Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 2, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

Adam Diaz

  |   Video
  • Adam Diaz, the first Mexican American elected to the Phoenix City Council, celebrated his 100th birthday. Learn more about the life of Diaz.
Category: Culture

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
He was the first Mexican-American elected to the Phoenix city council, and this morning Adam Diaz celebrated his 100th birthday at a senior center named for him. The community celebration was put on by Phoenix vice Mayor Tom Simplot. Producer Paul Atkinson tells us more about the life of Diaz in a story done a while back, when the former councilman was turning a young 90 years of age.

Announcer:
He is slight in stature, and a bit slower with age, but few ever elected to the Phoenix city council possess the honesty, wisdom, and heart.

Adam Diaz:
Once I was elected I felt that it would open doors for some of our Hispanics.

Olivia Diaz:
Emotion on demand.

Adam Diaz:
This is very difficult to do, you know.

Announcer:
On his 90th birthday, Adam Diaz meets his daughter Olivia outside old city hall. She's writing a book on the family's history. Lisa, his granddaughter, is also along, wanting to learn more about her grandfather's life a half century ago.

Adam Diaz:
I love this car. It's way back. We played Mexican music, you know. Dance around her little skirt around.

Announcer:
In the early 1920s, Adam Diaz helped his father build their home just east of downtown Phoenix. He had an older sister and two younger brothers. Adam would be the first to attend high school. His dad was seeing the vat.

Adam Diaz:
We graduated from the eighth grade, where we'd all want to work to help out the family, but he said you're going to go to high school. So he managed I believe something like $40 which is enough to buy books, the old days we had to buy our textbooks.

Announcer:
Shortly after graduating grammar school, Adam's father died suddenly of pneumonia in 1924.

Adam Diaz:
The world kind of tumbled on me because instead of going to school, I had to figure out what I was going to do, I was the eldest. And I had my brothers and my sister to take care of and my mother.

Announcer:
15-year-old Adam spent the $40 on a bike in hopes of becoming a messenger for western union. He wasn't old enough. Adam latched on with a different messenger service, earning five cents per delivery. The uniform allowed Adam to go to parts of Phoenix Hispanics and other minorities were not allowed.

Adam Diaz:
Gave me an opportunity to go north of Van Buren. And I was amazed at the beautiful homes and gardens and lawns and I of course began to wonder, OK, why is it that it's so different from that part of town and our part of town?

Announcer:
The Lewer’s building is where Adam works next, running the elevators. He soon befriended the owner of a business school who offered free shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping classes, despite working full-time he didn't lose out on teenage years, he hung out with friends, dated numerous girls, even took trips to California. He was now helping George lowers Jr. run the lowers building and lowers tower. A month after he and wife Phyllis bought a home on 25th and Monte vista, neighbors knocked on the door.

Adam Diaz:
Finally said well, we came to tell you that you can't live here. I said well, that's odd. I don't see why we can't live here. We're American citizens. We're born here. Our children are born here.

Announcer:
Adam told them he'd get a lawyer and fight.

Adam Diaz:
And my wife said no, you don't. Said we're going to get out of here. We're not going to stay here one minute longer.

Announcer:
Adam had a home built south of downtown, across from Lowell school.

Adam Diaz:
Here we are. Chamber, this is nice. I want you to see this.

Announcer:
The old Phoenix Council chambers is now a ceremonial room. But it's full of memories for Adam Diaz.

Adam Diaz:
People like Barry Goldwater he's the one that first asked me, he said you've got to run on this ticket. We think that you could be of great service.

Announcer:
Goldwater and others wanted to end corruption at city hall. They asked Adam to run for city council in the late '40s. He declined. But finally agreed in 1953 and easily won. Prior to his election, the only jobs Hispanics could get with the city were low level positions, that changed. So too did politics as usual, where bribes were commonly 0ered to elected officials.

Adam Diaz:
And I would say no, gracias, I don't need it. And I needed it. I could have used in one case I could have used $10,000 that somebody offered me. And I said absolutely not. That way I could keep my head up, my chin up, and my kids don't have to be ashamed of me.

Announcer:
After two years on the Phoenix city council Adam tapped Val Cordova, attorney, to take his place. Cordova was one of many Hispanics to enter politics thanks to Adam Diaz.

Alfredo Gutierrez:
His legacy isn't a building or a specific act of legislation. His legacy was the fact that he broke through.

Announcer:
Former senate majority leader Alfredo Gutierrez was a Chicano activist when Adam Diaz pulled him aside.

Alfredo Gutierrez:
Adam was one of the few folks who was able to embrace that movement, temper that movement as well, I mean, he bridged generations.

Announcer:
Adam Diaz has led a remarkable life, forced to go to work instead of high school. He went from a bike messenger to an elevator operator at the lowers building, Adam retired 52 years later as manager of the lowers properties. He and George lowers Jr. remained best friends throughout it all. An avid sportsman throughout his life, Adam always made time for family and friends. Yet despite all he's done, there is much more to Adam Diaz than hard work, honesty, and heart. It's his humbleness.

Adam Diaz:
I don't feel that I've done enough. I wish I could have done more.

Ted Simons:
Diaz didn't shy away from public service, after he left the council he was appointed by President Clinton to a task force on aging and he's worked on various efforts to get housing for seniors. Coming up on "Horizon," the cause and effect of growing enrollment at Arizona's community colleges and we'll fake a look at an award winning public history project in the city of Chandler. That's Thursday at 7:00 on "Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jim Small brings us up to date on the latest from the state capitol.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Government

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Good evening, welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Maricopa county judge says it's OK to make electric utilities get some energy from renewable sources in 2006 the Arizona corporation commission adopted rules that require utilities to get 15% of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. The Goldwater institute challenged the commission's constitutional authority to set those rules but superior court judge Joseph Heilman ruled the commission does have the right to require renewable energy in an attempt to control costs for utilities and ratepayers in the long run. Governor Jan Brewer has canceled a trip to Mexico. She'll be staying in the state to deal with the budget. She has until Saturday to sign or veto the budget bills. Rumors are flying about what she'll do and here to talk about the situation is Arizona capitol times reporter Jim Small. Good to see you again, thanks for joining us.

Jim Small:
Yeah, thanks for having me back.

Ted Simons:
All right. She cancels a trip to Mexico, what does it mean?

Jim Small:
Means the budget hasn't been resolved yet, the simplest way to look at the situation. Some people had kind of thought it was odd there was this thing on her schedule and marked as tentative when her schedule came out last week, but it said she's going to be in Mexico from Wednesday through Friday for the board of governor's conference they were having, an event down there, so people kind of looked at that and said this is going to be kind of weird because the budget's not resolved, the bills are still on her desk, you know, is she actually going to go this or not and she came out yesterday and saying budget -- this whole situation hasn't been fixed. Bills haven't been acted on, so I'm going to stay in town.

Ted Simons:
There was a bit of a rumor, I don't know how serious but entertain, the idea if she were to leave for the border governor's conference, the guy in charge becomes Terry Goddard, attorney general, because secretary of state was appointed not elected and thus can't succeed. He would have the power of governor while she were gone, and he could just basically say hey, I'm governor, veto.

Jim Small:
Yes, he could have. It was something I think, you know, a lot of people that watch the capitol were interested in exactly that issue, you know, ok. So now you're going to have a Democrat who could be in charge with a republican budget that still hasn't been acted on. And that made people go really she can't be serious about going to Mexico at this point. If she's going to go, she's going to have to act on it before this trip begins and before she leaves the state. I don't know if Terry Goddard would have done it or not. We called his official and asked his spokesperson and she said, well, you know, we're not really going to say what would happen if that were the case but it certainly made for some interesting discussion in the newsroom and in political circles.

Ted Simons:
Indeed. Now, let's talk about discussions, bipartisan, whatever you want to call them now, between the governor, Democrats, and Republican leadership. On again or off again?

Jim Small:
The five-way talks that have been happening for a week and a half or so are dead. Each had counterproposals and neither could agree. They had a couple of just critical philosophical differences they didn't seem they would be able to bridge so they kind of both sides walked out of the meeting and went I don't know if we're even going to have any more of these meetings, I don't see what the point is. Neither side seems willing to budge on these issues. Meantime you have had senate Democrat leadership meeting with both the governor's office and senate republican leadership, as, you know, in what a lot of people are looking at as maybe a little bit of a side deal to see if the governor and senate president Bob burns can come to an arrangement to get some of the senate Democrats to buy in on that ballot that sales tax ballot referral, which would eliminate a lot of the problems and consternation over the fate of the budget bills.

Ted Simons:
Are there Democrats down there that you know of or you've heard about that might be willing to go ahead and vote yes in return for something?

Jim Small:
There's been a lot of speculation, you know, a number of names have been tossed about, as to, you know, this person could be bought off with maybe this program change or extra bit of funding in this area might sway a vote over here. But so far no one's actually committed to the point where they're comfortable taking it to the floor or, you know, even announcing anything or doing anything about it. One of the things I think that has been impressive to observers down at the capitol is how steadfast the Democrats have been in opposing what the republicans are doing and how well that they have actually stayed together. I think you usually see, you know, usually see Democrats, yeah, they oppose stuff but there's always a couple that get picked off for one reason or another and there hasn't been that this year, and it's considering the scope of the problem and how long this problem has dragged on, I think a lot of people have taken notice of that.

Ted Simons:
Ok, let's talk about more likely scenarios than the governor leaving and attorney general vetoing. The let's get back to reality here. She signs and blames Democrats, possible?

Jim Small:
A favorite in the clubhouse, as to what's going to happen, she would sign it and Democrats say these cuts are deep, I called these cuts terrible before and they are terrible but the only reason they're this terrible was because Democrats wouldn't come on board and that's why we're cutting education, public safety, healthcare.

Ted Simons:
Another scenario, she signs some of the budget bills, but vetoes some of the others, including the state property tax equalization rate and calls a special session and we go through the process again.

Jim Small:
I think that's the other most likely scenario here, that at least as far as what people are talking about. The reality is that we just really don't even know what's going to hatch, you know, governor Brewer has played this very close to the vest as she has, you know, with regards to with budget issues for much of the year. There hasn't been a whole lot of -- they haven't dipped their hand very much the entire year, whether the vetoes the first round or reaction to various proposals republicans and legislatures floating out there. This times time it's not different, as to what way she's leaning or what she might do.

Ted Simons:
One more scenario probably relatively unlikely. But she does manage to get another vote from a republican, Gorman.

Jim Small:
Not likely. Senator Gorman seems very resolute in her opposition to this and Senator Allen is also very committed to her opposition to some of the proposals in the budget and on top of that she's also been ill so she has had difficulty, I don't even think she's had doctor's permission to make it down to the capitol.

Ted Simons:
Timeline what are we looking at here, what's next and deadlines are coming up as far as cash in the state as well. What's happening?

Jim Small:
We do have some deadlines, one of the bigger ones, the department of public safety, because of the way the budget bills were signed and vetoed, back in the first part of July, D.P.S. has all this money they can see with you don't have statutory authority to act on it, so they've gotten fronted a portion of the money, of the general fund money they were suppose food get throughout the year. It's kept them open for 2 1/2 months, but if they don't get money by September 11th, if this budget bill, the budget bill pertaining to criminal justice isn't signed by September 11th, then they're going to be running out of cash and facing a possible shutdown.

Ted Simons:
All right. So we should see something you think by the next few days.

Jim Small:
Well, yeah, we have to see something by Saturday, so.

Ted Simons:
All right. Well, at least we know she's not going to go to Mexico, so we've got something. Jim, thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Jim Small:
Thank you.

Light Rail Update

  |   Video
  • METRO Light Rail CEO Rick Simonetta provides an update on light rail operations including the impact of the recent fare increase, extended hours, and the start of ASU’s fall semester.
Guests:
  • Rick Simonetta - METRO Light Rail CEO
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: light rail,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Since we last spoke with officials from metro light rail, rates have been raised and hours extended. To find out how that's all working out earlier this evening I spoke with metro light rail C.E.O. Rick Simonetta. Good to have I on the show. Thanks for joining us.

Rick Simonetta:
Nice to be here, Ted.

Ted Simons:
Give us the latest ridership numbers.

Rick Simonetta:
August ridership, July was the low point during the heat of the summer; it's typical on the bus system as well as on light rail, and July we got down to just over 26,500 average weekday passengers, average daily passengers, but in August the number is now up over 33,000. So I contribute that or I attribute that to school being back in session and ASU coming back into session.

Ted Simons:
I want to get into ASU a little more in a second. I know you just completed a survey and it's just been released as far as who is riding light rail. Who is riding light rail?

Rick Simonetta:
It's interesting. Most people any light rail would be for people going to work, that that would be the predominant use of light rail. In fact, that's not the case and most predominant use of light rail is for just going to other activities, either going home from activities or going from home to activities. Doesn't include going to ASU, it includes going through k through 12 school or movie or shopping or museum, all kinds of purposes.

Ted Simons:
Were those results surprising?

Rick Simonetta:
They were, another surprising finding, 45% of the people who use light rail walk to light rail, so they are within walking distance. And another interesting finding was that 35% of the people using light rail never rode transit before light rail opened, so those are all brand new people that and I think 90% of them had automobiles, one or two automobiles. So we've got a lot of shifting of transportation modes, I hope that means we're cleaning up the air and we're reducing congestion.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned ASU, students this go round are going to have to pay and are paying as opposed to last year when they kind of got to go for free. How is that affecting numbers?

Rick Simonetta:
Well, that's certainly not preventing students and faculty from taking advantage of what light rail has to offer. To date over 9,000 passes have been sold for this first semester. And last year of course when someone started school, they had the option of either buying a parking pass or buying a transit pass when there wasn't light rail, and we believe that with light rail, you know, being up and operational and many of the students having experienced it last spring, that we're going to see much, much bigger numbers.

Ted Simons:
Rate increases in general, how's it affecting ridership overall and what kind of rate increases are we talking about here?

Rick Simonetta:
Well, on July 1st, a 40% increase in the base fare went into effect. Base fare went from $1.25 to $1.75. I'm sure it has impacted ridership because we don't have any history of what we did, you know, the July before, because we weren't in service, we can't really say what the impact is. The revenue is good. We're actually seeing more fare box revenue which is what the objective was and it's making us recover expenses from fares being paid. But looking at the August numbers that I mention over 33%, I'm not sure the fare increase will have a negative impact.

Ted Simons:
And Suns tickets and concerts at U.S. airways arena, talk to us about that.

Rick Simonetta:
Well, when we started up last winter the suns were in the middle of their season and many people started using light rail to get to the suns games. The U.S. airways center has a lot procedure going on than just the suns, so we've been in discussions with them for the past several months to talk about a way that a ticket that is scanned into the system there for an event will also be good prior to that event for a ride on light rail, getting to the event and getting home afterwards. So we have reached an agreement with them, it's going to go into effect October 1st. It's a one-year pilot project. They're very excited about it. We're very excited about it. We hope that lots and lots of people who go to the suns games and go to other activities at the U.S. airways center are going to get there and home by light rail.

Ted Simons:
Will there be a surcharge on tickets for the transportation?

Rick Simonetta:
That was part of what they did. They added a small surcharge and we get paid a certain amount of money for every ticket that is scanned, in other words, for everyone who actually does attend the event. So it's a good deal for both of us and really the cost to the user is very, very nominal because of the arrangement we have.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned Arizona State University back in session, ridership obviously up. You got a football game or we got a football game, we all have a football game coming up this weekend in Tempe. First real football weekend with light rail, although the Obama visit, the presidential visit kind of laid the ground work, did it not?

Rick Simonetta:
We know that we've got good access from two stations to the stadium. We carried about 35,000 people around that event when the president was in town speaking at the commencement ceremony. We don't know what the first football game is going to bring, but we're prepared. We're going to have every piece of equipment out there and all the operators that we have. We encourage people to take light rail to the game. It's certainly a quick way in and out without worrying about parking and traffic and woe want to see the sun devils win as well.

Ted Simons:
Couple more questions. Is advertising still on schedule, on trains? In stations? Both?

Rick Simonetta:
Yes, both, and in fact both inside the trains and outside of the trains, we awarded a contract, a month or two ago, and the process is under way for that sales agent to try to find interested businesses to do the advertising. So they're in the process right now of doing that. This is a very tough economy, and we learn that a lot of people have really scaled down their marketing budget so it's not the greatest time to start this. But we need the revenue. We're looking for revenue anywhere we can get it. Last year during the all-star game we had a few trains, cars that were wrapped, looked like a moving billboard the entire train had a message on it. We think that would judge rate the maximum amount of revenue. It's possible for someone to do advertising at our stations and we're going to have some advertising for whoever wraps a train, to do some inside advertising generally on the floor. We're also interested in pursuing flat screen TVs inside each of the cars so that people can see, you know, public service messages, weather, stock, and then also some advertising.

Ted Simons:
And I was going to say real quickly here, naming rights a possibility for stations as well?

Rick Simonetta:
We're looking for every way to generate revenue, and the concept of naming rights is starting to trickle into the transit industry, there are a couple of examples around the country where it seems to have worked. So we are right now out for proposals to have companies come in and try to manage whole business of seeing if we can sell naming rights.

Ted Simons:
Question on accidents, leveling off, more, less?

Rick Simonetta:
Every season seems to be different. We have a dynamic population here. There are always people coming and going, for a number of reasons, got new ASU students coming into town, we have a lot of conventions and so on, so the accident rates may not taper off as they would in other places that are more stable. But right now we're averaging between four to five collisions a month, and thank goodness none of them have been serious, no one has been seriously injured and none of them have been preventable from metro's perspective. So we're having, you know, hit-and-runs and we're having all kinds of little things like that. It's a nuisance. It delays service for a few minutes. But we're doing all that we can to try to make sure our equipment is working well, the signals are working well, and the message is out there. Act safely around light rail.

Ted Simons:
Rick, good to have you on. Thanks for joining us.

Rick Simonetta:
Thank you.

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