Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton


Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton stops by to discuss Super Bowl preparations and other city concerns, and also tonight, we'll hear how specialty schools in Arizona are preparing high school students for work and college. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

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Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Super Bowl 49 will be played Sunday in Glendale, but Phoenix is the focus for plenty of pre-Super Bowl activities including the NFL Experience downtown Pacific center. We'll hear from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton in a moment. First, Governor Doug Ducey was among those welcoming Super Bowl fans and players to town this morning.

Doug Ducey: If you think of the change in Arizona from our last Super Bowl to this one, how much we've grown, how vibrant it is, you only have to go to downtown Phoenix to see what a wonderful direction we're headed in. We want to maximize that as a state. We're really looking forward to showcasing this week and showing the world what we already know. And that's that Arizona is the place to be.

Ted Simons: Here now with more on how Phoenix is the place to be for quite a bit of Super Bowl hub bub is Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. Good to see you.

Greg Stanton: Good to see you. Always happy to be here.

Ted Simons: You look like a guy a Super Bowl is coming to town for a couple weeks here.

Greg Stanton: It's going to be one heck of a good time in Downtown Phoenix for Verizon Super Bowl Central, over a million people will visit our downtown. When I say our downtown, it's not just phoenix downtown, it's our region's downtown, it's our state downtown. There is a center of it all in downtown Phoenix. A million people visiting to go to either NFL experience or the concerts, the free awesome concerts that are happening down there, the Bud Light house of whatever, and so many other fun activities. There's a rock wall which kind of represents the Grand Canyon, which is kind of our wow factor. Family friendly fun and it's our responsibility. Game's in Glendale and we want Glendale to be the best host for the game itself. And we want to do our part to be the one place in the state where you can host a million people over a four-day period. We plan to do our part well.

Ted Simons: How much does all this family friendly fun cost?

Greg Stanton: First off, the Super Bowl is well worth the effort. Not just the financial effort but the human effort. This is a massive logistical planning effort to pull this off in the right way. But when Mike bidwell convinced the NFL owners to pick Phoenix, he promised them that we would be the best host city they have ever had in the history of 49 Super Bowls and that's exactly what we're going to deliver in Phoenix. It'll cost us about a million dollars in overtime for public safety, money well worth it. If there is an incident -- we hope and pray there's not and we will prepare for anything -- we don't want any leader of the Police Department worried about costs. We have to manage the issue and get it taken care of as quickly as possible. All the other costs of issues are actually already built into our budget. It is less cost intensive than people might expect. It's time intensive and people intensive. You have to coordinate with other jurisdictions and the state and federal government. It's a massive logistical affair but the cost is well worth it. Not only in the short run will we have hundreds of millions of dollars coming into our local economy, obviously the long term benefits are spectacular. The ability of us to say to the country and the world, you are welcome here, this is a warm, welcoming place. You are going to get the best hospitality in the United States of America, right here in Phoenix, Arizona. Many decision makers from large corporations and other entities will make decisions about future job location. That positive experience they have here in our community will pay long term dividends.

Ted Simons: For critics who say these types of things don't bring in the kind of money that you hear and actually is not worth the expense, something like a Super Bowl. How do you respond?

Greg Stanton: I would disagree and disagree strongly. There is no event on planet earth that is going to galvanize the number of eyeballs on our community as a Super Bowl. I know most of them are there to watch the Patriots play the Seattle Seahawks and hopefully it's a wonderful football game. But the images they see, the weather images and the various TV commentators talking about the positive experience, and the hundreds of thousands of fans visiting here from around the country and the world to go back to their communities and tell them what a great experience it was, for them to feel energy going on here, Phoenix is a city on the rise. When we have this conversation 10 years from now, we're going to feel that Phoenix has made some very smart policy choices that position our economy well. Those decision makers are going to understand us well when they make decisions about future investment and job creation. Short-term benefits, hotels, restaurants, bars, art galleries. Long term benefits in terms of economic decision making. Many will come back for conventions and business meetings, et cetera, because of that positive experience. It overall was worth it.

Ted Simons: Last question on this, there's this blizzard back east and especially in the northeast. There's a lot of Patriot fans in that part of the world. They shut down the subway for goodness sakes, unprecedented back there. How does that impact what's going on here from Sky Harbor to downtown, the whole nine yards?

Greg Stanton: As we plan for our big events here, we will be in the high 70s and low 80s, spectacular weather, the envy of the world. First off, our prayers are with last year's host city, New York, New jersey. They are being hammered as we speak and over the 24, 36 hours. Our thoughts and prayers are with those people and their safety. Obviously are monitoring the situation very, very closely. We know the worst of it is supposed to be in the next day, day and a half. We believe that the fans coming in for the game will have an opportunity to do so and get here in time to enjoy Super Bowl Central for a few days in advance of the game. We are watching very closely and we're optimistic that the boston area, hard-core Patriot fans can come to Phoenix and enjoy all we have to offer.

Ted Simons: Well, once they can get out of their house, I guess and get down to the airport.

Greg Stanton: First things first, get them through this safely, and then to Phoenix to enjoy themselves here.

Ted Simons: Apparently the FAA apparently is not going back to original routes, which is not a good thing for a lot of neighborhoods in Phoenix. Talk to us about this. They might be adjusting, what does that mean? And what is going on here?

Greg Stanton: It's a very, very frustrating situation. As mayor of this city I'm pretty angry about the situation. Here's what I'm most angry about. Government sometimes you have very difficult decisions to make. Sometimes decisions that impact people's lives. You should always talk to them. Seek their input and get their ideas before you implement a change. That's what transparency and a public process is all about. Unfortunately, the FAA, before they adopted what's called the nexgen departure procedure out of the airport, because of a congressional action, was not required to go through a public process. Normally they would have been but they made an exception for this Nexgen process. They adopted a procedure, didn't give appropriate public notice or any public meetings so that they can get input, they adopted a procedure and unfortunately it's causing thousands and thousands of households to have noise levels much higher than the FAA predicted they were going to be, really hurting their quality of life. Our demand as a city, unanimously, is that the FAA revert back to the original departure procedure and let's go through the process appropriately. Ruben Gallegos, The brand-new Congressman representing Central Phoenix, got together with Michael Huerta, the FAA administrator, expressed our anger on behalf of the citizens of our community right after the Super Bowl we will get together a working group which is going to be looking at changes so there will be significantly less impact on those neighborhoods. I will regularly report back to you and this community on how it's going. I think we will cooperate with them. We're going to provide them options we think work for Phoenix.

Ted Simons: Is a lawsuit still a possibility if they don't budge?

Greg Stanton: Yes.

Ted Simons: All right. That's down the line. How long do they have to budge?

Greg Stanton: I don't want litigate on "Arizona Horizon." I don't want to litigate a lawsuit here on Horizon, but I would just say yes, firmly on our side is the option of litigation if necessary. First and foremost we want to provide information to the FAA, let them know how frustrating it is for the people of Phoenix, let them know they did not follow the historic preservation requirements before they implemented this. Give them a chance to do the right thing. But yes, litigation is an option

Ted Simons: Are they aware that litigation is an option?

Greg Stanton: Yes.

Greg Stanton: Chief Garcia -- we haven't had you on in while, we missed December, so we missed you greatly. Did Chief Garcia deserve to be fired?

Greg Stanton: Yes. One thing that you cannot do as the police chief of a city like Phoenix is to be insubordinate to the civilian leadership. At the end of the day, civilians are in charge of the city. The mayor and council are the boss of the city manager, the city manager is the boss of the police chief. We can deal with a lot of things but direct insubordination by the police chief to the civilian leadership of the city is not acceptable. So our city manager made a tough decision and I believe the right decision to terminate the police chief for that direct act of insubordination.

Ted Simons: He was saying in the press conference that led to the insubordination charges there, he was targeted for making officers accountable. His quote was "The city has to decide do they want the Police Department run by plea, the unions or do they want it run by the chief. Was that a valid argument?

Greg Stanton: Everything the police chief had to say, we ought to listen to. He should have come and met with myself, members of council, with the city manager. What you can't do -- because his termination had nothing to do with any of those issues. His termination was due to his direct insubordination to a direct command by the city civilian leadership. Look, there is turbulence within the Phoenix Police Department. Obviously many of the rank and file members had publicly expressed their frustration with the chief. He was expressing frustration on the other side. It's two things I want the public to understand first and foremost. The chief's termination had nothing to do with those issues, it was direct act of insubordination. Secondarily, Whatever turn lengths is going on at the top of the organization -- by the way, chief Yahner, is going well right now. Chief Yahner is a an outstanding police professional and doing a great, great job as on interim police chief. But at the rank and file level, our police officers are doing incredible work. Our crime rate is at a record low level. I don't want anyone in the community to be concerned that turbulence at the top of the organization is impacting the quality of police services at the street level in terms of crime rate and all the great work that our police officers do. We have an outstanding Police Department. If Chief Garcia left the impression we didn't have an outstanding Police Department, he's wrong. He's wrong. We had a great Police Department 10 years ago, yesterday, today and for decades to come it's going to be among the very best in the country.

Ted Simons: He may agree it's a great Police Department but he says it's run by the unions and they have the final say, not those who should have the final say. Has he got a point?

Greg Stanton: No, he is wrong about that issue. The police chief was supported by our city manager. There were issues -- Well, certain couples called for an immediate termination. You didn't hear that from the other couples. We wanted to hear from the community and the rank and file officers, hear from city management and leadership within the department, making these important decisions. But the decision to terminate the chief had nothing to do with the other issues. It was a direct act of insubordination. If we stand for anything as the civilian leaders of the city, we cannot allow that to occur. You have to work with the civilian leadership and can't act in that way. otherwise unfortunately termination is the right thing to do.

Ted Simons: Quickly before you go, will we have a permanent chief is place by the time you get back here next month?

Greg Stanton: Well, that's a decision for our city manager. We hire and fire the city manager, he makes all personnel decisions. I worked with chief Yahner for many years, he's a great guy. If our city manager were to make the decision he is the right permanent leader of that department, you're going to hear nothing but praise from me. Mayor, thanks for joining us.

Greg Stanton: As always, thanks for having me.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton makes his monthly appearance on Arizona Horizon, and will discuss city issues such as preparations for the upcoming Super Bowl.

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