Journalists’ Roundtable 05/12/2016

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Join us as three local journalists bring you up to date on the news of the week.

Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon" -- "Journalists' Roundtable." Sheriff Joe Arpaio is found in civil contempt of court. Efforts to postpone next week's special election falls short. Journalists' roundtable is next on "Arizona Horizon."

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Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon" "Journalists' Roundtable." I'm Ted Simons. Joining us Mary Joe Pitzl of the Arizona Republic, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, and Alia Rau of the Arizona Republic. A judge found Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio of Capitol Media Services, and Alia Rau of the Arizona Republic. three of his aides in civil come tempt. This is not necessarily a surprise, is it?

Mary Jo Pitzl: this whole thing has been going on for a long, long time, stemming from has Arpaio throughout the judge's orders to clean up racial profiling that was happening at his office. Today judge Murray snow charged Arpaio with three counts of civil contempt.

Howard Fischer: this is fascinating because the judge knowing this is going up on appeal because Arpaio doesn't give up issued a 62-page order. Some of the verbiage is fascinating. They have demonstrated Perez at any time disregard for the orders of this court as well as intention to violate policies regulated by the court. Strong language.

Ted Simons: but will it necessarily lead to criminal proceedings?

Howard Fischer: Well, criminal is knowing respect, willful, intentional. When the sheriff testified earlier on this thing, he sort of went up there of Capitol Media Services, and Alia Rau of the Arizona Republic. A federal judge todayfound Maricoa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and three o his top aides in civil contempt of federal court. He basically said I didn't know what was going on in my department. No one tells me anything, which is fascinating from a guy who was campaigning on the fact you ought to elect him sheriff because he's in charge of everything.

Ted Simons: Basically he defied the judge's order. That's what this is about.

Alia Rau: He did. He did say in court yes, these things happened. It was an issue of did he stop the racial profiling, did he turn over videos and did his staff help provide some of the information, some of the evidence that the court wanted. They basically admitted to not doing that. Saying it wasn't intentional. So now we're at the question of was there intent, what does that mean, do we get to a criminal point.

Ted Simons: how long do we take now to find out if judge snow and the whole situation moves to criminal? It could be weeks, months.

Mary Jo Pitzl: yes. I think the next court date is May 31, end of this month. It could take time. To remind the viewers, this is an election year and Arpaio is running for his sixth --

Ted Simons: seventh term. Something like that.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Again. Running again.

Howard Fischer: The other piece of it is even assuming it doesn't get to criminal contempt even civil contempt, which would be a personal fine against him, nothing he can say, oh, the County will pay for this. This is fascinating because we get into the question of does it affect the election. Does he resign. Does he take a plea deal from the judge or from the government to say, okay, if you make this go away I will go away also. The guy is 83. It's not like he's waiting for Social Security to kick in.

Ted Simons: seems like every four years we ask could this affect the election? What about this?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Is this the year?

Ted Simons: Yes.

Alia Rau: I don't think anybody knows. I think he's got his supporters who are going to be his supporters if his name is on the ballot they are going to support him. The question is is there enough -- this ongoing case doesn't seem to be driving folks away. If we have a strong candidate against him we have somebody running, what kind of campaign is it, that plays more of a role.

Ted Simons: is this considered a big local story? Is there Arpaio fatigue? This is a big deal.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I think there's Arpaio acceptance that this is our sheriff and this is sort of where he's at, you know. I think, yes, it's a big story.

Howard Fischer: The problem becomes this big issue. How many years did we discuss Russell Pearce or Jan Brewer and some of her immigration issues. Russell said something else. There's a shock. Sheriff Joe is in trouble with the court. There's a shock. Is it a headline in the Saturday morning paper? Sure. Do folks say that's noise, -- that's nice, what are the lottery numbers? We don't know.

Ted Simons: we'll see how the sheriff campaigns after having gone through something like this. Let's go to the election on Tuesday. The Attorney General says no postponement.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Correct. Earlier this week Attorney General Tom Ryan, who is an opponent of proposition 123, but a supporter of prop 124, went to Attorney General Mark Bernvich and asked we would like you to go to the court and ask them to cancel the election and reschedule it for another time because the Secretary of State's office failed to send publicity pamphlets to more than 200,000 households that's required by law. Secretary of State's office admitted they didn't do that in a timely fashion. They fixed it but it didn't happen as prescribed by law. That Ryan says is enough argument to postpone they election.

Howard Fischer: there's a couple of problems here. A, as Mary Jo said, the Attorney General used the word I probably wouldn't use on public division about his feeling. Called it a goat rope. That's a nicer term he used. He said there's nothing in the law that says Secretary of State doesn't comply with the law. What's the penalty? There's no provision for canceling an election plus this becomes very Nixonian. What got Dick Nixon in trouble wasn't the Watergate, it was the coverup. Same thing here. Secretary of State knew as early as April 24 if not before they had failed to comply with the law. Did she tell anyone? Did she make it known? It wasn't until late last week she said, oh, by the way, I didn't comply with the law. By which point it's too late.

Ted Simons: haven't there been attempts to tighten the bolts on elections, on vote gathering, on all aspects of elections by the legislature? If you mess around the slightest bit we're going to come get you? Did they not come get her?

Alia Rau: This area there is no penalty. There's no penalty in the law. They focused on you can't turn your ballot in to anybody but what Volk collectors can do but nothing on the Secretary of State's office specifically. Very specific rules about when the pamphlets go out, how they go out, what they look like. There's no penalty.

Howard Fischer: let me go a step beyond that. All these measures, a lot of them about strict compliance are aimed not at what the legislature does, they are aimed at what people do. Lawmakers hate it when the people say, hey, we get to make the laws. Never minds what the constitution says. All of these measures were strict compliance. You have a margin this wide, this many staples in the page, all aimed to undermine voter referendum, initiatives, not so much what the legislature does.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Correct. That's what the complaint hinged on was strict compliance and the Attorney General says it doesn't apply in this case. The interesting thing about strict compliance is when it was applied to initiatives which Tom Ryan still argues is pertinent, that was brought to us by Michele Reagan when she was state Senator and chaired the elections committee. There was concern somebody's citizen initiatives were too loosey goosy so they produced stricter compliance. Now she has to administer that.

Howard Fischer: Ted Simons: that was the old Michele Reagan, the one that sat around this table and said I'm opposed to dark money?

Ted Simons: speaking of the new Michele Reagan, she and her staff admitted they did not comply with the law yet he's not going to postpone the vote. He's going to look into this further, though, correct?

Alia Rau: he is going to conduct a full investigation. New allegations from Tom Ryan about coverups and was there a coverup. What was known when, what was done about it. I think we'll see that.

Ted Simons: are we going to see impeachment proceedings again? Tom Ryan said they should start impeachment proceedings.

Mary Jo Pitzl: That was today's blast from Tom Ryan. After conceding he's not going to get the election postponed or canceled he said, there is an issue with our state. I think she should get rid of her elections director. I'm going to call the legislature to start impeachment proceedings. In the next breath he basically said he knows this isn't going anywhere but he wants to highlight what he thinks are problem with that office.

Howard Fischer: there is a remedy that he could use called recall. It requires like 360,000 value it signatures over four months but there's a remedy. Impeachment requires things like high crimes, misdemeanors and malfeasance. He's basically arguing nonfeesance. She didn't do her job. Recall is strictly a political matter. If he had the money, which is his president, he doesn't have the million dollars to get the petitions, you can get rid of Michele Reagan the same way they got rid of Russell Pearce.

Ted Simons: as far as the campaigns will be concerns we mention 123 and 124 in the same breath. For 123 does this impact the campaign.

Alia Rau: I'm not sure if it does. You're talking about did have a lot of information from both sides. It seems like from people I have talked to on the issue the ones that are going to vote had done their own research and know what's going on. I don't know how much the Pam plenty would have changed their minds. Maybe reminded people to vote more.

Howard Fischer: I will tell you where it could have an effect. All these headlines, the fact that we're talking about it, the fact they are suggesting a vast conspiracy, there may be some people saying, wait, if Michele Reagan, in league with the governor and everyone else, is pushing this and playing games maybe I want to vote no. That might be interesting.

Ted Simons: Is this the idea if you're confused, too much on the ballot, always vote no. Is there too much information, I'm tired of hearing about it I'm going to vote no?

Mary Jo Pitzl: It could be, but you also have to keep in mind in terms of what's hitting the airwaves has all been vote yes. Vote yes. Vote yes. It's a $4.5 million campaign. That said, and there is an opposition campaign. You can find them on youtube. A reporter can call them up and they are happy to give you a quote. In terms of the public awareness, it's very disproportionate. But there are concerns. This week the chamber of commerce put an extra half million dollars into the campaign, something I think early on people thought was a slam dunk. It's going to help the schools. Everyone now says it's going to be razor thin. We're consistently starting to hear from the pro who thought this would be a landslide saying we're nervous. It's going to be close. We think it's going to pass but it's going to be close.

Howard Fischer: there was one strategy group that suggested perhaps the margin is only 53%. That may be optimistic.

Ted Simons: this was a slam dunk early on.

Mary Jo Pitzl: The robo call from the yes campaign said we expect this to be a close vote.

Ted Simons: We'll have post election analysis on Wednesday. Last Friday for our "Journalists' Roundtable." You guys weren't here. You were working. The legislature FINALLY ended its session. Set the scene as everyone finally wept home.

Alia Rau: as the sun began to rise on Saturday morning it had risen.

Howard Fischer: I sort of chaos, confusion and why are we still here. They put out over 200 bills in the last week essentially and a lot of them last night which shows I'm sure they got thorough discussion. All the stuff that was backed up that -- some was little tiny changes, some of it was grander. Last minute effort to try to defund clean elections. It was one of those things that why are we still here? Is anything that important? What's scary is when they rushed like that the three of us sitting around the table I would like to say we're all good reporters. There's stuff we're going to miss. On August 6 when this kicks in we're going to be doing stories, did you know what they did?

Ted Simons: all fuels situation all over again. Did it feel as though lawmaker worse frustrated they had to pile through these without really going through them?

Alia Rau: there was a lot of complaining on both sides of the aisle, everyone blaming everybody else. You're talking too much. That's why we're taking too long. From the Republicans to the Democrats, Democrats to the Republicans. There were back room deals, arm-wringing on a lot of these bills. Everyone dragging on everything.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Alia's depiction probably pertains mostly to the Sous. In the Senate there was weariness. We're waiting again for the ho us to figure out what it's doing. To get bills over to us. You walk over there 2:00 a.m. and see people sleeping on their couches because they had nothing else to do except wait.

Howard Fischer: the speaker had some things he wanted. He had a PAWN broker bill which did come up. We play those games at the end of the session. It's scary that the thing gets held up because somebody has a pet project he or she wants.

Ted Simons: we should mention $9. billion spending plan. The governor says it's first structurally balanced in years. JLBC 1.5 million. Razor thin but still there. As far as the budget is concerned, they are all happy -- well, mostly pretty happy down there.

Alia Rau: I think the Republicans are mostly happy. Structural balance was a big deal for a lot of the conservative Republicans. The Democrats, not so happy in general. Some of the moderate Republicans got quite a bit done in terms of mitigating cuts to education that they were proud of. That sort of held up the budget for a little while. I guess it's typical. The Republicans are happy and the Democrats are not.

Mary Jo Pitzl: you did have a coalition of Democrats that teamed up with coalition of Republicans who teamed up with Democrats pushing for more in the budget. They probably would have to have gotten more, especially on the university fun.

Ted Simons: Clarify again. I think there's some confusion regarding university funding. We keep seeing 32 million but that's not necessarily what it is.

Howard Fischer: start off from the fact of the 32. Put that in perspective since they cut 99 million last year, hey, we're giving you 32 million . well -- yeah. Of that 19 million is one time money. You got some things but don't count on it. Don't hire any professors, don't lower tuition with this. Another 5 million for economic freedom schools started with seed money from people like the Koch foundation and others. Let's keep it running with public dollars which annoyed the Democrats. Why aren't we lowering tuition with that? It basically left 8 million in ongoing restoration of 9 million in cuts.

Ted Simons: even the board of regents said was a nice start.

Howard Fischer: what are they -- what are they going to say? They have to come back next year.

Ted Simons: that's right. cap in hand I guess. There were a couple of water bills that the governor vetoed. These are interesting because they both deal with southern Arizona. House speaker -- was this Gowan pushing these things?

Alia Rau: he was one. There are two different bills both dealing with letting some of the rural communities not comply with some of the stricter water rules. There's a rule that says you have to have 100 years of water going forward to build a development. It was a development in Sierra Vista, which is where David Gowan lives, to opt out, give them an exception, let them build the 7,000 house development out there. Basically putting some water potentially at risk according to the governor's veto.

Ted Simons: indeed they can opt out or have to renew it or reconsider it every so often. The 100 year water requirement is a big deal in Arizona.

Howard Fischer: understood. The 1980 ground water code which deals with the 100 year supply only governs certain areas of the state. It allows opt out and Cochise did. The Cochise board of supervisors unanimously the water downed version said get rid of it unanimously. The bigger bill said any -- you know that County ordinance that says the 100 year supplies in we're putting zero I scape in the medians. That's crucial because this all goes back to a lawsuit over that tribute development over the department of water resources saying you have a 100 year water supply appeared the Brewer of land management saying you didn't take into account all the water for the San Pedro, the riparian -- we have claims against this.

Ted Simons: the governor said these are bad bills.

Mary Jo Pitzl: he is trying to stand in the shoes or continue the tradition that Arizona's had of state leaders taking a strong proactive stance on water management and water conservation. He was lobbied by a lot of the water groups. Former Senator Jon Kyl now has a center for water policies at ASU. A lot of concerns about the bills and the governor obviously heeded them and issued his own concerns.

Ted Simons: farce a couple of gun bills, two were signed, one vetoed. One allows guns closer to school yards and campuses.

Howard Fischer: that's a minor one. If you look at the ASU main campus or downtown there are public streets that go through the campus between here, and the law school. Under strict reading of the law if you were driving through there and had a gun you could be found in violation. They decided that's probably not a good sign. Second one deals with OVERLYing what the cities have done. Tucson has a gun ordinance says you have your gun stolen you ought to report it to the police. The argument is you may not enact gun laws. This allows a penalty against the city of Tucson -- people can sue and tied with another bill dealing with loss of revenue sharing penalizes Tucson for enacting it.

Alia Rau: it was a big issue. We have started out with the governor and the state of the state basically warning cities to behave, particularly dealing with minimum wage issues. I think that was his focus. Andy Biggs came in with legislation saying if you pass the cities ordinance or County regulation that goes farther than state law in an area the state has said this is their intention basically we can take your state shared revenue which in a lot of cities is half to two-thirds of their money. It's hijack.

Howard Fischer: I'm sure of statewide concerns plastic bags. The Bisbee said we have a trash bag W. have plastic bags all over the place. We want to say no plastic bags.

Ted Simons: same in Tempe.

Howard Fischer: you have the situation that they have determined that we as legislators know better than anybody else. These are going to be interesting fights particularly places like Bisbee and Tempe, which are charter cities, which have a constitutional right to legislate in areas of strictly local concern.

Alia Rau: those are the two gun bills the governor signed. One he vetoed was joining a state compact. basically it would have several states coming together saying we think this is what our gun laws should be. We're going to agree with this and not do anything stricter than that. The upped lying issue would be if I as voter decided to put something on the ballot to toughen gun laws I couldn't do it. They would basically let another state have some say in Arizona's gun laws.

Howard Fischer: the constitution guarantees right of citizens to initiate their own gun laws or any laws that they want. Somehow statutorily you could override this. Their fear if you talk to a person like Bob thunderstorm is Michael Bloomberg, evil word. They the state of Washington he got a background check law to close the loophole for background checks. The fear is he's going to come here and we're trying to preclude that. The governor said as much as I love the second amendment do we want to tie our future to what Utah does?

Ted Simons: we know what's best for our state. This is unnecessary. One more veto I wanted to mention. Developers levying taxes and basically kind of running the show in their own worlds.

Mary Jo Pitzl: this is speaker David Gowan bills. He really wanted this one. The legislature in the last week turned it down. About three hours later reversed himself. He got his win but only to have it nixed by the governor who said this idea of giving for allowing developers to form facility district set up to pay for the cost of infrastructure, without having the cities or local government bought into this is not a good idea. Not a good way to go. There are no controls. The board of a community facilities district, these things exist now, they set the tax rate. Well, there were some concerns from Republicans and Democrats alike if it's developers in charge of this, who are they accountable to?

Howard Fischer: that's the key. The governing body becomes all appointed by the developer. You can't vote them out of office the way you can if you don't like what the Peoria city council does. The other interesting footnote, this was not a good week or month for David Gowan.

Ted Simons: it seems like we were heavy hitting the same topic over and over. Not good for the speaker.

Howard Fischer: put it this way. He's a lame duck. The governor doesn't have to make nice to him any more. He has had going back to the whole fiasco over the media and everything else it seems like everything he touches turns to manure. That's really what's happened here.

Mary Jo Pitzl: he got the Israel statement.

Howard Fischer: He got a statement in support of Israel that the air legislature stands by our friends in Israel. That's going to affect Arizona's foreign policy.

Ted Simons: how is this going to affect his congressional bid?

Howard Fischer: that's a tricky one. You have six people in the race. Somebody with 17% could end up winning the primary. He now has name idea. May not be good but he has it.

Ted Simons: we'll stop it there. Good to have you all here. Join us Monday, more on Sheriff Joe Arpaio being found in civil contempt. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us. You have a great weekend.

Mary Jo Pitzel: The Arizona Republic; Howard Fischer: Capitol Media Services; Alia Rau: The Arizona Republic

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