AZ Week Notebook – November 2011
posted by Michael Chihak
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says she's not inclined to call a special session of the Legislature on the issue of redistricting unless legislators tell her they want it. Legislators say the ball's in Brewer's court.
The impasse may pass today, allowing legislators to act in time to get any change measure onto February's presidential primary election ballot.
Being discussed are a number of proposals, including asking voters to repeal Proposition 106, which they passed in 2000 to set up the current Independent Redistricting Commission. Another proposal would call for expanding the redistricting panel to add more independent members.
The current panel has five members. Proposition 106, now embodied in the Arizona Constitution, requires the panel's makeup to be two Republicans, two Democrats and one independent, who serves as chair.
Independent Colleen Mathis is the chair, a lightning rod spot if there ever was one. She was lambasted, then fired by the governor and state Senate three weeks ago. The state Supreme Court reinstated her two weeks ago, and then rejected Brewer's appeal.
The constitutional and legal entanglements of it all could -- and probably will -- fill a book.
At the least, they will fill a TV program -- Friday's Arizona Week, which will update the legal and political fight and look at the myriad legal issues from the perspectives of several lawyers.
posted by Melanie Huonker
With the legal battle between Gov. Jan Brewer and Independent Redistricting Commission Chairwoman Colleen Mathis still fresh on everyone's mind, another state is in the midst of a court battle deciding the fate of the redistricting process -- Texas.
Just as in Arizona, Republicans in Texas dominate the Legislature. According to an editorial in the Star-Telegram newspaper, Texas Republicans were determined to maximize the number of GOP candidates in office.
That’s because Texas added more than 4 million residents from 2000 to 2010, adding four seats in Congress. The majority of those are Hispanic voters, who tend to vote Democratic. In another Star-Telegram editorial, the newspaper said, “Republican lawmakers opted to accommodate party interests rather than include more districts with Hispanic majorities.”
Earlier this month, a federal court in Washington, D.C., ordered a three-judge panel in San Antonio to redraw both the congressional and legislative maps of Texas.
The matter will now be sorted out in court, a familiar scenario to Arizona lawmakers after the removal and reinstatement of Mathis.
All this has some in Texas reiterating the need for an independent group, just like the AZ IRC, to draw redistricting lines.
From the Nov. 9 edition: “The Star-Telegram Editorial Board has long supported the creation of an independent, nonpartisan body that could bring more objectivity to the process of revising congressional voting districts.”
This summer, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R- San Antonio, helped pass a bill in the Texas Senate during special session to create a nine-member redistricting commission. However, the bill did not stand in the Texas House, thwarting Wentworth’s continuous efforts to change redistricting methods.
Will Brewer call a special session of her own in order to dismantle the 2001 voter-approved legislation that created the IRC? Some GOP state senators say they hope so, and in fact a few say she promised to do so. She says she didn't promise.
This could potentially put redistricting back in legislators' hands and drive partisan politics, putting Arizona back from where Texas lawmakers are trying to move away.
posted by Michael Chihak
Modest gains in traditional retail sales for Arizona merchants may be enough to push them into the black. Modest means the 2-5 percent range, compared with a 5.2 percent gain in 2010.
Meanwhile, some sources are predicting double-digit percentage gains for online retailers. The Economist magazine reports in its current edition that online sales may make up as much as one-third of the country's retail purchases this holiday season.
That bodes ill for brick-and-mortar operations such as shopping malls and stand-alone small businesses. But many of them, big and small, are adapting, offering improved services, strategic discounts and, yes, even online shopping.
It's all to survive and thrive in a splintered merchandising world, says the head of the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona.
Retailing center Director Martha Van Gelder says consumers are saying,. "I want it when I want it, where I want it, and I want it fast. So the retailers have had to invest a lot of money and a lot of marketing strategy in terms of how to address that."
See and hear more of Van Gelder's interview and conversations with five others with interests in the holiday shopping season on Friday's Arizona Week. The program will air at 8:30 p.m. MST on the PBS World channel.
posted by Lucy Valencia
Black Friday, the manic shopping day after Thanksgiving, is just around the corner. This frenzied day marks the kick-off for the holiday shopping season and a one-day peak in sales for retail stores.
Tucson is expecting a mass of international shoppers from Mexico to help boost sales. According to the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, visitors from Mexico spend about $940 million in Pima County.
Nationwide, shoppers spend nearly half of a trillion dollars during this time—an estimated 19 percent of annual retail sales, according to the National Retail Federation. That helps explain why it's called Black Friday; it's when many retail businesses see their operations go into the black for the year.
In the recent recession, the one-day specials of Black Friday were followed by lousy sales throughout the rest of the holiday season.
In Arizona, improvement has been seen in sales over the last two years. The number of people who shopped the weekend after Thanksgiving increased from 195 million in 2009 to 212 million in 2010.
What are Tucson retailers and national chains expecting this holiday season? Tune in this Friday, to find out more when Arizona Week's host Michael Chihak interviews retail and economic experts to discuss what they expect the forecast to be for 2011’s holiday season.
We’ll speak with Felipe Garcia, MTCVB’s vice president of Mexico marketing and community affairs, about the economic boost Mexican shoppers provide.
We’ll also interview international marketing expert Martha Van Gelder about the retailing shopping season. A former growth developer for companies such as Walt Disney, Gelder now serves as the new director of the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona.
posted by Melanie Huonker
The Arizona Department of Administration will release its October jobs report Thursday at a 10 a.m. press conference in Phoenix.
The report is expected to show if there will be a temporary increase in retail sector jobs in preparation for the holiday season. For the past year, the jobs report demonstrated an upward look for Arizona.
In September, the Arizona Republic reported, the state unemployment rate fell to 9.1 percent, dropping two-tenths of a point to match the U.S. rate. Arizona added 26,100 jobs.
The hiring of school employees at the beginning of the school year helped the state add 19,600 public sector jobs. The private sector added 4,100 jobs. This marked the first month since 2006 that Arizona added rather than eliminated private sector jobs.
Another section that saw gains was construction, which added 3,700 jobs. That's a 6.3% increase from August.
However, according to the Phoenix Business Journal, the September jobs reports showed that Phoenix had a 155 percent growth in the number of people out of work, compared with four years earlier, an increase of 104,000.
Furthermore, according to the Arizona Republic, professional services in finance and business lost jobs, each dropping 1,500.
What will the jobs report look like for October? What will it mean for Arizona’s economic outlook?
Friday’s program will break down the numbers in the report to identify if it’s the right growth to meet Arizona’s needs.
posted by Lucy Valencia
The federal Veterans Day holiday is only about a week away.
Though it often feels as if this is a nation can half-forget that its sons and daughters are in combat when most of us are busy with our daily lives, Veterans Day calls the entire country to stop and honor those who have fought for our freedom.
On Friday, the 11th day of the 11th month, the U.S. pays homage to all veterans who have served our country in past and current conflicts.
We remember in the same way that the families of soldiers, sailors, Marines and aviators always remember one thing—war can never be erased. And war can never be forgotten. Not even for a single second.
But how are our communities helping those who have returned from war? How have those who risked their own lives coped with residing in American daily life? How are we honoring those who lost their lives fighting for freedom?
Arizona Week's Michael Chihak spoke with Commander of the Order of the Purple Heart, David Alegria, last week to discuss the importance of the Purple Heart and how his life forever changed once he had been at war.
Vietnam veteran Dan Ross and Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Abel Moreno will be interviewed side-by-side this Wednesday to discuss some of the issues local veterans face.
Arizona Week will also be interviewing Cathi Starr, the Regional Manager for the Arizona Department of Veteran Services in Tucson and Air Force Veteran from the Gulf War era. Starr has worked with veterans and their families to help them receive their benefits for more than a decade.
Tune in on Friday to hear more on what these brave veterans share with us for the special Veterans Day program.