/ Modified mar 1, 2019 4:02 p.m.

UA Coach Sumlin; Drought Plan Update; Monastery Migrant Shelter

Plus, a constitutional law expert on the legalities of President Trump's border emergency declaration.

This week, University of Arizona football coach Kevin Sumlin sat down with Lorraine Rivera for his first interview with Arizona Public Media. Sumlin wrapped up his first season last fall. Their conversation covered a variety of issues, including his approach to leading a closely watched team.

On the topic of improving players' academics:

"You're not just here to play football. And you're not just here to stay eligible. You're here to get a degree, and a meaningful degree. All those pieces are mapped out during the day, whether they're tutorials, whether they're study sessions, whether they're group study sessions. All of those are part of your schedule just like strength and conditioning," Sumlin said.

On the issue of later game times discouraging fans:

"There's no doubt that the energy in the stadium and the fan base affect games. I've gone through this at different times. I was in a league where it was really hot and the prime-time games started at 2:30 in the afternoon. It's cooking. You deal with it. Television and exposure really drive a program to a national product," Sumlin said.

On past controversies in the program regarding disciplinary issues with players:

"We can't do anything about what happened in the past. What we can do something about is what's going on right now," Sumlin said. "We talk about what our standards here, what our expectations are here for our program. … When you got 120 guys and young men, and anybody who's had children knows, you're going to make mistakes," Sumlin said.

A little over a month ago, all the talk at Arizona's Capitol focused on whether lawmakers could pass a drought contingency plan ahead of a deadline at the end of January. It's one of seven states that need a plan to help maintain levels in Colorado River reservoirs like Lake Mead. It appeared Arizona came up with a solution in time, although it wasn't what the federal government expected. Arizona may still comply if lawmakers can finish signing agreements by early March.

Arizona 360 got insight on issues hampering the process from Luke Runyon, a reporter for KUNC radio in Northern Colorado who covers the Colorado River Basin. Runyon explained more about why the plan passed by Arizona did not satisfy the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

"If you ask representatives from the Bureau of Reclamation with the federal government they would say, 'No, the state had too many loose ends,'" Runyon said. "There were side agreements between the state, between individual water districts, between tribes that had not been finished and that the deal was a little bit too fragile for the federal government."

Runyon also explained that one of the biggest hiccups in the negotiation process comes from stakeholders in California concerned about dwindling water levels in its Salton Sea. The lake has been drying up, creating public health issues as a result, according to Runyon.

"That has been something that the State of California and a large water district there has been working toward getting funding for, and they're seeing they have a lot of power within these negotiations over the drought contingency plan," Runyon said.

This week, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to block President Trump's emergency declaration at the border. The Senate also took steps to vote on the same measure. Since the president declared an emergency to build more barriers, many have questioned his authority to do so. Constitutional law expert and UA James E. Rogers College of Law professor Robert Glennon offered insight on the issue.

In 1976, Congress passed the National Emergencies Act, giving presidents the authority to declare emergencies.

"The problem is that in that act, Congress didn't define what an emergency was. So, it's really wide open," Glennon said. "Everyone admits there's a problem at the border. What kind of problem, how we should deal with it, is a different thing. But there is a problem. I don't see a court overturning his decision that there's an emergency."

According to Glennon, the declaration is likely to face a legal challenge from Congress should the president try and allocate funding from other sources to construct a border wall.

"There's a very powerful argument that what he's done is directly contrary to what the consensus agreement achieved, meaning the Senate and House fought long and hard over what to appropriate; how to protect the border; they made some decisions. He just doesn't like them. I think the courts will be very protective of Congress," Glennon said.

For almost 80 years, Tucson's Benedictine Monastery was home to the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. About a year ago, they sold the property to local developer Ross Rulney. The property has been vacant since, until recently.

Nancy Montoya reported on the latest group to find sanctuary within the monastery's walls: migrant families seeking asylum. Several weeks ago, Rulney gave Catholic Community Services permission to operate a temporary shelter in the monastery. Since then, about 800 families have received help. Montoya spoke to a woman from Guatemala who was reunited with her sister at the monastery, as well as members of Catholic Community Services who are overseeing operations at the shelter.

Benedictine Monastery owner Ross Rulney said a chance meeting with Catholic Community Services led him to open the monastery's doors to its volunteers. He explained more about his decision, as well as his eventual plans for the property.

"I have the space and I don't have a use for it right now. I've made it available to other choir groups just to bring life into the property while I don't have any real benefit or economic benefit to it. If there was ever a need or a use for it, this has got to be right up there," Rulney said.

Rulney said his agreement with Catholic Community Services to operate the shelter extends through May. In the meantime, he is going through a rezoning process so he can build high-end apartments on undeveloped areas of the property. He would like to turn the monastery into a public space that could include a mix of residential and retail space.

"I imagine the chapel will absolutely be a public space that people can come in throughout the day and maybe the evening … where it's really just an active, warm, lit-up environment," Rulney said.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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