Journalists Roundtable

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Journalists discuss the week’s top news stories.

Ted Simons: Tonight on "Horizon" -- Governor Brewer decides to go straight to the Supreme Court to lift a preliminary injunction blocking major parts of S.B. 1070. The governor also signs a book deal. The book apparently to focus on immigration concerns and policies. And the Fiesta Bowl is hit with a fine, but is allowed to remain in the BCS rotation. The Journalists' Roundtable is next, on "Horizon."

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Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Mary Jo Pitzl of "The Arizona Republic." Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services. And Jim Small of "The Arizona Capitol Times." The governor decides to go straight to the nation's highest court to block an injunction that's keeping key parts of S.B. 1070 from being implemented. Was this a surprise at all?

Mary Jo Pitzl: No, I don't think it was a surprise. S.B. 1070's been on hold since -- what? -- late -- last July. It's been before the 9th circuit. There's a sentiment let's give it up to the Supreme Court. Everybody figures that's where it's going to land anyway. Just like with the employer's sanctions law so let's just take it's straight there.. And the governor and attorney general Horne did a news conference that said that's what they're going to do.

Howard Fischer: Well of course it was a political event, there's no question they would appeal - I know you're surprised to hear that. The other piece of this is everybody forgets, we're not debating the law before of the Supreme Court. We're debating the injunction and no matter what the Supreme Court decides and I'm hard pressed to think they'd except CERT, but we'd still have to do the underlying trial and maybe in 2013, might get an answer.

Mary Jo Pitzl: That's all the more reason not to be surprised. Let's get it moving.

Ted Simons: Is there not a thought, though, that a ruling here, a decision here, a opinion here, tell us where we're going from here?

Howard Fischer: It depends. You've got two things. In order to issue an injunction, you have to find, number one, the likelihood of success. Obviously, they've said it's not with the state. But you have to find the issue of irreparable harm which the state says they're being harmed every day. And sometimes in the next 45 days, the Supreme Court will issue an opinion on employer sanctions.

Ted Simons: Right.

Howard Fischer: If the Supreme Court decides that the field preemption in the area of immigration, put a fork in it.

Ted Simons: This was basically the governor, the attorney general, we had president Pearce and I whole bunch of folks there. Was this on the ninth -- this was on the ninth floor, correct?

Jim Small: The eighth, actually. The conference room on the eighth floor. It's unusual to do press conferences up there. At least with this governor. I know that Governor Napolitano used to hold weekly news briefings but this was certainly a special event and there was a lot of security around it. They changed the event the morning of. Moved it to the eighth floor and said well, we need to have increased security and I think the common thought, well, they want it to really make sure that the rabble rousers and protestors can't show up and dominate this like they did in February when Horne and Brewer announced they were going to counter sue the feds and they went out in front of the federal courthouse. Next thing you know there were dozens of protestors with bullhorns and the thing was circus.

Howard Fischer: The idea of going past of the full ninth circuit because of time. The state is in trouble, according to the governor and we need to get this done as soon as possible and yet the supreme court, the high court, likely if they were to take this, and a lot of folks aren't sure, it wouldn't be until the next session anyway.

Howard Fischer: Oh no question at all. But no matter what was full ninth would have decided. It still would have wound up there and all you're doing is putting yourself a couple of months behind. But you're right, the Supreme Court aren't going to do anything before they end their session in June. They come back the first Monday in October, absent some emergency and look around and debate should we take it. We'll take it. Schedule oral arguments and now looking at February and a decision a year from today, maybe.

Mary Jo Pitzl: And also consider the timing. The next day, the president was scheduled to give a speech in El Paso on border security so this was a nice pre-prelude, a local setup to that.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about this speech and a video relief by the governor, mocking the president's joke, correct?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Yes, that's what the video said. It's sort of sliced together two different messages from the president. One was a speech he gave in Tucson after the shootings about civility and the need to be kinder and gentler to everyone and then they picked up a piece from the speech in El Paso where he was complaining how the congress moves the goalposts what they want for border security. What do they want, a MOAT, do they want alligators? And the governor said what happened to the tone of civility, sort of mixing two different messages there.

Howard Fischer: And it was of the particular terms, they chose to take Obama out of context. I watched the whole speech. And as Mary Jo points out, he said, look congress said before we can deal with comprehensive immigration reform, we want certain things done. We want more border patrol. Ok, we have 20700 on the border control. We want more fence. Well we built all but 3 miles of what congress told us to build. They keep moving the goalposts, what do they want next? A MOAT? And it has nothing to do with civility. And this was an opportunity that the governor thinks she's the anti-Obama.

Ted Simons: I was gonna ask. Jim, what you're hearing, why is the governor doing this? We looking at greater political ambitions? What's going on here?

Jim Small: She says she doesn't have any higher political ambitions. Some have thrown out maybe a V.P. candidate.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Or a third term.

Jim Small: A third term despite the constitution. I think it's playing to the face. It's an issue that put her on the national map and it's the issue -- it's the reason she's on fox news two or three times a month, it seems and it really gets her out there and Arizona out there. It plays to the Republicans who are really not just anti-Obama, but also rah rah on the hard-line immigration.

Howard Fischer: And that gets us into the book. Who knew that Jan Brewer would be a published author? Who thought that the woman who sat here and stared at the camera for eight seconds had so much to say in 208 pages.

Ted Simons: Stop right there. Regardless what happened here -- 208 pages? Who says, I'm gonna right a book - oh yeah, what's it about? -

Howard Fischer: It's about 208 pages.

Ted Simons: Not 200, but -- how do we know that? How do we know 208 pages?

Howard Fischer: And look, you know Mary Jo gets an assignment for the republic and they say they want 16 pages, you know, it's that sort of thing. Some of it has to do with the way books are put together and bound and so there are certain break points. These are standard contracts. The fact is I think a lot of it is already written. She's working with a woman who was in fact a former speech writer for John Ashcroft, attacking title IX and sex equality in school and I think a lot is already done and told the woman, get it down, and this is what we can sell.

Ted Simons: Jim, the subtitle here is "my fight against special interests, liberal media, and cynical politicos -- to secure America's border. So what we're talking about here, is this a memoir, is this the fight regarding S.B. 1070? What do we know about this?

Ted Simons: It looks like more about 1070, the border stuff but I'm sure there will be the tail of Jan Brewer, the hardscrabble fighter moving to Arizona and the daughter of a seamstress and how she got into politics, I'm sure that will be an element of the book. But it looks like it's going to be focused more on, you know, what she went through with 1070, what the state went through and why everyone who criticized Arizona and her was wrong.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I think it will be interesting to see how it addresses how the provisions of 1070 secure the border. Because most of 1070's would be enforcement is really focused up in the metro areas by letting police -- requiring police to check people's citizenship. That takes things after they come across the border but not down on the border.

Howard Fischer: But this is a much broader, broadside even-- excuse the expression.

Mary Jo Pitzl: That's the publisher.

Howard Fischer: Broadside books. This is an arm of Harper-Collins that publishes what they call right of center non-fiction. We know what that means. This is an attack on anyone who doesn't see it her way. It's an attack on the people who benefit from illegal immigrants. The political parties pandering to illegal immigrants and so it's a screed. And maybe it goes back to Jim's theory is there a vice presidential candidate. Anyone who wants to be a politician has a book. J.D. Hayworth had a book, Sarah Palin had a book. And I guess Jan figured, what about me?

Mary Jo Pitzl: And I don't know if you mentioned the full title, scorpions for breakfast. That wasn't Jan's idea. It came from the publishing house.

Ted Simons: I would think anyone from Arizona when you hear a title like that, oh, geez, it's a bunch of New Yorkers who think we live with cactus on our boots.

Howard Fischer: I asked the governor the night this became public, if it's not your idea, what does it mean. She thought, I guess they think I'm a tough woman.

Ted Simons: All right. Scorpions for breakfast is a tough thing.

Howard Fischer: They're not bad coated with chocolate.

Ted Simons: Alright, we'll take your word for that. Mary Jo, this is the one-year anniversary of the sales tax.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Right, May 18th, it'll be a year since voters said yeah, go ahead and raise our tax an extra penny for three years and passed overwhelmingly with 65% approval.

Ted Simons: What have we seen as far as this impacting JLBC numbers, revenue, the whole nine yards?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Well, the penny tax isn't raising as much money as they had originally projected. The first year, they thought it would get $918 million. It's coming $100 million underneath that. Not quite there. Of course, the reflection of the economy and there's other who is say something costs more, people will buy less. The money is supposed to go to education and healthcare and public safety. And it did, I mean, technically, the money is going into AHCCCS, K-12, a portion of education, and the department of corrections. But it's fungible. So lawmakers could put funding out the back end. And what you get then, we had $1.1 billion of budget cuts and $1.1 billion was education and healthcare.

Ted Simons: And Jim, the numbers were encouraging when we saw those numbers from JLBC. Talk about that and also talk about what this does to the governor's stature here. She did push for this. And critics say, what happened to the saving of education and health -- and such. Mostly education.

Jim Small: Sure, well and that was one of the complaints against proposition 100 at the time. That's why the Democrats say we're not going to support this. Because Republicans are just going to turn around and they're going to cut out an equal number of money on the back end and left with a situation that, yes, the money is coming in and you're getting $200 million or $300 million for schools but you're turning around and cutting it, or you've got the AHCCCS cuts.

Mary Jo Pitzl: But the governor would say, it could have been a lot worse. And she did never promise this would keep things immune from cuts.

Howard Fischer: And that is the key. If they didn't have what they thought was $900 million or $800 million to play with. Where would they take it from? They've cut AHCCCS as much as they can. That's not a question of legality. Universities have a severe cut. Even more than the governor proposed. K-12 did. You know, where else do you cut?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Well, that's because you buy into the argument that the only way to deal with the budget is through cuts. Even the governor's own budget proposal talking about gimmicks to keep things together and it was rejected. Of course, I think the reason it was rejected is, I mean, we're at the point we became a national joke, we've sold several state buildings, we've sold the house and senate. And we're leasing it back. And how deep do you borrow? This is the same question the federal government faces. Yes, sometimes you borrow. As a business person I borrow to invest in certain equipment but you come to a point where can you get it back and how much are you paying in debt service.

Ted Simons: Back it the idea of the governor's standing. Pushing for this tax hike and getting it. Some not happy it happened and we also saw cuts and yet behavioral research center with a poll, conservatives seem to be happier with the governor than with the legislature.

Jim Small: I think that's a function of being one voice being able to speak -- you know, go out on TV or in the paper, and give your opinion. As opposed to 90 disjointed voices or in the case of Republicans, 61, where, yeah they're all relatively calling for conservative things but you don't have that tounch stone.

Howard Fischer: I've got another theory, if you look at the timing on the survey, it was before the veto of the gun bills and tax credits and the things that the conservatives wanted and I think the numbers would have been different right on the heels of those vetoes.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I tend to agree with Howie. The revenue control limit was vetoed and I think -- if you took that poll again that, I think the -- today, I think the numbers would be different. But probably what wouldn't be different is, the same poll found that even conservatives are unhappy with the most conservative legislature we've probably had in Arizona ever.

Ted Simons: Why is that?

Jim Small: I think part gets to the idea everyone hates congress but love their congressman and you'll get people sent to congress for 25, 30 years and the same with state legislature, before term limits, and they can come back home and say boy, the yahoos, they're screwing everything up. I fought for you and whether it was left, right or center and you can pass the buck off and I think that's what happens in a lot of cases for legislators, the same as congressional.

Ted Simons: The legislators aren't going to get much better in terms of positive ratings. As the Fiesta Bowl story continues. The Fiesta Bowl -- we've got them staying in the BCS, I know you're a football fan.

Howard Fischer: Let me tell but that.

Ted Simons: $1 million fine. They get to stay in the BCS rotation. It's a big deal staying in the BCS rotation. The $1 million fine, that's a relatively slap on the face.

Howard Fischer: The joke in the press room, they're take the reimbursements from the lawmakers and pay of the fine. What's interesting about that and I'm looking at it not as the sports fan, but a political perspective, they figured we're setting the bar here, the precedent, what else is going on the other bowls and if we come down hard on the Fiesta Bowl, and find out that the other bowls are doing the same things, where would we be. They want to preserve this whole idea. They don't want to open it up to the idea of the cotton bowl and the big fight and you then open up the issue whether we should have a playoff and the heck with the whole BCS series.

Ted Simons: You're right, there are a lot of things that tumble down afterwards but the big thing, as far as most Arizonans are concerned. The folks in tourism and such, they stay in the BCS rotation. Politic -- the BCS rotation. Ron Gould said --

Mary Jo Pitzl: He's chairman of the senate's ethics committee, working on his own, not through the committee, says yeah, there's probably impropriety this happening but he said I'm not going to do anything until the criminal probe is done. We'll let the county attorney do his investigation and we'll come in afterwards.

Howard Fischer: And the real issue there is intent. The problem with the laws and how bad and weak the laws are on this show, you have to show not only didn't they report it, black and white, but they intended to, was it an intent to hide. An intent to defraud. Are the laws that clear what has to be reported? Andy Tobin said he did report it but he didn't know what the amount was, and all of it was so unclear.

Jim Small: And the same with the tickets. You talk about the intent, the law is cut and dried where you can't accept tickets to cultural events and sports events and you have to knowingly violate it in order to be guilty of a actual misdemeanor. It's proving someone knew when they were taking the tickets, ok. I shouldn't be taking them but to heck with it, I'm going to see USC play Notre Dame.

Ted Simons: As far as Senator Russell Pearce, he's looking for invoices, found some, didn't -- does anyone know what's going on here?

Howard Fischer: I don't know. Russell came up with more yesterday. Look, I'd be hard pressed, going back, you know, several years finding specific receipts. You want to see my checkbook. Let me tell you.

Mary Jo Pitzl: But it's simple. If you did indeed write a check, you may not have it, but your bank would. Get it from the bank.

Howard Fischer: Was there a check written? Something else? How was it paid? I think it's fairly black and white. I think Russell's problem is he's let this thing bleed so long. When I was in P.R., one thing you tell the client, you make it a one-day story. Here's everything, as opposed to letting it dribble out. And that's just bad, bad politics.

Ted Simons: He said he's blaming the Fiesta Bowl for haphazard invoices and these things. Obviously, he's the president of the senate and could be facing a recall here shortly, not sure about that. But what's the fallout from this?

Jim Small: I think the whole blaming the Fiesta Bowl thing is classic the art of misdirection. It's not my fault. It's these guys' fault. The thing with the invoice, there's an attorney general's opinion that said, when this law was brand new and said you can't take tickets and reimburse them. If you're going to, you have to reimburse before you get the tickets and all of the invoices went through -- they came months, you know, sometimes six weeks, sometimes six months after the game happened when you got an invoice. I think there's still some legality questions to be answered. And gets back to the knowingly issue. It's an interesting case study and I think we'll find like most of our laws dealing with lobbies or elections, this one won't have as many teeth as the crafters intended.

Howard Fischer: And that's gonna be the issue. I think that some bright person should spend the interim and go through that whole section, the conflict of interest laws and gift laws in title XXXVIII and recraft them and start over again. And pull in some lawyers and some folks who are experts, let's say on the Securities & Exchange Commission where they have clear rules about conflicts of interest and gifts and make sure those are part of it.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Ted, you asked about repercussions for Pearce, there's a recall drive still going on in his district in West Mesa. And this adds some fuel to the fire. The supporters of the recall say they're very close and believe they're going to have far more signatures than needed but a lot of people say that when they're doing recall drives and you don't know what you've got until you turn them in and the verification starts.

Ted Simons: Do they have someone that they're looking at to go against him should the recall be successful?

Howard Fischer: The nature of recalls, anyone can jump in the race. And it becomes a free for all. And enough people in, somebody with 30% or 20% of the vote could walk away with it, depending on how much Russell's foes get in, he could walk back. If the foes can unite behind a single acceptable person, acceptable to a fairly conservative community, then maybe there's a shot at it.

Ted Simons: Has to be a Republican. Are there Republicans out there anywhere willing to take on Russell Pearce.

Howard Fischer: I think there are. I think they're staying below the radar until they're sure there's a recall.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I've heard -- I don't have any names -- trying to find someone who is LDS, perhaps female, Republican, to stand for election.

Ted Simons: Maybe someone who focuses on education and these things which seem to have not been a big focus. Healthcare.

Jim Small: I think they can get a new focus on immigration. And look, I would have voted for everything this guy, did but just not do the things that he did that are making us look bad. I think that they could, realisitcally get someone who is maybe not as far to the right as Russell, but no means, a liberal.

Howard Fischer: If I'm Russell Pearce, look, I've made mistakes, I'm the senate president, I bring power, prestige for the district. I can get things done. Do you want to replace me with a freshman?

Mary Jo Pitzl: But really, what's happened that improved the quality of life.

Howard Fischer: He's gotten rid of illegal immigrants. From his perspective, that's what it's about. I talked to him the other day about extending unemployment bit benefits and he tied that back to illegal immigration too.

Ted Simons: Well, I don't think he can - Well, the tea party and their license plate, the whole thing about license plate, such a big HOO-HA.

Howard Fischer: Well, we must remember the tea party by definition is not a party. It's 8,320 different groups with a -- you pay $25 extra a year, $17 of which goes to the sponsors' organization. Once they raise new money. Not that it was just going to go to the tea parties, but that this formed -- just to the Tea Party, but free enterprise and less government which is interesting when you're forming a government committee to form less government. And that's what happened. Some of the folks I talked to this afternoon, said, wait, we don't believe the line, we're from the government, here to help you. It's not what we believe. To have the government helping us raise money.

Ted Simons: When this debate was going on, didn't anyone stop and say, maybe we should ask the Tea Party folks if they like something like this.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Well you gotta remember the founder of this bill. It was brought by the founder of the Yuma tea party, senator Don Schuder. He's a tea party founder and a freshman mistake or non-tea Party kind of mistake. He wanted the startup costs, because you have to have $32,000 to start it. He wanted to take that from state funds and a fellow senator, no, no, that's not the way to go.

Howard Fischer: There's probably tea parties who see it as a way to raise money and the plate would be a yellow flag with don't tread on me. Identifiable and see it as a convenient way to raise money.

Mary Jo Pitzl: The same place -- senator Ron Gould bought one for 10 bucks and you don't have to renew it.

Ted Simons: We'll stop it there. Good discussion, thanks for joining us. Monday on "Horizon" -- Arizona congressman Jeff flake joins us to talk about the latest news from capitol hill. And we'll take a look at the Arizona military museum, an official Arizona centennial legacy project. That's Monday at 7:00 on "Horizon." Tuesday, an update on efforts to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale. Wednesday, the nonprofit Justa center is helping homeless seniors. We'll talk about that. Thursday, we'll look at SRP's proposed sustainable energy plan. And Friday, we're back with another edition of the Journalists' Roundtable. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

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