Journalists’ Roundtable

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Local Arizona journalists discuss the week’s top news stories.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to " "Arizona Horizon"'s Journalists' Roundtable. I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Jeremy Duda, of the Arizona Capitol Times. Amanda Crawford of Bloomberg news, and Steve Goldstein of KJZZ-FM radio. The Arizona Supreme Court allows two high profile initiatives, a spot on November's ballot. Jeremy, let's start with the top two, the open primary as it were were. This reverse as lower court ruling.

Jeremy Duda: It's surprising. The maricopa county county superior court ruled what it ald the separation amendment rule, you should have to deal with one subject, one unifying goal, and they ruled that of all the provisions that were, you know, disputed in this, the one regarding the election of precinct committeemen for a political party offices. Today the supreme court over overruled that.

Ted Simons: The opinion, there really was none.

Jeremy Duda: No opinion, I'm not sure that will be coming down the road. They just said that we believe this does not violate that and going to the ballot.

Ted Simons: So, this is, basically, repealing party primaries, the one side thought that was one issue, and then the open primary primaries themselves, the party officials, the election party officials, the public funds was another, and that's selling two different issues.

Amanda Crawford: I think what you are doing you are taking, you are taking away the elections of party officials. Party candidates to get all together. And we'll see how the Supreme Court determines why this wasn't two different acts. But, I guess it's the idea that it's, you know, removing that partisanship from the elections in general, and providing funding as part of that.

Ted Simons: And a big win for them.

Steve Goldstein: And Michael Birdie, an opponent, said the supreme court better have a doozy of an explanation to tell the voters what's going on here.

Ted Simons: And now, that, and that, of course, is this particular court action. And Jeremy, it's likely this thing goes back to court, and other problems may exist, as well.

Jeremy Duda: Right, and Paul Johnson, the chairman of the committee, said we expect to go to court, whether, once the election officials say whether it has enough signatures, we expect to go back to court no matter who wins that is one, and from where it stands, that's what we have heard from election officials, this might not have enough signatures, it sounds like it's a razor thin margin, a close call.

Ted Simons: That's surprising.

Amanda Crawford: I guess we'll see what they have with the signatures. I will not prejudge it yet, but I think that it's just both of these initiatives, are proof of the ballot or heading towards the ballot are really interesting because they disrupt the status quo. The open primaries, particularly, it's really taking the power away from parties and taking the power away from extremists, which is what we see, because you know, you have very, very, you have districts very, very on one side or the other, and therefore, the elections are always decided in the primary. So, this really disrupts that status quo, and when you get to the sales tax, as well, because it handcuffs the legislature even more on how it can fund education, again, that's really taking away the power from those in power now.

Steve Goldstein: It's interesting because the open primaries, if you look at who the opponents are, those who are elected officials so voters might look at that and think, all the people in power don't like there there, and maybe I need to take a second glance.

Amanda Crawford: Or those who don't like it, thank God. There is a lot of anti- anti-government sentiment, a lot of anti-politician sentiment, and that could fuel this.

Ted Simons: But the idea, the open primary, I look at the sales tax initiative in a second but the open primary has been tried in California, and other place, Louisiana, and Washington in certain respects, but everyone is watching California. And there are a lot of political pundits saying be careful what you ask for.

Jeremy Duda: And California and Washington Washington, most of the places where they do this, there is only a few, it's so new that it's hard to, to take a look at it and say this is what happene. This is how it works in the long-term. This is what, what, you know, things look like. California, they have not had their first full election cycle, their first top primary, you know, a couple of months ago, and Washington has been doing this, I believeing this the second election cycle. And Louisiana, where it's a slightly different system, they have been doing this for most of their offices. Since the mid-70s, and had mixed results.

Steve Goldstein: Opponents point to claim elections as the most recent good Government proposal that, that how dow like how that turned out? Like the old Dr. Phil, how is that working out for ya? And most people will say that's the argument but it's not going to stop people who feel like there has to be a reform. Maybe this is not it but, it's worth try.

Amanda Crawford: And it's not like we have not seen this before, this is the way our city elections are done because they are non partisan, and it's different because you could put your party fill affiliation, like how we elected the mayor of Phoenix, for example.

Ted Simons: You could put any party affiliation on, and they could call the administrative silly walks party.

Amanda Crawford: Right.

Ted Simons: Let's move on. Sales tax initiative. Again, that one challenge. Supreme court saying, ok for the ballot.

Jeremy Duda: Yeah, a very good week for the sales tax initiative, they got enough signatures for the ballot and the supreme court. Where within the last case they overturned the lower court argument. This one they upheld and said they complied with the law, remember the dispute where Ken Bennett wanted to keep it off the ballot. They submitted two versions of the, the initiative language, and the one that, that Ken deemed as the official language, they collected signatures on the other one. The, with the lower court and, and the supreme court, said that they substantially complied, which is the legal doctrine.

Ted Simons: And that means from now on if you substantially comply, there is your precedent, a little surprising. This particular ruling?

Amanda Crawford: I don't know. The, the, the one they circulated, was, was similar to, was the same as the one that they submitted on an electronic copy, which the proponents were arguing was the official one, so I don't know that we'll see a standard of complying but I think that we'll see this leading to, to, you know, at least some leniency when it comes to what these campaigns can do. Because obviously, the big argument here was that Ken was playing politics. That he kept it off the ballot, not because it was a huge error on the part of the campaign. But he did not want the sales tax to, to be considered.

Steve Goldstein: And this current lineup of the state supreme court has proven to be as far from radical as possible even with a couple of Jan brewer appointees. They are trying to play it close to the middle, so like Amanda said it's not that unpredictable.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the political aspect of this. The secretary St. Bennett was involved in a tax issue. Wasn't he?

Amanda Crawford: He was. But he was on the other side of it. He was supporting the, the repeal of the sales tax increase by the glendale city council, and even though the city, had thrown it off the ballot in part because of a have similar word wording problem.

Ted Simons: Have we seen a Secretary of State get in the headlines this often? In the past? In the recent past?

Jeremy Duda: No time that I can remember, and what's interesting with both these cases is that Bennett didn't really have to get involved in either of them. And the sales tax, in the state sales tax someone would sue to keep it off the ballot. The Arizona tax research association, which discovered the language discrepancy problem, there is zero question they would have sued if Bennett hadn't kept it off the ballot. On the Glendale thing people were sueing over it. He just jumped in on their side and said I want to get involved.

Steve Goldstein: We're a few minutes into the conversation so I need to bring from the word cynical, because it is an election year, I heard Ken Bennett on a radio interview where he talked about with the host saying, you are giving me some good ideas. If I decide to run for a higher offers. And it did not sound like he was kidding, so I think we need to go to the his name out there a little bit.

Jeremy Duda: He filed an exploratory committee to run for Governor, as well.

Ted Simons: Speaking of that. And higher ambitions, Doug Ducey, the state treasurer and speaking of, you don't hear people in certain office is making -- you don't hear the treasurer making headlines. He's trying to get a reason. A campaign, I should say to, start to fight the sales tax.

Steve Goldstein: As we're talking about before the program, Dean Martin was the one that they said was chicken little. I was surprised that Doug doozy will lead a campaign against the sales tax. The person holding the elected office already. He was saying he was not in favor of the 2010 sales tax extension but saying that was different. That was egregious. We had serious budget problems. They no longer exist so we don't need this.

Amanda Crawford: But that's a question, too. We just passed a large set of tax cuts that go into effect after the proposition 100, the current sales tax expires, and budget analysts are saying this will lead to a big deficit. And 486 million budget shortfall by 2015, and I'm not saying the tax cuts alone are responsible for that budget shortfall. But, with them counted in, that's the shortfall we're looking at in a few short years years. So, the idea that we have all the money that we need to fund education, which is what Doug Ducey said, there is some question there, and plus, we have seen after the proposition, after the sales tax increase that was dedicated to, to education, the 2010 one, we did see, see education being cut. We saw K-12 education being cut. And during the, you know, while raising taxes to pay for it. And this one, forbids the legislature from cutting existing school funding, and then dedicates this source to those school fundings so handcuffs the legislature. And forces them to fund education at the existing amount plus the amount of the taxes.

Ted Simons: What about accountability. I have heard critics say this initiative, there is zero accountability in this, and that's a major concern.

Jeremy Duda: The language of this, it specifyies, the very specific pools of, of education spending or higher-ed spending or infrastructure spending. I mean, it does not go into a general pot for K-12 or higher Ed. It goes into these specific regiment regimented categories. And the legislature will never be able to change this. And as Amanda said, handcuffs the legislature. That's what, one of the problems that doozy has, along with others, including Governor brewer, the champion of prop 100.

Ted Simons: We should mention that they announce this campaign the day after the supreme court allowed for the initiative to be on the ballot and two years before the next Governor's race. Mark that down.

Steve Goldstein: You may have free ice cream ready.

Ted Simons: Ok.

Amanda Crawford: We are lining um the GOP primary for governor, right?

Ted Simons: It's signed, it's underway. And the Governor, the executive order regarding the dreamers and the kids, in these things, what was this all about? And how much difference does this make? What's going on here?

Amanda Crawford: Well, this comes back to, back to President Barack Obama and the Obama administration's decision to, to provide deferred enforcement, and work permits for a category of young illegal immigrants. Those who got here before age 16. So presumably not on their own will. And who have been here at least five years. And graduated from high school or in school now, or served honorably in the military. It's very similar to the Dream Act, which is stalled in Congress. And that went through the applications for this program. And in which Obama did bypass Congress, and used there as an executive order. And the applications opened up on Wednesday, and that same day, Governor Brewer said state law, which prevents giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, will apply to these guys, too. And it comes down to semantics, she's saying that that, they are authorized to, to work, but that not mean that they have lawful status, and therefore, they don't get driver's licenses licenses, and the ACLU, who, I think, is likely to sue, to sue over this, says that we already give driver's licenses to categories of immigrants who are here with the same kind of authorization, like those who are here on political asylum. So it will come down to semantics, and really, a court determination, as, as does the work authorization that you get under this Obama program, mean that you are here lawfully for purposes of the state law? And, and it does leave these, these young folks on sort of limbo. They can work now, but they can't drive. And they cannot get a driver's license to, or a state I.D.

Ted Simons: So is authorized presence enough for a driver's license?

Jeremy Duda: Well, in the past it has been been. Remember that, that, deferred action is not new concept. It has been used, you know, for years and years and years. Much more sparingly than the Obama administration is using it now. Never in a grand, dramatic fashion but it's been used before, it's never been an issue before. And so, it will be interesting to see, how that plays out because in the past, these people have gotten their work permits, social security numbers numbers, and the stuff they need to get driver's licenses to work legally here.

Steve Goldstein: I thought the two-pronged approach was interesting, not just saying it's a violation of the law, and presumably the eyes of her consulting attorneys, but also, the fact that 80,000 Arizonans estimated to be eligible, and so she's saying this is a budget buster. If we give them city services or state services, and whatnot, this is going to hurt us in the long run. But the timing of it, makes everyone cynical again because it was the day that this was the first chance that so-called dreamers had chance to apply. So, does she have to do it that day? Matt Benson says this is the first day that she had the information.

Jeremy Duda: And from what I understand, as far as the state services, stuff like ACCCHS and other, other services, from what we understand, the state maybe able to legally keep them from get getting those benefits but the driver's licenses, I don't know that's, I think that's where the fight will be.

Amanda Crawford: The opponents of what they did have said that, that really, benefits were never the issue. For the driver's licenses are, and at Bloomberg we looked at what was going on in other states, and it's not just here. This is an issue. States across the country now have to evaluate what you do with a large number of young people, and what they are eligible for and what they're not. And California and Michigan will be giving driver's licenses to people in this program, as will the three states that don't require proof of citizenship. But many other states, are not sure. And even New York state said that they are not sure whether they are going to give driver's licenses. So it really is going to, because Obama bypassed Congress --

Ted Simons: A gray area.

Amanda Crawford: A gray area where states have to interpret things on their own own a little bit.

Ted Simons: No gray area with Joe, the plumber, in town. Stumping for Lori Klein, that's race there. Going against the house speaker for a house seat.

Steve Goldstein: Yes.

Ted Simons: And we can talk about a in a second but Joe the plumber, the quote, is we should build a fence and start shooting at the Mexican border.

Steve Goldstein: Lori Klein says that he was kidding, although it did not seem like a funny statement in the wake of the various shootings happening and the timing of it. One issue, Ted, not to be too sarcastic but I wish his name were Joe, are people going to get confused in Ohio when they try to vote for this guy? I find this odd because that this is some authority because in the 2008 race he yelled something at Senator Obama. What he said is, is to start shooting at the border, and Lori defended him, John McCain pointedly did not. I don't know what to make of this other than election year garbage.

Ted Simons: The idea that it's a joke is one thing but another quote is that's how I feel, I'm running for office, he's running for office in Ohio. So, it doesn't sound like that much of a ha-ha.

Steve Goldstein: It's not a ha-ha to most people with sense but when you get someone like this involved, who, I don't know his campaign very well based on how he came upon the scene, I would not think he's exactly real deep. And the idea that Lori Klein is someone who jokingly pulled a gun at an Arizona Republic reporter makes you think a little bit.

Ted Simons: Is Andy Tobin at risk? He's running against Andy in that district. The polling seems to have her a distant third but, what's going on?

Steve Goldstein: Andy Tobin is, going to raise money, it would be unmatchable by Lori Klein, but what's interesting, and maybe Jeremy has more detail, there is an ad that Lori Klein, with a related campaign has put out, by the guy who made the infamous Willie Horton ad, so maybe this is a way of knocking down the big tree Andy Tobin.

Ted Simons: Do you have more on that?

Jeremy Duda: Yeah, Floyd brown ran in a super pac, an independent expenditure in 19 8 supporting George bush, Sr. They came up with the Horton ad. One of the classic moments in negative campaign advertising. So he's running this for Klein. Made into the news, I don't think his did, when Klein ran a bill, regarding the teachers using profanity, and the reason that I'm running this, a friend of mine was concerned about, about his child teacher, using profanity, the friend was Floyd Bbrown.

Ted Simons: Ok. Floyd the filmmaker. [Laughter]

Amanda Crawford: I think what Paul is saying with Joe the plumber, it shows how far gone the debate on guns and border issues is. It's gone so far away from anything that could be considered a responsible rhetoric. We're talking about, he's talking about killing people, and who are crossing into the country illegally. And people who have committed no other crime, and who the supreme court has said, even being here illegally is not a crime. It's not criminal offense. It is not one punishable by death. And the idea that you are running for office, and it's ok to say this, the people will excuse you as a joke. In the, he'll stand up and say it wasn't. I think that it's, it shows really the temperature of where we are on these two heated issues.

Steve Goldstein: But if it's ever to be a debate on gun control or laws, it's not going to be a few months before the general election. It's not going to be by some guy called Joe the plumber, but by people who know what they're talking about.

Amanda Crawford: And also, I mean, who is he going to shoe crossing the border? No one is coming. If you look, if you look at the statistics, people are not crossing the border. Plus half of the illegal immigrants are here, with over overstayed visas. It goes back to the same rhetoric of, that it's border issue people are crossing from Mexico, and we don't see those numbers that we saw a few years ago. Because it stopped.

Ted Simons: John Leonardo, recuseing himself from the Joe Arpaio criminal investigation. Basically, because as a Pima court judge he was kind of involved bit.

Steve Goldstein: Exactly, one of the Mary Rose Wilcox cases, the maricopa county supervisor, he went after Andrew Thomas but first the referrals was Joe, and he said the sheriff's office was -- he miss use his power, is what judge John Leonardo said. You had him here, I spoke with him in his office, and he seemed under no circumstances, I do not want there to be any impact on whether there are criminal charges based on any per received bias I might have have. So he's going to recuse himself and the acting U.S. attorney would handle that.

Ted Simons: I was surprised, I asked him for information, knowing he was going to say no, I cannot give you information. And I'm recusing myself. Really? And too bad -- too bad we don't have more time for that.

Amanda Crawford: And Joe Arpaio has been in office for 20 years, and his time in office has been riddled. The scandals, with challenges from the Government. There's not very many people in the town who have been untouched by the scandals, when you are talking about judges and lawyers and, and prosecutors and, and the elected county officials, people have been touched by Joe Arpaio one way or another. Tons scandal. And there are a lot of people that would not, that could not say that they have not been involved.

Ted Simons: Ok.

Jeremy Duda: And if he's going to recuse himself from anything involveing Joe Arpaio, God knows how many other case that is might extend to. The department of justice ready to take action, potential abuse of power, a Grand Jury has been investigating abuse of power allegations for a long time.

Ted Simons: It seemed like everyone involved with the Thomas investigation was involved with Andy Thomas in one way, shape or form, so everyone was recusing themselves. We had a debate on "Arizona Horizon" between Paul and Ron Gould, a debate between Jeff flake and Will Cardon and then others at the table, as well, and give us, what are you seeing seeing? Any surprises?

Steve Goldstein: I was surprised you never asked the question, in either debate, who is more conservative because it seems like that's the argument. Who goes more conservative? In the Gould Gosar race, and Gould is getting the money from club for growth and calling Gosar a liberal because he voted for the debt ceiling.

Ted Simons: He said he was the only true conservative.

Steve Goldstein: And Gould is very conservative.

Ted Simons: He is.

Steve Goldstein: But when one talks about whether guns should be allowed on university campuses, that was one of the bills that Senator Gould supported. I would think based on this, Gosar raised more conventional funds, he doesn't have the club for growth behind him. Being an incumbent, even from district district, it looks like he would have had advantage. We know that Flake has an advantage over Carden, and spend spending 7.5 million of his own money, and flake's name recognition is out there, and he never, except for this, this lobbying for Iran, he never trips up. And I think that that's why flake will be difficult.

Jeremy Duda: On the Gould and Gosar race, the club for growth, they don't care about guns on campus or illegal immigration. They care about fiscal issues. For them Gosar's vote on the debt ceiling is the one thing it comes down to. And they have responded. They spent about 700,000 supporting Ron Gould. A lot of TV ads. They are going after Gosar.

Amanda Crawford: In the legislature you could find no one, you know, more staunch than Ron Gould about not raising fees, not raising money. He drew a line and stood there. And that's what they probably like.

Ted Simons: We have got to stop it. Thank you very much. Appreciate you being here, and that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. And thank you very much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

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