Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 10, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


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  • Howard Fischer - of
Category: Journalists Roundtable

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>> Michael Grant:
It's Friday, June 10, 2005. In the headlines this week, Governor Janet Napolitano calling for a summit to address the issue of enforcement of immigration laws.

>> Michael Grant:
Arizona Supreme Court almost has a new chief justice, while three finalists have been selected to fill the current vacancy on the court.

>> Michael Grant:
And debate underway at the capitol on how to use record tax revenues the state has been collecting, thanks in large part to the real estate boom.

>> Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by the friends of channel 8, members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. This is the Journalists' Roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Howie Fischer of "Capitol Media Services." Doug MacEachern from "The Arizona Republic." Chip Scutari, also from "The Arizona Republic."

>> Michael Grant:
During her weekly news conference with reporters, Governor Janet Napolitano talked about her recent veto to enforce federal immigration laws. Howie, how did she explain that particular veto?

>> Howard Fischer:
Well, while she was busy trying to be on both sides of the immigration issue on Prop 200, she decided she needed to say, "look, I had a bill before me that would have permitted -- not even required -- but simply permitted local police to enforce federal immigration law, and I vetoed that, but yet I'm calling a summit next month in Flagstaff to find out a role for local and state police to enforce immigration law." So we pushed her on that and we said "excuse me what are we missing here, it is just permissive, it would be a mandate because there would be an expectation that police would have to do it, otherwise people like Russell Pearce would question the police agencies", and she said "that's why I decided it could become law." I think the real issue is political. I think the Governor has -- I know you are shocked to hear that there is politics raging at the capitol.

>> Chip Scutari:
That's incredible.

>> Howard Fischer:
Chip, you are young, you can't help it. You are naive about this stuff.

>> Chip Scutari:
I'm not seeing that.

>> Howard Fischer:
This has been a very tricky situation for the Governor since voter of approval of Prop 200 which was passed by something like 12 points, and the Governor, who didn't like Prop 200, who had CATERED a lot to the Hispanic and immigrant audiences. She had previously vetoed a Bill on voter ID by going to a conference of Hispanic Americans, has found herself having to take a tough stance on immigration issues, yet not let a lot of real things happen.

>> Michael Grant:
Doug, she tiptoed her way through this legislative mine field, signed a few, vetoed several. The question would be did she tip toe successfully through the minefield.

>> Doug MacEachern:
I think in some ways she did. You have to keep in mind that the political history -- not the political, but the on-the-ground real history of the police involvement in helping INS or border officials enforce immigration law. You go back to what happened in Chandler several years ago, and you know that those situations are very volatile. That was a badly handled situation in and of its own right. I remember that --

>> Michael Grant:
A large sweep, as I recall.

>> Doug MacEachern:
A massive sweep. It was targeted toward an area of Chandler where a lot of day laborers had been congregating and local people had complained about it, but the police went in with INS with really vague instructions which were, you know, particularly for people who smell bad. And this was a bad way to handle it, and it could not have turned out worse. That's something that Napolitano is keeping in mind when she is approaching this thing.

>> Chip Scutari:
I think Howie made a halfway decent point -- I hate to admit -- this is partly political. In 2006, Republicans are doing polls now, they know this illegal immigration actually moves the polls, which gets people to the polls, and they are saying, hey, they can paint her as weak on illegal immigration. Whether that's fair or not it doesn't really matter. When it comes to next year, they are going to hit her with this, maybe income tax cuts and a few other issues, but they could say she is soft, she doesn't -- she has vetoed the will of the people, the provisional ballots.

>> Michael Grant:
Vetoed the consular ID bill.

>> Howard Fischer:
And the other thing on the ballot will be declaring English the official language. You will have that issue there, and the Governor hasn't really taken a strong stance on that, but she's going to, you know, Chip and I will show up at Wednesday briefings and keep hammering her until she does.

>> Doug MacEachern:
Just looking at it from the police predictor, by the way, this is a head banging issue that this conference -- at this conference they are going to ask to come up with some role that they might play. It sort of reminds me of the position that police were put in when they were asked to define racial profiling, how to avoid it. Well, in some -- in some cases you are talking about a term of art, and it's very difficult to define that for anybody but the beholder.

>> Michael Grant:
If you get, though, a properly trained force, this is undoubtedly going to be an enormously popular idea. Well, in fact, even if you don't get a properly trained force, I think it will be an enormously popular idea.

>> Doug MacEachern
: It might be a very popular idea, but in practice it is going to be difficult.

>> Howard Fischer:
Let me go a step beyond that. Part of the reason police agencies hate this, aside from whether it's an unfounded mandate or the public expects them to, you talk to police chiefs, you talk to the cops in the field, they say, look, we have sources in the Hispanic and in the immigrant community. We want to know who is committing serious crimes, rape, burglary and murder. We want to find out who the coyotes are. If the immigrant community think when we come in, we're going to be checking their legal status, the sources dry up. That's why the cops hate this.

>> Michael Grant:
All right. Let's move to the Florez case, the English language learning case. Did the Governor make any progress on coming up with plan (B) after she vetoed plan (A)?

>> Chip Scutari:
She vetoed that bill May 20th which got the Republicans in a huff because they sent her a bill to satisfy this long-standing federal court order. She told us on Wednesday at her we weekly briefly she would have a Florez bill in 10 days, probably sooner than that, actually, because they are working hard on it. They will want to spend more money the Republicans, about 42 million. So she's trying to kind of put the ball back in their court. They said "hey, Governor, you vetoed this." We're still under a court order, the judge will be upset, so her game plan is to do something fast, get it to them saying, hey, guys, here's my plan, let's work on this together. It's kind of her first effort at saying, come on, let's all come back to the table and work together.

>> Howard Fischer:
There is a whole series of problems in this. First of all, you are assuming that Republicans don't want to do battle with the federal judge in Tucson, who they believe has gone beyond his rights to talk about what the state can do. Now, of course, this is a fight they should have raised three years ago when they never appealed the first judge's opinion. The other problem is there is some Republicans who say, look, this is all part of the budget deal. You also promised to sign tuition tax credits with a five-you review, versus a five-year sunset that she felt they had. Some of them are saying until she makes good on that promise, we're not going to deal with Florez.

>> Michael Grant:
Has it cooled off at all? Obviously feelings are running very high. Are they running any lower now?

>> Chip Scutari:
I don't think so. I think the Republicans are still pretty steamed. I think the Governor has finally realized the full extent of their -- what would you call it --

>> Michael Grant:
Ire.

>> Chip Scutari:
Good word -- ire. She is trying to work these things out, tuition tax credits with the Florez bill, but I don't think her and her staff realized how upset the Republican leaders are going to be. House speaker Jim Weiers can be ornery and grumpy at times, but he is legitimately up set with her for breaking her word and so is the senate president Ken Bennitt. This is the last thing she wants to do heading into an election year.

>> Doug MacEachern:
Not to draw attention to my own pages or anything, but the "The Arizona Republic" has played that out just this past week at the legislature. What they've been arguing all along, and the Governor coming along afterwards and saying, let's cool it off.

>> Chip Scutari:
And the Florez bill is couched in the umbrella of illegal immigration law it's the same mix now.

>> Howard Fischer:
Exactly. They are saying that the kids we are educating we are teaching English to are illegal themselves, so they are children of illegal immigrants. Now, the fact is federal law requires you educate all kids, no matter their legal status, at least K through 12. But again, I think the Republicans have done a lot of these things and done some polling and seen which way the wind is blowing, and they figure as Chip says, '06, immigration issues, English issues, definitely a winner.

>> Michael Grant:
Three finalists have been selected as a possible replacement for the soon-to-be retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Bud Jones. Doug, who made the list?

>> Doug MacEachern:
Maricopa superior court presiding judge, Colin Campbell. Appeals Court Judge Anne Scott Timer, and Scott Bales, an attorney who everyone seems to be pretty much convinced has got the apple of the Governor's eye.

>> Michael Grant:
Working the Attorney General's Office when Janet Napolitano was attorney general?

>> Doug MacEachern:
They have a long history. The rap on Scott Bales is that he has a political history as well as working closely with the Governor and there are some conservative groups that have complained about the fact that he -- I think took some time out to work with political campaigns, including Janet's, if I'm not mistaken.

>> Howard Fischer:
But the problem is that somewhere, all of these bright people do not understand the roles of attorneys. I don't question that Scott is a good Democrat. Although, if you look at his record, he was a Democrat, then a Republican and then a Democrat. We'll talk about the depths of that commitment. He certainly worked on her campaign when she was running for governor. When she was fighting over the state legislature over the legality of the -- he did work as a state solicitor general for Governor Hull, when she was battling issues of Indian gaming. He has done work for different people. He is an advocate. He's a very good advocate, and I was talking to some of the attorneys who have been up against him who don't believe what he believes but say he would be a very qualified judge. The issue here -- the larger issue, in terms of what's going on, is the Center for Arizona Policy knows the importance of the Supreme Court on issues coming up, including the upcoming gay marriage issue. The same question --

>> Michael Grant:
Single subject rule.

>> Howard Fischer:
This is a fun one. The state constitution says amendments to the constitution may have only one subject. The proponents of this say this is a single subject, we're preserving marriage. You could actually look at it as having three subjects. No same-sex marriage, no domestic partner benefits, and no civil unions. And what the foes are going to argue is that people who might support a ban on gay marriage might not support anything else. Scott Bales could be a deciding judge in that case, so they are very unhappy.

>> Michael Grant:
Now --

>> Chip Scutari:
I don't know about Howie, but I've never run into anyone who questions his legal skills or that he would not make an excellent justice. He went to Harvard law school, brilliant, judicial temperament, well thought of by Republicans and Democrats.

>> Howard Fischer:
But he slit his own throat a little bit. I sat through the hearings where the six applicants were re-reviewed by the commission on appellate court appointments. One of the canned questions they have is they read them a quote about judges should never let their morality interfere with the outcome of the case. Five of the judge applicants said well, of course that's true, and Scott, outthinking it the lawyer in Scott is saying, well, I don't agree. If the black letter of the law is clear, of course, that's governs it, but if the law isn't so clear, well, maybe a judge's morality should put in. That worries people like Kathy Herod, who is the lobbyist and said this is going to be another activist judge.

>> Chip Scutari:
I'll go out on a limb, though, and say one thing, the center for Arizona lobbying and Scott Bales will get them as far as lobbying for the Governor the informed consent bill. I'm safe with that bet.

>> Doug MacEachern:
Final word on that, it's almost a shame that there is actually some kind of controversy over this because all in all, he is a fine candidate.

>> Howard Fischer:
The other larger agenda is the whole selection process. Certain groups want to scrap the quote, unquote, and merit selection process. In 1947 we amended the state constitution to say Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and superior court of Pima and Maricopa County, applicants are screened by special panels. They send at least three names to the Governor, no more than 2 of which can be from the same party. The Governor has to choose from that list. That person becomes the judge. What these people want is senate confirmation or at least give the senate 90 days to review it, and the question is, you know, are we going to have a system like Washington, or are we going to have something else? The real agenda here is to change the judicial selection process.

>> Michael Grant:
There have been a variety of different proposals popping up frequently. Did Ruth McGregor sort of comment a little bit on the phenomena today when she was sworn in as the new chief justice?

>> Howard Fischer:
Yes, it was a fairly standard inaugural speech for a justice who becomes the newest chief justice, but she also warned that if, in fact, people do not understand the role of the judiciary and they see judges standoffish and not accountable, the judiciary will lose independents. While the judges are separate, they recognize what's going on two blocks up at the state legislature. They saw the attacks on merit selection. They saw the attacks on the court's rule-making powers, and they recognize that if it comes down to lawmakers versus judges who are lawyers, they will lose. So they need to do a better PR effort.

>> Michael Grant:
Doug, Arizona passed medical marijuana not once, but twice, but the United States Supreme Court -- it's "just say no."

>> Doug MacEachern:
It's that darn interstate commerce clause. That is a really good transition. 63 vote with some interesting juxtapositions of jurists in that decision, but the long precedent of the interstate commerce clause and its ability to work its way into just about every facet of activity in which money changes hands, won out. I thought it was just fascinating that Justice Scalia was --

>> Michael Grant:
Two of the conservatives came over.

>> Doug MacEachern:
Although Justice Thomas, I thought, did a very good dissenting opinion.

>> Howard Fischer:
This is a fascinating issue. The constitution gives the U.S. Government the power to regulate interstate commerce. Congress has used it from everything from violence against women act or guns in school zones act, that guns could cross-state lines and the Supreme Court struck them down. They go back there and the assumption was people would see this as a state's rights issue. Do the doctors in Arizona, subject to the rules adopted by the people of the State of Arizona, have a right to decide marijuana should be allowed. You know what the court uses as a precedent. Growing wheat, that somehow there was a court case going back to a 1930s law that says congress may regulate the growing of wheat, even if you are growing it in your own backyard for your own use because it's a commodity. If you eat wheat in your backyard it affects commerce.

>> Chip Scutari:
I'm glad we heard from Howie. He does doctoral thesis on the uses of benefits of medical marijuana.

>> Michael Grant: He has been this program go-to guy on drug issues for a long time.

>> Howie Fischer: Well, you know, you go where the knowledge is. I'm a child of the '60s. I went to college in the '60s, folks, guess what, folks, I never exhaled.

>> Michael Grant: Bottom line is, there is nothing the states can do. Either congress will intervene or it won't, but that's --

>> Howie Fischer: That really is it. You really need congressional legislation now. Unless you want to somehow suggest that there is another state's right argument, but it seems with this decision, there is no place else to go. The Supreme Court has said the use of any schedule 1 drug, any drug that congress has determined to be highly susceptible to abuse, is within the purview of congress.

>> Doug MacEachern: And because we've got so much legal authority right here at this table, that's why we're focusing on this particular illegal issue, but the practical implications of the law are slightly different in that these two plaintiffs who have lost, nevertheless made their may continue to do what they are doing just because the -- while the state law may be superseded by the federal law, the Feds aren't going to go walking in and start enforcing it.

>> Michael Grant:
I think the chill is far more on the Docs than ladies growing it in their back yards. That's subject for another show. Arizona tax collections in April setting a new record topping $1 billion with a B, dollars. Chip, Channel 8's causing the surge in revenues.

>> Chip Scutari:
The economy is picking up because of the hot housing market. As Robbie Sherwood pointed out in his excellent story this week, Elliot Pollack said we have to be careful here that there is not a dot.com bubble burst like the dot.com burst three or four years ago. But this gives the Governor and legislature something to argue about. We were looking at a 1.3 billion dollar deficit, now we're going to look at some revenues coming in and we have some money to play with. So it's really going to come down to priorities next year which will be fun in an election year.

>> Doug MacEachern:
Help me with this. The money is going into the general fund as opposed to the rainy day fund where a lot of Republican lawmakers are suggesting it go. That's what the Governor is urging.

>> Michael Grant:
I think she vetoed a bill that would have directed it there.

>> Doug MacEachern:
Right. Is that not an invitation for that money to be put into the hopper which would snow ball into future budgets and cause the very problem that Elliot Pollack is addressing?

>> Chip Scutari:
Yeah, I think it's going to come down the priorities of the Republican led legislature versus the Governor. It's all going to be work out, you know, in the next couple of years. What the Governor did, what we touched on, she vetoed a bill. The Republicans are big on this rainy day fund, save money, she wants it to go to the ending balance, and it's a lot easier to get at where they can tap the money faster. That's kind of the conservative versus liberal spending priorities.

>> Howard Fischer:
That becomes the issue. If you have a windfall, you use it on one-time expenses. There are certain things that you can do in terms of certain building construction and such. If you put it into the budget base, like the Florez case, which could be anywhere from $30-$200 million, if you say we're going to use this there and say we don't need to raise taxes or cut any other programs, we've been around this table now for 24 years. We've seen the cycle in Arizona's economy. We know this can't keep up, particularly when you look at the source of these extra revenues, it's not personal income per se. It's not that people are making more, but it's some capital gains and other things that increased the revenues.

>> Doug MacEachern:
But I do see a lot of pressure there for it to go toward Florez among other programs, but certainly there.

>> Michael Grant:
Now, do we know -- I realize we're still what, about three weeks out from the end of the fiscal year -- but do we have any idea of what the amount of money is going to be left over at the end of the budget year yet?

>> Chip Scutari:
I think it's up to $300 million, similar to -- like we mentioned before, you know, George Cunningham and Governor Napolitano are going to want to put those into different social programs, maybe different spending programs, expanse for all day K, Eileen Klein might want to put it into income tax cuts or send it into the rainy day fun. It's going to be a fun debate over the next year or so. I'd be shocked really if the Republicans don't send her up a big income tax bill in an election bill. One thing that unites Republicans is income tax.

>> Howard Fischer:
That's another issue in terms of permanent versus temporary revenues. If you cut taxes for just one year, then the base goes to where it was. If you cut the tax rate, it then takes a two-thirds vote of the legislature to resort tax rate where it needs to be when the economy goes south. That's impossible to get. That's going to be the big debate here.

>> Michael Grant:
Politics, who is going to help out Senator McCain if he decides to run for president in 2008.

>> Chip Scutari:
An interesting story from Mark McKinnon, who if you know the Bush family dynasty, they are close knit, tight, loyal group. Mark has been a long-time companion and friend of the president. He's gone bike riding with him. He is a main need media advisor in his presidential elections. And McCain met with him, which is a big signal that McCain is trying to grab a lot of the bush guys to support him in 2008 if he runs. On face value, it doesn't look like a big deal, but if you know the Bush political team, mark McKinnon must have talked to Carl rove and said I'm going to meet with McCain, is that okay with you. If you are a McCain fan, he's trying to get the best and brightest on his side to help him in 2008, especially during these conservative primaries where people are going to question his conservative credentials.

>> Doug MacEachern:
People have accused John of having a long political memory for a long time, and not forgetting those who have transgressed him, but that 2000 campaign which this gentleman was involved in was really bitter, especially when they got down to South Carolina. And for McCain to recognize the value in this guy despite all of that, is an interesting development.

>> Chip Scutari:
There has been talk that because McCain flew all over the country for Bush when he needed him most there has been a mending of the ways between the Bush and McCain parties, so this might be another signal of that, that McCain has gotten over the bitterness of the South Carolina primary, one of the most bitter political contests in recent memory.

>> Michael Grant:
Any indication that the rather formidable fund raising capabilities would be lent to Senator McCain? It seems to me that might be a sharp point of interest.

>> Chip Scutari:
Yeah, I think that's still to be determined in the next year or two, but senator make McCain will make a move in the next year or so. People expect him to make one last run at the Whitehorse.

>> Michael Grant:
Governor Napolitano is going to Chile?

>> Chip Scutari:
Yes for an international trade mission. Last year she went to London, England for a few days.

>> Chip Scutari:
What did she bring back?

>> Chip Scutari:
What was it? Economic development at its finest.

>> Doug MacEachern:
400 employees.

>> Howard Fischer:
She went to talk to a group on international trade. She said look, it's easy to say these are just sort of junkets Burks they produce results. The reason we got this plant in Casa Grande which manufactures parts for fire sprinkler systems is because she ran into a guy over there who heads this British company that makes piping, tubing, parts for sprinklers, and they got to talking about he wants to build a plant in the United States, and she said, "funny thing, we had some interesting development opportunities in Arizona. We have money from our Department of Commerce to train people, and we can land you here." She is hoping that the same thing happens in Chile. That's an interesting choice for two reasons. Number one, it's the only country other than Mexico that we have an international trade agreement with, and number two, there are certain links already with Chile because of things like Phelps Dodge.

>> Michael Grant:
All right, thank you very much, panelists. We're out of time. If you would like to see a transcript of tonight's program visit the web site at www.azpbs.org. When you get there, please click on the word "Horizon." That's going to lead you to transcripts, links and information on upcoming shows. Monday we'll talk about a decision affecting the Colorado River water supply. Tuesday a "Horizon" special, fire, that's a look at the state of forest and desert conditions and politics of fire policy, as well as the history of fire suppression. Wednesday, a debate on the impact of proposition 200. Thursday, we'll talk about efforts to guide the development of a 275-square mile area in Pinal County. Thanks for joining us on a Friday. Have a great weekend. I'm Michael Grant. Good night.

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