Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, October 31, 2011

Redistricting -- the governor did NOT call for a special session. UPDATED 11:25pm MST

There was plenty of buzz this afternoon expecting Governor Jan to call a special session of the legislature for tomorrow afternoon. As I reported earlier, the governor's office denied she had issued such a call. Late this afternoon, legislative staffers told me that there, in fact IS no special session call for tomorrow.

Nevertheless, there is still the question of reports that the Senate GOP caucus has been called to a closed meeting for 12:30pm.

Do you remember the hornet's nest that was stirred up because of allegations the AIRC had violated the OPEN MEETING LAW? Well, on Horizon just now, state Rep. John Kavanagh characterized violations of the Open Meeting Law as "spitting in the face of the public who want an open process."

Well, will we hear the SAME complaints from the SAME people (like Kavanagh, along with nutjobs Wes Harris, AJ LaFaro and Jack Harper) because the Senate GOP caucus NOW PLANS to VIOLATE the Open Meeting Law?

Arizona Revised Statutes says:


38-431.03. Executive sessions
A. Upon a public majority vote of the members constituting a quorum, a public body may hold an executive session but only for the following purposes:
1. Discussion or consideration of employment, assignment, appointment, promotion, demotion, dismissal, salaries, disciplining or resignation of a public officer, appointee or employee of any public body, except that, with the exception of salary discussions, an officer, appointee or employee may demand that the discussion or consideration occur at a public meeting. The public body shall provide the officer, appointee or employee with written notice of the executive session as is appropriate but not less than twenty-four hours for the officer, appointee or employee to determine whether the discussion or consideration should occur at a public meeting. [in this case, it would be IF the Senate GOP caucus was discussing who to hire or fire for senate staff positions]
2. Discussion or consideration of records exempt by law from public inspection, including the receipt and discussion of information or testimony that is specifically required to be maintained as confidential by state or federal law. [does not apply to this situation]
3. Discussion or consultation for legal advice with the attorney or attorneys of the public body. [the Joint Cmte has flaunted its attorneys in its open hearings, they would only do this if they needed confidential legal advice to protect their own caucus members from something, this this can't be it]
4. Discussion or consultation with the attorneys of the public body in order to consider its position and instruct its attorneys regarding the public body's position regarding contracts that are the subject of negotiations, in pending or contemplated litigation or in settlement discussions conducted in order to avoid or resolve litigation. [the action they are contemplating is NOT litigation but a political process that should be OPEN]
5. Discussions or consultations with designated representatives of the public body in order to consider its position and instruct its representatives regarding negotiations with employee organizations regarding the salaries, salary schedules or compensation paid in the form of fringe benefits of employees of the public body. [clearly not related to anything that could be on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting]
6. Discussion, consultation or consideration for international and interstate negotiations or for negotiations by a city or town, or its designated representatives, with members of a tribal council, or its designated representatives, of an Indian reservation located within or adjacent to the city or town. [does not apply here]
7. Discussions or consultations with designated representatives of the public body in order to consider its position and instruct its representatives regarding negotiations for the purchase, sale or lease of real property. [does not apply here]


But wait, isn't there some kind of EXEMPTION for "legislative bodies?"


SENATE RULE 31
Caucuses
All meetings of a party caucus consisting of members of the Senate shall be open to the public except organizational meetings to elect officers of the caucus and the Senate and meetings to discuss matters permitted in executive session as set forth in section 38-431.03, Arizona Revised Statutes. Each caucus shall establish procedures for convening authorized executive sessions.


I'm told that there are a very few legitimate reasons for closing a legislative caucus meeting. A closed caucus meeting is the same as an executive session.

Vote counting and arm twisting do NOT constitute lawful activities for executive session.



One of the members of the Joint Committee, Doris Goodale, to whom I gave the benefit of the doubt last week, is complaining that "Now, Democrats are beating us up for doing our Constitutional duty." 

Is it REALLY the constitutional duty of the senate GOP to count votes and twist arms in executive session? 

Is not what's good for the goose good for the gander?

Kavanagh was jawing on Horizon about so-called "criminal" activity by members of the AIRC. 

However, Arizona Republic conservative columnist Bob Robb puts the situation in a little bit more appropriate perspective:
Moreover, Open Meeting Law violations are ordinarily treated as the equivalent of governmental speeding tickets. Providing the death penalty for a single violation would be hugely disproportionate.
Again, all the protestations of nutjobs LaFaro, Harris, Shirley Dye and others notwithstanding, Arizona's GOP officials are rationalizing and trying to justify keeping the very UNlevel playing field for the next ten years. It's brazen, unabashed desperation by (GOP) political players who know it will be very hard for them to keep doing what they've enjoyed doing for the last ten years. 

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Earlier today, state Sen. Steve Gallardo (D-West Phoenix) sent a letter asking the US Department of Justice to intervene because the threatened actions by the governor and state senate threaten protection of voters covered by the Voting Rights Act.


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UPDATE 9:40pm MST


I just heard from someone who had heard... you know how the grapevine goes...


The call now is expected to go out from Brewer's office around 10am for an afternoon special session.


There are likely multiple scenarios that will be considered: removal of Mathis from the chairmanship (and from the commission), along with possible removal of McNulty and Herrera.


Thus far, there appears NOT to be enough votes to remove all three but rumor has it that the senate is within a vote or two of being able to remove Mathis.


Apparently, one or two normally "reasonable" Republicans are realizing they would rather go with the GOP flow than risk having a primary election against a tea party hardliner.


That's a scenario very similar to the one which first brought crazy Jack Harper to the senate. Ed Cirillo was a good man and emphatically a moderate Republican. He approached his job pragmatically. But he was run out of town, so to speak, by an ideologue. John McComish doesn't want the same thing to happen to him. So, he has, apparently, indicated that he will NOT be the holdout who nixes the whole plan.


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By the way, kudos to Elizabeth Bernstein, who today drove from Bisbee to protest and tell the Joint Committee to keep their hands off of the IRC. Weiers went so far as to say this afternoon they still had no intention of interfering with the INDEPENDENT redistricting commission.


It's quite obvious that John Kavanagh -- during his Horizon showdown with Chad Campbell -- was not on the same page with Weiers. I tend to believe Kavanagh was being more candid than Weiers.


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Update 11:25pm


Another little bird told me that the straw that broke the camel's back (and caused Jan to consider going nuke-u-lar) is that Ben Quayle's big brother called to tell her that the big bad AIRC Democrats were picking on his little brother.


Of course, that's not easy to confirm, but what makes it plausible is that other rumors have Jan courting VP nomination ambitions. And it will certainly count for brownie points with the national GOP for her to have fixed things so baby Ben will not have to face much of a challenge to get re-elected, especially if he were to have a primary against another incumbent (Schweikert).



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