Ted Simons: Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton joins us to talk about a variety of issues facing the city each month. Tonight it includes historic decisions on same-sex marriage and voter registration law. Here is Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton. Good to see you.
Greg Stanton: Glad to be back.
Ted Simons: I want to talk about ethics reform -- the Supreme Court reared its head and the United States Senate with immigration reform. Your thoughts on what the Senate did today?
Greg Stanton: I am proud of our two Senators from Arizona, Senator McCain and Senator Flake took a courageous political stand to be part of the gang of that was the framework for the bill. I'm really excited there was a bill gone through the United States Senate a yes votes. I believe no region of the country will benefit more from comprehensive immigration reform than the Phoenix region. Our region. Obviously the politics the house are much different. I hope and pray they do the right thing, don't play politics, understand this is the best long term interests of our country, but I'm -- cautiously optimistic.
Ted Simons: Let's look at it from both sides. Those still opposed say this is amnesty by any other name and anything that involves granting people who are here illegally, any sort of break regarding citizenship, should not be allowed.
Greg Stanton: I politely but strongly disagree with that position. Look, our diverse population here in this region is one of our great elf strengths. Phoenix is about to be a majority Latino city. The Dream Act kids came here through no fault of their own. They are graduating high school, hopefully moving to college, they want to serve in the military. Why would you want to deny that person to fully participate? Those are leaders of our future. Those who take a dogmatic approach are taking the wrong approach. The bill in the Senate is by any definition a compromise bill that involves very tough border security measures. It does have a tough but fair path to citizenship, and by the way, it has provisions that allow people with technical degrees to stay here in the United States so they can start businesses. It's good for the economy. By any measure this is not a one-sided bill and deserves the support in the house.
Ted Simons: The other side would say the security, the surge here, was too much. 35-some odd billion dollars for security. Too much to sway Republicans and that some would say tough but fair, some say it's too tough, it's not fair.
Greg Stanton: Even the gang of eight before they had the surge had very tough and strong positions relative to border security. So I think this bill is strong on border security. The issue is, is it too much. The answer is instead of just throwing people at the border should be based on need. How many are occurring, what's the level of violence. It shouldn't be just throw a raw number at it, do it based on the actual needs. But let me tell you something I have learned in the public affairs business being in the leadership position. That is you're never going to get everything you want in a bill. Compromise is a necessary part of leadership. The Senate bill is a compromise bill and deserves support of the House of Representatives.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about the Supreme Court decisions. Start with same-sex marriage. Your thoughts on DOMA being -- whittled down and certainly affected here greatly.
Greg Stanton: First it says under federal law federal employees cannot be treated differently, gay couples cannot be treated differently than straight couples. It's a smart strategy from an employment perspective. You want to recruit and retain the very best no matter their nationality, religion or sexual orientation. Obviously it's going to inevitably lead to saying state bans are illegal as well. I think it's a march towards history, a march towards equality. I have taken the position and I certainly believe that when it comes to the issue of marriage equality should be the standard across our country. Love is love. It should be respected no matter what the relationship but from an employment perspective, from the city of Phoenix perspective we want policies that embrace diversity. That's good for the future of our city.
Ted Simons: With Arizona that particular ruling doesn't impact same-sex marriage here in Arizona at all.
Greg Stanton: Well, you say it doesn't impact it, inevitably there's going to be lawsuits against state bans on marriage equality. I believe that the precedent set in this DOMA as justice Scalia pointed out in his dissent will likely be used because it's a constitutional standard will likely be used as a way to say that any discrimination on the issue of a marriage, any attempt to not allow equality on the issue of marriage is likely a violation of our country's constitution. It's an important civil rights issue of our day. The march towards justice is heading in the right direction in my opinion.
Ted Simons: Supreme Court ruled on plea clearance section of the voting rights act. This seemed as if they basically said that it is antiquated, something that was in the past, not necessary for now. What do you say?
Greg Stanton: I politely disagree with the Supreme Court on this one. I think it's a very low burden. As we make changes in our voting laws to make sure that our growing diverse population, particularly Latino community, has a full, fair opportunity to participate in the system. So getting pre-clearance on any changes in our voting to make sure we're embracing the diversity that is here, making sure everyone is encouraged to participate in the electoral system is very low. Congress just overwhelmingly reauthorized the act just a few years ago. So I don't understand why the Supreme Court would step in on that one.
Ted Simons: But for those who support the decision in that case they say you change a polling place from one corner to another you have to go to the Department of Justice for clearance. Does that make sense?
Greg Stanton: Well, I would politely argue that it may not make sense in every single instance however pre-clearance is a relatively small burden. You just have to submit it in advance. They signed off on tons of changes in our electoral system over the course of many years. The protection that it provides to make sure that any changes in our voting law whether intended or not have a disproportionate impact particularly on African-American residents, Asian residents, Latino residents, taking that extra step to make sure we have a system that embraces them, gives them a full opportunity to participate, I think it's a very low burden.
Ted Simons: I know ethics reform is being looked at city hall. What does ethics reform mean? Why would it be necessary?
Greg Stanton: I believe that it's incredibly important people look at the decisions we make and have confidence those decisions are made in the public interest, not by some back room deal or deals with lobbyists. This is part of a larger transparency policy at the city. I want the public to understand everything that goes on with the city. Under current rules if an elected official has engaged in inappropriate behavior it's awkward because there have to be council members acting against other council members. We set up a separate system of judges that would look at any complaint and make a recommendation. The council would ensure more due process but also an outside group that would make that recommendation. It also involves a lot more disclosure. If I attend an event for some nonprofit organization that has to be disclosed so people can see everything that you are doing. It lets the sunshine in.
Ted Simons: Critics, you mentioned luncheon, something along these lines, when does a luncheon become a gift? Is that something for the panel of judges?
Greg Stanton: Under state law any time you go to a nonprofit dinner it's technically a gift. Our point is I don't think anyone wants to stop elected officials from being in a leadership role. I speak all the time at many nonprofit organizations. I want to help promote them. What this will require is that you now have to disclose that. Online you'll be able to search any luncheon or dinner which I have gone to and spoken on behalf of a nonprofit. That will be out in the public and the public will have that full information.
Ted Simons: How far is this going to go? Is it going to happen?
Greg Stanton: It passed city council. It's going to take a while to put in place. The outside group of judges, our ethics panel. We're having the city attorney make sure we define gift. Nobody wants to have in place a system where an elected official going to chase jobs in California, bring him here, we stop that from happening. We want to make sure we define these things exactly right. It's being implemented now and you'll see it in place in the very near future.
Ted Simons: Good to have you here.
Greg Stanton: I enjoy it every time.