Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

November 4, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Donít miss HORIZONís weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the weekís top stories.
Guests:
  • Chip Scutari - of the "Arizona Republic"
Category: Journalists Roundtable

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>> Michael Grant:
It's Friday, November 4, 2005. And in the headlines this week, there were new developments in the race for the governor's office. Mary peters announcing she will not run, while Jan Florez announcing she will. Governor Janet Napolitano spent Wednesday touring the Arizona/Mexico border hearing from local officials about the problem of illegal immigration. And the U.S. district court judge in Tucson heard arguments in the Florez case and raised the possibility of jailing top officials if it is not resolved. That's next on "Horizon."
>> Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. This is the Journalist's Roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Chip Scutari of the "Arizona republic," Howie Fischer of capitol media services, and Doug Maceachern of the "Arizona republic." with a year to go before the 2006 election, republican field of candidates for governor continues to evolve. Former Arizona department of transportation director Mary Peters announced she will not run, while former Santa Cruz county attorney announced she will run. Chip, let's start with the peters' announcement. Why is Mary Peters not going to run?
>> Chip Scutari:
Well, she told us she faced a long, costly legal battle over her residency requirement. John Greene, running one of the announced republican candidates running in the 2006 race, challenged her legal -- her residency status because she lived and worked in Virginia while working for the bush administration as his federal highway administrator. And in a peculiar thing, instead of voting absentee here in Arizona, she voted in Virginia. So it's tough to be a citizen of two states. It's almost impossible. So she realized john Greene could drag this thing out for a couple of months, it could cost a lot of money, and she might not win. So she bowed out gracefully saying "I'm here to get on with this, maybe help out senator Kyl in his race."
Michael Grant: So, the moral of the story, for gosh sake don't register to vote if you --
>> Chip Scutari:
- she told me she wasn't thinking about running for governor when she did this. Living in the commonwealth of Virginia, bought a house there, still had a house in Peoria, but voted there, you know, pretty up front about it. She never tried to be deceptive or shade the issue. She was pretty honest about what she did. She realized she may lose. So she packed up her things and said good luck to everyone else.
>> Howard Fischer: Her real problem is timing. Just last week we were talking around this table about the fact, even assuming she'd hired Lisa Houser, a very good election attorney, even assuming Lisa could file a lawsuit, there's no guarantee a court would take it because there's no live controversy. It basically says "I filed papers because I'm going to start gathering signatures" with no guarantee she'd get the signatures. Why would a court take it? So that leaves her in legal limbo perhaps until next June. Now she's back to the chicken and egg situation. Who's going to give donations and money to somebody who may not in fact be a legal candidate?
>> Michael Grant:
You know, Doug, the real irony here is, if I recall correctly, Mary Peters is a third or fourth generation Arizonan. And it strikes me as ironic.
>> Doug Maceachern:
It is. And I think you hit on an interesting irony, too. I think it's four, right? Interesting irony in that if you go to serve your country in Washington D.C., considered by many as sort of a neutral place in terms of citizenship --
>> Michael Grant:
- some would call it no man's land.
>> Doug MacEachern:
No man's land is a good way to put it. That you give up certain rights in your home state.
>> Howard Fischer:
But you don't if you do it right. I mean, you know, Jon Kyl is basically in Washington. He continues to vote here, he's registered here. Her problem is she goes into register to vote. Here's the form. I've seen the form. It says I avow I am a resident of Virginia. Now, if you sign that, essentially you're saying you are not a resident of Arizona, because election law's very clear. You may only have one residence. Otherwise you could vote in Arizona and Virginia. So she signed it. Now she could have maintained -- there is a provision to allow you to maintain your Arizona residency/citizenship when you go to Washington, but you cannot go ahead, register to vote, affect elections in Virginia, file Virginia tax returns, go ahead and register vehicles as a resident of Virginia, and then say, "oh, but I really was an Arizona citizen all the time." it doesn't work.
>> Doug MacEachern:
Something people who have got running for office imprinted on their hard drive, but that's not something that Mary Peters had on her mind when she went there. She went there to serve her country, not to prepare the steps toward running for office.
>> Chip Scutari:
and I think the big picture here is that the Arizona Republican Party has done a terrible job of vetting potential candidates. They went after the Rich Carmona, recording Mary Peters who looked like an attractive candidate, and has a residency issue. So they failed to do opposition research on their own candidates before bringing them out into the public. That's been quite an embarrassment to the Republican Party. I think it shows they're in an unusual spot for them. They have a democrat incumbent governor, pretty popular. That hasn't happened since probably Babbitt. So as our stories point out there's been so many prominent republicans who have taken a pass on this race.
>> Michael Grant:
Ok. Now, does Jan Florez break that logjam?
>> Chip Scutari:
I don't think so. I think there's going to be a scramble behind closed doors from the powers that be in the Arizona republican party to say, "hey, is Jan Florez good enough or do we have to get somebody better in this race?" because right now it stands Jan Florez, a retired court of appeals judge, Don Goldwater, who's a state employee and the nephew of Barry Goldwater, and John Greene, a former state senate president, which doesn't bowl anybody over. So I think there's a scramble to try to find one of these candidates who may have bowed out or get somebody stronger in the race.
>> Doug MacEachern:
Florez has a feisty reputation, and -- but in terms of visibility across the state, she's not really any kind of known entity bond southern Arizona. Well, even in southern Arizona, being on the court of appeals, given that they publish, you know, 30 published opinions in an entire year, she's not exactly a household name down there.
>> Michael Grant:
Former Santa Cruz county attorney?
>> Doug MacEachern:
Yeah. See, that's the plus. Now, if she can -- I agree with Chip, they'll try to see if they can come up with somebody else. If Jan and her supporters are smart, they move to preempt any of that. They've got to go out there and show "I'm viable." she has things going for her. Getting elected as a republican in heavily democratic Santa Cruz county and defeating a popular incumbent down there certainly shows she could have crossover appeal. Now the issue is in a county attorney's race is certainly different than a gubernatorial race, whether we're talking abortion or anything else. Her time on the court of appeals can't hurt. I don't remember her decisions that are that outrageous. If she moves quickly, I think she's salable. But again the problem becomes owe and Chip's seen the same thing. Republicans look at the same polls the rest of us do, and say even assuming that these are early polls, this just reflects a general gubernatorial popularity, you've got to have an issue there. So far the issue's been immigration. But as we're going to talk about later, this governor has been all over the border proving "I care about immigration."
>> Michael Grant:
But Doug, the other problem it seems to me is that a good crossover candidate, unfortunately oftentimes is not a very good republican primary candidate.
>> Doug MacEachern:
That's exactly right. And that's something that we might see in a presidential primary in a couple of years.
>> Howard Fischer:
But, yeah, that's something she'll have to face. And that goes directly to the John Greene problem. I mean, John Greene, you know, has some small name I.D. from his run for attorney general a couple years ago, but the problem is he supports abortion rights, and he supports the rights of gays. For the people who tend to turn out in a republican primary, that's death.
>> Chip Scutari:
And the other thing going against the republicans, because of clean elections, most of these candidates -- probably all of them -- will run as publicly funded candidates, so they'll have the same amount of money as this popular democratic governor. That's another thing they have going against them.
>> Michael Grant:
Now, let me cycle back to your hint. Ken Bennett going to reconsider? I think there's calls' being put out to certain folks. He's one of them that I think -- the only way he'd do it -- and it's a long shot -- is if Senator McCain, Senator Kyl go to him and say, "Ken, we need you for the best of the party." but he's got a successful business up in Prescott. He has family that he wants to spend time with. So they're going to look for something. Another may look at it, "I have nothing to look, look at this field, I think I can win," but there will be a scramble to get a more viable candidate in the race. Unless Jan Florez goes out there over the next week and convinces the party leaders that she can win this, you know, "I'm from the border, I can win on the immigration issue." That's to be determined. I've only spoken to her for about 10 minutes. So I don't know her too well.
>> Michael Grant:
Speaking of winning on the border, did the governor win on the border this week?
>> Howard Fischer:
Well, she went down there to remind people of "look at what I've done during the session, look at my emergency declaration, $1.75 million I freed up," and then had this sort of scripted thing where the different police agencies and came up and said, "look at what we've done for the money." for example, Nogales police department said we ran the 24/7 patrols for 30 days and it cut down the crime because of the increased visibility. The Santa Cruz county sheriff says he's using the money to offset the cost of money for jailing people arrested on other crimes. $1.7 million spread among 4 the counties, doesn't go very far. Is there other money coming? She said she'll ask the legislature for it.
>> Michael Grant:
was she specific?
>> Howard Fischer:
No. I think the governor is sitting there, looking at the pie and saying "ok, I have to propose tax cuts, because I'm running for re-election, and I have to put more money into k-12 education, and I have to expand full-day kindergarten, and here's how we have to make it come out right." there will be funny financing, not that our governor would ever do that. There will be additional money. How much? I don't know. The problem she'll have -- particularly in the republican-controlled house, they say you can keep throwing money at it, but until we deal with the problem, they're going to keep coming. And for them, the issue is expansion of prop 200, to cover things like access, to cover things like in-state tuition at the universities and they're going to suggest that we perhaps need the National Guard along the border. That is an idea that while the guard says is foolish, because he's got medics and doctors and helicopter mechanics, a lot of people are going to say, if we're at war, let's use the guard.
>> Doug MacEhern:
Well, Howie, this struck me as one of those events where you kind of wondered how the people that were involved in it could stand being in the same room together, because the issue of course -- the whole issue of the state's involvement on the border generated from that little political explosion following governor Richardson's announcement of an emergency and then Arizona suddenly had an emergency, and everyone seemed to be questioning whether or not this was money well spent.
>> Howard Fischer:
Well, as a demonstration project it probably was. I think you can show -- again, in the case of Nogales -- if you add additional patrols around the clock, near the border, you'll cut crime there. Now, whether you force the crime out further into the desert, I don't know. But it is not a solution. And that's the problem with this sort of thing. It's -- it's a variant on this congressman hunter who says he's going to build a wall. As some of our lawmakers have said, that's not a permanent solution. You need to deal with the whole issue of immigration. You need to deal with guest workers, deal with the issue of the people who are here illegally already.
>> Chip Scutari:
But I think Governor Napolitano is in an unenviable position for two reasons. One, a $700 million surplus, so they can put more money at the border for this year, it's a re-election year. And there's not a top-notch republican candidate banging away at how she's weak on immigration. She's done a good job, whether it's political window dressing or what over the last six months of grabbing this issue from republicans; kind of like Bill Clinton grabbed certain issues from the republicans when he was president. She's done a good job at that.
>> Michael Grant:
Chip, it's been a remarkable turnaround, because at the end of the legislative session it was like this issue was nowhere on the radar screen. Through the summer she turned on a dime on this thing.
>> Chip Scutari:
Put out a lot of different initiatives. Did the emergency declaration. She's out in front on this issue. She's going to go to D.C. probably to talk about the border issue. She's really grabbed this from republicans. They're going to be, you know, frustrated and angry next year, probably try to outdo her, but I think she's done enough to put on a campaign flyer, a few bullet points, "here's what I've done for you, I'm getting tough on illegal immigration."
>> Howard Fischer:
We've talked about this before. You know that the legislature's going to send her some immigration-related bills. She vetoed such a bill last year. They'll say, "governor, ok, we've heard the rhetoric, the blue smoke and mirrors, here's a bill on your desk. Are you going to sign it or is this the old Janet Napolitano?"
>> Michael Grant:
Andrew Thomas convenes a summit in Scottsdale this week, Doug.
>> Doug MacEachern:
That's a good transition. He was a summit on border enforcement and border issues. Pretty wide-ranging thing. And candidly it was something I was supposed to be involved in, but there was a conflict. It's today and tomorrow, as a matter of fact.
>> Michael Grant:
Well, you had lunch scheduled, didn't you?
>> Doug Maceachern:
Yes, I did.
>> Chip Scutari:
You had to prepare for this show, right?
>> Doug MacEachern:
I had a lot of things to do. You're getting me in trouble now. But it was an interesting topic for the county attorney to be taking up. Some people questioned just what -- what his motives were. He seemed to be taking -- seemed to have all sides involved in -- in discussing the --
>> Howard Fischer:
-- wait, wait. Ask me what his motives are.
>> Doug MacEachern:
I'm avoiding you, Howie.
>> Howard Fischer:
Well, look, come on, Doug. The guy is going to be running for higher office down the road. Not this year, because along with the other republicans nobody wants to take on Janet.
>> Chip Scutari:
Governor Napolitano.
>> Howard Fischer:
Yes, Governor Napolitano. You know, he says "Governor Thomas doesn't sound too bad," or Attorney General Thomas which he couldn't get elected to before. He sees this, as do the republicans, as the political issue. Never mind that, you know, the connection between the county attorney's office and this is a little tenuous. He sees this as an issue, and figures he'll get the TV cameras, will be there, and you know you'll see this on the 6:00 news tomorrow night. The fact is that he says "this is my way of showing I have statewide shots." that's what this is about.
>> Doug MacEachern:
Let me refer you back to something I just mentioned, something involving Governor Richardson, and then Governor Napolitano. It seems to be a political issue that everyone is really anxious to grab. No one has political aspirations has got some answer for the problems at the border.
>> Chip Scutari:
Are you accusing a politician of being --
>> Howard Fischer:
No question. Even the republican running against Terry Goddard has made immigration a number on issue.
>> Michael Grant:
October 31, Halloween, did the court scare representative David Burrell Smith?
>> Doug MacEachern:
He's a pretty tough guy. You know, I don't think they -- he's scared of much. Yeah, he's -- he's asking a judge to consider his -- his fight with the clean elections commission on constitutional grounds by contrast the commission is looking to get Burrell Smith through Attorney General Goddard, getting -
>> Michael Grant:
--permanently out of there.
>> Doug Maceachern:
-- permanently fractured from the legislature by hook or by crook.
>> Howard Fischer:
Those are interesting terms to use.
>> Doug MacEachern:
the representative is contending that his filing in, I think, September constitutes following the rules of the game as set down by the -- by the clean elections commission. They're contending that -- that his filing has nothing to do with -- with their requirements for appeal, and that he failed to meet their deadlines, and that's -- that should be the endgame, and that he should give up his seat.
>> Michael Grant:
so this may have at least accelerated the timetable, I suppose. We might know anywhere in 35 to 45 days whether or not he's in, or out. At least that level of appeal.
>> Doug MacEachern:
The judge has asked him to come back, I think December 6, to talk about it, make their arguments, and see what happens. This is a preliminary hearing.
>> Michael Grant: speaking of politics and the court system, what are the democrats decided to do on the redistricting decision?
>> Chip Scutari:
Well, like most of us predicted, they'll appeal to the supreme court and take it one more step to try to get better, more competitive political maps, because right now they're pretty much not doing that well at the state legislature. The maps are so heavily favored toward republicans, even though it was an independent redistricting commission. We all learned that you really can't take politics out of political map-making; no matter how you structure it. And the republicans deserve credit. They got the people on this commission that they wanted. They've fought hard for that behind the scenes. You know, now they're benefiting from those -- those moves. And Jim Peterson, the Democratic Party chair, now running against senator Jon Kyl, pumped in about $600,000 of his money to get this on the ballot in 2000. They sold it to voters, bring more competitiveness to politics, but clearly that hasn't happened, because competitiveness is about the fourth or fifth component of this, you know, after federal voting rights act and a few other issues.
>> Michael Grant:
Communities of interest, things like that.
>> Chip Scutari:
I know Howie's very excited about the story, so I'm glad we talked about it tonight. Right, Howie?
>> Michael Grant:
Well, looking ahead to march, phoenix city council pretty much settled the hash on what's going to be going to the voters in terms of bonds?
>> Doug MacEachern:
Believe it or not, it's even more than people had anticipated. They're up to, I think, $880 million bond issue. They came up with a little bit more. The police and fire in particular have been -- had been making an argument that there's not enough in -- in the pie for their needs for electronic improvements, high-tech improvements, for more police substations and the like. And the commission listened to them and upped the ante from, I think, something along the lines of -- well, they added about $22 million to what had originally been planned. The endgame, as with any bond proposal, is that you don't bump up against an amount that's going to be raising taxes, because that's something -- that's a powerful tool against any proposal. That's their contention, that this is something that will not end up raising property taxes.
>> Michael Grant:
And the endgame also, is, for gosh sakes, schedule that election in March.
>> Doug Maceachern:
You're very good at these elections now.
>> Michael Grant:
U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins held a hearing in Tucson involving the Florez case and English language learners in the state. Howie, you made the trip down to Tucson, how was it?
>> Howard Fischer:
It was wonderful. Anytime you have a federal judge, any attorney that comes up before him, it's been five years, the state's been out of compliance, three years since my predecessor since retired told you to come up with a plan, and it's been since January when I gave you a deadline which came and went. So he said, "so who should I put in jail?"
>> Michael Grant:
He was doing that tongue-in-cheek.
>> Howard Fischer:
Well, kind of tongue-in-cheek.
>> Michael Grant:
We've been over playing it.
>> Howard Fischer:
We have been over playing it a bit but legally he can't, but federal judges don't like having their orders ignored, and he wants to get the state's attention. Now, Tim Hogan thinks you can get the state's attention for failing to fund English language learner programs properly simply withholding about $650 million a year in federal highway aid. If you don't like that, how about a million dollars a day in a fine? The state's contention is he doesn't have the authority to do that. Anyway, judge, give us more time, which is the -- the judge sort of looked at them like "what will change then?" the state also believes that somehow, if the judge gives an indication, is the governor's plan acceptable versus the legislative plan. The legislature has a plan which throws money at it for the first year, but says in future years every school district has to come up with their own way of dealing with English language learners, figure out kind of money they have, local, state and federal, and then come back to the state and ask for more money. The governor said that wasn't acceptable. She vetoed it. Came up with her funding plan. They don't like that. And here we sit.
>> Chip Scutari:
now, a question. You like to play a lawyer on TV. Did you get -- read anything into the judge's grilling of Hogan and the other attorneys? Did he seem to be favoring Hogan's argument? It seemed that way from the stories, but I wasn't there. Did you get that?
>> Howard Fischer:
He favored Hogan's argument to the extent that he's unhappy that there's nothing happening. The question of is he willing to issue what essentially would be an advisory opinion of saying, look, these two plants have been brief, but they're not officially before me, am I willing to do something on that? I don't know. I know that the judge wants to get them off the dime. And if he believes that that's what it will take, he may yet do that.
>> Doug MacEachern:
One of the great unknowns in this has been from the very start, what exactly is necessary to properly educate English learners. Nobody knows. The range of possibilities is something along the lines of, I think, $300 a year per student, upwards to $2,000 a year per student. What we've got here, very problematic, I think, is the ultimate outcome of this is that a judge, who hasn't got any more a clue than anyone else, is going to be the one deciding.
>> Chip Scutari:
Doug makes a great point, because this is such a prickly problem for lawmakers. It's not just like funding textbooks or supplies. You know, different students learn faster. You know, it's such a gray area, teaching students to learn English, because there's such a wide spectrum of learners that this affects.
>> Howard Fischer:
But the problem with going with this approach that will have different forms for each district is it goes against the way we fund schools now. We don't say to the Levine school district, well, you tell us how much you need in basic state aid and, Roosevelt, how much do you need, phoenix union, how much do you need? We say this is a basic level. And the judge, I think, wants to know why doesn't that work with English language learners, and you decide what's an appropriate level.
>> Doug MacEachern:
Howie, just to make that point, every school district has a commonality in that they all have students that need to be educated. That's the reason why we have state funding that's equalized. This is different in that every school district has a greater number or lesser number of students that are English learners, and so they have different problems to start with.
>> Howard Fischer: Understood, but that's why you're funding this on a per student basis. That's what the judge wants to know, why we're not doing that.
>> Michael Grant:
Likely to rule sometime in the December time frame?
>> Howard Fischer:
I think before December. I think he'd like something on the table perhaps before the legislature convenes the second week in January. I'd be willing to bet by December 1.
>> Michael Grant:
All right. Panelists, we're out of time. Thank you very much. If you'd like to see a transcript of tonight's program, please visit the website at www.azpbs.org. When you're there, you can click on the word "horizon," that will shoot you to transcripts, links and information on upcoming shows. Tuesday, an update on the latest Arizona town hall, which looked at maximizing Arizona's opportunities in bioscience. Wednesday, an education special looking at changes in education from k-12 all the way to the universities. Thursday, the pros and cons of the payday loan industry. That's coming up next week on "horizon." thank you very much for joining us on a Friday evening. Have a great weekend. I'm Michael grant. Good night.

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