May 17, 2011
Host: Ted Simons
Packages from Home
- Kathleen Lewis, the founder of Phoenix-based “Packages from Home” describes the work her nonprofit does to show America’s military troops how much they’re appreciated.
- Keahleen Lewis - Founder, Packages from Home
| Keywords: packages
Ted Simons: They're far from home. Many of them are based in hostile environments. They're America's military troops, and their daily sacrifices throughout the world can sometimes be taken for granted. But it doesn't go unnoticed by a Phoenix-based nonprofit that shows its appreciation on a regular basis. Joining me is Kathleen Lewis, she's the founder of packages from home. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. Let's get an overview of what packages for home is.
Kathleen Lewis: Packages from home, we send packages out to our military until Iraq and Afghanistan, we've sent to approximately 750,000 soldiers now. And we're very glad to do that.
Ted Simons: How did all this get started?
Kathleen Lewis: My son was being deployed out of Germany to Iraq in 2004, so I flew to Germany to kiss him goodbye, and I saw his guys and realized that they weren't going to have the same things my son would have. Came home, told my girlfriends we need to do something about this and that's what we did.
Ted Simons: And it's grown from there, again, how many packages?
Kathleen Lewis: We have reached 750,000 soldiers.
Ted Simons: My goodness. What's in these packages?
Kathleen Lewis: Oh, my gosh. Anything from hygiene, from baby wipes, that we all hear about to food, peanut butter and jelly, those are some of the things they miss from home. Very important. Flat-screen TVs, weight machines and pool tables. They ask for and it we give it to them.
Ted Simons: Are there things you encourage people to donate, or DOD encourages to be sent, or conversely, things you don't want to get involved with?
Kathleen Lewis: There are some things we don't involve, I think we can figure those things out. Some young men like certain things we're not going to send. But on our website packages from home.org, we have over 100 items that are actually listed, and they're listed according to how badly they're needed. So we have those listed, at packagesfromhome.org, and we have approximately 100 drop sites where you can take the items and drop them off and we'll get them and ship them off to the troops.
Ted Simons: If I donate something, how do I know, first, it's getting there, and secondly do I know, am I afforded the opportunity to know who's getting them?
Kathleen Lewis: You can actually sign your troop up online at packagesfromhome.org, and we actually each package has an individual's name on it. We don't send to any troop, that's not how it's done. It has an individual's name on it. They're signed through packages from home and anyone can do that. But you have to have a complete APO or FPO, which is an address, to do that.
Ted Simons: You don't necessarily give out names?
Kathleen Lewis: We do not. We're vetted by DOD and we are security oriented, and we do not give out names.
Ted Simons: Do you ever hear -- I suppose you do -- do you hear from the soldiers?
Kathleen Lewis: We hear from them. They'll drop in at our center, tell us what they've received, how wonderful it was. They give us letters, and then we actually -- that's our wallpaper. We put their letters on the wall. You can read our wall and find out exactly who we are.
Ted Simons: It looks like some happy soldiers there.
Kathleen Lewis: They are the best.
Ted Simons: You probably get some pretty nice letters.
Kathleen Lewis: We get some very heartwarming letters. Sometimes you'll read them and we'll be in tears.
Ted Simons: I bet. You're not the only group doing. This correct?
Kathleen Lewis: There are 300 grass-roots charities throughout the United States. Not everyone does the same thing we do. There's lots of different ways to serve your military. This just happens to be our way of serving them. And it's great.
Ted Simons: I ask because it would seem as if there were more than even a few of these groups sending packages, you could have a whole lot of packages inundating the soldiers.
Kathleen Lewis: You can have a whole lot of packages, but the thing is, those packages and the goods we send are used and used up very, very quickly. So the things we send are always in need, there's nothing left over, and it's wonderful.
Ted Simons: OK. I want to make a donation. How do I go about doing this?
Kathleen Lewis: You can go online at packagesfromhome.org, make a donation there, right online, you can go to one of our drop sites and leave some of the goods that we've asked for. Very similar.
Ted Simons: There are drop sites. It's not just money only.
Kathleen Lewis: We love money, because we have to pay for all the postage and we send a thousand boxes a month. So it's very expensive. But, no, you can actually go to the drop sites and we will be glad to take those items.
Ted Simons: And packagesfromhome.org, which we've shown a couple times during the interview, that is where to go for more information on this. Before you go, I know you're working with another nonprofit on a fund-raiser for an Iraqi boy. Talk to us about that.
Kathleen Lewis: Little Hussein was literally blown up, and the United States military stepped in to help this young man and he has had some horrific wounds. So once -- he was here, he had some surgery, we've been able to bring him back for further surgery with “heal the children”. And so we have kind of stepped in and facilitated getting some of his items that he need back at the request of the United States military.
Ted Simons: OK. Talk to us about this fund-raiser, where it is, when it is, and what it's involved.
Kathleen Lewis: Actually I believe the fund-raiser you're talking about is over at Toby Keith's on Memorial Day weekend, and actually it is a fund-raiser for packages from home. And what we're took there is trying to raise money to support our habit on our postage.
Ted Simons: We talked about what got you started on this and how it's grown. When you started this, did you have any idea that this -- you would be here years later?
Kathleen Lewis: I had no idea. No idea whatsoever. But this task was placed in front of me, and I picked it up and a lot of people have come with me on it. We have wonderful volunteers, and of course, my goodness, how could you not want to, but help your military? They're the best America has to offer. They're just fabulous. And they make it easy to love them.
Ted Simons: Is there something that though you wish -- first, two things. Is there -- are there challenges we might not be aware of that you just have to fight through all the time, A, and B, are there things you really want out in in terms of getting this job done easier?
Kathleen Lewis: Well, we always can use more volunteers, of course. And fund-raising ideas, that's a big thing, because it does cost us money to ship these packages. It's not free. And it's not easy. So those are big things. But I will say this is a labor of love. To do something for your country, for those young men and women who are putting their lives on the line for us so that we may be here today. That's wonderful. That is just great. And so, yes, it is hard at times, but it's well worth the effort.
Ted Simons: You're doing great work. Thank you so much for joining us.
Kathleen Lewis: Thank you.
Ted Simons: Tomorrow on "Horizon," golf writer bill huffman talks about the Arizona golf industry and turmoil at Papago golf course. Plus, is there an Arizona link to the DNA identification of Osama Bin Laden? That's Wednesday at 7:00 on "Horizon." As you saw earlier in the program, if you'd like to watch tonight's show again or see any previous edition of "Horizon," maybe see what we have in store for the future, check us out at www.azpbs.org/horizon. That is it for now I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.
Pearce Recall Effort
- Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb discusses his recent column about how the effort to recall Senator Russell Pearce could be the start of a dangerous trend.
- Bob Robb - Columnist, Arizona Republic
| Keywords: Recall
Ted Simons: The recall effort against senate president Russell Pearce is within a few hundred signatures of its goal. A group called citizens for a better Arizona is behind the effort. The group has until the end of the month to get the rest of the 7800 required signatures. "Arizona Republic" columnist Bob Robb wrote the recall movement could be the start after dangerous trend. Bob Robb joins us now to talk more about this. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us. An abuse? What are you talking about here?
Bob Robb: Let me first acknowledge that it's legal, the Arizona constitution doesn't put any kind of restrictions on the grounds for seeking to recall an office holder. But to me, democracy is a fragile thing, and stability in government requires accepting the outcome of elections. And Russell Pearce was just selected by the voters of legislative district 18 to represent them in Arizona senate, less than seven months ago. And it's not like he was a stranger. He's probably in terms of state legislators, the best well-known candidate around. So asking for a do-over, when there's really been nothing that's occurred in the interim to suggest that he's any different than he was when the voters selected him to serve in the senate, is to me an abuse of the process, even though it's legal. And if the political parties find out that they can harass the people or most effective on the other side for just 25 grand, it might be the start of something that leads to a degree of instability that I don't think would be good for the state.
Ted Simons: You wrote that president Pearce doesn't know what he's talking about, that's a quote, shaky command of relevant information, that's another quote.
Bob Robb: And I'm his defender.
Ted Simons: I was going to say. And that's the good stuff. Why not allow people who voted for him and then saw efforts to nullify federal law in Arizona? Efforts to continue if not expand certain immigration enforcement efforts. Allowing a letter written by a teacher that seemed to pretty tough on Hispanic kids, allowing -- standing up for a lawmaker who may or may not have been involved in domestic abuse, certainly an incident on a roadway. These sorts of things, the Fiesta Bowl situation, we're learning more about that as well. Why not allow the electorate to say, you know what? Maybe we do need a do-over. Not just in this case, but in any case. At what point do you say, you voted, it's ball game.
Bob Robb: The Fiesta Bowl may be different. If something comes out about that, there may be a change in circumstances that would warrant in my judgment a recall. But at present, he's done nothing different than 16 other legislators in terms of not properly disclosing gifts or tickets from the Fiesta Bowl. The other 15 are not subject to recall. A majority of Republicans voted for the nullification vote. There's nothing in the laundry list that you depicted that ought to be a surprise to anybody who's even passingly aware of Russell Pearce and his politics. So again, there's just nothing which suggests that after seven months you should try to overcome the results of a duly constituted election that he won fairly, particularly since he'll have to face the electorate again in 2012. Channel your efforts into finding a candidate to run a more effective challenge to him then, rather than putting us during this path where there's no real justification, but you nevertheless recall somebody.
Ted Simons: When is there justification?
Bob Robb: You mentioned Scott Bundgaard. And I would say that there's been since his election an intervening set of circumstances that might cause the voters of his district to say, you know, he's not the guy that we thought we elected. And would justify asking for the electors in his district to vote him out prematurely. So to me I think if we're going to have stability in government, the recall needs to be limited where there's a change of circumstances that suggest that there ought to be a do-over. I don't see that in Pearce's case.
Ted Simons: In Arizona, first of all, do you agree? I was going to say in Arizona the recall process is not necessarily an easy one. Certainly we haven't seen a heck of a lot of recalls succeed. First of all, do you agree with the premise, and secondly, should the law, should something change regarding the recall process?
Bob Robb: At the state level is it a daunting process. Because you need 25% of the votes for the office in the previous election, that's over 400,000 signatures at that level. But as a state legislative district level, it's 7-10,000 signatures. If you can raise $25-30,000 you can do it. It's just it's never been done before. Recall petitions are taken out all the time, and the political world sort of yawns because they're never successful. But if you're willing to invest the money in it, which is what these guys have done that is different, you can succeed.
Ted Simons: But doesn't the past prove the point that this is not necessarily an abuse, because it doesn't happen all the time, and this could be a particular case in which the money was found, the mound was used, there may be a candidate out there at that time we don't know where it's going, but this exception doesn't the exception almost prove the rule?
Bob Robb: My fear is that once a political tactic is learned, it is often -- it replicates like rabbits. And so if this is used to in my judgment go after Russell Pearce, not because of his views, which are shared by most Republican legislators, not because of his votes, which are shared by most Republican legislators, but because he is unusually effective at advancing policy in certain ways people disagree with, is that that becomes a tool that becomes more widely used, and that's why I say it may start us down a wrong and a dangerous path. There are some municipalities where their city councilmen get recalled pretty regularly. We don't call them oasise s of god governments.
Ted Simons: The last question here, when people say this is democracy in action, this is a way to hold those that they elect accountable, whether it's for their abuse -- they don't like them anymore, they're tired of hearing them, they don't like the way they present a variety - . It's all under that big umbrella. When people say that, how do you respond?
Bob Robb: It is legal, but we had an election less than seven months ago. All those issues could have been brought up. There's been this change, and I just think while it's legal, they have the right to do it. The interest of the state requires a degree of self-discipline that they're not showing.
Ted Simons: Are you getting a lot of response on this?
Bob Robb: I'm getting a lot of response. Most people think I'm nuts.
Ted Simons: All right. Well, we'll end it right there. Thanks for joining us.
Bob Robb: You bet.
- An update on efforts to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale with Arizona Republic reporter Rebekah Sanders.
- Rebekah Sanders - Arizona Republic
| Keywords: coyotes
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The Glendale city council agreed to pay the NHL $25 million last week to keep the coyotes in town for at least one more season. Here with an update is Rebekah Sanders, she's been covering the story for "The Arizona Republic." Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.
Rebekah Sanders: Thank you so much.
Ted Simons: $25 million to keep the team here. But just for one year. Correct?
Rebekah Sanders: That's right. Through the 2011-12 season. So the hockey fans who were Windsor binge drinking maybe going to the playoffs for the last time, this season, they'll have another year.
Ted Simons: Another year to live on the en, because nothing has been done concretely. Correct?
Rebekah Sanders: Right. The team is still owned by the NHL, so its future is uncertain. And that leaves a lot of people in the lurch. Everyone wants a resolution to this team's future, but it's not in sight so far.
Ted Simons: The $25 million that was just approved by the council, where does it come from, what does it pay for?
Rebekah Sanders: So the city agreed last year to pay the NHL $25 million to keep them through this past season. And they've done it again. It's an amount that depends on the cost of running the arena as well as the team. So it keeps the NHL managing the concerts, managing the games and keeping the team playing, all the costs to get the ice cold, and all of that. And the money comes from the city's general fund for this next coming season.
Ted Simons: So already -- essentially already budgeted to a degree?
Rebekah Sanders: It's already budgeted. Correct.
Ted Simons: OK. 5-2 vote on the city council.
Rebekah Sanders: That's right.
Ted Simons: Who voted no and what were their concerns?
Rebekah Sanders: Sure. The no votes were councilmen Phil Lieberman and Norma Alvarez. Lieberman has been in the opposition camp on many of these votes, so not all of them throughout. He says that he's worried about the city's debt load, he's worried about this money actually -- the deal for the team coming through. And Norma Alvarez is a new council woman who ran on a platform of no money for sports, more money for community. And so that was her reasoning.
Ted Simons: OK. That was the reasoning, those were the “no” votes. Describe the scene at the city council, because it sounds like it's a pretty raucous affair.
Rebekah Sanders: Oh, this time around, last week was pretty raucous. There were more opposition residents and people who oppose this deal than I've seen before, but there was also a large number of coyotes fans, as there have been at all of these events.
Ted Simons: Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like Matthew Hulsizer, the guy who's prominent in buying the team this latest deal, the number one guy, he wasn't there and no one from his group was there?
Rebekah Sanders: That's right. He came to playoff games in April, he was at the December council meeting in which his preliminary deal with the city was approved. He wasn't there this time and his representatives said, well, this is a deal between Glendale and the NHL. It's not between us and Glendale. So we're not going to be there. But it does also point probably to some tension among all of the parties that this deal, which was supposed to be done in November, December, maybe at the latest January of last year, it's not done yet.
Ted Simons: It's not done yet, and from the stories you were writing it sounds like they were also like hints that maybe there's somebody else out there waiting to give it a shot. Is that the impression you got as well?
Rebekah Sanders: That was the most striking change in language at the council meet can, that all this time it's been language about the Hulsizer deal, and we're going to get this deal done, and then at the council meeting both from NHL officials and Glendale officials, it was always, if we get this deal done with Hulsizer or another potential buyer.
Ted Simons: Is there any word out, there any rumor who this potential buyer might be?
Rebekah Sanders: Lots of talk. One of the possibilities that's been floated is that perhaps the city is trying to get Jerry Ryansdorf the Chicago sports mogul, back involved. He's been in and out of this process about three or four times, but they certainly have a relationship with him. Namely because of his White Sox team playing at Glendale's ballpark and for other reasons.
Ted Simons: And they also have an extra year now, not only to work with Hulsizer, but to maybe work with Ryansdorf whoever else happens to come down the pike.
Rebekah Sanders: They have another year, but a lot of people say please don't take that full year. It's already been two years since the coyotes first went into bankruptcy, and all of its financial problems surfaced. Another year is just going to be difficult on fans, on the team, on the team budget. It's not a good situation if it lasts that long.
Ted Simons: What was the Goldwater Institute's take on this $25 million more going to the NHL?
Rebekah Sanders: The Goldwater Institute has opposed the city's deal with Hulsizer, saying it puts taxpayers at risk, it amounts to a government subsidy of private business, which they say is illegal. But on the $25 million agreement, Goldwater has kind of stayed hands-off. They've said we're analyzing it in the context of the full team agreement, Glendale's agreement to keep the team, and we're not going to wade in with a lawsuit right now if we haven't seen everything play out.
Ted Simons: Speaking of lawsuits, we had heard somewhere in the dim and distant past that the city of Glendale was thinking of suing the goldwater institute because of what the goldwater institute has done in kind of mucking up the works for selling these bonds. What happened to those plans?
Rebekah Sanders: The NHL and Glendale both said that Goldwater was harming the city financially by raising questions, by writing letters to bond agencieses about their potential lawsuit and kind of scaring off investors. So there was talk that Glendale might sue Goldwater for damages. But that never materialized. And there were a lot of attempts in different ways including bringing on intense public figures such as Senator John McCain to get Goldwater to back off so the deal could go forward. But they never really took hold with the group.
Ted Simons: I guess in another year, I guess could you look at it this way as well, if there is a legal option for the NHL and/or the city of Glendale, gives them more time to figure that out.
Rebekah Sanders: It does, and Goldwater has said here are some options, but of course the amount of money involved and the team's history, and needs financially make everything complicated, as well as how many parties are involved. The NHL, the team owner, the Glendale -- it's very complicated.
Ted Simons: So with all this complication, what's next? What do we look for? What do you expect to see in this drama?
Rebekah Sanders: Well, I think the next thing to watch for is whether Hulsizer will stay in the deal or announce he's out, and if he stays in, you'll have watch for what's the next step. How will the deal change in order to move it forward. If he drops out, then you'll be watching for, well, who's the buyer that Glendale thinks they can get in here and work out a deal with?
Ted Simons: Real quickly, is there a possibility that if Hulsizer drops out, and whoever these other people are, just aren't panning out, the NHL could say, it's $25 million is fine, but we've got a buyer, we're leaving town. Even though there's an agreement to stay one more year? Is that agreement pretty fixed?
Rebekah Sanders: The agreement looks pretty concrete for this coming season. So I wouldn't say the NHL would break that lease and move the team in the middle of the season. It doesn't make financial sense. The question will really come more in the April-May time frame of next year if the deal isn’t done. What's interesting about this agreement is that it also provides for an extensive annually of up to 10 years of the NHL managing the arena, and it's not entirely clear if that means that it's 25 million from the city and each annual extension, but there seems to be some consideration of whether this goes on longer.
Ted Simons: Oh my goodness gracious, so -- this could be the beginning of the beginning instead of the beginning of the end. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
Rebekah Sanders: Thanks a lot.