Phoenix Mayor Stanton

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The mayor of the state’s largest city, , makes his monthly appearance on Arizona Horizon to talk about city issues.

TED SIMONS: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton will join us to discuss a variety of city issues. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon." And we'll hear about a new collaborative effort to improve local education.

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TED SIMONS: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Each month Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton joins us to discuss the latest city issues, including this month an update on the controversial selection of the city's municipal court chief presiding judge .Here now is Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: Good to be here, thanks for having me.

TED SIMONS: You betcha. A lot of controversy here, there was a lot of thought there wasn't enough diversity in the process.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: It wasn't controversial to me in this regard. We are so lucky in the state of Arizona to have a nationally recognized merit selection process for our judges. The whole point is to take politics out of the selection process for our judges. In the City of Phoenix our selection process mimics the merit selection process and we as a result have an incredible court at Phoenix Municipal Court. It's an incredibly diverse group of people. We needed a new chief presiding judge, Judge Roxanne Song Onghad been our chief presiding judge for nine years, did an outstanding job, she retired and we were in the process of looking for a new judge. Our committee that goes through the merit selection process moved forward with three names. Those names will be moving on to the full City Council on June 9th, they will be able to select one of those three names. Those are the names that made it through the merit selection process in Phoenix. In my mind we want as much diversity as we can in our courts and I think we do have an outstanding group of judges that are incredibly talented and diverse. We also want to make sure we maintain that merit selection process. That's what I'm trying to do as mayor.

TED SIMONS: You didn't block efforts to slow or redo the process, as some wanted. Critics are saying the finalist slacked diversity. First of all, did they lack diversity?

MAYOR GREG STANTON: Three people were recommended by our judicial advisory committee, our merit selection process committee. They were all male, one happens to be gay. Two people were not selected for moving forward to the full City Council. I don't know the reasons why they weren't selected. This is why we have merit selections. You don't want the mayor and council to ask questions of that committee and substitute our opinion for their opinion. The whole point is to depoliticize the process. That's what I believe my appropriate role as mayor was to do, and that's exactly what I did.

TED SIMONS: The whole point is to make sure the process is on the up and up. No minorities, no women, nothing here maybe suggests it may need to be looked at again.

You say --

MAYOR GREG STANTON: If you have merit selection, you've got to follow merit selection. I don't substitute my own opinion, nor do I want other politicians to substitute their opinion for the opinion of the merit selection committee. The makeup of the merit selection committee within the City of Phoenix, you have Representatives of courts, leading attorneys, community members from throughout the area, truly a committee that I trust. They make recommendations for the chief presiding judge, they make recommendations for all of the judges. The most diverse court in the entire state of Arizona is the Phoenix Municipal Court. The process leads to a very diverse court and the most talented people. My job again is to protect the process, protect the merit selection process, and that's exactly what I did.

TED SIMONS: At the selection board itself, diversity there?

MAYOR GREG STANTON: The committee itself is an outstanding group of lawyers and yes, there is diversity on the committee.

TED SIMONS: What's next in all this?

MAYOR GREG STANTON: It goes before the City Council June 9th.We interview those three judges. We as a council decide whether or not we want to select one of those judges or reject all of them. We always select one of the outstanding judges that have been put forward. I want to make sure one point is absolutely clear. I take as mayor diversity and the leadership of the city very, very seriously. I think we have a lot to be proud of in the City of Phoenix. I take diversity on my own staff very seriously, diversity within all of the city employment very seriously, especially among the leadership of the city. If you look at some of the promotions made since I've been mayor, we are significantly improving in that regard. That's a very high value for me as mayor. I'm also an attorney, a member of the bar. The merit selection is under attack almost on an annual basis at the legislature, protecting merit selection is also a very high value. I believe in these circumstances in the balance of interest, I believe in protecting the merit selection. It was a high value for me and for the city.

TED SIMONS: No redo, it's over, you've got three, pick one.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: June 9th, the interviews and selection of one of the three outstanding jurists put forward by the mayor election board.

TED SIMONS: We have a couple hundred firefighters being paid a couple of million in back pay. What is that all about?

MAYOR GREG STANTON: Occasionally the City of Phoenix makes a mistake. In this case we did make a mistake. As one of our negotiations years ago with one of our bargaining units, in this case the professional Phoenix firefighters, United Phoenix firefighters, they made some changes in pay scale. And that was not -- speaking as a layperson here, it wasn't appropriately input into our computer system. It wasn't automated. After a number of years one of our firefighters discovered that he had been underpaid, and discovered there was a group of other firefighters that were underpaid. When you make a mistake you fix it, that's exactly what we did. We voted to fix the mistake and make sure the firefighters were appropriately compensated for what they should have been compensated for over a number of years.

TED SIMONS: What steps have been taken to keep this from happening again?

MAYOR GREG STANTON: We have reviewed our entire systems and I am confident that, yes, we will make mistakes of other nature in the future. We are human, this is still A human system. But this type of mistake I don't believe will be made again.

TED SIMONS: And if made, may be caught a little earlier?

MAYOR GREG STANTON: I think that is the case. We have better systems in place to catch a mistake of that nature.

TED SIMONS: I'm hearing of a downtown ASU health complex being considered. Right out here on Fillmore right North of here. What's that all about?

Well, as you you know, about 15 years ago we made the initial investment in a bioscience campus in the heart of the city. It's been a massive success with TGEN, University of Arizona medical school. It'll open in the fall in partnership with St. Joseph's office and the City of Phoenix. Being a full partner in that regard, that campus is going gangbusters. Over a billion dollars in annualized local economy because of that. We are filming an awesome show right now in the heart of downtown Phoenix. ASU is continuing its partnership with the City of Phoenix. We'll vote tomorrow on a unique partnership between ASU and accompany called Man networks, a leading cancer research facility, bringing more jobs to Phoenix. The company will be able to do their work in partnership with ASU and you will see more great development, good jobs for Phoenix on our downtown biomedical campus.

TED SIMONS: I believe the same guys involved with the company are involved with the new Phoenix Children's Hospital, correct?

MAYOR GREG STANTON: That's correct. One of the doctors has invested already in Phoenix. A previous company invested $300million in west Phoenix. He's partnered with Phoenix Children's Hospital, both on a philanthropic basis as well as forming this new institute. He and Dr. Michael Crow have developed a great relationship over a number of years and now it's coming to fruition. Mantworks wants to directly go in to partnership together.

TED SIMONS: The first 10 years of the relationship are basically free, and then at the end of 30 years the land is transferred to ASU? Any problems with that, any concerns?

MAYOR GREG STANTON: Concerns? I think people are excited about this. It's designated for great bioscience and health care jobs. They have found a great partner to partner up with to create more bioscience and health care and cancer research jobs in the heart of the city. It'll create great opportunities for partnership. Look, ASU is an incredibly entrepreneurial University. I might politely argue there's no more an entrepreneurial University than Arizona State University. With the cuts faced at the legislature I think they will need to be more entrepreneurial, look for more private partnerships. This is one way they can advance the cause of the University by partnering with the private sector partners .Knowing that, it's going advance the cause of Arizona State University, there will be many, many investigators from Arizona State University working at this building on the biomedical campus.

TED SIMONS: The first 10 years being free, I was wondering if folks were concerned with that.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: Ultimately the building will revert to ASU. It'll be built, filled with many jobs, bringing on ASU researchers. This is exactly the kind of economic development the people of this community should expect from the City of Phoenix. We are focused in on innovation, and bioscience as the future of our economy. We're not going to stand for low-wage jobs. We want to bring in high-wage jobs for the community.

TED SIMONS: Mayor, we have to stop it there, good see you.

Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

MAYOR GREG STANTON: It was too fast, but I always enjoy being here.

TED SIMONS: All right. Good to see you.

Greg Stanton:Phoenix Mayor

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