Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 1, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Local journalists discuss the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Robbie Sherwood - of "The Arizona Republic"
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
It's Friday September 1st, 2006. The headlines this week, U.S. Senate race between republican incumbent Jon Kyl and challenger Jim Pederson continuing to heat as new TV campaigns are launched. The Arizona supreme court ruled the protect marriage Arizona initiative can appear on November's ballot along with a couple other contested propositions. And a new report shows about a third of Arizona schools are failing the no child left behind test. That's next on horizon. Horizon is made possible by contributions of the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station, thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. This is the Journalists roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are journalist Robbie Sherwood of the Arizona republic, semi-journalist Howie Fischer of capital media services I'll say nothing about Dennis Welch of the east valley tribune. With just a couple months before the general election, the senate race between Kyl and Pederson continuing to live up to or drop down to expectations, both candidates spending a lot of money on new TV ads. Robbie, has Pederson gone negative with his latest?

Robbie Sherwood:
As the journalist at the table I'm glad you asked. The gloves are definitely off in this one. But, you know, negatives, Jon Kyl certainly seems to think so and the Republican Party who left buckets of mud outside Pederson's press conference think so. Pederson claims these are merely contrast ads showing how Jon Kyl voted over the past 20 years. Kyl's point on establishing whether the ad is negative, the ad which deals with oil contributions flowing to Kyl over the years.

Robbie Sherwood:
And oil vote owes and votes and was there a tie, the implication is there was. Kyl says there's not and to say so is to smear me.

Howard Fischer:
But here's the issue. Is it "a" leads to "b" or "b" leads to "a"? You'd have a hard time proving that any politician that because they got money from "x" voted "y" directly. Now I think, however, you can certainly prove that if the oil interests know Jon Kyl is going to vote our way, are we going to support him in re-election? You bet. So of course there's a nexus between votes and money. It's very clear.

Michael Grant:
Well, I think one thing we can agree on though is that certainly this latest ad is more aggressive and it may indicate a shift in the campaign.

Robbie Sherwood:
I think it does.

Michael Grant:
Because of consistent series of poll results that show that Jim Pederson doesn't seem to be gaining.

Robbie Sherwood:
Whether it's in the polls or not, I think Pederson at some point plans to start mentioning Kyl in the ads and another ad already out having to do with medicare, I haven't seen it yet. But I'm guessing it takes the same aggressive tone, mention's Jon Kyl by name and goes after him. But yet polls have shown Pederson lagging anywhere from 10 to, you know, 17 points. Pederson's people see a tightening, Kyl's people see a stagnation. In any case, you know, he needs to make a move and the only way he can make a move is to give voters a reason to fire the incumbent.

Howard Fischer:
And the medicare ad I think is going to go ahead and attack the issue of the whole part d and whether that was put together by pharmaceutical companies because they didn't want the provision that allowed the government to negotiate for lower prices. Well, if i want to unseat an incumbent, I'm going to find out who are the boogey men. Oil companies, pharmaceutical companies. It's very clear.

Michael Grant:
Incidentally, will that be a retread? I think there was an early ad back in the first flight that ran in March, April, that pointed out the prescription drug aspect of medicare.

Howard Fischer:
There was something on prescription but he also talked about the fact that if you in Nogales, Arizona, you pay "x" and Sonora you pay "y" and the pharmaceutical companies don't want the importation of the cheaper drugs which are made by the same company.

Robbie Sherwood:
I for one am surprised Pederson didn't go aggressive dense against Kyl earlier. Kyl is very polished and very measured politician who doesn't give you a lot of openings, yet a couple times over the summer he did. He took a vote, for instance, on stem cells that probably the majority of the party disagrees with that particular stance. Curious why, you know, lot of consultants I talked to said that they would have advised that within 24 hours of that Pederson should have been on the air with something pointing that out. He hasn't yet mentioned it.

Michael Grant:
Well, speaking of poll results, we also polled this week on illegal immigration-related ballot measures, particularly prop 200 type expansion of benefits and also the English only one. Strong support shown for them, move into the governor's race in just a second. Governor Napolitano vetoed both.

Howard Fischer:
Exactly, and that's the interesting thing is the fact that you've got a situation that people like the idea of declaring English the official language by a very wide margin, and by a much closer margin they support the idea that certain services above and beyond what was in Prop 200 two years ago should be off limits, adult education, subsidized child care, and paying the lower in state tuition. Now, obviously the governor had excuses for why she vetoed all of them in the last two years, but clearly as you point out and as we're going to get into, yet the same survey when asked some test head to heads, Napolitano versus Goldwater, Janet was at 62\%. Didn't matter who was running against her. So, you know, I asked Bruce miller, how do you rectify this, and he said look, the fact is that people understand that immigration is a more complex problem, number one. And number two is that overall, while they may disagree with her on immigration, the state is in good shape, financially good shape and people are happy.

Robbie Sherwood:
I think the immigration measures are often driven by emotion. That's what they said a lot about Prop 200, a chance to go to the ballot box and speak your mind on an issue that's been bugging you and certainly immigration has. Doesn't necessarily mean you hold it against another politician, the governor or one of those. People may not be making that leap and clearly they're not according to that poll.

Howard Fischer:
Beyond that the question is this a single subject thing. Like there's certain people on abortion, that is the issue for them. For some people it will be immigration. For a lot of people it's part of a larger mix.

Michael Grant:
Don Goldwater I understand, Dennis, has in fact qualified for clean election funding. The check is in the mail.

Dennis Welch:
It's in the mail and something he's pretty familiar with is next week he qualified For -- he finally qualified for his public elections funding. However, he won't be able to get that money until next week. I mean this has been something that's been an ongoing thing for him. I mean he turned happen in his $5 signatures several weeks ago. They had to recount them to make sure because several during a random check some donations were disqualified for one reason or another. But this brings to question now, can he use this money effectively. He's got two weeks until the primary. And he's got a few things in the can already.

Howard Fischer:
That's the thing. He already had some what this he call seed money left over and he says he's already cut at least one 30-second commercial. Now what he can do now is spend that money if he can get it on the air and go up and sort of cement what may be a small lead he has over Muncil. We've all talked about the fact he had no money and was still leading. This may help cement that lead.

Robbie Sherwood:
Goldwater had a terrific advantage in this race with his name identification associated with his last name and if he ends up catching him and overtaking him, which is where the momentum seems to be going, it's because he did not have the grass roots efforts to get these $5 contributions. And had he been funded in august and do the things you do in a primary campaign, put out an early mail piece and you do very sophisticated mailings to people who have early ballots but haven't turned them in and you talk to these voters on a regular basis through their mailboxes, and locking their votes in, he's done none of that.

Dennis Welch:
The other issue, maybe just more logistics, because with everybody else buying up ads, we talked about Kyl, Pederson, next week the governor, governor Napolitano watching her series of ads, Munsel's launching his series of ads, is there going to be much time or space available on television to run his ad?

Howard Fischer:
I want you to know the people watching at 3:00 a.m.after the boflex ads will know a lot about don Goldwater.

Michael Grant:
Interesting issue and it ties to another development this week, although we had known this. Robbie, the request for early ballots way down. The returns on early ballots, way down, compared to primary two years ago. Len Muncil hoping for a low turnout? You could see a primary turnout in the teens, on the feeling that his people come?

Robbie Sherwood:
Right, you don't sound like a very good citizen if you're hoping people don't show up to the ballot. But if you are a candidate in a four-way primary and you want to turn out the highest level of conservative voters and you've been a part of this organization that's been very motivated and high efficacy, then in that environment he's got the advantage. So you know probably secretly he is hoping for that low turnout.

Michael Grant:
Len Muncil came out with some border proposals. I don't know that I saw anything new in the panoply from the standpoint that it seemed to be restating a lot of common concepts. Didn't have much of an idea on how to pay for it. Said it would cavity what, several hundred million dollars?

Dennis Welch:
Not much of an idea, he didn't have any idea. He said hundreds of millions of dollars over what period of time, he doesn't know. And you're correct when you say that he comes out, he unveils this huge plan, it's just rehashing a lot of the other ideas. We want to put more troops and guns down on the border, you know, to seal up that part of it. But when it comes down to it, you need to know how much the thing's going to cost.you node to know how many people you'll need to do this. Another aspect of the plan he didn't know when asked how many troops are we going to need down there, well, I don't know. We'll have that later.

Howard Fischer:
And this is the thing, Len's weak spot against Goldwater is immigration. Goldwater, you ask any question, schools, immigration, border, so he felt the need to do something. But then as you point out, when we ask him, so, why can't you say the amount of money, he says first we come up with the concept and later down the campaign if you vote for me and I survive September 12, we'll come up with the concept. Sounds like Dick Nixon's secret plan to end the war and we all know that was withdrawal and defeat.

Dennis Welch:
And the other thing is here's a conservative again pledging to expand the role of government. And I asked him about that and he said well, listen.

Robbie Sherwood:
Unless of course he plans to shrink other assets of government like say public education or access or something.

Dennis Welch:
Sure. He said well, it's going to save money in other areas. Well, he's proposing a plan he doesn't know how much it's going to cost yet he's telling me it's going to save us money.

Howard Fischer:
Trust me. I'm the government. I'm here to help you.

Michael Grant:
Staying down in the southern reaches of the state, the congressional district which I believe is number 8, it is Jim Colby's district but of course he has retired. Interesting move by the house gop congressional committee.

Robbie Sherwood:
Yes, wide open primary. Lot of demes and republicans, but the national republican money people have put started putting ads on the air and put I think might be over $100,000 for Steve Huffman, a moderate leaning republican, in an area where there is a very strong conservative anti-immigration candidate Randy Graf who put a scare into Colby the last time around. What they seem to be saying there is that we don't believe that Randy Graf can beat either of the two top democrat candidates that are duking it Out, Gab Rel Gifford former state senator and Patty Weiss, former TV personality newscaster.

Michael Grant:
Robbie, do you miss, because conventional wisdom certainly is if Randy Graf wins down there, then whoever it is, Gavin Gifford or Patty Weiss being the most probable democrat automatically wins the general? Do you subscribe to that?

Robbie Sherwood:
I'm not going to say that's necessarily true because like I said, the emotions of immigration, something might happen that might I am inflame voters and give Graf a better chance than he has and he's getting money from minutemen, but I do think that the democrats have their best shot against the most conservative candidate in any race in which it's nearly a half and half split or a more moderate leaning district. So there's rumors that the national democratic party might come in and start taking pot shots at Pat Huffman to counter act this in order to help Graf get elected.

Howard Fischer:
I tell you the other wild card, Jim Colby, the day he announced he was quitting, said to me I will not endorse randy Graf, period. So we know that. Graf wins, does Colby say look, I have lived in this district all my life, you can't not only vote for randy, I will support or a Gabby Gifford?

Michael Grant:
I'm endorsing the d?

Howard Fischer:
Yes, well, it happened before. Remember when Barry Goldwater, Doug weed was running in flagstaff for congress and Barry Said the man's an idiot, and endorsed Karen English, which is what got her elected to congress. So there is precedent for that.

Michael Grant:
Well, speaking of precedent, we don't know why yet, but the Arizona --

Howard Fischer:
Because they can.

Michael Grant:
The Arizona Supreme Court did clear for the ballot three propositions this week.

Howard Fischer:
The big one obviously is the protect marriage Arizona. The argument of the foes have been that it has multiple effects, not only declares marriage constitutionally as one man one woman. It blocks the recognition of civil unions and blocks governments from offering domestic partner benefits to the unmarried employees, at least to their partners. There is in the constitution essentially what we would call a single subject rule.Which the courts historically have been all over the board on, what's a single subject. Does that mean you can support part "a" but be "b" is that two subjects? Part of a larger whole? Part of a combined plan? And the supreme court without comment accepted the lower court argument which is while there are multiple effects and while people may vote differently, they -- this is part of a scheme that if you go ahead and simply make marriage between a man and a woman, and allow government to say civil unions can have the same privileges as marriage, you've undermined marriage. Same issue on the issue of the conserving Arizona's future, the trust lands thing which has multiple provisions and then finally on the eminent domain issue, the issue there is whether in fact you need a funding source, something voters passed two years ago, the court lower court said essentially that if there is no funding source it doesn't matter because it can't take effect.

Robbie Sherwood:
Well, the court has spoken on the gay marriage thing and it's obviously going to go forward and they see those two things as related but I tell you, if you poll the public in your own ASU poll, you see that there can and is a split in the public as they view gay marriage. If you ask the public do you want to sanction marriage called marriage between people of the same sex, they'll say no, if you then ask them do you want to sanction take away the public benefits and all that, the second aspects, they turn around and reject that idea.

Howard Fischer: The fact that's what showed in the poll. When asked as a single question, people said if I have to take this as a package I'm going to vote no. And that may be the best thing happening for the foes of 107.

Dennis Welch:
That's what foes of 107 have been saying this is a thinly veiled attack on people who are not married living together and getting benefits, those kinds of things.

Michael Grant:
Dennis, let me cycle back though to the point we touched on a couple of minutes ago. It does look like the early ballot requests are down, all the early ballot returns are down.

Dennis Welch:
Yeah, that could just be an indication of how excited everybody is about this primary. Well, you know, early ballot requests are down about half of where they were two years ago, now you're going to expect there's going to be more interest and more participation just because it's a presidential year, but this year one of the big things is a lot of the candidates in the past have sent out mail ballots to their constituents to their potential voters. This year they haven't. I just can't help but think some of that has to to with clean elections and the fact there's not much money in some races.

Robbie Sherwood:
I think that's what it touches on and there's a combo of things there. Were consultants, cureard that got in trouble for some early ballot shenanigans in the last cycle. Some people might be a little gun shy about taking that tact. Then also the fact that there just are some candidates didn't get funded. If Goldwater hat $40,000 in August he probably would have done his own early ballot pushing and convinced more people.

Michael grant: One of the other factors we talked about before we were on the air, last election cycle there also was a concerted effort to knock off some republican legislators in the primary. That's right.

Robbie Sherwood:
Yeah, and the key tactic was an early ballot push to get people locked in, votes locked in before all the issues were Aired.

Michael Grant:
After spending time on the FBI's ten most wanted list, warren Jeffs, fugitive leader of the polygamist community in Colorado city, Arizona, Hilldale, Utah, captured this week just north of Las Vegas. Howie, his -- he did not fight extradition from Nevada, correct?

Howard Fischer:
No. And I don't know whether it was just a recognition that the chance of fighting extradition actually under federal law it's a removal because he was originally arrested on federal fugitive charge, would have been useless or whether he's just shell shocked. They decided to send him to Nevada even though both Arizona and -- send him to Utah, excuse me, and Utah have charges against him because the charges in Utah are more serious. They have a crime that's essentially an accessory to rape, that he gave a teenage girl as a celestial bride to an older man, the older man had sex with her, raped her, and that makes warren Jeff's an accessory. Not only is it a more serious crime but a crime he can be held without bail. The Arizona crimes which had to do a lot with arranging marriages, giving young girls to older men, the bail is half a million and given that warren Jeff's has shown he can raise a lot of money, heck, he was traveling with $54,000 in cash when he was stopped north of Vegas, the feeling was we need to keep him in custody because if he gets ought. Hasta vista, baby.

Michael Grant:
The Arizona attorney general expressing surprise he showed up without counsel for the hearing in Nevada.

Howard Fischer:
I think that there's a certain amount of shock. If you saw videos of him at the hearing, where he was brought in and shackled and the heavily armed guards, he looked shell shocked. He had been surrounded, you know, since he's been on the lam over a year, by family, by follower's, he was arrested with his brother and one of his wives. I love a show you can talk about one of his wives, sort of a weird line for a news story. All of a sudden he's in a strange situation, he may not know, in fact, you know some of us talked to an attorney from Utah who had represented FLDS members before who had not yet been contacted. At some point somebody's going to need to do something. Here's the other funny possess of it. The FLDS members who other people have talked to honestly believe he's not in custody. This is a big sham put on by the attorney generals and the media and that warren is still out there and still free. Maybe that's why they're not calling an attorney for him.

Michael Grant:
high technology solution to auto theft? Some department of public safety cruisers are getting?

Dennis Welch:
Yeah, these DPS cruisers are coming he quipped with everything except David Hasselhoff anymore. Exactly. Kit, anyone? But yeah, they unveiled this new technology for catching stolen cars this week, it's basically two cameras mounted on the front and they scan the various cars around them. It goes into a database and if they find there's a stolen plate you hear a big beep inside and then they know that they've got something.

Michael Grant:
And the aspect of this being unique, the fact that it's sort of automatically scanning this is not a manual function. It's checking out license plate owes

Dennis Welch:
This happens while they're driving around, you know, they claim that they can scan 1500 plates per eight-hour shift and the interesting thing, when we started asking about what they're going to be doing with this information, apparently they're going to store this information in a database for one to three months.

Howard Fischer:
And it's not only the plates they get hits on, it's all the plates. Because the information is stored with a time and date stamp and GPS locator, in other words, the GPS every time I pass a DPS car, something is going to register and if they wanted to they could map out where I've been for months. Raises interesting private privacy concerns the aclu is looking into.

Dennis Welch:
And they said if homeland security wanted the information and the database, they would.really consider that.

Robbie Sherwood:
So if you haven't yet commit aid crime but you do, then they look in the database and can pinpoint everywhere you've been.

Howard Fischer:
Or if they wanted to find out where you've been. You're assuming only if they think you committed a crime.

Michael Grant:
Out of curiosity, on the 101 does it operate at speeds over 120 miles an hour?

Dennis Welch:
Assuming it does. But the license plate guards, the clear plexiglass things, they do inhibit this technology.

Robbie Sherwood:
Should have bought stock in that company before the show aired.

Michael Grant:
Rush on that technology this weekend.

Michael Grant New report on how Arizona schools are faring on no child left behind.

Howard Fischer:
This is a federal law around for a few years and it requires schools to make adequate yearly progress, that if you've got a bunch of third graders that you need to have them make progress to the fourth grade. Up until now I think out of over 2,000 schools I think there was something like 237 that had not qualified. All of a sudden it went up to somewhere around 600. And the question is what happened, did schools get stupid? They changed the rules. It used to be that if you got a kid come in an English language learner gave them three years before test scores counted. Now it's one year. They also changed rules on special accommodations for special ed kids. Here's the interesting thing. If one class in one school in one grade at one school fails, the entire school is listed as not making adequate yearly progress. And so couple of kids can basically, you know, screw up the whole school system's scores. Tom horn is already in federal court challenging the rules on English language learners. We have to see what happens there.

Michael Grant:
Analysts, we are out of time. Thank you very much.

Michael Grant:
Coming up on Monday, labor day, a special on the minimum wage and then on Tuesday we'll tell you about a labor day rally being held in phoenix by immigrant rights groups.

Larry Lemmons:
Hayworth and Mitchell go head to head in a debate for Arizona voters, the two candidates for district 5 state their positions on immigration, the war on terror, and stem cell research. Wednesday night at 7:00 on channel 8's horizon.

Michael Grant:
Thank you very much for joining us on this Friday edition of horizon. I'm Michael grant. Have a great holiday weekend. Good night

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