Journalists’ Roundtable

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Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to Arizona Horizon's Journalists' Roundtable. I'm Ted Simons. Joining us tonight is Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic. Jeremy Duda of the Arizona Capitol Times. And Bob Christie of the Associated Press. Phoenix police Chief Daniel Garcia is fired for insubordination. This happened late yesterday, Mary Jo, and pretty quick.

Mary Jo Pitzl: It did. There had been a vote of no confidence by the police union. It sort of capped a lot of the simmering, not so simmering but free open tensions between the rank and file and the police chief, and the chief Garcia called a Press Conference and demanded a two-year contract, turns out that we learned very soon afterwards that he did that in couldn't convention to what the city manager had told him. We said do not go out there, and he went out and shoved off the end.

Ted Simons: Basically, told in the meeting before the Press Conference, don't have a Press Conference. He has a Press Conference. What's missing here?

Jeremy Duda: Well, it sounds like, if I had to guess, I would say he probably thought that he was on his way out and decided he wanted to go down in a blaze of glory. The city manager says don't do this, and you go out and stand up at the podium and start throwing bombs at the city manager, what a contract, council members, the police union, it was a fiery event, and he had to have known this was coming. I can't imagine that he walked away from that podium saying I will still have a job tomorrow.

Bob Christie: Garcia was pretty outspoken, and he wanted the city council to say to the unions, knock it off. And they were not backing him. And he was very clear that he thought the unions were controlling what he was able to do as the police chief, and he was not going to take it, and obviously, the council was on their side.

Ted Simons: Well, certainly the city manager has the right to fire an employee, and that's, basically, what he did. Garcia defended his 2.5 years, held officers accountable, crime rate down, despite fewer officers. And then demanded this two-year contract. It all seems like there is something happening here that we don't.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Well, because you have the city manager saying look, I don't have any problem with the chief's performance. He's getting fired. He got fired because he defied an order, and you have got to know how to take orders if you are going to be running a police department. So, they are supportive of the police and supportive of the police chief, so that raises the question of going forward, what are you -- so do you want a police chief who brings in more order and discipline and tightens things up even with the rank and file complains?

Jeremy Duda: There's been so many people clawing for this guy's head lately. He's been battling with the rank and the police unions for 2.5 years since he came in. There is a lot of gripe stuff about the officer suicide, you know, a couple of months ago.

Ted Simons: Officer killing an unarmed black men recently.

Jeremy Duda: RNew uniform policies, personnel decisions. So many things that had rubbed so many people the wrong way, and in the end, none of those things led to his firing. It was him going down and kind of this blaze of glory and defying the city manager.

Bob Christie: You could see the tone from when he was hired, one of the first things that he did is say to the rank and file, we're going to change your uniforms. We're going to make you look more professional, and of course, the uniforms that the officers wore as an option were polo shirts and military style pants with the big pockets that the officers liked, so the first thing you do is anger the rank and file right off the bat. And it's like he did not have people saying don't do that. He made a point, and it started a rocky road.

Mary Jo Pitzl: And I think also just earlier there week, there had been a public hearing that some of the council members convened on police citizen relations. And there was a lot of outcry from the African-American community about police relations, so that had to play into the mix on both sides.

Bob Christie: And he was criticized by members of the city council because not only did Garcia not go, but neither did any of his assistants, so there were no police brass there.

Ted Simons: And so we have got -- and I think that we had the council member calling for his resignation, which is curious because I think that the city charter doesn't allow for that to happen. But, he did it anyway. And I think that during the Press Conference, Garcia said, we should be going after him for doing this. This was strange.

Jeremy Duda: What the city charter says the council members cannot try to instruct the city manager or the city manager's office to, you know, fire people or hire people, and it's ironic. He had made that same accusation a few years back against a fellow council member, arguing that, you know, he was leaning on the city manager's office to fire the previous police chief, and he denied this, and this is a big rub between the two of them. Now he was the last supporter, I think, Garcia had on the council. He supported the city manager's decision, and also ironic to see him siding with the police union since he's known as a conservative anti-union fire brand over there.

Ted Simons: Let's get it moving. So we have an acting police chief, Phoenix police chief and they are in the process of looking for a replacement for Mr. Garcia, I don't know where chief Garcia goes from here. You know. Who is going to hire a guy?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Some places believe that the police chiefs are the ones that have to keep order and discipline.

Ted Simons: I guess so. Weak union and they deny the request for a stay in the Ninth Circuit. What wanted?

Bob Christie: The ninth circuit was -- got a relative -- almost an emergency appeal from the Governor saying, don't let this order go into effect. The court looked at it on Tuesday. Only three of the Justices voted to accept the appeal and to issue the stay, and that's Justice Scalia and Thomas and Aleto. Justice Roberts and Kennedy didn't join them. That gives you an idea that if that makes it back up as a full for them to take, that they are not going to take it. The Governor issued the order today that the license will be issued on Monday.

Ted Simons: It should be ordered but reluctantly, I would imagine?

Mary Jo Pitzl: This, you know, is sort of the closing acted of Jan Brewer's tenure as Governor, and perhaps, closing on immigration. She has been a staunch critic of Federal immigration policies, and believes that this action from the court allowing driver's licenses now to be issued to dreamer children contravenes the rule of law, it's not just or correct, so she is going to go down swinging, and the case will probably continue, and we'll see what her success is.

Bob Christie: They will have a hearing on the full stay on the permanent injunction on the first week of the year?

Ted Simons: It goes against the state's rights, and she also mentioned the fact that if the Supreme Court looks at it later and somehow those folks that didn't act this time act next time, and the whole thing is turned over, that's a burden to the state.

Jeremy Duda: It's a lot of driver's licenses you have got to go back and recall. And that was part of Governor Brewer's argument, is that the irreparable harm they tried to show, which the Supreme Court did not believe that was irreparable but remember, this is not just the dreamers, now you have 150,000, I think, people who will get temporary legal status under the most recent executive action from President Barack Obama, and under the same logic, they have got to get the driver's licenses, too.

Bob Christie: And the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court are not -- they are not -- they are smart folks, and they realize if you issue 22,000 driver's licenses, you can't undo that.

Mary Jo Pitzl: And isn't it interesting how that sort of echoes Medicaid expansion? It would be hard to take health care away from 300,000 Arizonans, once they have it. And Brewer was on the other side of the coin. In fairness, I mean, she does have a, a -- what does she call it, the emergency breaker that if --

Ted Simons: Yes.

Mary Jo Pitzl: So walk it back, but it would be a very difficult decision politically and socially.

Jeremy Duda: Pending a court action, we'll see how that ends up, too.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Right.

Ted Simons: So, basically, this is not technically over, but, it sure seems like it.

Bob Christie: The ninth circuit issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Governor from blocking the driver's licenses. There will be a hearing on a personal injunction early next year. Judge Campbell in Phoenix, is -- has been giving his marches and orders by the Ninth Circuit. He probably will go along and issue that I think junction who knows what the Federal judge will do, but the Ninth Circuit has made it clear that they would probably issue one.

Ted Simons: And they could apply for licenses starting on Monday, I take it?

Mary Jo Pitzl: They can.

Ted Simons: And applying doesn't mean that you get one. You need to pass the tests. You cannot waltz in and they will take a picture and there you go and drive home.

Bob Christie: And ADOT issued a press release and said it's going to be really, really busy at ADOT offices.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Bob Christie: If you can put off your visit to get a license renewal, go ahead.

Ted Simons: All right, the Supreme Court also in action, or not in action, regarding an Arizona abortion law, and this ru-486. What's going on here?

Jeremy Duda: This is the law the legislature passed a couple years ago, part of a series of legislation that we have seen in recent years, trying to pair back, you know, install new regulations on abortions. This limited the use of ru86 to the FDA guidelines, which means don't use it for seven weeks. The pregnancy had to be the two doses, 48 hours apart, and doctors had started doing things a bit differently. Going to nine weeks and one dose, and the state said we're going to make you follow these FDA guidelines, which are not technically binding, but they are Federal guidelines, and the court said that there is no medically valid reason. This is too much of a burden on women seeking abortions, and you know, it looks like it's on its way out.

Bob Christie: The ninth circuit made that ruling, and blocked that's right from going into effect, and the Supreme Court turned it away without a word. So they have upheld that, Ninth Circuit decision, and the thing about this law is this is the second part of this 2012 law that's been overturned, and part of that law was the 20-week abortion ban. Right now, up to the first trimester, which is 24, 26 weeks. Arizona legislatures thought that was too long, and they rolled it back, the Supreme Court said no, the same with the ru-486. They wanted -- the dosage FDA approved is twice as much as doctors use nowadays. Like with many drugs, they use drugs for a while and they get to know, you know, what dosage is most effective, so the state legislature was telling the doctors to use twice as much drug as they normally would.

Ted Simons: And the problem there, of course, being the state legislature was giving out medical advice to some degree. Kathy is not going to give up on this, is she?

Mary Jo Pitzl: She said that -- she sounds like she's going to have to wait for another case to come along, but there are probably other issues, other ways to get at this topic in the upcoming legislative session.

Ted Simons: I think that there is similar restrictions that were upheld in Ohio and Texas and other places, so I think that she thinks that there is still a possibly.

Jeremy Duda: The Federal appellate courts have upheld that, it sounds like the Supreme Court will have to take this up, and, you know, the legislature and Kathy could win this one yet.

Ted Simons: Are we going to see more abortion legislation, anti-abortion legislation? You have got Doug Ducey has Governor and Kathy, who is a big fan of Doug. Two and two equal four?

Bob Christie: Kathy's group and rights to life groups were very clear that they can't overturn Roe Versus Wade but work towards it by increasing their restrictions on how the women get abortions on the waiting periods on the doctor qualifications and the clinic inspections. You can bet there will be some, something that they have got, they are working on them. They believe it's right. To stop these.

Mary Jo Pitzl: And given the makeup of the incoming legislature, it probably would pass, unless, perhaps, there is a request from the executive office to not send me a bill.

Ted Simons: Yeah, a bill that will, obviously, be challenged, and off we go into court again.

Jeremy Duda: And I can't imagine, they have an aggressive agenda, and they are going to pursue whatever the Governor or legislature says, even when Napolitano was Governor, they were sending the bills through. A lot of these things, they are trying to chip away as abortion, as we mentioned, these have been overturned by the courts, but you know, this is part of a long-term strategy, and you throw enough against the wall and you see what sticks.

Ted Simons: And we mentioned upcoming sessions, and soon to be Governor Ducey will be doing, and we heard about his transition team. Again, we joke about this, but it seems like everyone in the state is involved in some sort of transition effort with the governor's office. He has all sorts of things going on and thanking folks. Is this moving in general as quickly as folks expected?

Jeremy Duda: We're finally starting to see the logjam break this week. Up until then, no, I don't think -- I think that we'd been hearing from a lot of people wondering, hey, why is this taking so long? Yesterday, you know, a couple of weeks ago, Doug named Kirk Adams as the chief of staff. Yesterday he made more announcements. Four more today. And as of yesterday, I went back and looked at the last comparable transition, which was Napolitano, in 2002, and in the same period of time, she had named 15 staffers and seven agency heads, so, things are going more slowly, but you know, some people will say, hey, that's not necessarily a bad thing. You talk to people who know Doug pretty well, and they will use words like deliberative and thoughtful and talks about how he tries to absorb as much information as he can, and that might be what's going on here, and these eight staffers, most of them are from his campaign folks, people who we always assumed would end up in the Ducey administration. Not sure what took so long.

Ted Simons: Are you getting any smoke signals?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Well, I thought it was interesting that Kirk Adams, as Jeremy said, was named the chief of staff, so today, Kirk Adams, chief of staff, when Kirk was the house speaker, now joins the ninth floor Victor Riches as director of budget and policy, and Daniel Scarpinato, who has been doing communications, and we figured he would be the new media guy, but he was also Kirk Adams' media person for at least one year when Adams was a speaker, so he's getting the band back together.

Bob Christie: And the folks that Mary jo just mentioned, those are top-notch, experienced legislative people, and Doug is going to want to have an agenda, and if you want to get your stuff through the legislature, you need to know how it runs, and with Adams and Riches and Scarpinato you have got a good team right off the bat that can make things happen.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, are these folks that have a certain focus, are on a certain highway, I mean, not populous folks, but our folks that get everyone Marching and shouting and screaming, but they have a certain tendency towards legislative action?

Jeremy Duda: He said of people viewed it as a signal he's going to work closely with the legislature. And Kirk knows his way around and there are a lot of people there and the people who served with him, and Victor riches knows his way around there pretty well. And the rest of the folks will have to wait and see all these campaign people, not a lot of them, some of them, spent some time with the legislature, and Bill Montgomery's legislative liaison for years, and you see him around the capitol.

Ted Simons: And are we going to see more of Bill Montgomery.

Mary Jo Pitzl: That's a really good question. I mean, Montgomery, a lot of the people he supported, Ducey, Mark Brnovich, for attorney general, they won, so we'll probably see policies that he's favorable towards, and another Ducey appointment was Michael Birdie as his general council and Michael handled a lot of the legal matters during the campaign, but he's also represented in a variety of election matters. He represented the free enterprise club, one of more dark money groups that we saw during this election cycle. There is already some qualms because Kirk Adams also has dark money ties in addition to his extensive legislative history. So, there are some eyebrows being raised about, you know, are we consolidating some of these outside donor resources on the ninth floor, and what kind of agenda will we see from that?

Ted Simons: Are we seeing much in the way of Governor Brewer's staff making the transition? Are they not quite --

Bob Christie: Governor Brewer's staff is leaving fairly quickly right now. I don't think that there will be anyone who -- I doubt if anyone makes it onto --

Mary Jo Pitzl: Well, I would expect that for some of the more complicated agencies, that perhaps, there would be holdover from agency directors. I don't know if they would want to stay, but access is a very complicated and complex and important thing.

Bob Christie: And that's Carter --

Mary Jo Pitzl: No, no.

But, yeah, I don't think that anybody is asking them to remain --

Ted Simons: I was going to mention Carter, from among others.

Jeremy Duda: From what we're saying, they are not really going to be keeping much of anyone up at the eighth and ninth floors. Michael Hunter is one of Brewer's top staffers who a lot of people expected -- or a lot of people thought might stick around from what I had heard, he had a lot of interesting sticking around but my understanding is he will not be. Don Hughes, two more of the other top staffers. So, it sounds like there is not going to be a lot of holdover. I don't know how that will -- if that will transmit over into the agencies because there will be a lot of spots to fill, a lot of people were there, a long time, but new administration, and even when it's between the same party, they are going to put their own people in there. And Symington, Republican, did a lot of housecleaning, and it looks like we'll see a lot of the same thing here with Ducey.

Ted Simons: Bob, it looks like we have a winner. Martha McSally, won, and they found a six-vote differential.

Bob Christie: A six-vote differential, went from 161 votes to 167 votes. And you know, interestingly they recounted all 220,000 ballots through the machine. Then they did a hand recount, and every one of those hand recounts on the small percentage that they check, those recounts came out exact. So, you know, I guess voters in Arizona should be, you know, confident that, indeed, the ballots were counted accurately, and the checks and balances worked. Ron Barber had a long time to wait before he finally had to leave. Talked to him the other day after the decision, and he says, you know, it's been a big honor. But, you know, I am going to go and spend time with my family now. Whereas Martha McSally says now I can get back to work.

Ted Simons: And it sounds like chefs heading back there anyway and measure in the office and everything.

Mary Jo Pitzl: And in no time she had this -- announced a transition committee of umpteen people.

Jeremy Duda: Everyone.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Yes. And bipartisan and spanning the district, so --

Ted Simons: It sounds like -- again, inside district, in two years, she's going to face another fight, so it sounds like she's doing the best that she can to cover as much as she can and heal as many wounds.

Bob Christie: Absolutely. I had a long conversation with her on Wednesday, and I am a blunt guy, and I said, you know, you can't go running to the right real fast because you need to be back here in 18 months and start campaigning again, and she goes, I know -- my job is to, you know, to take the whole district and represent them, so you won't see a lot of fire brand out of Martha McSally.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I wonder if she'll see Kyrsten Sinema as perhaps a role model in order how to serve a closely divided district.

Ted Simons: When she was elected they are like she might as well start campaigning now because they will come after her with the long knives, and she wound up having one of more easy victories.

Jeremy Duda: The Republicans had trouble finding a solid opponent, and we might see the same with McSally. A lot of Republicans are viewing her as a rising star. I don't know that the Democrats really have a lot of folks down there who right now look like solid candidates, type of person, who could take on someone like that.

Mary Jo Pitzl: They have a lot of people down there.

Jeremy Duda: I'm not sure who the --

Ted Simons: Throw some names around here because I have heard anyone from Matt Heinz to Mark Kelly.

Jeremy Duda: You had all these people when Gabby Giffords resigned, a lot of people stepped aside for Barber, and they were looking to run in the, for the full term later that year, and you know, had to back out when Barber ran. Steve Farley is in there, and Matt Heinz, and Randall Friese, and some view him --

Ted Simons: As a rising star.

Jeremy Duda: Or someone that they could groom, like Barber, has some ties to Gifford, the surgeon who worked on it.

Mary Jo Pitzl: And any democrat from Tucson, serving in the legislature.

Ted Simons: There is a lot of Democrats in Tucson.

Bob Christie: But what we have seen in the last three or four election cycles, you need to be a strong campaigner and well financed and well spoken, and you have got to work the district constantly, so I mean, you have got to have someone who has got money and experience because now you have Martha McSally, who has two elections under her belt, so she will be much better.

Ted Simons: Out of 220,000 total votes cast, 1161 -- 167?

Bob Christie: 167.

Mary Jo Pitzl: First ever congressional recount in Arizona.

Bob Christie: And Barber won by about 2,400 votes, and it's a Republican and off-election year so a lot of Democrats didn't come out. You could easily expect that difference to be swapped next time.

Ted Simons: Before we go, Jeff Flake, all over the national world, world news because he was on the plane coming home with the American held in prison there in Cuba. And he's, over the years, he's been one of the lone Republican voices out there, really pushing for normalization to Cuba. What does this do to his national profile?

Jeremy Duda: His involvement in the events that happened this week, you know, like you said, nationally and internationally, and this position is not extremely popular within his party, but Flake always has strong Libertarian names, you know, because this is a free market issue. He does not believe the Embargo has worked, obviously. Doesn't seem like it has since the Castros are still around, but within his party, there is a lot of support for keeping this, and even McCain, you know, he and McCain are usually in a lock step on the things they do, and disagreeing publicly.

Ted Simons: If Jeff is asked to be the ambassador to Cuba, do you think that he would do it?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Probably not.

Ted Simons: Probably not. What do you think?

Bob Christie: If Jeff was 75 instead of 50 --

Ted Simons: Yeah, ok. I am hearing a bit of that right now.

Jeremy Duda: I think that we'll have to the ambassador to Cuba first.

Bob Christie: I think the Senator in this instance is being a real pragmatist and breaking with his own party and saying listen, and if you asked average Americans not from south Florida -- is this the right thing to do? And he's not done, he thinks the travel ban should be lifted. I think that he said, look, if anybody is going to stop me from traveling, I want it to be a communist, not my own Government.

Ted Simons: We'll leave it at that. Good to have you here.

Mary Jo Pitzl:Journalist, Arizona Republic; Jeremy Duda:Journalist, Arizona Capitol Times; Bob Christie:Journalist, Associated Press;

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