Journalists’ Roundtable

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Local reporters review the week’s top stories.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me for tonight's journalists' roundtable -- Steve Goldstein of KJZZ radio, Dennis Welch of "The Arizona Guardian," and Casey Newton of "The Arizona Republic."

Ted Simons: The U.S. senate approves $600 million for border security. Casey, what are we talking about here?

Casey Newton: What it means is 1500 more troops along the border and unmanned drones to patrol that area. Although illegal immigration is a derisive issue, there needs to be more border security.

Ted Simons: And the house passed a similar bill earlier. So things are moving. How much does 1070 play a part?

Dennis Welch: The beginning of the year we weren't talking about immigration as an issue and now it's dominated, even more than the jobs and economy and all of the things we thought would be the big issues headed in the election recycle.

Casey Newton: And facing a strong challenge from the right, this enables her to say I pressured the Obama administration into coughing up more money.

Ted Simons: What does it do overall to the immigration debate?

Steve Goldstein: Ted, I think it tempers it slightly. The big issue now is with Nancy Pelosi calling the house back from the summer recess, we might be in a position where it gets passed right away. So reconcile the $700 million the house passed with the $600 million that the senate passed. It's going to be out there. Because of the election season, still other states are going to want to have their own 1070s.

Ted Simons: Temper or DIFFUSE it. Sounds like they're doing something. How do Democrats respond to this? Obama and the Democrats aren't doing anything, it sounds like that.

Casey Newton: This is a tough issue for Democrats, though. I don't know that you could come up with a dollar figure that would make people feel like the federal government was doing its job on the border. Funding for border security has sharply increased. With this bill, up over 10% over 2010 levels but still you hear people say the federal government isn't doing its job.

Dennis Welch: It's like $600 million to increase border security, it's a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the size of the U.S. budget. The one thing we know, the stories published in the "Republic," crime in Arizona has gone down in the last 10 years. This is something to say, look what I did. I put more troops on the border and real immigration reform is ignored. What are we going to do with folks already here and that stuff?

Casey Newton: This is the easy stuff. You can always find more money to go after the problems but it's not going to have a long-term effect.

Steve Goldstein: Now it's time to tackle comprehensive reform. He was able to get John McCain to vote. So maybe this is the next step.

Ted Simons: Speaking of 1070 and the impact it may have had on the tourism industry, saying it's hitting us hard.

Casey Newton: Although the numbers don't tell that story yet. The occupancy rates are up by a few percentage points. They're making more per room than last year. The question is would they have been making more had it not been for 1070 and the thing is very few organizations were able to get out of the contracts they had already signed before 1070 went into effect without paying a steep penalty.

Dennis Welch: People laying off again, and how much is this due to 1070 or the economy? I think it's going to be hard to separate.

Steve Goldstein: The big issue, Arizona is not even in consideration for a lot of things. People are saying we can't touch them and Arizona used to be at the top of the list.

Ted Simons: The hotel and lodging association here in Arizona, saying direct losses to hotels, $15 million so far, as you mentioned, and the downtown Sheraton lost $9 million alone.

Casey Newton: It's true, and I think this is something that the tourism industry is enormously concerned about. Governor Brewer recently dedicated $250,000 to polish up the state's image but there's a lot of reason to be concerned going forward.

Ted Simons: Again, when people hear this, when they hear the conventions and hotel owners and everything is falling apart, is this resonating with voters or have we hit a point they don't care? It's under the radar as far as the immigration debate is concerned.

Dennis Welch: I don't think it resonates. So what? We're going alone. It's the western attitude. We don't care what everybody else thinks, as long as we get something done with the border. A lot of voters think nothing has been done for years.

Steve Goldstein: One thing I'd be concerned about in the hotel and tourism industry, if we say that immigrants provide cheap labor, what if the rates have to go up? Things cost more and so fewer people come here in the next couple years.

Ted Simons: It's what is happening in the next couple of years with lost business as opposed to what's happening right now. I guess we'll see and continue on that story. A decision on California's ban on gay marriage. Tell us what it's about and how it impacts Arizona.

Casey Newton: A district judge in California ruled that proposition 8 is unconstitutional. It's a measure that banned same-sex marriage. The decision is viewed as a landmark as much because of the findings of facts and the arguments that the judge used as anything else. You have a district judge saying to deny gay people the right to marry is a violation of the equal process -- sorry, due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. constitution and the ruling appears to have been crafted in such a way as to win an affirmation from the U.S. Supreme Court and it's at that point, you can see it affect Arizona.

Ted Simons: And the court saying no rational basis for this ban.
Casey Newton: That's right. What Judge Walker said is straight people are not harmed by letting gay people marry and the only way you would prevent gays from marrying is that you believe that opposite sex relationships are morally superior. And that is not a legitimate interest of the state.

Dennis Welch: If it goes to the Supreme Court, it's going to affect every state and in an election year, this gets the issue out there and people start talking about this issue as opposed to other issues.

Ted Simons: Does it, though? Talk about the political impact of something like this. Does this rally the base or DIFFUSE yet another derisive issue?

Dennis Welch: I think it does. It gives them an issue. Look, if you're a Republican, social conservative, you take on Obama and their leftist, liberal agenda and see what they've done.

Steve Goldstein: A quick two-word phrase. Activist judge. Have you ever heard that one before?

Ted Simons: You think the base would get riled up by something like this?

Steve Goldstein: Always -- we'll talk later about Dan Quayle's son. These things get people riled up.

Casey Newton: Interestingly, the tea party movement, takes no position on same-sex marriage. They consider a government intrusion into a place where it doesn't need to go. To the extent that's becoming a larger portion of the conservative base.

Ted Simons: Is that a surprise? The tea party dealing with states' right and all of that, a little surprised?

Casey Newton: Maybe, but it's consistent. The tea party said we want less government in our lives and by having the government stay out of marriage, that's one way of doing it.

Dennis Welch: It's not too much of a surprise when you think of the libertarian streak and the Eisenhower Republican and focus on balancing budgets and the abortion issue wasn't an issue until the late '60s and '70s, because they saw that as government intrusion.

Ted Simons: We've got a special session, regarding an anti-union measure. Dennis, talk about this. What the governor wants to see done and I know that the special session, you have to have a law read three times and sounds like this thing has to be done by Tuesday and yet they're coming back Monday, that doesn't sound like three days.

Dennis Welch: They can waive the rules. One thing you learn is that all of the rules can be waived. The rule book, you can throw it out. The governor is trying to re-craft the ballot measure so it doesn't violate the single-subject rule which is the reason it wasn't put on the ballot this year.

Ted Simons: And explain what they're trying to get done.

Dennis Welch: It has to do with unionizing and whether the secret ballot -- Governor Brewer would like to keep the secret ballot for those voting to unionize their workforce. There's a measure -- the pro-union side would like -- not the option, but more open process. The opponents fear that that violates their rights to a secret ballot.

Casey Newton: Essentially, you can go around openly and say to people, would you like there to be a union, and they will then be pressured to want to sign. What I think is interesting, we started to see Democrats making hay about this. Look, our economy is in a shambles and you're going to call a special session about a union organizing procedure? It sounds tone deaf. There's not a lot of union support in this state. The unions are pretty weak. The private unions out there. The government unions are a lot stronger but that's a whole different subject.

Steve Goldstein: I may be tone deaf when this comes -- it looks bad to have a special session when there's deficits and job shortage, but let's come back to special session and pay people per diem.

Ted Simons: They have the votes. You wouldn't call a special session if you didn't.
Casey Newton: That's one of the things we've learned. Always get the votes before you call it.

Ted Simons: I'm guessing not a single democrat will show up and say, "I like this idea." You're not going to get that, are you?

Ted Simons: No -- no tweaking, just the anti-union measure and that's the ball game?

Dennis Welch: It's narrow in scope and you're going to come in and see them take care of business and get out. I don't think they want to be down here for more than two days anyway.

Ted Simons: The Department of Justice threatening to sue Joe Arpaio.

Steve Goldstein: August 17th deadline. They want the records that he has and he doesn't want to give them. The DOJ is saying that the sheriff needs to hold off, he'll cooperate when it's what he wants them to do. Again, sheriff Joe is again digging in.

Ted Simons: This is a two-part investigation. One deals with jails and inmates and making sure they have the proper service and the other is with possible racial profiling on the street. It sounds like they're ok with the jail stuff, but what was the phrase? Drop dead?

Steve Goldstein: At the end of the note. Exactly.

Dennis Welch: I loved this story. I absolutely love this story. You've got the sheriff's people -- we're cooperating. Oh, by the way, DOJ, drop dead. I see those as mutually exclusive. They don't. Cooperating for what they want to cooperate with but when it comes to the racial profiling, less cooperative.

Ted Simons: Is this the kind of thing he can wait out?

Steve Goldstein: We've been talking for months, do we think with this particular justice department that at some point, sheriff Joe is going to get indicted? I would guess not.

Ted Simons: This doesn't deal with the abuse of power investigation, this is a separate deal.

Dennis Welch: It's hard to keep track of the different investigations going on with him these days.

Ted Simons: And Casey, the county elections department is looking at him for a television ad against Rick Romley. Those two aren't competing against each other.

Casey Newton: They are and aren't. Rick Romley is one of Arpaio's most storied nemesis and as a result of recent conflict, took to the airwaves and criticized Romley, and guys like Romley are trying to stop me from what I'm doing. What the county elections department is investigating, does this qualify as a independent expenditure and would the paperwork need to be filed because Romley is running for election right now against bill Montgomery in the Republican primary? Montgomery is seen as someone closer to Arpaio on the issues.

Steve Goldstein: With sheriff Joe, we see a lot of firsts with this. This is a situation where he's not running, but part of the ad, Rick Romley is one of the guys who will stop sheriff Joe from doing what he's doing and in a primary, this helps Bill Montgomery.

Ted Simons: Does it help Bill Montgomery?

Dennis Welch: When he starts running ads like that, you've got to be concerned. Rick Romley's been out of the public spotlight for a number of years. Some people may remember him. They see something like this, it's going to have an effect.

Ted Simons: But they're saying that this proves that bill Montgomery will be a puppet for him.

Dennis Welch: It's a big problem for Mr. Romley. He has a lot of support with moderates and independents and all people not showing up to the polls and remember, Arpaio has $2 million. This may not be the only one. I mean, there could be more of these things coming, so stay tuned.

Ted Simons: And it's not the only campaign issue out there among candidates or general candidates, peripheral candidates. This time, we've mano y mano thing Quayle and Parker.

Dennis Welch: You talk about a waste of time, this thing started earlier in the week after it was published that Ben Quayle was trying to fool the public into believing he had a family because he appeared in a flyer with two girls sitting on his lap. Those girls ended up being his nieces so they tried to make him -- it got picked up by the national media. It was a joke on jay Leno's show. All the time it was his family. You go back and forth between the parker campaign and the Quayle campaign over this and now each side is accusing each other of being racist.

Steve Goldstein: Sure, you've bought a wallet and a frame, and it comes with a family photo. Apparently, he thought it was ok to put in two of his nieces.

Ted Simons: Did the parker campaign has a point in that it may not have been said but it was inferred, raising a family in -- how far do you go with something like this?

Casey Newton: It would be one thing if Quayle really did represent those children as being anything other than what they were. It was just him with a couple of girls on his lap and how much flak do you really want to give a guy over that in this economy?

Dennis Welch: It wasn't like he was sitting with a portrait of his new wife and two kids and they went to KMart and had their picture done. Are we to assume that every picture we see, a politician with two kids, those are his kids, his family?

Casey Newton: There's something ugly about -- look at this guy, he doesn't have a real family. There's something ugly about that insinuation.

Steve Goldstein: We've seen campaign flyers that have come in the mail, Quayle, regardless of how many undecideds, he's considered the front-runner.

Ted Simons: How does it impact the race? And don't forget charges of racism flying around. Parker would be an poster boy for unethical competition -- there's verbiage that can be a little dicey. This thing has gone viral in ways one wouldn't imagine.

Dennis Welch: This has brought new attention to the race. It gave Mr. Quayle a lot more attention than he ever would have got and there was a story on a local news channel that he played beautifully. He had the two kids with him and there's the TV camera and Ben Quayle says, "Here are my two nieces and they just want to clear their name." This has been really good for him. The only thing this has done is make Ben Quayle look like a victim of mudslinging. It's going to help him enormously.

Ted Simons: Quickly around the horn. Quayle, helped or hurt?

Steve Goldstein: Helped.

Dennis Welch: Helped or hurt?

Casey Newton: Helped, definitely.

Ted Simons: You think so? He's the guy to beat?

Dennis Welch: He's the guy to beat. The one with the name recognition and the money.

Ted Simons: What do you think?

Casey Newton: Big help.

Ted Simons: Ok. We'll leave it at that. Thanks for wearing a coat, by the way.

Steve Goldstein:KJZZ;Dennis Welch:Arizona Guardian;Casey Newton:Arizona Republic;

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