Journalists Roundtable

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Horizon ‘s weekly roundtable where local reporters get a chance to review the week’s top stories.

>> Michael Grant: It's Friday, October 28th, 2005. In the head lines this week, several developments in the race to find a Republican challenger to Governor Napolitano. Jan Flores says she's running, Randy Pullen says he's not. And house candidate John Green says potential candidate Mary Peters is ineligible. Efforts are underway to dismiss a lawsuit filed by state representative David Burnell Smith who is fighting to keep his office. And lawmakers flexing their muscles when it comes to construction of a state archives building. That's next on "Horizon".

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>> Michael Grant: Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. This is the journalists' roundtable. Joining me to talk about these and other stories are Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services, Mike Sunnucks of The Business Journal, and Robbie Sherwood of the Arizona Republic. With less than a year to go before the Republican gubernatorial primary, there were several developments this week as GOP candidates jockey to take on Governor Janet Napolitano in the general election. Howie, let's start with John Green. His charge against Mary Peters is what?

>> Howie Fischer: Well, essentially that she can't run. There is no question that when Mary left the Arizona Department of Transportation and went to the federal highway administration, she moved, she bought a house in Virginia. Not a problem. But it turns out she did a couple of other things. Number one, when the county sent her new voter registration form and it came back as moved, they sent her a form saying are you still here and she signed a form saying no, I'm not registered, not living in Arizona. Again, not a problem. But she signed a form in Virginia to register to vote saying I am a resident of Virginia. If you look at our state election laws, they say residency is a state of mind. You say you're a resident, you are. But for purposes of the law, you can only have one residence. Now, the state constitution specifically says to run for Governor, you have to be 25, a U.S. citizen for 10 years and an Arizona citizen, which is an unusual word, for 5. Well, if you are a resident of Virginia in 2002, can you say you are an Arizona citizen going back to 2000?

>> Michael Grant: So, can you have dual citizenship in both Virginia and Arizona?

>> Howie Fischer: Assuming a court were to rule that citizen -- framers of the constitution when they said Arizona citizen, since there is no such thing, meant Arizona resident, I think the answer is no given what title 16, what the election law says that you can only have one residence. If she in fact claims that she was always a resident of Arizona, then she has a different problem, which means she committed fraud in Fairfax County, Virginia, signed a statement saying she is a resident and in fact influenced elections where she wasn't a resident.

>> Mike Sunnucks: There's also a separate provision in the constitution that says you can't lose your residency if you enter national service. That's for voters, you can make that argument. She also kept a house here. It's not like it's a Rick Remzi case where she kind of flew in from Northern Virginia and came out here, she obviously has lots of ties here.

>> Howie Fischer: Not a question. But the problem still becomes she would be fine if she hadn't registered to vote. When you sign a form in another state, a sworn statement, I am a resident, at that point, the fact that the Arizona constitution would have let her keep her residency here, she has given it up because you cannot say --

>> Mike Sunnucks: She can say that she was in national service and she doesn't have to forfeit her residency. Because she was living in Virginia, she thought she had to follow the laws and --

>> Robbie Sherwood: You could live there and cast an absentee ballot here but I think that's going to be trouble for her -- not my opinion, just everybody we've asked -- I think she is going to, I don't think she is going to drop out of this, I think she's going to attempt to run and make a spirit versus letter of the law type of argument to a judge. Because as Mike alludes to, it's really ironic that you would make almost like a carpet bagger type of argument against a Mary Peters. Mary is a fourth generation Arizonan, born and raised -

>> Michael Grant: Had worked in the department of transportation before she became head of it for a while.

>> Howie Fischer: Here's where it gets interesting on a couple of perspectives. What is it like to take this to court? Judges don't like academic questions. If Mary Peters were to ask for declaratory judgment, the judge is going to say based on what? When does it become right? She would not have to file her nominating papers until next June. Which at that point might make it right for she or somebody else to do it. More interesting question is, before that, she is going to go to the clean elections commission and say I have these 4,000 $5 donations, I want my money. Now, will the clean elections commission make an issue of it?

>> Michael Grant: Question her qualifications.

>> Robbie Sherwood: Another point, there has been blow back on John Green for being ungallant. His point on this is, if I hadn't done this and Mary Peters won the nomination and won the governorship, the Democrats certainly would have brought this. He may have a point because we were upstairs talking to the governor today and asked her what's your take on this? Put your lawyer hat on for five minutes. She had a pretty detailed analysis of this based on just the case law that she has seen. It didn't look like Mary Peters has a case. You kind of wonder if they have been looking.

>> Howie Fischer: But here's an interesting scenario. Let's assume it would play out that way that Mary Peters were to get elected next November and December the court would have ruled she couldn't have been on the ballot, ala Tony West. But the difference between Tony West where the Governor fills the vacancy is under the Arizona constitution when you have a vacancy, the secretary of state becomes the governor. I see this as a broad conspiracy to get Jan Brewer as governor by putting up Mary Peters.

>> Michael Grant: Well, let's move to John Green charge number 2, Mike. John Green had asked the Attorney General to investigate whether or not -- let's see, tourism billboards that had the governor's picture on them and a letter that went out to parents on, generally about schools, was electioneering and she should reimburse the state for the cost. What did the A.G. have to say?

>> Mike Sunnucks: Well the A.G. sided with the governor, they're both from the same party, wasn't a surprise. The Republicans have been upset about the self-promotion by the governor for a while. She puts her name on prescription drug discount cards, she puts her name on tourism billboards. It's part of the game. Every governor does it in every state, every opposition party complains. Green claims she crossed the line with the billboards and the letters which caused a lot of consternation. If you took these letters home -- they actually sent the letters to school districts who could then include them in handouts to children.

>> Howie Fischer: That's the thing. If in fact there was a reimbursement, the governor E-mails letters to the school districts that says feel free to send them home. If the school districts printed out the letters, which clearly were self-promotion for the governor, it wasn't, you know, here's what you should tell your kids, it was here's what I've done for you. Then it's the school districts who may have broken the law. So if there were any reimbursement to be done, it would not be on the part of the governor.

>> Mike Sunnucks: I think it comes down to the governor has the right to do this, she's the governor. She is very good at self-promoting. She is very good at taking credit for a lot of things. And she has a right to do that. Republicans have the right to try to call her on it and let voters decide what's self-promotion and what's serving the government.

>> Howie Fischer: It's good to be the governor.

>> Robbie Sherwood: It is a very strong protection for an incumbent to be able to do that when you have a clean elections system that only gives a certain amount of money to someone who is trying to make a name for themself. They have a hard enough rode to hoe as it is, and her face is everywhere.

>> Michael Grant: On the other hand, it does strike me that it would become a very slippery slope if you were going to try to draw the line for every incumbent as when they were discharging the duties of their office and when they were electioneering.

>> Howie Fischer: You go to Jan Brewer's website and there larger than life is her smiling face.

>> Michael Grant: Right.

>> Robbie Sherwood: On every single page.

>> Howie Fischer: Does that make it -- every single page. Does that make her-- She is up for election and it's good to be an incumbent.

>> Michael Grant: Back to um, gosh, who is going to run for governor in the Republican Party, Jan Flores, Robbie, is in fact going to run and announce next week?

>> Robbie Sherwood: Retired Appeals Court judge, by way of Nogales, by way of Tucson, now living in Phoenix has given indication that she is in. She's going to plan an announcment I think Wednesday or Thursday.

>> Howie Fischer: The interesting thing about her and we don't know much about her other than she says, I am pro life and pro school choice, is I have a feeling personally she may be a stealth candidate to the true right wing, unlike Don Goldwater who they don't necessarily trust. And part of it are the people that she tends to hang around with. I think she really is somebody, somebody like Andy Thomas is pushing. I think you're going to find that as you start talking to her about her positions you're going to find some real sharp differentiations between her on morality issues and then the governor.

>> Mike Sunnucks: I think she's kind of a wild card. People don't know about her. She is from Southern Arizona, which is a big Napolitano base. She was in law enforcement, she was county attorney down there. And a judge. She can kind of talk on border issues. Doesn't hurt that she has a Hispanic last name.

>> Howie Fischer: Never mind her real name is Smith, but -

>> Robbie Sherwood: I was gonna say it doesn't also hurt that she's not actually Hispanic and Republic.

>> Michael Grant: Randy Pullen says no, I'm not running, I have a lot of other things to do.

>> Mike Sunnucks: Well, he got swamped by Phil Gordon in the mayor's race and he looked at a run. He actually went back to D.C. Seems anybody that goes back to D.C. seems not to run. Bennett was there at the same time and he decided not to run. He would have run on the immigration plank, ala Russell Pierce, ala the other conservatives. He is a national committee person for the state party. There really wasn't a lot of support for him running out there.

>> Michael Grant: Robbie loaded up a couple of head to head match-ups, Governor Napolitano versus John Green and also -- oh, Don Goldwater. Tough name for me to remember.

>> Howie Fischer: Therein lies the problem. No big surprise. Robbie and I both saw the poll that against Green she polled 58-16 and against Goldwater 54-24. Even with the Goldwater name. I mean, we're essentially 12 and a half months out and neither of these people have actually caught fire, they haven't done much campaigning.

>> Robbie Sherwood: There's been three or four polls out there showing differentials and showing those guys a lot closer but never, except for one poll that we had some methodology problems with, showing those guys within real striking distance at the same time. Her support remains strong. It's going to take a pretty strong campaign by anybody that emerges to eat into that.

>> Mike Sunnucks: The two front runners in the race, they can hit on women voters, they can hit on immigration, Flores can hit down in Tucson. They are your two front guys, I think Goldwater has the name recognition that could help him in a multi candidate primary.

>> Howie Fischer: I think it's not each a question for strong candidate. I think the real candidate against Janet Napolitano is the Republican controlled legislature. Their job is to soften her up. Their job is to send her a bunch of immigration bills and see if blinks. Their job is to send her bills on tax cuts and see if she blinks. And that's really it. It doesn't matter who is at the top.

>> Mike Sunnucks: I think one thing is the grass roots for the Republicans. Bush carried the state by 11 points. She carried the state by less than a percentage point. They need to try to get those folks-out that they got out in 2004. That's obviously a challenge in an off-year election.

>> Michael Grant: Robbie, the attorney general moved to dismiss David Burnell Smith's lawsuit against clean elections.

>> Robbie Sherwood: Yeah. On Monday, the attorney general is going to court to ask the judge to -- well, really to set up a hearing to ask the judge to remove David Burnell Smith from his office, saying that he is holding it illegally, he failed to appeal a clean elections final ruling in time. What Smith did do, he filed a lawsuit challenging not only the findings of the clean elections commission but also the constitutionality of the commission's ability to try to throw him out. He filed that ahead of that final decision. The attorney general says, well, how can you appeal something that hasn't occurred. This thing--

>> Michael Grant: Did he ask the clean elections committee to re consider its ruling.

>> Robbie Sherwood: He hasn't filed anything since then or served it. They're saying we shouldn't even consider this, just move forward with what we want to do, which is an evidentiary hearing on what he has to say, let's hear that and then make a move to vacate that office, if he doesn't prove his case.

>> Howie Fischer: I think it's going to be hard. I appreciate that the law is probably on Terry Goddard's side but I think judges like to err on let's give him the benefit of the doubt since he was publicly elected.

>> Michael Grant: What was Mike, South Carolina governor Mark Stanford doing in our state?

>> Mike Sunnucks: He made a couple of appearances in town this week. Before the Goldwater institute. And then there was a breakfast for him. He is one of a number of governors that are looking at a presidential run in 2008. He is a Republican. South Carolina is a very key state. Interesting enough, earlier this week McCain sent out a fund raising appeal for a candidate for state treasurer in South Carolina. Usually U.S. senators don't get involved in state treasurer races in other states. But South Carolina is a key Republican state. That's where Bush beat McCain in 2000 and essentially kind of swept on to the nomination. We have seen a number of folks out here in recent months. Frisk was out here, Guiliani was out here. We're a pretty major state. Probably not New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Iowa, but we'll see some more presidential folks coming out, testing the waters.

>> Michael Grant: If I recall correctly, it was the South Carolina race where things got bitter between Bush and McCain.

>> Mike Sunnucks: Some of the nasty campaign that went on, some of the phone calls and rumors about McCain's past, a lot of it untrue, that really started the bad blood between the two camps. McCain has been there, friends with Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina, and he is focusing on it. South Carolina could be the big state for McCain in 2008.

>> Michael Grant: Howie, this is breaking news, Republicans would like to split up the 9th circuit court of appeals.

>> Howie Fischer: We started the show in '82, '81. We talk about this every four years. No big surprise. The 9th circuit is largest, it comprises 14 western states. It has 28 sitting judges versus 14 for any other circuit. And the real issue, though, is politics. As long as there are judges being appointed from California, quote unquote, liberal judges or evil liberal judges as the Republicans would say, then you're going to have certain decisions that are not going to make folks happy. You know, the pledge of allegiance decision, things like that. Yet this is the same 9th circuit that overturned the conviction of Fife Symington. They're only activists when they don't go your way. The idea is to split it up into two circuits. What's held this up before is how do you draw the line. Arizona wants to be with perhaps Nevada, Utah, up to Washington and Oregon, and they would like to leave California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands in their own district. The problem is, it's not an even split that way. You come down to a question if Arizona ends up in the same district with California, all of a sudden Jon Kyl, who loves the idea now, will say we don't want to split the 9th circuit because we're more under the influence of California. House panel passed it. It's been around for years. I don't know that this is the year for it.

>> Mike Sunnucks: It's one of the things where the rules of the U.S. Senate kill it. One senator can say I don't like it and they will table it, that's probably what will happen.

>> Michael Grant: More on that next week. Proposed state archives building hit a snag when lawmakers weighed in where it should be built. Robbie, it was breaking news where the archives building was going to be built?

>> Robbie Sherwood: About a half a block away from the Capitol is where it's supposed to be built, and construction should have started by now. Representative Russell Pierce, with some backing from house speaker Jim Weiers, have some other ideas about what they want to do. I think they have thrown some roadblocks on construction in order to try to reopen the deal, see if they can move the archives building closer to the House of Representatives where they feel they can kill two birds with one stone, maybe move, take over some office space, perhaps some covered parking for their own staff.

>> Michael Grant: Climate controlled covered parking.

>> Robbie Sherwood: The backers of the archives and some key members of the Senate were just aghast at this idea and the backers of the archives feel like this is just a takeover of their building. Kind of reminded me of the episode of the Sopranos where Tony Soprano decides to invest in his friend's restaurant, seems like a good idea at first. Next thing you know, he's eating there for free, all his friends are in there, they're scaring off all the customers and pretty soon you've got it burned down for the insurance.

>> Mike Sunnucks: I think it goes back to what Howie said -

>> Howie Fischer: I love the parallels of Tony Soprano versus Russell Pierce's influence.

>> Robbie Sherwood: I don't think I made quite that connection, I hope they don't think that.

>> Mike Sunnucks: I think it goes back to Howie's point tbough. They need to focus on the Republicans, and their interest want to focus on hitting Janet on taxes and immigration. I don't think the rank and file of the voters are concerned about the location of the archives building.

>> Robbie Sherwood: Or if they want to keep hitting Janet on the fact that she broke her word on the budget last year, the House of Representatives negotiated this deal and voted for it and approved it and now they want to go back on the deal.

>> Howie Fischer: Not only that, while most state agencies belong to the governor, library and archives is a legislative agency. By shafting library and archives, they are not hurting Janet, they are hurting themselves.

>> Michael Grant: As long as we're talking about structures, at the State Capitol, long may it wave, our flagpole is back in business.

>> Robbie Sherwood: Cue the music. Old Glory is flying once again over the state legislature. For about two and a half, almost three months after a severe wind storm, bent the flagpole at almost a 45 degree angle and it wasn't flying. There was a lot of consternation about how to fix it. The department of administration got some bids. They range anywhere from almost $30,000 down to a low bid of $9,000. Representative Jerry Weiers in the house, and the brother of the speaker got fed up with the whole situation, made some phone calls, got a couple of construction agents, welding company and crane company to come in and do a repair job on the flag for $20 basically.

>> Michael Grant: It was like $19.26.

>> Robbie Sherwood: They billed them for the spray paint. They took out the bent joint, reinserted the pole, did some welding, claimed that it was twice as strong as before. It's 13 inches shorter, I don't know how that's going to add to our state's inferiority complex, but it is waving. Hasn't fallen down yet.

>> Mike Sunnucks: I think it's a campaign commercial for the Republicans. We fixed it for 20 bucks, the DOA wanted to spend $30,000.

>> Howie Fischer: Here's the thing. When DOA looked at the pole, they said, Look, the pole is at least 40 years old, been struck by lightning at least once. There is some condensation there and rust. While you may have replaced where it's now stronger than the pole, you have problems at the bottom. If between now and next November that pole comes over and hits a load of school kids touring the Capitol because they wanted to save $9,000, we're going to see who takes credit for that. The governor has already made it clear, she said my department of administration said the safest thing is to replace the pole for $9,000. Out of an $8 billion budget, the nine grand ain't much.

>> Mike Sunnucks: Is DEQ going to come in and do an environmental impact study on the new pole, also?

>> Michael Grant: Don't use the word "impact" in this context, Mike. Mark Anderson wants an extra hour on the school day, Robbie?

>> Robbie Sherwood: Yeah, he's planning some legislation next year to add another hour to the school day. He has some specific ideas what he wants to do with it. I think he wants to target it as mandatory physical education, to improve the overall health of students. We asked the governor what she thought about it, and she had some tacit support in general. She likes the idea of a longer school day. She thinks it's something we should look into and explore. I am not sure she is crazy about mandating it for physical education when we have the AIMS test to pass and other things.

>> Howie Fischer: The governor has recognized is that we have a school year and school day based on agrarian society. You have essentially, depending on the grade, 4, 5, 6 hours a day mandated and some other stuff filled up, and she is saying, wait a second, we have the shortest school year of any country in the free world, 180 days basically. For some kids -- actually, in high school you need 4 hours a day, the rest is filled with electives, and you say why are the kids testing poorly? Well, duh. That's what it comes down to.

>> Mike Sunnucks: There was a new survey that came out which ranked the state, we finished dead last. An election for her and Horne, you take credit when things go well -- Intel, Google -- you take the hit when things aren't going well.

>> Robbie Sherwood: Our kids are getting kind of fat, so the Anderson idea might be kind of good, too.

>> Mike Sunnucks: In a lot of school districts that's a place they cut back first, the P.E. elective, because they're trying to focus on Math and Science and English, and to mandate them to go hire a bunch of P.E. teachers, I don't think districts are going to like that.

>> Michael Grant: Speaking of test results, the attorney general with an opinion on the so-called AIMS bonus points.

>> Howie Fischer: You remember earlier this year the legislature very concerned that a lot of kids who do well academically might fail AIMS and cause a political firestorm, said, Look, We're going to give you a certain number of points for As and Bs and Cs, and you can use these to supplement your AIMS score by up to 25%, so you can pass your reading, writing and math AIMS test and graduate. Well, Terry Goddard looked at the specific wording and said the way this is put together, only the As, Bs and Cs on the 11.5 credits of what you're required to take -- the Math, the English, the Social Studies -- count. If you get an A in journalism, forget about it. You get an A in auto shop, forget about it. You're not going to get any credit. The problem is that the two lawmakers that put this together said, Wait a second, that's not what we wanted, not what we crafted and we have to go back and fix it.

>> Michael Grant: Robbie, I don't want to leave the program without talking about photo radar on the 101. I suggest anybody who's gotten a ticket on the 101 disqualify themselves from this discussion.

>> Robbie Sherwood: I've had a couple good years without a ticket. The Scottsdale City Council, who has been pushing for this, voted 5-2 this week to go ahead and allocate the money to get their photo radar cameras up by early in February. This is going to put a series of 6 cameras in intervals along the Loop 101, where we have a severe speeding problem. Then we're going to see the argument of what does, how does this affect the behavior of drivers. Right now, the behavior is they can't slow down. The worry is that once the cameras are up, they're going to slow down a little too much once they catch sight of the flash out of the corner of their eye, realizing they might have got a ticket, locking up brakes and causing accidents.

>> Howie Fischer: The interesting thing about this is Senator Dean Martin, it's not even his district, who tried to get the legislature to block it last year, doesn't take no for an answer. So he is trying to get ADOT to slow pedal and drag their feet so the legislature can reconvene in January and he will be back with another bill to say never mind what the Scottsdale City Council voted, no photo radar on freeways.

>> Michael Grant: The lottery director, Kate Pusher, is moving on.

>> Mike Sunnucks: Yes, she's taking over for Valerie Manning at the Phoenix Chamber. There was a lot of speculation who is going to get that job. She had her own consulting firm, she is well respected around town. It's going to be interesting to see how her relationship with the governor plays out, with the Chamber and business lobbying next session.

>> Michael Grant: Been there for a long time. 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'll find that at Click on the word "Horizon". That's going to lead you to transcript links and of course information on upcoming shows.

>> Larry Lemmons: The loop 101 in Scottsdale will soon have a new eye watching for speeders and reckless drivers. A report on a pilot program for a controversial camera system. And the legendary lost Dutchman mine is still being sought for by many in the Superstition Mountains. Looking for lost gold, on Arizona Stories. Monday night at 7:00, on Channel 8's Horizon.

>> Michael Grant: Tuesday we are going to have an update on the Phoenix Rio Salado project. On Wednesday, we'll be talking with Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas about his upcoming immigration summit. And then on Thursday will be our monthly discussion with Governor Janet Napolitano who will just return from the border. That's next week on "Horizon". Thanks very much for joining us on a Friday edition. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great weekend.

Howard Fischer:Capitol Media Services;

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