Journalists Roundtable

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Local reporters review the week’s top stories.

Ted Simons: Hello and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight -- Doug MacEachern of "The Arizona Republic," Paul Giblin of "The Arizona Guardian," and Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services. County supervisor Don Stapley arrested again. Doug, this time at a parking garage. What's going on here?

Doug MacEachern: It makes it sound like he did something despite the fact that I think -- the total number of charges, at least at one point, was up in the 200 range. Well over 200 but it's still very much open to interpretation as to whether he did anything at all. The latest batch of charges had to do with the funds that he's raised for running for national office with the county supervisors' association and manipulations of those. And those charges -- let me get this straight now, he was arrested but since there's no indictment involved, he's never been officially charged and I'm not sure from the explanation of the sheriff's office, whether or not they ever expected any charges to come forward anyway, but they may be saying that because they can't come up with an attorney, a prosecutor to step forward and say this man must be charged with this stuff.

Howard Fischer: The most fascinating thing about the case, look, I understand sheriff's deputies, you have a murder and you arrest someone and assume you'll get a prosecutor. Election law is one of the most dense sets of statutes in the state. What you have to do, what you can spend on, who can give to you, what you can use it for. So instead of saying we have some suspicion in going to an attorney who understands election law to say did you violate the law -- I know, let's have a bunch of deputies and investigators sit around and say, yeah, let's put that in there and send them out to have him arrested.

Doug MacEachern: The first set of charges, have been dropped, the prosecutor that was involved in that, and that's got a long convoluted history, those are gone now. These don't even have the bearing of -- of that set of charges. They're just -- they came out of nowhere.

Paul Giblin: That's right. The normal protocol would be to get a prosecutor to charge that there was reasonable suspicion that there was a crime and then you charge him, but that never happened so they're sitting on these arrests with nowhere to go. Because the local attorney, that would be Andy Thomas, apparently isn't too interested this pursuing this. So it would leave it up to someone else but that doesn't seem to be happening either.

Howard Fischer: Which is fascinating because it used to be Joe and Andy were like this. Andy was hanging his political future on it. I am wondering if our would-be attorney general is beginning to wonder, is Joe Arpaio an albatross that is starting to rot around his neck?

Paul Giblin: He has his own issues with the board of supervisors because of ongoing lawsuits back there. That's difficult even if he wasn't shying away from Arpaio, which could be happening as well.

Doug MacEachern: The sum total of these charges in terms of public perception, there's some payback going on here.

Howard Fischer: I'm shocked! I'm shocked to say there's payback.

Doug MacEachern: Uber payback. The first set of charges were rife in that the sheriff and county attorney were embroiled with them issues regarding the budget and political matters. This, because there's no attorney involved and they're apparently cooked up in the sheriff's office without any legal input whatsoever, have -- you know, has that aura times 10.

Paul Giblin: You're right on that, Doug, because back when there was the first news reports coming out that there was suspicious goings on with Arpaio's illegal immigration enforcement effort, Don Stapley, to his credit, was the only supervisor to asked to be briefed on that topic and that happened and he was briefed twice, and all of the troubles with the sheriff's office came after that.

Ted Simons: And the timing of this arrest is interesting in that the previous Friday, the previous cases you were talking about, prosecutors basically said let's go ahead and dump all of these things until we get a ruling on the first half, which were dismissed by the judge. And then the second half, they may do the whole thing -- whatever -- that's on Friday. And Monday, hello parking garage.

Howard Fischer: Exactly, assuming the sheriff's office has some belief campaign finance laws were violated, again, run it by an attorney. I can't help believe since they got the bad press about having these charges dropped, they figure we've got to keep this in the news.

Ted Simons: Let's go around here quickly. Stapley, Arpaio, who is ahead in public perception?

Howard Fischer: I think at this point, it's got to be Stapley. Lord knows, the guy's got problems and lord knows there may be some basis behind the original charges not reporting financial dealings, but at this point, Arpaio looks petty.

Doug MacEachern: I have to agree. Stapley might not be miss America in terms of public perception.

Ted Simons: What's going on here?

Paul Giblin: Arpaio's supporters behind him and detractors against him, and nothing has changed.

Ted Simons: Let's head on to Tucson where the superintendent of public instruction is duking it out with the school district. What's going on?

Doug MacEachern: I have to admit that I'm the one that started the whole deal. The Tucson unified school district is under a 30-year-old desegregation order and in order to get out from under it, it would keep the $63 million it gets every year, but in order to get out from under the court order they put together a plan that includes, as a major part of it, changes in discipline policy and if you look at the policy, if you look at the plan they wanted to try and implement, it would affect -- it would have the effect of -- of -- of trying to at least -- it would try to lower the suspensions weight against minority students. That's a very dicey area to get into. Because you're in the eyes of some, including myself, I have to admit, you -- you are -- you're in the territory of creating a two-tiered system of discipline for students.

Ted Simons: And yet the district is saying there's no two-tiered system, and they're simply working through the court order that you mentioned.

Doug MacEachern: I don't think any public school district would say we have one set for one group and another for another. But the fact of the matter is that's what would happen if they implemented this plan and as a matter of fact, one of the advocates for this plan, one of the board members, the daughter of representative Grihalda-- a representative, says that the system we've got now is two-tiered.

Howard Fischer: Well, what's interesting and I think Doug is right on in terms of what's happening here. The one thing that may mitigate some of this, there's a belief, at least among some Tucson folks that for whatever reason, minorities seem to be being suspended and disciplined disproportionately. The problem is, how do you weigh different things? It's not like every discipline is the same and you can measure that. So I -- I guess their version of affirmative action and they're saying how do we come up with an equitable if not an equal solution?

Paul Giblin: Didn't Tom Horne have an interesting observation?

Howard Fischer: His statement is race should not be an issue and, in fact, he's going to try and sponsor legislation to say, when it comes to discipline, race should not be an issue. But that assumes you can ever filter out in a teacher's eyes they see people as black, white, brown --

Ted Simons: He wants that legislation piggybacked with a look at ethnic studies programs in Tucson--

Doug MacEachern: It's the same cast of characters. This issue is interwoven with that one as well because another part of this plan to get out from the order has to do with hugely expanding the ethnic studies program.

Howard Fischer: Tom Horne hopes to be the next attorney general.

Ted Simons: Right.

Howard Fischer: And Horne, who wasn't always liked by some elements of the Republican party, his Republican party, since he started out as a democrat, is trying to show I can be strong on these issues too.

Ted Simons: And he may have picked up bona fides with Republicans down in Tucson. Speaking of which, the governor was down in Tucson and made a reference to our lovely area.

Howard Fischer: Well, you have to -- there's two ways to look at it. If you look at -- If you look at it in print, I'm glad I'm out of this hell hole. Referring to something north of Gila, it looks like one thing. If you want to score points in Tucson, say something nasty about Phoenix. It was meant as a joke. It got a laugh.

Ted Simons: But isn't it being responded to as a joke? Is anyone taking this seriously?

Paul Giblin: There's a lot of questions, was she referring to Phoenix or the situation at the capitol or those god-awful buildings at the capitol. It's nebulous as to what she was referring to.

Ted Simons: And we've had warm weather of late too.

Howard Fischer: You're super-analyzing it. If I go to Tucson to talk to a group and talk about the hell hole north of the Gila, nobody cares and here you are trying to parse out which building it's referring to.

Paul Giblin: You're not the governor having to worry about voters in Phoenix as well as voters in Tucson. Particularly a Republican governor.

Howard Fischer: I think everyone is taking it too seriously.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the governor's job performance in a recent poll. Fewer than 25% of registered voters rated good or excellent, and 31%, poor or very poor, and that's before she referred to this place as down under.

Howard Fischer: Well, her real problem if you look among Republicans, I mean, her first chore assuming she runs a new race is to win a primary. Close to 27% of Republicans don't like the job that she's doing. And that's leaving out the Democrats and Independents who are not big fans in the first place. The problem she's got is leaving aside that she inherited a mess, which she'll be happy to tell you and I'm sure she's said six or seven times on this show, she has become a one-trick pony. She never had the opportunity to give a state of the state for giving a broad picture of what state should be. I'm here to solve the budget. I've got news, if that's all you're doing and you didn't get that, of course, people are going to think you haven't done your job. You've set the bar here, and you can't reach it.

Paul Giblin: She had the opportunity to lay out her agenda and did it on her inauguration speech and the speech a couple months later. And had the opportunity to lay out the broad agenda you mentioned but hasn't gotten the job done or maybe the legislature hasn't allowed her, depending on the point of view.

Howard Fischer: I have a five-point plan?

Paul Giblin: That's my point. She had the opportunity and all she came up with was a five-point plan.

Ted Simons: Doug, same part of the administration for Governor Hall and Governor Brewer, the numbers higher for Governor Brewer. Surprised at all?

Doug MacEachern: Not terribly. I think at this stage in the game, the -- you know, the numbers have to do with such -- they have to do -- everything is about that single issue. Everything is about that one -- you know, those events we've seen transpire all summer long in that hell hole -- [Laughter]

Doug MacEachern: I'm talking about where you work and it's more a reflection on that than her.

Ted Simons: The similar polling asking questions about Republican primary for governor. Symington, Governor Brewer, and treasurer Dean Martin and one on one, the governor is not doing well but if we believe the numbers, if you put all three together, Pfeif is number one.

Paul Giblin: Symington comes out on top among those flee and Brewer would lose to all of them. I'm sorry, all of them would lose to Terry Goddard, the democrat.

Ted Simons: Is this shaping up so far as Terry Goddard's to lose?

Howard Fischer: It was so early in the process and Doug made a comment, the guy hasn't opened up his mouth yet and I think Terry, I've had dealings with him where I think he can be vindictive. I think he can be a bit of a smart aleck and I think that, yeah, is it his to lose, the extent he's here because nobody knows the rest of Terry other than he's giving speeches about home mortgage and consumer fraud, yeah.

Paul Giblin: And there's still a couple of mystery candidates. The former mayor of Tempe has talked about running as a democrat, which could shake things up. And then you're going to get to Vernon Parker later.

Paul Giblin: He's the mayor of Paradise Valley. He announced earlier that he's going to run as a Republican. He's been a Republican and going to run and so the polls haven't looked at him yet. Who knows how he's going to shake things up.

Ted Simons: Worked in the Bush administration for the dept. of agriculture, Worked I think in the salmon and the Munsell campaign.

Howard Fischer: Vernon is bright. I got to know him doing a lot of the P.R. in these campaigns and he's tied to the Republican administration in Washington are helpful and I think it will help him raise money if he decides to go that route, as opposed to public financing, and he still hasn't decided that. Maybe others are thinking about getting in there and you get to a four-way primary, someone with 20% can walk away with it.

Ted Simons: In this situation, with the Republicans, everything is so jumbled and probably not get better any time soon. Can someone with not that much name recognition come in there and surprise everyone?

Doug MacEachern: I think definitely. When you consider the negative numbers associated with so many of those candidates, somebody that doesn't have negative associated with them has got -- has got a little bit of OOMPH. His most consistent exposure to the public is on the Republic opinion pages. He's a regular contributor.

Howard Fischer: He's citing that as his experience. He's saying, we've got so many people who think they're entitled to it and people in line and turning out clones of people who think they're going to be governor. I'm a fresh face and that will work for a while.

Ted Simons: Until you're not a fresh face anymore.

Howard Fischer: It's a full year -- almost a full year before the primary.

Paul Giblin: It remind me of when a car dealer named Meacham turned his name in.

Ted Simons: Mitt Romney is going to be in town.

Paul Giblin: Wednesday, raising money for his new political action committee. Strong and brave America, I believe. Collecting money and throwing it out to like-minded conservative Republicans and keeps his name in the news just in case he runs again in 2012.

Howard Fischer: One of the people who is supposed to show up is to be Joe Arpaio who is going after Don Stapley, who is a favorite of the LDS community and I think there's members of that community hesitant about going because Joe's going to be there.

Paul Giblin: Jason rose, he handled Romney in Arizona during the last presidential campaign and handles Joe Arpaio and that's the common thread there.

Ted Simons: Ok. Department of corrections addressing an incident involving the death of an inmate held in an outdoor cell. People fired. Reprimanded. Reforms. Give us a quick overview.

Doug MacEachern: May 19th, a horrible incident. A woman transferred to a psychiatric unit. She was left out in a holding tank and she'd been acting irrationally. She was mentally ill and they left her in the sun for over four hours. She died. Subsequently, the department of corrections to its credit did as thorough an -- a look into exactly what happened as I've seen in some time. The report was about 3,000 pages long. Even Donna Leoni, the longest running critic of the corrections system said they did a good job of airing their dirty laundry. The end result, I think 16 people, you know, have been punished for the thing. Every single one of them justifiably so. It was tragic incident.

Howard Fischer: The corrections officers, you've got an unruly inmate. Doesn't want to go back to the cell and you say, we could fight with them, we could hose them or something. Or leave them in there until -- I hate to use the expression -- cool down, since they're out in the sun. But it was a bunch of little things that went wrong. Why no shade? No water? Why not go and check your watch? A bunch of things that went wrong with this. That finally culminated in a death and there could have been others as we found out from the report.

Ted Simons: Your point is well taken in that this just wasn't one of those, well, we got an excuse here. Five people were fired and they came out and said, we've got to change this and we're going to do something about this. 107 degrees, this woman was out there with drugs in her system that was sensitive to heat anyway.

Doug MacEachern: There was some dispute whether anyone provided her with water. Whatever happened, it didn't help.

Ted Simons: Howie, hearings next week, both state and federal regarding Arizona's abortion law. Talk to us about that.

Howard Fischer: A 24-hour waiting period between a woman seeking an abortion and getting it. She'd have to be told information ahead of time. Two trips to the clinic. There's things in there which have pharmacists refusing to dispense morning after pills-- only doctors doing abortions. Planned parenthood filed one suit. Tucson Women's Center alleges various violations. The law is supposed to take effect Wednesday. They're seeking an injunction. We'll not get a full blown trial on the merits for years. The attorney general's office filed responses, saying, look they can't prove what you need for an injunction. Not only that you'll prevail on the merits but there's irreparable harm to people, and that the balance of hardship somehow favors the people who want the injunction.

Ted Simons: And the big news out of the attorney general's office is that he's recusing himself.

Howard Fischer: And that's fascinating. Obviously, Terry running for governor is wanting to stay out of the middle. Terry is very clearly pro-choice. And the feeling, if the state lost the case, lost the injunction, somebody would say because Terry didn't push it as hard as he should have. Terry, being no dummy, said I'm going to recuse myself and let my Tim Nelson, my chief deputy direct the case. And if we lose, it's not my fault.

Paul Giblin: Back when they were passing those laws, planned parenthood was down there fighting against them, and saying if the laws pass we're going to sue you anyway.

Howard Fischer: It's a hard one because there's a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision called Casey which upheld the 24-hour waiting period in Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court said you have to look at each case individually in terms of undue burden and obviously the opponents are going to say there's an undue burden and that certain women -- certain women will not be able to come back for a second visit. They will not get the abortion to which they are constitutionally entitled. And it comes down to the rights of women to terminate a pregnancy versus the rights of the state to promote life.

Ted Simons: Odds that an injunction will happen?

Howard Fischer: I think they'll enjoy parts based on the issue of the harm. In other words, the harm to the women who may not be able to get the abortions they need because of the double visit. I think a judge may say, let's sit on this for a while.

Ted Simons: Let's go around the table quickly. Yes or no -- Don Stapley will be arrested again next week? [Laughter]

Paul Giblin: Why not?

Doug MacEachern: I think Joe has given up for now.

Howard Fischer: I think so. I think he got such bad press for this. The only way he'll get arrested is if he has an attorney -- hey, you've got a point there.

Ted Simons: We'll keep our eyes and ears open. Thank you, gentlemen very much.

Doug MacEachern:The Arizona Republic;Paul Giblin:The Arizona Guardian;Howard Fischer:Capitol Media Services;

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