Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 17, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable

  |   Video
  • Don't miss HORIZON's weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Mary Jo Pitzl - Arizona Republic
  • Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services
  • Paul Giblin - East Valley Tribune
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Ted Simons
>>> Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. Joining me to talk about this week's top stories are Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic, Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services and Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune.

Ted Simons
>>> Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio continued his crackdown on illegal immigration this week with a surprise overnight raid at Mesa's city hall and public library. Mesa mayor Scott Smith is furious with the sheriff's action. Paul, what did Smith have to say yesterday? This is turning it up two, three, four notches of the Sheriff of Mesa.

Paul Giblin
>> It's crazy. Joe Arpaio brought people in 60 deputies that were in riot gear. They got janitors, two or three of them in the morning. They didn't tell Mesa what they were doing. According to the mayor, a deputy--not a deputy an officer discovered a deputy getting ready. Talked to Joe Arpaio if and when he notified Mesa. After a long discussion we finally got to the point that he notified Mesa before they went in the front door of the library but necessarily before Mesa's police found them in the park before that.

Ted Simons
>> Literally a battalion of guys in swat gear.

Paul Giblin
>> Right. They were gathering in the park around midnight and went in the door around 2:00 a.m. that's what happened there.

Howard Fischer
>> somehow I--how many times do we do this on the show where he says I'll take the deputies and volunteers and rather than go out and find real criminals and rather than go out and find the guy who broke the window on the car, you know, down the block, rather than find out who burglarized, somehow he believes that this is what the public wants. They want 60 people tied up for hours at a time to capture three illegals.

Paul Giblin
>> This gets to the employers' sanctions law. If he gets that far. He has gotten them for employers--

Howard Fischer
>> That's right the point. They got a tip the city contracted with the company is knowingly hiring and an undercover guy told how to get around this. Until they make a case--the fact is DPS and Phoenix police have been busy capturing active smugglers now for a couple of years.



Mary Jo Pitzl
>> This raises questions about employers' sanctions law since March. We have seen a number of raids down in the name of employer's sanctions. That's a civil penalty. These folks are being arrested under criminal fraud statute. What is employer sanctions? Are they using it as window dressing or tip line to get it on trade?

Howard Fischer
>> I’m shocked. I’m shocked to hear you say that Joe would could do something as window dressing.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>>We are looking at a ballot measure to change the employers' sanctions law. How are the voters to know do we need to change the law when you don't know what the law is doing because they haven't brought the raids.

Paul Giblin
>> Joe Arpaio has a test case because the federal government isn't doing anything. Everyone is looking at him as what he does and he has importance with Maricopa County and not telling the mayor it doesn't look good.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> Did they seize records or anything to allow them to start tracing the alleged illegal employment back to the employer?

Paul Giblin
>> They got the three janitors in the library and 16 more at the homes. They are searching for nine more and apparently they did get to the employment office of the cleaning company to trying to look back.

Howard Fischer
>> That's the point which goes back to Mary Jo's point. There's a civil violation. If you have a subpoena, an order from the judge, you can go look a the employment records. It's not necessary to go in the library at 2:00 a.m. other than get a headline. That's what this is about.

Ted Simons
>> Go back to the logistics here and said they were informed and did nothing, correct?

Paul Giblin
>> Right he said the tipster was a former city employee who went to the Mesa Police Department and told them. Apparently the Mesa Police Department told him to go away and then he we want to Joe Arpaio. That's Joe Arpaio's version of the story. I don't know.

Ted Simons
>> Using resources, undercover officers infiltrating a cleaning station.

Howard Fischer
>> If you are in the group of doing everything you can, that's great. If you are in the group of civil rights or the group that says can we do better? Then he shouldn't have done it. Again, that's the problem that we have here. The other piece of the problem is most of the people in Maricopa County are in independent areas and not dependent on the sheriff for protection. And then the ones that are can't get a deputy at 2:00 a.m. because their at the Mesa library.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> Has political issue coming up before voters. The only place getting complaints filed under the employers' sanctions law is Maricopa County. Outgoing prosecutors say they haven’t heard a lot. They say they are getting hundreds and hundreds of tips. How do you sort it out? What led them to Mesa library at 1:00 a.m.? I feel like it's a game of clue.

Paul Giblin
>> It's an interesting point. There's plenty of offices around the county where their's illegal immigrants cleaning offices. Why did they make this one in Mesa? Maybe they had difficulties with the police chief or difficulties with the mayor's office. I think so.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> I have question about what Mayor Smith's objection is that he was not notified or not the sheriff's perview.

Paul Giblin
>> You have up a the people in the park and police don't know what's going on and may thing there's an invasion going on and gunfire and residents getting shot up. He didn't want to tell them in the past when he told them 48 hours ahead of time he was going to do sweeps and Mesa Police Department puts people out there and bring water for protestors and interfere.

Howard Fischer
>> Somewhere between the 48-hour notification and two-hour notification you do notify the police department when you have 90 deputies sitting out there in swat gear. It might be nice to notice if you see people with AK47s. It's okay, it's our people.

Paul Giblin
>> That's what he's saying.

Howard Fischer
>> After they were discovered.

Paul Giblin
>> After they were discovered.

Ted Simons
>> Wasn't one officer told when he saw the line forming this is a canine training?

Paul Giblin
>> Right. At first they didn't tell them what they were doing.

Ted Simons
>> They say this is interesting of the raid after a brutal 19-minute video of a jail inmate being beaten to death. Paul, talk about the video and ramifications here.

Paul Giblin
>> You call it pretty brutal. It's worse. It's a video of a guy being beaten to death in a jail. Another inmate and had to do the Aryan brotherhood which a white supremacist organization in the jail and they had an argument and going to give a guy a beating. In the cell you can see an inmate beating and head and drags him out on the walkway second story of thing and tried to shove him over the walkway over the common area and couldn't get him through the bars and nasty video.

Howard Fischer
>> The bad publicity for the sheriff's office is we get to see the video and presume there's a monitor in there where in the 19 minutes nobody paid attention. The sheriff's department says we're busy looking at other things and not watching the monitors and raises the questions why do we have the monitors there.

Ted Simons
>> He went further didn't he not only could we not get to that one but there's no reason to change policy or procedure after this evidence?

Howard Fischer
>> Exactly. What they're saying is the deputies supposed to be looking at monitors are doing other things. In fact one of the sheriff's people was on KTAR the other day. We could hire someone to watch the monitors and would cost us millions of dollars to hire someone to watch the monitors as opposed to the millions the county is paying out every time something happens in the jail.

Paul Giblin
>> The victim's family filed a notice they intend to sue the sheriff's office to the tune of $2 million. That could cover a lot of monitor watching. \

Ted Simons
>>We had another supervisors' meeting and what a thing before the day before the supervisors? A little theatrics.

Paul Giblin
>> A little theatrics. They did in the Chavez Plaza. I have to give them credit for the theatrics and had guy in the black judge's road and while curly hair and had witnesses and called them and videotape of Joe Arpaio videotape oh, this is only Democrats after me. Well, bring on Republicans. They had all three, four, five Republicans no I’m against him, too. I have voted for him and not anymore and presented the things we reported about in the investigation in the Tribune and Republic has done some work. They presented all the findings in the lawsuits and murders and going after corn vendors and next hearing they will talk about going after janitors.

Ted Simons
>> And the duct tape across the mouth at the supervisors' meeting.

Paul Giblin
>>The next day the supervisors' meeting the protestors showed up and put duct tape over their mouths shutout by the supervisors.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> This legislature looks down right boring, doesn't it?

Paul Giblin
>> That place of crazy. You think 60 deputies going to the library is bad. They had more than 60 deputies at the board of supervisors' meetings lined up along the walls. There are hidden corridors and they are down there, too, in the riot gear and out in the plaza the deputies were all out there. It's weird for public meeting and we have all been to dozens and hundreds of public of meetings and you don't see a show of force. I was in the French airport and there were not that many armed people hanging around. It was nutty.

Ted Simons
>> Let's move on from that to we got complaints regarding the shielding of donors to something call SCA. Mary Jo what is this about?

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> This is trying to determine who is the mope or what is the money behind ads that ran two weeks ago against sheriff candidate Dan Saban and others. The trail is murky but appears the source of money is from a group called SCA that gave $100,000 to the state Republican Party. The state Republican Party took 78,000 and gave it to Arizona for public safety which supposedly sponsored ads. Everybody--actually this was brought to light by the state Democratic Party, surprise, surprise, trying to unravel the money trail. Wait a minute, there's nothing to show they have that money. They only had $100 in the last campaign finances report. It's possible the money came in after the last dead line. The SCA is identified as unincorporated association of individuals and listed as individual contributor. If you are individual contributor you put the individual's name down. If you have a group, you have to register as a group and disclose our donors. That has not happened.

Ted Simons
>> Wow. SCA reportedly stands for Sheriff's Command Association, what do we make for that?

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> Society's for creative acronism. I ran it through a website called acronym finder.

Ted Simons
>> Will we see anything about the money before Election Day?

Howard Fischer
>> No, nothing moves that fast. There's enough loopholes in the election law. A perfect example. There's a group behind prop 202 which is the looser gutting of the employer sanctions law calmed Wake Up Arizona. They are major contributors to 202. Who is Wake Up Arizona? You can't find out and there's enough loopholes to allow the group to contribute only under the name of wake up Arizona without requiring them to divulge the names of individual donors.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> When SCA was questioned they said we are working on a list. We will get a list. We're asking for a list. At this point they didn't say they were doing it.

Paul Giblin
>> The money seems to be channeled by a man named Joel Fox and Joel Fox is a high-ranking official on Joe Arpaio's staff and we talked to Joe Arpaio about it and he said he didn't know what people are doing with private money. This is an official giving money for an ad against Joe Arpaio's opponent.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> They say they will give back the $105,000 from the allegedly mysterious SCA. Since they don't know who it is, I’m not sure they know who to give it back to. They say they are in the process of returning that money and that is the largest donation that the state Republican Party has received this year. They are going to do a big fund-raiser on Monday. You wonder if that might provide--the money has been spent. The ads aired.

Paul Giblin
>> These were the sleazy ads that some stations didn't run because they were ugly.

Ted Simons
>> I couldn't get you to talk about it.

Paul Giblin
>> I thought about how to discus it on the air.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> Try to bring decorum.

Ted Simons
>> Money matters and election funds stands for now?

Howard Fischer
>> Judge Silver ruled, preliminary ruling that it is illegal in the public financing system to match it. The enacted by voters in 1998 is if you want public money we will give it to you. You do not take private dollars. That's clear and upheld. This issue goes to the fact legislative candidate gets $19,000. No if you are privately funded fellow spends more they will continue to give you more public dollars up to like three times the original amount. Opponents are saying wait a second, every time I spend money you give money to my foe and chills my first amendment rights to spend money because I’m essentially helping my foe. Judge Silver say, yes, it's illegal. It violates the first amendment. That was fine. Then they asked to stop the matches right now and she said wait a second. There are people who relied on the system. They signed up for public financing. They agreed to not take private money. Even if we would let them take private money now they don't have the fund raising mechanisms in place. I'll tell you what, we'll let it stand and have a full-blown trial after the election on November 4th.

Ted Simons
>> Could be a dead concept walking then?

Howard Fischer
>> I think so. Whoever loses in Judge Silver's court automatically goes to the Nineth Circuit. I think it will go to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld public financing it's legal for having a public financing scheme for reducing the appearance of public corruption. What this is amendment rights. This is the Buckley case for years. We need to clear the decision.

Ted Simons
>> I want to touch on story regarding Rick Ramsey and F.B.I. wire taps and interesting concept that he might be shielded by virtually everything.

Paul Giblin
>> He says he is protected because of the separation of the different divisions of the government from legislature and executive from the court and all the calls he is protected even the once with potential illegal activity. That's the argument.


Howard Fischer
>> How do you parse this out? Assume he would only be doing illegal activity in his apartment that's fine. But to the extent that you say, well, I have absolute immunity. What is complicating this is the issue whether he got a benefit for doing something publicly in terms of supporting a specific legislation. Where's that line there? If he's successful somehow, it basically means people can take bribes and never be prosecuted for that because you'll never be able to investigate it because taking bribes is something you have done in public office.

Ted Simons
>> Wire taps on Ramsey by someone apparently in his office.

Paul Giblin
>> Wire taps.

Ted Simons
>> Wire taps and somebody in the office helping the F.B.I. with this.

Paul Giblin
>> Right the F.B.I. used that to further wiretap.

Howard Fischer
>> Here's where it gets tricky, everything that developed on him, all the charges including some stuff on the real estate charges out of Virginia are all based on that if the wire taps get thrown out the legal concept of the fruit of the poisonous tree, the case goes away.

Ted Simons
>> Mary Jo the budget here. Another group not happy about fund sweeps. Gee, what a surprise there.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> A bunch of the health professional associations. These are folks who pay fees to the specific state boards to regulate them. They issue doctors, nurse and pharmacists and regulate and handle complaints and fees pay for it. The legislature is trying to close the $1.2 billion gap last year. April they came along and swept or transferred money that was in these accounts. These groups are now suing saying we want our money back and since you swept us again to balance the current year's budget and we are preparing a complaint about that as well and that will come down soon. On top of the lawsuit filed by AG interests of similar complaint.

Howard Fischer
>> A legal difference is the AG groups raised the money specifically for research a specific purpose. Without the money, they can't do the research. If in fact the board of medical examiners can fulfill their functions and understanding that the state make sure that errant doctors can't go free. It's hard to say money was not taken. This is clearly money gathered--

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> There's argument. It's taxation without representation. I’m a doctor and pay the fee to be regulated and it pays for the janitor to clean all the state offices. That's not what they are paying the money for.



Howard Fischer
>> The insurance companies pay premium taxes. The department of insurance collects far more insurance taxes than it takes to regulate it. There's a precedent. I think you will have a harder time with this one.

Ted Simons
>> I want to move on. We have a few minutes. It sounds like the governor is asking for ideas and budget problems on reducing--do we have any ideas?

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> She put out a suggestion box a virtually on line suggestion box to send in ideas how the state government could save money. We are looking at her estimation 350 to $800 million deficit. Lawmakers see a bigger sum. Any port in the storm.

Howard Fischer
>> There are probably people who see reports that are being duplicated and things like that if you work this agency you can come up with. At this point I think she's thrown up her hands and look, we have do cutting. I have to show I have covered every base and looked under every rock.

Ted Simons
>> Does she have to show she's working hard on this as far as campaigning for Barack Obama?

Howard Fischer
>> She said in the quote we can multi-task and royal we. Anyway I work all weekend. It's okay that I went to New Mexico and Colorado to campaign for Obama and he would be good for Arizona more so than the Arizona senator.

Mary Jo Pitzl
>> She does need to show she is working hard on the budget. Who knows what will happen with the election if she will be called to Washington and accept the call. This state has a big budget problem and sooner you get to work on it. It's being to be painful.

Howard Fischer
>> She's leaving it for Governor Jan Brewer.

Ted Simons
>> Okay, boy, you start that. Last question here. Yes or no, were you shocked that Joe the plumber had Arizona connections?

Howard Fischer
>> No, everyone seems to have an Arizona connection. He's Joe of Arizona.

Paul Giblin
>> I’m with Howie.

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