Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 16, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

2008 Kids Count

  |   Video
  • We look at how Arizona fares in an annual study that measures children�s health and safety. Dana Naimark of the Children�s Action Alliance is the guest.
Guests:
  • Dana Naimark - President and CEO, Children's Action Alliance here in Arizona


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening, and thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. In news today, Sylvia Allen was sworn into the Arizona senate. Allen is filling a vacancy created by the death of longtime Arizona legislator Jake Flake. Allen, a snowflake resident, has also been chosen by Republicans to replace Flake on the ballot this year. Flake had been running unopposed, but Democrats now say they will find a write-in candidate to run against Allen. Flake died at his home of a heart attack on June 8th.

Ted Simons:
A bill that would have prohibited the sale of animals from the side of the road and in parks failed today in the senate. Only Maricopa and Pima counties would have been affected. If passed, the offenders would have been charged with a misdemeanor and could have served up to four months in jail. Also, try to stay cool, the Valley is under an excessive heat warning through Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to hover around 112 degrees. Officials are recommending that you stay out of the sun as much as possible and drink plenty of water. Well, Arizona's kids are not faring as well as they were last year. That's the result of the 2008 Kids Count Data Book released last week. This year Arizona ranks 39th overall in the annual report by the Anna E. Casey Foundation. Last year we ranked 36th. Joining me to talk about the implications of the rating and what the state should be doing is Dana Naimark. She's the president and CEO of the Children's Action Alliance here in Arizona. Dana, good to have you back on the show.

Dana Naimark:
Thank you.

Ted Simons:
First of all, before we get to the numbers and crunch some things here, what is Kids Count?

Dana Naimark:
Kids Count is an effort to collect data that can be compared across the states, so that we can have a benchmark as to how we're doing in conditions for kids. And the Anna E. Casey Foundation, based in Baltimore, collects this data, and they publish this annual report that compares and ranks the states, but also includes a great richness of information that we all can use as we work to make changes.

Ted Simons:
Things like health, education, these sorts of things?

Dana Naimark:
That's right.

Ted Simons:
Sounds like we dropped a few notches. What's going on here with the rankings?

Dana Naimark:
We did drop a few notches. Not much changed dramatically from last year. We did slip a bit in our child death rate, which is of course very concerning. And actually the child suicide rate for children 14 and younger went up from last year, so that's something we need to pay attention to. Also, the accidental death rate for accidents other than drowning and car accidents. So issues of bike safety, safety around the home, we need to pay attention to that.

Ted Simons:
So the child death rate does have some explanation here? It's not just a number that happens to be worse the past year, as opposed to previous years?

Dana Naimark:
It is a little bit worse than last year, and that's why our ranking dropped and that actually contributed to our overall ranking dropping to 39.

Ted Simons:
Again, when you talk about child suicide, I guess there are programs and ways to try to get some intervention going here. In terms of accidents, and other things though, is this something that can be addressed, or is it something that, again, kind of goes up and down as the years go by?

Dana Naimark:
Well, a little bit of both. Certainly things go up and down. But certainly we can address child safety through being much more aware, taking preventative action, wearing bike helmets is a big one, and safety around the home. So there are things we can do.

Ted Simons:
I know this year's report highlighted the juvenile justice system. Talk about that.

Dana Naimark:
Well it did highlight juvenile justice. What the Casey Foundation found is pretty striking. Really they concluded that what states all across the country do in practice is the opposite of what we know works for public safety and kids and taxpayers. They point out six areas where really the whole country can improve, but we need to work at it on a state by state level. Primarily the issue is helping youth in their own families and their own communities, and relying less on locking them up in detention and in state facilities.

Ted Simons:
It sounds as though, three or four kids in custody here in Arizona are there -- locked up, for lack of a better phrase -- for nonviolent offenses?

Dana Naimark:
That's right. And I think that would be surprising to a lot of Arizonans. Because we think that the kids who are locked up or incarcerated are there because they're violent and they're a threat. Most of them are there for nonviolent offenses. What the research tells us we can accomplish our goals a lot more effectively and a lot more cost-effectively by having supervised treatment in communities, rather than removing kids from their home.

Ted Simons:
That would be one idea. Are systemic reforms, though, needed regarding something like this?

Dana Naimark:
They are. Right now we have a variety of successful programs around the state. But they're spotty, they're here and there. And so we really do need to reform the system so that that becomes the normal, rather than incarcerating youths.

Ted Simons:
What keeps the system from being reformed?

Dana Naimark:
Well, it's a variety of things. Part of it is habit. We get used to what we've done before. And part of it is we are used to somewhat of a centralized system. So we focused on our state department of juvenile corrections and state facilities. It takes more energy, more leadership, more collaboration, to make sure we have successful programs all around the state.

Ted Simons:
Good news though here regarding the violent crime arrest rate for youth, below the U.S. average.

Dana Naimark:
Yes it is very good news. Our rate is about 15\% below the average. So I think that's something to be proud of.

Ted Simons:
Any reasons there? Any program that worked, or what's going on?

Dana Naimark:
I think it's a combination of efforts, of really focusing on our families and our youth. A few years ago we had a big focus on keeping teenagers out of trouble. So I think that's paying off to some extent.

Ted Simons:
Is the threat of a lawsuit, the feds, the justice department looking at safety, in terms of correctional facilities these sorts of things. Is that threat affecting things, do you think?

Dana Naimark:
We were under threat of lawsuit for our state correctional facilities for youth. There were some very horrible conditions that youth were living in, and a lack of treatment or lack of services. We've done a lot to correct that over the last few years. So now the trick is to sustain that, and to make sure that we stay on top of it, don't let things deteriorate again.

Ted Simons:
The study also showed fourth grade reading, we are ranked 47th. What gives?

Dana Naimark:
I think this is the scariest number in the whole report. Only about one out of four fourth grade students in Arizona scored proficient or better on reading. That's on a standardized test that's given across the country, purposefully to compare students in all the states. We know that's a very bad sign, because we know that fourth grade reading is a predictor. Kids who fall behind and don't read well by fourth grade are often on a track of failing in school later on and having multiple problems.

Ted Simons:
Why? So much money and so much attention in the state goes to education, yet ranked 47th? Why is this happening?

Dana Naimark:
We do spend a lot of money on education compared to what we spend on other things. But compared to other states in the country, we are at the bottom of the barrel. We have very large class sizes on average, and we haven't invested enough in our teachers and our curriculum. There's a lot more we can do together, both with leadership and with investment, that I think we can make an improvement there. The other key thing for those fourth grade reading scores is reaching out to kids at very early ages. We know what happens to them before they ever start kindergarten does affect their early learning. And we can do much more at providing families with opportunities for preschool and quality child care to start them off well.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned other states and how well they are doing. Which states did well overall in this survey?

Dana Naimark:
New Hampshire was number one, and other northeastern states were in the top 10. Massachusetts, Connecticut, so they were in the top. The bottom is Mississippi, as they have been for a while, and other states around Mississippi are at the bottom. And then we were right before those states.

Ted Simons:
We're not too far away.

Dana Naimark:
We are not far away.

Ted Simons:
What can we learn from New Hampshire and New England? And conversely, what can we learn from those states that are behind us, to not do, and learn from New England on what we should be doing?

Dana Naimark:
Right. We certainly have some challenges that perhaps New Hampshire and other New England states don't have. One of those is our growth. We've been a high-growing state. We have a very high-growing child population, and it's hard for us to keep up with that. So we really need to stay vigilant and to remember that, while we all work for growth for our economy, a responsibility comes with that growth, as well.

Ted Simons:
It seems like whenever we get some of these studies, we're always ranked down there in some way, shape or form. From where you sit, why is this happening?

Dana Naimark:
Well a variety of reasons. As you know, we have a very mobile community. A lot of people moving in and out, a lot of people don't have deep roots here. And that means families don't have places to turn when they're in need and in trouble. And I think in the northeast there are a lot more community institutions, as well as public investment. So families have places to turn. And that's really the key, that - make sure parents have resources they can reach out for, before they're in crisis

Ted Simons:
Until Arizona becomes more stable or settled, doesn't become such a transient state, we've just got to live with these?

Dana Naimark:
No, we don't. We can take action and we can make changes, as we have in many areas. We've actually reduced our rate of uninsured children over the years, thanks to Kids Care, a public-private partnership that we've invested in since 1998. We can actually see the results. There are things we can do like that, when we put our minds to it and make it a priority, we can move up that ladder as we should.

Ted Simons:
Dana, thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Dana Naimark:
Thank you.

One on One

  |   Video
  • HORIZON�s weekly segment examines issues at the legislature and in the elections. House GOP Spokesman Barrett Marson debates the issues with Arizona Democratic Party Communications Director Emily DeRose.
Guests:
  • Barrett Marson - Spokesman, State House Republican
  • Emily Derose - Communications Director, Arizona Democratic Party


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Now for our regular Monday feature focusing on issues of concern to those watching the state legislature and upcoming elections. Two political types go one on one. Tonight Barrett Marson, State House Republican Spokesman, goes head to head with Emily Derose, the Arizona Democratic Party Communications Director.

Barrett Marson:
Good evening, Emily. This is your first appearance here since you were married, congratulations on your nuptials.

Emily Derose:
Thank you.

Barrett Marson:
We'll start out tonight talking about the ninth circuit court of appeals in San Francisco heard the employer sanctions law that the legislature passed last year. And I have to say, I think the legislature is going to go 2-0. First Neal Wake in Phoenix, said the constitutional muster in Phoenix, and then from reading the stories, sounds like it's going to yet again be upheld, as a law that Arizona is allowed to take seriously, particularly considering the federal government's failure to do so in this arena.

Emily Derose:
I think the governor has been saying for a long time as well that Arizona has been forced to act in a vacuum of federal action.

Barrett Marson:
Don't give the governor too much credit, considering she had nothing to do with this law, but signing it. She negotiated not a whit with the legislature on this, refused to say anything about her position on it, but essentially signed it because she had to. I wouldn't say the governor gave a lot --

Emily Derose:
Barrett can I finish?

Barrett Marson:
No, because wait a second. I'll finish, and then you can finish. I wouldn't say that the governor had a lot to do about it. I would say the legislature, after numerous times trying to get the governor to approve this, she finally did and it's being upheld as a constitutional law.

Emily Derose:
I think that the governor has been on the forefront of making Arizona one of the most innovative states when it comes to immigration and enforcement. I think that she was one of the first governors in the country to put the National Guard on the border. I think she has worked incredibly hard to make sure we have a fair sanctions policy. What the governor really wanted, Barrett, was for the federal government to do what it was supposed to. And then it didn't.

Barrett Marson:
Can you name where she worked hard to make sure we have a fair employer sanctions policy? Because I didn't see the governor do anything on employer sanctions.

Emily Derose:
The governor signed this bill into law, she's been out there talking about it, been advocating for it. I think if you look at all of the governor's appearances nationally, talking about the issue of immigration, she's become a national leader on the issue, is constantly quoted and sought for her wisdom and advice on it. Folks like Russell Pearce and the speaker aren't.

Barrett Marson:
First of all, I don't even know what you're thinking about, Russell Pearce is the acknowledged leader nationwide of immigration ideas.

Emily Derose:
He's the acknowledged leader nationwide of a fringe movement of immigration ideas.

Barrett Marson:
First of all, almost every single ballot initiative and almost every single law whether they're signed or vetoed has come from Russell Pearce. The employer sanctions law came from Russell Pearce. So, if anything they found common ground --

Emily Derose:
I'm not going to say certainly that Russell -- everything Russell Pearce says and does is bad, even a blind squirrel can find a nut right, and a broken clock is right twice day. But, I will say the governor is responsible for making sure that our immigration policies are reasonable, that they are fair, and they deal with the problems that Arizona faces. Now, I think let's move on to another issue that we're sort of, kind of, maybe working on at the state legislature. You know, after I got married I came back, and the Spurs were out of the playoffs and the Democrats have a presidential nominee, and I kind of thought maybe we would have a budget. But it looks like we still don't. In fact, I went back through the entire month of May to see just how much time has been spent working down at the legislature. I added up the hours that the house has spent on the floor, in committees and caucuses. From May 1 to June 11th that was 17 hours and 13 minutes. The average Arizonan worked 232 hours in that period. It is unacceptable that the legislature at this point, 14 days out from their deadline, has not presented a budget plan to the governor.

Barrett Marson:
You know, and Emily, I'm sorry to say you just don't know that the governor today, right now, and in fact last week, is looking at a budget presentation. You're wrong. Unfortunately.

Emily Derose:
But the members are all saying that that's not the case and they're frustrated -- the members of the Republican caucus, plenty of them.

Barrett Marson:
Emily, I hate to tell you, the governor right now as we speak is looking at a budget that she had last week.

Emily Derose:
It's certainly possible.

Barrett Marson:
Emily, it's not possible, it is. And I'm sorry that you've spent too much time looking on the computer to figure out how many hours the house is in session, which by the way, you must not have spent a lot of time at the legislature. Just because the legislature isn't on the floor doesn't mean work isn't being done.

Emily Derose:
Well, I would say the proof of the work being done is in putting out a budget and they haven't done that yet.

Barrett Marson:
We've put out a budget for 2008, to fix the problem.

Emily Derose:
And that's terrific.

Barrett Marson:
And we did that in May.

Emily Derose:
Good job for doing what you were supposed to.

Barrett Marson:
But there's work going on Emily. Just because it's not something you can look up on the computer, sorry.

Emily Derose:
Just because we're now 14 days away from the deadline, this is the legislature's singular most important responsibility.

Barrett Marson:
And you're right, and for some reason Democrats have been stalling. They've had the budget proposal.

Emily Derose:
The Democrats have been stalling? That's why all --

Barrett Marson:
The Democrats went to the governor and talked about an offer, and they have not come back to us. That was last week. Where is that offer now?

Emily Derose:
Where have the stories of that been, Barrett? Where is the coverage of this mystery budget that's out there?

Barrett Marson:
I don't know, you'll have to ask all the good friends who came to your wedding why they haven't reported this. But they're looking at it. Not everybody's reporting every offer back and forth, back and forth.

Emily Derose:
Moving on to things that have been interesting in the news this week and since my wedding, recently John McCain's camp came out and said that Arizona is a swing state. We've been saying this long time. He got less than 50\% in his primary, Barack Obama is pulling to within 9 to 11 points of John McCain.

Barrett Marson:
All you have to do is look at 77\%, that's what john McCain received in his last senatorial election. John McCain has never lost an election in Arizona. John McCain has never faced a serious challenger. Now, I will say, if the Democrats want to spend money and try to defeat John McCain in his home state, God bless I say. Come in here and divert money and bring to it Arizona. Keep it out of Pennsylvania. Keep it out of Florida where it might do some good. But if democrats think they could beat John McCain on his home turf, I say it's a great day, spend the money here. Arizona's economy definitely needs it. The newspapers and TV definitely need some of that. I don't think the McCain camp is going to spend a lot of money. But I think it's great that the Democrats want to spend money in Arizona. It's terrific.

Emily Derose:
And the McCain camp clearly believes that Arizona is competitive, and Senator Obama is committed to running a campaign in every state in the country.

Barrett Marson:
Excellent. That is great news for Republicans. That money is just burning good money after bad, I'll tell you that right now. And to the Democrats, I think it's great that they'll bring money in to Arizona. It's great. It's wasted money, but I hope you bring a lot of it with you.

Symphony Benefit

  |   Video
  • The Phoenix Symphony is hosting a benefit concert for violinist Ioana Dimitriu, who is battling breast cancer. HORIZON presents a profile of the artist.


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
About a month ago the Phoenix Symphony held a benefit concert for one of their own. Ioana Dumitriu has played violin for the symphony for more than two decades. She has been battling breast cancer for more than five years. As Larry Lemmons tells us, her music brought her to Phoenix from half a world away.

Larry Lemmons:
A long time ago, Ioana Dumitriu, flying on the strings of her violin, found freedom in the desert. She escaped the cages imposed by the Communist Romanian government, and now soars on her music with the Phoenix Symphony, but her journey isn't over. Her flight from oppression has become a fight for survival, a battle with breast cancer that threatens to silence her music.

Ioana Dumitriu:
Because it has been there for a while, in 2001 I had a mammogram and they saw something and they called me back. They double-checked and I didn't go back until 2004. At that time I felt that something's happening, it grows and things get more complicated. And I decided to get a mammogram. At that time the cancer has already spread to my lymph nodes and now it is stage four and it's spread to my bones, my chest, I don't know, there is cancer activity in my liver and spleen. I really don't want to know exactly.

Larry Lemmons:
One of Ioana's oldest friends is Dimitri Lazarescu. He defected from Romania in the late seventies, as did Ioana's husband, Dan. Dimitri operates the Coffee Buzz in Ahwatukee. He plays with Ioana and Dan in the Phoenix Symphony.

Dimitri Lazarescu:
When I defected, I defected actually being part of her orchestra, which they hired me as a sub to go on a tour in Italy. My understanding is that since her husband defected already, she was not allowed to leave. So therefore they -- they took some subs from my orchestra, and I guess I was the lucky one that I took her place in that orchestra and I defected from that orchestra. So it's very intertwined.

Larry Lemmons:
Ioana's cancer treatments are expensive. Dimitri and many others helped organize a benefit concert for her. Few in the orchestra knew of Ioana's illness. But upon learning the news, the musicians responded quickly and pulled together this concert in three weeks. This is the dress rehearsal of the benefit that was performed that evening.

Jan Septon:
We had about 1200 people attend. That night we -- there was about $17,000 donated. That's how the response has been. Barry Olson, our principal bass player, also addressed the audience. And after that, people in the audience started walking up to musicians with bills, tens, hundreds, fives, it was just amazing.

Ioana Dumitriu:
If I would put all my happy moments together, you know, a big, big bunch, all the happy moments. There were very happy moments in my life. That was so euphoric, that I can't describe, that my colleagues responded this way to help me out. I couldn't tell you that I knew that that's going to be the way. I mean, I -- it was overwhelming.

Coffee Buzz Customer:
Thank you.

Dimitri Lazarescu:
Enjoy.

Dimitri Lazarescu:
God knows how many hard times we've gone through with the orchestra. And she was one of the most supportive people, always with the laughter, making us laugh a little or a lot. She has kind of been supporting us spiritually. And trying to make things right for us, at least from that point of view.

Larry Lemmons:
She had to leave her mother and father behind, when she was finally allowed to follow her husband to America with her small daughter.

Ioana Dumitriu:
Extraordinary pressure, by my mom especially, because I had one child at that time, and she adored my daughter Monika. She was three at the time. She made me feel guilty, I have to say that, feel guilty that I even contemplated to go. And I did -- I had to make a decision, based on the fact that I loved my husband. The fact that I loved my job and I loved freedom. And after 18 months, I was allowed to go in the United States.

Larry Lemmons:
In 1986, Ioana and her daughter became Americans.

Ioana Dumitriu:
I couldn't believe it. American citizens, I grew up in a communist family. I was so proud of it. And yet I taught myself. Do I deserve that? Do I really deserve that?

Larry Lemmons:
Buried underneath this complicated story is the simple truth that, despite the fact the violin has carried her to this place at this time, Ioana has never felt she could express herself fully through the instrument.

Ioana Dumitriu:
My dream was to play better. It's the music I heard in my head, it bothers me that emotionally, the phrasing, it doesn't come as I would like to. The music, I can't express -- the music I feel with the violin, because you need to transfer the emotions to the fiddle.

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