Around Arizona: Southern Exposure

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Get caught up on all the big news from the southern part of our state in our monthly segment, “Southern Exposure” with Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel.

Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," it's our monthly look at issues in and around Tucson and southern Arizona.

Also tonight, we look at some of the winners at Arizona forward's environmental excellence awards.

And we'll see how one man is making custom denim jeans using Arizona products.

That's all next on "Arizona Horizon."

Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

The Phoenix city council votes today on a move to store the city's excess cap water in Tucson. The idea is for Phoenix to be able to draw on its reserves in the event of a Colorado river shortage in the coming years. By storing the water in Tucson, Phoenix would take advantage of Tucson's more advanced water pumping and aquifer system, with the resulting higher water levels helping Tucson control its water pumping costs.

Speaking of water, clean-up efforts continue at Tempe Town Lake after record rainfall from recent storms made a mess of things neater lake's western dam. Work on the city's $41 million dam restoration project is still on hold, but is expected to resume by the end of the week, and the city says that mosquito traps in the sludge near the dam have thus far shown no signs of
West Nile Virus. Two lake swims have been canceled this month due to concerns over water quality.

Ted Simons: Time again for southern exposure, our monthly look at issues from south of the gila. Here once again to talk about what's happening in the southern part of the state is Jim Nintzel, he's senior writer for the "Tuscon Weekly." Good to see you again.

Jim Nintzel: Thanks for having me up here. Still a little warm after that debate had you last night. That was a little fiery.

Ted Simons: Yes, we had to hose things down a bit. We're glad you're here. Speaking of politics, there was an ad regarding stalking, what's going on? What's this all about?

Jim Nintzel: Well, there was an ad put out by Gabriel Giffords and mark Kelly, Americans for responsible solutions, which is attempting to address gun violence legislation. And one of the -- They've been involved in a campaign across the country and one of the areas they're playing in is congressional district two. They're running ads going of after Martha McSally who is running against Ron Barbur who took Gabriel Giffords' seat after she resigned, and he was her former district director. There's a close relationship between his campaign and gabby Giffords. They ran an ad saying Martha McSally didn't support background checks on people who were convicted of misdemeanor stalking around the country, and it was very emotional ad, it featured a woman talking about how her husband and daughter were killed by a man who was stalking them, and a very tearful woman talking about her experience, and it went to Martha McSally saying she did not support this sort of legislation. Went national, a lot of attention focused on at the "Arizona Republic," was critical of the ad saying it was vial and disgusting, and eventually the ad came down a day early after the McSally campaign said yes, she did support changing federal law to allow background checks on -- Requiring people who had been convicted of misdemeanors talking added to the background checklist.

Ted Simons: So she clarified her position on that. But at the same time, she said, and revealed that she was once the target, the victim of stalking.

Jim Nintzel: She did. And we've asked her for details about this, and she hasn't said -- She says shed she would not reveal details as such. Reporters have asked what this had to do with, was this person convicted, and I think it's almost a political Rorschach test. People who were sympathetic toward McSally thought the ad went too far, people more sympathetic toward gabby Giffords say it was a perfectly legitimate effort to try to talk to -- About the importance of these background checks and the holes in the background check system. And it's interesting that that's -- That McSally campaign had previously said they did not want to change federal law at all, and she came forward and said, OK, this is an area I want to change and they're saying it's a victory because they forced her to take a position on background checks they agreed with.

Ted Simons: And indeed the McSally basically said she was held in a hostagelike situation in a car, she wasn't -- Threats were made against her, she wasn't safe at home. But really no more information other than that.

Jim Nintzel: Right. I've asked the Marcus Collins campaign about it, other reporters have asked her about it and she has so far refused to say anything more.

Ted Simons: Other than the Rorschach test, impact on the race at all?

Jim Nintzel: The McSally campaign has capitalized off "The Arizona Republic" interview, they've put out an ad saying these ads are violent vial and disgusting, so I think she's played that well.

Ted Simons: How is that race shaping up?

Jim Nintzel: It's neck and neck from what I understand. Both candidates are running very hard down there, it's a district that's one-third Round-Up, one-third democrat, one-third independent so it's one of the most competitive in the country. Both sides are filling the airwaves with a lot of ads, as you probably experiencing up here as well. And both sides are working very hard to win that seat. I think it's still up in the air.

Ted Simons: It will be interesting. All right, flooding up here in the valley, huge. Major impact on a lot of areas, a lot of damage. How did Tucson and southern Arizona handle all these storms?

Jim Nintzel: We had one storm that brought a lot of flooding, a few people were killed in these storms. A lot of damage around the counties and bridges washed out in the Tucson area. And then Odile was supposed to bring a great deal of rain to us, we had people filling out sandbags, and trying to protect their homes, and we only got a few drops because the storm got blown off course and didn't end up really affecting Tucson. However, other areas of southern Arizona were hit pretty hard by that, particularly down in the Cochise county area. So it's been some pretty significant damage in some of the areas, but I don't think it's been as severe as what you experienced up here. As usual, Phoenix gets more attention than we do.

Ted Simons: Yeah. I think justified this time. As far as flood control in Tucson, as far as infrastructure in Tucson in particular, are those issues these days, or are things relatively stable along those lines?

Jim Nintzel: Our roads need a lot of work in Tucson in general. But in terms of our bridge infrastructure, it's in pretty good shape. There was a few bridges that they were concerned about and had to close during the one storm we did receive.

Ted Simons: OK. A couple of art festivals down there. The Tucson meet yourself festival and the loft film fest. Are these this weekend? When are these happening?

Jim Nintzel: Tucson meet yourself will be next weekend, it's a big deal, it's been going on for decades. At the different cultural groups in Tucson, the ethnic groups set up food booths, and we've got a lot of performances from musical groups and dancers and folks like that, just an amazing opportunity for you to see the cultural breadth of Tucson in one park in one weekend. And in mid-October we're going to have the cinema item fist, a nonprofit organization, they're going to bring dozens of films to Tucson over the course much one weekend, and it's going to be a spectacular event, they really just do amazing things with that movie house.

Ted Simons: And as far as both these festivals are concerned, are these things that have been around for a while, are they gaining momentum in general, arts festivals in Tucson?

Jim Nintzel: Wonderful collection of arts festivals. And a lot more going on there in the -- In October and November. But these are the big ones. Tucson meet yourself has been around for decades. The other one is in their fifth year, they're going to bring in Larry McMurtry, we're going to have Stacy Keach and Bruce Dern, they bring in some big names and really some terrific films you're not going see anywhere else. As well as bigger movies you may have seen.

Ted Simons: Very impressive. We'll keep an eye on that Barber-McSally race and other issues south of the Gila River. Good to see you again.

Jim Nintzel: It's a pleasure, Ted.

Jim Nintzel:Senior Writer, Tucson Weekly;

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