Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton brings us up to date on the latest in city of Phoenix news and issues.
TED SIMONS: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton will join us in studio to discuss a variety of city issues. And we'll hear about the legal concerns for start-up businesses. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."
"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. State legislative democrats announced an education funding plan today. The democrats are calling for $4 billion to go to K-12 traditional public and charter schools over the next 10 years. That includes $278 million in immediate funding from the state's budget surplus. Democrats would also like to see a freeze on the corporate school tuition tax credit, which they say diverts money from public schools to private schools. The governor's office dismissed the democrat's plan as irresponsible, and little more than a press release that would force tax hikes. And the contempt of court hearing for Sheriff Joe Arpaio continued today with the focus on an MCSO investigation of the judge hearing the case. U.S. district court Judge Murray snow questioned chief deputy Jerry Sheridan about an informant who alleged that a conspiracy existed between the judge and the U.S. justice department involving racial profiling suits against the MCSO. Sheridan denied the informant was paid to investigate the judge and that the sheriff's department was only interested in allegations that the Federal Government had hacked into local bank accounts. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton appears on "Arizona Horizon" each month to discuss top city issues, including efforts to increase trade with Mexico and the move to outfit more police officers with body cameras. Joining us now is Phoenix mayor, Greg Stanton.
GREG STANTON: Good to see you Ted, thanks for having me on.
TED SIMONS: Thanks for having me on. Counsel general -- your thoughts on this and the efforts to increase trade.
GREG STANTON: It has been one of the most successful endeavors. When I became mayor, I made a commitment that we would do all we can to increase trade with Mexico, already our number one trading partner, but a vast growing economy and a vast growing middle class and instead of treating Mexico like somehow they're our enemies, we know they're our long-term economic partners. I have been down there 13 times on various trade mission bringing business leaders to Mexico. Phoenix opened our Mexico trade office ourselves in partnership with the state of Arizona. Despite all of the political challenges that we have had, government of Mexico has made this very important decision. That is to open up a pro-Mexico office here in Phoenix Arizona. Pro-Mexico there will be the trade and investment office here. I challenge this community and my state of the city last year, we will double exports to Mexico in five years. Double all exports across the globe in 10 years. And if you look at the numbers reported recently about how well we are doing, we are well on our way to accomplishing those goals and going well beyond those goals. Trade with Mexico is critically important for the future of our economy.
TED SIMONS: Obviously a good thing that pro Mexico opened this office but they have a number of offices in a number of other places. This is the first time they have opened one in Arizona. How much was trade hurt in recent years by political concerns?
GREG STANTON: First off, it is about time they opened up an office here. Fact is they do have 10, 12 of these offices around the United States of America and did their business involving Phoenix out of the Los Angeles office. And in part, it was because of the unfortunately adversarial relationship that had been created between our state government and the state of Senora and country of Mexico. Unnecessarily. I believe we shot ourselves in the foot from an economic perception, trade perspective as well. And it was really up to myself when I became mayor and Mayor Rothschild of Tucson, we decided cities would lead the way to improving this relationship. Now there is a change in governor, I'm proud that Governor Ducey has been down there leading a trade delegation as well. I believe this is a tremendous turn the page moment in our state's history. Instead of viewing Mexico as an adversary, let's understand for our economy, jobs here in Phoenix, Arizona, growth and trade with Mexico is critically important, and the bills that we pass, including 1070, did hurt us economically in our community.
TED SIMONS: Concern that election rhetoric will reopen old wounds?
GREG STANTON: Unfortunately yes. With Donald Trump and some of the racist language he has used on the campaign trail, we are presented Mexico as our adversary, almost our enemy when it comes to economy. We know here in Arizona, just the opposite is true. Yes, unfortunately we are seeing heated rhetoric during the presidential race and Mexico is paying close attention. I hope and pray those engaging in that sort of behavior are not successful in taking the White House. Again, we need a good working relationship with Mexico and oh by the way, we have challenges as well. The fact that we need to work together to stop the drug cartels and any violence associated with that, we're partners in that effort. I think some people took the challenges and said -- work on together because of the challenges, when I think the opposite approach was the appropriate one. Let's build closer relationships.
TED SIMONS: Critics will say are you partners as well in terms of stopping the tide of illegal immigration?
GREG STANTON: The answer is yes, but first and foremost we have to get our own house in order here in the United States of America. I'm proud that our two senators part of the famous gang of eight that came up with a strong proposal for comprehensive immigration reform and would have had eventually a path to citizenship. It wasn't going to be an easy path. Not for people that have come here and committed crimes. For people who come here and working, dream act students -- I would argue that no city, no region in the country would benefit more from the passage of comprehensive immigration reform than here in Phoenix, Arizona. Both sides have to do their part. I think important that now is the time. We shouldn't wait another day. Now is the time that we finally pass comprehensive immigration reform. It would be great for our economy.
TED SIMONS: $4.8 million grant from the justice department for body cameras for police officers.
GREG STANTON: We received a total of $4.8 million in various types of grants.
TED SIMONS: Okay.
GREG STANTON: One was for body cameras. One was for 25 new police officers for the city of Phoenix. We had a plan to increase police officers well over 400 over the next four years and we will get close to 500 as a result of one of the grants. The other grant was to add 150 or so new body cameras to the streets of Phoenix. Not just in one precinct. These will be citywide and we will do serious studying about behaviors of officers wearing the cameras, behavior of citizens who know that the officer has a camera on them. I'm very optimistic it will show that violence goes down, citizens are safe, police officers are safer with the cameras but we're not going to guess on that. We are going to do a detailed study that will get to the bottom of the benefits of body cameras on our police officers.
TED SIMONS: What do you think the cameras will accomplish?
GREG STANTON: I do believe that the cameras will accomplish safety, that citizens will be safer. They know they will be on camera. They'll behave differently. Officers will know that their actions and their words are being recorded. And they may act in a different way as well. We want community safety. Safety for members of the public. We want our officers to be as safe as possible. And I do believe that cameras are one important step. It is not a panacea, not a be all end all. When we do the studies and deploy cameras to the entire force which I believe will happen in the not too distant future, this is the direction we are going, one additional tool in our toolbox for officer and community safety.
TED SIMONS: Not to -- what about the new place officers, when do they hit the streets?
GREG STANTON: We believe they will hit the streets, authorization to buy the cameras almost right away. ASU designed a study. Next few weeks, months, near future, you will see the cameras on the street. We want to make sure that we get it right. Important to note we have to get the technology right, not just camera technology, but data collection and management. It collects a lot of data -- that we have a smart plan for body cameras.
TED SIMONS: My question was when do the additional officers hit the streets?
GREG STANTON: The chief has told me the next few weeks and months -- the officers. We're hiring right now. I thought you were talking about the cameras.
TED SIMONS: Oh, no.
GREG STANTON: Authorization to hire them right away. The chief, if he were sitting here and I know he occasionally does, he would tell you we want to hire as many as possible as quickly as possible, but only if they meet our very difficult standards for officers. We are not going to lower the standard for hiring an officer one iota simply because we're hiring a large volume of officers. Anyone watching at home, if you have a son, daughter, family, friend who you think might be interested in law enforcement, never a better time than right now to get a job with the best police department in the country.
TED SIMONS: On we go to the bike share program. Council votes to expand the bike share program. Not a unanimous vote. Some folks are wondering -- talk to us about this. Why was this expanded when the utilization rate is under 50%?
GREG STANTON: First off, I think the current bike share program, which was a modest program to start out with, has been successful in terms of increasing the breadth of the light rail system. So many of the bike shares are along the light rail system and it allows somebody that may have a meeting or a meeting a friend, or doctor appointment, a mile or so away from light rail to use light rail. Get on the bike and complete the last mile. When you say the utilization rate, I don't think the program has been unsuccessful. Every great city needs to be a multimodal city. I think offering bike share as an option for the people of Phoenix has been important and now we want to provide it in more places. City of Phoenix has been supportive of the program and continues to be supportive of the program, as you are going to see more and more of the beautiful green bikes throughout the city of Phoenix.
TED SIMONS: Is it worth it?
GREG STANTON: I have been a champion of bike share. I talk to my peers around the country, if you want to be a great multimodal city, bike share is a part of the package, so is improving light rail, more bikeable, thousand miles of bike lands that we are doing in the city of Phoenix. More walkable, more bikeable, and something like bike share used by a lot of tourists, etc., is a strong part of our overall policy of providing multimodal options for the people of Phoenix.
TED SIMONS: Provider is supposed to pay for all of the up front costs originally. Is that still the plan or is the city now going to be paying for this program? Again, 40% utilization rate.
GREG STANTON: The only thing that the city is paying for, we're buying bike rack infrastructure that we will have. If this -- if this particular operator doesn't make it, I'm committed to bikeshare. I have seen it in other cities and how it benefits. We want to make sure if we invest it, we are not giving money to an operator. If another operator has to come in, they will be able to utilize the infrastructure that the people that the city of Phoenix own. I think it is a smart investment by the city.
TED SIMONS: Phoenix suns new arena. Are you talking to Robert SARVER about a new arena?
GREG STANTON: Yes.
TED SIMONS: What is he saying to you --
GREG STANTON: I love -- I do not want to negotiate on this show. I am committed to making sure that the Phoenix sun stay downtown as they have been for decades now. It's been a wonderful relationship between the Phoenix suns and city of Phoenix. Coyotes have two more years on their agreement --
TED SIMONS: Are you talking to them?
GREG STANTON: Yes.
TED SIMONS: So you are talking to them.
GREG STANTON: As I have stated on this show and elsewhere, I didn't talk to them about taking anything away from the existing contract previously when they had a long-term contract or anything over the next two years. They have a contract for the next two years. Obviously they have to plan for their future, as well they should. If Phoenix can be a part of helping that franchise win Stanley cups or bring the Stanley cup to Phoenix, Arizona, done in downtown Phoenix, I think that would be a great thing for the city. Mr. SARVER is not only the owner of the team, he is a community booster, active in the community. Exploring a variety of options. Talks are relatively early. Everyone comes to the table with an open mind, and as I sit here, I have a very high level of confidence we will reach a long term agreement with the Phoenix suns and they will continue to play basketball here in Phoenix and someday bring an NBA championship to Phoenix, Arizona.
TED SIMONS: What about Chase field, do you think the city should take ownership of Chase field and if so what kind of cost are we talking about?
GREG STANTON: For the very reason I did not talk to coyotes during anything with the pendency of the contract with the -- everything I said tonight is the time period after their contract. The Diamondbacks, who I love on the baseball field. They have a long term agreement with Maricopa county. Any talk of the city of Phoenix taking ownership is premature. I don't feel comfortable talking about that on the air only because they have an existing contract with Maricopa County.
TED SIMONS: How much -- Back to the arena then. If in the future you take over from the county Chase field as well, but in general, how much have those arenas, stadiums, what have you actually helped downtown because a lot of folks say boondoggle, no more tax payer money for this stuff it doesn't realistically, tangibly help downtown.
GREG STANTON: Sure. I think it would be a stretch for anyone to suggest that U.S. airways arena, formally America Airways Arena now talking Talking Stick Arena in downtown Phoenix hasn't been tremendously important. Anyone who suggests otherwise is false, giving false information. Here is why. That arena not only has Suns games, Mercury games, Rattler games it has activities year round. Obviously when the biggest concerts come to town, where do they go? More often than not, Talking stick arena in downtown Phoenix, that provides incredible vibrancy. Super Bowl, arena was busy every night, not only providing for suns games but major concerts and events. A great downtown has to have an arena that is cutting edge. That arena has stood the test of time. It's still an outstanding arena. I went to the mercury game a couple of days ago and watched the team lose -- they should have won that game --
TED SIMONS: Tough call --
GREG STANTON: Tough call in the end. It depends on the terms of the deal. Having a world class arena that can compete for the best events, biggest shows come to town, we want those shows in downtown Phoenix, Arizona.
TED SIMONS: We wouldn't have the downtown we have or we would have a lesser downtown without those facilities.
GREG STANTON: We have a great downtown. Wonderfully vibrant with arts and culture, Roosevelt row, Grand Avenue, and arena. All of it comes together to make a great downtown, but having the arena downtown has been critically important for the development, ongoing great development that we see happening in the heart of the city.