Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

March 11, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Arizona congressman J.D. Hayworth announced this week he will not seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2006. Meantime Governor Janet Napolitano said she won't support some of the cuts contained in the Republicans' budget this week. And the Arizona house approved several bills to deal with immigration issues.
Guests:
  • Mark Flatten - East Valley Tribune
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
It's Friday, March 11, 2005. In the headlines this week, Arizona congressman J.D. Hayworth announcing this week he will not seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2006. Meantime Governor Janet Napolitano said she won't support some of the cuts contained in the Republicans' budget this week. And the Arizona house approved several bills to deal with immigration issues. That's next on "Horizon."

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. This is the Journalists Roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Mark Flatten of the "East Valley Tribune," Robbie Sherwood of the "Arizona Republic," and Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services, who is currently editing my copy. Although it's still more than a year-and-a-half away the 2006 race for governor started to take shape this week when congressman J.D. Hayworth decided against running. Hayworth had been considered one of the favorites, of course, to challenge Governor Napolitano. Mark, why do you think J.D. bailed?

>> Mark Flatten:
I think he probably was looking at where his political career is right now. He's well positioned in Congress. He's moving up there. He's gaining incrementally more influence there. He's in a safe seat where he's at. To run for governor he would have to leave all that behind, run against an incumbent who is, according to virtually every poll, in a very strong position. I think he just thought, you know, it's just not worth the risk. He doesn't want to wind up the next Matt Salmon, sitting out here happily toiling away as Republican Party chairman.

>> Michael Grant:
Money concerns at all?

>> Mark Flatten:
You know, I don't think so. I think J.D. if he decided to run could privately fund it, I think he could have raised all the money he needed. He's certainly not been shy about that in the past.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
There is one money concern that would be salary. He would be taking about a $60,000 a year pay cut plus I think his wife is employed by his PAC, would have to maybe find new employment locally here, and so it might be a lifestyle cramping issue. I don't think that was the deciding factor, but there would be that issue.

>> Mark Flatten:
I honestly think he just looked at it and thought; it's not worth rolling the dice on this one. Napolitano is in a strong position right now.

>> Michael Grant:
One of the other things that we occasionally forget is a congressman by definition serving and having a profile in only one portion of the state. Admittedly J.D. Hayworth has a larger profile --

>> Mark Flatten:
He has been said to have large profile.

>> Michael Grant:
Not recently. But many times for congressmen that doesn't necessarily translate statewide. I think he would have the best shot of all the --

>> Mark Flatten:
Yeah, it's kind of a funny dynamic. You can be an influential congressman and even be influential on the national scene but when it comes to a state race, nobody outside your district knows who you are.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
But I think of J.D., of all the Republicans who have been mentioned, he has the personality and campaign skills to transcend that, which gave him the position as front-runner, but he at best because -- at best because Napolitano hasn't taken too many darts, had a 50-50 chance at best to win, and that job, if J.D. still wants it, is still there in 2010 provide he doesn't want to take a jump somewhere else.

>> Mark Flatten:
Provided whomever the Republicans do run ultimately loses.

>> Howard Fischer:
We can do year-end show predictions here.

>> Michael Grant:
We can be just as inaccurate in March as December.

>> Howard Fischer:
The fact is that J.D., from our perspective as journalists, would have been the best because J.D. is very good on his feet. He knows how to give that sound bite. The sound bite that elbows its way to the top of the story. We poke a little fun at him, the old fog horn, I say, son, but he understands having been in the media, having been a sports reporter, how to get the media's attention, and how to do it right. He would have given Janet, I think, a much harder run than perhaps Rick Romley did. Rick is in a lot of ways overly serious. Rick is very tense. Fife Symington also understands that but I think Fife --

>> Mark Flatten:
Of course, Napolitano is always the life of any party, too. She's certainly -- nobody will accuse of her of being overly serious.

>> Michael Grant:
Rick Romley already indicated he would make a decision by this summer. Does this accelerate that timetable a little bit? Does he try to preempt part of the field?

>> Mark Flatten:
I don't know if it accelerates it. I spoke with him this week, and I think he's probably pretty close. He's talking like a person that's going to be running. He comes with some advantages, some disadvantages. He's got the same disadvantages as Hayworth had in that he's a former county attorney, Maricopa County, how is that going to translate to the rest of the state. Some of his advantages, beyond his public life, he's a decorated war veteran, we've got about 600 thousand military veterans in Arizona plus their families. He's very popular with the veteran's voters, too. And he's also got a reputation as being willing to take on the tough cases, beginning with AzSCAM all the way up through the pedophile priest scan scandals from the past year.

>> Howard Fischer:
And he is not afraid of offending people of his own party, ala sheriff Joe.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
How does that help you when you need to bring the party together, behind you?

>> Howard Fischer:
What it shows is that John McCain attitude that people like that, in fact, he's not afraid -- oh, it's a fellow Republican, I don't want to mess with them. So he has shown that if he believes in the issue, and that's the other side of that intensity, he doesn't care what your party label is. Same thing when he took on Jim Irvin.

>> Michael Grant:
Rick Renzi just wants to get his name in the paper, or is that serious?

>> Mark Flatten:
He succeeded with the Republic. He didn't succeed with us yet. There's a small cluster of people that you kind of look to, a congressman -- you really don't go down too much this time on the state electoral food chain when you talk about Brewer or --

>> Michael Grant:
U.S. surgeon general.

>> Mark Flatten:
Yeah, but again, that's a federal office if that you look -- I don't see Brewer really having that type of ambition. Horne maybe, but I don't think the numbers pencil out for him. Richard Camono, the U.S. surgeon general, he has about four incredible resumes but is he well enough known in Arizona? He's the surgeon general, he was a surgeon at U of A, but who really knows who he is at this point in Arizona?

>> Michael Grant:
Well, other political related developments this week, Lemon, the investigator and chair of the Clean Elections, really hammered David Burnell Smith.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Representative Smith is one of a handful of lawmakers that are being investigated by the commission but he is the one who probably allegedly committed the largest infraction. He overspent his Clean Elections Commission fund by roughly about $6,000, and in his primary and overshot a 10\% limit on that that says by law you do that you get the political death penalty. You must relinquish your office. He also threw onto that a $10,000 civil fine recommendation and a recommendation that he pay back all the money he spent which is about $34,000. So he is looking at about 44,000 dollars in punitive issues and loss of his seat. He's thrown that -- that ball is in the commission's court and they have to decide whether or not we really want to do this.

>> Michael Grant:
Clean Elections Commission has been trotting very carefully on this thing. You think they pull the trigger?

>> Robbie Sherwood:
The law is the law. I think they're darned if they do and darned if they don't on this one, but I think they're probably more darned if they don't because the law on this one, even I can understand it. It says 10\%, you're out.

>> Mark Flatten:
Yeah, but the question is, like you say, do they have the stomach for it? You know if they try to enforce it you've -- you're going to have a challenge based on the -- you're disenfranchising those who voted for him.

>> Howard Fischer:
Here's the other problem. If they don't at least make the effort, the signal is, you can just blow past your spending limits, and if you can get elected, even if you have taken the public money and double or triple it, if you get elected, no harm, no foul. That they can't let sit because at that point you've gutted clean elections.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Their job is not to presume what a court or a judge down the line is going to do. Their job is to follow the law as it's written, and in case law in Arizona, different law, we did get rid of a Corporation Commissioner without a big challenge.

>> Howard Fischer:
That goes back to the theory I've mentioned on the show before, which is my belief that the commission won't have to act because the Clean Elections institute, which is privately funded, will file some action and take the commission off the hook.

>> Michael Grant:
Finally, political appointment, Governor Napolitano moving -- Pinal County sheriff to be head of DPS?

>> Robbie Sherwood:
He was a 20-year veteran at DPS before he ran for Pinal County sheriff. He just got elected to his second term. Very popular choice from the rank and file perspective from everyone we talked to. He's a guy that went down to Pinal County, took an agency that was a little bit in trouble, and has turned it around and now we have a waiting list of people to get on there. I think this is going to be one of those bipartisan fairly popular choices on her part.

>> Michael Grant:
Republican lawmakers releasing the details of their proposed $8.1 billion budget proposal. Robbie, give us a rundown on some of the key points in the spending plan.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
I'll talk about the house plan first because I think that that one is probably the one that's more closer to the finish line, it's more soup than the Senate, and it's because it was developed by leadership with an eye towards trying to get something that everybody can live with and maybe even the governor. It's not there yet, but it -- it does some things that the Senate plan, which is heavy on cutting of social services, doesn't do. It splits the baby on borrowing money for schools. It borrows about $131 million of the 300 million there, which frees up a lot of cash.

>> Michael Grant:
That was to avoid -- by doing that, able to avoid some of the cuts in the Senate budget.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Absolutely. It does one thing, I think, that was aimed at trying to trump Napolitano for the first time I have seen in republican budgets, retirement and insurance costs are going up for state employees and school teachers and university employees all around. The governor didn't want to do anything to hold school teachers harmless on that. It would be about $80 million expense is why. The house threw $60 million towards that problem which, if you ask the average school teacher, would you rather expand all-day kindergarten, which neither plan does, or have your insurance costs and health insurance costs taken care of, they're going to go for that.

>> Michael Grant:
Speaking of education-related matters, how did the universities fare or how are they currently faring in the proposals?

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Okay. Their enrollment growth is taken' care of. There's some reforms that will limit people to about 140 credit hours before their tuition goes up. The big fight here is going to be medical school. The governor wanted $6 million to start a class in the new downtown medical school. Senate gives them a piece of that 4 million and the house gives them nothing.

>> Howard Fischer:
One of the pieces which is not in the budget bill is this whole issue of four-year community colleges which is making its way through the house. The idea is community colleges for a lot of courses can do it cheaper, faster, can do it in people's home communities. Universities fear if some of their students are siphoned off, that siphons off that state aid.

>> Michael Grant:
They could become the grape that ate Detroit. It wasn't a grape, was it?

>> Howard Fischer:
Where do you come up with these ideas?

>> Michael Grant:
I don't know.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
One headline grabbing footnote in the house budget at least on the university is an idea by representative Russell Pearce to end state funding for student newspapers. He's offended by some stories that depicted nudity on the cover of the state press magazine and some sex surveys --

>> Howard Fischer:
The fact is he's right but for the wrong reasons. Student newspapers should be self-supporting. So you never have to get into a situation where the administration can say, well, you know, we're going to cut you back. When I went to college at Syracuse the student newspaper was self-supporting for exactly that reason. Now, did the papers try to poke -- poke some senators in the face, a story on best places to have sex in the open on campus? There was a story, perhaps, on cunnilingus and how to do it at Northern Arizona University paper.

>> Michael Grant:
I knew they were slow up there.

>> Howard Fischer:
And I don't know that you necessarily need the newspapers to tell you how or where --

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Or some 21-year-old co-ed --

>> Howard Fischer:
But, he's right, and the fact is, if the newspapers had a gem of self-respect they would say, great, we'll go out and make up that extra 10\%.

>> Michael Grant:
Mark, with a child knocking on the door of college, you were particularly intrigued by this additional round of tuition rate hikes.

>> Mark Flatten:
Yeah, the additional round is the tough part for folks in my situation, which is the middle class person with a 17-year-old kid at home. We've gone through -- the regents approved another rate increase, about 8.5\%. They're saying that it's to keep them competitive and make sure we have a top-notch university system. The problem is a lot of -- it -- I heard some concern at the legislature, they're starting to get some concern that you're starting to squeeze people out of that opportunity. In fact, there's talk about the constitutional requirement that it be as nearly free as possible. They're going to use some of the money for scholarships for low-income people. So the concern becomes, if you're rich you can go there, if you're poor, you can go there, but the middle class will end up getting hurt.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
There's one piece of the budget that will probably be there at the end of the day, and that's to allow tuition increases but to limit them to an incoming freshman class. So you start at -- the most they can raise your tuition once you're there and in school is by the amount of inflation, which is 1 or 2 percentage points.

>> Howard Fischer:
Of course, it's going to be a big shock. If you are afraid you can't raise tuition beyond inflation for four years, you know the first thing the universities will do, is goose up that freshman's tuition to have an insurance policy.

>> Michael Grant:
Sure, to have a little cushion. Do I understand correctly that they're talking about trying to get together and move a joint product by the end of next week.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
Yeah, which is surprising because the plans are so far apart. Like I said, the Senate plan was developed in their appropriations committee with some of the most conservative members and so they're pretty far away but they are very committed to -- they say a vote as early as Tuesday. I'll believe that when that I see it. But they're on a very fast track. To see two fully formulated plans at this point is a surprise to a lot of people.

>> Howard Fischer:
One of the issues to be is are they sending a budget to the governor, to prove we're Republicans, we can send it, and she will veto it or do they intend to send something to the governor that's close enough to what she wants that it would be embarrassing for her to veto it, like Robbie's point about the 60 million additional aid to schools? I don't know which of those will do. I think that senator Bob Burns who heads the Senate appropriations committee would just as soon try to shove something up there and say, dare you to veto it.

>> Michael Grant:
It was a busy week at the House of Representatives. Several bills dealing with immigration issues were okayed by lawmakers. Howie, can you touch on some of the key provisions that passed.

>> Howard Fischer:
Oh, Lord, they were very busy. This is all fallout from Proposition 200. The broadest one of these actually expands Proposition 200. As you may remember a lot of folks said it prohibits people not here legally from getting public benefits. Nobody defined it. Terry Goddard said it's only a few things. For example, say, no in state college tuition if you're not here legally. You can't do adoption. You can't take classes in English. Then you've got bills dealing with bail for people not here legally, the presumption in Arizona is you're entitled to bail unless there's some reason you shouldn't be. This would say if you're here illegally, at the least you could be held for 10 days and on serious felonies you could be held without bail like you've been accused of a capital offence. You have bills designed to crackdown on coyotes who bring people into the country illegally. You have got bills dealing with aggravating circumstances. Right now all crimes come with a presumptive sentence, which a judge can expand on if there's certain things. Like if it's committed for financial fraud or if it's done in an especially heinous manner. This says simply fact you're here illegally could be used to extend your sentence.

>> Michael Grant:
Nothing succeeds like success, Mark. I think everybody is looking at the results on Proposition 200 and saying, I got a couple ideas that --

>> Mark Flatten:
Well, absolutely. Prop 200 I think was a slap in the face for a lot of people who had opposed it before and you're seeing on it both sides. You're seeing people in the legislature who are supporters of it saying, hey, we have a mandate from the people on this issue. Let's get bold. But I think what's actually even more interesting is watching the people like the Governor Napolitano and Terry Goddard who opposed prop 200, watching them come out now and pound their fists on the table saying, I'm going to defend that law to the death. And that came up with the instance of some senators coming up from Mexico to essentially complain about prop 200. The governor refused to meet with them. When asked why, she said, I don't want to. Goddard met with them and sent out a press release and said I made it clear to them this is the law of the land. So the people that opposed prop 200 are now trying to be as tough as those who supported it.

>> Michael Grant:
Howie, house speaker Jim Weiers, however, agrees to meet with them and actually does meet with them this afternoon. I guess they were sort of wandering around town before --

>> Howard Fischer:
No -- once Phil Gordon decided, oh that's what they want to meet with me on, I'm not interested, once the governor said, as -- as Mark said, pounded her fist, Jim Weiers said, and I think he's right, said look, whatever you believe, they're a delegation from another country. At least give them the courtesy. But Jim also made it clear he's not there to apologize for prop 200. They did complain about the bill to expand prop 200. And his response was, I think, very clear. He said, look, the people who voted for prop 200 believed all along it would deny all services to illegal immigrants. When Terry Goddard said it didn't, all we're doing is fixing what the people voted on. I don't think that's the message the senators wanted to hear, but he wasn't afraid to tell them because he had been a supporter of this. He also talked about the idea of building a private prison in Mexico, which obviously Arizona lawmakers want; they're not so sure they want.

>> Michael Grant:
Did they react at all to that proposal?

>> Howard Fischer:
It was interesting, because they said, these are federal senators, they said, that's an issue for the state of Sonora, which is pretty interesting since their interior minister essentially said last week, the federal interior minister said, over my cold dead body. So that will be interesting. The other issue that came up has to do with this guide that was published, which Arizonans see as a dummy's guide for crossing the border, how to get across the border without problems. When I asked about that, it was interesting. The senators backed off and the Mexican consul to Arizona said, no, this is not a guide, this is a warning of what not to do and how you should get a visa. So obviously that's a real hot button issue.

>> Mark Flatten:
When the governor was pressed a little earlier in the week about what is the message that these people should get, I mean, that was one of the issues she brought up specifically, you need to stop printing how-to guides on how to cross the border. You guys on the other side of the border needed to do something about illegal immigration. She's had a come to Jesus meeting in November, I think --

>> Howard Fischer:
Of course, the senators' response was, yes, but except for your businesses, U.S. businesses, basically are dependent on Mexican labor, entice people to come here, promise them jobs when they come here, yet the U.S. Government will not reform the immigration laws to provide a better guest worker program.

>> Michael Grant:
Somewhat related subject, where are we on English as the official language of the State of Arizona?

>> Howard Fischer:
Well, the House of Representatives gave it preliminary approval. In fact, they not only took the original bill that Russell Pearce had done, which says official acts have to be conducted in English, but decided, ah, let's go for broke, let's say ballots can only be printed in English. Here's the question. You have the 1965 voting rights act, which talks about barriers to voting. Pearce's argument is, that only says we can't ask them to prove they're fluent in English but we can still print the ballots in English. He got that amendment on, the thing got preliminary approval, it will come up for a third reading next week. Here's where I think it ends. The Senate passed an official English bill, too. It's much simpler. It says English is the official language. Governments can't be forced to print anything in any other language but they're free to print anything in any other language. It's more ceremonial. I think that's where it will end because the Senate will never adopt what the House has put forward.

>> Mark Flatten:
Didn't we actually pass an initiative like that about 15 years ago which lasted long enough to get into a federal court?

>> Howard Fischer:
The problem with that --

>> Michael Grant:
Keen memory.

>> Howard Fischer:
Keen memory, like a steel trap.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
It overreached in much the same way as Pearce's voting rights --

>> Howard Fischer:
The 1988 proposal said not only English is the official language but the way the judges saw it, said to a state senator, who happened to be Hispanic, you cannot converse as a state senator with your constituents in any language other than English. Judge Moeller on the Supreme Court at the time said, wait a second, what part of the first amendment do you not understand? What part of legitimate government reasons do you not understand?

>> Mark Flatten:
So how is this markedly different than what was already thrown out by court?

>> Howard Fischer:
It basically says informal communication can still occur in whatever language.

>> Robbie Sherwood:
It did say that until we decided to print ballots in only English, and that's what's going to hurt.

>> Michael Grant:
All right panelists, we are out of time. Thanks very much. If you would like to see a transcript of tonight's program, please visit the website. You can find that at www.azpbs.org. When you get there, you can click on the word "Horizon." That's going to lead you to transcripts, links and information on upcoming shows, which is going to be very, very short, because next week we'll be off for special programming. But we will see you next Friday for the Journalists Roundtable edition of "Horizon" when I gather one more time with all these guys to talk about the week's news events. Thanks very much for joining us on a Friday evening. I hope you have an incredibly fine weekend. I'm Michael Grant. Good night.

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