Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Redistricting -- Amended petition, national story, etc.

So, I've now read the Amended Petition for Special Action filed on Friday by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. I am encouraged that it sets forth strong case law arguments for nullifying removal of Colleen Mathis from the Chair position.

Of course, while I might have as much insight as any NON-lawyer, I'm still a NON-lawyer.

There will certainly be additional filings by both sides and probably multiple amicus briefs by others.
An amicus curiae (also spelled amicus curiƦ; plural amici curiae) is someone, not a party to a case, who volunteers to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it. The information provided may be a legal opinion in the form of a brief (which is called an amicus brief when offered by an amicus curiae), a testimony that has not been solicited by any of the parties, or a learned treatise on a matter that bears on the case. The decision on whether to admit the information lies at the discretion of the court. The phrase amicus curiae is legal Latin and literally means "friend of the court".
Reportedly, a local public interest law firm will file one amicus brief on behalf of the drafters of Prop 106. Another local election law practitioner expects to file on behalf of a bipartisan group of citizens. A national non-profit may file a third.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Sen. David Schapira faced off with GOP House Appropriations Chair John Kavanagh on this issue in a taped debate moderated by Brahm Resnik and aired on Channel 12's Sunday Square Off this morning. Kavanagh appeared because, as Resnik said at the start of the clip, the senate GOP caucus could provide NOT ONE of its members to defend the action.

Kavanagh pontificated extensively about the "poisoned process" because of "blatant open meeting laws violations" and "quid pro quo." The bottom line is that Kavanagh was incredibly indignant describing in overblown terms what he and his GOP colleagues do on a ROUTINE basis*. Turn the tables on Kavanagh and how would he characterize the very same "violations" when done by HIS friends?

The only mistake I found Schapira to have made is that after Kavanagh repeatedly offered as bait the question, "if the allegations of open meeting law violations are found to be true, would you consider that to be 'gross misconduct?'" Eventually, the Senate Minority Leader said, "yes." The fact of the matter is that EVEN IF the allegation of open meeting law violations is found to be to be true, it is NOT "gross" misconduct.

The only "quid pro quo" anyone has alleged is that Mathis offered to be willing to vote with Stertz on unspecified future votes in commission line drawing decisions. That is certainly NOT in the realm of bribery or other "gross" acts of misconduct. Even if it were, can the current House Appropriations Chair HONESTLY claim he has NOT done the same?

Resnik cited Sen. Biggshot (R-Publisher's Clearinghouse) as having made the Alice in Wonderland comparison, "Gross misconduct is essentially what the Legislature says gross misconduct is."

That quote goes to the heart of one of the main points in the AIRC challenge to Mathis' removal. Instead of justifying the action, Biggshot essentially disclosed how and why said action was arbitrary and capricious. Kavanagh acknowledged that the legislature took the action with that justification because the drafters of Prop 106 did not define the terms in the language voted on by the people of Arizona.

By the way, Schapira did an excellent job of putting Kavanagh on the defensive even though Kav's got SOOOO much experience (with a decades long career as a cop in NY and NJ) at turning those particular tables around.

Sen. Steve Pierce, as well as Kavanagh, both on Horizon earlier in the week disclosed that the timing of the senate action was because the GOP feared the AIRC would immediately send the maps to DOJ for preclearance after the 30-day comment period. They cited October 3 as the key date because that is when the Congressional draft map was adopted by the Commission.

Had ANYONE been paying attention (House staffer and GOP political operative John Mills had, but during the hearings of the Joint Committee, it appeared the committee members did not even listen well to him), they would have known that it was actually NOT going to happen according to their fears. ALL indications from AIRC members, consultants and staff were that additional work was CERTAIN to be done prior to submission for DOJ preclearance.

Nevertheless, while I had heard that the complaints serving as the final straw came from Ben Quayle's big brother, Huffington Post has reported that state Rep. Matt Heinz (D-Tucson) was told by multiple Republican state lawmakers this week that it was, in fact, Quayle's MOMMY, Marilyn who complained to Brewer.

The fear, expressed by both Kavanagh and Pierce, that the DOJ preclearance submission was imminent, also laid bare how they think. IF a commission chair with GOP leanings had been in place, and draft maps more pleasing to those incumbents were in play, do you think they would have been encouraging (BEHIND CLOSED DOORS) the chair to rush the submission to circumvent an effective legal challenge?


As an aside, on the subject of last night's blog post about Pearce's latest dirty trick, another robocall recording has surfaced. This time, the voice is NOT Hispanic, but the script is the same. The voters receiving that call are non-Hispanic surname Democratic voters.

While it MIGHT be understandable for a political party or a campaign to do a robocall like that, Arizona does have laws against acts intended to deceive voters. That's why there was even an initial hearing on whether Olivia Cortes was a sham candidate in the LD18 race. And rather than submit to additional examination, Cortes chose to withdraw from the race, which confirms that she never was a legitimate candidate.


* Kavanagh, in a comment he wrote on my Friday post describing the AIRC hearing in Scottsdale, took issue with my characterization of his testimony. I went back and reviewed his testimony.

You can review the comments he made by clicking on the "play video" icon for the Nov 3, Scottsdale hearing. His testimony begins at 41:55 into the hearing.

He was correct in saying that he was calm. However, that he is a sitting legislator does NOT give him the right to directly (and still quite obviously with pronounced rudeness) go outside of the scope of testimony people were asked to give. In that regard he was indeed, OUT OF ORDER. Because the only commissioner in attendance, Rick Stertz, is friendly to the notion of undermining the concept of fair and competitive district lines, and because elected officials have been basically allowed to say whatever they want, Kavanagh was not chastised from the hearing chair.

My characterization of Kavanagh's testimony as a "rant" and that he delivered it was a passion that would make any New Yorker proud" still stands because it was rude, out of order and (intentionally) played to the baser emotions of many in the audience.

1 comment:

  1. It is fairly obvious who is out of order here and that would not be you Steve. Sure is a tragedy when politics take over. Hope the Supreme Court figures this one out and people get out of the way of their own egos.