Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 13, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Donít miss HORIZONís weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the weekís top stories.
Guests:
  • Phil Riske - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
It's Friday October 13, 2006. In the headlines this week, Security videotapes show state Treasurer David Peterson Has been keeping very odd office Hours when he shows up for work. Attorney general Terry Goddard today asked the United States Supreme Court to let Arizona continue to use the Voter identification Requirements of prop 200. The university of Arizona Medical school opened its new Downtown phoenix campus this Week. That's next on horizon.

Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant and this is the Journalists' roundtable. Before we get to that, here is some news from today. A group calling itself the "Mohave county minutemen" is speaking out against the ninth Circuit court of appeals. At a protest this afternoon at the state capitol, individuals Put tape over their mouths. The action symbolizes what they interpret as a silencing of the Will of Arizonans after the Court last week stopped the Implementation of proposition 200. That's the law requiring voter Identification and proof of Citizenship requirements.

Luca Zanna:
They must -- the only thing we have for our freedom is the Right to vote. We begin to see that we vote, only citizen. It took me seven years, almost eight to fight for that. I don't want somebody else now can have the right without the Right reason. We cannot permit people from other country we don't know where they are from. We need to only citizen can vote. That's why and that's only the Issue today. Not talking about borders or anything else. We talking about the will of 1 million people decided, voted For, and two son of a dogs and I'm only responsible for that Word, two son of will dogs need To understand it is no more the King and Queen of England. This is America. Wake up. If you want that go to England No come here.

Michael Grant:
Attorney general Terry Goddard is seeking some relief From the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the ninth circuit court Decision. Joining me to talk about those Phil Riske of the "Arizona Capitol times", Howard Fischer Of capitol media services and Dennis Welch of the "east valley Tribune." However, new questions being raised about state Treasurer David Peterson. He has been keeping some infrequent office hours for most of the year after being accused of various infractions. Now security videotapes show Peterson showing up at very odd Hours. Phil, you broke the story today. What is the latest on the Treasurer?

Phil Riske:
You know, this story's been going on so long; maybe we should have a little refresher Course.

Michael Grant:
That's a good idea.

Phil Riske:
Back in earlier in the year At least three former and current employees blew the Whistle on their boss, Mr. Peterson, for alleged Felonies including theft, fraud and conflict of interest. Since the a. G. Launched an Investigation in February, Mr. Peterson has maybe shown up during regular business hours maybe ten hours a week. But we've learned through some Security video that we obtained that he's been coming in mostly on weekends and most recently on the third of this month, as a Matter of fact, he came into the Office at 2:00 in the morning. So we asked him about that and He said that the reason he came in was to work on a transition Plan for the next treasurer, whoever that is, dean martin or Ron osing. Well, his transition, it Appears, may happen a little Quicker than December 31. A couple developments here. Two of his chief deputies have filed a lawsuit against Mr. Peterson. I think he was served today on one of them. Alleging that he has violated the state's whistleblower law. So that's one development. The second development is that Speculation has it that possibly as early as next week Mr. Peterson will plead to a Couple of lesser felony charges. And because he pleads to a Felony he will have to step down. Governor Napolitano then would, if that happens, have to appoint a republican -- interim Republican treasurer.

Howard Fischer:
What's really fascinating about this whole thing is that Peterson was elected both to the State senate and then eventually Treasurer based on his support of character programs.

Michael Grant:
Right.

Howard Fischer:
And the idea that sort of Golden rule kind of stuff, do unto others kind of stuff. And it was his work with these Character programs and trying to funnel programs and money to the Character programs that may in Fact end up being his downfall. So it's really strange how this has all come about.

Phil Riske:
He in fact took a commission of $4,000 for selling this Company's materials.

Michael Grant:
now --

Phil Riske:
He admits to that.

Michael Grant:
Who will these assurances be brought by?

Phil Riske:
The Attorney General has been investigating him since February.

Michael Grant:
And at least the fairly sound Speculation is a deal --

Phil Riske:
He is in the process of or has reached an agreement with the a.G. On a plea.

Michael Grant:
All right. You mentioned the governor appoints what? This would only be for about ten Weeks or so, would obviously be to the first of January. Any speculation on who?

Phil Riske:
The speculation, at least in my mind, would center on two People. One would be Richard Patrinka who lost to Peterson in the 2002 Primary and had been a treasurer For 20 some odd years. The other one would be a man who was on the staff, chief deputy Blaine Vance who was one of the Individuals bringing a lawsuit against him who has the utmost Trust of the board of Investment. I think he might be a logical Consideration for the governor.

Michael Grant:
All right. Well, Dennis, this has been a Week of controversial stuff.

Dennis Welch:
Sure has.

Michael Grant:
And when you mention Controversy you just can't skip Russell Pearce.

Dennis Welch:
Apparently I guess you can't Skip Russell Pearce. Maybe he's upset and doesn't want anybody to hog the Spotlight. But again he's come under Intense scrutiny this week for Sending an e-mail out or Forwarding an e-mail out to some Friends and supporters of his That contained a link to an Article written by a white Supremacist organization -- Supremacist organization which Truly believes the white Aryan Race is superior to all others. He sent that out and that caused A few problems for the guy who Had already come under fire the Previous week or a couple weeks Before for using the term -- a Derogatory term for Mexicans on The radio show when he was Describing his support for an Operation in the 1950's that was A massive roundup of illegal Mexican immigrants here in the Country. So this was a continuation of that. And this latest flap actually Cost him the support of j.d. Hayworth who immediately came out and pulled his support from Russell Pearce. I mean, you know --

Howard Fischer:
And he's undermined his own Cause. Russell Pearce has been at the Forefront of the question of Illegal immigration all along. There are many Arizonans who Believe in what he wants, who believe that we should have true Employer sanctions, who believe that in fact that we do need to spend more money on more state Resources, on a wall and National Guard and everything Else. But all you end up doing when You have these little side trips Here is you undermine and it Feeds the belief that anybody Who believes we need to do more About immigration is a racist. Now, I don't believe Russell is a racist. His excuse, I didn't really look At the e-mail, the attachment, What it referred to when I sent It out. Well, when the e-mail refers to The Zionist occupation Government, one of these Aryan Racist terms in there, somebody ought to be looking at it. It at least makes you question His judgment.

Phil Riske:
Dennis, isn't the more Pressing issue whether Mr. Pearce who wants to be Majority leader, is that down The drain, and two, what do you Hear about any movement that They may try to strip him of the Appropriations committee Chairmanship?

Dennis Welch:
We talked to speaker weiers this week about that. And true, there was some talk about what could be done. Weiers does not intend to take any type of disciplinary Measures against Mr. Pearce. But that said, what happens next Year, who knows? He may not be voted back into the leadership position. Because I mean, just as it undermines his credibility on the issue of immigration, this can undermine his credibility on certain decisions that are made.

Phil Riske:
Dennis or Howie is the Overall question -- some may say that political correctness has run amuck. And others may say that Politicians today need to watch what they say or they're going to have their rears handed to them?

Howard Fischer:
Well, you talk political Correctness. I think we have gone overboard on that in general. But when you are forwarding certain e-mails -- I mean, I Hearkens back to Barbara Bluester who sent out an e-mail equating homosexuality with Bestiality and political Correctness. We're talking about somebody who doesn't have two functioning Neurons to put together. But if you're a public official there's much required. Much in the same way if you or I were to write something even as an internal memo that gets out. People depend on our judgment same as they depend on the judgment of legislators.

Michael Grant:
Congressman Jim Colby, he Sort of moved back to the year 2000 when somebody knew about what Foley is alleged to have done.

Howard Fischer:
And this is fascinating because it goes back even to the Days of Watergate. What did somebody know and when did they know it? You know, the house leadership, You know, the speaker Hastert Said, well, I just found out That perhaps Foley had sent some inappropriate e-mails. Well, then Colby, through his Press aid who actually today was her last day but that's another Whole side story to this fiasco, Says, well, actually I did Advise the speaker. I didn't see the e-mails but I basically advised the speaker and advised the page of who to notify back in 2000. So that again raises the Question, the same thing we talk about with speaker weiers here at the state level. What action should the speaker have taken? What's appropriate? And why didn't speaker Hastert do anything?

Michael Grant:
And what's the latest development this afternoon?

Howard Fischer:
Well, in a funny turn about, Here's Colby who three days ago Looks like a great hero for Having blown the whistle at Least partially on Foley, now it turns out that a decade ago Congressman Colby along with his Sister, some parks service Employees and at least two-pages Took a rafting trip. In the instance there one of the Pages is quoted as saying that Colby's behavior was "creepy" That he did a lot of hugging. And Colby whose an openly gay Republican congressman, that's the last piece of information he Needs. He's not running for re-election but this would be a hell of a Way to end a 22-year Congressional career.

Phil Riske: I think we need to be really careful on this one. One it's preliminary. Two as far as I know there's Never been any rumblings like that about him. I think the point to be made is The Foley scandal has now got Legs in Arizona, and that Worries republicans all the way down to the legislative level who are afraid that the conservative wing of the party will take a walk on the November election and stay home, giving The democrats the advantage.

Howard Fischer:
But there's another point in Here. If you are a congressman, you shouldn't be doing things with Pages, particularly pages who are under 18.

Phil Riske:
If he did.

Howard Fischer:
I'm not talking about doing. I'm saying he did take the Rafting trip. I'm sorry. You go on a rafting trip with somebody, a page who is under the employ of the house, that Page is under 18, I don't care what happened. It comes down to the issue of Appearance. And whether the congressman is Gay, straight or martial, Martian you don't take rafting Trips with other people, with Pages who are under 18 periods.

Michael Grant: Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard asking the United States Supreme Court today to allow the state to use the voter Id provisions of proposition 200 in the upcoming election last Week ninth circuit court of Appeals blocked Arizona from enforcing that new law. Howie, the decisions up to Justice Kennedy, isn't it?

Howard Fischer:
This is an unusual Circumstance because normally once the ninth circuit decides that they're going to issue a Stay, that's pretty much it. There is an emergency procedure where you can go to the duty Judge for that circuit that happens to be Anthony Kennedy and say, look, can you dissolve the stay and let us enforce the Id provisions of prop 200? Now, today he filed those Papers. He said, look, the state has an overriding interest in preventing fraud in elections. And yes, it's true. For the last since we became a State we never had Id requirements but we'd like to prevent fraud. There's evidence that fraud can happen, has happened and so we have an overriding interest in doing that. He did succeed in that argument, as you mentioned, at the trial level where the case is depending and has yet to be heard. But the two Judges of the ninth circuit went ahead and said that the burden of hardships here is not on the state but it is on the people who might be denied the ability to vote because they don't have the proper forms of Id.

Michael Grant:
Well, and Howie, one of the other points that I think the Attorney general's office is making is just the timing of this is going to be more disruptive and more confusing to the process because the poll workers have been trained in the process, voters have been given all of these instructions about what to bring to the polls. Whether or not that will sell with justice kenned, but that's the point that he made in terms Of the immediacy of it.

Howie Fischer: True. But the issue is you're training them -- you've trained them to look for certain forms of Id. How long does it train them to say, you know what we told you about id? Forget. It I'm sorry. Okay. You're trained.

Michael Grant: Would we expect a ruling fairly promptly from Justice Kennedy.

Howard Fischer:
Obviously. -- The people who sued, the People who got the stay is going to file a response on Monday. I would expect Justice Kennedy to decide within hours if not days because he's not going to Let this thing ride because Again back to your point somebody needs to make a final decision. The other point terry made in terms of seeking the stay on this one, was that even assuming people don't have Id there is an option under state law. You request an early ballot and Vote with an early ballot. There's no requirements for Id. All you do is sign the outside of the envelope. So he says there's no real hardship on people who don't have an Id.

Michael Grant:
We're in the middle of an Election cycle so we can't skip clean elections.

Howard Fischer:
Heaven help us.

Michael Grant:
Howie, there was a ruling From judge fields on a case coming out of clean elections That just truly strikes me as Bizarre.

Howard Fischer:
Well, unfortunately we don't have the two hours in the flow chart here. In essence, Arizona law says if somebody runs with public money and somebody runs with private money, the person with the private money expends more than the person whose getting public funds, the public funded person gets more money. That's simple. Where it gets convoluted is the treasurer's race where you had two people running, neither of which have a primary. Rob Rano -- got $47,000 for a Primary, that she didn't have. But if you have a general you Get money for the primary and another 74,000 for the general Election. Dean Martin who's running privately has spent about 73,000. He's afraid the moment that he spends over that 74,000 just for the general, the clean elections commission is going to give her more money even though she already had 47,000 for a primary that she didn't have.

Michael Grant:
And in fact that is going to be what happens, right?

Howard Fischer:
That's what the judge said. It may not be fair but that's the way the law is and it's not Up to me to change it. This is part of that whole convoluted mess that we dial with every time we get into matching funds. We saw this during the 2002 gubernatorial race. Every time you get an independent expenditure, every Time somebody tries to spend money you find out how Convoluted this whole clean Elections act is.

Phil Riske:
Part of the problem with clean elections for everybody Out there who has tried to follow along to the explanation of what this ruling is about. It's confusing. And it's confusing to follow along and we're paid to know about this stuff. And the candidates going into this stuff there is a lot of Confusion about what does the Law say, what do we do here and here? Stuff has changed as the law was changed relatively short time before the election cycle really heated up. This is why we're seeing this challenge this week.

Michael Grant:
Well, and that seems one of the other strange aspects of this is that also I don't think that dean martin necessarily would have had any idea of this prior to the primary. It came up right around the time of the primary election.

Howard Fischer:
He's saying that he never thought about it because we've never had happen. Now, the law from clean Elections hasn't changed since voters adopted it in '98. But the rules adopted by the five member commission how to implement that have kind of gone through a sea change as they've gone along. Every time you try to fix something. That's been the issue. The argument of Todd Lange whose the executive commissioner -- Director of the commissioner is you have to have separate Funding otherwise people will Gain in the system. That didn't occur here where you could have somebody like dean Martin spend all his money in the primary and none in the general, he could spend $500,000 for the primary and Nothing for the general and yet Rano would not get matching. But again every time we try to Fix something -- that goes back To 19 will -- 86 where we put in the first restrictions, somebody finds a complication. The more I see us trying to fix the system the more I'm inclined to say go back to let everybody contribute what they want and Just report it.

Phil Riske:
Another important reason why there are more challenges this year is because a lot of previously privately-funded candidates have chosen to be clean candidates because of the disadvantage to the -- so a lot of people who ran previously traditionally are now -- are now running clean and finding these Problems.

Dennis Welch:
A lot of people are saying -- Instead of calling this the clean elections act are calling it the incumbent protection act because of instances like this Where --

Michael Grant:
Well, listen. I understand the governor is going to get the massive sum of $487 in some match?

Phil Riske:
This resolves it from a -- I must say a very well-produced two minute and ten second spot about the 9/11 memorial controversy. And in the end the commission yesterday found that it did in fact put her in a bad light. But rather than awarding the 25 grand her campaign attorney asked for she got $487.

Michael Grant:
Did they drop her a note, don't spend it all in one place? [laughter]

Michael Grant:
We find anything new in the gubernatorial debate down in Tucson?

Dennis Welch:
Well, we found out that yes, Len munsil is very committed to Immigration. This debate was held earlier this week in Tucson, was billed as to focus on education issues, Issues dealing with children. Yet every time with every question that was asked of the Candidates, len munsil found some way of steering that and Shifting the focus back on to Illegal immigration. When asked about the education system. Well, illegal immigration will solve the dropout rates and will solve a bunch of other things. Asked about the economy. You shore up the borders it's going to improve the economy. Asked about crime, shore up the borders we're going to reduce crime. It was pretty interesting to see that. And I know that Howie here was just in love with some of the questions that were asked down there as well.

Howard Fischer:
Well, part of the problem with these debates is because you have the candidates Determines the format. Because this was not a clean Elections debate so the candidates get to decide themselves how they're doing. It and they do it and they have A panel of two idiot editorial Writers which is sort of redundant.

Phil Riske:
Those internal memos you were talking about?

Howard Fischer:
Yes. The good news is, they don't see the show in Tucson, they can't Fire me. Somebody from the u of a and the Moderator of a similar show like This from Tucson. Well, they all had that prepared questions. I don't think any of them was listening to the answers. Because if they had been listening they would have said, Now, wait a second here. No, going back to Dennis's point, the issue of tuition at Universities, you know, first of all Len said it's illegal Immigration. Secondly he said, I will keep tuition in line. Nobody thought to follow up and say, excuse me. You're the governor. What the hell do you have to do with that?

Michael Grant:
Speaking of debates, we finally got one for United States senate scheduled for Sunday afternoon, right?

Howie Fischer: Yes. And it took a long time to do this. This is being done at channel 5 here in phoenix. This could prove to be a very Interesting debate because right Now all we've seen is about $16 million worth of really ugly commercials attacking each other. And hopefully the debate will enlighten people as to what People stand for. We all know what everyone else doesn't stand for, each of them In terms of whose immigration Plan is worse, who's taking more money. With any luck we'll have a better debate. Now, the question is whether it will be a debate after that. There were some memos that went out today there's supposed to be another debate between Kyl and Pederson in Tucson. Pederson sent a note saying Kyl Had back out of the debate. Kyl sent a note saying, no, Channel 6 didn't want to use the Rules. So we're having a debate about debates.

Dennis Welch:
To that point, I'm getting Sick and tired -- we're not really talking much about what's going on in the debate, we're debating about the debates. Because we've also seen this in the governor's race where they can't seem to agree on when to debate.

Michael Grant:
Almost out of time, but we've Got an u of a med. School in Downtown phoenix, right?

Howard Fischer:
Yes, we do, at least for the time being. This was the hard-fought battle at the legislature where there's No question but that Arizona needs more doctors. It didn't make sense to expand the medical school in Tucson. It's maxed out on space. Politically it made a lot of sense to put a branch of the u of a medical school in phoenix. You didn't have to go through Full blown accreditation for new ASU medical school. The fight will come from Russell Pearce and Donald Quelen who said we gave them the money, not going to expand it beyond the Original 22 students.

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

Larry Lemmons:
What is the state of education in Arizona? In a Horizon special, we look at our education system from all-day kindergarten to the aims test. We also look at the rising cost of higher education. The Horizon education special Monday at 7:00 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
Tuesday an interview with Joe Shirley the current Navajo Nation president running for Re-election. Wednesday we'll talk to his opponent Linda love joy plus we'll talk about ASU's new School of sustainability. Thursday we celebrate the show's 25th anniversary. Sitting around this coffee Table. I don't think that's true. Thank you very much for joining us on a Friday edition. I'm Michael grant. Have a great weekend. Good night.

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