Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Redistricting -- More Tea Party Madness

Since last night's post, I have learned that a tea party regular at Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission meetings has sent an email complaint to Atty Gen Horne hoping to get some traction on a claim made Monday by Tucson Republican Benny White that Monday's vote on the Congressional Draft map constituted an Open Meeting Law violation.

White had been on the short list of Republican AIRC commissioner candidates (but Pearce refused to appoint him). He specifically said (prior to the vote) that it would be a violation, suggesting the map on which they were to vote had not been subject to public review prior to that day. AIRC counsel O'Grady told me she believed that not to be a valid legal argument, since Monday's agenda specified that a vote could be taken.

At minimum, this is likely to give Horne, who finds attacking the AIRC more important than running his agency, more fodder for trying the case in the media and before partisan political groups. Remember that Horne spoke last month to a Scottsdale GOP group shortly after filing his lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court. Horne also personally appeared at the hearing before Judge Fink on Monday. Really, how unusual is it that a state AG would be personally trying a case on potential Open Meeting Law violations?

Here's the (unedited) text of the email sent to Horne and other tea party groups (note that Harris apparently is on a first name basis with Horne):

Tom, The attached is a summary of yesterday's  Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission's Hearings.  The Chairman introduced an entirely new map at the beginning of the meeting, a map not seen nor available either on line or in hard copy to other than the Commissioners.  This new map she purported to draft all by herself over the weekend even though the Commission had virtually adopted a similar but quit different map at their hearing on Friday.  Her comments suggested that she redrew the map in order to have three border districts except that the Friday version actually had three border districts.  She also indicated that she wanted to straighten out Penal county as it had too many Congressional districts and she was able to pare it down to just two...actually three because a portion of the Tono Odam reservation extends into Penal county.  Actually she eliminated only one CD from this county with this revision.  What I think was the real reason for her changes was a complete remapping of CD 3...the "Minority/Majority" district controlled by Rep. Grijalva.  She sighted that the so called "Hispanic coalition for Good Government" (an organization that has never revealed exactly who the "coalition" is but it seems to be comprised of Rep. Grijalva, Rep. Pastor and County Supervisor Wilcox) which had previously submitted a suggested map to the Commission that was dropped on to the map with no revisions and has been treated like the "holy grail' ever since.  It seems that they contacted Chair Mathias over the weekend to voice their now concerns as to it's structure.  As a result, the real revisions dipped into the City of Tucson (only Commissioner McNulty has total knowledge of this area) and Gerrymandered that city to include, among other things, the University of Arizona into this district.  Because of this change, the Eastern Border of District 2 had to be completely revised to pick up the population necessary to satisfy the numerical requirements so Cochise County was cut in half and given to this district. The problem I see in all of this is as follows: 
  1. I believe Chair Mathias violated the open meeting laws by colluding  with Commissioner McNulty over the weekend to redraw Districts 2 & 3.  
  1. I believe that she "stacked the deck" before the meeting to insure that both Commissioners McNulty and Herrera were on board for a vote which was evidenced by her opening comment that she wanted consensus from the board to pass this new map but would proceed without it. This indicated to me that she already had the votes for passage.  The actual vote verifies this assumption.
  1. Further evidence that there was collusion among board members Mathias, McNulty and Herrera is that the only questions about the specifics of Mathias' new map came from Commissioners Stertz and Freeman.  Not one question of substance came from any of the two other commissioners even though they, like Messrs Stertz and Freeman had "only just been given this new map".
  1. Since this "new map" was to be adopted as the official draft map, the public was not given the necessary 24 hours to review it and comment on it.  We had only 1 and 1/2 hours to do so before "Public Comment" was moved up on the agenda in order to have it prior to the vote by the commission.  I believe that this violated open meeting laws as well and an injunction should be sought to stop these proceedings from moving forward with this map.

I think the issues outlined herein warrant investigation for wrong doing on the part of Commissioners Mathias, McNulty and Herrera.  Additionally private consultation with the "Hispanic Coalition for Good Government" warrants scrutiny as well.  I have attended most of the hearings for this Commission that were held in reasonable driving distance from the City of Phoenix so I think I am a good judge when the proceedings are conducted in a way that differs from the 'norm'.  This last one absolutely differed from all of the other's I have attended.


PS:  I have forwarded a copy of these comments to the Commission as well.
Wesley W. Harris;;
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