June 24, 2010
Host: Ted Simons
Ballot Measure Descriptions
- This week, state lawmakers adopt the official Legislative Council descriptions of ballot measures that will appear in November’s general election publicity pamphlet. Longtime state lawmaker Pete Rios explains the process and politics involved in coming up with impartial analyses of the ballot measures.
Category: Vote 2010
- Pete Rios - Arizona Lawmaker
| Keywords: election
, vote 2010
, ballot measures
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon", I'm Ted Simons. Voters have a lot to learn before the November general election. At least a dozen propositions will be on the ballot. Of course, the best way to know what you're voting on is to read the language of each measure. But if you'd rather rely on a summary that appears in the publicity pamphlet mailed to voters, we thought you might want to know a little more about how those summaries are put together. Producer David Majure and photographer Scot Olson take us to the state capitol where yesterday, lawmakers were adopting descriptions of ballot measures that will appear in the voter's guide.
Chad Campbell: I can't imagine why we'd be opposing this amendment to allow the voters to understand what money they are making.
Narrator: This is Legislative Council. It's a committee of the legislature chaired in alternate years by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.
Garcia: I would move the chairman's draft, this is for House Concurrent Resolution 2001 be adopt.
Narrator: The Council consists of eight Republicans and six democrats. By law, it's required to prepare an analysis of each ballot measure.
Mike Braun: The analyses that you adopt today are to be included in the publicity pamphlet that is sent by the Secretary of State to all voters.
Narrator: The analyses must be impartial. And, as we're about to see, that's easier said than done.
Steve Farley: If one of our members is led by this language to not know that this is a repeal of something the voters approved, I think that this language is probably going to mislead a whole lot of voters.
Narrator: The process starts with the nonpartisan Legislative Council staff. It writes a rough draft of each analysis without input from anyone - including lawmakers. The rough draft then goes to the Chairman of Legislative Council, in this case, the Speaker of the House. He can accept the analysis or make changes. But the public won't necessarily know what, or if any, changes were made. The result is a chairman's draft of the analysis that goes to the Council for a vote. This is where the fun begins.
Mike Braun: Mr. Chairman, we believe that the chairman's draft analysis for HCR 2001 complies with the statutory requirements.
Narrator: We'll follow along as the council debates the analysis of a measure referred to the ballot by the legislature. It terminates an early childhood development program commonly known as First Things First and redirects the program's tobacco tax revenues to the state's general fund.
Rhian Evans Allvin: We reviewed the analysis for the impartial analysis and the factual interpretation and the only comment I want to make --
Narrator: Committee members and the public may suggest amendments.
Rhian Evans Allvin: It talks about the fund administered by Early Childhood Development and Health Board. There are eight powers and duties that the board shall do and six that the board may do, none of which are funding central and field offices and employing staff, so I wanted to draw your attention to that and we're asking that those words be struck from the analysis.
Steve Farley: I think we are charged statutorily with doing here is our duty and legislative council and reviewing analyses is to make the language clear as possible for the voters so that they may make an informed decision about which way they want to vote no matter which way they think is right. I think we have done ourselves a disservice by not clearly stating that what we are talking about here is First Things First. To not call it "First Things First" anywhere in this analysis does not make things clearer for the voters, it makes things much less clear and in fact muddles the issue.
Kirk Adams: To claim that the funding of field office and staff is not a requirement in this proposition was certainly be a willing suspension of logic. Furthermore I think if this body were to include campaign slogans in these analyses such as "First Things First" I don't think, that's a Pandora's box that we would never really want to open.
Narrator: In the end, state law says, each analysis must describe the ballot measure clearly and concisely, avoiding technical terms wherever possible. It may contain background information and it must be impartial.
John McComish: I am concerned that it is not as complete as it could be, because as President Burns said, there's no comment in here about the budget ramifications, which is the reason for being in the first place. But despite that concern I will vote, “Aye”.
Narrator: But as lawmakers debate who to include and leave out of their analysis it's obvious that impartiality is in the eye of the beholder.
Chad Campbell: I think that we are going to possibly see a challenge to this, with that I vote no.
Narrator: Sometimes it just might take a judge to decide if the analysis meets that requirement.
Ted Simons: Here with more insight into the process of drafting ballot measure descriptions is former democratic State Legislator Pete Rios who, as Senate President, chaired the Legislative Council. Good to see you again.
Pete Rios: Good seeing you Ted, Thank you.
Ted Simons: The wording in these publicity pamphlets, how big a deal is it?
Pete Rios: I think it's a huge deal. Because a lot of people do not want to spend a lot of time when they get the publicity pamphlet in the mail reading the pros and cons. Then they see where the objective or impartial analysis and lot of people say, well, that's the one I'm going to read because I want to know the facts. And they read it and they believe that they're truly getting an impartial analysis and they are not. They are getting a skewed and biased analysis depending on which party has control of the Legislative Council. As we saw on the preview tape right now.
Ted Simons: We also saw on the tape the idea that sometimes these things will have to go to court. Often these things have to go to court, correct?
Pete Rios: Yes. And I would imagine that what was on the tape on "First Things First" that will probably wind up in court and be litigated. Because the impartial analysis that was adopted by the committee as was stated by one of the members does not indicate that this was one, a voter approved initiative to begin with. Nowhere does it say that. And people care about that. Because they don't want the legislature changing what they voted for. Two, makes no reference that this is the initial First Things First for children's program up to the age five. And it says nothing about this being completely repealed forever.
Ted Simons: The other side would say, why is that information required?
Pete Rios: It is required for one simple reason. People can identify with the program if they know the name of the program. Because it was used many, many times over and over again when it was voted in by the people. Four years ago. First Things First. They can identify with that. They can identify with the fact that it was voter approved. Here it doesn't say or make any reference to that. So, I would suspect that this will go before a superior court judge, some where in Maricopa County by the supporters of First Things First.
Ted Simons: More often than not you're saying that even the wording goes along party lines, correct?
Pete Rios: That is correct.
Ted Simons: So, what's a better process here?
Pete Rios: I think a better process would be, and I hope that it would work, is to appoint a blue ribbon citizen’s committee that would do two republicans, two democrats, and maybe three independents that would do the analysis and then they would vote on it. It would go then to lead counsel, I'm not talking about the committee, I'm talking about the director Mike Braun. He would work with these people to make sure that the terminology and legalese is accepted and constitutional. Then that would go to the Secretary of State as the impartial analysis. What has happened, Ted, anything that came out of Leg. Council almost went straight to the ballot. In 1994, president John green at the time put a question on the ballot that had to do with tort reform. And he wanted to slant the analysis so people would vote for it. At the end it failed, but Paul Ekstein, a local attorney, said this is so unfair. He took it to court and basically convinced the courts that they needed to play a role in the publicity pamphlet and the analysis. And ever since every two years a lot of these ballot questions analysis go to court and the judges have a say in it.
Ted Simons: From your time as Chairman of the Legislative Council, and what is dealt with then to what you see happening now, has there been much of a change, is it trending in certain directions? Is even the process has that changed?
Pete Rios: I think it's trending where it's becoming even more biased. I mean, there's some of these propositions that are pretty objective and people don't object to like changing the filing date for initiative petitions from four months to six months. I think that came out of committee on an 11-0 vote. You're not going to get too much of an argument there. But as far as some of these taking money out of programs or trying to do away with affirmative action or trying to do away with the money for land conservation, those are big issues for somebody. Either the Sierra Club, what I have seen over the years is that it's become more skewed, more biased, because in the process where before the director of the legislative council, Michael Braun would draw up an analysis that would then go to the committee and then you would argue in the light of day, in front of everybody, and offer amendment, now what happens is, the director submits it to the chairman, the chairman's people, attorney, get a shot at it so then they can change verbiage around to make it more slanted, then presented to the committee.
Ted Simons: So the idea for preparing this rough draft, which is supposed to be prepared by an impartial council staff, that's gone by the wayside?
Pete Rios: Let me just put it this way, the lead council, the director they work for the legislature. The legislature is whichever party is in control. So, Michael Braun knows who butters his bread so he's going to work with whoever is in the majority.
Ted Simons: Real quickly, has there been a high profile, or two, measures, ballot measures that were as from where you sit either voted up or down with great emphasis by way of the wording? Did the wording change a lot in a measure you can think of?
Pete Rios: I think in 1994, if President John Green at the time would have gotten his way I think he would have convinced a lot of people to restrict, contributory negligence awards and damage awards by the way he worded because it sounded like American pie, the American flag. Once the court got through with it, no, no you can't do that. The wording was changed. I think because of that it failed. The voters said, no way are we going down that road.
Ted Simons: So bottom line, can voters trust these summaries and descriptions?
Pete Rios: I would basically say to the voters, read the impartial analysis but also read the pros and cons. You will get more information from the pros and the cons more than you will from the impartial analysis.
Ted Simons: All right. Peter, always a pleasure, thanks for joining it.
Pete Rios: I appreciate it.
- We’ll take a look at the Valley’s Discovery Triangle. It’s a regional cooperative effort to enhance, develop and revitalize property within the geographic triangle that connects downtown Phoenix, Tempe and Papago Park.
- Sara Dial - Board Member, Discovery Triangle Development Corporation
- Mary Shultz - Chairman of the Board, Discovery Triangle Development Corporation
Ted Simons: The area between Phoenix, Tempe and Papago Park was recently labeled the discovery triangle. It's a part of the valley that's been neglected over the years as development shifted to the suburbs. But in 2008, the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation was created to reinvigorate the area. More on that in a moment, but first, David Majure and Scott Olson take us to the discovery triangle.
Narrator: 16,000 acres, 25 square miles between Phoenix, Tempe and Papago Park. This is the Discovery Triangle. Parts of the triangle are vibrant, economic powerhouses.
Charle Meyer: Already in Tempe, 20% of the jobs that we have right in this area are technology-related jobs. They are the jobs that represent the future.
David Krietor: You've got sky harbor airport with 40,000 people going to work there every day. You've got these incredibly extraordinary things that are now happening in downtown Phoenix. With the ASU campus, with the bioscience campus.
Narrator: But much of the region has seen better days.
Charlie Meyer: Time hasn't treated it very kindly.
Narrator: The Discovery Triangle Development Corporation is a public-private partnership created in 2008 to help the triangle reach its maximum potential. It's making plans to redevelop and revitalize the region shaping it in to a world class urban core.
David Krietor: The aspiration, that we've had of having an urban core that can compete with the greatest urban cores of the United States, this is an opportunity for us to do that.
Charle Meyer: It's about collaboration to a large extent.
David Krietor: Especially with the advent of light rail, which I think is just critical in providing the golden thread that ties these three employment centers together.
Mindy Korth: The points of the triangle are downtown Phoenix, downtown Tempe and Papago Park.
Narrator: In partnership with real estate firm CB Richard Ellis, the Discovery Triangle Corporation has developed a Google Earth-based asset inventory.
Mindy Korth: The assets would include the freeway system, being immediately adjacent to the international airport, having Papago Park.
Narrator: It consists of levels and levels of data.
Mindy Korth: Now as an example if we happen to be looking at a site in downtown Tempe, Hayden Ferry lake side is an example. We can zero in even closer.
Narrator: It's information to help market the area and plan for its redevelopment.
Mindy Korth: It's a combination of not only all of the non-single family land area and what the usage is of that area, but also the schools, the hospitals, the road systems, the cultural amenities. The museums et cetera.
Narrator: The asset inventory can show businesses looking to expand or relocate to the region, just about everything it has to offer.
David Krietor: Right now, today, we have tremendous concentrations of employment and vitality in downtown Tempe, at sky harbor airport and downtown Phoenix. This is an opportunity to tie those three economic engines that really drive a lot of economic activity in the region together and to market and sell and promote the -- them as one entity. I think that folks are going to find this very beneficial in the long term.
Narrator: Phoenix, Tempe and other members of the public-private partnership are trying to -- shape the valley's future, if they succeed it will be in the shape of a triangle.
Ted Simons: Joining me are members of the board for the discovery triangle development corporation, Sara Dial, former director of the state department of commerce And Chairman of the Board, Marty Shultz. He's also the vice president of government affairs for Pinnacle West Capital Corporation. good to see you. What can this do to push development in this area?
Sara Dial: Well, you know, you think about the greater Phoenix area 25 years ago, what all the things that weren't here. We didn't have chase field, didn't have the highway 202, the 101, Tempe Town Lake. All of these things that happened in 25 years. Imagine what can happen in discovery triangle in the next 25 years. Our effort about regional collaboration, we are trying to be a catalyst to getting the cities to work together, which they have been doing beautifully. About revitalizing that area between these two urban cores, David talked about with Papago Park. A tremendous opportunity, it takes great vision. That's what we're about.
Ted Simons: How does it impact Tempe and Phoenix? Directly, what can the cities say, look, this is going to help us?
Marty Shultz: Well, I think that in this day and age when there's a lot of complaining about the economy, because it is down and we're concerned about jobs, specific impact and outcomes of the discovery triangle and the development corporation that is working on its behalf is for new jobs, which mean new investments, that of course would mean new industries. And the kind of industries that we're talking about are really urban, vital, knowledge-based kinds of industries. The opportunities that Phoenix and Tempe and this whole area have adjacent to and surrounded by, if you will, great transportation systems including an airport that goes anywhere in the world and great universities, will result in promoting the knowledge economy generally and the biosciences, medical issues, device manufacturing, it goes on and on, Ted. The opportunities -- Sara talks about in the next 25 years I believe she's absolutely right. But if we were to break that up in to increments of four or five years we're going to see a pretty tremendous progress in this area in a lot shorter period of time. In terms of investments.
Ted Simons: I own a business in that area, I'm hearing this, "What is going on here? What's happening? What’s in it for me?”
Sara Dial: One of the biggest benefits is that now we look at marketing our urban areas as a region. Downtown Phoenix by itself is a good story by itself. Downtown Tempe and the assets is a good story. Papago Park, but now we start looking at like it is a region, we really have something very, very powerful including the airport in the center of that with light rail connecting it and the many transportation assets that we have. So if we look at it as a region we have a much better story to tell, which is going to help us with development, hopefully in the not too distant future well see increase in real estate values, new jobs and many, many benefits to current businesses and new businesses and residents.
Ted Simons: Papago Park is included, I can see someone right now saying, they're not going to develop Papago Park, are they? Why is Papago Park included in it?
Sara Dial: Papago Park is a real asset. They just finished a master plan, the group is set with their plan. But what we found in our work and talking to a lot of leaders we reached out to hundreds of them. What is really unique about this area is there's this nature component to our urban core, that's what makes Arizona unique, we've got this desert sitting right smack in the middle of these two urban scores we tie it together that makes something very powerful. And Marty mentioned the knowledge company, the knowledge workers, those types of people that we want living and working and playing in the discovery triangle. What a wonderful lifetime amenity that is right there on the edge of our downtown.
Ted Simons: So you're not paving over paradise out there.
Sara Dial: Absolutely not.
Ted Simons: As far as cities contributing, what do they contribute? What did they get back? I mention this because the mayor of Scottsdale -- I guess Scottsdale decided not to go along with this particular project. But he said, we would be recipient of a little and payer of a lot. Talk to us about that quote and Phoenix and Tempe, what do they get and what do they pay?
Marty Shultz: Well, the synergies that are going on here, which means the fact is, that you've got powerful forces like the City of Phoenix and the City of Tempe working together in the urban area, Sara was talking about, which by the way that is this great nature oriented facility is wonderful. Scottsdale at this time, I really have to emphasize I think at this time, is somewhat divided politically in many different areas. And so I think the mayor and couple of his colleagues decided not to participate on a 3-3 vote, by the way. So, I think that in the end as the regional proposition that we put forward comes to life, Scottsdale will be much more interested because frankly, the residents of Scottsdale and residents of south Scottsdale are great beneficiaries as well. Nobody draws a line and says, they can't participate. But the city government chose not to participate and in the future I'm going to predict that they will.
Ted Simons: But in terms of -- I don't want to speak for the mayor he says, we're paying and not receiving. What does that mean as far as this particular project is concerned? What are cities, quote, unquote, paying for this?
Marty Shultz: The cities are paying several thousand dollars. It's really a rather inexpensive effort just to keep our small staff going so we can keep the corporation going and do the kinds of marketing analysis that you've heard about. So in terms of the dollar investment it is not significant and Mayor Lane knows that. They also contribute their talent and their vision as well. I just think this is one of those things, I've been involved before as you know, Ted, in regional developments. When we started talking about a freeway system years ago, I had cities that told me, Marty, we don't want to participate and Indians tribes didn't want to participate for various reasons. It's a change. But the regional cooperation is an imperative here. The regional cooperation is the key to this investment. Interestingly enough, regional cooperation was key to the freeway system, it is key to the airport, it is key to -- I could go on and on. This community of ours generally did not grow up because Phoenix did okay. Or Tempe did okay. Or Scottsdale did okay. We did it because of regional cooperation and frankly that's the beauty of this involvement we call it, regional or urban vitality and in nature. That's the reason that this is going to be successful.
Ted Simons: Sara, tangible results, things that weep can point to and see and say, discovery triangle, when can we see this?
Sara Dial: Immediately we've done the asset inventory which is huge investment by CBRE. I credit them for a ton of work and time and energy and research that have been spent. You asked the cities are getting, we're meeting with the city of Phoenix probably 25 of their employees on Monday to train them and show them the inventory and hopefully they will be using that in their day-to-day work and economic development. Same with the City of Tempe that's a huge asset to the cities that they will be receiving. Additionally Mayor Gordon is off to Singapore, I think he announced this week, we supplied him with collateral pieces to talk globally about the triangle, that’s our hope. In ten or 15 years we'll be known globally for this triangle.
Ted Simons: My last question, only got 30 seconds or so less. In ten or 15 years, what do you own vision, what do you want to see? I.
Sara Dial: I see new companies, knowledge companies, our ASU and U of A graduates staying in the greater Phoenix area because of the discovery triangle, a place this they want to live and work and raise families. I see transportation, I see connectivity. Jobs, invest; all those things that we talked about.
Ted Simons: Very good. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Marty Shultz: Thank you.