Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton talks about the latest city of Phoenix issues in his monthly appearance on Arizona Horizon.
Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," we'll ask Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton about how Senate Bill will affect city ordinances regarding discrimination. And an ASU law professor will talk about the legal aspects of SB 1062, next on "Arizona Horizon." Good evening, welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Three state senators who voted for a controversial right to refuse service bill now say they made a mistake and they want the Governor to veto the legislation. Senate Majority Whip Adam Driggs and Senators Steve Pierce of Prescott and Bob Worsley of Mesa say the bill has been mischaracterized by opponents and thus is causing the state immeasurable harm. Pierce and Worsley also say they voted yes to keep the Republican caucus from tearing apart. Worsley said he asked Senate President Andy Biggs to schedule a revote in the Senate but the President declined. If SB 1062 is approved by the governor, how will it impact city ordinances protecting the LGBT community? Here to talk about that and more in his monthly visit to "Arizona Horizon" is Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. Your thoughts on SB 1062.
Greg Stanton: I think the three senators are right, the Governor should veto that law, it's bad for the State of Arizona, bad for business, we shouldn't legalize discrimination. The city of Phoenix, just last year about a year ago the city passed a very important ordinance protecting disabled citizens or our lesbian, gay or LGBT community from discrimination, if 1062 were to pass it would up end that very important city ordinance. We sent a message about our values as a city, we want to support and celebrate our diversity, that it's great for our economy to pass ordinances that say that everyone is welcoming here. We've seen that Fortune 500 companies have passed similar policies and states that go in the other direction unfortunately will fall behind economically. 1062 is the wrong direction for our state.
Ted Simons: Were you surprised that the legislature passed, 1062? And are you surprised at the reaction to it?
Greg Stanton: Yes, I am surprised that the legislature went ahead and passed the bill. I do believe the Governor is going to veto it, do the right thing on that particular bill. But yes, I think the message was clear that divisiveness is really bad for business. If we want to be focused in on jobs and education and building this economy in the right direction, high wage jobs, educated work spores, science, technology, engineering and math kinds of jobs, companies that are interested in those jobs want to be in places that celebrate diversity that, welcome everyone to the workforce. They have sent a message that everyone person is valued and bills going in the other direction shows us that they are bad for the economy. We've tried divisiveness and it didn't work out so good for us. So I did -- was surprised the Legislature went ahead and passed this bill. The message is loud and clear, 1062 is bad for people, bad for business and deserves a veto.
Ted Simons: Yet those in support say that people, businesses should not be forced to act against their faith. Businesses, folks in Phoenix, should they be forced to act against their faith?
Greg Stanton: The reality is this. There are laws in place pointed out in a bipartisan way by the business community and many others that are very active in both political parties, laws are in place to protect people's religious freedoms in the workplace, et cetera. But when it comes to doing business in our community, in the city of Phoenix, we have spoken loud and clear through the mayor and council that we want an economy in which everyone is welcome, that everyone has a seat at the table. If you're going do business in the city of Phoenix, you're going provide public accommodation, you have to do so in a nondiscriminatory way. Discrimination is bad for the economy, bad for business and I do believe the existing laws provide the protections these people are seeking. This is an overreach and does deserve a veto by our governor.
Ted Simons: If existing laws do protect those people and this simply clarifies those existing laws and moves it from the government to a private transaction sector, first of all, is it wrong, and second, are you surprised at the reaction.
Greg Stanton: Particularly in cities like Phoenix that have gone the extra mile to protect our disabled and LGBT community, we want to do all we can to be supportive of our diverse communities. If the bill went in the opposite direction, that is the wrong direction for our city, the wrong direction for our state. It's wrong for people and business and I do believe again it deserves a veto by our governor.
Ted Simons: Last question on this. How wrong to business in Phoenix? What kind of impact if she signs it?
Greg Stanton: Just a passage has caused a national and international uproar, putting a spotlight on our state, sending a message once again unfortunately that Arizona is a divisive place. We're not a divisive place! The city I lead loves our diverse population. But when the legislature passes bills like this, unfortunately it sends a very wrong message, and of course it'll result in the kind of companies that we want to bring here, that we want to recruit here, that we want to add jobs here, high wage jobs, higher educated workforce, science, technology, engineering and math, those companies are less likely to come to a place that passes divisive laws. We saw in the past when we passed those laws, we will see it in the future. I'm confident our governor is going to veto this bad bill.
Ted Simons: Do you think Google would look at a bill like this -- they are considering Phoenix for the Google Fiber optic network -- do they look and see, hmmm, we'll have to wait and see?
Greg Stanton: I don't want to make it a specific company; I don't think it's fair to that company to be specific. In general, if you're in an industry where you have to hire a lot of highly educated people, exactly the kind of jobs and industries we're trying to build into our economy, those companies, those entrepreneurs look to cities and states that embrace their diverse populations. They don't want to go to places where laws are dividing people. They want to go to places where people are united and come together. That would make Google Fiber or incredibly important projects like that less likely in the future, if we engage in what I would describe as a self-inflicted wound and pass a bill that presents our state in a negative light.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about this Google Fiber network. What is it?
Greg Stanton: Well, Google Fiber is an internet product that can provide internet speeds up to 100 times what the internet is currently providing. You could download a movie in about seven seconds without the buffering and the time it takes. They have selected nine communities around the country to be at the forefront of this incredibly exciting project. I'm certainly supportive of it, we're doing it in partnership with Scottsdale mayor Lane, Tempe mayor mark Mitchell, all good friends of mine. We're going work very closely together to make sure Google Fiber does happen in our communities. It's good for education. Students that often watch lectures online can do so without wasting time as lectures are being downloaded. It can happen in an instant. You can download information much more quickly to do your job better. It's good for the economy, good for education, good for the digital divide. Those parts of town, they are going to offer free internet service. Not at the times speed but free internet as far as service, including neighbors not as wealthy as others, having full access to the internet is very important to education.
Ted Simons: And some of those neighborhoods are concerned about aboveground lines. Do they have to be aboveground lines? Can they be retrofitted to buried lines? What are you telling people?
Greg Stanton: First, some of it will be underground, some of it aboveground. They don't want new poles put up. They want to be able to attach Google Fiber infrastructure to existing lines. They are asking the city of Phoenix and Mesa -- excuse me, Tempe and Scottsdale, the three cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. What they are asking of the three cities that is we provide them the best team possible in terms of our public works team, our infrastructure teams, our planning teams. And we have an open mind so they can provide this incredibly important service to the people of our communities in as efficient a way as possible. Anyone that would make an investment of this size and magnitude we would be open-minded to. They are not asking for a subsidy, they just want our best mind and support and we plan to give it to them.
Ted Simons: No incentives offered to Google for this?
Greg Stanton: None, we were clear about that. They would say if any other companies are offering internet at these speed, you ought to do the exact same things for them as you're doing for us. I would do that. Someone willing to make an investment of this size and magnitude, for the future of my community, to give my city a competitive advantage, I would go crazy to not do all I can to make sure that project is successful. I plan to lead the way to make Google Fiber a success in our community.
Ted Simons: Time line for their decision?
Greg Stanton: We're meeting with them this week to show how willing we are to be as supportive as possible. They are going to give us a checklist of items they are going need from us in terms of topography, in terms of where some infrastructure is under our city streets. The sooner we can provide information the faster that we'll get a decision. It's not an if that they are coming to Phoenix. It's a question of when they are going to provide this service.
Ted Simons: Is this a group operation with the three cities? Could they say yes Phoenix, no Scottsdale, yes Tempe?
Greg Stanton: Yes, it could be not all the cities. Each individual city will work their own individual plan with their team. That being said, I want to send a message that this region is as welcoming and supportive of an entity as is important as Google Fiber for the goodness of the entire region. So believe me, I want Scottsdale and Tempe to be as excited and open-minded as I am. I believe Mayor Mitchell and Mayor Lane will be. This will be done successfully on a regional basis.
Ted Simons: Before you go, temporary restraining order regarding release time for workers here, what's blocked? What does this restraining order mean? Does release time continue?
Greg Stanton: There's a complicated legal situation, I'll give you the best answer I can in a short period. Judge Cooper said our existing release time needed to be changed. Last week at the City Council we made changes that complied with the judge's order. The change to the way we do release time, trying act in total good faith. Listening to what the judge has to say and making the appropriate changes. There will likely be continuing legal action about that. On the other hand one of our labor groups, the firefighters, actually challenged the city and said, no, you can't implement the changes the way Judge Cooper has asked because that might be a violation of our existing contract with them. There's a temporary restraining order on that regard. We're being pulled on both ends. We are working hard to make sure we're acting in complete good faith. When we get differing orders we're trying to balance those out so that we're acting in full compliance with the judge's orders. It's not always easy, it will get sorted out through the appellate court process. Right now we've got differing opinions, we're trying to appropriately sort those out.
Ted Simons: You're mentioning the activities that the vice chair and two other members of the City Council were not on board with this, using the bank of vacation time to allow the union workers to do union work, as opposed to release time. I think it was called a money laundering scheme. What's the difference between a bank of vacation time and the release time, in and of itself?
Greg Stanton: The use of the word "money laundering" is meant to incite, it's insinuating an illegal activity. You'll have to talk about what he has for an allegation of that nature. Sometimes they do a disservice to their own cause. When he accuses the majority of the council of that sort of thing, I'll leave it up to them. In the contract we would sign with each of the labor groups, the release time would be costed out, taken away from the benefits provided to the rest of the members of the labor group. Because Judge Cooper said a portion of that could no longer be used for union activities. We had to give that back to the labor groups. Instead of giving them money, which unfortunately is in short order at the city, it was given in vacation time they could then give out of their decision to the labor leaders for activities in furtherance of the interests of the labor groups. It was done with the exact purpose in mind, in good faith, to try to comply about exactly what Judge Cooper suggested the city had to do.
Ted Simons: But was that Judge Cooper's intent? Sounds to me like this idea, regardless of whether it was negotiated or not, the idea of working on the taxpayers' dime is a no go, it's vacation time, it's still the same thing, isn't it?
Greg Stanton: I want to be absolutely clear, the issue was payments made by the city to the leaders of the various labor groups. Judge Cooper said some of that was acceptable, some of it was not acceptable in her opinion. So we gave that back to the labor groups and said, you individually can decide whether you want to keep it or give it to your labor groups. Consistent with our contract with the labor groups and consistent with Judge Cooper's order, I can tell with you full confidence the city, our legal team, our management team and the majority of the City Council are acting in complete and total good faith in an attempt to try to fairly comply with the judge's orders as we should.
Ted Simons: Mayor, always a pleasure, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
Greg Stanton: Good to see you, thanks for having me on.
Greg Stanton:Mayor, Phoenix;