A panel discussed the immigration proposal created by the “Gang of Eight” in the PBS studio Friday. Moderated by former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, the panel represented a variety of viewpoints. (Cydney McFarland/Downtown Devil)

A panel discussed the immigration proposal created by the “Gang of Eight” in the PBS studio Friday. Moderated by former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, the panel represented a variety of viewpoints. (Cydney McFarland/Downtown Devil)

This week, I may be fortunate to bring you two follow-ups to an immigration reform panel discussion held last week at the downtown Phoenix ASU Cronkite Journalism School.

The event, moderated by Sen. Jon Kyl, occurred in the studios of KAET, the PBS affiliate.

The first summary is ably done by reporter Zachary Hillenbrand of the Downtown Devil.

Don’t know the Downtown Devil? You should. It provides great reporting in a manner that news consumers increasingly want: In a hyperlocal variety. They cover downtown Phoenix and its environs in a compelling and occasionally cheeky way. They are an independent news center, populated by many grads of the ASU J School but unaffiliated with Arizona State University.

In any case, here is how the reporter opens his story:

“ASU participated in a nationwide discussion about immigration reform through forums held at various colleges and universities Friday. Experts at the ASU forum, held in the PBS television studio at the Walter Cronkite School, discussed a proposal created by a bipartisan group of eight senators, known as the “Gang of Eight,” and issues with the current immigration system.”

“Moderated by former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, the panel of experts provided a range of viewpoints on the issue. The panelists included Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA; Lisa Magana, ASU associate professor at the School of Transborder Studies; Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery; attorney Daniel R. Ortega; and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.”

Keep reading here.

Video of the event is here.

Later this week, I expect to provide another write-up, this one by a community organizer.

In the meantime, bookmark the Downtown Devil and start following them wherever you like to follow news sources.

I will be unable to attend this immigration reform panel disucussion on Friday, April 19, but if you do, let me know what was said (guest blog post, anyone?).

All the information is at this link, and the bones of the matter are pasted in below:

Immigration Reform Panel at ASUImmigration Reform – Is It Time And What Should It Include?

Former Senator John Kyl to moderate panel on immigration reform – April 19 Political, business and non-profit leaders gather to propose and discuss practical solutions

WHAT: A panel discussion exploring the complexities surrounding immigration reform, including its timing, feasibility and potential scope. Border security, the path to citizenship, and visas for individuals working in STEM-related fields are among the topics to be addressed. This forum is part of Arizona State University’s The Challenges Before Us project, created to tackle some of the many challenges facing society today. These forums are designed to open a dialogue between experts, practitioners and the community at large.  Eight, Arizona PBS will broadcast the event live on Eight World, channel 8.3.  For more information visit: http://forum.asu.edu/forum/immigration-reform.

WHEN: Friday, April 19 from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.  (Light refreshments available at 10:45 a.m., all guests must be seated by 11:15 a.m., program begins promptly at 11:30 a.m., broadcast live on Eight World, channel 8.3.)

WHERE: Eight, Arizona PBS, Studio A (555 N Central Ave, Phoenix, 85004), 6th floor – on the Downtown Phoenix campus of ASU

Keep reading here.

“Do we really have enough water? Really?

And thus began an intriguing panel last week on the topic of water in a desert climate. Anyone interested in water law—or in drinking, cooking or living in Arizona—should be attuned to the evolving conversation. This one occurred at Monorchid Gallery in downtown Phoenix. (It had been calendared for the Downtown Public Market, but rain—of all things—brought the event indoors.)

L to R: Heather Macre, Marc Campbell and Paul Hirt speak at a water resources panel, Feb. 20, 2013, Monorchid Gallery, Phoenix.

L to R: Heather Macre, Marc Campbell and Paul Hirt speak at a water resources panel, Feb. 20, 2013, Monorchid Gallery, Phoenix.

The panel was sponsored by Women Design Arizona and Blooming Rock Development. It is their second annual lecture series on “sustainable urbanism” in the Phoenix area.

The speakers had a wide variety of experience in water issues:

  • Heather Macre, a lawyer and member of the Central Arizona Conservation Water Board
  • Marc Campbell, a senior water rights analyst at Salt River Project
  • Paul Hirt, a historian at ASU

They covered a lot of ground (and groundwater) in their far-ranging conversation.

Macre mentioned the battles over the Navajo Generating Station, for which the EPA has advised requires huge and expensive changes.

Navajo Generating Station

Navajo Generating Station

Assuming improvements costs $1 billion (with a b) or more, Macre pointed out that we may have to reassess water pricing.

Other panelists took up the pricing topic. Paul Hirt relayed a humorous story demonstrating that water in Arizona is even cheaper than dirt. He got estimates on having a ton of clean topsoil delivered to his house. A ton of clean water (according to WikiAnswers, about 240 gallons) delivered from SRP would cost about 20 times the dirt cost.

“20 times cheaper,” Hirt marveled, “to get this precious, life-giving resource.”

In 1970, Hirt said, Tucson attempted to raise water rates. They began the process in the suburbs, the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, where the higher elevation equaled higher pumping costs.

Unwisely, perhaps, those first efforts at more accurately pricing water occurred in June, among homes of wealthy and well-connected people. The homeowners revolted, and Tucson has never reinstituted higher rates.

The SRP’s Marc Campbell urged attendees to examine all of the choices we make, as individuals and communities.”We need to ponder why we’re sitting in a desert city. We have to pick up the gauntlet, solve the problems.”

For Macre, solutions begin by reexamining relations we thought we understood. For instance, she says she tells people, “When you turn on a lightbulb, you’re using water. When you turn on your faucet, you’re using electricity.” Connections we always imagine to be intrinsically related may be just the opposite.

She echoed the other speakers when she mentioned the down economy as a time of opportunity. The “pause” in the economy may give us the chance to strategize and learn how we want to answer the question “Do we have enough water?”

Her answer? “Yes, but ….”

What’s your answer?

Congratulations to Taz Loomens, Blooming Rock, Tiffany Halperin and Women Design Arizona for an eye-opening conversation.

What follows is my editor’s letter from the January Arizona Attorney Magazine. It’s titled “Speech Disorder,” and I’d welcome any thought on how we address hate speech in this country—and whether a change is in order.

Harm in Hate Speech book cover Jeremy WaldronMaybe we’ve got this “hate speech” thing all wrong.

That was the basis of a fascinating debate this past fall, held at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. In October, ASU Professor James Weinstein defended the U.S. position against a view espoused by NYU Law Professor Jeremy Waldron.

Generally stated, the American antidote to hate speech is simply … more speech. Our rightful affinity for the First Amendment means that even the most vile words are often met by the phrase (and sentiment), “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” So integral to our psyche is that belief that most of us bristle at the suggestion of a “speech code.”

And yet, Waldron made a compelling argument that the harm from speech can be so poisonous that there are times when it should be stymied. Laws—accepted in many countries—may be drafted to convey an “implicit diffuse assurance” that social peace is a public good.

At ASU and in his book The Harm in Hate Speech, Waldron dissected the hate-group argument that what they are doing is merely advocating a position. No, he insists; the groups really are conveying an action-packed message: “You are not wanted.” And that message is often backed up by the threat of violence.

Morris Dees, Nov. 8, 2012

Morris Dees, Nov. 8, 2012

Those concepts were on my mind in November, at the University of Arizona College of Law annual McCormick lecture, delivered by Morris Dees. The co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Dees gave a rollicking speech that of necessity touched on his significant courtroom work on behalf of victims of discrimination. That trial lawyer’s career has been framed in many ways by efforts to end hatred and to alleviate its effects.

But how would his decades of work have differed if our approach to hate speech (which often precedes hate crimes) had taken a path accepted in many other countries? It may be worth considering.

I’m reading Waldron’s book and considering his position. But I take seriously his warning that viewing this as an academic debate may prove deadly. As he glanced around a packed law school hall at a relatively privileged audience, he reminded us that hate speech has real-world impacts.

“We can pretend to be unaffected,” he said. “But we should try to envision ourselves as somebody who has to live his life under this besmirchment, who has to live one’s life in the shadow of these insults.”

What do you think? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Yesterday, Robert Yazzie spoke about “The Quality of Justice From the Navajo Experience.” The former Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation walked attendees through an explanation of what comprises that quality.

This was another in a run of blockbuster programs hosted by the ASU Law School’s Indian Legal Program. (A few weeks ago, we reported about a talk by Walter Echo-Hawk on reforming federal Indian law. That story is here.)

In a talk peppered with bits—sometimes long bits—of the Navajo language—Justice Yazzie explained some of the conclusions he’s come to after law practice and judging on a trial court and the Supreme Court.

He spoke about some of the innovations the Navajo courts have developed, but said there was still a significant amount of “bad stuff,” including open disrespect from non-native lawyers “who play games with the law.”

He then tried to illustrate for the audience how Navajo law works, using a few common-to-life experiences, such as a vehicle purchase and a land dispute.

His message was that indigenous judges seek to base their decisions on consensus and respect. The alternative view—as seen in Western legal systems—imposes a hierarchy of power judgment, in which matters are placed in the hands of strangers. In that respect, the notion of judicial neutrality is suspect.

Navajo judges, he explained, encourage talking things out. But the notion is not some flighty one dreamed up by “those colorful Indians.” Instead, it arises when we “change what we mean by law.”

“You can have a law without rules,” he explained, “when you have relationships.”

In that dynamic, he said, no one will use a “nuclear option”—such as repossessing a vehicle that’s needed—without first exploring all other possibilities.

“Think of the law as relationships,” he urged the listeners. “Start with the self—who am I and what does my identity mean in relation to others?”

Because of the dual focus, Yazzie said, the Navajo way is completely free, but limited because of obligations to others—freedom of action, but a freedom with consequences.

Audience members enjoyed his description of Navajo law as “a delightful compromise between an attempt to codify and no legislative guidance at all.” Thus, a millennium of custom is still “malleable, plastic, adaptable.”

Navajo society, Yazzie concluded, is both individualistic and egalitarian.

Not a bad goal at all, I’d say.

 

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw

Last Thursday was the annual A. Wade Smith Lecture on Race Relations at Arizona State University. As I indicated before, it was delivered by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University. The co-founder of the African American Policy Forum spoke before an appreciative audience in the Memorial Union.

Her lecture title and subject were “Educating All Our Children: A Constitutional Perspective.”

Crenshaw opened by describing how a Black man’s election as U.S. President means that we as a nation occupy an “important moment in the long struggle for equality in education.” But although that event cheered her, she had to conclude that as she assessed the body politic, “It’s ill.” She told the students and other audience members to “combat the idea that all is well.”

She also lent her considerable rhetorical powers to an attack on the notion that the United States now occupies a “post-racial sphere.” But she did admit that there was one recurring element of the post-racial ethos:

“Ignoring race: Now that’s post-racial. Race consciousness is out. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to segregate or to integrate,” the U.S. Supreme Court tells us. “They are both off the table.”

“How can we be ‘over race’?” she asked.

There was ample legal discussion for the lawyers in the room. She cited case after case that demonstrated the trend that educational equity arguments have moved over a generation. As she said, voicing a prevailing view, “All this talk about race and racism is counterproductive, and just makes people feel bad.”

Nat Hentoff

Finally, Crenshaw said, we have moved far past the urging of Justice Blackmun in Bakke that “You have to focus on race to get beyond race.” Instead, in a post-racial world, “Bankruptcy has been declared: The debt is wiped clean, and there is no social justice capital left to pay.”

Her position was most clear when she contrasted Chief Justice Roberts’ statement (“The way to stop discrimination based on race is to stop discrimination based on race”) with her analogy: The way to stop the problem of asbestos is to stop talking about asbestos, or seeking ways to mediate it.

Refuse the “narcotic of post-racialism,” she urged the audience.

“The language of gradualism has morphed into the language of arrival,” but those who most need help have not arrived.

Days after listening to Professor Crenshaw, I came across an article by Nat Hentoff in The Village Voice. In “Segregation 2010: Bloomberg’s Schools,” he examines where the New York City schools are in relation to Brown v. Board of Education, circa 1954. As you might guess by his title, he argues they’re not very advanced.

The picture he and Crenshaw paint is not a rosy one. It appears there is still much for lawyers to do in that realm.

Hentoff’s story is here.

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