does it make sense to you that all employees, State employees records should be open because of that particular situation?

>>David Bradley:
I think there's a - again, stepping back and looking at broader issues. There are standards of this profession - child welfare is a profession. There are standards, there's a body of knowledge. There's standards that have to be overseen. There are ethical standards that have to be overseen as well. So when we have a tragedy like this, one of the first things we do is step back and look with those glasses on. What happened on a micro-level? What happened with these particular cases? Who was with these children, specifically? Then we step back, and look at a macro-level. What systems were these children and families involved with? from Child Protective Services to law enforcement, mental health, substance abuse. And we evaluate: what went wrong? And if we conclude that part of the problem is on the microlevel, do we prosecute somebody? Do we fire somebody? Do we discipline somebody? And on a macro-level, do we step back, and say there's broader problems here, there's systems problems, people not communicating with one another? So, those are all important issues that come back to the point of people's personnel files, in my mind.

>>Jonathan Paton:
I think related just to what Dave just said, though, it's interesting to note that in that case, it was revealed that CPS did not have a specific Ethics Code of Conduct within their own Agency. And after that issue was leaked, they changed their own policy and they created an Ethical Standard. They have an Ethics Board that they go before now. They did not have a policy, for example, against relationships between CPS workers and clients. That did not exist. And that, to me, is the biggest argument for transparency. When we started to sue to get the records opened up, CPS transformed itself from within on several different cases. And I think that's the reason to keep going for reform.

>>Ted Simons:
David, that's always been a criticism of CPS, that there's so much secrecy there. And again, I understand privacy of family members, privacy of other innocents are involved in many of these cases. But how can reform happen when you can't see what needs to be reformed?

>>David Bradley:
I don't think anybody has any intention of covering those things up, or wants to cover those things up. I think transparency is good. Obviously, you have to deal with issues of confidentiality. And also, you don't want to jeopardize prosecution of people who need to be prosecuted. All those things have to be considered when you look at the bigger picture. But again, it's always a stepping back. It's always looking from a broader perspective. When I was a CPS worker, I assigned confidentiality issues. I assigned ethics standards. That was 25 years ago. And I know those things - again, when we look at it, specifically at these case - that is those things were not followed, those things have to be dealt with. That's a good part of transparency. There's no question that that's a good thing, to find those things out.

>>Ted Simons:
Are you concerned that some innocents, some family members, folks that are in the periphery of a fatal or near fatal case - we're now getting to 2454 here, are you concerned that they might be hurt by opening these records to the public?

>>Jonathan Paton:
Well, absolutely. It's one of our concerns that that doesn't happen, and for that reason, that's part of the negotiations that we went through. That we made sure that there's redaction for those people not directly involved. That they are redacted. That the redaction would happen with people who are witnesses, for example. We wanted to make sure that this affected fatalities and near fatalities. That's under Federal Law. We do not want to touch people that were not directly involved in - the perpetrator, for example, Because we felt that the people we're concerned about is how do these children die? What could we have done to change the outcome? And if we're not releasing those records, who are we protecting? Because these children are dead. Are we protecting the perpetrator? Are we protecting a bureaucracy? And I think the changes that we've made in the legislation, I think, protect children. I think they make those kinds of protections so that they won't be released unnecessarily.

>>Ted Simons:
And I know as well that you want to change the definition of child abuse. You want to actually change the definition. Explain.

>>Jonathan Paton:
Well, what we want to change, actually, is that basically it was called "Serious Conduct" or "Serious issues". There was some ambiguity there. The worst case that comes up. And we wanted to basically redefine it as a serious crime. Because that triggers certain protections for children that they are treated as victims of violent crime, for example, that they're given certain constitutional rights. That was another bill that we worked very hard on because there was some ambiguity there. What rises to that level? Crime is a pretty standard definition, and I think it was easier for CPS workers to understand, it was easier for law enforcement to understand, for them to work together.

>>David Bradley:
Again the issue of child well-being is the overriding issue. Under child well-being come issues of protection around permanency are all part of it - and when we go into homes, we actually go into a home and figure out, gee, what has happened here? You have an injured child. Under what conditions did this happen? What were stressors were at work? Again, what entities, what systems were at play, and didn't do their job, perhaps, or what cultural issues are coming into play that had an effect on this? All those stressors - and things have to be analyzed. And it's the level - skill level of the people that go in that is the crucial issue, and having what I call having collegiality: having as many eyes as possible. You can't say this particular incident reaches the level of a crime. I'm going to take this kid with me today. It may or may not be the best.

>>Ted Simons:
To that end, the CPS pair of eyes, are they getting a bad rap?

>>David Bradley:
Well, they can't help but get a bad rap because they're always in the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. Working with families is always very stressful. And there's always going to be people that think, gee, either you err on the side of leaving a child, or you err on the side of taking a child. They're always in that dilemma. No matter what they do, they can't please everyone in the System. Protection and permanency are important, and a child well-being, in analyzing that and having as many eyes to look at that, is really the key to this issue.

>>Jonathan Paton:
But the bad rap that they have quite a often has been created by this veil of secrecy that the Agency has. There are a lot of good things that workers do, but we can't see those things because we don't always know what's going on. And I think that secrecy creates suspicion, which creates a cloud of suspicion for the Agency that, oftentimes, isn't fair. That's one of the reasons we're trying to open things up.

>>Ted Simons:
Alright, we have to stop it right there. Thank you both very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

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