Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 11, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable


  • 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
  • Mike Sunnucks - Business Journal
  • Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
It's Friday, April 11th, 2008. In the headlines this week we'll talk Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his immigration crackdowns, we'll discuss possible funding for English language learners and a Phoenix mountain gets an official name change. That's next on "Horizon."

Ted Simons:
Good Evening, I'm Ted Simons and this is the "Journalists Roundtable." joining me, Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic, Mike Sunnucks of the Business Journal, and Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is defending what he calls his "crime suppression" crackdowns. Hi, Mike. Mesa P.D. is coming out and saying give us some warning and by the way, we need help and news of the crackdown.

Mike Sunnucks:
He went to the neighborhoods and went to mesa and what they said was they were not getting any warning. They want to be able to know when they were coming in and be prepared for the circus and protest and hoopla that happens. Joe continues to say he will continue to do these things and enforce the law. More folks are jumping on the band wagon against these things. Because of the uproar they create.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
If you remember he went into Mesa partially at the invitation of people. You have individuals in the community who want this in there.

Mike Sunnucks:
These were the hard line immigration folks. I think a big danger for Joe Arpaio is the posse folks and minutemen folks hard line 2 extremists that are tagging along. Some of the headlines are very anti-Hispanic and if Joe is on that, that can do damage.

Howard Fischer:
That's the whole thing my deputy and posse is being checked. I'm wondered how many blond, blue-eyed people are being stopped. Are there no other problems in Maricopa county with criminals and warrants and speeding?

Mike Sunnucks:
There's a backlog of those. They are questioning why the folks are out here picking up folks for broken taillights when you have real service.

Howard Fischer:
Because there's no T.V. cameras on those.

Ted Simons:
We had the mayor here last night on "horizon" and he said it seems they are not getting enough heads up warning from the sheriff that he's coming in and do a possible uproar.

Howard Fischer:
Joe doesn't believe he reports to anyone maybe to god but I'm not sure what his priorities are there either. He believes the sheriff and case law to suggest he is the all-power law enforcement officer in the county. That doesn't mean you don't want to coordinate. If he doesn't want to coordinate, that's fine but they have to say, look, I have a police department. We need to know. When we have 80 crazy calls, we need to know if they are deputies or illegals.

Mike Sunnucks:
They have been trained by ice and other county sheriffs are 3 doing this to check status. There's a split. The elites, the mayors, the police chiefs and business leaders and political folks are having a problem with it, rank and file folks with pitch forks generally supports that. And Joe taps into that populous base.

Ted Simons:
How far does he go?

Howard Fischer:
Until he is sued or somebody dies.

Ted Simons:
That's a point. Does it have to go that far?

Howard Fischer:
Oh, yeah. This is a guy despite all the lawsuits that he lost on the various issues continues to use some of the say policies and continues to insists the U.S. supreme court is wrong to having to transport women for abortions until somebody dies and turns against him and turns violent.

Mike Sunnucks:
The dangers of the confederate flag folk's minutemen, a lot of them are carrying guns and it's tense there. Its guys not deputies but the hanger on the extremists that tie on and spark something.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
This leads to another measure moving through the legislature, they are looking for a measure to acquire local police to ask people about their status. Are you allowed to be legally present in the United States? That goes back to another debate that's being going on a long time. You wonder if that were to become policy or state law, what effect would that have on the sweeps?

Howard Fischer:
I don't know. Again as long as it's equally enforced, it's not a problem. The question is somebody with your hair color and your eyes going to get asked the same question that perhaps somebody a little browner will get asked.

Mike Sunnucks:
It's a police state thing. We have a libertarian streak here and people's anger over immigration. We like our freedom and liberty. Are you going to have to carry papers around especially Hispanic folks to prove you're an American citizen.

Ted Simons:
That bill you were talking about gives them another tool to say are you here? Are you here illegally?

Howard Fischer:
This is 287g federal training. If you don't have that, you can't enforce federal law. They will piggy back and say if you are here in violation of federal law, you are violating state trespass law. Never mind if the police don't have the authority if you are in violation of federal law somehow the rank and file police at least thinks they can rile folks.

Ted Simons:
Let's move to ell funding.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
This is for English language learners for 138,000 students in public schools having trouble learning English. They are non-native speakers. The state devised a program two years ago and now they need funding. A federal judge came up for Tuesday, tax day as it is, to come up with plan that's based on a rational funding formula. They came up with 40 million. It was an interesting debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday when it was finally dragged to the floor for the vote. Democrats who generally believe in the ell bill, the 40 million is not enough. They object to the low-level of funding. They decided we will not vote until every republican has voted. This led to a very interesting session where they said come on, folks. We need you to vote. They grabbed people out of the house senate and said we need you here to vote. Finally they had to resort to a role call vote usually not needed because you vote electronically. Nobody was voting. They had 25 republican votes. Once they started the role call, everybody showed their colors and ultimately it passed.

Howard Fischer:
It got out of senate finally yesterday. Curiously enough this time the republicans didn't have enough by themselves to get it out. Several people. Ron Gould said why are we paying anything? He says 40 million is too much. It's the federal government's fault. They let all the illegals in. The democratic leader says look, I don't like it. I don't think it's enough. The alternative is Tuesday's deadline that Mary Jo was talking about $2 million a day and not by may 15th, $5 million a day. We can quickly eat up 40 million.

Mike Sunnucks:
Will this end it? Or do you get more trips to. San Francisco?

Howard Fischer:
We are hoping for that. In fact, you know, Mary Jo and I have the hotel picked out.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
The next big step is it's on the governor's desk. She'll probably act on it Monday. If she veto's it, oh, boy, that's interesting.

Mike Sunnucks:
How much legal fees we've wasted, inflation. If they could have sat down, I don't know, five years ago or seven years ago and figured it out.

Howard Fischer:
Five or seven years ago people still had diverse ideas. Until they were forced to table, there were those who said a good percentage of these kids are here illegally or U.S. citizens or because their parents entered illegal. They didn't want to fund anything. You had other folks that showed studies 1,500 to $2,000 per student and we are providing $365. It took this to get them this far.

Ted Simons:
Mary Jo, isn't this de facto veto? Additional money and tom horn says they don't need the additional because they have it. $40 million. Some districts with the most English language learner's get nothing.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
Tim Hogan who is representing the plaintiffs is getting ready to go back to court and it will drag on in court. In the meantime the 40 million if the governor signs it into the law, it will be distributed to the schools according to the formula that the superintendent of public instruction came up 7 with and people critical said something's better than nothing.

Howard Fischer:
That's really the key, Tim Hogan will argue a, insufficient, b, formula for it is bad and, c, formula for division is bad. I don't know what the judge will do. The judge said I'm willing to do something. Does he give it a year or bounce it immediately?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
In the mean time the schools have to start being able to offer four hours of intensive English language instruction with the fall semester. As the money gets distributed, will they be able to hire enough teachers? Classroom space? Text materials?

Mike Sunnucks:
I would like to see how we rethink our approach to bilingual education. We have measures and others are opposed. Other countries embrace more than one language. It's a good thing in the workplace for people to know Spanish and English and you see the Europeans do that. If we move away from the English-only mind set we have.

Howard Fischer:
No, no, no, no. How many years have you been in Arizona, Michael?

Mike Sunnucks:
I know Sheriff Joe is popular so I know why we have the mind set. It's a systemic thing we have to look at. We need to embrace Spanish language.

Ted Simons:
State temporary workers where is this standing now?

Howard Fischer:
Versions of this had gotten out of committee and one in the house and one in the senate. The idea is if the feds won't act, okay, we'll do our own temporary worker program. No mind we need federal approval. 8 the big hang-up is how broad it is. A lot of people acknowledge the agriculture industry needs workers. As John McCain said Americans are not willing to work picking lettuce in Yuma for $15 an hour. We can't get people to wash dishes. I'm sorry. The question is you are not paying enough. We have a rising unemployment rate. A lot of lawmakers say why should we depress wages to keep McDonald's or Denny's happy when you have to raise the price?

Mike Sunnucks:
We've always had immigrant workers and folks building the railroads. Building wind mills. You have to get the feds to sign off. The feds can't pass the guest worker program no matter who is in control.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
It's a message bill and it would set up the framework if anybody in Washington were ever to approve this. It's not clear who has the authority to approve a guest worker program. Would it be congress? Or would it be the department of homeland security? Would it be the department of labor? The executive branch? Legislative branch?

Mike Sunnucks:
There's no caps on it, right? Every business can say, hey, I can't find an American to work. Let me hire somebody from Mexico.

Howard Fischer:
That's part of the argument. We made an effort and can't find 9 people. Yeah, what price?

Ted Simons:
It strikes me a lot of things in the bills the employers have to go extra yards.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
It stipulates you have to demonstrate there's a labor shortage in your field. But how is that demonstrated? What do you turn to for your indicators?

Ted Simons:
What about the workers here in America, the idea they have to go back. If they go back, they can't come back for 10 years.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
They're not touched by this legislation.

Howard Fischer:
That's the point. The people working for firms and warren hills employer sanctions kicked in can't be helped. You have to go to the U.S. consulate to apply. The workers are trained. The workers that bill said he had to get rid of at the iron factory are gone.

Ted Simons:
Let's move on here.

Ted Simons:
Piestewa Peak,apparently this is official. Federal panel votes to rename--what was it called before?

Howard Fischer:
It was a name some Native Americans find offense called squaw.

Ted Simons:
11-2 and people there said we're not happy the way it was done.

Howard Fischer:
This started five years ago after Lori Piestewa was the first native American woman killed out of united states. Never mind our state board had policies about waiting five years. Never mind some had concerns about it and had the governor's chief and barbers to go out and talk to the bosses and threaten their jobs. She shoved it through. It did not mean anything on the state level and has to be done on the national board. Some people voted no. The members said what did she do to become a hero. As we found out and five years gives us a chance to do, she basically made a wrong turn and got herself killed along with some of her colleagues. I'm not saying that, you know, anybody--as far as I'm concerned who goes over there is hero. I'm not there and not getting shot at. They're all heroes. Does that make her special because she died?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
There was a question of what's the connection between that peak in Phoenix and Hopi woman. The woman from the Hopi reservations.

Mike Sunnucks:
It's a name that's offensive to people. The way the governor handled it and bungled it and bullied people. Why not change it. She was a hero in that sense of the word and served the country and early casualties of the war and change the name and honor her.

Howard Fischer:
Here's the flaw in everything that the governor said about squaw being offensive. There are 79 other places in Arizona, hills, valleys, washes with the name squaw on it. The governor promised five years ago this is the first step. There were 79 five years ago, there are 79 today. She said we'll get around to it eventually. All the talk making the whole state politically correct, not so much.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
With the federal naming board's vote will the city of phoenix change the name? The peak was in the state's jurisdiction to name but phoenix kept the name squaw peak and the road leading up to it and the park which it's located. Will it trigger a cascade?

Howard Fischer:
The hotel, even the hotel it's point of squaw peak. We could rename it but does that mean anything.

Mike Sunnucks:
Honor other folks that died in service. We had a number of people in the air force and army that died and do some thing for them also. Maybe we can rename all the valleys after other folks.

Ted Simons:
We have an appeal that says property tax, Mary Jo, this is an instant veto, and it is not?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I don't like to predict, yeah, it's shaping up. Two years ago the legislature and governor cut a deal and took a statewide property tax and put it on hold for three years. You haven't had to pay anything on the tax. It goes back on the books as scheduled next year. From the minute they got the three-year deal, the business community said let's make it permanent. If you put it on, it's a tax hike and good for business development if we lower our property taxes. This is coming at the same time as the state is grappling with the billion dollars of deficit. You can say the tax doesn't apply to this year's nor next year's. No one is expecting a bed of roses in the state's financial situation by 2010 or beyond that.

Mike Sunnucks:
As in the past she vetoed the stand-alone tax bills. They goes along with what they want. She vetoes it now and do the budget and comes out and business folks making the argument we have high property taxes compared to other states. If you raise this, it puts us at a disadvantage.

Ted Simons:
But Howie, I think O'Halleran said we want the private sector and not this.

Howard Fischer:
This is the same argument I had with mike a few weeks ago. They want to cut and business community wants everything and they have a warped idea of the laugher curve. What point do we lower the rate to zero, are we rich? There's a point in which all things breakdown and you have to provide all the services. All the talk not just business community. Everyone says lower taxes. Which program do you want to cut? We don't want to cut state education because we are down 49th and 50th, not that there's a direct link to education and money. We don't want to cut healthcare for the poor or the prison system. Or what is next? The department of veteran services.

Ted Simons:
We have the governor on next week. She said the same thing, fine; you tell me where to cut.

Mike Sunnucks:
Billion dollars and accesses of billion dollars. D.E.S. is huge. I think there's waste and places to cut in the programs that they can pick and choose. Howe's right, the business has pushed for spending and voter approved it and governor approved it. The governor approves with the spending and signs tax cuts and they go along with it. They say there's no place to cut in the government.

Howard Fischer:
Let's me go with the friends in the business community. They love the fact that access eligibility of increased to the poverty level. We have companies in the state like Wal-Mart, 10\% of the employees are getting healthcare through access. They love the fact that they shifted their burden over to the state. So if more businesses would provide healthcare, we could cut the cost of access.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
This passionate debate will continue. The senate was the second body to approve this tax repeal and less than an hour they were starting a phone calling campaign. They were calling the governor and please, governor sign it.

Mike Sunnucks:
Business folks and republicans make the argument if the tax comes back, it's a tax hike. The governor doesn't want that on her resume. She hasn't called for tax increases and signed off on tax decreases.

Mary Jo Pitzl:
There's an out. Her point has been this tax does not affect the 2009 budgeted is what they are mired to figure out. We can wait a year and deal with it next year. There's a couple of ballot measures with folks gathering signatures on property tax revolt a prop 13-style thing for Arizona. If the governor vetoes this and pushes it off another year, the business folks who don't like prop 13 say this will give more steam for ballot measures. Don't they have steam on their own merit anyway?

Howard Fischer:
The reason the business folks hate the prop 13 thing is they give relief to the homeowners and cap the homeowners things and balloon you squeeze here and pops out.

Ted Simons:
Quickly here. Gay marriage was kneecapped in the house. It's back. Is Krista back?

Howard Fischer:
Of course she is. She found enough people to say put it on the ballot and put on ballot providing protections, constitution protections for couples gay and straight living together like inheritance and making decisions for one another. That blind sided some of the republicans and frankly some took a very quick walk saying I don't want a part of this. The judiciary committee brought it up and it will be back next week.

Mike Sunnucks:
This is a problem the republicans have had for years they take stuff to the floor and they don't have their ducks lined up and get sideswiped by stuff like this. This is not acceptable. If it means something to you, you need to have the people on the floor and votes to block it.

Ted Simons:
Quickly, it passes and voters get a chance to vote. Does it pass?

Howard Fischer:
I think it does. Simply a question of using the m-word. For people of same-sex we're not willing to give marriage.

Ted Simons:
What do you think Mary Jo?

Mary Jo Pitzl:
I tend to agree with that.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think it's easy. The last time you saw Hispanics voted for it. That's what tore it down.

Ted Simons:
That will do it. Thank you for joining us.

Ted Simons:
The payday loan industry is under attack as some groups seek to rid the state of payday loans, while others want to reform the industry. Also, a man predicting the end of the world as we know it. Monday at 7:00 on "Horizon."

Ted Simons:
Tuesday, a conversation with author Carolyn Jessop, an escapee of warren Jeff's polygamous flds' cult.

Ted Simons:
Wednesday, the governor's monthly visit to "Horizon."

Ted Simons:
Thursday, our weekly legislative update with the Arizona capitol times.

Ted Simons:
Friday, we'll be back with another edition of the "journalist's roundtable."

Ted Simons:
Coming up, are the rich getting a sweet deal on taxes? That's next on "now" on P.B.S. That's it for now. Thanks for joining us on "horizon." I'm Ted Simons, have a great weekend.

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