Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 8, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Journalists Roundtable


  • Local reporters review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Mike Sunnucks - Business Journal
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
It's Friday, December 8th, 2006. There are more signs that Senator John McCain is gearing up for an expected presidential Run in 20008. A Maricopa county superior court Judge overturned a decision regarding violating the human Smuggling law. An U.S. Airways says is moving forward with a plan to acquire Delta Airlines in a merger. That's next, on "Horizon."

Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant; this is the "Journalists Roundtable." Joining us are Mike Sunnucks of the "Business Journal," Howard Fischer of the "Capitol Media Services," and Phil Riske of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Senator John McCain is not wasting any time. He has hired terry nelson as his Campaign manager. Mike, that was a little controversial.

Mike Sunnucks:
Nelson was one of his Top campaign directors. He worked for tom delay and got Indicted. Most recently, nelson was involved in some ads in Tennessee involving Harold ford. I think a lot of political Junkies saw those ads. There was a blonde white Actress talking about ford's Attendance at a "playboy magazine" Function. He does the "call me" thing at the End of the ad, and race played a Role in ford losing. He was a conservative prolife Candidate and he lost partly Because of this ad.

Michael Grant:
Do we read in this by McCain no more Mr. Nice guy campaign?

Mike Sunnucks:
I think he was in on some of the dirty tricks. He's trying to gobble up as much of the campaign talent out there as possible. He's hiring a lot of bush People, bush's ad guy from Texas. He's bringing some people from His own campaign in 2000, and some people like Nelson who Worked on bush's 2004 campaign. You're going to see Hillary Clinton do the same thing on the Democratic side. They've got money and they're going to try to grab as much Talent as possible.

Howard Fischer:
The win at any cost idea, Because of what happened in 2000 where he got blindsided in South Carolina. And this is why he's been kissing up to the right wing of the party, going from state to State, trying to undo who the Party powers are in South Carolina, Michigan, New Hampshire, to try to put in his own people.

Mike Sunnucks:
Republicans tend to anoint someone, and then they win the Nomination. It was bob dole's turn in 1996. So McCain is trying to do that. And so despite his past as Mr. Maverick, he's trying to become the establishment candidate. The big challenge is reaching out to those Evangelical Christians

Howard Fischer:
But the point is that he's failing at it, particularly in Michigan. I talked to the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party and he said that McCain tried to shove him out to put in his own person and was unsuccessful. To the extent that McCain thinks it's possible to get it locked up, the idea that McCain wants anybody not loyal to him out of the way, he's not good enough to do that.

Michael Grant:
How's McCain doing on that Score?

Mike Sunnucks:
Right after thanksgiving McCain hosted a kind of Top-notch c.e.o. fund-raiser in Paradise valley, a lot of C.E.O.'s,, sports owners, those Types. He wants to raise about two and A half million just from Arizona From those folks, and then maybe 50 million nationwide. And then he'll try to squeeze People out, discourage other Challengers. His name id makes him one of the Front-runners. It's key at the top of the polls right now to raise a lot of Money and try to keep the other Folks out of there.

Michael Grant:
The house ethics committee came out with its report on the Mark Foley situation. I understand Jim Colby is mentioned in a couple, three Pages?

Howard Fischer:
Actually a little more than that. Obviously mark Foley got in trouble and resigned after some improper conversations with Current and former pages. One of these was an e-mail he sent to a former page that had been there because Jim Colby had been there. The interesting thing is that Colby says he never saw the Actual instant message that Foley sent to the page. The page says, no, I sent to it Representative Colby. Colby said, I never even saw the e-mail, my assistant did. The assistant said no, Colby Saw it. We can't tell whether in 2001 Colby actually saw the Attachment to the e-mail Message. Even if he didn't, he should Have, because here was a kid, recently a high school senior, now a college freshman, getting an uncomfortable message. He should have asked for it to figure out how to respond to it. They concluded there was not enough to go with further investigations on it.

Mike Sunnucks:
But that was indicative of the whole republican leadership's handling of this. There's a lot of shenanigans that go on, and they put Blinders on and it's best not to know. I think Colby was just in that Kind of group.

Phil Riske:
As long as we're still in D.C., I wanted to just step back. I had a question, mike. Isn't McCain's star, in the end, really hooked to the war?

Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah. It's going to be a tough issue for him because he's been calling for more Troops for a long time, and continues to call for more troops there, despite this Baker-Hamilton commission, and despite the opinions and the election results. But if this is still going on in 2008, that's an albatross possibly around his neck, if he's seen as the supporter of an unpopular war. And if we're not out of there and getting out of there, then that could bring him down.

Michael Grant:
Let's go to some election aftermath stuff in this state's Capitol. Jan brewer wants an august Primary?

Phil Riske:
She does, and she brought it up about a year ago. In part, it was sparked by the recount controversy in legislative district 20. She wants more time, in case between the primary and the General, in case something like that pops up again. And related to that, and which didn't get much publicity, the Justice department, through the U.S. attorney, finally determined that there was no tampering of the ld-20 ballots. 2002 or 2004?

Howard Fischer:
It was 2004. What happened is that this was a District that encompasses Tempe, Chandler, and parts of Ahwatukee. They run the ballots through, and it's close enough that you have to elect two, and there were three people on there. They run them through a different set of machines. Not only does it change the results, another almost 500 votes show up. It was question of, did somebody tamper with them, and was there some Doctoring of the machines. And the FBI concluded there's no Evidence, the best-case scenario is that maybe there were some stray marks on the paper.

Phil Riske:
The FBI has seized ballots in other states and never issued a Report. It's very unusual that they even came out and issued a report in this case.

Mike Sunnucks:
Back to the august primary, that could benefit republicans. If it's in august, it's obviously a little hotter than September, and a lot of people Are away and on vacation and not in the state. People are not as engaged politically as right after Labor Day. So republicans do tend to Benefit from lower turnout.

Michael Grant:
That's always been the rap on an august primary. I wondered how much that may have changed over the years, particularly with school starting much earlier.

Howard Fischer:
When they first talked about an august primary, she hated the Idea. Now anybody can vote absentee. You can be in San Diego in July and august and vote from there. I don't know if it's as big an Issue. But I think there's a belief that September is traditional, Even if it's late in comparison To other states.

Phil Riske:
It extends the campaigning, too, which people get real tired of quickly.

Howard Fischer:
Maybe, if he'd had another Month, he could have been within 20 points of the governor.

Michael Grant:
Money can't buy you love. Did it buy some proposition Results? We got some final spending Reports in on the various ballot Props.

Howard Fischer:
Well, not always in case in point in Propositions 201 and 206, these are the anti-smoking measures. They spent 1.8 million to say there should be no smoking in public places. Proposition 206 was for bars. The R.J. Reynolds tobacco company spent $8.8 million on that. It's got to be the highest Spending on anything else we've ever seen.

Michael Grant:
Short of the Indian Propositions.

Howard Fischer:
We did a little bit of quick Math. For every vote they got, they spent close to $14.

Mike Sunnucks:
They ran a good campaign, Good ads, good billboards, all Over the place. The thing that killed them was the R.J.Reynolds tag line at the end of the campaign. In a lot of the races, you had the ranchers versus the humane Society and sheriff Joe. The good guys won that one, too.

Howard Fischer:
For most other races, money did count. Proposition 107, the foes of the Gay marriage initiative outspent them. Prop 202, the minimum became, Proponents outspent foes, it was Approved. The ballot measure about the Gestation pens, approved. Prop 203 on the issue of tobacco Taxes by 80 cents -

Mike Sunnucks:
I don't think the business Folks put really that much Effort or money into trying to shoot that down. That passed here overwhelmingly and in other states.

Phil Riske:
The shame of all this, the Citizens' initiative was Established so that Joe average Citizen could get something on the ballot. Now it's just a big money game, If not bigger than political campaigns.

Mike Sunnucks:
If you're a democrat or have a democratic idea, they brought the minimum wage every year and never got a hearing. It passes with 60\% of the vote.

Howard Fischer:
Here's the other piece of it. As much as people talk about the Citizens initiative, we've seen efforts where we want to have more signatures to qualify for the ballot and fewer Initiatives. Guess who that helps? the people who have the money, R.J. Reynolds.

Michael Grant:
Boy, the turnout number was truly impressive.

Mike Sunnucks:
60\%, a huge surprise for a Midterm. The largest since the early Eighties. I think the democrats were Energized by the war. They did a lot more outreach and Grass roots and get out the vote efforts with Hispanics and union members. The minimum wage thing turned out the democrats.

Michael Grant:
You had a lot of high-profile Ballot measures for different Reasons.

Mike Sunnucks:
The 107, the antigay marriage ban. And I think we saw a lot of independents and soft r's turn out to vote the bumps out. They were upset really with the War. I think when we look at the turnout figures down the road; we'll see independents and moderate r's voting for a lot of Democrats.

Phil Riske:
The over looked thing was the package of senate bill 1557, which required a manual recount.still, triggered by the ld-20 Situation. As it turned out, they found that there was very few, although we're going to hear about the water board situation -- but very few mistakes and everything was in the 1\% or 2\% margin of error.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think the Democratic Party did a good job of turning folks out. I think the labor unions did a pretty good job. Traditionally they haven't. The republicans, I think they still turned out. I think you saw Munsil get high 30's, but larger turnouts helps the d's.

Michael Grant:
Speaking of the water board, which C.H.W.C.D. Sam George is complaining about -- well, not being elected.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think he said he's dead last on the list. He claims that polling showed Him up in the top three. He's worried that undervotes weren't counted. You could vote for as many as five. He's concerned that all those Votes weren't counted so he's gone to the courts and asked the Judge to do some recounts.

Howard Fischer:
What happened today, the Judge first of all, throughout the effort by the county to disallow the recount. Beginning Monday they're going to take 24 precincts and compare the manual ballots with what actually showed up. If it turns out like the rest of the races, what you see is what you got, no problem. If it turned out the read heads were covered in certain machines, then we open up the whole issue.

Michael Grant:
Any chance we're going to have live television coverage of that? That's a pretty good stuff , watching those been fed in.

Howard Fischer:
They're not even going to be Fed in. That's the point. remember the shots of Florida and looking at the hanging chads? That's what we're going to be Doing. We're going to be sitting there with those large ballots and determining, was that a mark in favor of this?

Mike Sunnucks:
He can come down here and Help with the recount.

Michael Grant:
Outstanding. Maricopa county superior court Judge Thomas o'toole dealt blows to the human smuggling law. He overturned the jury's Conviction of a man found guilty of violating that law. The Maricopa county sheriff's Office is going to appeal. Why did the judge reverse himself?

Howard Fischer:
He said that the law isn't what Andy Thomas said. It was meant to fill a gap. Right now, smuggling of people in this United States is a Federal crime, always has been. There was some concern on the Party of people that somehow the Feds weren't doing their job so they created this crime of human smuggling, mainly aimed at the People who were getting paid, the coyotes.

Michael Grant:
The smuggler

Howard Fischer:
The smuggler and Thomas and his good buddy Joe Arpaio said that somebody who paid somebody to get them into this country, and paid somebody to transport them while here, was involved in Conspiring to smuggle.

Michael Grant:
The smugglee--

Howard Fischer:
Exactly, and based on that they have arrested something Like 200 people. They have gotten deals from most of them because they figure, Hey, if the deal is time side of back to Mexico, I don't want to Risk a prison term. One guy took the case, it went through, and the jury convicted him. The judge originally said yes, you can use the law that way. Coming to sentence, the judge says, I've been looking at this. In 20/20 hindsight -- which is Brilliant -- essentially what the smugglee provided was the goods to be smuggled, essentially himself. He can't hold him to conspiracy for being the goods and so he threw out the verdict and said you are out of here.

Mike Sunnucks:
Shouldn't the goal be to get These big criminal syndicates, a Lot of times tied to the drug Cartels and mafia gangs out of Mexico. The point is to go after them, not to go after one unfortunate Fellow.

Howard Fischer:
But here's the issue. Yes, most of the other county Attorneys I spoke to said, look, Even assuming the law says this, Why would I want to spend time On this?
I've got murderers and Rapists. She suggests Andy Thomas is looking for a little pr. I know you're shocked to hear that.

Mike Sunnucks:
Did Joe Arpio look for P.R.?

Howard Fischer:
This guy can smell a TV Camera at three miles. Arpaio's contention and Thomas' contention is now that people know they're prosecuting these cases they're going somewhere else. Obviously Thomas is going to Appeal this.

Mike Sunnucks:
The folks coming over from Mexico looking for jobs are thinking about how Andy Thomas and arpaio are enforcing some obscure law. They're coming here because of the jobs and that's why they are here.

Michael Grant:
It's entirely possible the Mexican government is giving them information with that including a Map.

Michael Grant:
Let's check in on U.S. Airways dealt airlines merger. They are still at it but basically saying, we're not going to nuke you?

Mike Sunnucks:
Doug Parker says it won't be a hostile takeover. The delta folks are out of Bankruptcy protection next year, and have said they prefer to be Independent. Today the pilots union poured some more cold water on the Proposal. They've been pressuring parker and U.S. Airways to finalize a deal with the America west merger which they still haven't done. They said, if you can't do this, you're going to have a hard time merging with Delta. We'll see what happens next Year when Delta comes out with their emerging outside bankruptcy plan.

Howard Fischer:
And a lot comes down to what the creditors think. They get to be the tail wagging the dog on this.

Mike Sunnucks:
The thing that hasn't come out is if they merge, where they'll be located. If they come here, we're going to get a ton of jobs. If they go to Atlanta, we're going to lose a lot of jobs.

Phil Riske:
Doesn't stock market load Doug Parker?

Mike Sunnucks:
Doug parker is really well respected in the industry. He gets along fairly well with Labor, unlike the previous America west management. He kind of guided them through 9/11 and he's seen as somebody that can turn things around. They've done a pretty good job with the U.S. Airways merger.

Michael Grant:
Who have the imams hired to represent them?

Mike Sunnucks:
These are the ones kicked off The Minneapolis to phoenix Flight. They've hired a Muslim civil Rights group. They've kind of been a national group on some of these Post-9/11 issues. There are critics saying they're a little sympathetic to some of the militant anti-Israel groups, but they're making sure that folks' religious and civil Liberties are respected.

Howard Fischer:
This gets to be very tricky. If you start laying out a carpet and praying at an airport. If somebody starts praying in a foreign language at an airport, I can understand why passengers get a little --

Mike Sunnucks:
There were some claims that they were making some kind of Anti-Iraq, Anti-Bush statements. They were kind of moving around and making some kinds of peculiar requests. The clerics say they were just Praying and it was misconstrued.

Michael Grant:
Well, tis' the season to be jolly. can we be jolly about the price scanners at the stores that we're shopping at?

Howard Fischer:
Keep your wits about you when you go to the stores. The state department of weights and measures every year goes out and looks at the accuracy of the Scanners. Used to be prices had to be on the items. The retailers said, we have scanners now. The problem is, what's in the computer isn't always what's on the shelf. In fact, the weights and measures department found out of every 100 stores, 30 of these Stores, if you bought your typical market basket, rang up more than one item incorrectly, and at a price Favorable to the stores. So you're left guessing what the Price cost. Big offenders tend to be a lot of the high-tech folks, the Comp USA.'s, also Home Depot, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, presently out there with a lawsuit by the State against them --

Michael Grant:
There were some that did really pretty good.

Howard Fischer:
The ones that tend to do well are the ones with probably smaller amounts of items. For example, Costco always does very well because they have a certain number of items. They don't have sales. It's an interesting question. Should you be entitled to believe that when you see this price tag on the shelf that's what you're going to pay? If you don't keep an eye on it, you may end up getting ho, ho, ho'd in the pocket.

Michael Grant:
Panelists, we are out of time. Thank you very much. Monday and Tuesday "Horizon" is off as 8 TV brings you special programming. Wednesday we're back to tell you about "Innovation America," a national program with a task force chaired by Governor Janet Napolitano. And Thursday Alonzo Pena, the new special agent in charge of Arizona customs and immigration. Have a great weekend. I'm Michael Grant. Good night.

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