Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 26, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable Year-ender


  • Ted Simons sits down with journalists Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, The Tribune's Mark Flatten and The Arizona Republic's Doug MacEachern to look back at the year's top stories and give predictions for 2009.
Guests:
  • Doug MacEachern - Arizona Republic


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
This is a special edition of "Horizon," the journalists' year in review. Join us as three local journalists look back about predictions they made for 2008, and make new predictions for 2009. That's next, on "Horizon."

Ted Simons;
Good evening, i'm Ted Simons, and this is the annual journalists roundtable predictions show. Joining me to preview 2009 is Doug Maceachern of the Arizona Republic, Mark Flatten of the East Valley Tribune, and Howard Fisher of Capitol Media Services. before we look ahead to the coming year, let's go back and see how our panel did in predicting what would happen in 2008. Producer Steve Clawson has the recap

Narrator [includes footage from the December 2007 broadcast]:
as our panel gathered one year ago, many predictions focused on politics. One of the big issues was whether state representative russell pearce would challenge flake in the republican primary. i think he will challenge flake and give a very, very serious challenge to flake. I don't know that he will unseat him, i won't guess that he will.
i think russell's going take him on and defeat him.
i don't think he's going to defeat him. I think it's a great call, but i think you're wrong. I think it'll be a tough race. Yes, he will challenge him.
Russell Pearce decided against challenging Jeff Flake and, instead, ran for and won the district 18 state senate seat in november. The panel was asked, who would win the republican primary and would they be successful in defeating incumbent harry mitchell?
i don't think a republican can knock him out, even though that's a district that's traditionally been republican.
whoever that person is, they will not be successful.
ditto, to use a rush limbaugh line.
Harry Mitchell won by about 10 points in november. Our panel was asked, who would be the Republican and Democratic nominees and who would eventually win?
among the various republicans siting there saying, thank you, rick, for getting out of our way here, it's going to be close between Bill Kopinicki and Ken Bennett. If you want to go a step beyond, i think the democrat edges out the Republican in general.
i think Bennett is a likely r in that race. As far as the democrat, that's a real puzzle to me.
i think Bennett will probably pull out of the Republican primary and i do think the Democrats will pick up the seat.
sidney hay won the g.o.p. primary, but she was defeated by Democrat Anne Kirkpatrick in the election.
our panel was asked what the split would be in the arizona legislature after the november election.
i think the Democrats will pick up a couple of seats, probably in the house. I don't know that they're going to gain control of either chamber.
i think it could be even in the senate. I'm going to go with republicans retaining the senate by one.
I think the republicans will maintain control, because i think the democrats may lose a seat in the senate.
i think they may lose a seat or two even in the house. They could be down to 25.
in the november election, republicans picked up one seat in the state senate for an 18-12 advantage. Republicans gained two seats in the house for an 18-25 split. Our panel was asked how many days the 2008 session would last.
i would say 142.
i'm going to say 151.
numerically i have no idea. But with the budget problems, i think they will be in there as of the third week in june.
the arizona legislature convened on january 14th and adjourned sine die on June 27th, lasting 166 days. Our panel was asked to predict the eventual republican and democratic candidates.
we're seeing a little rumbling and rattling, i think it's going to be guiliani and clinton.
i think mccain is going to fall by the wayside. We had predictions about when he got in the race, and predictions as to when he actually falls out of the race. I think clinton is going to be hard to unseat. I think obama has got star power, but that fades.
I think hillary is proving herself brittle, and i don't know if she's going to make it to the finish line. I'm going say obama gets the nomination among the Democrats. And i'm going to go out on a limb with the republicans, i think when it all sorts out McCain's going to have a shot. I'm going to stick with him.
it's time to find out who would be the next president of the united states.
i think Hillary will be the next president.
i think Guiliani will win.
i think Obama will be the next president.
instead of electing the first woman president, the first african-american president?
i'm throwing that out, yes.
all right. That's a bold prediction.
finally, our panel was asked to come up with long shot and sure shot predictions.
obama picks hillary as his running mate.sure thing…I believe the hollywood writers' strike will be over before the super bowl.
my long shot is one of the top tier presidential candidates will drop out of race by the arizona primary. My sure shot is that there will be no significant tax increases at the state level.
my long shot is going to be that there will not be a transit vote on the ballot, in 08. The governor is not going to get a license with a radio frequency identifier chip. The big green thing in the lobby, it'll not be called a christmas tree by the governor.
mark and howie called the long shots, while doug missed on both of his. Out of a possible 11 points, Howie finished in third with four points. Mark Flatten came in second with five points. Doug MacEachern wins with six and a half points.

Ted Simons :
Joining us now, of course our esteemed panel. I guess we've got to start with you, mister. Know- it-all.

Doug MacEachern:
How do i do it?

Mark Flatten:
6.5 out of 11.

Howard Fischer:
And that's what wins. Yet people keep tuning in. Folks, this is what you're relying on for predictions?

Mark Flatten:
In my own defense, when i said guiliani, i assumed he was going to campaign for president. Clearly a mistake.

Ted Simons:
You had him as the candidate, but you got it right that a major figure would drop out before the arizona primary.

Mark Flatten:
The other mistake was i thought you meant neal giuliano, the former mayor of tempe.

Ted Simons:
This seems like habit with you. Once again, we congratulate you, doug, on your win. how does it feel to be a champ?

Doug MacEachern:
Pretty much like it has, for the last -- what's it been, fellas?

Ted Simons:
Let's move on. time for our predictions for next year. We'll start with gas prices. The question is: will gas prices break $5 a gallon?



Howard Fischer:
By next december?
i don't see it. I don't know that it'll break $3 a gallon. I'd say $2.89.

Ted Simons:
Go ahead, mark.

Mark Flatten:
I'm right on with howie. Just given the way the economy's going, not just here but worldwide, the demand is just not going to be there. I don't see it going over $5 or $4, maybe $3.12.

Doug MacEachern:
If it goes in that direction at all, back above $3, i think, believe it or not, we have something to celebrate. We've got a world economy working its way into positive figures. I don't think it will. I think there's an outside chance it'll rise above $3 a gallon.

Ted Simons:
So the highest, doug's going with the highest, i take it here?

Howard Fischer:
Both sort of three-ish.

Mark Flatten:
He didn't say, he says maybe this and maybe that. That's how he keeps his score up.

Doug MacEachern:
It doesn't go above $2.75.

Howard Fischer:
I feel like i'm playing the price is right here.

Ted Simons:what did you say was the highest?
$2.89, $2.75, and $3.12.

Ted Simons:
Will the stock market go above 10,000 next year?

Mark Flatten
I think it'll go there, but it won't stay there. It'll finish the year out around 10,000.

Doug MacEachern:
That's a good estimation. Unfortunately, i'm not that positive-minded. I'm saying absolutely not, nowhere near five figures for some time, certainly not in 2009.

Howard Fischer:
I'm in agreement with doug. Unemployment continues to rise through the end of the year, so i think it's going to be real hard to get it above 10,000.

Ted Simons:
Keeping the economic mindset here: the big three carmakers, will any of them go out of business or merge next year with another carmaker?

Howard Fischer:
That's a harder one. I think that they will keep floating them along. The interest in having three domestic car companies is so important to the nation, despite whatever's going on right now with the bailout bill and the bush administration, i think they will keep them alive. I think the unions will have to do some give-backs. I'm assuming a year from now there will still be three car companies.

Doug MacEachern:
I think with what has happened with the president's bailout effort that it'll keep chrysler going through 2009. So there will be three.

Ted Simons:
Okay. Go ahead, mark.



Mark Flatten:
I was going to say, i think there will still be three, at least one of them will be in bankruptcy, maybe two. But i think that's the only way they're going to unwind some of these union contracts is to allow one of them into bankruptcy, renegotiate some union contracts, and the others will follow suit.

Ted Simons:
Just kind of an addendum, do you think the carmakers will be pressured into some kind of retooling, refashioning of their models to meet demand for greener vehicles?

Howard Fischer:
I think it'll be some of the conditions. Congress is going to force some things. Bush is trying to push this thing over the objections of the republican lawmakers. I think there will be some things attached to the bill. Much as with the first bailout bill, you went ahead and did something, say, insurance companies have to cover mental health.

Doug MacEachern:
The best-selling vehicle for the past year was the ford f150, a great big truck. Congress isn't looking for great big trucks. If they do that, they're in trouble.

Mark Flatten:
I think congress is going to try and force them into going greener, given the makeup of congress. It's going to be real hard to make that sell. There are a lot of problems with car companies beyond fuel efficiency.

Ted Simons:
Will there be an issue that tops the economy next year?

Mark Flatten:
I don't believe so. I think everything is going to hinge on the economy, even if there is a terrorist attack, i don't think we'll see anything of the 9/11 magnitude. Even if there is a domestic terrorist attack, unless it reaches that proportion, the big story's eventually going to be the economy is further into a tailspin.



Doug MacEachern:
One thing possible is if israel really feels threatened by iran, it'll happen sometime next year.

Howard Fischer:
Even if it does, the question becomes, people think locally. The fact is, even if the israelis take out an iranian reactor, people are concerned about their pocketbooks. Who's going to be working, who's not going to be working. The economy remains an issue until the unemployment rate gets down below 5\% again.

Ted Simons:
A terrorist attack inside the u.s. during obama's first year?

Howard Fischer:
Not the way we think of it, the 9/11 type of thing. It would not surprise me to find some small cell doing some little thing. Do i see a big attack? No. Maybe some small ones.

Doug MacEachern:
I don't think so. I'm going to be positive-minded about this. I think we have shorted the changes that the FBI. has made in how they investigate these things, and they've gotten fairly good at it. I don't think it'll happen.

Ted Simons:
Terrorist attack inside the border?

Mark Flatten:
I think it'll be what in the past would have been a minor domestic incident, i don't think there will be another 9/11 or oklahoma city. Maybe something similar to england with a small group of radicals driving a jeep cherokee into an airplane terminal, something of that magnitude. It'll get a lot of hype but i do not think we'll see a major terrorist incident.

Ted Simons:
Will there be a vacancy on the united states supreme court next year?

Mark Flatten:
I was thinking about this one coming in. I think the median age there is about 116. I don't think there will be a voluntary vacancy. God may intervene and take one of them, stevens is in his mid 80s. Absent a death, i don't think there will be a resignation.

Doug MacEachern:
I think one or maybe even two are champing at the bit to retire.

Howard Fischer:
I'm with doug. Some of the liberals on the court have been waiting for this, and they're not sure how long they're going to be around, depending on what else happens. They figure, this is a perfect time. You have a democratic senate, not quite veto proof. But if you're going to have close to 60 democratic senators, this is the time to do it.

Ted Simons:
Closer to home: anyone going to announce their candidacy for governor next year?

Howard Fischer:
Well, yes and no. Here's the problem. There will be no actual, i am running for governor. There will be i am exploring. To the extent that terry goddard cannot say until january 1st or 2nd of 2010 that he's running, you won't have it. I think, if there is an announcement, it'll have to come from somebody on the outside. If mary peters does not become secretary of state, which is another issue we're going to find out about, she might decide to preempt other folks from running. I don't see any formal announcement. It's all exploratory.

Ted Simons:
If you go that route, give us name.

Doug MacEachern:
I think terry goddard will. I think it's a great opportunity, i think he'll probably form his exploratory committee.

Ted Simons:
Anyone else?

Doug MacEachern:
I think probably one from jan brewer, too. I think that there will be some behind the scenes elbowing between, say, jim pederson and terry goddard, and terry goddard will be better positioned.

Mark Flatten:
Just expanding what they said, i agree. There's not going to be a formal announcement. But the deck was completely reshuffled with napolitano going to homeland security. Had she not left, you probably would have had a lot of people lining up to make the run. Now we've pretty much got a set field on the republican side. I don't think anybody's too significantly going to challenge brewer, assuming she decides to run again. And on the democratic side, as doug said, it's largely between terry goddard with a long political history, and jim pederson who has millions and millions of dollars to throw at it.

Ted Simons:
The legislative session, 2009, how long is it going to last?

Mark Flatten:
I'm going to have to stick to my third week in June. We came up lucky seven, i'm going to roll it again. Third week of june.

Ted Simons:
Days or time of the year?

Doug MacEachern:
I'm going to throw in days. I didn't do so well last year. I'm going to shorten it this time and say 135 days.

Ted Simons:
Wow. All right.

Howard Fischer:
The tricky part becomes, on one hand, i can look at the budget and say, you've got to resolve two budgets. On the other hand, republican legislature, republican governor, you don't have the stalemate. I'm going to do the price is right thing and take your third week in a june and go fourth week in june.

Ted Simons:
Watch it happen on a sunday? Okay. As far as the budget, kind of a thematic question: what will happen with the arizona budget?

Howard Fischer:
You can't do it all with cuts. You've got $1.2 billion this year, and we're talking really two budgets here. You cannot do it all with cuts. There's going to be more maneuvering. You'll see the rollovers where you take the bills for this year and shove them into next year. You're going to see some cuts, some suspensions, which is just putting certain things off. They are going to look for some revenue enhancement, the photo radar, they are going to count on that. But i think we're going to see a certain number of budgetary gimmicks to make it happen. Next year some real major cuts in major programs, including universities.

Ted Simons:
Doug?

Doug MacEachern:
You stole all my lines. That's pretty much the scenario that i'm painting. I'm struggling right now to try and find some little swing here that differentiates me from Howie. Basically, that's it. They are going to try and come up with some gimmicks for next year or for the '09 budget. It's all going to be gone for the 2010 budget. I think we'll see some shocking cuts in the 2010 budget.

Mark Flatten:
Again, I think we'll see some extremely deep cuts. We may see some long-traditional programs eliminated. I don't think there will be a tax increase, there's no mood to try and squeeze more blood out of a stone at this point. There's just not many options they've got, but to do some of gymnastic gimmickry.

Ted Simons
All Day kindergarten??

Mark Flatten :
I don't think it's gonna survive in its current form..they've been moving towards having everybody do all day K..i think they are going to scale it way back

Doug MacEachern:
John Kavanaugh and Russell Pearce are very emphatic critics of all-day k. they see it as a babysitting service There will be some cuts in it.

Howard Fischer:
We go back to half-day k, i don't know if we can eliminate any state payments. A minimum of $100 million. We've dealt with a lot of low-hanging fruit. The all-day kindergarten is an easy cut for them.

Mark Flatten:
One thing i think will probably help the state a little bit, i think there's going to be some sort of federal bailout program. Literally, every state in the country is waiting for their rich aunt to die. They know that to get the economy moving it's probably not going to be things like direct funding, it'll be a lot of infrastructure projects, a lot of highway projects, things like that. I think a lot of federal money is going to start moving to the state.

Howard Fischer:
Unfortunately, that only helps way down the road.

Ted Simons:
Let's keep it moving. What bills vetoed in the past by governor napolitano will be approved?

Howard Fischer:
Parental consent on abortion criminal trespass, as far as illegal aliens, and maybe loans to extend the payday loan industry.

Doug MacEachern:
I'd like to see something on the medical malpractice that napolitano vetoed, i believe, and also i bet there will be two abortion-related bills.

Mark Flatten:
I think in addition you'll see one or more of the gun bills that she vetoed come back to brewer and get signed.

Ted Simons:
Before we get to long shot sure shot, how far do the cardinals go in the playoffs?

Mark Flatten:
I think they will win the first round and then just get slaughtered.

Ted Simons:
Wow, all right.

Doug MacEachern:
I think they would go down in the first game.

Ted Simons:
One and done, huh?

Howard Fischer:
I'm going to stick with Mark. This is my optimistic prediction, they can at least make it through one game.

Ted Simons:
Time for long shot and sure-shot predictions. I hope you've had a chance to go through these very carefully. go ahead, Howie.

Howard Fischer:
There will be at least one veto by jan brewer, despite the fact that it's a republican legislature. My sure shot .one of the first things to go is that whole cap and trade program, gone. I'm also guessing that somewhere between 60\% and 75\% of Janet Napolitano's speech is going to be patting herself on the back, saying, look what i did for you folks for the last six years.

Ted Simons :
All right.

Doug MacEachern:
I think the long shot is that arizona will not, after they have put together the 2010 budget, that we will not see a deficit in the same way we did this year, before the end of 2009. They may have to go and reconfigure after 2009 and 2010 but that's after we tape the next show. And sure shot, i expect the sun devils to be back in the bowl picture by --

Ted Simons:
The football bowl picture. i should have asked about the basketball. Go ahead, mark.

Mark Flatten:
Long shot, i think napolitano is going to stand up to pretty serious grilling from the Democrats over the employer sanctions issue during her confirmation hearing. the sure shot, i'm going to beat doug.

Ted Simons:
That's awfully bold.

Mark Flatten:
What can i tell you?

Ted Simons:
10, 20 seconds left. Will there be a rift in the g.o.p. with jan brewer as governor?

Howard Fischer:
I think it's going to all be very quiet and not send jan bills she wants to veto.

Doug MacEachern:
I don't think so. I think you'll see a lot of magnanimity.

Mark Flatten:
There will be a rift much bigger than we see.

Ted Simons:
All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. I'm Ted Simons, you have a great new year.

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