Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 15, 2011


Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: CALA Festival

  |   Video
  • The Celebración Artística de las Américas (CALA) Alliance has launched its inaugural CALA Festival, a two-month celebration of Latino arts and culture. CALA Alliance Treasurer Myra Millinger talks about the festival’s purpose and what it has to offer.
Guests:
  • Myra Millinger - CALA Alliance Treasurer
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: art, Cala, festival,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: On tonight's "Arizona artbeat," a valleywide celebration of Latino arts and culture. The CALA Alliance -- CALA being short for Celebracion Artistica de las Americas -- launched its inaugural CALA festival this week. The two-month celebration features a variety of visual and performing arts designed to encourage a better understanding among cultures. Here to tell us more is Myra Millinger. She is treasurer for the CALA Alliance.
Ted Simons: Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Myra Millinger: Thank you.

Ted Simons: This year is first year for the festival, huh?

Myra Millinger: Well, it's the first year for the launch. It's been six years in planning.
Ted Simons: Talk to us about the planning and how did this get started?

Myra Millinger: It got started as an idea of a taskforce looking at how arts and culture might be better positioned to assist business and everybody trying to attract talent and business to the region. And one of the assets that we found that was not talked about as much as we thought it should be, was the richness of our Latino cultural heritage. And so we began to plan for an effort that might find a way to bring that to light. And the CALA Alliance is now an entity that grew out of that effort as a nonprofit dedicated to celebrating and educating and inspiring not only Arizonans, but we hope the whole world about that richness and that heritage.

Ted Simons: And this festival is going to be held at different locations throughout the valley, different kinds of events, the Phoenix symphony involved and art museum involved?

Myra Millinger: There are over 40 organization represented in this effort. And they are a range of organizations. Yes, the Phoenix symphony and Doc SEVERINson to the Arizona Latino arts and culture center and the Phoenix boys' choir. So it's the first time the arts and culture community has come together, big and small, Latino and non-latino with a purpose of celebrating together that piece of our heritage.

Ted Simons: And again, this is more than an arts festival. The idea is bridge building too. Why does a bridge need to be built? What misperceptions are out there and what needs to be corrected in terms of how folks think of other folks?

Myra Millinger: It's interesting, when we launched this as an idea, we were looking at the fact we didn't know within our own community the richness of our Latino roots. Cultural. But -- culturally. But we also knew that other countries didn't know about us and what we had to offer and we didn't know much about them. And part of that was to build that bridge. In the U.S. in the past year, there are other issues that made building bridges and changing perceptions even more important than involves all of us who want to make Arizona the best place it can be to -- to live in and be proud of. And we see this effort as cultural efforts have often been throughout the century as the potential of a bridge to a better place for us.

Ted Simons: Talk about how art, as a bridge, can do things that political discourse, political actions, social this, sociopolitical that, can't seem to get done.

Myra Millinger: It's an interesting story and age-old and I think it's because art speaks beyond the immediate. Art speaks of what is the best of us in many ways. It celebrates the human spirit. It celebrates the talents that make us good. Those things that differentiate, the not so good part of living from the good part. And I think it resonates particularly in difficult times as a comfort and way to communicate our humanity in a non-threatening manner.

Ted Simons: Forged if you will in difficult times.

Myra Millinger: I think more in difficult times.

Ted Simons: Yeah, as far as financial support for the festival, where is it coming from?

Myra Millinger: Our presenting sponsor and we're very, very proud of this is Target. And we began discussions with Target several years ago. And they are funding not only the festival itself but a significant educational outreach effort. That's going on concurrently in the next two months and we hope every year now. It will be an ongoing effort to work with schoolchildren to help them understand their own heritage, but also to help non-latino students who will be our next future leaders, recognize the beauty of other people's traditions.

Ted Simons: As far as getting this together, especially in recent years, six-year process, in recent years, probably I would imagine somewhat difficult. Talk about those challenges.

Myra Millinger: Of getting something like this of the ground?

Ted Simons: You bet.

Myra Millinger: In this economy?

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Myra Millinger: Extraordinarily difficult. And I think part of the reason we celebrated at the art museum last night with almost 300 people was that the business community saw the value in changing the conversation to something positive. And we have emerged without intending to be so. As a positive voice in -- in some -- in an environment that isn't necessarily the best for business to prosper right now, here. And so our support is widespread from Hensley to Aetna to Blue Cross to Blue Shield to private foundations. And we've getting off the ground, I think because of the challenges that the situation is trying to address.

Ted Simons: All right. Well, it started yesterday and goes for two months, good luck. Sounds like it's going to be a busy two months.

Myra Millinger: Thank you.
Ted Simons: And good luck to you. Sounds like quite the festival.
Myra Millinger: Thank you.

ASU and Solar Energy

  |   Video
  • After years of installing solar panels on campus parking structures and rooftops, Arizona State University has exceeded 10 megawatts of solar energy capacity. Find out more about ASU’s commitment to solar power from David Brixen, ASU's associate vice president of Facilities Development and Management, and Morgan Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer, and CFO at ASU.
Guests:
  • David Brixen - ASU Associate Vice President of Facilities Development and Management
  • Morgan Olsen - Executive Vice President, Treasurer, CFO at ASU
Category: Energy   |   Keywords: ASU, solar, energy, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona State University started installing solar panels on its Tempe campus back in 2004. Today, you'll see photovoltaic panels on rooftops and parking garages all over ASU's West and Tempe campuses. Combined, they generate more than 10 megawatts of solar power capacity. According to ASU, that's more than any other American university. Here to talk about ASU's commitment to solar energy are -- ASUs Executive Vice President Morgan Olsen, who serves as the university's treasurer and Chief Financial Officer David Brixen, ASU's vice president of facilities development and management.
Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us. Good to have you both here.
Morgan Olsen: Thank you.
David Brixen: Thank you.
Ted Simons: Morgan, let’s start with you. 10-megawatts of solar energy capacity. What does that mean?
Morgan Olsen: Right. Well, that's the equivalent of about the same amount of power it takes to support 2500 Arizona homes, average size for a year. And also the largest accumulation of solar generating capacity on any university in the country and as far as we know, possibly the world.

Ted Simons: ASU is number one in terms of solar capacity and solar production.

Morgan Olsen: At this moment.

Ted Simons: As far as percentage of power being used at peak load time, what are we talking about 10-megawatts?

David Brixen: Well, 10-meggawatts basically provides about 20% of the power during our day time hours --or actually, what we call peak, 20% toward that's peak. The west campus actually during the daytime is generating almost all of the power that the west campus consumes.

Ted Simons: Interesting. So the entire west campus is pretty much ok with solar power in the daytime.
David Brixen: As long as we have sun.
[Laughter]
Ted Simons: Ok. Here we go. Carbon footprint - and the idea to make the smallest footprint you can. What does this do to reduce that foot print?

Morgan Olsen: It's the reduction of somewhere between 5% and 10% of the university's entire carbon foot print and we have a goal as part of our overall university sustainability strategic plan of reaching carbon neutrality. No net carbon production by 2020. With our -- our uses other than transportation. People driving cars and etc. And including all of the transportation uses and this is a major step toward that goal.
Ted Simons: We're seeing the cells there right now. Where are these installations in Tempe and on the west side?

David Brixen: Well, in total, 46 different sites. We have number of our buildings on the Tempe campus on the rooftops and the solar installations, almost all of our parking garages have solar installations on the top deck. The west campus, a large solar installation, what we call ground mount and in our parking lot.
Ted Simons: As far as being -- I don't know, you want to see this stuff and you know it's working but you want it to translate into energy savings. When exactly, when is that going to happen?

David Brixen: Well we estimate based on what's happening with utility rates. Five years to next 10 years, we'll reach the crossover point.
Ted Simons: So that means we have more things being planned, correct?

Morgan Olsen: Absolutely. We just announced we hit the 10 megawatts but there's roughly another five megawatts in planning design or construction and our goal by the year 2014 hit 20 megawatts of generating capacity.

Ted Simons: That quickly huh?

Morgan Olsen: Well, Dave and his crew are doing a fantastic job. So yeah, we think that it's totally doable.

David Brixen: We think we can get there and exceed it.

Ted Simons: You think so? Talk to me -- I hear about a power parasol being built near the stadium parking lot, football or baseball. What are we talking about here?

David Brixen: A large system that is covering the parking lot near the -- we call it lot 59 between basically sun devil stadium and the baseball stadium. Covering both sides of Packard drive. And it's generate -- it will generate when its completed, in its neighborhood, nearly two megawatts.

Ted Simons: Just by itself.

David Brixen: Just by itself.

Ted Simons: Now how tall is it, what does it look like. Assuming it's a power parasol, so its got a umbrella effect there.

David Brixen: Well, no, fixed tilt panels sitting above grade at least 25 feet.
Ted Simons: Interesting.

David Brixen: That's the difference, most of our parking lots are in the neighborhood of 10, 11 feet.

Ted Simons: I understand the power parasol is approved with a private company that owns and manages and ASU reaps the benefits of the savings. How does that work?

Morgan Olsen: Yeah. That’s correct. Almost all of our solar generating capacity is actually owned by someone else. From a CEO standpoint, that's fantastic, what it means somebody else is making the capital investment and we have an agreement we purchase the power production over a period of years and Dave said, we anticipate because of that payment per kilowatt hour is locked in we'll be saving significant dollars and we haven't had a capital outlay to make that happen.

Ted Simons: And you don't see any foreseeable future?

Morgan Olsen: I am sorry?

Ted Simons: You see the same plan in the foreseeable future?

Morgan Olsen: Absolutely. And the thing that's new here with the power parasol, is that I sometimes tease Dave, if he tried to put solar packages on top of us and we have only so much ground we want to commit to solar panels that we're looking for new ways to do that and so the power parasol concept is one we think is complementary to the campus and creates a functional space that can be used in the climate great for parking and tailgating around football and baseball games and another way aesthetically attractive to build additional solar generating capacity into the campus.

Ted Simons: Can you build so many power parasols that the vast majority of the campus is literally covered by these things?

David Brixen: Well, I think the short answer is yes, because we're actually considering that and taking preliminary looking at that. Mainly over the malls.

Ted Simons: So -- the buildings themselves, but the walkways and things?

David Brixen: The malls and pathways provide shade to our students as they go to class.

Ted Simons: What's the biggest challenge so far in getting the project operational?

David Brixen: There's a number of them but probably the biggest has been -- these systems, we do rely on utility incentives. And so we participate in the APS renewable energy incentive program and those monies are now much more competitive. The rebates or incentives attached to the systems have been declining in recent years. The good news is that the cost of solar systems have also been declining.

Ted Simons: That means real energy savings in the not too distant future.

Morgan Olsen: Absolutely. They are up in the foreseeable future.
Ted Simons: Alright, very good gentlemen.
David Brixen: I would like to add something.
Ted Simons: Yeah. Yes, please do. Please do.
David Brixen: We have a system on this building, 77 kilowatt system that started up last week.

Ted Simons: That's why the slight shining so brightly.
David Brixen: That’s right.
[Laughter]
David Brixen: Thank you, Ted, appreciate it.

President’s Jobs Plan and Arizona

  |   Video
  • ASU Economist Dennis Hoffman shares his views on how President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act of 2011 would impact Arizona.
Guests:
  • Dennis Hoffman - ASU Economist
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: economy, president, jobs,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

Ted Simons: President Obama's American jobs act of 2011 is a $447 billion package of tax cuts and new spending intended to put the unemployed back to work. Here to tell us about the plan and how it would affect Arizona is ASU economist Dennis Hoffman from the university's W.P. Carey School of Business. Good to see you again.
Dennis Hoffman: Great to be here, Ted.

Ted Simons: Alright Dennis, this is called an ambitious plan. Ambitious?

Dennis Hoffman: Yeah, I think this is reasonably ambitious and something needs to be ambitious at this point in the business cycle. We have to have some perspective before we talk about the plan, the details of the plan, the rationale and all of that kind of thing. You know, this is by far the worst recession of the post-world period. It follows a wealth shock. A shock that hit the economy that is by most measures worse than the shock that hit the economy in 1929. So the response the private sector is simply unrecognizable to most people that have some expectations about what the economy should be doing, almost four years after the prior peak from the prior recession. Consumption is flat. Post-war recessions are supposed to be up 15%. Investments down 15%. Post-war recessions is up 15%. Most of that investment, by the way, is residential housing.

Ted Simons: So, no one is buying, no one is investing; people are sitting.
Dennis Hoffman: This economy needs a kick start. And it’s either going to have to come from within or the confidence from within or going to have to come from a bit of a jolt from the federal government and that's what the jobs plan is evidently intended to do.
Ted Simons: Well, let's talk about some parts of this plan. Starting with the payroll tax cuts – would cost $175 semi-billion.
Dennis Hoffman: That’s correct.
Ted Simons: It goes to social security, that's a concern, but does it make sense? Is it a good move?

Dennis Hoffman: Well, we're told that one of the reasons that small businesses and businesses in general aren't hiring is the cost of fringe benefits and costs to hire and this is an attempt to go directly at that the cost on one side, the employer's side and, of course, on the employee side, it's designed to put a few more bucks back in workers' pockets after they get paycheck.

Ted Simons: On the employee side though, the argument is - a temporary tax rebate and people don't make large investments on temporary corrections and solutions. Is that a viable or fair?

Dennis Hoffman: I think it's a fair thing so discuss. The contrarians are saying well, people won't make permanent expenditure decisions on transitory income. I’ve heard some say they will buy products made in foreign countries and the ultimate stimulus goes to foreign countries. So there's room for debate. I think part this is symbolic. You know if people get little more money in their take-home paycheck, hopefully, they feel better and the confidence improves and the flow of dollars from one agent to the other begins to accelerate. And that’s what’s needed.

Ted Simons: And as far as small businesses are concerned, payroll tax cuts to small businesses, I guess for the first $5 million in wages and exempt from the entire tax if your payroll is up $50 million from last year. Are these incentives going to work?

Dennis Hoffman: Well, that's the hope. Again what we're trying to do is kick-start the economy. Build confidence off levels that are unprecedented low levels. I think it has some chance, if people could rally around it and that's a big if right now. Ted, we're going into the election season and all of the banter about the election and whether there's political motivations in the plan, yada yada, yada. You know I am an economist. I try to judge the plan to be purely on its merits but it's very, very clear this economy is wounded deeply by an erosion of wealth and what's going to bring us out is the restoration of confidence. The market can do it on its own,
but that clearly is going to take years and years as we've seen.
Ted Simons: And let's go to the Republican criticism of the payroll tax cuts. They're saying who cares about the payroll tax cuts if tax rates for the wealthy, for the job creators, as they're called, if they go up? Who cares about the other stuff if that stuff goes up?

Dennis Hoffman: Right, the issue, Ted, that we're hearing in the debate is that the reason businesses aren't hiring is that they're uncertain, don't know the future course of their tax burden, don't know about healthcare costs and they are worrying about government regulation. I think it's a fair argument. But I think we have to add, if we're going to talk about what businesses are worried about and what might be holding them back, I bet if you got a group of businesses in here and polled them, yeah, there will be some worried about the future tax burden and future cost of healthcare. But what about those worrying about where the next government contract is coming from. Think about Arizona businesses. We're told this economy will grow and flourish, all we have to do is cut the federal government. What do we cut? Raytheon or Boeing? What do we do? Do we eliminate payments for Medicare or Medicaid or do we reduce them and squeeze those doctors even more? Those are private sector jobs. What do you want to do? Eliminate direct payments for transportation and put private sector construction workers in a sector that’s beleaguered right now? There has been to be rationale and balance here. I understand taxes are a negative by themselves. I don't hear anybody talking about raising taxes today. I do hear about raising taxes in the future to try to get our fiscal house in order and match that with entitlement cuts. But you've got to think about the impact of cutting government and how that's going to play out if that's the road we choose to tread.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, the plan talks about 35 odd billion dollars to hire teachers and cops and the aid to states is a quick, kick in the you know what.

Dennis Hoffman: Absolutely. If you look at the recessions of '75 and '82, people went to state and local governments, they left the private sector and went to state and local governments and the employment trajectory in '75 and '82 went up. It was a good buffer against a long drawn-out recession. The absolutely opposite is happening this time. State and local governments have been devastated by this at the very time, Ted, when they're inundated for demand for public services.

Ted Simons: The idea a bridges to work, work sharing, of course, you're out of work and running out of benefits, the government will continue with the benefits but you must do unpaid work that provides on the job training. Based on something in Georgia. Is an American worker going go for something like that?

Dennis Hoffman: I think some American workers are ready to try anything. There are incentives to hire the long-term unemployed. Nobody wants to hire anyone who's been out of work for a extended period. Now there are tax credits and a quasi internship program as you've described. Many businesses are saying they don't have the wherewithal to train people. If there can be on-the-job training that is promoted or subsidized by government in this fashion, hey, let's try it. We've got long-term unemployed that's been a really, really big challenge for this economy. Why not give it a try?

Ted Simons: Moody's, the chief economist said this plan increases growth by 2% next year, maybe two million additional jobs knowledge right. Makes sense?

Dennis Hoffman: I think we'll do deeper analysis out of W.P. Carey, but preliminarily, 40,000, 50,000 jobs for Arizona. You know, you have -- let me see, $600 million for transportation infrastructure, $544 million for school infrastructure and repair. 484 to refurbish foreclosed homes, some money for community colleges, $625 million for teachers and first responders. Trying to get a jolt to this economy. So shave a percent off the unemployment rate is about what those numbers would translate to and do the same in Arizona.
Ted Simons: We've got 30 seconds left. Critics say this does not address structural changes. Valid?

Dennis Hoffman: Well, look, I think we do have long run structural challenges. We need a grand bargain and I think we came close in mid July. At least the rhetoric suggested we came close. I think we need to put the cards on the table. I think I have said this before, tax reform and entitlement reform. Those are long run problems. We have an immediate crisis; the jobs plan goes to the immediate.

Ted Simons: Dennis, good to have you here.

Dennis Hoffman: Good to be here, Ted, thanks.

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