Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 6, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Polygamy-related Crimes


  • Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard explains his work seeking federal assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice for help with nvestigations and prosecutions of polygamy-related crimes in our state.
Guests:
  • Terry Goddard - Arizona Attorney General
  • Barbara Leff - State Senator
  • Colby Bower - Director, Government Relations, American Cancer Society of Arizona


View Transcript
>>>Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon," Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard joins us to discuss polygamy-related crimes in our state, and talk about his plans to co-host a town hall on polygamy. Plus, a new law allows AHCCCS to provide programs and medications to help people stop smoking and using tobacco. Plus, new biofuels research that can make your vehicle really green. Those stories next, on "Horizon." Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. In an effort to curb polygamy related crimes in Arizona, Attorney General Terry Goddard, along with Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff, sent a joint letter to Nevada senator Harry Reid. They are asking assistance in setting up a meeting to discuss how the federal government can help states with polygamy related investigations and prosecutions. Attorney General Goddard also joined with Shurtleff in another effort, the hosting of a town hall and training session for members of polygamous communities, journalists, law enforcement officers and social service providers working with plural families. Here to talk about the town hall and letter to Senator Reid is Terry Goddard, Attorney General. The letter to Harry Reid sounded like you were a little ticked off.

>>Terry Goddard:
I was a little upset. What Mark Shurtleff had to say was almost unprintable. I think we set the record straight, and are working together to get the state efforts on the same track. I've been calling for federal assistance in terms of some of the issues in Colorado City, Hildale, the communities in Arizona and southern Utah for many years. I asked for civil rights investigations three years ago. I wrote the justice department at that time. We've also tried to get tax fraud investigations, welfare fraud investigations going, so far without any luck. So Senator Reid's involvement may in fact tip the scales to make this truly a comprehensive law enforcement effort.

>>Ted Simons:
The senator responded to what's happening in El Dorado, Texas, saying that Utah and Arizona have not been aggressive enough.

>>Terry Goddard:
That's what he said. I think he hasn't been reading things for about 10 years. He was referring to the historical past, where both states I think were guilty of sort of doing a hands-off attitude. But that's changed dramatically in the past several years. We've made a great deal of progress toward opening up the communities, making sure law enforcement was heavily involved. And the focus of the town hall that you mentioned is the fourth that we've held up there, essentially to shine a strong light on these communities to make sure they know what the rules are and hopefully follow them, to make sure that the safety net is in place. And what we've generally put together is what we call the safety net for victims from the community. A number of years ago, if a young woman was in trouble, there was no place for her to turn. She couldn't get out of the community, there was no place to get assistance or get away, she was imprisoned. Very similar to what we're finding in the Texas compound. Both government agents and nonprofits, and advocacy groups there specifically to help any victims that want to get out of the community.

>>Ted Simons:
But why isn't Arizona and/or Utah doing Texas-style raids on polygamous communities?

>>Terry Goddard:
Short answer is it would be illegal in Arizona. Our legislature has been very clear to say that the presumption has to be in favor of keeping the family together. And any change in that law obviously would make the state more aggressive about taking kids out. And the Texas AG explained this to me a few weeks ago. He said, you know, we can take a child out of a household simply if a reasonable person observing that situation would think the child might be in danger. In Arizona we have to prove an imminent harm to the child, it's a much higher standard. The first answer to the question is legislative. The second one -- and I think this is really important -- is that Warren Jeffs took his most loyal followers to Texas in 2003, because Arizona and Utah were beginning to squeeze down and make it more difficult for him to do what he wanted to do. When he went to Texas he set up a compound. He set up a 1700-acre ranch with walks around it. The sheriff can't get on the premises without a warrant. The sheriff in Mohave County, Arizona, has a different idea. His deputies are there every day, patrolling the streets of the community. He can act if there's a situation that's crying for help. In Texas you couldn't do that. They got on the premises, saw evidence of abuse, and immediately acted.

>>Ted Simons:
The Texas situation was prompted by a call from a 16-year-old girl to an agency. Do you think the call was on the up and up?

>>Terry Goddard:
I can't speculate about that. I know it's being investigated in Texas. I know we had a similar call in Arizona which turned out to be bogus, about the same time. I don't want to get too focused on that because, at least here, our reaction does not try to evaluate whether or not the call is legitimate. If it comes through to a help line, we're going to investigate and see if in fact there is a teenager or anyone that has that description, and that's what we did in the call that we got. A week later we found out the call had been bogus. But in the meantime, we had checked several housing units that had a teenage daughter that appeared to meet the description of the caller. We did request -- we went into the house, checked to see if that young woman had any problems. They said they did not. But we had first to satisfy ourselves, law enforcement authorities in Mohave County, that there wasn't first a legitimate cry for help there. I think that is our first obligation. That has been a recurrent theme in Colorado City. If a young person is trying for help, we want to make it as easy as possible for them to get through to authorities.

>>Ted Simons:
Do you think Texas went too far in this particular case?

>>Terry Goddard:
I can't really speculate. I don't have the facts, none of us do. Those are all confidential and in the Texas courts at this moment. They did what they thought was the right thing under their laws. They reacted to this compound, which was dramatically different, which were young people in the compound didn't have the help line or access to the sheriff's deputies coming through the community. They didn't have the safety net provisions put in place now with nonprofits and advocacy groups and child protective services that are there to provide exactly that, a safety net. They were working without a net essentially in Texas. I think that's the huge difference, and why they felt they had to take a much more extreme position.

>>Ted Simons:
Your phone call to Senator Reid, I read about the call but don't know what you said. What did you say to him?

>>Terry Goddard:
I very respectfully pointed out that he was wrong and he had been misinformed. Basically he called upon us to do, in his statements in Utah, was what we had been doing. I wanted to make sure that we had in fact been aggressive about prosecuting people who were abusing children. We have eight cases right now in Mohave County, many of which were investigated by my office and turned over to the county attorney, which is the appropriate authority. There has been a tremendous change for the better, in terms of the relationship between the state of Arizona and those communities in the state of Utah and those communities. The important thing, the underlying aspect that we've both been emphasizing, both states, is that the rule of law applies in Mesa just like it does in Colorado City. The prosecution of Warren Jeff's, of course, the chief of this whole sect, will prove that out. We're very serious and we're going to carry through our investigations through prosecution.

>>Ted Simons:
As far as looking for federal help, federal assistance, what are you looking for?

>>Terry Goddard:
There are areas that we don't have jurisdiction. For instance, I can't get the tax records out of some of the businesses in Colorado City. Only the federal government can get that. I can't get all the welfare records. We have suspicions that there have been abuses of the welfare system. I need federal assistance there. One of the items I wrote to the former attorney general about three years ago, we believe that federal civil rights laws have been violated when young men have been thrown out because they wanted to make room so that the older men could marry the younger women. That is reprehensible, and I believe it's illegal. But we didn't have the authority to investigate or prosecute those particular issues. So I called upon the justice department to step in and see if there were violations. They may have done something, but they've not told me about it if they did. I think what Senator Reid, with his authority in Washington, can do is to jump-start some of those investigations. I hope it works.

>>Ted Simons:
You have a town hall coming up, Thursday night?

>>Terry Goddard:
Yes, the 8th in Saint George. It's actually an all-day session. It's the fourth in a series -- actually, it's connected to our safety net effort. But it's the most visible part, where the attorney general of Utah and I convene a session which is basically a communication effort. This is a community that's been cut off from Arizona and Utah for 50 years, with very little communication and a lot of suspicion and frankly hatred. We're trying to bridge the gap. It's not going to happen overnight. We want to make very clear what the rules are, what we're going to prosecute and investigate, and we're not going to tolerate the abuse of children. We're going to say, what issues do you have, frankly? Do you have suspicions? I know one of the questions is, are you going to do to us what happened in Texas? Our answer is, if we have evidence of child abuse, we will move in and investigate and take children out of the household if there is a showing of abuse under Arizona law.

>>Ted Simons:
To critics who say, the state over the years and even now treat FLDS with kid gloves, you would respond how?

>>Terry Goddard:
That's garbage. The law applies to people in all parts of Arizona equally. In the past, and I'm talking historic past, it probably has been true that state officials simply had blinders on as far as what was happening in that part of Arizona. That's not true anymore, and the effort is to say, look, our law applies in both mesa and Colorado City, and whether it's the law in child protective services to remove kids from the home, or whether it's a variety of other offenses, we're going to investigate and prosecute. The fact that you're in an extremely remote location is not going to be sufficient anymore to insulate you from the rest of the community.

>>Ted Simons:
I can't let you go without a quick comment on a major bust today regarding firearms.

>>Terry Goddard:
Basically I think it was a very important step forward. These were -- this was a gun store in Phoenix called X-caliber arms, which was selling to straw buyers. They are people who are put up to filling out a federal purchase form, knowing full well they're not going to be the owner of the gun. They immediately turn it over to a third party who takes it to Mexico. Mexican law enforcement has been telling us for months now that the stream of attack weapons, assault weapons coming from the United States, and particularly from Arizona, has been resulting in shootouts in Mexico. Those guns have been going directly to the drug cartels and they have resulted in the assassination of over 2,000 policemen in Mexico in the past year. There is a war going on, and it's unfortunately fueled in part with illegal weapons coming out of Arizona. This was an effort to strike back against the illegal transaction of arms in Arizona going to Mexico.

>>Ted Simons:
Not involving FLDS, but a major story, nonetheless.

>>Terry Goddard:
A very important part of continuing law enforcement efforts along the border.

>>Ted Simons:
Attorney General Terry Goddard thanks for joining us.

>>Terry Goddard:
Thank you.

>>>Ted Simons:
A new state law allows Medicaid to access funds to help people quit smoking. Research shows Medicaid recipients smoke at a higher rate than the national average. Until now, tobacco replacement medications were not covered by AHCCCS. First, here are some details on the measure.

>>>Merry Lucero:
In 2002, Arizona voters authorized two cents of each dollar in the tobacco products tax fund, and 23 cents of each dollar in the tobacco tax and health care fund, to pay for programs for the prevention and reduction of tobacco use. The Arizona department of health service administers the funds. It runs tobacco cessation programs through Arizona counties. AHCCCS also contracts with community asbestos disease awareness organization for education programs relating to reducing tobacco use. Many of those outreach efforts could be seen in the form of anti-tobacco media campaigns. Now funds can be used to pay for cessation smoking programs, for members of the Arizona cost containment system. The new law specifies that AHCCCS spends funds, not just state funds, for the smoking cessation program.

>>Ted Simons:
Joining us now are the measure's sponsors, state senator Barbara Leff, and Colby Bower, director of government relations with the American cancer society of Arizona. Thanks for joining us. Barbara, why was the bill important to you, why did you take the lead on this?

Barbara Leff:
We've been taking a lot of tax money for a long time, and I wanted to make sure that money was used for the purpose that the voters intended, and that is to help people stop smoking. We know the health hazards to people who smoke, and the tremendous cost to society in general when people smoke. We wanted to see the money collected actually help people stop smoking.

>>Ted Simons:
Do you think the money has not gone as best as possible in that direction?

>>Barbara Leff:
Yes. There had been the tobacco education and prevention fund where this money has come was used for a lot of things. Partly it was used for promotion, athletic promotions. We would go to a suns game and we would see a big sign that said go suns! It said, brought to you by the Department of Health Services., please stop smoking, in very small print.

>>>Ted Simons:
Why has AHCCCS in general -- why have these medications, which apparently some of these things can work pretty well, why have they not been included in the past?

>>Colby Bower:
These medications can be very expensive. I don't know that there was a lot of evidence surrounding whether these things actually worked. We know now that therapies like nicotine replacement therapies, the patches, gums, those have mildly successful success rates. With the new pharmaceuticals, upwards of a 50\% success rate. We're really excited to get this program started.

>>Barbara Leff:
I think an important part of this, though, is that we were one of only seven states that didn't provide this type of benefit to their Medicaid or AHCCCS asbestos disease awareness organization. It made no sense that Arizona didn't provide this kind of service to that population. And there's no general fund money to do it, certainly, and this was a very appropriate use of moneys collected anyway.

>>Ted Simons:
I was going to emphasize the fact that there was no effect on the general fund and there are federal matching grants at play here, as well, correct?

>>Colby Bower:
It's a 68\% match on the dollar. Whatever the state spends, the federal government is going to match that 68\%. We think this is really just a win-win. D.H.S. and AHCCCS really need to be commended, as well as Senator Leff for her tireless work on this. This is the best example you can have to really do what the voters intended.

>>Ted Simons:
Who would be eligible for this medication and this program? If you are on AHCCCS and are a smoker, that's it?

>>Colby Bower:
That's it. You just need to ask your doctor about it, and you and your doctor can determine the best course of action, whether it is nicotine replacement or whether you want to attend counseling courses and behavior modification. That's certainly in the realm also.

>>Ted Simons:
You mentioned some of the media campaigns that some are very prominent and some aren't at all. Will this replace those?

>>Barbara Leff:
There's quite a bit of money in the fund. There's money to continue talking to people about quitting smoking. It just stops the sports promotions that don't have any connection to stopping smoking. The goal of the tobacco tax was to help people stop smoking. It was never really to fund other programs and do other things. It'll be used to stop people from smoking. If we can't fund a lot of other programs, that's okay. We need to start helping people from smoking.

>>Ted Simons:
I want to get back to the idea that AHCCCS didn't cover the medication in these programs before. Why?

>>Colby Bower:
Well, Ted, you know, a lot has to do with just money. The way we have it set up; any increase in a benefit has to go before the legislature. And certainly in recent times that would be very difficult to get through, to sell to the legislature. Look, you need to spend more money on AHCCCS. The state spends a tremendous amount of its budget on that. I think that was a significant barrier.

>>Barbara Leff:
There's more than just that. The new prescription drugs are really new. They're relatively expensive, I believe, compared to going to buy a patch or chewing gum. In the old days, if people wanted to stop smoking, if you went and paid $10 or $14 for a patch or gum, that wasn't a significant amount. But we're talking about prescription drugs that are more expensive, but they work. That's the difference.

>>Ted Simons:
How tough was this for you to get through?

>>Barbara Leff:
Actually it took two years before we figured out how to do it. We needed to do an interagency agreement. The money goes to D.H.S. and AHCCCS under economic security. Once we presented this to the legislature, we had tremendous positive response.

>>Ted Simons:
More machinations as opposed to the general idea?

>>Barbara Leff:
Correct.

>>Ted Simons:
Thank you very much for joining us. Sounds like folks will be getting some well-needed help here. As Arizonans struggle with the cost of gasoline and the health costs of poor air quality, the idea of alternative fuels is gaining momentum. As Christopher Conover reports, some University of Arizona researchers are now working to make your vehicle really green.

>>Christopher Conover:
When most people hear about bio fuels, they think of a corn-based product, but there are plenty of other plants that can be used.

>>Colleen Crowinshield:
In Brazil they're using sugar cane. There are many industries, like the Coors Company, all their unbottlable beer goes to ethanol production. There is the world's only prickly-pear vodka manufacturer that produces ethanol as well. Their motto is drink the best, drive the rest. There are a lot of feedstocks that can be used for ethanol.

>>Christopher Conover:
But in a fourth floor lab at the University of Arizona, researchers are trying to produce biofuels from something more common than corn, algae.

>>Joel Cuello:
It's a very good and excellent candidate for biofuels. There are some species that can actually accumulate oil for about 75\% of their dry weight. On average it's about 50\%. So this laboratory we're working with some algae species capable of producing these hydrocarbons. We're focused on optimizing their use and growth rate, and designing where we could mass produce this algae species.

>>Christopher Conover:
The UA lab has been doing the research for about three years, and researchers say it could become commercially viable within the next five years.

>>Joel Cuello:
As a crop, it's about four to six times more energy efficient, compared to the traditional or conventional crops like corn and soybeans.

>>Christopher Conover:
In addition to the energy output of algae-based fuels, it also has certain farming advantages.

>>Michael Mason:
Marginal land, areas that we don't need to devote fertile crop areas, salty soil, agricultural runoff, we can use wastewater, all of those things can be nutrients to the algae.

>>Joel Cuello:
They can be grown in low-quality water. For example, we can use secondary effluent wastewater coming from the waste treatment plant. This is water rich in nitrates and phosphates. We can use this water to grow the algae itself, because the nitrates and phosphates are needed for their normal growth.

>>Christopher Conover:
The algae also requires carbon dioxide to grow. So researchers are looking at ways of harnessing power plant outputs to grow algae. One of those first experiments could take place right here at the university.

>>Michael Mason:
We have spoken with the operators of the power generating plant here on campus. And we may in the future set up a demonstration where we're tapping into their emissions, their waste exhaust, because that can be used as a feed. The algae requires CO2 to grow. By tapping into that waste stream, we can kill two birds with one stone. We can lower emissions and get a valuable product that helps us grow our algae.

>>Christopher Conover:
Researchers are hoping to come up with a growth system that we can reduce the amounts of carbon dioxide put out by industry by 50\% while producing a biofuels that reduces cars' emissions.

>>Ted Simons:
A new law allows a state to take control of failing school districts. Phoenix's Roosevelt district could be the first. But is it the right thing to do? Join us for the answers tomorrow on "Horizon." Visit our website at azpbs.org/horizon for video and transcripts of this program. That it for now, I'm Ted Simons, thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

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