KNAU and Arizona News
Fri May 1, 2009
Governor Brewer reflects on first 100 days
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – Jan Brewer enters her second hundred days this morning as
Brewer said the biggest change is how much everyone pays
attention to everything she says. It wasn't always that way.
During the 14 years she was a legislator, Brewer would sit in the
back of hearing rooms with colleagues, smoke -- and make various
off-the-cuff comments about issues. No more.
(I have learned -- and I learned this pretty quickly, some by my
own admission and some by being pointed out to me, that when
you're governor, every word that you say, man, you drop anchor.
And people take it literally. And so you have to be not so --
Brewer said her staff often tries to keep her restrained, with
prepared speeches and comments. But sometimes she strays.
(I shoot from the hip, you know. I'm good for sound bites -- if
they let me loose.)
For example, the Legislature is considering whether to legalize
sparklers, debating the serious issues of personal freedom versus
fire danger. But Brewer, asked about the issue in February by
Arizona Public Radio, saw it in much simpler terms, talking about
her own experience growing up in California, playing with
sparklers there -- ane never hurting herself. Then there's the
quick three-word response she gave to the issue of statewide
photo radar. I hate it.
(You say it, man, and it's printed in the paper the next day.)
While those comments do get her in the paper -- and on the air --
Brewer still remains a relative unknown to a large number of
Arizonans. A recent statewide survey found that more than one
out of three registered voters did not know enough about her to
determine whether she is doing a good job. What they do know is
the one thing Brewer has been on the road stumping for: a
temporary tax to raise $1 billion a year to bridge the gap
between revenues and expenses while the economy gets back on its
feet. 60 percent of those asked would support higher taxes -- a
number not coincidentally virtually identical to those who rate
her performance as positive. Brewer said it's not surprising
people don't know more about her views on other issues because,
unlike her predecessor Janet Napolitano, she prefers working with
small groups of lawmakers of both parties on issues rather than
making major policy speeches and demanding lawmakers do what she
(I know that it probably was a different environment, having a
Democrat governor and a Republican Legislature. Inheretly, they
probably would be at odds all the time. So somebody had to have
the bully pulpit up there.)
Brewer said she prefers less confrontation, though much of that
may occur behind closed doors.
(I think that we accomplish more by having it privately and
hearing the wants and the not-wants. And I have expressed my not-
wants pretty clearly to them.)
That list of not-wants probably has annoyed members of the
governor's own Republican party, who control the Legislature,
more than the minority Democrats, perhaps because they believed
that having one of their own as governor would lead to more
harmony than they had with Napolitano.
(Sometimes it's misconstrued that I'm not showing enough love or
something. But I've got my priorities. And they've got their
Brewer has taken stances on some issues other than a tax hike.
One of her first acts on becoming governor was to freeze rules
and regulations, a freeze she decided on Thursday to extend
another two months. Brewer also reversed Napolitano's decision
not to accept a federal grant which could be used only to fund
programs that teach that abstinence is the only acceptable sexual
behavior for people who are not married. Brewer acknowledged that
message may not work on everyone. But she said it's worth
teaching teens to know that they can just say no.
(We all grew up. We all had raging hormones. But the more
information and the more validation you can get, the more
successful you can be of your own convictions.)