Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 31, 2007


Host: Steve Goldstein

Journalists Roundtable


  • Don't miss HORIZON's weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week's top stories.
Guests:
  • Mike Sunnucks - Business Journal
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Steve Goldstein:
It's Friday, August 31st, 2007. In headlines this week, Senator John McCain defends himself and Republican Party. New requirements to vote are going to stick. We'll discuss the reaction of Arizona's former U.S. attorney on the resignation of Alberto Gonzales. All of that is next on Horizon.

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Steve Goldstein:
Good evening, I'm Steve Goldstein and that is Journalists' Roundtable. Joining me is Mike Sunnucks of the "Business Journal" and Mark Brodie of KJZZ Radio and Howard Fischer with "Capital Media Services." Senator John McCain answered back to polls showing his support slipping, saying he can win any election in Arizona. Mike the channel 8 poll released this week didn't look great for the senator but his keeping on a grey face.

Mike Sunnucks:
His poll numbers are dropping and 24\% with Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani and others. His numbers dropped dramatically in Iowa and you have seen him and Thomas come up immigration, war and his age he just turned 71 challenges for him.

Steve Goldstein:
Do you think governor Napolitano moved it to give John McCain a chance to an actual chance to win in Arizona?

Mark Brodie:
I would be surprised if that factored into their thinking. One of the things that was actually interesting about this poll in April from the last poll to this one, Senator John McCain lost eight points in the survey. From February to April, he lost 12 points. April is when they started talking about Fred Thompson. If you look back from February to now, he lost 20 points overall but only eight in the last poll. That might be good news for him.

Mike Sunnucks:
I think one thing you have seen is Mitt Romney going up in Arizona; I think he was down in the singles digits before and now he's in the high teens. Senator Romney is doing well in Iowa and battleground states and he may be the default if the others dropout, obviously Giuliani and has some baggage, so Romney may be the one who is coming up here also.

Howard Fischer:
A lot of what happened since April is the immigration bill that--there's a Kyl bill that he backed and went down. He suddenly realizes, duh, that was a dumb move to have a program where we call it amnesty before we secure our borders. On the war in Iraq, he continues to insist that setting a deadline for withdrawal that it is in fact a bad idea. Then you have people like John Warner who retired today who said this is ridiculous. We're not getting anywhere. There's no such thing as a victory over there. As long as the war goes badly--if February 5th comes around and we have another 300 to 400 war dead and no immigration solution, you know, John McCain would get by based on his name I.D. in Arizona but he is going to have problems.

Steve Goldstein:
What about nationally, that's a good point? His "Q" rating if you want to talk about how many people know who he is. He and Rudy Giuliani, Mike, probably one in two and one for Republicans. If there are a lot of primaries in one day that could that potentially help John McCain.

Mike Sunnucks:
The last cycle John Kerry was dead in the water and he jumped back after Dean imploded. All the conditions are the ships sail on John McCain. The base doesn't like him because of immigration and state finances and tax. The folks who liked him, in the middle the independents are disgruntled with him because he aligned with Bush in the war

Howard Fischer:
He said he won 70\% against somebody nobody remembers, 1 number one; and number two, a lot of support was among Democrats. That ain't going to happen February 5th on the Republican primary.

Mark Brodie:
You talked about the Iraq War and immigration issues, one of the things his campaign is doing is spinning those as courage for his convictions. He's standing up for what he believes in and doesn't care how popular. His campaign released he's a candidate for courage and stands by his beliefs no matter how unpopular they are.

Howard Fischer:
The other, the unsaid part is he stands by his beliefs no matter what the fact actually shows. I'm not sure how that plays.

Steve Goldstein:
Howard what did McCain have to say about his immigration stance earlier this week?

Howard Fischer:
It wasn't quite an apology. But he said, you know, I think I finally figured it out. You cannot put out a comprehensive immigration bill that includes things like amnesty or path to citizenship, one that includes a guest worker program until you first secure the border. Exact terms was, "I get it." Well, again, the "duh" factor there. For a guy supposedly politically savvy, it took being beat about the head twice to come up with it. He seems to get that. Is that an admission too little too late for folks who hated his stance on immigration? I don't think they will buy it and say now he's on my side.

Mike Sunnucks:
He can't win with the two issues of war and immigration. If he sticks with his guns, like with the war and immigration. 4 for a number of years he wanted a guest worker program. He announced the base and conservatives. As soon as he goes toward the conservatives, the people in the middle, the media, the rest of us get after him on that. He seems to be in a no-win situation.

Mark Brodie:
The only thing positive for him is illegal immigration may not come up again in congress until later.

Steve Goldstein:
One of the things is John McCain didn't expect to be in this position and another one of his books have come out. Have you looked at that, Howard?

Howard Fischer:
It's profiles courage a John Kennedy thing. I guess he believes he will get free ink out of this. We found out quietly his staff applied for federal-matching funds and done it on August 10th after the F.E.C. said if he wants it, he can qualify. This is interesting because this is guy in the first half of the year who took in 25 million and spent 23 and essentially is flat broke or somewhere close to that. In fact his wife sent out a little invitation to send money on his birthday saying "Why don't you give twice as much as the number of years which would with $142." That's how desperate they are. If he takes the federal money, he could get 21 million for the primary. That might get him through February 5 and at that point he might survive. Once you take the federal money you are stuck with it also for the general. If you are stuck with 60 million for the general and against a Hillary Rodham Clinton who can raise $100 million with phone calls, it can cripple you. That's a tough decision for him.

Steve Goldstein:
Ok. Let's jump back to immigration. Judge Roslyn made a decision about prop 200. Not her first decision about prop 200. Tell us what happened.

Howard Fischer:
She's had a lawsuit of the Mexico fund. They have claimed violations of federal law and preemptions of treatment-one of the most interesting things is poll tax. You remember prop 200 says you need proof of citizenship to register and present certain forms of identification when you actually, physically cast a ballot. If you own a driver's license post-1996, that's proof of legal residency. If you are poor and you might not have a utility bill or things like that, then you might have to go out and purchase a state I.D card. They said that's equivalent to a poll tax. The judge said, look, I understand what the poll taxes are. I understand from the Jim Crow laws how they work. This isn't a poll tax. You simply have to prove you're a citizen and that's the state's interest to protect. Her ruling doesn't end the case. There are a couple issues that aren't part of the summary judgment. The most interesting is the voter's rights act states may not enact any changes in voter law that has the affect of reducing minority voting strength. Not that it has to be aimed at that. Their claim is Hispanics are less likely to have the forms of I.D. necessary. And that would dilute the strength. That's going to go to trial sometime next year.

Mike Sunnucks:
That's onerous for somebody to come up with a state I.D. its $25. It's not a huge burden for somebody to prove that they are here legally and who they are.

Howard Fischer:
That's the argument to present to Judge Silver. One of her rulings was held up by the ninth circuit court of appeals.

Mike Sunnucks:
Which is not exactly one of most conservative appeals courts in the world.

Steve Goldstein:
This was voted on and approved overwhelmingly. What does this tell us about the propositions we have in Arizona? When are they ever actually settled?

Mark Brodie:
One of the things Jan Brewer, secretary of state/lieutenant governor says the rulings uphold the will of the voters. That's sort of the line that keeps getting tossed around is the will of the voters. As you said, the voters passed prop 200 in 2004 and there have been challenges. Who knows when this will actually end?

Mike Sunnucks:
There are opponents on both sides of the aisles and they throw spaghetti at the wall and challenge it in numerous ways and weaken it or to get it thrown out.

Howard Fischer:
That's the key. Because in Arizona while voters are entitled to make laws, they are entitled to more or less difference than those of the legislature. How long does it take to get resolved? How much time do the attorneys have? I think that's what it comes down to.

Mike Sunnucks:
You have a legion of attorneys on the left and right and ACLU and other sides, and folks on the conservative side, who are willing to work on behalf of their camps.

Howard Fischer:
The case in 1992 a judge ruled in 2000 the state wasn't in compliance. We had a hearing earlier this week. The redistricting issue law filed 2001 redistricting technically has yet to be resolved and may be resolved.

Steve Goldstein:
You brought up the hearing. Now let's move on to the E.L.L. hearing earlier this week in front of Judge Collin's in Tucson. Any new developments on that?

Howard Fischer:
This is on Tim Hogan's motion. He's the attorney for parents who first sued in '92 when kids were in school and now probably working. He wanted punishment against the state. They said the state was in non-compliance in 2000. He said it doesn't work and look at it again. He looked at it again and said you are still in non-compliance. Yet the legislature ended doing nothing. What the attorney's from the state said was, "They said we're working on it. Honest, trust us. We're from the government. We're here to help you. If you give us more time, we can get in compliance."

Mike Sunnucks:
They have said that annually and semi-annually for the past several years.

Howard Fischer:
That's Hogan's point. He was like, your honor, how do we get action from the courts? And I think we may finally hear something next week.

Mike Sunnucks:
Maybe the judge or court system could move faster too and decide on one thing without having what, four or five hearings each step of the way.

Mark Brodie:
During the legislation Jim Wiers and Tim Bee would say we don't think we should do anything until we've heard on our appeal, if they would get to it then we would know what we need to do but since they haven't we don't know what we need to do and we're just going to let it be.

Steve Goldstein:
Howie, as you know "Horizon" celebrated its 25th anniversary. This year, the Flores case celebrated it's 15th anniversary so try and catch us up.

Howard Fischer:
I'm hoping that the case will be decided before the time I retire. I wrote about the beginning of the case. I would like to write about the end of case.

Mike Sunnucks:
That will be your send off.

Howard Fischer:
Flores case is finally resolved. The first judge who handled the case Marcus has left. We have a whole new judge. That's how long it's dragging on.

Steve Goldstein:
Something you said a few minutes ago. Give us an idea on Jan Brewer, acting as governor, what's the controversy there?

Mark Brodie:
I'm not sure there's necessarily a controversy. According to the state constitution, if the governor leaves the state then the secretary of state becomes action governor. It was written in 1912 when Arizona became a state and long before cell phones and e-mail and other things people in high power have. Technically every time governor Napolitano leaves Arizona, Jan Brewer or whoever is in the secretary of state's position becomes governor. Governor Janet Napolitano was in Italy on vacation. There was an emergency declaration dealing with a pipeline from Nogales that potentially is damaging where it's carrying raw sewage in Rio Rico, near Nogales and Jan Brewer signed the emergency declaration and that sort of set off the now I am acting governor.

Mike Sunnucks:
Is she on the ninth floor?

Howard Fischer:
This is interesting part about that. Governor Napolitano's position is that the law's antiquated, I can be reached. I'm the governor no matter where I am in the world. We can all play that game. Yet, when the need for the declaration came, Napolitano's staff prepared it. They called her and she said have Jan sign it. So there's no question. I asked governor's chief legal counsels and they said you're conceding that Jan Brewer is acting governor? And Tom said, "We're not conceding anything." Doesn't that mean something? She was doing it with the authorization of the real governor. If you ask Jan Brewer, I get to decide the proclamation. I'm the acting governor. I don't care what Governor Janet says. The constitution says what the constitution says.

Mike Sunnucks:
Do we have another ballot questions or another constitutional question for the voters"

Howard Fischer:
Or, actually, go back to court. There is case law in two other states. In California you may remember when Jerry Brown was there, Governor Moon Beam, every time the Democratic Governor would leave the state, Mike Herb, who was a Republican Lieutenant Governor, would appoint people and they would uphold it. In Missouri when John Ashcroft was governor and it happened, it said he was out of state but out of the state and physically incapable of doing the job which is of course ---

Mike Sunnucks:
When Jerry Brown came back, he would resend all those things. There's something about him running for governor after Arnold's done. So you can deal with him again Howie.

Mark Brodie:
I think this is another debate whether Arizona needs a lieutenant governor or whether the secretary of state should become lieutenant governor and spend all the money on new letterhead.

Steve Goldstein:
I am going to use Mike's mention of the attorney general to slide us into the fact that U.S Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned earlier this week. Reaction from U.S. attorney Paul Charlton, who was one of the right U.S. attorneys who was axed by Gonzales?

Mike Sunnucks:
Yeah, Charlton kind of got dumped after the election--that was part of Gonzales' undoing. Charlton seemed pretty pleased with it. He was subdued but he said it was proper to move on and a distraction for the agency back in Washington. They have lost most of their leadership under this thing. I think everybody involved in part of the leadership positions as part of the ousting of Charlton and Carol Lamb are gone now. And he wasn't a Gonzales guy anyways. He came in under Ashcroft and he clashed with the leadership.

Howard Fischer:
He was subdued. I love this. I listened to interviews. Everybody interviewing him by phone and you could hear the subdued but you can almost hear in the subtext nanny nanny boo-boo. I win.

Mike Sunnucks:
He's kind of the cat that ate the canary tone.

Steve Goldstein:
He looked relaxed and tanned and ready.

Mark Brodie:
He had a thing earlier this summer the city of Phoenix gave him an award. I was walking in the council of chambers behind him. It was him and his hair was long and wild. He didn't look to be in a federal position anymore.

Mike Sunnucks:
This whole situation with Gonzales shows a lot of the missteps this administration has had. The president's prerogative. Bill Clinton came and fired everybody pretty much. They fired eight people. It smelled bad and looked no good.

Howard Fischer:
They handled it. Listen to Alberto Gonzales' testimony in front of the senate. Well, they are doing something wrong. What were they doing wrong? Well, I didn't say they were doing something wrong. I mean the man couldn't even keep his own story straight.

Steve Goldstein:
Well and Howie, last week, I am sure you discussed this last week on Friday's program, it was made official that Rick Renzi was resigning. Do we know whether the investigation into Renzi also cooked Charlton's goose?

Howard Fischer:
The speculation was that Charlton thought it should be looked at and people in Washington said you're not supposed to investigate the Republicans. You can run these things out you know. There were other issues in terms of Charlton's belief what kind of evidence you should have and tape interviews and policy perspective. Does he serve at the pleasure of the attorney general who serves at the president? You bet. As was said, you do it a horrible way and all you do is raise questions and it looks political. Well what happened to the e-mails? Oh, we lost the e-mails. Come, on! Nobody believes that stuff.

Mike Sunnucks:
There was no indication of a smoking gun with Renzi but you saw that in other cases in San Diego where they were investigating Cunningham and some of the cases, Arkansas and Seattle; they are pressuring them to go after the Democrats there. This one was kind of lowered down on the partisan scale. He looked like he annoyed them the requests of F.B.I. interrogations not wanting the death penalty cases.

Steve Goldstein:
Trying to get on the legal scale but not giving us too much legalese. Give us what they are after.

Howard Fischer:
Oh God, this is one of those things. Underlining issue remember last year Dave Peterson was treasurer and was investigated under charges of the fraud and corruption. He pled out to a single charge of having to have forgotten to list $4,000 as income and resigned office one month before the end of term anyway. Now, Sheriff Joe, Mr. Conspiracy here, decided, you know what happened in June when the attorney general's office collected money on behalf of the treasurer's office? They kept and wanted 35\% of that which is part of the law. 1.9 million. The Sheriff is convinced the 1.9 Million, pursuant to law, is what allowed Terry Goddard in November allowed him to plead out to lesser charge.

Mike Sunnucks:
What's going on is Goddard is a Democrat and Peterson is Republican and you have Republicans getting after Goddard for going too easy on someone in their party.

Howard Fischer:
It's the vast conspiracy theory. I am anytime you--they are looking to soften up Terry. Terry is a likely gubernatorial candidate in 2010. Anything you can do to tarnish his reputation as a good guy. He is a nice guy. Obviously anything you can do to tarnish that has it's benefits. The interesting thing is they suggested they went easy on Peterson. I covered that case. They said he was guilty of all sorts of things when they first did the search warrants. They did essentially a virtual financial colonoscopy on the guy and the best they came up with was $4,000 he failed to report.

Mike Sunnucks:
He also didn't like to go to work.

Howard Fischer:
Yes, which is not a crime for an elected official.

Mike Sunnucks:
Has the history of an elected official.

Howard Fischer:
Normally if you're an elected official, if you forget something, you amend your report. I think Goddard was too hard on him and for Sheriff Joe to say Peterson skated because of some bribe.

Mike Sunnucks:
Andrew Thomas, county attorney, is the one that brought this on behalf of Joe Arpaio in the county. And he's looking to run for governor or maybe A.G. next time, so. He lost to Goddard in 2002. In a pretty contentious race.

Mark Brodie:
Part of the effect of this legal wrangling Terry Goddard has taken cases and transferred them to other jurisdictions. He's not dealing with them. In some sense, the fact that they are in this dispute is playing out a little bit.

Steve Goldstein:
I would like you to express slight opinions on this. How seriously, starting with you, Mark, are they taking this point? We have the attorney general and Joe Arpaio is out there. Do they believe him to be 80\% in popularity?

Mark Brodie:
I mean I haven't seen anything that says that people don't like him and people in the press don't like him. If you look at his electoral results and evidence out there, in general he seems pretty popular.

Howard Fischer:
Let me go just one step beyond. The public doesn't understand these sort of complex issues.

Steve Goldstein:
Explain it to us.

Howard Fischer:
The question becomes what do they know him for? Well, he's picking on people who are fighting dogs. He never has a no vacancy sign on his jail. And he's tough on criminals. And he patrols on Christmas. That's the Joe Arpaio they see. They don't see the Joe Arpaio that gets sued for people dying in his jail and don't see the complex cases as being somehow part of Joe Arpaio.

Mike Sunnucks:
When other people have to deal with Joe Arpaio, the law enforcement, the media have a negative view of him, and when he's on Fox TV, you see the bogus raids and dog fighting tend to have a strong view of him I know.

Howard Fischer:
You'll get a nasty call from Joe next week.

Steve Goldstein:
Mike let me stick with you briefly on this. A bizarre story that gets even more bizarre related to Sheriff Joe and his opponent for sherrif, Dan Saybin. Realize that this is a family program. Can you give us an idea of what's going on there?

Mike Sunnucks:
Saybin ran against Arpaio in the Republican primary for sheriff last year and he claimed the sheriff's office defamed him about leaking stories to a Phoenix TV station about accusations from his adoptive stepmother, that he had raped her. They are in court now and Saybin is going after Arpaio on that. It's coming up with strange details on the relationship. Joe Arpaio, I guess, was on the stand for a number of hours talking about whether or not his office had leaked that. One of Arpaio's officers was obviously involved in this investigation and talking to this TV station. And Saybin may run against Arpaio again as a Democrat I think.

Steve Goldstein:
Your reaction to this.

Howard Fischer:
Well again, you know, you get into interesting legal questions. The question is first of all, in terms of defamation is an offense. There was a charge. Can somebody leak it and run afoul of the laws? When both are public figures? I don't know. I appreciate Saybin had his feelings hurt. I believe these things, if you don't call attention to it, will go away.

Mike Sunnucks:
His adoptive mother, stepmother brought these charges against him. This is something the sheriff's office was responding to.

Steve Goldstein:
Mark Brodie of KJZZ Radio, Mike Sunnucks of the "Business Journal" and Howard Fischer with "Capital Media Services." Thanks very much, gentleman.

Larry Lemmons:
From Solar panels to light bulbs that last longer and use less energy these are just two examples of thinking in terms of sustainability and the iconic Barry Goldwater is the subject of a documentary that details his life as a politician, a husband and a father. Monday night on "Horizon."

Steve Goldstein:
Tuesday we'll examine some health epidemics. Wednesday we'll host a debate between Phoenix's two mayoral candidates. Thursday we'll look closer at city of Election Day in phoenix. And Friday we'll be back with another edition of journalist's roundtable. Coming up next on now a millionaire fights a meth addiction in Montana. That's next on "Now." I'm Steve Goldstein. Thanks for watching and have a great weekend.

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