Journalists’ Roundtable 07/08/2016

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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." A Maricopa County judge hold the child safety in contempt. "Journalists' Roundtable" is next on "Arizona Horizon."

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Ted Simons: Welcome to "Horizon"'s "Journalists' Roundtable." Joining us, Mary Jo Pitzl of the Arizona Republic, Howard Fischer of the Capitol Media services, and Rachel Leingang of the Arizona Capitol Times. Mary Jo, you wrote about this. Considering what happened in Dallas last night. Earlier in week in Tucson city council passed an interesting ordinance.

Mary Jo Pitzl: this is gun related. It says if you're going to have gun sales you cannot sell anything that has more than I think would carry ten rounds at a time. It's a gun control effort.

Ted Simons: this happened obviously earlier in the week. This is at the Tucson convention center because that's where the gun shows are.

Howard Fischer: For years that's where the most popular gun shows where much like the Phoenix convention center. This has been an ongoing battle between Tucson city council and gun rights advocates. Three years ago they passed an ordinance saying if you're going to do gun shows at the convention center, which we own, you have to do background checks. A loophole in the law as you know. What happened is guess what, all the gun shows moved out despite threats of lawsuits and everything else. So this new ordinance that was pushed through is in some ways largely symbolic since there are no gun shows there. They are being held in private venues up the block. We have had a Lou on the books for years about Tucson and specifically preemption. On August 8 this new section comes into effect that says any lawmaker can complain to the A.G. about a preemption and the A.G. can with hold your state money. We're going to have to see whether somebody like Senator Steve Smith complains and we end up with a new lawsuit over whether Tucson's efforts to control gun violence are illegal.

Ted Simons: Rachel, yet another case of the state saying we're on top here. We decide.

Rachel Leingang: right. It's the more liberal cities that want stricter gun control. They want higher wages, they want more progressive, liberal ideas and the state legislature, obviously conservative, has a problem with that so they try to tamp those down.

Rachel Leingang: The term is Neanderthal.

Mary Jo Pitzl: this is all headed for legal action. Many of the cities are charter cities. They have the right to establish their own rules and sort of run things the way they want.

Ted Simons: how does that work? The charter city thing.

Howard Fischer: what happened is that first many of the cities existed before the state existed. In 1812. Arizona constitution says if you adopt your own chart they're requires a public vote. You may legislate on things of purely local control. Regardless of what the legislature tells you. So for example when the legislature tried to tell Tucson you need your elections on certain dates the state Supreme Court no, you're a charter city. There are only 18 charter cities out of 90 cities but thy may say people think this charter is not such a bad thing.

Ted Simons: That's headed for court. We talked about D.C. in contempt of court.

Mary Jo Pitzl: this stems from a case where a child has developmental disabilities, they got on DCS's radar screen, the family did, and the agency was ordering services. Let's get counseling, therapy. It just wasn't happening. It was not happening. The child was removed from the family actually all the kids were removed for a while. This all led to the mother complaining in court. Because this went on for many, many months their attorney so the a contempt finding, which is I'm told a lot of them will seek this if something is blown off for a period of time, very rarely do judges grant it because usually contempt finding comes with a financial penalty. Nobody wants to her the money that goes into the agency to help.

Ted Simons: financial penalty against the department of child safety means they don't have as much money.

Howard Fischer: But it gets their attention and the attention of lawmakers propose rating the funds saying when Greg McKay says I need more money --

Ted Simons: Chief of --

Howard Fischer: Yes.

Rachel Leingang: They did not get fined yet. They have to come up with a training program by November 1 that would allow case workers to quickly address people who need services. If they don't, by November 1, they would have a $9,000 fine.

Mary Jo Pitzl: not only do they have to have the policy, They have to have trained everybody and show their follow-up plan. One source said it would just be cheaper to pay the fine. They have indicated they are aware of this, they are working on a training program.

Ted Simons: this is one case the entire agency held in contempt?

Howard Fischer: It comes down to where does the buck stop. A lot of the frustration of juvenile court judges and Mary Jo sees this more than I do, fist these are not unique cases. That's there's been a history of excuses I guess you would call of things that just don't get done. The excuses that were given to the legislature about why things didn't happen, how money got wasted. And I think you finally had a judge who said I've had enough. 9,000 is not a lot but it will get their attention.

Ted Simons: DCS, is it still considered an improvement over DCS?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Still considered? [laughter]

Ted Simons: What was initially considered an improvement because there was a change and they were moving forward. That's what we heard.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Right.

Ted Simons: is it better than what we had?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Well there are a few areas where they are improving. They are knocking down their backlog of cases, this boat anchor that's been dragging the agency down, but their most recent report on child welfare came out end of last month and there's more kids in out of the home care than the previous six months. Not by much. About 1%, still the trend lines haven't turned around yet.

Ted Simons: does that mean the governor has turned around with his thoughts on the leader?

Howard Fischer: Every time we have asked the governor it's great job here, brownie. Sorry. I shouldn't have said that. But the governor has shown no indication of wanting to get rid of Greg. I think his question may be okay so we get rid of him, is it going to be any different. One of the criticisms of Greg, he's a cop, not a welfare person. The question is do you need something running the agency whose background is different.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I don't know, Charles Flanagan, brief lie his predecessor, came out of a prison background. He wasn't a social worker either. It seems what that agency needs is a good administrator. The governor, I think this is a big agency, it's got a lot of problems, it takes time to turn things around. He has his lean government transformation people working on improving processes and all of that sort of bureaucratic machinery that could make things work more efficiently.

Rachel Leingang: this case speaks to the frustration parents and families have to go through when this happens. Obviously the kids got pull out of the home because there was a deficiency, the kid didn't get services within a certain time. That leads to more prods for the kits. -- more problems for the kids.

Ted Simons: We have a possible minimum wage initiative headed to the ballot. Signatures are in.

Howard Fischer: They got 120,000 more than the 150,000 more than they need which suggests absent some horrible thing happening voters get to decide do we want to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour as of January 1, and 12 an hour by 2020. Right now it's 8:05 an hour based on the fact in 2006 voters approved the first ordinance which separated us from the Feds, at 7.25. There's automatic inflation but nowhere near 12 an hour by 2020 under that. There's a groundswell of support that's occurred. They got a lot of signatures in a very short period of time. You've seen what's happening in other states. California governor signed a $15 an hour measure. There's one going on in Flagstaff for a local minimum wage. Time off. There are a lot of people saying given the cost of living, can you live on $12 an hour? Can you live on $8 an hour better yet? So I think the group felt 12 was a saleable measure and they think they have a good chance.

Ted Simons: especially if it steps to 10, then 12. Reaction from those against this? I would imagine strong.

Rachel Leingang: right. The restaurant association as you can Madge vin a lot of lower wage workers, not a fan. Likely to fight it. The chamber of commerce going to fight T. you'll see a lot of heavy hitters going against this.

Mary Jo Pitzl: I will say for the restaurants, the ballot measure does have a concession for tip workers and would raise their base pay to $9 an hour.

Ted Simons: but that's pretty -- chamber of commerce, restaurant industry heavy hitters.

Mary Jo Pitzl: they were at it last time.

Howard Fischer: they may be busy with another ballot measure, funny thing about that the scientists employees international union, which has been fighting with hospitals in California, decided to put a measure on the Arizona ballot that says hospital administrators can't earn more than $450,000 a year. Many are charities, they get Hayman fire their money from Medicare and Medicaid. What's fascinating is the chamber of commerce is that says 12 an hour is way too much, when I asked them about their position on this measure, they said, well, 450,000 a year is about 216 an hour. We certainly wouldn't want to cast that.

Ted Simons: As far as minimum wage, does this have a chance to pass?

Rachel Leingang: well, it gathered a lot of signatures in a short amount of time which I think shows the public has a lot of interest in this. It's been a popular progressive idea nationally. Depends who turns out on election day. With trump on the ballot as we talked about many times we don't know what's going to happen.

Ted Simons: complete wildcard.

Mary Jo Pitzl: yes, although you could argue many trump supporters would like a hike in the minimum wage. They are diss affected in their ability to move up. Also I think this is written to try to bring out the Latino vote in Arizona. This was -- the minimum wage campaign, the director came out -- there's a lot of Hispanic support for this. Whether this brings voters out, a lot of Latinos some are in the lower tier of hourly pay. This could drive -- [speaking simultaneously]

Howard Fischer: the economic aspect, you can't underestimate. You have had people like Dennis Hoffman on the show. One thing we have seen is while the unemployment rate is going down wages have been stagnant except at the very top. I think that's the kind of thing that gets people angry. They say look, it's about time.

Ted Simons: all right, it's about time for us to have our annual, it seems like, talk about marijuana with our chief expert over here. Marijuana legalization. Is this headed for the ballot?

Howard Fischer: Well, again, they turned in far more signatures than they needed. We can expect that they will be challenges, somebody will say the margins weren't right or something else. But here again, the business community is going to come out and say, look, you're failing to understand the problems occurring elsewhere. Well, that's in the eye of the beholder. I have been to Colorado a couple of times since they have enacted their laws. I have looked at it. They do have dispensaries all around the city, but somehow the state is still functioning.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about this measure now. Lealize it for recreation use. Does 21 and over could possess up to an ounce can grow six plants in your home. Garden spot in the backyard. It sets up a network of licensed shops, creates a department that will look at this, department of marijuana control.

Rachel Leingang: Instead of being under DHS, like the medical marijuana program is, it would have a separate group that would have oversight just over the marijuana.

Howard Fischer: there are two weaknesses people are shooting at. Number one is the people who have the current medical marijuana dispensaries get first crack at the limited, like 150, dispensaries, set upstate wide. You're creating an oligarchy of sorts the entire state can only have 150 marijuana shops until 2020. The other issues is the issue of driving drugs. The law says you cannot drive while impaired but there's no impaired standard. It's not like drunk driving.

Ted Simons: Does the fact that there would be a 15% tax on retail sales that was supposed to go to education and public health, is that enough to WOO some folks who might be on the fence?

Mary Jo Pitzl: definitely. One of the messages we heard from prop 123, you know, two months ago was that for people that vote nod they said this doesn't go far enough. Even people that voted for it some said we still need to do more for education, more for education. You always hold us education as the blessed child that needs help. Yes, this could bring people out. People are rather attuned to our state's lean budget and there's a significant cohort that thinks the state doesn't have enough money to do the job. Here's the way to do it without raising my income tax or the sales tax unless you're a marijuana user.

Ted Simons: Some of the arguments for and against. Sounds like those for you take it out of the underground, tax, that's the positive.

Rachel Leingang: right. They also had a campaign buy American, not Mexican. Basically they say prohibition hasn't worked. Why don't we treated like alcohol and it can't be worse than it is now. Failed war on drugs, citing of failed policies of the past few decades. Interestingly a lot of people who are pro legalization are not pro this initiative. There's a whole group of folks who think it doesn't go far enough. They think it's still prohibition in some regards. You'll see people who are pro legalization who are actually against it.

Ted Simons: Are they against it enough to not go to the polls?

Rachel Leingang: or to vote no.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Howard Fischer: that goes to the issue of the monopolies. One of the other differences between this group initiative and the other that failed the other would have decriminalized larger quantities. This one you still have some felonies available. This is going to parse out as Rachel said very interesting ways here in terms of where you're going to have folks on both ends who may oppose the middle.

Ted Simons: as far as those opposed they would say you'll see more impaired drivers, lose loved ones, businesses would be hurt because workers would be showing up high on the job.

Ted Simons: But again --

Ted Simons: Arguments against.

Howard Fischer: you're still down to the question the same arguments were raised with medical marijuana, people would be showing up stoned. This has the same language as the medical marijuana law in the sense that you cannot bring your drugs to work. You cannot show up impaired. But by the contrary you cannot be fired because you have metabolites in your body you get high on Saturday night and show up for work on Monday. You're not still high.

Ted Simons: for those who say marijuana is against the law, it's a federal law, against the law. So we pass state law, we say it's okay, what happened to preemption?

Howard Fischer: It's always fascinating that you have people like bill Montgomery and some other County attorneys who say we have sovereign state. We get to decide. We made the federal government. Except when it comes to marijuana, of course, we have to obey them. The fact is at least this administration has said hands off if states want to do it, nobody is running into Colorado, the FBI, DEA, not busting up marijuana shops.

Rachel Leingang: there's four states that have legalize marijuana and there would probably about five I would guess that will have it on the ballot. As that begins to shift to majority states you see some movement federally.

Ted Simons: Hospital executive pay cut, this would basically say you can't make more than the president of the United States?

Mary Jo Pitzl: Yes, they plucked the number, a nice, hefty number, why should anyone earn more than the president who technically earns 400,000 plus 50,000 for expenses. This comes from a spillover from a fight in California that happened last cycle I believe and it's playing out here in Arizona with some of the same hospitals.

Rachel Leingang: this is quite bizarre. You mentioned the California union fight. I haven't been able to find anyone in Arizona working on this. All the circulators -- their petition circulate worse were local but the company was from California. All the representatives are in California. We don't have very strong unions here, so I don't think they are trying to organize at the hospitals. It's just a little bizarre. I don't see what the point is aside from this spillover from California locally. There doesn't seem to be a lot of interest.

Mary Jo Pitzl: Finally we're attracted California --

Ted Simons: there you go. Basically when opponents say these are California unions messing with our laws or out of state interests they are right?

Howard Fischer: they are right but then again the marijuana policy project that put 20910 measure on the ballot lot is based back east. Look at how much money has been spent on ballot measures like pay day loans and everything else. Rachel mentioned this is funny because they tried to put it on the ballot in California in 2014 and the hospitals and unions entered into an agreement saying we'll work on it. That fell apart. They tried to put it on this year, but a mediator said wait a second, you are still under the terms of your 2014 agreement. You have to pull that off the ballot. That left them with, hey, we got Arizona.

Ted Simons: But is this legal?

Rachel Leingang: I would anticipate that groups like the hospital association will challenge that. Definitely bring up that idea. They are saying because hospitals are licensed by the state that you could tie this into their licensure. If they didn't abide by the wage laws their license would be revoked.

Howard Fischer: It's not -- look. The fact is you cannot set wage caps like this for private enterprise. The way you get it, which is what they should have done is say these are nonprofit hospitals getting tax breaks. If you pay more than a certain amount for a charity, then you lose the tax break. That's the what I to get their attention.

Ted Simons: we'll see how far this one goes. Mary Jo, we were looking for a slogan, re branding or branding. Remember he wanted a rebranding or branding for Arizona to get us to be more attractive to business and people. What, anything yet?

Mary Jo Pitzl: No, apparently from reporting how he did we're not going to. This launched more than a year ago. He is trying to change the way if things proceed on the national stage. They hired the same Freemen that rebranded cold stone creamery which the government used to run. They did focus groups, talked to lawmakers, average Joes to get people's ideas, how should it present itself. Ohow you -- why they concluded that we really don't need a slogan.

Howard Fischer: What's fascinating is everyone has been trying to sell Arizona you look in the business magazines W. have low taxes, we have people willing to work for next to nothing. We have less regulation. That will get people's attention. What Kathy found is that we -- that gets people in the door. It doesn't close the deal. What closes the deal --

Ted Simons: Who is Kathy HEARNS.

Howard Fischer: she is the consultant that was hired. What closed the deal is the life-style. The fact you can get home in 20 minutes, sit on your back porch, not today, but much of the year, and watch the sun set. The fact that it's a laid back place. She compared it to you go out and you need a car, yeah, you start with your -- it gets great gas mileage. It's a great value. I think it's going to get a good trade-in. What sells you on it is the car is gorgeous.

Ted Simons: you come for spring training, say, I could stay here, start a business.

Rachel Leingang: The thing that's interesting this is idea of the Arizona life-style. I read that. What is that? Very nebulous. If you're supposed to come up with a slogan based on people like the Arizona life-style I don't get what that is. I think it's a little unclear. Especially if we're paying a quarter million dollars for a study like this, I don't understand what is deliverable at the end of this? Are they going to tell us people like the life-style?

Ted Simons: Catch phrase. Gimme a catch phrase.

Rachel Leingang: I don't want one.

Howard Fischer: that's the point. You cannot reduce it to that. You'll see new ads put out that may say, yes, we have low taxes, yes, we have this, we also have beautiful sunsets or something like that. It's refocusing the idea of how to get things. I saw an article done by two men who extracted the tuft and needle and they were in Palo Alto. They said, what brought them here was the life-style, the fact that they could be home in 15 minutes.

Ted Simons: news time story -- very interesting. So our catch phrase is we don't need no stinkin' catch phrase?

Mary Jo Pitzl: One of my colleagues randomly interviewed people at the airport, a lot of them were travelers. One I liked a young woman suggested Arizona will surprise you. I think that plays --

Ted Simons: that's a good catch phrase.

Mary Jo Pitzl: There's always these preconceptions of Arizona. You come here, wow, you know, or hey, it's not so wacky. Or you come here and say, oh, my God, I didn't know 118 could feel like this.

Rachel Leingang: you get that for free at the airport.

Ted Simons: right.

Howard Fischer: basically no catch phrase for now but we love living here and right about now we have the coldest air conditioning in the country.

Howard Fischer: hopefully we have do. We'll see a final program by the end of the summer. It will be interesting to see what that looks like compared to what's been sold before.

Ted Simons: thanks. Monday on "Arizona Horizon" our favorite physicist Lawrence Krauss joins us for a Lively discussion and our favorite Rhum rift talks about her latest ruminations on the domestic arts. That's Monday at 5:30 and 10:00 on "Arizona Horizon." Tuesday we'll hear from candidates running from congressional district 1. Wednesday a new poll buy border issues. Thursday a legal look at national political conventions and frizz day it's another oh digs of the "Journalists' Roundtable." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great weekend.

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