This one-hour show includes a compilation of recent Arizona Horizon debates/discussions on the ballot propositions. Included in this program are debates on Prop 121 (Top Two Primary Elections); Prop 204 (Sales Tax for Education); Prop 115 (Judicial Department Reforms); and Prop 120 (State Sovereignty).
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to this vote 2012 one hour special edition of "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Tonight we continue our in depth coverage of the propositions on November's ballot. Prop 204 makes the temporary sales tax permanent. 121 asks voters to over all Arizona's primary election system. Proposition 115, a measure that changes process for selecting judges in Arizona's largest counties, and 120, which looks to give Arizona complete control over public lands currently held by the federal government.
Ted Simons: We'll look at some of the other ballot measures tomorrow on "Arizona Horizon," but tonight we start with proposition 204, a citizen initiative that looks it make permanent a temporary one cent sales tax approved in 2010 to fund public education. That taxis set to expire next year. Speaking for the measure is Ann E. Peterson, chair of the quality education and jobs committee, and in opposition state treasurer Doug Ducey. Ann, we'll start with you. Why do we need to make this permanent?
Ann-Eve Pedersen: Prop 204 is something very positive for our state's school children and for parents and families, and also for our state's economy. It just renews the one cent so we won't pay anything more in taxes, but it protects those dollars and ensures that they actually are going to go to help education. K-12, community colleges, universities, GED programs, vocational education programs. Arizona, you may know, led the nation in the depth of cuts to K-12 education over the past five years. That has left our schools without some of the basics they need, and at a time when our schools are going to be adopting a whole set of new reforms. That are really raising the bar for our teachers and students. And we want to ensure that we set them up to succeed. That's what we're going to do by passing prop 204.
Ted Simons: And why not renew this tax?
Doug Ducey: No on proposition 204 campaign is proud to announce the Arizona chamber of commerce, the Phoenix chamber of commerce, and today the Tucson Hispanic chamber of commerce have come out against proposition 204. The reason is, it's a $1 billion permanent sales tax increase, annually and forever. If this passes, Arizona will have the second highest sales tax rate in the country. It will be devastating to our economy, and there are really no real reforms in proposition 204, and no accountability. So for those that care about the education like the opponents of prop 204, these dollars won't get to where they're needed and necessary, to teachers and the classrooms.
Ted Simons: Respond, please.
Ann-Eve Pedersen: It's really important to note that the state's two top CEO organizations, greater Phoenix leadership, and southern Arizona leadership council, strongly back prop 204. These are the CEOs who run the major employers in our state. And they back it because they understand that if we don't invest in education, and our legislature refuses to do that, we are putting a closed for business sign in front of the state of Arizona. We are not able to recruit and keep the good companies we need to remain here. Google tried to set up in downtown Phoenix. They had to close their doors because they could not find enough experienced employees to staff their headquarters.
Ted Simons: The idea of a dead kitted source of funding for public education in Arizona, bad idea?
Doug Ducey: To have funds going to public education is a good idea. Let's make sure there's a chance they can get to where they are needed and make the biggest difference inside the classroom. The fact the chamber has never come out against anything that's been pro-education, yet across the state, a group of business leaders have said, this is not the reform that we need. And the reason is, because there is zero accountability in this bill. It also goes to fund things other than education, and at this time to put a tax rate that high on our state is not the right thing to do, and to put a bill in front of the voters that is said to be for education, yet goes to other interests, and funding bigger bureaucracies that's not good government, that's not right for the state.
Ted Simons: Take this in part, the idea there's not enough accountability, no measurable goals. How do you respond?
Ann-Eve Pedersen: It's just completely untrue. Unfortunately the opposition led by politicians and special interest lobbyists who actually are the major members of some of the chambers, are spreading misinformation. There is lots of accountability and reform. We are for the first time actually going to tie a piece of state funding to performance. If our schools statewide do not improve graduation rates, reduced drop-out rates, improve on ACT and sat scores, a percentage of the funds will not be released and it will go to pay down school debt. The other piece that we put into place is for the first time a true accountability database. So that we can accurately measure the department of education can measure student, teacher, principal, district, and charter school performance.
Doug Ducey: Ted, This is a 17 page single spaced bill to raise your taxes a billion dollars and to pay off special interests. This has 100 million dollars a year annually that goes to contractors. I think that hundred million dollars to could -- could go to the hard working teachers, yet this bill doesn't specify any dollars to go to teachers or classrooms. All those dollars are optional. I encourage our viewers to read this bill, they can go to the no on 204 website to see this is a bill full of pork and paying off special interests.
Ted Simons: Allocations for public transportation and road building, those allocations are included. Why?
Ann-Eve Pedersen: They are. 90% of the funding, 80% is for education, 10% for children's health, and for social services. And there's 10% for transportation. And if you talk to economists, they will tell you that there are a few things you need to invest in if you want to improve the state's overall economic climate. Remember, the name of prop 204 is quality education and jobs. The places her you want to invest your funds are in education and transportation. Where has the state been divesting? I have to address the special interest group piece. Children are not a special interest group. OK, this was conceived by parents, I'm a volunteer parent who is chairing this committee, it was drafted with parents' concerns in mind. It is imperative that money goes to the classrooms. Why do you think we would be behind this if we didn't know that was going to happen?
Doug Ducey: Children are very special. This bill has no interest in them, because it directs no dollars to the classroom. I encourage the viewers to read it for themselves. This is a chart of the special interest carve-outs in the bill and where the dollars flow. They can never change in changing circumstances, Ted. If this is enacted, it will straddle our state with a tax burden which will hurt our economy and we will not be able to change the education formulas to get the dollars to the classrooms so we can truly reform education. It is the special interest bill full of pork.
Ted Simons: Handcuffs appropriations and changing times. Again, that's another concern here. Respond.
Ann-Eve Pedersen: Education funding is never going to go away as a state need and a state obligation. Our state is actually obligated under the constitution to provide for the development and improvement of our public schools. Our legislature has abandoned that duty. Mr. Ducey is just an apologist for them. I have to tell you, please go to our website, quality education and jobs under facts, we have had to set up a special page debunking politician Doug Ducey because of the misinformation that continues to be spread.
Ted Simons: The idea of infrastructure, social safety nets, they are included in here, and we hear there are reasons for them to be included because they provide a better way for education and a better way for jobs. Again, what's wrong with that?
Doug Ducey: First, say what you will about the legislature, but at least they're accountable. They stand before the voters every two years and when they're doing a bad job, they change the legislature and it's changed quite dramatically in the last two years. This bill is permanent, and forever. And what I don't want to see have happen in these changing circumstances is us not to be able to get the dollars where they're needed and necessary, and to the teachers. I do think we agree on a lot more than we disagree on, we want to see the right outcomes for education. I simply don't think proposition 204 which gives money to special interests like $100 million a year to contractors, is going to help teachers in the classroom.
Ann-Eve Pedersen: Let's be clear, can I address the $100 million? This is to go to help the road, rail, and public transit projects. These are projects desperately needed in our state. We can't have pothole city. That is not good for attracting and keeping businesses in the state of Arizona. These are issues that are in the public interest. Just like having a plan for our kids is in the public interest. School boards which are elected, will be making decisions about these dollars. It retains local control, so elected officials will be making critical decisions.
Doug Ducey: And I agree with you, we do need safe roads, we have the funds available, we have gas taxes available. We should focus education bills on education. The legislature's done some good things, they've done things like move on when reading, grading, schools, teacher evaluations, improvement to the curriculum. If we take dollars and couple them to those reforms, which will give us better outcomes in the classroom, and serve our teachers better, we'll have a better K-12 system. This bill doesn't do that.
Ann-Eve Pedersen: The key is attaching dollars to those reforms. That's the piece that you're missing. Because the legislature does a great job of enacting reforms, but they don't attach dollars. The governor this year, remember, we have an $851 million surplus in the state of Arizona. Governor asked for a modest funding increase. What does the legislature do that you're putting all of your trust in? They zeroed her out. They said we're not giving one more dime to the kids of Arizona. And so what happened? There was a compromise reached, that compromise of $89 million doesn't even have money for textbooks. How can we expect our teachers to meet these new higher standards?
Doug Ducey: We've had changing circumstances. The state was in the worst possible financial condition in the country just 2Â½ years ago. Today we have financial responsibility, we have 1.4 billion dollars in the operating account. $450 million in the reserve account. We've changed the legislature, and we'll have a new legislature coming in January. Let's let them deal with education and funding these reforms. If prop 204 passes, this will handcuff elected leaders and give the power and the spending to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats. It's a California style idea. California has a $17 billion deficit in this year. We shouldn't be following the direction of Arizona.
Ted Simons: With so much in the way of spending cuts for education, and again, the center for budget policy and priorities, 22% drop in the past five years, number one in the country, number 6 in the country as far as dropping per pupil spending, why should voters trust a legislature that has done that?
Doug Ducey: We had no money. Now we are on sound financial footing, and we need to do what's right for students and teachers. But this idea of where dollars are going, if education needs more money, and I think that's a great argument to have, because I think we do need to get the dollars where they make a difference, and where they change the outcome. Prop 204 would put this $1 billion into the same failed formulas that have underserved our children for the past two decades. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and thinking you're getting different results.
Ted Simons: Why are there so many mandates, why are there so many requirements as far as where this money has to go, what this money --
Ann-Eve Pedersen: Because we don't trust the legislature. And I have to tell you the number one question we were asked whether we were circulating petitions is how can you assure me that these dollars are going to go where voters want them to go? The reason the legislature doesn't like this and the reason that they've sent Doug Ducey as their apologist is because they want control over how our tax dollars are spent. And they don't want to spend them on education. As a volunteer parent the reason we had to go to this level is because we met with legislators and it was very clear to us, they were hostile to the very idea of public education, they do not want to attach dollars to it. And the lobbyists unfortunately that -- they want to be able to give these dollars to favors to their friends. They don't want them going to our kids.
Doug Ducey: Over 50% of the state spending is on K-12 education. We need to take the dollars that we have and more effectively spend them. If we need more dollars in K-12 education, let's have that discussion, because we have $1.4 billion in the operating account and $450 million in a savings account earning interest. We shouldn't raise taxes on hard-working Arizonans in a hurting economy. It's the wrong thing to do. Proposition 204 raises those taxes and takes tax reform and education reform off the table.
Ann-Eve Pedersen: No. All we're asking is voters to keep the penny for the kids. We're not raising taxes. All we want to do is make sure that our state makes a minimum level of commitment to our kids. With the cuts that happened, all the kindergarten was lost unless parents can pay for it in certain districts. We lost thousands of teachers were laid off. In addition, there are schools operating without money for basic supplies. He's saying let's trust the legislature. Doug, this past session where was the legislature? They said zero, nothing for our kids. The public does not trust them. Parents do not trust them. They have lost our trust.
Doug Ducey: Ann-Eve, I'm a parent as well, I share your concern --
Ann-Eve Pedersen: not in the public school system.
Doug Ducey: -- inside our schools. If this bill cares so much about teachers and school supplies, why does it give $100 million to contractors?
Ann-Eve Pedersen: Look, 80% of the funding, it doesn't give it to the contractors. It gives them to the state department of transportation. Let's be clear about that. In the public interest. 80% of the dollars flowed directly to benefit children.
Ted Simons: Please respond, why are those other things in there? He's repeatedly asked that question.
Ann-Eve Pedersen: Because when you talk -- this is again not just about -- it's about the state's overall business climate. If we want to have a strong economy, what do economists tell us? Invest in education and transportation. And I'm not clear why investing in safe roads, we have the eighth most dangerous rural roads in the nation. Isn't that a problem? And the reason that we're not funding roads is because the legislature has been raiding those funds.
Ted Simons: Please.
Doug Duvey: This is a bill full of pork to pay off special interests that will not help education.
Ann-Eve Pedersen: No.
Doug Ducey: I share Ann-eve's concern about the teachers and outcomes in the classrooms, we're not going to get this through proposition 204. The Tucson Hispanic chamber of commerce would not be against it if it did anything to help inside our classrooms. I hope our viewers will as well vote against it.
Ted Simons: We have to stop right there. Good debate. Good to have you both here.
Ann-Eve Pedersen: Thank you.
Doug Ducey: Thank you.
Ted Simons: Proposition 121, the open elections, open government act, calls for a significant change to the state's primary election system. If the measure passes, all voters regardless of party, could vote for any candidate on the ballot. The two candidates with the most votes regardless of party, would then proceed to the general election. Here to speak in favor of prop 121 is Paul Johnson, chairman of the open government committee the group that put the measure on the ballot, speaking against prop 121, is Maricopa County attorney, Bill Montgomery. Thanks for joining us. Paul, let's start with you. Why amend the Arizona constitution for something like this?
Paul Johnson: You don't have to do a poll to know that the public has become completely disenfranchised with the two-party system we have, through no organized effort whatsoever, about a third of the voters have left both of the parties and registered as independents. What our measure does is it's really simple. It eliminates the partisan primary, it replaces witness an open election where every voter can vote for every candidate in every election, it creates real competition, which doesn't happen today, today we have 26 out of 30 districts, they've been gerrymandered to the point they're faith district, meaning you have no real competition in the general election. This assures you will. And the third thing it does is it helps in that when candidates have to go talk to all voters, Republicans, democrats, and independents alike, it gives them a reason, an incentive to cross the aisle and to work together with people from the other partly.
Ted Simons: Why is this a bad idea?
Bill Montgomery: We've heard the same song before. First it was limiting individual contributions, then it was term limits, then it was clean elections, then it was the independent redistricting commission. And now it's open elections open government. I'm reminded of that admonition to keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out. We're being promised things that an election system cannot deliver. If it's competition, it doesn't guarantee you're going to have competitive districts. California, which just recently tried this, has similar number of districts now as they did before, where there isn't any real competition. The reality in a number of districts in California, you don't have a real general election choice anymore, because you have two people from the same party now on a general election ballot. That's really what's going on. It's not just changing primaries, it's changing the general election, reducing choice and bringing more money into the process.
Ted Simons: What are we seeing from Louisiana, Washington, and California, states that have experimented, continue to experiment with this idea?
Paul Johnson: In California in the last five years, 250 congressional races, only one time has it changed from one party to another. During the election process. This time there are probably going to be 10 turnovers. It went from being the least competitive state in the nation, to being now considered to be the most competitive state in the nation. Meaning there are no races competitive there today than there ever have been in California's history. What we're seeing in Washington is that there is a much different level of a debate. If you know the only thing you're going to have to do is run on a primary, you go demonize the other side. If you're a democrat you go demonize the Republicans. If you're a Republican, you demonize the democrats. But when you know you're going to have to appeal to every voter in both elections, you don't do that because it's too important to you to be able to keep those votes.
Ted Simons: The idea of pitching WOO to a broader audience, having to do that, why is that a bad idea?
Bill Montgomery: Well, it's not that it's a bad idea. This doesn't guarantee it. It's another false promise. What winds of happening is you create the same elections calculus as do you now. Here's how it works. Ideally in the general distribution of voters, you might have an even distribution of people who would find themselves in any point on the political spectrum. But the reality is, in either party, you have 20 to 30% who are very strong supporters of their entire party's platform. Their committed voters. That doesn't change in an open primary. Instead at that point you could have as many as seven, nine, 10, 12 different candidates, you're going to try to figure out how you get a plurality. You don't need 51% if you have 10 candidates. You may be able to get through with less than 20%, so you're going to go to that committed group, you're not going to waste money on trying to address everyone, because if you did, you'd have to raise over 2Â½ times as much money to do it. And that just brings more dirty money.
Ted Simons: The idea it would be more expensive to run a campaign if you have to appeal to a broader audience, if there are many more candidates running all of which are viable in this kind of system, how do you respond?
Paul Johnson: Bill has given you the academic. I've run in both systems -- in an open election like a city election, for mayor, and I can tell you we modeled this after city elections. And I've also run on a partisan primary. I can just tell you the answer is, if you appeal to the extreme, you might win the primary. You will not win the general election. Talk to any candidate who runs in an open primary type of system, and the answer is, you have to appeal to people in the other party. In terms of cost, it's all about -- you than look at it like a market. There's only so much money you can raise. We have clean elections at the state legislature, and they're going to have to figure out how they're going to divide that money up. The voters put it into place, we'll have to decide how to best spend it. But either way, in terms of cost, I've run in both systems, and I. Promise you running in a partisan system is equally expensive.
Ted Simons: The idea that this would result in more moderate candidates in more moderate winners of legislative and other races, state races and such, and that these folks will be more willing to compromise, more willing to cooperate than what we see now. Valid argument?
Bill Montgomery: There's no objective data to support that whatsoever. Another empty promise. Besides, your moderate candidate could be my extreme candidate. In addition to the fact the legislature is going to have to change the clean elections provision of the statute, there's 70 other changes to be made. In California, the amount spent in a primary went from 23 million to 46 million. You don't have to appeal to candidates, to voters in another party. There's a congressional district in California that have been represented by a democrat, had a democrat on the ballot for 160 years. It's a majority-minority district. Three democrats ran, two Republicans ran. The two Republicans split the Republican vote; the three democrats split their party's vote. And now voters from that district have a choice between two Republicans on their ballot. You change the system, you don't change the outcome. This is dependent upon voters and their individual choice. And you can't take that away from voters or try to get them to do what you want them to do.
Ted Simons: The idea of fraud, shenanigans, this kind of stuff going on, if you're running for a race I can find someone named Paul Johnson, get them on the ballot so no one knows which Paul Johnson. This kind of business, is that being addressed in this proposition?
Paul Johnson: Yes. Two issues -- first the district that bill was talking about a moment ago, he would have had one person to choose from in the general election. He's right; it had never turn the over from one party to the next. Meaning there was no choice in the general election. This, the voters will have a choice. It will be two Republicans, but one of those Republicans is going to go appeal to democrats. Specifically to your question --
Ted Simons: Hold on. Is that accurate representation of that district?
Paul Johnson: Absolutely. Here's why. I won on a 3-1 Republican district as a democrat when I was a city council person. I ran against one other person. I knocked on their doors. I listened. And it probably made me more conservative than most of my colleagues. I certainly was for -- I wasn't for tax increases, I looked for ways to reduce regulation. Why did I do that? I think candidates are a product of who they talk to. If the only persons they're speaking to are the far ideal call left or right, they trend in that direction. On the fraud issue, in 2010, we had 14 Republican and homeless individuals who changed their party registration on one day, and they ran as green party candidates in democratically competitive districts. Because they thought they could dissuade votes against them that. Was orchestrated by the majority leadership position in the legislature. We found that out in a court trial. So here's what I would tell you -- if you're looking at fraud or if you're looking at people who are going to do those shenanigans, you have all that you would want in the two-party system. My system doesn't guarantee that goes away but you wouldn't get on the ballot with one signature like you can today.
Ted Simons: Address that, please.
Bill Montgomery: The signature requirements can be addressed without having to do away with our election system. We can simply go in and make sure independent candidates don't have to collect signatures to a greater degree than partisan candidates have to. If that's the problem, we can address it. We, do it in a more focused manner. But I gotta tell you, this comparison to municipal elections is not an apples-to-apples comparison. When you run in a municipal election, there's no party affiliation that shows up on the ballot. It truly is nonpartisan. This initiative doesn't do that. You the still show up on the ballot with a party affiliation. And because of the wide open way in which people are able to register as not just voters, but as candidates, you could put yourself down as the free food candidate, or the less taxes candidate. Or the Reagan Republican candidates. You're going to see consultants go out and spend a lot of money testing messages for what people should be registered as, that will resonate with voters and get votes. It's not going to be about message and policy. It's going to be about the politics of simple communication and persuasion on what you put on a ballot.
Paul Johnson: It is exactly like a city election. In a city election you run in an open primary, all candidates run all voters can vote for them regardless of whether they're Republicans, democrats, or independents and the top two vote getters go to the next level. This does give the voter and the candidate the ability to describe who they are. I think that's a good thing. And I think the voters will also.
Ted Simons: The idea that there's too much gridlock, too much extremism, that there's no cooperation, it's my way or the highway, more so than in the past. First of all, is that valid, secondly.
Ted Simons: How do we address something like that?
Bill Montgomery: Well, I don't think it's valid at the state level. At the state level we've got a balanced budget, we've got 450 million put away in a rainy day fund, more money has gone back into K-12 education and health care, and at the same time, we're the number one entrepreneurial state in the nation, and we're in the top 10 for job growth. If we want to talk gridlock and look at the federal level, this doesn't address that. This addresses more state level races and more county level races than anything else. So I think what we see here is an effort to spin off of voter cynicism, which has existed over 230 years in this country anyway, and try to sell this as a way to address it. You can't change voter behavior by changing the system.
Ted Simons: But is there other voter cynicism now in recent years than there has been in the past?
Bill Montgomery: I think it's cyclical. We've seen it over the course of our nation's political history that we go through those periods of time. When that does occur, I would say that it's the responsibility of parties and candidates for office regardless of the level, to be able to engage voters to be able to have a message, a policy approach that gets them involved. An election system like this can't do that.
Ted Simons: The idea that there is no gridlock, that one party is in control of a state legislature and they're get can their agenda done and they are doing things they think are best for the state, there is no gridlock, there may not be a lot of cooperation, but there is within the party that holds the power the people put them there.
Paul Johnson: Two things. The first I would tell you is this -- the only thing that party politics cares about is who has the majority and who wants the majority. If you have the majority, you block the minority out. If you're the minority, you throw rocks. There's no reason for cooperation. At the federal level, or at the state level. I can tell you also that this does affect the federal level because the congressional running will be affected by an open legislation. At the legislative level, I'm happy to make certain this is what this campaign is about. If you think the way the legislature works is OK, if you like that system, if you like the things they've been doing to this state, this probably isn't your measure. But if you believe as I do, and as many other people do, that this system is failing us, it's failing us in education, it's failing us on economic development, it's failing us on jobs, and it's failing because the two sides aren't willing to listen to one another. I don't really just blame it on one side. I think both sides hold equal fault with not being willing to cross the aisle and to work with one another to address our major issues.
Ted Simons: I know you've described this as an open invitation to disaster as opposed to open government. That being said, why not give it a shot? If it doesn't work, go back to the old system and move on. Why not see if this possibly could work?
Bill Montgomery: Because this is another problem with this is that it's being done through the initiative process, where it has a voter protection act over it. You'd have to go back to voters, spend another million dollars in order to get the signatures to get it back on the ballot to fix it. Experiments in trying to affect voter outcome have failed every single time we've tried it in this state. Previously there wasn't enough of an effort on the part to try to educate the voters or make them aware of what not just the intended consequences were, but the foreseeable consequences. We sought to limit the amount of individual contributions because would it force candidates to talk to more people, engaging voters resulting in more people talking about policy and better candidates. We tried with term limits, because then we would have a turnover. Voters would have to be more effect engaged to find out who the next candidate was. We tried it with clean elections. If we gave people publicly funded money they would have to go out and talk to more people, they wouldn't be so concerned about fund-raising and there would be more candidates running. Then we tried it with the independent redistricting commission. All this talk about competitive districts was supposed to have been resolved with that. That didn't work either. This cannot deliver what it purports to promise.
Ted Simons: Isn't this a case of a party in power likes things the way they are? A party that's not necessarily in power or independent and others say we've got to change something because we got to get it more balanced, we've got to find a way to maneuver and get more of a say and get more cooperation. Isn't that what's going on?
Paul Johnson: Not at all. What you really find is, there are two parts to the party who's in power. The part they want to get rid of, the people who are moderates, the people like the Jack Jewetts and the Burton Barr who for many years made up the major pillars of the Republican party. Clean elections I believe did have some problems. It allowed more extreme people to be you elected -- elected, but to say reforms don't work, giving women the right to vote work the. Also making certain we -- allowed getting rid of -- here's the one that worked the best -- Barry Goldwater. Harry Rosenflag, and Nick Ushuedall went into the city government in the 1940s because we had a corrupt government that didn't work. They implemented an open election and it changed the way the system worked.
Ted Simons: We have to stop it there. Gentlemen, it's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
Ted Simons: We now turn our attention to proposition 115. This is a constitutional amendment that was referred to the ballot by state lawmakers. It changes the way judges are appointed in the state's three largest counties and makes a number of other changes to Arizona's judicial system. Speaking for the measure is Republican state representative Justin pierce. Speaking against the measure is Sandra good win of the league of women voters of Arizona. Thank you for joining us. Let's start exactly, give me a better definition. What does this proposition call for?
Justin Pierce: I think that the key provisions of the proposition expands the choice that the Governor will have to make selections to -- to these judicial posts. The current system calls for a constitutional floor of three candidates. One thing our history tells us about the commissions that send these names to the Governor is that they are -- they are using that constitutional floor of three, and they are sending only three. What the proposition would do is expand that to require that this commission send more than that to the Governor; it would require eight names to the Governor. That's one of the major changes. Another major change would be the manner in which members are appointed to the commission. And then my favorite -- well, not favorite necessarily -- but one I think just simply makes sense, a change in the age that our judges have to require constitutionally. They are no longer qualified under our state constitution to be judges once they hit the age of 70. This would change that to 75.
Ted Simons: Okay. In general, from what we just heard, why are you against some of these ideas?
Sandra Goodwin: Well, in all due respect, I think proposition 115 is a brazen attempt by the executive and legislative branches to control the judicial branch. I see that as the writers of the U.S. and Arizona Constitution meant to have a separation of powers, and they meant to have checks and balances. By the legislature becoming so aggressive into taking control of these nominating commissions. For instance, the ballot measure in 1974, the Governor had 10 appointees to the judicial nominating commissions. And the state bar association nominated five lawyers. We had the laypeople and the lawyers. Under proposition 115 -- and it appears to me it's also a solution to a nonproblem, I don't know that anybody's unhappy with the judiciary -- but the Governor would have complete control almost of that commission. They get 15 appointments, she or he, would get 15 appointments and the state bar would be reduced to choosing one. Already we have a great deal of power shift going on there.
Ted Simons: Let's get this idea, critics say this is a solution in search of a problem. What is wrong with the way judges are appointed and selected, nominated right now?
Justin Pierce: Ted, to get to that point, I'll point you to the last round of -- actually the last three rounds of Supreme Court nominees, which Governor Brewer has had in her term. She's had three. She's had to choose from five people in those three rounds, because the commission has sent two names to her, the same two names in three different rounds. So again, five people to choose. From -- here's what's wrong with that. I have a list of the judges who were to be considered by the commission. I say judges: people to be considered. Let me just point out some of the judges, Judge Michael Brown who's been on the court of appeals for five years, was a city attorney, was a partner at one of the most prestigious law firms in the area. John Gammel, 11 years on the court of appeals, has been the Chief Judge, Vice Chief Judge. Phil Hall has been the chief deputy county attorney for a county, has been eight years on the Superior Court, 11 years on the Court of Appeals. Just one more, Judge Winthrop has been on the court of appeals for 10 years, was with the law firm of one of the most prestigious firms for 10 years. These people were considered, and it is said the Governor shouldn't have those people to consider to appoint to the bench. How could you say that those people are not meritorious or qualified to be considered?
Ted Simons: Sounds like you see a problem in the way the merit selection process goes right now. How do you respond?
Sandra Goodwin: I believe that the names that the Commission sends to the Governor are the top most qualified, and the Constitution currently says that you have to have a balance of parties. You can't send up three Republicans, three Democrats or whatever. Three is the bottom you can send up. If Prop 115 passes, you're required to send up eight, Mary Schroeder of the appellate court says there's no way that we have eight qualified candidates all the time, for all of these positions. If they are not -- but one more point. Those eight do not have to have a balance of political party. They can all be Republicans, they can all be Democrats. Right now the Constitution requires a balance.
Ted Simons: The current system is considered a national model by many around the country. Again, take away those names. There may be situations with those names, relationships, history, we can't get into right now. But other places around the country are looking at this as a model. Why aren't we embracing it as opposed to you wanting to change it?
Justin Pierce: My argument, Ted, is we are embracing it. This is not a wholesale change of the system. My view, these are minor tweaks. Frankly, it was the view of those who came to the table to negotiate this. This wasn't a group of people who came to the table and said, merit selection is not working, we need to throw it out the window. This was a recognition that there are weaknesses in the system. That everything from the age limit to you're about to vote here next month, I'm assuming we're all going vote and those of us in Maricopa County are going to have a list of 75 or 80 judges. There's no way the voter can really know more. This will create some transparency in that process, give more information to the voter. And just briefly, on the issue of this being an overtaking by two branches and the separation of powers, the reality is our federal system is a system where two of the branches of government are completely involved in the decision of who that third branch is. This at least has buffer in between.
Ted Simons: Why not something more similar to what we see on the federal level?
Sandra Goodman: 24 of the states have this, and we're admired all over the United States for this system. 21 states have a system where they use part merit selection, part electing judges, part appointing judges. We're seen as a model throughout the entire country. But I would like to say one more thing about what Representative Pierce said about the committee that worked out this compromise. We, the League of Women Voters, had an opportunity to interview, to speak with the people from the legal community who were in this -- in these meetings, supposedly developing a compromise. What we found out was they felt bullied, they felt threatened, they felt coerced. If they didn't go along with this and chose not to oppose it, the next legislative session would bring forth a ballot measure that would eliminate the merit system totally.
Ted Simons: Doesn't sound like much of a compromise?
Justin Pierce: I'm a practicing attorney myself, I'm familiar with the state bar, the Arizona Judicial Council, the Arizona Judges Association. These are all people came to the table to negotiate this deal. I've not known any of those groups on any other ballot measure that I'm familiar with to be bullied. I think they feel pretty confident that they can stand on their merits and make a decision say we support this or don't support this. We don't hear them making those statements. We hear that from groups representing other groups saying, this is what they told me. The reality is they are not here at the table. Based on conversations I've had, I don't think they would sit at this table and say the same thing.
Ted Simons: The idea of the state bar, supporters of the proposition, the state bar has simply too much power and too much influence in this particular selection process. How do you respond to that?
Sandra Goodman: With only five members in the judicial nominating committee? And they send the judicial nominating committee with their five state bar, they just nominate. The bar association just nominates. The Governor ends up appointing. If she doesn't like it or he doesn't like it, they can do something about it.
Ted Simons: Why not trust the state bar, on these kinds of matters?
Justin Pierce: The state bar will still have a role. Well, number one, the state bar right now only sends recommended names to the Governor, she has to pick one of those. This would change that. They would still, though, be able to provide input on the names. The difference is actually -- when you talk about a compromise coming together, the state bar will get an appointment to this committee, unlike the current system. Governor won't have a choice, so the committee or the bar will actually have more direct control under the current system.
Ted Simons: With so much influence, added influence now on the Governor's end, how does this not push politics more into the judicial process? The judge selection process, and nomination process, for that matter?
Justin Pierce: Again, I guess maybe it's a matter of how we view the members of the commission. I mean, the suggestion under that view is that these people are their just to do the bidding of the Governor. And I think that for those that have attended these meetings would know these are independently thinking people. These five attorney members who will now be appointed by the Governor under this system, they are still members of the state bar of Arizona. They are independent thinkers, they are going to be there to do the job they are constitutionally required to do.
Ted Simons: Indeed. But in terms of politics, they will be appointed by the Governor, and this particular governor who sees things in a particular light. Are you prepared for the future with a different governor who might see things in a different light? Are you prepared for that kind of change?
Justin Pierce: Yes. Because I don't believe--If the committee members take their duties seriously, which I have every belief that they will, then what they will do is identify and evaluate candidates based on their merit, and provide a list to the Governor.
Ted Simons: What's wrong with that?
Sandra Goodman: I don't believe that they can be so magnanimous and so nonpolitical. I think it is absolutely introducing politics into the courts. I see the blindfold on Lady Justice slipping, and I see them peeking out underneath it and saying, let's see, who in my court do I know that's on this commission? Who do I know that I can influence?
Justin Pierce: Ted, to that point though, that's exactly the criticism that has gone on in the current system, from a lot of people who say that's exactly what is going on, even from members of - even from members that are appointed by the Governor, who are sent by the bar. All of the members, it's still a very political process, it's done behind the scenes. They have executive sessions. Frankly, in this last go-round, as I've identified several judges, I think you would have a hard time arguing are not qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. Our current Chief Justice who sits on that commission urged the members of the committee to send up more names and they vetoed her.
Ted Simons: How do you respond to that?
Sandra Goodman: Coming from Prescott, Arizona, and the fact that Bob Brutinel is now appointed to the Supreme Court justice this last time, I'm feeling very comfortable about it because he's absolutely one of the finest and best candidates they could have chosen.
Ted Simons: The idea that the current system is already political, you were mentioning pushing politics into the system. We've heard it'll already political.
Sandra Goodman: There's no system, that we have discovered across the United States that does not have some politics. It would be naive to say politics doesn't enter it in some way. The idea and the goal is to eliminate it as much as possible. That's the goal of the constitutional amendment the way it stands now, the way it was passed in 1974. I'd like to say I don't hear the great roar and the great problem with the system the way it is. We just don't hear it.
Justin Pierce: Ted, can I address? Because we agree on one thing here and that's for here, Justice Brutinel is more than qualified to be on the Supreme Court. What I'm talking about in the latest rounds is the newest appointments before the Governor now, which she has not made. Even in that round, in the last nearly 40 years there have only been three times this commission has sent up more than three names, including the situation of Justice Brutinel. Was Justice Brutinel a great choice? He was. But who should be making the decision? That's the point. Should it be the commission boxing the Governor into three names? Or should the Governor have a list of nine names? Or I've listed off several. And let the Governor choose. Now, the Governor is accountable to us. If we don't like her choices we can take action. We can't under the current system.
Ted Simons: I want to get to that point. Supporters will say the Governor is elected and accountable and the state bar is not. Valid?
Sandra Goodman: Yes.
Ted Simons: To the argument?
Sandra Goodman: Yes. I believe that the Governor is accountable to the people. I do have one question, I've been musing over it lately. This legislation, this kind of proposal, this ballot measure was written when there was a governor of a certain party in office. It hasn't been too many years ago that we've had a governor of another party. Would you be as happy with the kinds of things recommended if you had a governor of a different party making all these appointments.
Ted Simons: Let me redirect that appointment. Why wasn't this pushed this hard when there was a Democrat in the governor's office?
Justin Pierce: I think this has been an issue that's been debated for a long time. There have been ideas along the way. Why it wasn't actually adopted then, I can't really speak to that, but what I can say that is that I do not believe this is an issue of, well, because we have a Republican in the Governor's office, this is now important. There might be a Democrat in office at some point in the future. Frankly, I have no problem with the change, even though I'm a Republican, with a Democrat governor. And in the legal community from my own experience, I'm familiar with people who feel like they don't have a shot in the process because this commission is going to really narrow these choices.
Ted Simons: We've only got 30 seconds. You buying that?
Sandra Goodman: No, I think they can always apply. I think it's an open process, they can apply to the commission. It's like anything, you go in and you're applying for a job. You don't get chosen. Do you go and cry and try to bully or coerce people into agreeing you were the best candidate and should have been chosen?
Justin Pierce: They can apply, but there have been dozens of applicants--
Ted Simons: We have to stop it right there. Great discussion
Ted Simons: Finally tonight, a debate on prop 120, a constitutional amendment referred to the ballot by state lawmakers who want the state constitution to declare Arizona sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over public lands and natural resources within the state's boundaries. Speaking in support of proposition 120 is state representative Chester Crandall of Heber, who sponsored the measure, and representing the no is Sandy Barr of the Sierra club. Let's talk about what this referendum calls for. Why is this necessary?
Ted Simons: "Arizona Horizon" vote 2012 coverage continues tonight with a debate on proposition 120, a constitutional amendment referred to the ballot by state lawmakers who want the state constitution to declare Arizona sovereign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over public lands and natural resources within the state's boundaries. In support of proposition 120 is state representative Chester Crandell, who sponsored the measure, and representing the no on proposition 120 committee is Sandy Bahr, Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra club. Thank you for joining us.
Sandy Bahr: Thank you.
Chester Crandell: Appreciate the opportunity.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about what this calls for, why is this necessary?
Chester Crandell: The thing that it calls for is to put in the constitution to declare we are a sovereign state and we have sovereign rights to get equal footing with the rest of the nation east of the border of Colorado. Also gives us an opportunity to tap into some of the resources that we have. To help with our state because we have less amount of private property that we can tax. This would give us an opportunity to then derive some income from the resources that are there that we could use to help offset some of the expenses without having to raise taxes on our people in the state of Arizona.
Ted Simons: Why is this not a good idea?
Sandy Bahr: Well, it's a really bad idea, and it's also unconstitutional. First of all, we're talking about national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests. They are all part of our national heritage. I think it's something that we as Americans all value. Having the Arizona legislature have control over these national Treasures frankly just scares me thinking about what the legislature has done with the public lands we have such as our state parks, that it should make everyone concerned. The legislature has not funded them properly. They have swept the dollars that were intended for the parks and many of them have had to close at least seasonally. The other thing is we agreed, we agreed when we became a state that we weren't going to claim these lands and what this legislature is proposing is that we revoke the conditions under which we became a state. That's pretty serious.
Ted Simons: That last point first. Responds, please.
Chester Crandell: I think the issue is you need to go back and look at the history. I have a list of -- I find it very interesting in the question of states and it looks very interesting that when you get to the eastern border of Colorado that all the states that came in before and came in after those received their private property. You have North Dakota, you have Oklahoma is a very interesting one. Oklahoma came in in 1907 and has all its property rights and the ability to utilize the land there. Where you have Utah, Wyoming, you have Idaho, that came in before. So why are we on an unequal footing with the rest of the states east of the Colorado border? It has nothing to do with when we came in as a state but there must have been something that triggered we want to save this for something and I think it's the amount of resources and things that we have that we don't have access to.
Ted Simons:The other point regarding the constitutionality of this, almost everyone who has commented on this says it simply will not survive in the courts. First do you agree, secondly, is it worth that fight?
Chester Crandell: I think it's worth the fight. Other states have done it. History shoes in 1928 the first western state to come in after the 13 original colonies was Ohio, and there's evidence in history that they had to go through the same fight to get their private property. So why doesn't Arizona have that same ability to go back and have that same fight?
Ted Simons: Respond, please.
Sandy Bahr: Oh, sure. First of all, Arizona is special. We do have a lot of public land. That's one of the things that is great about this state. It's part of our economic engine. People don't come here to hang out in Phoenix sprawl. They come to see places like Grand Canyon. It's a really important part of our heritage here. Second of all, the state was conveyed land when we became a state. We have over -- about 9.3 million acres of state trust lands. Look what has been done with those. The legislature has defunded the land department as well. So they can't properly manage those state trust lands. So even Governor Brewer, even Governor Brewer, who has said that she supports state sovereignty on a similar bill, said, look, this would break our budget, and we have to respect the federal system. This is unconstitutional.
Ted Simons: How do we -- folks will look -- we can barely keep rest stops open. How are we supposed to manage the Grand Canyon?
Chester Crandell: I think the issue that we need to look at is there are a lot of resources out there. Back when the timber industry was going good in the state of Arizona, up until the early -- late '70s, where the endangered species act came in, we generated what's called stumpage fees for our educational system. We no longer get those. There are mining royalties that are being paid to the federal government on the BLM land. There's only BML land in the western states. Over $2 billion a year being generated in the western states. We have a huge mining industry in the state of Arizona. These are things that could be used to manage the resources and still give us economic value into the state of Arizona.
Ted Simons: The idea of private advertising some of these lands, letting private companies manage them, extract resources from them, that would be how you would pay for managing the lands. Viable?
Sandy Bahr: No. It's not. First of all, a lot of these lands have value other than letting some foreign mining company come in and take over and return very little to the state. That's a very bad idea. If you look -- you're going to open up the land around Grand Canyon for uranium mining? Despite the fact that Arizonans and Americans have all said no, that's a bad idea, it has a higher value, the value of these lands goes well beyond what it is for us today. It's for future generations. Some short term profit that will mostly be pocketed by private corporations, that is not something that is going to help fund our lands. I will point to the state parks again. The privatization schemes they have put forward for state parks have not flown.
Ted Simons: Last question. How to get past the supremacy clause here?
Chester Crandell: The supremacy clause?
Ted Simons: Yeah
Chester Crandell: I think here again, this goes into the constitution, nothing happens until the state legislature then passes a law that says we are going to take over the management or do something. That's when it will come about.
Ted Simons: Mostly symbolic then?
Chester Crandell: Not symbolic because I think it's very important that we sends the message that we are a sovereign state.
Sandy Bahr: The legislature can't do that. Some of us still think it's important and that we're part of the United States.
Ted Simons: We need to stop it there. Good discussion. Good to have you both here. Thank you. Appreciate that. Join us tomorrow on "Arizona Horizon" when we'll take a look at three more ballot propositions. Two that deal with taxes, and one that changes the rules for state trust lands. Video of tonight's program and all of our other election coverage is available on our vote 2012 website at AZPBS.org/vote 2012. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us. You have a great evening.