May 2010

It’s Friday, Change of Venue Day, when we’re entitled to something more off the beaten path. Plus—let’s admit it—we’re just tuckered out.

Some beach, eh?

Today’s meandering wanders farther east, to the Gulf of Mexico, where Herculean efforts are under way to cap a gushing deep-water oil disaster.

Of course, until today, thought leaders in the BP hierarchy wouldn’t even have agreed with the use of the “D” (disaster) word. But this morning they took a new tack.

In what may be the reversal of the year (but it’s early in an election year, so hang on), BP CEO Tony Hayward finally altered his diction. As CNN reports:

“Hayward, who had previously said the environmental impact on [the] Gulf of Mexico would be modest, upgraded his assessment Friday to an ‘environmental catastrophe.’”

Hmmm. I guess we could call that an “upgrade.” Kind of like getting modestly better cable offerings. Or a slightly wider seat on an airline. You know, a small uptick.

Currently, they’re pumping in a viscous mixture to stop the leak, which they hope to follow with concrete. Other recommendations have been to deluge the geyser with golf balls and other detritus.

What I’ve missed in the coverage is an answer to this question:

If you and I, as laypeople, were to list, say, the top 3 things that could go wrong in underwater oil drilling, don’t you think “a leak that won’t stop” might be on that list?

And yet, the moment this occurred, the oil company leadership announced, “We’re putting our best minds to work on finding a solution.”

Cool! But, huh? They didn’t have a solution to try in the event that a highly predictable event occurred? I mean, really? A leak?

So where have all those gas-pump pennies aimed at “research and development” gone? Could we get a few back? I could use a few to buy some golf balls for myself.

Here’s the complete CNN story, including video of CEO Hayward.

A few months ago, I wrote in my Arizona Attorney column about social media. I explained our objectives and our strategy, and invited readers to take part in our evolving initiative. I’m pleased so many people have done that.

One thing I noted way down in that column: I am preparing for a presentation at a national conference on the topic of social media – and I’d appreciate your help. (It is for the annual meeting of Association Media and Publishing, formerly known as the Society of National Association Publications—SNAP was such a better acronym!).

Now, you may be thinking, A novice as a presenter … How novel! Don’t get snarky.

Well, it gets worse than that. For one thing, my proposed title was “Social Media for the Antisocial (or Understaffed).”

For a chuckle, here is my proposal that conference leaders read and accepted:

“Following this presentation, participants will be able to: 

  1. Negotiate the shoals of social media in a (possibly) risk-averse association.
  2. Learn that SM doesn’t have to be painful.
  3. Implement the 6-1/2 lessons of the moderately successful social media strategy.

“How do we use social media when we have a small staff, little support, less than mad skills—and perhaps no permission from above? How do we thrive in media that requires diverse messages, when our associations want to speak with one voice? This is a case study of one pub that plunged into SM and struggled to find the right approach. To reach users, we posted news, did surveys … and even wrote a novel online. We found that SM is the land of the unpolished, often genuine experience—where we have room to experiment and sometimes succeed.”

The printed conference program is here. The seminar is on page 4, and has been considerably sanitized for mass consumption. It’s now titled “Make the Connection: Engage Members Using Social Media.”

I have been toiling away with my fellow panelists on our seminar content. To add real-world elements to our work, they are in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. So our meetings all have been virtual so far—and hilarious, so I’m pretty confident we’ll pull this off.

But still, I’d appreciate your thoughts on a few questions:

  1. What value do you get from social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.)?
  2. What value would you like to get?
  3. What annoys you about social media that you wish would stop?
  4. Would a magazine providing additional content via social media be helpful to you, or not?
  5. If you were the king or queen of social media for a day, what would you change?

Thanks for your help. More questions to come in the coming weeks—especially if I can figure out how to use social media survey applications!

Post comments, or write to me :

We wrote before about the challenges of serving on community boards that meet, say, a thousand times and result in just a blip on a City’s polity. One of my chores has been toiling on a group that examines possible routes and modalities for mass transit in the Valley.

Today, there was an announcement about a cool new part of that whole matrix—and it is a part that has been kept from our working group. But I guess the wild Blade Runner stuff was retained by the engineers for their own enjoyment. I can’t really blame them.

Here is a first glance at the newest rendering of the Phoenix Sky Train, followed by the City’s press release on the people-carrier and the ongoing process.

What do you think?

The newest version of ...


... its charming transport ancestor

PHX Sky Train Takes Shape

Phoenix, AZ – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has finalized the design of the future PHX Sky Train. Today the public is getting its first look at the sleek appearance of this state-of-the-art train. Bombardier Transportation was chosen last year as the train system provider and has been working with the Phoenix Aviation Department ever since on its specific design. The company has built train systems at more than a dozen airports around the United States, including Atlanta, Denver, Dallas Fort Worth and Las Vegas. 

The PHX Sky Train will be silver with black accents and a white roof and will feature the Trademark PHX logo on the sides. The design has been through numerous iterations and revisions, with the final version now moving forward. “It was critical to us that the design reflect the spirit of the airport, while remaining cool in the desert climate. I’m very excited about the result,” said Jane Morris, Assistant Aviation Director.

Stage one of the PHX Sky Train will transport Airport visitors and employees between METRO light rail, east economy parking and Terminal 4, which serves 80 percent of Sky Harbor’s passengers. It will be complete in early 2013. Stage two, which will continue through the Airport all the way to the Rental Car Center, will be up and running in 2020. Hensel Phelps is the construction manager for the first stage of the train’s stations and elevated guide-way tracks.

You can’t miss the PHX Sky Train construction along Sky Harbor Boulevard. This is the formation of the elevated train track. On 44th Street, between the Airport and Washington Street, you can see how the train will continue up to the connection with Metro light rail. The airport train station will be located on the southwest corner of 44th Street and Washington, where passengers are currently being serviced with a free shuttle to the airport. 

 “The PHX Sky Train project is putting thousands of Arizonans back to work,” said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. “And when it is complete, it will serve as an example for the nation of multi-modal transportation, providing a seamless connection between the Airport and METRO light rail.”

Renderings of the train and animation of the train route are available at for the public and on DVD available for pick up by media at the Terminal 3 reception desk between 8am and 5pm.

Have you ever said, “There ought to be a law” (or a policy, or a regulation)? An upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine will give you the chance to share your thought—in the “’Ideas Issue.”

This feature story will be dedicated to the thinking of Arizona lawyers and legal leaders. Ideas can be on virtually any topic: jury instructions, obscenity, criminal procedure, immigration, patents, admiralty rules, law practice “in the cloud,” ethics, malpractice, war crimes. You name it. Send us your (im)modest proposals on these or any idea.

Perhaps best of all, each idea will be brief—use no more than 200 words to share your brainstorm.

“There ought to be a law.” We’ve all said it. Now help transform the profession—or even the country.

Post your Ideas here or send them to And here’s an idea: Submit by the end of June.

Last Friday was the day for the International Women’s Day Luncheon. It was held at the Phoenix Sheraton and honored the accomplishments of women all over the world.

Ambassador Vicki Huddleston

The keynote speaker was Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Her remarks were inspiring and provided helpful guideposts for women and men in attendance.

She related one hilarious story that I’m sure is a staple on her speaking engagements, but I repeat it nonetheless.

At one point in her lengthy career of service, she was the Head of Mission in Cuba. One evening, she found herself in a massive ballroom with dozens of tables, each populated by delegations from around the world. She says that she was probably the only other woman in the room—it was her and the wife of the Soviet ambassador.

The American group had been told that President Fidel Castro liked to wander around the room at these events, and the younger Vicki Huddleston was ready.

Castro entered and made a beeline for the U.S. party. He strode right up to Huddleston and asked, “So, are you someone’s wife?”

The young Foreign Service Officer was offended. She recalls that she drew herself up to her full height and replied, “No, Mr. President. I am the Head of Cuban Affairs.”

That led the dashing young fatigue-adorned leader to smile broadly. Huddleston said that he replied, in a voice booming so that the entire room could hear: “Really? I thought I was!”

Vicki Huddleston’s message to her rapt audience last Friday was simple: The way forward, for women and men, may be fraught with obstacles. But a sense of self—and a sense of humor—may serve you best.


 News from the State Bar of Arizona on another event worth noting:

 The following is a recap from the Tucson Veterans Stand Down event.

 Date:               May 21, 2010

Event:             Tucson Veteran Stand Down

Volunteers:     Ten volunteer attorneys


The Tucson Veterans Stand Down is an event hosted by the Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans organization in Tucson, Ariz. This past Friday, the event hosted 121 homeless veterans to a day filled with hot meals, warm showers, clean clothes, and the opportunity to sit with professionals representing a variety of service providers.  The State Bar of Arizona joined several organizations that included the Department of Economic Security, Pima Animal Control Center, and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in an effort to address the homeless veterans’ needs and get them get back on their path to self-sufficiency.

Ten volunteer attorneys with criminal, family, probate, and bankruptcy law backgrounds assisted 34 individuals by answering their questions and pointing them in the right direction toward solving their issues. The most frequently asked questions included: warrants, child support, DUIs, unpaid traffic tickets, suspended licenses, financial concerns, and probation. The consultations averaged 15 minutes and individuals walked away satisfied and with valuable information provided by the volunteer attorneys.

Event organizers continually reinforced their gratification for the Bar’s involvement and the volunteer attorneys’ commitment to the community.

Alberto Rodriguez

State Bar of Arizona

4201 North 24th Street, Suite 200

Phoenix, AZ 85016

O: 602-340-7293 | M: 602-518-8704 | F: 602-416-7493

Today is “Change of Venue” day at AZ Attorney. In honor of our casual Friday, consider the media understatement of the month.

This morning’s Washington Post began with a story that opens, “J.D. Hayworth is a voluble man.”

Well, they had me at “J.D.,” but adding that “voluble” hook drew me in immediately. And it only got better from there.

Here is the takeaway from the article by reporter Peter Slevin:

In a closely watched campaign increasingly defined by who can take the hardest line, Hayworth is a border hawk who called his book about immigration policy, “Whatever It Takes.”

That nut graf comes early in the article. The remaining 17 grafs are a close analysis of what’s going on in the Senate race between J.D. Hayworth and incumbent John McCain.

But here in the state, we know that this particular race—and almost all politics at every level in an election year—can be described as “Whatever It Takes.”

J.D. Hayworth

I’m not adding anything earth-shattering when I say that we as a nation appear to get little real information on important issues in an election season (which, let’s face it, extends beyond one year at a stretch). Or if we get it, it’s had to come by.

So here’s the rub: This serious race, in a high-profile state (if we do say so ourselves), is likely going to come down to which candidate “out-toughs” the other.

Now, there were many things to enjoy about junior-high school. Free period. Work days that ended at 3:00. Fart jokes. But governance based on shouting is something most of us have been happy to leave behind.

That said, it ain’t just the politicos who contribute to this. It also, gulp, can be that demon media.

Sen. John McCain

This week, the Arizona Republic indulged in a three-part Immigration series. It sought to examine deeply an issue that has been divisive in the state and the country. It did pretty well.

But Wednesday’s article made me scratch my head. It was titled “Key Critics of Arizona Immigration Law Admit Not Reading It.” It’s written by Dan Nowicki.

“Get OUT!” as my 14-year-old daughter would say. You’re kidding?! You mean every person speaking on laws, pending and passed, has not read every word of the legislative jewels that emerge from the sausage factory?

Well, gosh, I thought we knew that. But in the Arizona Republic, it was front-page, above-the-fold news. How, exactly, is that contributing to a deeper understanding of the law and its effects?

A book and an election-year mantra

But, fair being fair, I have a recommendation. Let’s make that the new test: “Have you read it?”

Of course, that could make many top officials uncomfortable. They are busy with their many obligations. I thought that’s why they employ staff to do things like read and vet legislation, rather than read every word themselves.

But there’s a new standard in town. And that may be bad news for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

Howie Fischer reported this week that Arizona has joined the growing lawsuit against the federal health care insurance reform initiative. That occurred when Governor Brewer obtained the thumbs-up from a compliant Legislature after her Attorney General, Terry Goddard, refused. (We covered the health care lawsuit here. We think we were pretty witty that day.)

The Governor has been pretty vociferous in going after the new federal law. So I’m expecting the Republic to contact the Governor’s Office to ask her: “Have you read it?”

Inquiring minds—shallow, junior-high minds—want to know.

Here is the complete Washington Post story.

Shoehorned in with my other tasks this week, I’m trying to learn a little something about SB1070, Arizona’s newest immigration law.

Why? you ask. Just good citizenship?

Well, no, but it’s nice of you to ask. Actually, in two days I’ll have to demonstrate at least a drowsy familiarity with the statute’s elements. Because on Saturday morning, I’ll be moderating a panel discussion on the law.

Well, I have to get back to work, so I’ll just give you the event information. Stop by if you have questions—or statements.

And if you want to suggest any questions for me to pose, post them in the comments or send them to me at

SB 1070 Educational Forum

Saturday, May 22, 2010, 10 a.m. to noon

A.E. England Building

424 N. Central Ave., Phoenix

Parking is in the university (UCENT) garage on Polk between Central Avenue and 1st Street

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Immigration policy and reform

Dr. Lisa Magana, author of Straddling the Border: Immigration Policy and the INS

  • Legal and constitutional issues

Ronald Lee, head attorney, Asian American Justice Center, Washington, D.C.

  • Impact  on state and communities

Edmundo Hidalgo

Rep. Ben Miranda

Alfredo Gutierrez

Dr. Karen Leong

More information about the A.E. England Building and the Civic Space Park is here.

L.A.'s Been Dark Before ...

So here was the best-est news of the day: The Arizona Corporation Commission throwing down with the Los Angeles City Council.

This past month, the Council had voted to boycott Arizona due to its recently enacted immigration law (dubbed SB1070). That made Los Angeles the largest municipality to take that action (though by no means the only one).

That steamed Commissioner Gary Pierce, who sent a snarky and pointed letter to the City of Angels, reminding them that 25 percent of their power comes from Arizona sources. He kindly offered to flip the switch off to help them with their moral quandary.

I guess that would make it The City of No Lights.

Here’s a story (with video) on the fight over the Heart of Darkness.

And the Arizona blog KeytLaw covered the topic here.

And here’s the complete letter, including its voluminous distro list:

azcc-LA letter

What is the intersection of crime and immigration? I can’t answer that definitively, but I know that there is no more hotly contested issue in Southwestern policy debates.

Last week, I attended an event where an attorney pointed to skyrocketing crime rates as a reason that the Arizona governor had virtually no choice in whether to sign SB1070, the state’s new restrictive criminal law.

But news reports—and Department of Justice statistics—indicate a trend in the opposite direction. And if crime (except on Wall Street) is going down, then where’s the fire? I mean, there may be a lot of reasons to seek comprehensive immigration reform, but should crime be touted as one of them?

(That’s not to say that there are no crimes affiliated with illegal immigration. This spring’s death of an Arizona rancher—if it turns out to have been by an immigrant—is one of the worst examples. Overall, though, the trend does not seem to be increasing.)

Q: However, for argument’s sake (the lawyer’s favorite phrase), let’s say that there is crime and that there is illegal immigration. How are they connected?

A: Not as handily as you might assume, at least according to Tim Wadsworth, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His findings are, for many people, counterintuitive:

“Cities that experienced greater growth in immigrant or new-immigrant populations between 1990 and 2000 tended to demonstrate sharper decreases in homicide and robbery,” Wadsworth writes. “The suggestion that high levels of immigration may have been partially responsible for the drop in crime during the 1990s seems plausible.”

To read more about his hypothesis, click here.

There is more news from the University of Colorado here.

Looking for a great way to end your week? How about attending a graduation?

Now, I am not someone who ever takes well to those events. I’ve had my own share and almost always find them long, hot and at least a little over the top on the pomposity scale.

But last Friday’s event confounded all those expectations. The speakers—including keynote Vice Chief Justice Andrew Hurwitz—were enjoyable and even inspiring. And the honorees signal something important and positive about the legal profession in Arizona.

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It was the graduation of the third class of the Bar Leadership Institute of the State Bar of Arizona. It acknowledged the hard work of 17 people who had given a significant portion of their past year to attend seminars and give of themselves. Here’s a description of the BLI:

“The Leadership Institute is a nine-month program designed to foster the professional growth and enhance the leadership skills of a diverse group of Arizona attorneys. In doing so, we hope to increase participation and visibility in the State Bar and community-at-large among historically under-represented groups, with a focus on racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability and geographic diversity.”

The July/August issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine will have a story about the event. It also will include better photos than the bad ones that I am able to snap (see above). Until then, here are some of my blurry masterpieces. And congratulations, graduates!

Here are the names of the legal leaders who graduated Friday:

Ann-Marie Alameddin

Alison Bachus

Diandra Benally

Samuel Chang

Ali Farhang

Lukas Grabiec

Amanda Ho

Troy Larkin

Victoria Levin

Lisa Maxi-Mullins

Robert Reder

Juan Rocha

Nicole Siqueiros

Bianca Stoll

Benjamin Taylor II

Alfred Urbina

D’Arcy Vollbracht

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