Here and Now Archive

Phoenix native Jon Talton was an Arizona Republic columnist for seven years. He has since moved to the Pacific Northwest, where he writes for The Seattle Times and blogs often about Phoenix at RogueColumnist.com.Talton talked with Steve Goldstein about ways for Phoenix to improve its economy and strengthen its efforts to deal with climate change. Talton also discussed writing fiction, which continues with his latest Arizona-based mystery "The Night Detectives."

Summer won't officially arrive for another week, but the Valley is already facing excessive heat warnings.Meteorologist and Channel 12 storm chaser Matthew Pace said we will have our typically hot summer days, and he is predicting an average monsoon season of blowing dust and thunderstorms.

Scientists who study the Southwest drought said the extremely dry conditions will likely increase the danger of catastrophic wildfires. University of Arizona Climate Science Professor Gregg Garfin talked about whether the conditions are expected to get worse and how government planning should take that into account.

Scottsdale's plans for the Desert Discovery Center calls for the project to have informative and artistic exhibits on the Sonoran Desert. There are many supporters, but funding and location continue to be challenges.

Melinda Gulick of the Desert Discovery Center Task Force and Scottsdale Councilman Guy Phillips discuss the goals of the center and whether it should be in north Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve or at Reata Pass/Greasewood Flats.

Arizona's economic recovery continues to be slow, but Dennis Hoffman of Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business says there are a number of positive signs.Hoffman says increasing consumer confidence should improve the state's condition.

Arizona has been attracting more attention from Wall Street recently. Last month, two companies based in the state had Initial Public Offerings or IPOs. S. Trevis Certo of Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business explained what makes for a successful IPO and how connected IPOs are to current economic conditions.

Recently retired Sen. Jon Kyl, who was one of the leaders in the push for immigration reform in 2007, says the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" is in a much better position to pass reform this year.Kyl said climate for reform is much friendlier. He also said the Gang of Eight's process has been much more open.

Dr. Michael Desmond, Harvard University Sociology Professor and former wildland firefighter in Northern Arizona, considers the vital role firefighters play in protecting the land. He also reflects on the inherent danger in the job and his sadness at the loss of 19 lives in the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Grand Canyon University is investing a lot of money and energy into moving its athletic programs into Division I, the highest level of competition in the NCAA.

Brad Wolverton of The Chronicle of Higher Education talks to Steve Goldstein about the challenges GCU will face— and whether its for-profit status will impact how it's viewed by the NCAA.

A new poll from the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center shows Senator John McCain's job approval ratings in Arizona are at their lowest level in more than two decades.Behavior Research Center President and CEO Jim Haynes interprets the numbers in a conversation with Steve Goldstein.

The Arizona Cardinals head into Thursday's National Football League draft with new Head Coach Bruce Arians and first-time General Manager Steve Keim.

Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com tells Steve Goldstein how the organization has changed and how the draft can help the team improve.

The Phoenix-based Beatitudes Campus has a different approach to caring for residents who have advanced dementia. The New Yorker magazine featured its methods in the May 20 issue.The Director of Education and Research for the Beatitudes Campus, Tena Alonzo, explained what inspired her and the campus to focus on the quality of life of its residents.

Governor Jan Brewer's decision to call lawmakers into a special session to finish the state budget and approve Medicaid expansion has deepened the divide within the Republican party. It has also brightened the line that separates supporters and opponents of the expansion.Steve Goldstein got updates on the special session from Jim Small of The Arizona Capitol Times and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell.

Former House Speaker Kirk Adams said the governor should have consulted with Senate President Andy Biggs and House Speaker Andy Tobin before calling for the special session. Adams called it a "political power play."

Former Majority Whip Chris Herstam said the governor was wise to use her power to move the session along at a time when some Democratic supporters were ready to leave the state on pre-planned trips and vacations.

When the word “art” is brought up with the discussions in Washington over immigration reform, it is usually included in phrases like the “art of compromise” or the “art of politics," but a new arrangement of six murals unveiled last week as part of Phoenix’s First Friday aims to connect visual art with the economic impact of immigration reform.

mural The artist for this mural is Lalo Cota. (Photo courtesy of Torres Marquez Communications)

Tania Marquez is president and CEO of Torres Marquez Communications, The firm commissioned the murals.

One of the mural artists commissioned by Torres Marquez is Pablo Luna. He is responsible for two of the murals. The other artists commissioned were Lalo Cota and Tato Caraveo.
 

Housing prices in the Valley are up and foreclosures are down. How long will it be until the area sees a stable housing market?The Arizona Republic's Catherine Reagor, realtor John Wake and attorney Robert Nagle discuss what they're looking for in the recovering market and what buyers and sellers should be wary of.

The Maricopa Association of Governments has unanimously approved further studying of converting some High Occupancy Vehicle lanes into toll lanes.

Steve Goldstein talks with MAG Senior Engineer Bob Hazlett about the options and their viability.

Also, Ariel Hart of The Arlanta Journal-Constitution describes the impact of toll lanes in Georgia.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said Arizona needs to prepare to deepen its fiscal strength when the economy fully recovers. He said the state has relied too much on growth to take it out of economic struggles.Mayor Smith also supports the votes of Republican State Senators who sided with Governor Jan Brewer and Democrats in favor of Medicaid expansion.

Facing the Valley's hot summers head-on, the Scottsdale "Beat the Heat Race" will have runners starting an 11.22 kilometer race at 2:47 p.m. on Saturday.Race creator and public relations executive Jason Rose talked about the reasons for the event, including the positive effect it may have on summer tourism.

On Tuesday, a memorial service attended by Vice President Joe Biden, Senator John McCain and other diginitaries paid tribute to the 19 firefighters who were killed by the out of control blaze. Less than two weeks after that tragedy, residents are returning home and trying to get back to what had been normal life. KJZZ's Laurel Morales gave an update.

Jerry Colangelo brought the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks to the Valley and continues to be influential in the worlds of sports and business.Colangelo explains how Grand Canyon University's leap into Division One athletics--and the hiring of former NBA star Dan Majerle as its head men's basketball coach--will be a plus for the Valley sports scene.

State Senators Rich Crandall and Steve Farley discuss why state lawmakers seem far from ending their current legislative session, even as it has reached its 100th day.

Senators Crandall and Farley talk about the conflict over Medicaid expansion among lawmakers, Governor Jan Brewer's unique leadership position on the issue and whether it gains legislative approval.

The State Senate's vote in favor of Medicaid expansion may have political consequences for the five Republicans who joined 13 Democrats to support it. Those GOP members are already being told to expect conservative primary challenges if they run for reelection.Former State Senator Slade Mead discussed how he was challenged and defeated in a Republican primary after he supported then-Governor Janet Napolitano's budget. Analysts Chris Herstam and Bob Robb of The Arizona Republic also gave their opinion.

The Arizona Diamondbacks will be spending part of their 2014 Spring Training in Australia. Team President Derrick Hall said the trip will help the organization's international branding.Cactus League President Mark Coronado said the league will still do well even without the popular Diamondbacks for a couple of weeks. Coronado also said the Cactus League needs to become more political and let decision makers know how important its estimated $800 million economic impact is.

Since starting in 2008, the Valley’s Metro Light Rail has served Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. The system has been more popular among riders than many had anticipated. An Interstate-10 West extension is on the way, and a central Mesa extension is expected to be operating by mid 2015, but the idea of light rail in Scottsdale has never gained traction.What are the pluses and minuses of the system for a city that is arguably the most attractive in the Valley for tourists, with its plethora of resorts, many along Scottsdale Road?

 Former Scottsdale mayoral candidate and longtime community advocate John Washington and attorney James Derouin of Derouin Environmental Law LLC in Scottsdale have two different perspectives.

Marshall Shore, the "Hip Historian," gives tours on some of Phoenix's quirkier historic spots. Shore told Steve Goldstein about his latest tour, which focuses on locations related to the infamous accused murderess Winnie Ruth Judd.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and General Colin Powell discuss the importance of leadership and how political discourse in the United States must become more civil in order to solve complicated problems.

General Powell was in Phoenix as part of the O'Connor House Distinguished Speakers Series.

The Butterfly Wonderland opened over the Memorial Day weekend just outside of Scottsdale on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa reservation. It is the largest indoor butterfly pavilion in the U.S.Mike Fox, Executive Director of Butterfly Wonderland, explained about the butterfly species, the conditions in the pavilion and why people are so drawn to butterflies.

Monday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arizona requirement related to prospective voters proving their citizenship. University of California-Irvine law Professor Richard Hasen said that is a victory for the federal government on the issue of voting rights, but he is convinced the overall battle continues.

Late last month, the Obama Administration announced a new senior advisor position, the first-ever liaison to Native American tribes on environmental issues, and the man filling the position will be Arizona state Senator Jack Jackson Jr., a member of the Navajo tribe. Jackson Jr.'s job will be to work with tribal governments on how certain environmental projects would impact their lands.

 Dr. Eddie Brown is a professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona and executive director of the American Indian Policy Institute. He discussed the Jackson Jr. appointment and the significance of the liaison position.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery talked about federal efforts to approve comprehensive immigration reform and whether his office's identity theft prosecutions could affect whether some undocumented immigrants could become eligible to be on a path to U.S. citizenship. Montgomery also discussed his efforts related to Attorney General Tom Horne's alleged campaign finance violations.

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