Today, however, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne followed through on his threat to whine in court about AIRC commissioners exercising their lawful legislative privilege. Arizona Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl writes:
The commission's chairwoman, Colleen Coyle Mathis, as well as commissioners José Herrera and Linda McNulty, have balked at Horne's investigation. In an Aug. 29 letter to Horne, the commission's attorney said the commissioners are willing to cooperate, but said they need to understand the reasons for which Horne launched his probe in July, as well as the types of remedies he would seek.Given the partisanship permeating this investigation, what is wrong with suggesting Horne should prove he's conducting HIMSELF lawfully?
Do you remember former AG Terry Goddard taking issue with Horne breaking protocol to discuss details of his investigation?
And Attorney General Tom Horne recently announced an investigation of the commission - breaking a longstanding attorney general protocol of never discussing pending investigations before a lawsuit is filed or a grand jury has returned an indictment.Now Horne is saying:
...the Republicans told his investigators that Mathis, a registered independent, called them ahead of the meeting to formally select the consultant to line up the votes for Strategic Telemetry. More to the point, Horne said, she told the Republicans she wanted a unanimous vote.
“If their votes would have given her a 5-0 vote, that indicates she had also lined up the votes of the other two members,” Horne said, both Democrats.
Tea partier Wes Harris has suggested, in public testimony before the AIRC, on more than one occasion, that temporary residents of college towns in Arizona present the same potential for gerrymandering as prison populations. Harris has also posted to Proud Terri's facebook page suggesting others take his lead and put this concern on the record at as many meetings as it takes to get them to take action. Otherwise, he suggests having it on record that the commission is stonewalling regarding his concern.
Clearly, Harris sees Tempe, Flagstaff and Tucson as more Democratic, in voter registration numbers, than he'd like and if the AIRC can be persuaded to ignore college students, maybe it will make things more favorable to the GOP. But is there any precedent?
A quick, simplistic Google search suggests there is NO precedent for claiming college or university populations conflate redistricting or "inflate the political power of residents in prison [university] districts, and deflates the power of residents everywhere else." This is likely due primarily to contrasting attributes of the two distinct populations. University students do vote, prison populations do not. University students use municipal services and local infrastructure. They also often hold at least part-time jobs in the community.
This issue is likely to come up during the meeting tomorrow.
On Friday, the commission will meet in Tucson at 3pm at the Viscount Suites Hotel in Tucson. Two additional agenda items for Friday include training for public use of Maptitude online software and discussion and possible action to hire a consultant regarding racially polarized voting issues.
The Viscount Suites Hotel is very near the Pima Community College District office (which was the location of the June 30th meeting of the AIRC) on East Broadway in Tucson.
Over the Labor Day weekend, Terri Proud posted the NYTimes article on her facebook page. In a comment to that post, Republican state Rep. Brenda Barton said:
How about the fact that now the Commission has to hire a sub-contractor because Strategic Telemetry doesn't have the expertise or ability to do what they originally promised they knew how to do!This was a reference to the discussion the other day about hiring a consultant to advise on Racially Polarized Voting matters. This has become the latest GOP talking point in the effort to undermine the AIRC. Barton made other questionable statements, including that Jose Herrera is not qualified to be a redistricting commissioner, this IRC is a violation of the Arizona Constitution and that "the Tucson Citizen that needs to take a civics class and learn why a democracy is such a foul word to many of us."
But I digress, back to the issue of racially polarized voting and hiring an additional consultant.
Strategic Telemetry president Ken Strasma today explained to me that his firm IS doing the number crunching/data analysis for this issue. However, ST does not provide legal advice. Even National Demographics Corp proposed to provide a subcontractor, Dr. Lisa Hadley as an add-on cost in the event an expert on the subject would be desired by the AIRC. AIRC ex. dir. Bladine corroborated that understanding. Further, the 2001 AIRC only procured expert analysis on racially polarized voting AFTER the DOJ declined to preclear the original maps submitted in 2002.
Even though it seemed as if the firestorm of controversy had died done over the last two months, GOP interests have not given up on the effort to undermine the entire voter mandated process.
Your voice is needed at tomorrow's and subsequent meetings of the Arizona INDEPENDENT Redistricting Commission.