Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 23, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable

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  • Don’t Miss HORIZON’s weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week’s top stories.
Guests:
  • Christina Estes - KFYI Radio
Category: Journalists Roundtable

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>>>Ted Simons:
It's Friday, May 23rd, 2008, and headlines this week, phoenix police department changes its procedures on the handling of illegal immigrants. Lawmakers make another effort to toughen DUI laws, and is Governor Janet Napolitano considered as Barack Obama's running mate? That's next on horizon.

>>Announcer:
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>>Ted Simons:
Good evening, I'm Ted Simons. This is the journalists' roundtable. Joining me this evening Christina Estes of FYI Radio, Scott Wong of the Arizona Republic, and Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services. City of Phoenix revamps its policy when dealing with undocumented residents. Christina, its operations order 1.4, what kind of changes we looking at here?

>>Christina Estes:
Basically if you're arrested phoenix police ask your legal status, are you in the country legally, a question they will not ask victims or witnesses but they will ask anyone they arrest. It goes a step further than we heard back in February. If they've got suspicions, if your name is on a criminal warrant or they see or suspect you're involved with criminal activity, they can call their supervisor and they can ok the Phoenix officer to take you to ICE.

>>Ted Simons:
They can call ICE if they're suspicious you're here illegally and transport you to ICE?

>>Christina Estes:
If your name is on a criminal warrant or you're suspected of committing that crime they can call ICE but as we were discussing a few minutes ago, a lot of it is up in the air because if someone stops me and asks me if I'm in the country legally, I might say yes whether I am or not. And I'm not really, really sure what would happen at that point.

>>Howard Fischer:
It's when you say si; they can tell you're here illegally. this is a policy, we've talked about this almost a year this has been in the making, where Jack Harris was trying to both satisfy his officers who wanted the ability to stop and ask everyone, and the mayor, who really didn't want any of this, and then of course the immigration rights community. So, for example, if you're not suspected of any criminal activity, but the officer thinks you may be in the country illegally, then they take your name and send a form to ICE so this is a wonderful bureaucratic thing, it's designed to get Phil Gordon off the political hot seat and Jack Harris off the hot seat, and everyone's just a little bit unhappy with it so that must make it a perfect policy.

>>Ted Simons:
Indeed, and you got to wonder, police sounds like they're ok with it, what about immigrants rights activists?

>>Howard Fischer:
It's funny, the police union spokesman said it's a good first step, obviously they're hoping for more. They said, well, it's good they're not picking on victims and witnesses but we still think it goes too far, they'll still be harassing people and people are going to be afraid. So again, we're back to the issue is it a compromise? Yes. Is it more than that Phoenix Police were allowed to do six months ago? You bet.

>>Ted Simons:
Are other police departments saying we need to move in this direction?

>>Christina Estes:
I don't think there's any other in the valley that want to jump into this. I mean this announcement was just made. But I haven't heard that there's been any positive impact for Mayor Gordon because the recall effort is still out there and I checked the website today. I mean, they're out this weekend gathering signatures to recall Mayor Gordon and this is the big issue. They feel like he's soft on illegal immigration.

>>Howard Fischer:
We're still with the problem of recall, recall isn't just yes or no. you get the signatures and assuming they even can, talking about 25\% of the people who voted in last citywide election, and then you got to find someone else to run against him. Find three people and all of a sudden the vote's split. I'm still not sure what this is all about other than gee, we're unhappy.

>>Ted Simons:
Someone else unhappy, the folks in Guadalupe and the Sheriff Joe Arpaio's and his activities there. Sounds like a residents committee said we would just as soon not have the sheriff here, but.

>>Howard Fischer:
As you know, it's a small community, contracts with the sheriff department for police protection. It's not unusual. You've got other small communities that do that up toward I think cave creek and carefree historically have done some of that. They have to figure out, ok, now what? They very unhappy with the sheriff for having blown in there with one of his sweeps and just gone through and say I'm just looking for illegals. But the problem --

>>Christina Estes:
A point of saying I'm not just going in there looking for illegals. He always calls them crime suppression sweeps, not immigration searches.

>>Howard Fischer:
No, he's looking for people with busted taillights and other things so he can pull them over.

>>Christina Estes:
The mayor was driving and --

>>Howard Fischer:
Exactly. And asked, by the way, as long as I've got you here, are you here illegally. The problem for Guadalupe becomes several things. Who do they get to do it? City of Phoenix said, well, we'll consider it, but the union folks are saying wait, you'd need 40 officers to properly cover the area on a 24/7 basis, we're already short several hundred officers here, so how do we do it? Does Tempe want to come in and do it? Is Guadalupe finally ready to have its own police force? You're talking about hiring people from scratch and having administrators and that becomes a real problem.

>>Ted Simons:
Scott, at the legislature I know there was a time when we had a bunch of East Valley lawmakers stand up and say crime suppression, come down to my place. Are we getting less of that as far as you can see down there? Has the rhetoric toned down a bit?

>>Scott Wong:
I'm not exactly sure. I haven't been following those issues too much.

>>Howard Fischer:
There will always be that rhetoric. East Valley Lawmakers starting with Russell Pierce are also going to say come in, yes, take the illegals away. The question becomes what else is more important. We've got the state budget. The overriding issue, other issues, drunk driving we'll be talking about later. So we haven't heard as many of the floor speeches lately, Scott and I have been busy watching them wrestle with education and everything else. So do you hear the floor speeches? No. Have their views changed? Of course not, but you're talking basically, you know, white guys in suits saying come in and get rid of the illegal brown people.

>>Ted Simons:
Christina, the sheriff says he's not requesting donations. He's just accepting what is being offered. Sounds like 13 some odd thousand.

>>Christina Estes:
He said yesterday they received $13,000 in donations and some people think that's nothing. I was kind of surprised because times are tough. I wasn't particularly jumping at the chance to open and offer my money, when I pay taxes already. I thought 13,000 sounded significant. In the grand scheme of things I don't know how much it can cover.

>>Ted Simons:
The story's also uncovering the fact that people like to donate stuff to public servants and sheriff obviously is pretty high profile. How much regulation is involved? Sounds like it could get pretty deep as far as frying to figure out rules aren't being broken.

>>Christina Estes:
As far as the money and donations coming in? I'm guessing quite a few people are watching where's the 13,000 going and how are they spending it.

>>Howard Fischer:
The issue goes back to this historic precedent where Meacham thought the money from his inaugural ball was his to play with as he wanted which is why he loaned it to his car dealership. Once it goes to the public official, it becomes public funds and there has to be an audit trail. What you can use it for, you can't use it to enrich yourself. But as long as it's a legal slush fund, he call it that, he can spend it on any legitimate public purpose he wants, and that can be buying lunch for his deputies if he wants.

>>Scott Wong:
The other thing is, the $13,000 is just a drop in the bucket when you look at the $1.6 million that was shifted away from the sheriff's office through executive order by Governor Janet Napolitano.

>>Ted Simons:
It's like a tip jar, put a couple dollars in it, let people know it's there.

>>Howard Fischer:
You can donate when you're pulled over by the sheriff's department. They have you can pay now or pay later.

>>Ted Simons:
Well, you won't be pulled over if you've got those plastic things, or maybe you can, Scott, the plastic license plate covers issue in the legislature. Talk to us about this. I thought those were against the law to block license plates.

>>Scott Wong:
Well, it depends on who you ask, I guess. Senator Tim chevron, he's a Democrat from Phoenix; he put forth a proposal this week that would essentially ban the plastic covers that go over your license plates. People use them essentially to reflect the light off those photo radar and red light enforcement cameras to avoid basically getting a ticket. and so, you know, Chevron and other supporters say that this is a public safety hazard, that, you know, that in cases of emergency people need to be able to read license plates, you know, law enforcement officials, motorists, you know, during amber alerts and of course, you know, there's some opponents who say this is already a law on the books. There's -- this is unnecessary and there's a law on the book that says, you know, people need to display their licenses and that they need to be clearly legible. So again, it depends on who you ask.

>>Howard Fischer:
That's really the thing. I talked to DPS I said what does it mean, clearly legible? Does that mean only from straight on? Or does that mean from up here where the photo radar camera is, and DPS insists legible from any angle. So I said wait a second. I must be missing something, because if you go out there, there are thousands and thousands of these license plate covers and if you get it at a slight angle you can't see it. So why aren't their more tickets being issued? The response was, well, we've issued some, but we've got bigger fish to fry. So the question becomes even if Ken's measure were to become law, so now it's double secret illegal to have the license plate covers? What difference does it make?

>>Ted Simons:
Well, and why did this not make it?

>>Scott Wong:
Well, this --

>>Christina Estes:
Because it's not needed.

>>Scott Wong:
Well, this measure actually was successfully attached to another bill earlier this week in a preliminary vote in the senate. The very next day, however, it was -- it didn't receive enough votes on the formal vote. Now, another lawmaker has gone in later this week and requested to reconsider the issue. So we could see this come back as soon as next week.

>>Howard Fischer:
And the funny part is that what killed the final bill was not this provision, but was another thing having to do with the license plate commission, a lawsuit and the choose life license plates that's antiabortion group wanted. So this is one of those wonderful legislative things you think you know all the moving parts and there's always something else.

>>Ted Simons:
Oh, there is always something else when it comes to gun bills as well. And Scott, we'll start with you. The campus gun bill. Interesting, not only in the fact that it died in the senate, but that the sponsor wasn't too pleased about it.

>>Scott Wong:
No, the sponsor is Senator Karen Johnson, a republican out of mesa. And essentially this is a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons on campuses, you know, so that people can protect themselves from incidents like we've seen at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University. But Senator Johnson, she's pointing the finger at President Tim Bee. She says that President Bee has blocked her bill from going to a floor vote. She says that president bee promised her that if she could get the requisite number of signatures, 16, you know, and present it to him, that he would put the bill to a vote. Well, she said she did that. She presented him with this list, and he sat on the bill ever since.

>>Ted Simons:
And Howie, that's not a surprise, considering Mr. Bee has congressional aspirations.

>>Howard Fischer:
Well, there's a lot of questions about what Tim Bee is or is not doing. We've talked on the show about the fact that the center for Arizona policy is wondering if he's sitting on a bill about gay marriage too. Tim is trying to get elected to a southeast Arizona district that up until recently was represented -- now by democrat Gabrielle Gifford and before that moderate republican in Jim Colby. And so Tim understands that perhaps the district is not quite as conservative as he is. Now, did it affect this one? Hard to say. I think Tim would rather not be in the middle of a lot of controversial issues, but I think that he's also going to find the more he sits on things like the gay marriage, he might as well just put it up for vote and let it go up or down.

>>Ted Simons:
Was there talk some of the lawmakers as well were mentioning to the senate president away from the cameras we don't want to go on record on this?

>>Howard Fischer:
There are a whole series of those, part of the job of the senate and house speaker is to protect his or her constituents, particularly from having to vote on certain things. I've watched over the years when Stan Turley was senate president, certain things go in bottom drawer. He had a very large bottom drawer.

>>Ted Simons:
Weapons and car bill, whether the weapons are visible or not.

>>Howard Fischer:
The law on weapons in cars is very interesting. If you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon you can have the weapon anywhere in the car. If you do not have one of those permits, means you don't have the training and background check, you can have it in the holster in the glove box. You can have it in a map box. Now, nobody's quite figured out, never defined what the map box is. Is it that thing under the radio or whatever. You can have it in the truck. The argument is there are people who want to have a gun nearby. They have it on the seat next to them. The claim is, well, I came to a sudden stop, my jacket fell off the seat; inadvertently hit my gun and all of a sudden I'm in trouble. Well, I can't find a single incident of somebody being arrested for that. So the bill says if it's in your car, it's like being in your house. You can have it concealed. Now, the police have gone crazy over this. They said so that means if you're a gang banger you can put the shotgun beneath the seat and not worry that you're going to be rousted over that? The response is are gang bangers going to obey the law in the first place.

>>Ted Simons:
This also begs the question, law enforcement is not happy with this, and Christina, they are not happy with this, it sounds like an instant veto, because the Governor is always siding with law enforcement when it comes to gun bills.

>>Christina Estes:
Right. And it kind of goes back to what Howie was talking about with bee and the others. If you're hearing from your local police that they don't like this and don't want it, you're a local politician so you want to do what they want. On the other hand they have NRA support so they're in a bind. They're going to make somebody mad, no matter how they vote on it, another reason to hold it back.

>>Howard Fischer:
You're exactly right. She's vetoed a gun bill already this session about easing the penalty for no permit, wanted to take it down to a fine. I'm willing to bet you lunch and dinner at a very nice restaurant this bill reaches her desk, red stamp coming out, it's gone.

>>Ted Simons:
As fast as she can do it. Scott, DUI bill, back again. This is an amendment to a bill the governor vetoed, but she vetoed it for one particular purpose, correct?

>>Scott Wong:
Yeah, there was a provision on the bill she vetoed that would have reduced penalties for first-time DUI offenders, specifically it would drop one year to six months the penalty of the first-time offenders would have to use the ignition interlock, essentially the breath test devices, where you have to blow into it in order to start your car and also to keep your car running. And the governor didn't like that. She said that, you know, this is -- these breath tests are good deterrent and so that provision was essentially dropped from this new DUI proposal.

>>Howard Fischer:
One of the interesting things and the governor made short shrift of it when she vetoed it, yes, it did go from one year to six months of having to install this and being able to drive that car. But the six months was only available to people who completed court ordered and approved drug or alcohol testing or treatment. And Linda Gray's point, Senator Gray, if you're going to change behavior, can you do that temporarily with some device. If you're going to change behavior long term you want people to get treatment. And she said that got ignored in the governor's bill.

>>Ted Simons:
I asked the governor about that on the program. So that's not enough? And she said no, that wasn't enough. It was interlock device, and the time frame. Now getting that back to 12 months, is that enough to avoid a veto do you think?

>>Scott Wong:
You know, Linda gray, the senator who's sponsoring this bill, I talked to her this week. She says she sees this clearing the legislature and getting approval from the governor. I talked to the governor's spokesperson this week, Janine McCure, and she says the governor essentially said in her veto letter this is a good bill except for that one provision so she said, you know, there's a good chance, you know, that this is going to pass.

>>Ted Simons:
No other changes in the bill other than that major change?

>>Scott Wong:
No major changes.

>>Ted Simons:
Ok. Christina, we lost the Super Bowl, which is if you're a cardinals fan, that's saying something.

>>Christina Estes:
Or football fan.

>>Ted Simons:
But the valley lost the Super Bowl to Indianapolis. Let's talk about this a little bit, why it happened, and really wasn't much of a surprise.

>>Christina Estes:
Sure. In a spirit of full disclosure, I spent almost the last year, my brain's still fried from it all, handling media and PR for the Arizona super bowl committee so I know a little bit about what it takes to convince the NFL we're the best place for a super bowl. In all honesty, a lot of folks didn't have high hopes for Arizona to get the 2012 game. And that's because Indianapolis waved a $700 million stadium in front of NFL owners and they traditionally reward a city or state for building a stadium by giving them a Super Bowl. That what's they did last year with north Texas. Jerry Jones from the Dallas Cowboys and the community got together and spent a lot to get a gorgeous stadium so they're getting 2011, Indy in 2012. But it was very close, and it's really a significant statement that it took four votes for Indianapolis to get it and the vote was 17-15. So it was that close for us. Houston wasn't in the running after the second vote. So it says the NFL owners and the NFL think Arizona's a great place to hold a Super Bowl, and I don't make any promises but I would certainly think we'd have it back in the near future.

>>Howard Fischer:
First of all, we get to blame you for the loss. Never mind.

>>Christina Estes:
No.

>>Howard Fischer:
Here's another interesting part of this. And it comes down to we've talked about the financial studies and everything else. Odds are that Glendale is going to ask for money next time, you know, we have costs. Now we know what the budget is right now at the state. They don't exactly have nickels in the couch, so if in fact they make that part of the condition of we'll get you the super bowl, but you've got to help fund some of the police costs and everything else, that could throw the whole thing off.

>>Ted Simons:
Scott, the numbers regarding the Glendale Super Bowl. We've heard it brought in this amount, then we heard it costs Glendale that amount. Talk about that.

>>Scott Wong:
I think what it brought in, Christina probably knows this better, close to half a billion dollars was the economic impact of this year's game. but I think what's interesting is for the host committee, which is putting on all the parties, festivities, paying for a lot of the transportation and security, you know, those total costs were at $17 million this year, and the private sector picked up two thirds of those costs. Now shortly after the game, it was reported that, you know, local Super Bowl organizers were going to go back to the legislature and lobby for some funds, so that the state would pick up two thirds of the tab the next time around. And that was not a very popular proposal, especially at a time when the budget is $2 billion in the red.

>>Howard Fischer:
Here's the other issue in terms of economic impact. Sometimes you find, you know, I love it when economists do this. What is the value of your name being mentioned and all that stuff? What's fascinating is every article about the Super Bowl I read in the New York Times was datelined Phoenix. Not a single Glendale dateline in there about the bowl itself, which was clearly not in Phoenix. Of course they were still trying to figure out where the University of Phoenix's Football Team was at the University of Phoenix Stadium I think.

>>Howard Fischer:
Glendale got really did get a lot of publicity and media coverage because every time they're talking about where the game is, it's in Glendale. It's in Glendale, Glendale.

>>Howard Fischer:
But that was the point. Look at the out of town coverage, you know, people say I don't think people recognize Glendale. Even the New York Times can't figure out that this place out at 91st avenue and Glendale Avenue or Northern is in Glendale.

>>Christina Estes:
Well, the New York Times calls it Phoenix, for god's sakes everyone must be. Glendale got some coverage, ok.

>>Ted Simons:
ESPN figured out where their three sets were Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Glendale. They seemed to get it right. And in the sporting world, Howie, they make more sense than New York Times.

>>Christina Estes:
Folks were quite busy that week dealing with national and international media. So they were finding Glendale.

>>Ted Simons:
Howie, real quick, Pete Rios is leading the legislature.

>>Ted Simons:
He finally figured out what other lawmakers figured out, elected officials retirement plan is a scam. Here's the deal. If you're a state employee you have to work basically almost 40 years to max out at 80\% of your salary. If you're a public official you max out after 20 years and can make 80\% of your highest salary. Now, as a legislator you're making $24,000 a year right now. if you become a supervisor and let's say make $60,000, you get at the end of it 80\% of $60,000, even if you're making $24,000 the last 20 years, which is pretty much how long Pete's been there.

>>Ted Simons:
So when he says he wants to help Pinal County grow and be there to help the fledgling counties as a public servant.

>>Howard Fischer:
Right, he is going to help their economy by spending more of that retirement money. Pete has been in public service a long time. His daughter is a state senator.

>>Ted Simons:
Senate president in the early '90s.

>>Howard Fischer:
He was senate president, and he's been there a while. But look, the fact is people go from the legislature to justice of the peace, secretary of state, corporation commission, county supervisor, because the retirement plan is a scam.

>>Ted Simons:
All right. Real quickly, presidential politics, Lisa Graham Keating leads county for John McCain to lead as far as education is concerned?

>>Howard Fischer:
What do you say? Lisa's an interesting person, involved in republican politics, state school superintendent. I think she can lend some gravitas to his education program. She certainly understands the idea of choice. She was here when the idea of charter schools came along and she can make a real difference and very attractive campaigner on his behalf.

>>Ted Simons:
Janet Napolitano, Vice President of America?

>>Christina Estes:
I heard it on CNN, she kind of laughed it off a little bit, but just a little bit I think. She said the democrats have a deep bench, so I think it's flattering for someone to even ask her.

>>Howard Fischer:
What does she bring? Look, from a political standpoint, what does she bring to the ticket? I'm not sure Arizona in its electoral votes, also the question of her own politics of she paints herself as a centrist, vetoed every abortion bill out there, and I frankly don't know the question of a single woman, how does that play out?

>>Ted Simons:
But there might be a spot in the administration.

>>Howard Fischer:
Oh, I think she could be -

>>Ted Simons:
In the cabinet.

>>Howard Fischer:
I think she could be the attorney general, because she was US attorney for Arizona under the Clinton administration has been vetted for that, and I think that is much more likely scenario.

>>Ted Simons:
All right. That is it. Thank you so much for joining us on Horizon. Monday on Horizon, we look at the experiences of war and the stories of Medal of Honor recipient, sill still, Frank Luke Jr. and others on a special Memorial Day edition of Horizon. Tuesday the mars mission, set to land on mars, we talk with a project manager. Wednesday Arizona Senate President Tim Bee, Thursday supreme court midterm review with Paul Bender and Cathy O'Grady, and Friday we'll be back with another edition of the journalists' roundtable. Before we leave, we want to say congratulations to the producer of the Friday roundtable show, Diane Brennan is now an American citizen. There she is during the ceremony this week. Congratulations, Diane. And that is it for us. You have a great weekend.

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