On this week's Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: Congressman Raul Grijalva talks about Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, Wall Street's influence on financial regulation, the Black Lives Matter movement, his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the battle over Planned Parenthood funding, the Iran nuclear agreement and more. Then Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll talks about the upcoming bond election, why he voted against the county budget, the latest on his opposition to the Rosemont Mine project, what he remembers about author Charles Bowden on the first anniversary of his death and more.
Watch it online here or at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on broadcast, DirecTV and Dish. or listen to it on KXCI, 91.3 FM, at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Here's a transcript of the show:
Hello. I'm Tucson Weekly senior writer Jim Nintzel, and we're here to talk Zona Politics. Joining me today is Congressman Raul Grijalva. Representative Grijalva, who won his First Congressional District in 2002, is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee.
(Grijalva) Thank you.
(Nintzel) You introduced Elizabeth Warren last month at the NetRoots Conference. What did you think of her calling the Democratic nominee the top of a revolving door between Wall Street and the agencies that regulate the financial markets?
(Grijalva) She said it before but in a platform like that to say it, with the kind of national attention associated with it Elizabeth, I thought it was really important and really necessary One of the frustrations that we feel in Congress is that we're dealing with policymakers, particularly on the Finance financial side, on the tax code side who are coming from the institutions, financial services institutions into the White House. This was with Obama, this was with Clinton. This was with Bush and on, and basically their "one audience" perspective in terms of Wall Street is where most of the initiations come. Even the stimulus bill, the first part of it dealt with the bail out, it didn't deal with jobs and other things like infrastructure that had to .... Yeah. Necessary. I think at some point everybody has to be declarative about what they're going to do with that, any presidential candidate. And I'm glad she did it, and I'm glad that was the platform.
(Nintzel) And up there at NetRoots, one of the things I definitely heard a lot from the activists there are concerns that Hillary Clinton has been too close to the Wall Street and that folks were really kind of rallying behind Bernie Sanders. Are you on Team Bernie?
(Grijalva) No, I'm on Team Bernie philosophically. I'm on Team Bernie because we've been together in the House and now we he's a senator. But in terms of the campaign, no. And, we'll get to that point, soon, but at this point it's wanting to see all of the candidates. Bernie's not the issue but how are they going to move on some of the issues, economic issues some of the social issues that are going to be important for the American people, and some of the investment issues, like education and health care, and see where people more. That includes Hillary, that includes anybody else that's going to be running, but Bernie, I'm not on the campaign team. I think at this point, to wait and see is probably the best attitude I can have.
(Nintzel) I think one of the more interesting moments at NetRoots was when the Black Lives Matter group interrupted their Presidential Town Hall and they were heckling Bernie Sanders, and then we saw it happen again in Seattle a few weeks ago, and, Why do you think the Black Lives Matter group has targeted Sanders in particular?
(Grijalva) I don't know if Sanders is a target, but, you know, I think that if you're coming from a base of progressive politics, the expectations for your positions are higher, in terms of this organization, Black Lives Matter and more importantly, I think that anybody running for Congress and the Senate or president, this year on after Ferguson and anything we've seen had better be prepared to deal with that consequence. You have to address the issue of racism in this country in a very direct way. You have to deal with the issue of disparate treatment, not equal application of the law, and what, not only what you feel about it, but what you think are the remedies in criminal justice reform, and all those other issues that Black Lives Matters are bringing up. I think we just need to prepare for it and if, Bernie being the standard-bearer for the progressive issues, I would think that he would be one of the first in which those responses are going to be wanted.
(Nintzel) How would you grade the Obama administration on those issues you just talked about?
(Grijalva) Going into the final 16 months of his presidency, the last year, in terms of initiatives in criminal justice, initiatives on mandatory sentencing and lessening that impact at the federal level I thought were good initiatives, but this I think the whole harshness of deportation and detention around immigration didn't balance the scales the way they should have been. I think that much could have been done from that Justice Department, in terms of intervention, and in terms of pursuit of some of these issues but the last year and a half, plus the last 16 months going into that, many of us have felt that the president, his administration and the Justice Department have been very assertive and aggressive about this issue.
(Nintzel) And let me one of the other things I heard a lot about at the NetRoots conference were concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and you've been someone who was has really spoken out against that potential agreement.
(Grijalva) Yeah, now we're down to a yes-or-no vote. The whole deal with wanting and needing to stop Fast Track is that it would have re-involved the American people, and involved the members of Congress, so that we would have an opportunity, to look at the effects on job loss in this country. Look at the effect of trade policies currency manipulation, all of the factors that go into trying to retain jobs, and also, not only for us exporting but also for importing nations, to also have the kinds of environmental and labor protection important to their workforce and to the people that live there. You know, to for Vietnam to have the lowest pay scale in manufacturing in the world, and for sections of Latin America to have that, and to be the prime candidates for some of the moving of manufacturing jobs to those nations because of the wage issue and because of the savings incurred by industry in those areas is a sad commentary That wasn't just a protection for American workers, but it was also an intervention in trying to protect foreign workers as well. We lost that fight, and now we're up to a yes-or-no vote and, unfortunately, many of us who feel that that treaty as it's being discussed now doesn't include the protections, we are repeating the mistakes we made in NAFTA the mistakes we made in CAFTA, and we're kind of reconciled to having to vote "no" when we had an opportunity to craft a trade legislation that was fair, and of mutual benefit to American workers and their families in a financial and economic setting here, and to whoever would do in that agreement.
(Nintzel) What kind of grade do you give NAFTA all these years later?
(Grijalva) All these years later, the ups and downs the broken maquiladoras, the disappearing maquiladoras, the coming back, I still think that, not only was it the job loss, but I think, what I think it did to the borderlands in particular is that it depressed the economic development in many of those nations because it became more of a trade issue instead of an economic development issue, on both sides of the border, and, you know you look at Nogales, which continues to have the same population, 28 or 29,000, and you cross, and at one time they were similar size, but since NAFTA, that's going up to 700,000, and unemployment rate is huge. The pressure to migrate for economic reasons is huge. You know their environmental protections are non-existent, as we saw with Grupo Mexico and the spill that incurred on the (Bacanuchi) River. I give it … if I'm being generous, a C- or a D.
(Nintzel) There's a new push to de-fund planned parenthood in the wake of these so-called sting videos that were released. You've been a very vocal defender of Planned Parenthood. What do you make of this episode? (Grijalva) Two point seven million women last year went for Planned Parenthood service. Ninety percent of those women went for cancer screening, preventive health STD screening and testing, family planning conferences consultation, prevention medical support counselling. 90 %. And those women are the women that cannot afford, or that fell through this whole health system of ours. And so to say that a contrived, and I believe it was a contrived hit, because these, you see how it was dribbled out, and it was such an issue the whole package should have been presented, but it's a contrived hit, and I think it's another way, since I've been in there's been numerous efforts to defund planned parenthood since 2011. Now there's a threat of a shutdown if we don't defund them. I think that this goes beyond any wrongdoing that I don't think occurred, and it goes directly at the heart of the issue, which has been this campaign now with more intensity the last six years and the last three congresses, to defund and undo Planned Parenthood as a whole, and that's why I think that this campaign around the videos is this smear campaign is more of a contrived political hit than it is a real wrongdoing on the part of the conversation that was being had there.
(Nintzel) And the whole question was whether Planned Parenthood was donating fetal tissue, or willing to accept money and trafficking in fetal tissue and Planned Parenthood of course said they are a donation program, and the videos seem to back that up, actually, if you watch the full videos, but is there going to be a push to actually eliminate fetal tissue research in do you think, in Congress, to follow up on this?
(Grijalva) I think you'll see that push as we did remember the whole stem cell research issue, which was around the fetal tissue? Many scientists have already written and are warning that such a prohibition begins to halt the work on Parkinson's, MS and other debilitating nerve and blood diseases that have been affecting Americans, and this is part of the research base to try to find both the pain management that's necessary with those diseases, but also, inevitably, a prevention and a cure.
(Nintzel) Congresswoman McSally has said that she is opposed to this nuclear deal with Iran. Your thoughts on what the president has worked out there?
(Grijalva) I agree with the president. We were down to one option. We're still trying to get ourselves out of the quagmire that we're in in the Middle East and particularly in Iraq, and the whole thing going on in Syria, a quagmire which cost 5,000 plus lives almost $2 trillion, and here we are with an opportunity, yet, and I'm not naive, Iran is not a good player, they're not the sweet little innocent people in the Middle East, and they've shown their behavior all over. But the fact that we have P5+1 nations behind this treaty, that there's verification, and that it limits the option for the long haul of them having nuclear weapons. And this whole idea of the side deal: The International Atomic Energy Administration Agency of the U.N. has been doing that. That is their issue. It's not Iran doesn't inspect itself as some of the opponents have been saying, so there's verification there as well, as has been since the U.N. has been monitoring it. Fifteen years, twenty-five years, it is more than a risk worth taking. The other option is to prepare for war. To prepare for another major intervention into Iran as a means to try to end any nuclear development. I think that the sanctions stopped it, and this treaty adds the permanency to it.
(Nintzel) Alright, we are going to have to leave it there, I want to thank Congressman Raul Grijalva for joining us today, and we will be right back with Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll.
(Nintzel) And we're back with Zona Politics Joining me now, Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll. Supervisor Carroll has represented the East side of Tucson, Mount Lemmon and the Green Valley Area since 1997. Thanks for visiting Zona Politics.
(Carroll) Thanks for having me again, Jim. It's a pleasure to be here.
(Nintzel) So you've this big bond election coming up. You're supporting all flavors.
(Carroll) Yes, I am. Jim, I think it's important.
(Nintzel) You and your dog.
(Carroll) My dog Simon is a great defender of the bonds. He's obviously in support as well as I and many business-community leaders Community leaders, I think, who have really studied the package believe it's time to show the region and the nation that Pima County is willing to reinvest in itself after the recession. I think the timing could be better, but obviously we feel that these seven, there's a myriad of positives that come out of each question but at the same time our budget can handle, our bond rating is good and I think it's important for all of us to respect the committee's work, and the board put it on the ballot four-to-one, and I think it was the right thing to do for this November.
(Nintzel) I attended a forum on them last week and then one of the big concerns I heard was that "The supervisors will just move this stuff around once they get the money and they spend it willy nilly on anything they want, and I wanted you to have a chance to respond to that.
(Carroll) You know, Jim, that's just not proven to be true. There's obviously a process that you can change, if the jurisdiction, which is in the case of in the past comes back to you and says "We've changed design or we've changed plans or we've changed priority.” We have had a system that we can hear it, we can have three hearings on the change and move the money, but that's a very unusual circumstance. I think that's just a political ploy that puts doubt, but the state Auditor General has reviewed our packages over the years. Not just the '97, but the other packages that have passed. We've never lost a bond election as long as I've been on the board, and I think this is going to be another winner. I can't say which of the seven questions is going to get the most votes, but I do believe that it's important to reinvest and now is a good time to do it. In my opinion, people who are against the bonds will resort to almost anything to get people scared off of voting for any of the seven questions, including the transportation, which is the one I really held out for to be included in the bonds. $160 million to fix our roads is something that all the people should be supporting in Pima County, because it's ourselves alone that can fix our roads. We're not going to get any money from the state. We're not going to get any money from the federal government to do what we need to do. We need to do it ourselves.
(Nintzel) I'm guessing that's going to be the top vote-getter. I'm going to ask you about the gas tax. You're mentioning the need to repair these streets, and one of the things that the Pima County Board of Supervisors and you have asked the state to do is consider raising the gas tax to fund our infrastructure.
(Carroll) Well, Jim, it's true. In 1991 the gas tax it was raised. It was at 18 cents, then, Jim. Other states around us have all raised their gas tax, kept up with inflation. It's a user fee. And it's important. The monies that are generated are going to be Highway User Revenue Fee. They're going to be brought back to our counties across the state. That's why, as a member of the County Supervisors Association of Arizona, all fifteen counties support a gas tax, Jim. As a County Executive Association member nationally you've got all counties across the country asking for higher revenues for streets and roads to fix infrastructure, and not just roads like ours, but in other counties across the country, they have ports and bridges that are falling apart. There's a great demand, and that's why it's very disappointing as a County Executive of America Board member to have been back in Washington many times and just watched continually, the continuing resolution after continuing resolution to deal with our infrastructure and highway issues. We should really have a talk about a national increase in highway user revenues, and that means more gas taxes federally. We should have them catch up in the state, and I think then we could take care of our roads' deferred maintenance.
(Nintzel) Supervisor Carroll, you voted against the county budget this last go round a few weeks ago. Why did you vote against it?
(Carroll) Well since I've taken office, Jim, I've really felt that Pima County's government was too big, the tax rate was too high, and really the board majority could find ways to reduce the size and cost of government. I think they've become over the years really part of a skyrocketing trio that they should try to put some type of clamps on and that's the cost of healthcare which, thankfully this year, Banner reduced the contribution of Pima County to keep the great hospital going on the Southside, of 10%. I've felt justice and law enforcement even the sheriff's department as well as the other line offices could have reduced their budget It's just not the Pima County Board of Supervisors that's part of the raising of taxes around this country, around this county, it's certainly the entire line officers and all the other taxing jurisdictions underneath the county board. Plus you've got to count in also this year, Chuck Huckleberry really had a difficult time. He had to absorb 48% of the cuts that were, I feel, very unfairly shifted onto Pima County. We took 23 million dollars hit toward the end of our budgeting cycle, and it was something that Chuck I think tried to prepare for, tried to throw a Hail Mary pass up to the Supreme Court to get relief from, and really this time I have to say was a difficult balancing act for Chuck Huckleberry, but still I voted against the budget. You're correct.
(Nintzel) You mention that you are suing the state saying that they're unfairly requiring the county to collect property taxes from residents across the county to provide funding for Tucson Unified School District, and the Supreme Court did say they were not the right place to file that lawsuit, you're now filing it in Maricopa County Superior Court Do you think it's the right way to go to try to resolve it.
(Carroll) Well I thought the Hail Mary pass was a reasonable effort to try to protect taxpayers this fiscal year. But at the same time, we've done very well in the venue at Maricopa County, especially when it comes to air quality and water quality issues that we've found ourselves at odds with against Rosemont Copper, and in the end I think Maricopa County and its judges in the Superior Court level will truly understand what is, that I feel, is an unfair shift onto two or three counties the entire cost of the gap that's unusual. I believe that in the end what you've had with the 20-year-plus problem trying to be corrected at the very last minute at the 11th hour is certainly going to strike a responsive chord with judges and say "That's just not what we want to expect in our cycle."
(Nintzel) Are you concerned that by filing this lawsuit you're going to have state lawmakers or Governor Ducey coming back at Pima County and finding ways to punish you, whether by blocking your legislation or cutting off funding for the future?
(Carroll) Well, that's been happening, Jim. I have to tell you over the years that I've been in office, we really have been treated unfairly in many ways, and it just so happens that this year, our own Republican majorities that represent Pima County joined in on the act, and I think that's why it became such a serious cost shift for Pima County. I don't think that we had any help from Vince Leach, Mark Finchem and some other members of the delegation, including Speaker Gowan.
(Nintzel) You mentioned Rosemont mine. What's the latest in your battle against the Rosemont Mine?
(Carroll) First off, HudBay has been keeping what I think is a low profile Maybe it's because of all the environmental catastrophes that have been around us, not only in the states north, but also down in Mexico at the ASARCO spills. It's important for all of us to really realize that HudBay is now suffering under a third price drop in copper since they've acquired that site. Copper's down to about $2.35 and it was closer up to $3.50 when they first got into the act. I think that they do have a big problem I'm going to use another football analogy: They picked up a fumbled ball on the five yard line, and they're hailing their own hail-Mary pass right now, and I think they should've scratched that play book, started over, worked out the draft environmental impact statement from a clean state, and tried to rebuild their concept, but in the end, I'm not for the Rosemont Copper Mine, I'm not for it being in the Santa Ritas. I believe the old Chinese proverb is correct. You save the mountain, you save the river you save the town. We have more than 25% of our drinking water comes from the Santa Rita Mountains. I can show you the environmental degradation from across this state that will prevent that from being a good source in the future if they let the Rosemont Copper Mine happen there. I'm also pretty sore about them trying to take the drinking water from Green Valley, piping it across the Santa Ritas to wash rocks with. That's not a good use of potable drinking water especially in these drought-ridden days, especially when California is making claims on our CAP water.
(Nintzel) You're using a lot more football analogies these days, Supervisor Carroll. Does it have something to do with your kid?
(Carroll) I'm pretty excited about my son's starting this year for Southern Methodist University. He'll be playing his first game against Baylor, September 4 on ESPN, Carlos Carroll, number 40. Thanks for asking, Jim.
(Nintzel) Are you going to be in the audience?
(Carroll) I'll be in the audience for that football game. Carlos has requested my presence, and I'd never let one of my kids down.
(Nintzel) Let me ask you about Chuck Bowden who passed away just about a year ago. Coming up on the first anniversary of his death. I certainly first became aware of his writing as a paperboy in this town for the Tucson Citizen newspapers and reading his byline. He always brought me into the stories and was an incredible writer. You were a close friend of Chuck Bowden. Talk a little bit about what Chuck was all about
(Carroll) Well I was fortunate enough to have become a friend of Chuck after I moved to Tucson. We hailed from the same neighborhood in the 'bungalow belt' on the south side of Chicago. I think we had kind of a kindred spirit when it came to our devotion to the new found desert that we called home. I certainly appreciated Chuck, his writing, his gift his analogies, but in the end, Chuck taught me a lot about conservation. He was all in on the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, he was all in on Saving the Scenic Santa Ritas, He was protective of Madera Canyon like it was his own child He was just a special person who was, we were blessed to know him in this community. As Chuck got older he was trying to take better care of himself He resettled over in Las Cruces and because my son went to New Mexico Military Institute we always made that a stopover point, to stop, visit, have dinner and stay with Chuck, back and forth, and just really appreciated Chuck — his fatherly advice, his political advice and his spiritual advice. Chuck was a very spiritual man. He could talk to me about anything from St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas right up to the recent popes. He was a fabulous reader, but he was also very capable of having a dialog about any subject, which I really enjoyed. He never wrote an article or wrote any kind of a disparaging comment about anyone from Pima County because he really appreciated what we were doing here in regards to the environment, which started back with the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan in 1999.
(Nintzel) And he wrote amazing amount about the drug war in his final years.
(Carroll) Right. I know some people probably didn't read all of the parts of his interest and his, I guess, obsession with the drug wars, but, if you ever did read a book that started all of it, it was called "Down by the River," and with that type of an introduction, there's no way you couldn't continue to peel back the onion. It was a fabulous book. It's probably going to be a movie someday, and I recommend to all of your readers. That book as well as several others, Frog Mountain Blues, yes, about Mount Lemmon, and several others. Please look up the Chuck bibliography and pick for yourself. He's a fabulous writer and he was a great statesman for the environment.
(Nintzel) We actually want to leave today I thank you for joining us, Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll, and we're going to leave today with a few words from Chuck Bowden.
(Bowden, on film) "Where there is no defense there's real loss. If you're close to somebody and you love them and they die, no matter what the circumstance there's a hole in your heart. There's no simple cure for that. One of the most lying words that's come into use in my lifetime is 'closure,' because where a real wound is, there's never closure. It never ends. You just learn to live with the wound. Closure is something apparently sold by frauds in the psychology industry. The pain's not that bad. Feeling bad isn't that bad. Staying that way is bad. You should feel bad if someone you love dies. You just shouldn't wear black forever."
(Nintzel) That's our show for today. I'd like to thank our guests, Congressman Raul Grijalva, and Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll. I'd also like to thank our supporters at the Arizona Inn and Hotel Congress, as well as our media partners at KXCI The Tucson Weekly, Tucson Local Media, and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. If you missed any part of today's episode, you can check us out at zonapolitics.com, where you'll also find transcripts of this and our past episodes. Be sure to look us up on Facebook. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.