Journalists’ Roundtable

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Join us for another edition of the Journalists’ Roundtable for a recap of the week’s news from three local journalists.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon's" journalists' round table. I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are: Amanda Crawford from Bloomberg News, Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal, and Steve Goldstein from KJZZ radio. In a lopsided - decision, the U.S. Supreme court struck down part of an Arizona voter registration law. Amanda, what was the issue here? Give us a general overview.

Amanda Crawford: The Arizona law and you'll remember the debate was prop 200 back in 2004. It kind of launched all of the immigration oriented legislation we've seen in the 10 years since then but the law went after both the federal form for voter registration and the state form and the supreme court said you cannot put requirements that could burden people's ability to register to vote on the federal form. That's what this decision came down to is the federal form.

Ted Simons: And the federal form is basically a post card.

Mike Sunnucks: Basically. It was part and parcel all of these cases that we've gone through with the feds. What rights do states have, where does federal law preempt state law in these things and the court wrote that the decision shows you where the court was at on this. Said the federal law preempted what the state was trying to do.

Ted Simons: Scalia wrote the decision. He also said by the way if you want to get around this, here's what you need to do.

Steve Goldstein: Watching Paul bender, it was confusing to say this was a 7-2. It was almost like a 6-1. Scalia is almost saying Arizona if you can prove something in the future and come back to us and bring a new case forward and yet Paul Bender said it's again almost a solution in search of a problem. It doesn't seem like -- voter fraud and voter suppression, it's almost like to get the people excited on both sides, it's not really as large a problem as it had been in past decades.

Ted Simons: Another option was you can go to the federal agency overseeing federal elections and say hey, if you add this provision, if you add it, we can add it.

Amanda Crawford: Right and Arizona went to that commission before and they didn't act or they tied or something on the law and we didn't pursue it any further. Terry Goddard was attorney general at that point and he dropped it. What Horne's saying Goddard should have appealed and we would have won on appeal. I don't think that's so clear. There's a lot of experts who think that we wouldn't. It was a really weird Supreme Court decision, though, for them to go like hint, hint, you didn't have to come the whole way to the Supreme Court, you needed to go to the commission and fill out some paperwork. It was kind of a mundane approach to the Supreme Court decision if you will.

Mike Sunnucks: Louisiana had gone to that agency and gotten some additions and changes to the card. So they could follow that road. It was -- the headline where it got struck down, it was a little more nuanced than that.

Amanda Crawford: This isn't an Arizona issue exclusively. There are other states that have similar laws. Alabama, Georgia and Kansas, for example, are the ones that are most similar and whose laws could also be affected by the supreme court decision and whatever Arizona does next, they come and go to the commission and get the permission to change the requirements to the federal form.

Mike Sunnucks: Those are states that lead on other immigration things.

Ted Simons: Let's go back to what you were talking about. This was a solution in search of a problem. We had secretary of state ken Bennett on here and he said anything you can do to keep any kind of fraud happening is worth doing.

Steve Goldstein: And I respect where Secretary of State Bennett is coming from. Based on speaking with experts, I think he's running for governor. He wants to reinforce the fact that he has supporters who feel the same way he does. And it's not to say we shouldn't get rid of all of this but it's not solving thing. We're spinning out more lawsuits. It's a problem that isn't really there. Not to say there isn't a minuscule problem there but something to push all this political capital after shows something else is involved.

Amanda Crawford: There's a fine line here and what the Supreme Court has said in multiple decisions is there's a fine line between protecting the vote as the Republican pushers of this bill, this law had wanted, which is, you know, protect the vote from fraud, protect the vote from noncitizen voting. But the other side is you have to make voting accessible to people who can legally vote and that fine line is what they're afraid this law has crossed.

Ted Simons: You talk about minorities, students, some of the elderly, it's difficult for them, say those who are opposed to this law, to go through all of this paperwork when again the federal law that this is based on, it was designed to make it easy.

Mike Sunnucks: Republicans really fought for it back a couple of decades ago all along so this is part of that debate and their approach on this issue. Native-Americans are part of that group that faces challenges from laws like these.

Amanda Crawford: The reality is let's look at the people who experts say have the most trouble complying. They are most likely to vote democratic. This is not lost on the politicians pushing these bills. I'm not impugning their motives. I'm not saying they're not also trying to protect the vote but the politics can't be taken away from here. The democrats want the voters to have more access and Republicans don't.

Ted Simons: Republicans are pushing for these things because it helps them in their campaigns, as well. Alright. We will no doubt see more of this story somewhere along the line.

Steve Goldstein: Next week, section five of the voting rights act, Supreme Court will vote on that, which could affect Arizona, as well.

Ted Simons: We'll hang on for that one. Closer to home, a court hearing on the racial profiling case mike with the Maricopa county sheriff's office. Apparently, they're going to go ahead and appeal this ruling that the sheriff's office engaged in racial profiling.

Mike Sunnucks: They're going to appeal the order from the federal judge that they mistreated or racially profiled Hispanics and the appeal's going to be kind of multipronged. They kind of questioned some of the judge's rulings but they're going to talk about what the feds did. The deputies were trained by Homeland Security in some of these enforcement things they're going to say, you guys trained us and isn't it your fault? We'll see how many different kinds of things they kind of throw at the wall here and who pays for this? Is it county going to pay for this? They're still figuring it out. Or Joe could go to his legal defense fund and try to hire a private attorney.

Steve Goldstein: I wonder if this comes back to the court appointed monitor. It seems like based on what his attorneys said, we're willing to go along with this, we've sort of stopped doing the sweeps, even a year ago so we haven't been doing those most recently. There's a key with the monitor, he does not want again because we've gone through the recall, which didn't happen. Sheriff Arpaio was re-elected so why should this person who was elected by the voters again have a court appointed monitor?

Mike Sunnucks: They've done a lot to step away from the immigration race. It's not on their website. You search mug shots, you don't see immigrants on there. They say they're rescuing people from the desert in their press releases. They're having everybody go through training on how to treat people of different races, treat them the same. All those types of things but I think Steve's right. When they talk about a monitor, that kind of raises things over there and they really don't want that.

Amanda Crawford: It's about control. The sheriff doesn't want to lose the control over who's working in his office. He said that would be an overstep of the federal government but it becomes hard to figure out how you get a notoriously -- people will say a notoriously corrupt office, but an office that has, you know, fought against efforts by the federal government to change its jails and other practices over a period of years.

Ted Simons: Reluctant.

Amanda Crawford: Reluctant, that's the word I'm looking for.

Steve Goldstein: We said related to Medicaid expansion, the governor is trying to help her legacy. I think the sheriff at this point, I've said this before, he's the ultimate political animal. He was not anti-illegal immigrant until Andrew Thomas made it a major issue. Then he jumped in. Now, I feel like he's sliding away from that and not that he's going away but I think the idea is a court appointed monitor, that's going to look bad for his legacy. Let's fight that. He'll go back to doing his normal thing.

Ted Simons: Couldn't you quietly have the court appointed monitor in there? The court appointed monitor is something the department of justice was interested in and last week they had a hearing in which there's the justice department saying we want to be involved in the talks, too. You may have an all-encompassing solution. If you're the sheriff and you want to become a good old Joe Arpaio again like you were before the immigration thing flared up, why would you continue making headlines?

Mike Sunnucks: They view a monitor as a receivership, like they're giving up control to basically the Obama administration, to the feds. Politically I think there's a concern critics of the sheriff said say you get somebody in there and you turn on the lights and all the cockroaches spread and you start to uncover a lot of things that they might not want to find. Both sides see a political side to this and I think that's his end game.

Steve Goldstein: Let me throw in one note of cynicism. The more it's out here, the more money can be raised, maybe not for him but for some protege.

Amanda Crawford: And why would he want to continue the headlines? Have we ever seen a moment at any point in the 20 years that Arpaio has run for any kind of headlines?

Ted Simons: My position I was just trying to counter the other idea that he might be sliding away from all of this, doesn't want those kinds of headlines. I'm wondering, putting that out there.

Mike Sunnucks: This issue has been a winner for him politically. He's been re-elected, he's raised a lot of money. He'll raise more money on this and while he is stepping back from this and while I don't think he is a true believer in the immigration cause, it's been good for him.

Ted Simons: And the challenge, the appeal kind of his base on a couple of things that the judge said during a hearing, the ruling that the judge made was very comprehensive in some ways but a little cryptic in other ways and he clarified from that last ruling he did so last week and it's taken a week for the sheriff's attorneys basically to say this business of you can't detain someone until you've contacted ice and these sorts of things, we're challenging on that.

Steve Goldstein: There's a lot to parse through and we can look at judge Snowe's ruling, we've seen an obvious victory against the sheriff but if you look closely, I don't know. I'm not a lawyer, I'm not sure exactly how it will work out but there are certainly some changes. I'm sure absolutely.

Amanda Crawford: It will be really interesting to see when there is a ruling in the department of justice case because it's different evidence but if they came up with a decidedly different ruling against the sheriff, if they didn't find evidence of racial profiling, that could be really remarkable to have two different cases with different conclusions.

Ted Simons: And the headlines would keep rolling in for better or worse. U.S. Senate immigration reform update, it sounds like we have a compromise now on this idea. The border surge to win over for some votes?

Steve Goldstein: That was the entire aim to be cynical. It's about getting as many senators on board especially Republican senators on board as possible. It looks like all the democrats, 54 who are going to be on board with this but other than the gang of eight, not that much. This is a matter of potentially adding 20,000 more border patrol agents, another 350 miles of border fencing and about $30 billion, which is the estimate, but since it's estimated $30 billion, I'm sure it's a heck of a lot more than that. To get a lot of Republicans to go along with that amount of spending is interesting, as well. It's border security, you can get more Senate votes, maybe that pushes it through the house.

Miike Sunnucks: Going to go to a lot of those defense and security contractors that have a lot of influence in Washington. Maybe they can build one of those visible fences like Boeing tried to build down there but they could get 70 votes in the Senate after this. And there's drones. The drone issue is going to pop up this, 24/7 drones over the border and that has its own debate in terms of the aerospace defense industry on one side and our big brother state on the other.

Ted Simons: $3.2 billion just in the security surveillance drone aspect alone. That's a lot of buckage.

Amanda Crawford: It really impacts the amount of savings that the congressional budget office said they would come up with. They estimated that in the first 10 years that the reforms in the bill would save $175 billion and $700 billion over the following ten years. You're eating away at that.

Ted Simons: Wasn't that the idea? Once they found out and said you're going to save all this money, wasn't that the idea? Let's use some of this money but get that security issue confirmed so we can get Republicans on board. Isn't that what happened?

Steve Goldstein: It's what it's all about. I'm still interested in what happens in the house because I think most of us thought the Senate would approve this. The house, though, is going to get stuck on this path to citizenship. They can say border security all they want, that is the big issue. If this were a temporary or something program, fine. Citizenship is going to be almost impossible in the house.

Ted Simons: What happens in the house?

Mike Sunnucks: The mentality is there not to pass anything. They can't pass anything. You would think they wouldn't be able to pass this. It's a chance to oppose the president, oppose the democrats and moderates. Their kits -- their constituents, the Republican caucus, they're prone to oppose this. I don't see what their motivation is to support this. The border security is part of it because the defense security companies have a ton of influence there and you could say look Boeing, all these companies have a lot of jobs in their district. They're not built out there.

Steve Goldstein: I don't want to contradict myself but I did speak with Jon Kyl this week who was involved with the 2007 immigration reform. And he said okay, Senate is fine, he said the key thing on his side, a former politician, is that the politics have to be removed from the situation for both democrats and Republicans. Democrats really want to have to get a bill and Republicans don't want to be the guys who stopped a bill. So he says there are enough people he called of good faith that there will be key things they can find compromise. It's going to be razor thin.

Mike Sunnucks: There's a huge debate in the Republican party on this politically. The Republicans say we've alienated Hispanics so much. We need to have a big tent. On the other side the folks say you're going to legalize all these immigrants, they're going to be democrats. They think Obama's the one that did this, they're lower economic status, they're prone to be democrats so we're going to stack the deck against ourselves.

Ted Simons: How much in the house -- how many Republicans in the house, Tea Party types would be upset, $30 billion price tag?

Amanda Crawford: This is an area you can spend money on if you're in the Tea Party. And you can spend money even though most analyses show we're at a rate of diminishing returns. There are a lot of studies showing that to get that last percent, to secure the border more than it is now and it is by every measure more now than it has ever been in our security is a big price tag and you do run up against diminishing returns.

Mike Sunnucks: The legal path to amnesty is the big sticking point and that's the elephant in the room.

Ted Simons: Congressman Franks a main sponsor of a house antiabortion bill that groups are saying one of the greatest measures they've seen in years, the most important, the most impactful, most others say it's going nowhere, the Senate will certainly not pass it and the president wouldn't sign it. Talk about the bill and talk about the mess that Congressman Franks got himself in into.

Mike Sunnucks: There restrict abortions after 20 weeks. Passed on a party line vote. It's another attempt by the pro life folks to push the envelope towards their end and further restrict abortion rights. It's not going to get past the president. No, it basically Brandish -- he's a conservative. A Republican made some comments this time about abortion and rape. I think they need to go through a training, just do not talk about that issue. Abortion is a hot enough issue. Every time Republicans seem to talk about that, we saw it in the Senate races, they lost because of that. Indiana had this problem, too. So he got in hot water for talking about rapes not ending in pregnancy a lot of times.

Amanda Crawford: Pregnancy from rape is rare.

Steve Goldstein: It didn't keep it from passing but it was interesting just to get into the minutia of this. He was the sponsor of the bill and because of his statement, okay, you're not the manager of this bill anymore, bye-bye. We're going to put out someone who's going to be a friendlier face.

Amanda Crawford: A Republican woman.

Steve Goldstein: And the exceptions for rape and incest that he didn't want were included.

Amanda Crawford: And what this bill does, it's modeled after a bill that had been passed in the past including in Arizona, we passed a 20 week abortion ban that was struck down. I think it was Idaho's was struck down. As of now, the Supreme Court precedent is you can't ban abortion prior to the point where the fetus or baby can survive outside of the womb which is generally at 24 weeks and there's another nuance. You're not hearing much in the national debate, and that is what happens at 20 weeks? At weeks is when a pregnant woman gets a more advanced sonogram that shows whether there's fetal anomalies, whether you learn your baby has a brain. Woman often abort because of fetal anomalies because they discover the child may have down syndrome, may have -- may not have a fully developed brain. Banning abortion at that point is seen by groups as really restrictive of the woman's rights and cruel.

Ted Simons: So again this is basically a way to justify the pro-life crowd for saying here's what we did, here's what we've done, it's not going to go future farther.

Mike Sunnucks: The issue's never going away. It's one of the central issues of American politics since roe V. Wade. It's a bellwether issue for so many people. If you have a different president in there, different Senate coming up, you bring it back up, again there's court challenges always on this and the folks on the anti-abortion side want to have less abortions. So anything they can do to move the puck that way, they're going to try.

Steve Goldstein: Maybe this is a strategy but this is what makes him interesting. This is his one issue and he's a Congressman, not a legislator.

Ted Simons: And it is his one issue. This is what he is known for and will always be known for. You mentioned pucks. You're trying to get me to talk about the coyotes but we've got to talk about this initiative to repeal Medicaid expansion. The bill signed, passed, everything's a done deal, except for more than likely a court challenge regarding the super majority thing, and now we have former lawmakers saying not so fast.

Steve Goldstein: They are not big fans of the governor, Ron Gould got up during the state of the state address -- the interesting thing about these two is that it's almost like bitter politics again. These two are saying that folks like John McComish, Rich Crandall are traitors to the Republican party so therefore this is not what Arizona Republicans want. Somehow, repeal it or before it goes into effect, stop it in its tracks. They have to get 86,000 signatures to get it on the ballot. They're hoping for a lot of hot bases this summer so it's hard to collect those signatures.

Ted Simons: Regardless of whether or not it would pass, get it on the ballot, automatically delays implementation.

Amanda Crawford: It does. And it could delay people in Arizona who are uninsured getting coverage once the federal mandate goes into effect in January but getting it on the ballot is going to be the big challenge. Talking about doing this with volunteers. I don't think there's any example in modern political history in Arizona where you've gotten a voter's initiative on the ballot with voters. So unless someone comes in with some big cash to finance that collection, the signature collecting, it appears unlikely to make it to the ballot in the first place and once it does, there's the legal question about whether this is something you can even refer to the ballot.

Ted Simons: Indeed because part of a budget you can't refer and also something, there's another aspect, as well, correct? Is it something that has to do -- that deals with the welfare of the state and the wellbeing of the state? There are a couple of avenues I believe.

Mike Sunnucks: And the pro expansion side is the state chamber, hospitals, they have a lot of money, they raised money for commercials and for lobbying during the session when they passed this thing. They have the governor on their side, they have a lot of resources at their disposal. They could hire the petition gatherers to sit on their hands and not work for them. Unless these Tea Party folks get some money behind them, somebody in Las Vegas or something like that, they're going to have a hard time and it's hot and it's a complicated issue. Other than saying do you want to repeal Obamacare, you can't sit down with somebody outside of a library on the afternoon and explain the ins and outs. It's going to be a big challenge. I think the opponents' best shot is challenging the assessment as a tax.

Ted Simons: Two thirds majority.

Mike Sunnucks: If it quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

Ted Simons: Before we go, the coyotes.

Mike Sunnucks: My favorite team.

Ted Simons: I hope this will be one of those final times we talk about this because it seems to never end but it sounds like we could be headed towards the finish line.

Mike Sunnucks: The NHL has made it clear they need to get a deal pretty soon or they're going to sell them. The council met again today behind closed doors. Came out and said we might -- we're going to continue working on it. We might get a vote July 2nd. We've picked the can to yet another d-day on this. The sticking point is an arena deal between the city and this group of businessmen that want to buy the team and keep them here. They want to share some revenue, tickets, parking, to offset the price tag. That's tough go for the city. It's always been a tough go for anyone that wants to buy it. Everyone wants the team to stay. We've never been able to make the numbers work.

Steve Goldstein: July 2nd is after the NHL's board of governors, June 27th, and that's when the commissioner wanted this all settled.

Ted Simons: Indeed and we talked about this earlier this week. It sounds like it, we'll go to July 2nd but it sounds like if something doesn't happen by July second, the coyotes will be skating off.

Amanda Crawford: You can tell that officials, especially the new council, is very reluctant to pay millionaires money to come play in their town. And I think that issue's obviously, the sticking point. They had offered the last potential buyer $17 million a year to manage the stadium and when the new council came in they put it in their budget as $6 million. The fight to get it up, they're giving up on the hard stand they tried to take by saying we're not going to pay a lot of money.

Ted Simons: The revenue sharing idea, ticket surcharges, they think might bridge the gap.

Amanda Crawford: We haven't seen the details of that yet. It could be ticket sharing above a certain floor and let's remember that the coyotes have the worst attendance in the entire league. So if they put something like so many people in attendance to do the sharing-

Ted Simons: We've got to stop it right there. Thank you so much for joining us. And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

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