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).



Redistricting -- lege committee whitewash UPDATED 5:15pm Monday

The Joint Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting completed its work this afternoon, adopting a 43-page report it will forward to the entire legislature which reportedly will be called into a special session starting at 1pm tomorrow.

From the opening paragraph, the report recommends the legislature tell the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission
the process used to arrive at draft congressional and legislative maps is so fundamentally flawed that the resulting maps have been unconstitutionally created and the only remedy is to start the process over. 
Before voting to adopt the report, the committee took public testimony from a few people, including Elizabeth Bernstein who drove from Bisbee as well as from tea partiers Shirley Dye, AJ LaFaro and Wes Harris. Crazy Jack Harper also weighed in. I was on the phone and only was able to listen to Ms. Bernstein, who made sane, rational comments that she felt interfering with the IRC was unjustified and improper.

The others I mentioned, all have previously testified before the AIRC expressing their discontent in various and sundry but generally colorful, angry ways.

After Bernstein, Co-chair Jim Weiers reiterated what several lawmakers have tried to claim already, that the committee was only wanting to make recommendations to the AIRC. However, from the language in the report, this is not an innocuous exercise intended only to advise the commission.

The Arizona Capitol Times reported having confirmed news of the special session, but legislative staff could only confirm to me that they have been put on notice that a special session is likely. No agenda has been released and no word yet from the governor's office.

When I called the governor's office moments ago, I was told there was no word anywhere in the office that she was going to call the special session. That doesn't necessarily mean she won't call it anyway.

Channel 12 (KPNX) reporter Brahm Resnik reported on facebook and twitter at 4pm MST:
#AZGOP senators called to closed caucus meeting at 12:30p Tuesday. "Be prompt." Tick, tock on @GovBrewer to call special session #AIRC.
Ugh!

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UPDATE

Perhaps THE most poignant question that has yet to be asked is "WHY NOW?" Why is it so freakin' urgent for Brewer and the legislature to BLOW UP the AIRC now?

The answer could be in that the 30-day comment period for the draft maps will be over next week and the AIRC, at any time after that, could vote to finalize the Congressional map with little or no change.

State Rep. Chad Campbell will, in a few minutes be taping a segment on tonight's Horizon dealing with these issues.

It airs at 7pm MST on KAET Channel 8 in Phoenix and should be available in the morning at

http://www.azpbs.org/horizon/index.php

Redistricting -- chaos at the state capitol? UPDATED

At this writing, four of the five Arizona Independent Redistricting Commissioners have responded to Governor Jan's notice of intent to impeach and remove them from their unpaid positions.

The Arizona Republic has posted an Associated Press write up on the situation and I will write more about it. In the meantime, you may read the letters for yourselves.

Also today, Arizona Capitol Times reporter Evan Wyloge wrote the most comprehensive explanation of the UNfair Trust I've seen anywhere. The article is NOT behind a paywall.

Read the letters:

Commission response

Mathis letter

McNulty letter

Herrera letter

Stertz letter

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A side note, related to the hysteria being generated by rabid tea partiers, AZ Fact Check debunked (AGAIN) the claim that the AIRC has $10 million to spend. This time, it had been asserted by Proud Terri, a proud tea partier who apparently never lets the truth or facts get in the way of what her handlers want her to say.

This claim has been made, on the record, on several occasions before the AIRC. Only $3.5 million has been appropriated.

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Local lobbying firm VeridusAZ tweeted this morning "Special session likely as early as tomorrow. Topic is  redistricting commission."

The legislature's committee on interfering with Independent Redistricting is scheduled to reconvene this afternoon at 1:30pm. The agenda says they will discuss the recommendations they will ask the legislature to approve.

Sen. Steve Pierce had a letter in the Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff) claiming
In our four days of hearings, we have heard from dozens of citizens who are frustrated with the process and the maps. For numerous reasons, they feel the IRC let them down. We are listening, and we will make recommendations to the IRC. We're doing our job. Anything the Daily Sun reads into this is simply paranoia.
However, when Sen. Biggshot and Captain Al (Sen) Melvin come out explicitly stating their intent to have one or more commissioners removed, that's NOT paranoia, it's the paper doing its job. Pierce's protestations notwithstanding.

On twitter, from @senatormelvin last night:
The AZ IRC Chairwoman must be removed for cause. She is blatantly linked to the Democrat party & is anything but independent.
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I just received Freeman's letter. I have to get a sandwich but will update this post afterward.


Exhibits attached to Freeman's letter:
here

here

here

here

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Redistricting -- where will it go from here?

There are several scenarios for the remainder of Arizona's redistricting process and how it might play out in the weeks and months to come.

In the morning, we will find out the next steps when the five Independent Redistricting Commissioners send their letters in response to last week's declaration of war by Jan Brewer.

There was a faint hope that those letters would be available this evening, but it looks now like no one will see them until after the 8am deadline our thoughtful and judicious governor arbitrarily set for tomorrow morning.

There seems to be little doubt that Jan acted before counting the cost. Nor does it appear she evaluated whether she would be able to find a graceful way out -- in the event it becomes obvious she stepped in a great big steaming pile of... well, dung. Which she clearly has.

AIRC legal counsel has been working on those response letters over the weekend. However, it appears that Jan really does not have to worry about whether any of the commissioners' acts or omissions rise to any legal standard definition of
substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office.
Those are the only reasons, says the Arizona Constitution, a commissioner may be removed from office.

Substantial neglect of duty. There's no question that all five of the members of the commission have diligently attended to the duties for which they were appointed.

Inability to discharge the duties of office. Can anyone credibly argue that any of the members have been incapacitated to the extent they cannot discharge their duties?

That leaves "gross misconduct in office." That sounds like something that should be adjudicated in a trial court. But really, given the procedure spelled out in the language of Prop 106, it boils down to a political process that is materially equivalent to the impeachment that ousted Evan Mecham from the governor's office in 1988.

There were some who believed Mecham committed no crime other than repeatedly sticking his foot in his mouth, thereby giving Arizona a bad name nationally. Politically, Mecham was facing a recall effort that had the gathered enough verified signatures to force an election. He had galvanized public opinion against him, not only by making awkward statements, but also by making a dramatically unpopular political policy decision -- cancelling the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

To obviate the recall, the legislature found cause, convicted him and removed him from office. There was no judicial appeal, because it was a political process. The legislature had a great deal of political cover in 1988 to carry out that process.

There are clear and obvious parallels between the impeachment of Evan Mecham and the potential removal of one or more INDEPENDENT redistricting commissioners.

The process is similar, but the political climate in Arizona is VERY different today.

The governor and the state legislature have gouged Arizonans in the eye on numerous times since the Mecham era. On multiple occasions, voters mandated legalization or decriminalization of medical marijuana. The voters authorized widened health care coverage for indigent Arizonans. Brewer and the legislature defunded the program. That action is now the subject of litigation. Voters went so far as to tighten the parameters in which the legislature may amend voter approved measures, to prevent them from being negated.

Now Brewer and GOP legislative leadership have concocted an elaborate ruse for the purpose of undermining the will of the electorate once more.

The legislature was not taking much of a risk by impeaching Mecham. Public opinion was strongly against the governor at that time.

But Jan Brewer ONLY has hard core GOP partisans and tea partiers on her side. There is PLENTY of potential political risk for her. Though she will not be eligible for an additional 4-year term, she still may have a lot to lose. If, as the Yellow Sheet reported last week, her declaration of war was done at the urging of Arizona's GOP Congressional delegation, could they have made her an offer that will sufficiently mitigate the public opinion hit she will take by so blatantly disrespecting Arizona's voters?

Jan, did you even consider the political ramifications?

Redistricting -- Signs at the Capitol?

Regular readers of the Arizona Eagletarian already know that tomorrow has the makings of an eventful day in INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING.

Jan's arbitrary (and quite capricious) deadline for the commissioners to respond to her list of insane allegations (taken largely from the wacked out mind of A.J. LaFaro) is at 8am. At 1:30pm, the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting convenes in Hearing Room 4 at the Arizona House of Representatives. Then at 6:20pm, the AIRC will meet at its office to discuss and possibly take action regarding Janice's declaration of war.

I have been informed that at least one person will be at the Capitol with a sign telling them all to KEEP their HANDS OFF OF the REDISTRICTING COMMISSION! 

Obviously, there will be some news about redistricting in Arizona tomorrow. I'll be keeping my ear to the ground and will let you know as soon as I learn what developments arise.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Redistricting -- AIRC responds to Brewer's declaration of war UPDATED

After holding a Public Outreach Hearing in Yuma this afternoon, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission convened by teleconference for a business meeting to consider Jan Brewer's letters indicating she intended to initiate the removal procedure against the five commissioners.

As the Arizona Eagletarian reported yesterday, Senate President Russell Pearce and House Speaker Andy Tobin removed all pretense, declaring their naked partisanship, by writing to Freeman and Stertz and all but saying those two Commissioners will not be impeached.

Upon returning to public session this afternoon, the commission voted to authorize additional legal representation regarding the governor's letter. McNulty, in initial discussion in that public session, said she wanted to know if either Stertz or Freeman would make a motion. Freeman then explained that he takes the governor's letter seriously and believes the concerns raised in that letter are shared by a lot of people, therefore he hopes that each of the commissioners replies to the governor.

He did not offer a motion.

McNulty then made a motion to authorize the commission to retain counsel for Mathis, Herrera and McNulty herself to address the issues raised in Jan's letter. The motion passed on a 3-2 vote. In case you do not know the history of this group of five commissioners working together, the two nay votes were Freeman and Stertz. They will next meet on Monday at 6:20pm to discuss and possibly take action "relating to letter from Governor Brewer concerning Commission conduct."

To me, Freeman's remarks means that even though he had been putting effort into working in a bipartisan manner with the Democratic commissioners, no longer has political cover for that cooperation. The aggressiveness of the GOP/tea partiers is just too much for him to stand up to at this time.

Of course, I could be wrong. If I am able to talk with him, I will update you with what he has to say.

This is NOT the time to roll over and just take the abuse the GOP expresses as they work to subvert the will of the voters.

Who will lead the charge to take back what Jan, Russ, Andy and Tom (Horne) are brazenly stealing from us?

We know it will not be the tea partiers. They, by the way, did show up, in force, for the Yuma hearing at 1pm. Other than that When their leader had his say before the AIRC they all got up and left, there was nothing significant to report about the hearing. A Yuma Sun reporter did a good job of highlighting the kind of insane ramblings that "inspired" Jan to declare war on Independent Redistricting.

“Since it's readily apparent that you don't care what we have to say on redistricting, I will focus on why I hope you will be removed next week,” said state Sen. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, while wearing a U.S. Revolutionary War tri-corner hat and U.S. flag shirt.
Yuma resident William Ladd said the redistricting commission was an undemocratic group and suggested it was influenced by political forces in the nation's capital.
“Citizens were duped when they passed Proposition 203 (to establish the commission). This was a well-meaning socialist idea that just doesn't work,” Ladd said. “Then they started out with a lecture from a federal compliance representative from Washington, D.C., threatening us and telling us that we have to bow down and ask their permission to get approval. Somebody needs to tell them that the government works for us, we don't work for the government.”
Two speakers, Constance Uribe and Charles Roecker, implied the maps would foster the spread of communism throughout the state.
“You divided my community. You divided my people. You even divided my family,” Uribe said. “You reached out towards Pima County. When I was studying medicine at the University of Arizona, Raul Grijalva was messing around with a bunch of people studying the politics of ... Karl Marx. I will not tolerate having a communist take over Yuma County.”
Roecker placed what he described as a more progressive map on the overhead projector that showed the former Soviet Union's hammer and sickle placed over the state of Arizona.
Come on people, we do NOT have to let the chronically uninformed, easily hypnotized tea partiers dominate public policy in Arizona. But YOU will have to RISE UP!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Redistricting -- Brazen GOP "leadership"

Reports of brazenly outrageous conduct by GOP legislative leadership continue to emerge in light of the Joint Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting and Jan Brewer's declaration of war against the commission.

The Arizona Capitol Times reported that GOP staffer Greg Jernigan invoked the "G" word (gerrymandering) today in testimony before the Joint Committee. The Yellow Sheet reported
Schapira and Campbell [Democratic legislative leaders] were eager to offer their thoughts from the hallway outside the committee hearing room. “I don’t think a taxpayer-funded staffer should be making political assertions that are unfounded and slanderous in public testimony in committee. It just shows what a dog-and-pony show this committee really is,” Schapira said. “The fact that they’re using staff to make baseless partisan attacks underscores everything we’ve said about this committee, which is that it’s a complete joke,” Campbell said. “John Mills is nothing more than a Republican Party staffer being paid for with taxpayer dollars, and apparently so is Jernigan.”
Since plenty of rank and file Republican voters (and tea partiers) will hear about this testimony (or already have) either on this blog or from YS readers, let's see how much outrage they show over this particular brand of partisan activity on the taxpayer's dime.


We also know that typically intellectual GOP leaders like Sarah Palin and Jan Brewer make sure they weigh all of their options and try to calculate the fallout of decisions they make that will impact their constituencies, right? (rolling my eyes)

We know that Russell Pearce has brazenly embraced the tea party in his "leadership" of the state senate. We also know that Jan Brewer cemented her lock on the GOP gubernatorial nomination last year by embracing tea party causes (except for the temporary sales tax).

While we know that the tea party has asserted itself in Arizona politics in other ways (AZ GOP chair Tom Morrissey's vision statement includes affirmation of the tea party), we have to wonder if she's at all interested in academic research on the latest political trends. Researchers at Notre Dame and Harvard found very pronounced and increasing distaste for tea party politics. Professors Campbell and Putnam wrote, in the New York Times:

On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans. Indeed, at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, today’s Tea Party parallels the anti-Vietnam War movement which rallied behind George S. McGovern in 1972. The McGovernite activists brought energy, but also stridency, to the Democratic Party — repelling moderate voters and damaging the Democratic brand for a generation. By embracing the Tea Party, Republicans risk repeating history.
Given what she wrote in her declaration of war against the AIRC, I'm guessing she has NOT put any work into figuring out what will happen when she pokes voters in the eye by subverting INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING. She has not taken the temperature of the Arizona electorate. Granted, Occupy Wall Street protests, even though they have spread throughout the country and have resulted in confrontations in several states, including Arizona, have not reached the ferocity of those that toppled regimes in northern Africa and the Middle East. But with it becoming increasingly obvious to all those who can see the forest beyond the trees, has Jan considered the potential ramifications? I doubt it.

The bottom line is that she has listened ONLY to the most rabid partisans. But not all of the ones in Arizona she should have consulted before issuing her declaration.

Speaker Andy Tobin told the Yellow Sheet he was upset Brewer did not tell him she was going to "launch an attack against the IRC." Tobin then claimed it was just a family squabble, an obvious attempt to minimize the damage to public perception. One has to wonder how big his family's Thanksgiving gatherings get?

This is all part of the game of chicken being awkwardly orchestrated by Gov. Jan.

On KAET's Horizon tonight, Howie Fischer, Dennis Welch, Mike Sunnucks and Ted Simons explored the possible scenarios that could happen depending on what Brewer decides to do about the AIRC. But NONE of them could see past the nose on their face.

They did NOT look down the road. How this will impact anything Jan wants?

Have ANY of them been at the Capitol at all in the last few months? Have they noticed ANY beautification work taking place anywhere along the Capitol Mall?

Is anyone planning anything for February 14, 2012? A scant 109 days from now Arizona will "celebrate" one hundred years of statehood.

If Jan, Andy and Russell blow up the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission or put roadblocks in the way to delay adoption of new district maps, are they naive enough to think the turmoil fade away before it spoils the celebration?  109 days from now... with plenty of events leading up to the big day.

Which will be Jan's legacy?

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Remember UNfair Trust? They too are playing a precarious game of chicken with voters.

The clandestine group (which includes our illustrious GOP Congressional delegation, most of whom have a great deal to lose depending on the Congressional district map) has it's main mouthpiece egging on the Joint Committee, trying to parse the US Constitution.

David Cantelme testified today that Constitutional language prevents anyone except state legislatures from drawing Congressional district lines. Again, reported by the Yellow Sheet,
FAIR Trust attorney David Cantelme brandished an argument at today’s hearing that’s been gaining traction with IRC critics – that the U.S. Constitution prohibits anyone besides the Legislature from drawing congressional districts. Cantelme cited Article 1 Section 4, which says, “The time, place and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof.” “The question is whether the U.S. Constitution allows a commission, rather than a Legislature, to draw congressional districts,” Cantelme said. “It is clear that Article 1 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution vests authority in the Legislature to draw congressional districts.” But ASU constitutional law professor Paul Bender told our reporter it’s not clear at all. The Constitution doesn’t make any references to redistricting and doesn’t require redistricting, he said. Subsequent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have stipulated that districts must adhere to the one-person-one-vote principle, but doesn’t deal with how the districts are created. In fact, some states originally elected their congressional representatives at-large, and didn’t draw districts at all. Bender said he doesn’t think the term “manner of electing … representatives” includes districting. And if it does, he said, it would open the door to a lot more federal control over state election processes. “If you read it their way, then Congress could redistrict the states,” Bender said.
The YS reporter(s) consulted with former AIRC counsel Lisa Hauser, who said the issue did not come up in the last redistricting and she's not sure there is any case law on the issue. Cantelme apparently was adament.
Bender said the framers of the Constitution used the term “legislature” to refer to a democratic process, as opposed to an executive one. And he noted that in Arizona, legislative actions are all subject to citizen referendum anyway.
Stay tuned folks.

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On Blog for Arizona, Arizona Blue Meanie expounded today on some of these revelations.

If the allegations in this press release are true, our Republican elected officials are engaged in a conspiracy to violate the Arizona Constitution (the Independent Redistricting Commission, Prop. 106, a citizens initiative enacted by the voters of Arizona) for purely partisan political advantage. This is an impeachable offense for executive officers, e.g., the Governor and Attorney General, and grounds for recall of state legislators (federal elected officials are not subject to recall). The remedy is meaningless, however, because they are all co-conspirators in this violation of the Arizona Constitution.
It may be time to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.
He's referring to press releases sent by the Arizona Democratic Party, posted on his blog (linked above).

Redistricting -- Horne is OFF the case -- AZLEG shows its bias

Today, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink ruled that Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has a conflict of interest and is therefore prohibited from prosecuting AIRC Commissioners Mathis, McNulty and Herrera.
Ethical Rule 1.9(a), as set forth in Supreme Court Rule 42, states, “A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.”
To which, Horne probably heard a loud and collective, "DUH!" from observers throughout Arizona.

In court filings, Horne argued

AGO argues that its statutory power to investigate and enforce violations of the Open Meeting Law overrides the Ethical Rules. 
Judge Fink ruled, however
Under the Arizona Constitution, “the practice of law is a matter exclusively within the authority of the Judiciary. 

The Ethical Rules have been promulgated by the Supreme Court pursuant to this authority.

Although the legislature may by statute regulate the practice of law, its regulation cannot be inconsistent with the mandates of the Supreme Court. Thus, the general grant of investigatory authority to the AGO must in this case yield to the ethical bar imposed by ER 1.9.
More detail and case law cited as support for the ruling are found in the minute entry.

Fink did say Horne could arrange for the matter to be handled by a county attorney. Horne has already announced that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery would take the case.

Based on the explanation given in the first four pages of his minute entry, Fink ordered the following:
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED granting the Motion for Disqualification of Counsel, filed
October 3, 2011.
The Court acknowledges that the state may require some time to locate alternate counsel
willing to take this case, and that alternate counsel may need some time to get up to speed on this matter. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED alternate counsel for the State shall file a Notice of Appearance no later
than November 25, 2011.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED suspending the briefing schedule currently in place in this
case until further notice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED vacating the oral argument set for November 7, 2011 at
2:30pm.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED setting a status conference to discuss appropriate
alterations to the briefing schedule and re-scheduling of the oral argument on November 30,
2011 at 11:00 a.m. Upon the filing of a Notice of Appearance by alternate counsel, any party
may request an accelerated status conference.
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In another stroke of genius, Senate President Russell Pearce and House Speaker Andy Tobin have laid bare the naked partisanship of their war on Independent Redistricting.

How blatantly obvious can you get?

Ever the "statesmen," Pearce and Tobin tell REPUBLICAN IRC Commissioners Stertz and Freeman:
We write to express our shared, strong conviction that you are fulfilling your roles as Commissioners of the Independent Redistricting Commission with excellence and integrity.
As you know, the Governor has provided each Commissioner with written notice of allegations of substantial neglect of duty and gross misconduct in office and requested a written response from each Commissioner. The integrity of the process by which the People select their elected representatives is clearly at stake.
We are confident that both of you are faithfully following the law. We know that your responses to the Governor's letter will reflect that you have not participated in any of the disturbing and lawless conduct that has made this Commission's tenure so difficult. 
We stand with you. Your service on the IRC comes at great personal sacrifice; your own and on the part of your families. Thank you for diligently performing this important public service and keeping faith with the People of Arizona.
Give me a break. Could it be any more obvious? Telling the two Republicans what to say in their response letters to the governor then making it plain they have no intention of letting a possible removal of those two even come up for a vote in the state senate.

It is TIME to Rise UP!
    

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Redistricting -- What Brewer failed to recognize

Despite the "nice nice" type spin that gubernatorial spokesman Matt Benson has tried to put on Brewer's declaration of war against the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, there can be no question Jan is trying to put the screws to the five commissioners. One of her allegations:

"The IRC does not have the legal authority, using public monies at considerable cost to the taxpayers, to retain multiple attorneys to represent certain IRC Commissioners individually to litigate and seek the disqualification of the Attorney General's office from pursuing an investigation of the IRC." 
On its face, that is pure and complete BULLSHIT. Put in more polite terms, Jan Brewer, on the advice of counsel, intentionally LIED. Anyone that has any political insight can read between the lines to see that the dramatic presentations staged by Arizona's top GOP "leadership" at the state capitol over the last week have been intended to bully and intimidate. The governor's own former chief counsel (AZ State Bar President and current AIRC counsel Joe Kanefield) did not put a stop to the commission voting to defend itself from the outrageous allegations. If he had, there's at least one person privy to AIRC executive sessions that has been accused of briefing the state's top GOP officials. So, we would likely have heard about it if Kanefield had advised against the commission legally defending itself.

Brewer's demand that the commissioners respond individually and thoroughly, BY 8am MONDAY morning (HALLOWEEN, ironically enough) and if they do not it would be taken as admission of guilt (not so subtly implied) is a clear indication of bad faith. It also fails to consider the personal lives and circumstances of each commissioner.

One commissioner has close family with major health issues; one has a child that may be born soon; (at least) one has had to implement increased home or personal security measures due to threats received in the course of this redistricting; one has faced serious allegations of racism because of his principled positions on redistricting matters; all of them have suffered financially because of the time demands on their professional careers AND all of them are UNPAID VOLUNTEERS.

Pursuant to Brewer's declaration of war, the AIRC (which must post 48 hours notice prior to ANY meeting) will meet at 4pm on Saturday in Yuma (where they will be holding a Public Outreach Hearing earlier) to discuss and deal with the matters at hand. The meeting will likely include one or more commissioner attending by teleconference and will almost certainly include an executive session to receive advice from counsel. But there will almost certainly be some action taken in open session.

In the meantime, AIRC staff (and one member, Scott Freeman) were on their way to the hearing they held in eastern Arizona tonight.

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TELL JAN BREWER TO BACK OFF!!!


Or, then again, do we DARE her to subvert the will of the voters? Surely someone on her staff which be able to help her realize that doing so will CERTAINLY cause commotion that will overshadow her centennial celebration coming up in just a few short months? They will have no excuse for failing to see it if they read this blog. Are they smart enough to be reading the Arizona Eagletarian?  You are.

Call her office at 602-542-4331 or toll-free at 1-800-253-0883

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Redistricting -- Do you believe in serendipity?

It was a dark and stormy night... okay, not really.

But it was already dark and there I was, coming out of the grocery store this evening. Looking over my shoulder, I spy Matthew Benson with my little eye. Benson, chief spokesman for Gov. Jan Brewer, this afternoon was likely right in the middle of his boss' latest potential political blunder. Barely three hours earlier, I learned that Brewer had thrown a monkee wrench into the machine that is the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Unwilling to let this pleasant surprise slip away without seizing the opportunity, I asked him if the governor had the votes lined up. "For what," he asked. For what she threatened to do to the redistricting commissioners, I replied. He said he did not know.

Brewer failed to calculate the ramifications, in terms of public opinion, for her interfering with the voter mandated commission, I told him, as well as that she will face at least as much ire from Arizonans as the AIRC has from the tea partiers.

Benson told me the governor was giving the commissioners the opportunity to explain themselves. I told him, as I had Sen. Biggshot last Friday, that was BULLSHIT. Only this time, the sound came out of my mouth. He said she had the constitutional authority to ask the commissioners to answer for themselves. I replied that the legislature has the constitutional authority to make comments on the draft maps also, but that's not really what the committee is about. Both are nothing more and nothing less than efforts by GOP elected officials to bully and intimidate citizen volunteers who took on an immense project because Arizona voters want it done that way.

I also told him I believe that Brewer is playing a political game of chicken.

This is not Jan Brewer's first political gaffe. Arizona's current governor was subject to a recall effort in 2010. That effort produced 37,500 signatures on petitions.

Citizen volunteers/activists DID succeed in subjecting Russell Pearce to a recall election. The results of THAT election will be known in two weeks.

With an infrastructure of volunteers already active, and if Brewer galvanizes public opinion against her by making a gigantic political blunder like derailing INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING, it's very easy to predict who could be the next target for direct democracy in Arizona.

 

Redistricting - Brewer threatens AIRC, takes tea party bait UPDATED

The first news story I've seen about the latest volley in the artillery attack on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was posted by the Arizona Capitol Times (no paywall at the moment).

The story stems from tea party Gov Jan Brewer issuing formal threat letters to the commission. Those letters can be found here (to AIRC chair Mathis) and here (to each of the five commissioners).

This is beyond a travesty.

The will of the voters of Arizona is at risk and the tea party and the GOP are fighting desperately to prevent fair and competitive districts from being implemented in our state.

It is way past time to Rise UP!

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I've now received responses from the AIRC and from House and Senate Democratic Leadership


Below is a statement from Ray Bladine, executive director of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, regarding letters received today from the governor:

“Today, Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission received two letters from the governor’s office.
“The first letter provided comments on the draft congressional map. The commissioners will consider the comments, just as they will any input the governor may submit regarding the draft legislative map.
“The second letter made serious allegations against all five commissioners. The commission’s legal counsel will respond to those allegations. Hopefully, that will resolve the matter, because continuing down this precarious path could end up sticking the taxpayers with substantial legal expenses.
“The commission has worked hard to incorporate all six constitutional criteria and certainly is interested in improving upon the draft maps. That’s why it is holding three weeks of public hearings around the state – to find out how Arizonans think the maps can be refined.
“The commission will continue to move toward adopting final congressional- and legislative-district maps that can, and will, be approved by the federal Justice Department. This will be done in full view of the public, as was intended by the citizens who in 2000 passed Proposition 106 to create Arizona’s independent redistricting process.”
Stuart J. Robinson
Public Information Officer
Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission


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PRESS RELEASE

Arizona State Legislature
1700 W Washington Street, Phoenix, AZ 85007


Senator David Schapira, D-17, Senate Minority Leader
Representative Chad Campbell, D-14, House Minority Leader



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2011


Statements from Senate Minority Leader David Schapira
and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell
Response to Governor Brewer’s letter to IRC members


State Capitol, Phoenix - Senate Minority Leader David Schapira and House Minority Leader Chad Campbell released the following statements today in response to Governor Jan Brewer’s allegations of misconduct on the part of Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission.

Senate Minority Leader  David Schapira:
“This is another instance in the ongoing and orchestrated campaign by Republicans to threaten and intimidate the Independent Redistricting Commission and undermine the will of Arizona voters,” said Schapira.

“The Attorney General, the Republican Legislature and now the Governor are abusing their public offices for partisan gain. The voters told them to butt out, but they won’t take no for an answer.”

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell:
"Like all Arizonans I am sick of the partisan politics and gridlock hurting our state, and now Republicans have begun to launch attacks on voters by trying to sabotage an independent redistricting process with their partisan politics. The entire point of having an independent redistricting commission is to keep politicians' hands out of a fair process for voters in Arizona. But today, and just about weekly, we have seen Republicans sticking their hands where they don't belong," said Campbell.

"Arizona voters don't need to be told what to do by politicians - it should be the other way around - and it is time for fair, competitive districts so we can move forward with a government that works for the people and brings jobs and a stronger economy to Arizona."

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Here's a response from a concerned Arizona voter who happens to also be a blogger (me):

I have to wonder if Governor Brewer has properly calculated the potential citizen/voter response to her unprecedented threats. In light of the national mood these days, does she really believe blatantly thumbing her nose at the will of Arizona voters would go without political response?

Does Brewer REALLY want the Arizona Centennial celebration overshadowed by increasing political turmoil?

What kind of political reaction does she anticipate and is she underestimating the resolve of voters who have endured 10 years under a political district map that has produced a legislative GOP supermajority? 

I hesitate to speculate with any specificity on what will happen.  But there WILL be some form of organized political response. Is she willing to play chicken at this crucial moment in Arizona's civic journey? 

Redistricting -- Day 4 lege cmte, AIRC tonight in Mesa UPDATED

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will hold a Public Outreach Hearing this evening starting at 6pm at the Mesa Convention Center*, 326 North Center St.

This morning, however, the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting convened at 10am at the Arizona House of Representatives. Though AIRC commissioners had been "invited," none attended. Rep. Jim Weiers presided. Former AIRC commissioner James Huntwork and Tempe Democratic activist Lauren Kuby testified.

Huntwork described how the first AIRC approached its groundbreaking challenge. Weiers apparently tried to get him to criticize the current commission but Huntwork pretty much declined to do so. AIRC public information officer Stu Robinson told me this afternoon the commission received five letters today from Weiers, each addressed to one of the former commissioners. Exec. Dir. Bladine advised Weiers office that the current commission is not authorized to handle mail for the former members and returned them all unopened. Given that Huntwork testified today, and that the committee meets again tomorrow at 9am, perhaps the five letters were all "invitations" to dump on the current AIRC.

Weiers, by the way, had the audacity to ask Huntwork (who he, ten years ago, appointed to the AIRC) why he drew LD10 (the district Weiers represents) as the most competitive legislative district all last time.

The highlight of this morning's hearing had to be the interaction between Lauren Kuby, Sen. Biggshot and Rep. Weiers. For nearly a half hour, Kuby gave the two lawmakers a heaping helping of "what for." Her testimony was similar to that of Tonya Norwood-Pearson last Friday. Needless to say, Biggshot was as abusive with Kuby as he had been with Norwood-Pearson.

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An update on last night's post about Carl Seel. Given how clearly "out there" he is (being a 'birther' and all), it's not surprising he would be upset about being in a district that's less heavily Republican than the one he's in now. His competition would include other incumbent Republicans who are more respected by traditional conservative constituencies (like Kimberly Yee, a solid anti-abortion lawmaker who enjoys support from Constantin Querard). So, it's no surprise he would be uncomfortable with the current outlook. It's still outrageous that he would (try to) blame mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry and that the Capitol Times would legitimize his claims.

Further, Republicans seemingly have been getting more aggressive in there attacks on competitiveness over the last week or so in AIRC hearings. Perhaps they are getting increasingly skittish over trends pollsters are beginning to quantify and articulate. Today, CNN reported on a Rocky Mountain Poll of Arizona voters conducted on October 13-14 showing Mitt Romney and Herman Cain at the head of the pack of GOP presidential wannabees. The poll also showed
The survey indicates that Obama holds a 45-40% margin over Romney in a hypothetical general election showdown, with Obama holding 44-38% advantage over Perry and a 45-38% advantage over Cain. All of Obama's margins are within the poll's sampling error. [4.1 percent in this case]
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On Saturday October 29 at 1pm, the AIRC will hold a Public Outreach Hearing in Yuma at the City Council Chambers. Because the hearing coincides with a regular meeting of a tea party group, the Yuma Sun reports that the group plans to hold a rally outside the AIRC hearing. Because city officials refused to issue a permit for the rally to be held at the council chambers, they believe the group is renting a flat bed truck to use (as close to the hearing as possible) as a stage and platform for a public address system. The group's website already indicates a former sheriff of an Arizona border county is scheduled to attend.

So, Saturday in Yuma might be another one of those wild and crazy days for the AIRC.

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*Mesa Convention Center - Palo Verde 1, Building B, Main Campus

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UPDATED with a link to the Yuma Sun news story on the Yuma tea gathering coinciding with the AIRC hearing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Redistricting -- Sierra Vista; day 3 of lege interference hearing

At tonight's hearing of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in Sierra Vista, immediately after the first speakers -- elected local officials -- a thirteen-year-old who has lived in Cochise County all of her life called for adjusting the draft maps to keep her county whole.

While it was a wonderful exercise and civics lesson for a young person like her, the essay she read clearly was not written exclusively by her. I have to wonder if Commissioner Stertz will disrespect her reading of someone else's concerns like he did last night in Tucson. Stertz took issue then with those who complimented the commission but called on them to draw more competitive districts.

Tonight, the most emphatic message is that citizens disapprove of the Congressional draft map, which splits Cochise County so that a third representative's district is on the border with Mexico. That, of course, was Stertz' biggest push early in the map drawing process. The citizens of Cochise County, across the board,  those who want more competitive districts and those who do not, think it's a lousy idea.

By the way, the message from SOOOO many other Arizonans about the Congressional district maps, but especially from Sierra Vista and Cochise County, was foreseeable. In fact, it was foreseen. My friend Mohur Sarah Sidhwa testified specifically on that point last month. And in this blog, I made the same point.

Some tea partiers have claimed that a good bit of the acrimony aimed at the commission could have been avoided if only they had done this or that. While tonight's message from citizens at the hearing could indeed have been avoided with some different decisions, the commission still would have taken it in the shorts on some other issue. But the fact remains -- as Stertz acknowledged -- there was a great deal of passion from both sides demanding to keep Cochise County whole.

The fact that both sides did not like it does NOT mean it was the right decision. So, Chairwoman Mathis, please stop using that faulty logic.

The criticism for this decision rests as much on Stertz as on any of the other commissioners. Nevertheless, the draft maps as they stand now STILL represent a good faith effort to address and incorporate competing, legitimate concerns raised by citizens throughout the state. But a point Stertz tried to make at a hearing last week -- that he did not agree with the draft maps and voted against them -- now rings hollow because largely, the concerns of Cochise residents tonight are a result of changes made at his urging.

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Rick Stertz' closing comments tonight were dramatically more respectful of the audience. Citing the passion by speakers on "both sides," he said they provided lots of food for thought. He noted that when the thirty day comment period for the draft maps is over, the commissioners will commence doing some hard work to incorporate the feedback citizens from all over the state have given them. THAT is the correct approach to what citizens say in these hearings. That is the correct approach to recognizing that "both sides" disapprove of the maps.

There may come a time when the commission can recognize that both sides disliking a set of maps is a good indicator. But that time has NOT come. And that will not be the only indicator.

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The Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting met again today. Arizona Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl tweeted (for @azcInsider)
After 20 minutes, Joint Legis Committee on Redistricting adjourns. Has invited #AIRC members to attend Wednesday, don't expect a showing.
The committee's arrogance is only exceeded by its hubris.

The only possibility, and it would be tragically sad if this comes to pass, is that Rick Stertz might attend. I've not spoken with him, but some observers have told me they think he's done things to undermine the work of the commission on which he's committed so much of his time. I just hope that's not what he's been doing. One would hope his closing comments tonight were from the heart and that he will not be doing anything, including appearing at the legislative committee meeting in the morning to lend any credibility to the kangaroo court.

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Today's legislative committee hearing was short, as few people showed up to testify. I understand that Proud Terri did testify. Can there be much of a question as to whether her comments carried any substance?

Another member of the state House of Representatives did testify. It was Carl Seel and he got some press as a result.

Arizona Capitol Times reporter Jeremy Duda wrote:

Rep. Carl Seel suggested that the Independent Redistricting Commission’s mapping consultants may have put him in a less Republican district in retaliation for his legislative record. Speaking at Monday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting, Seel, R-Phoenix, questioned why Strategic Telemetry – which has ties to Democratic candidates and causes, including President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign – put him in a new district that eliminated much of his conservative support.
“My district has gone from a solidly Republican district where I am positioned, interestingly enough, to a district that may be considered a competitive district. Now, I don’t know if that has anything to do with the legislation that I’ve sponsored or not,” Seel said during his testimony to the committee.
Questioned after he made his public comments, Seel told the Arizona Capitol Times that he is not accusing Strategic Telemetry or the IRC of gerrymandering him into a less favorable district – and he had no proof that such a conspiracy took place.
But he said it was curious that he was put into less Republican district, and that numerous other GOP incumbents were packed together into the same districts. “Is there a connection? I’m not sure. Have I been targeted? I’m not necessarily saying I’ve been targeted. I’m not making that claim. I’m merely saying, once again, if Strategic Telemetry, being as left as they are and with the connections that they have, it’s plausible that they may have designed their lines in a way that significantly benefit the party that Ken Strasma is so closely aligned with,” he said, referring to the president of Strategic Telemetry.
Seel said his sponsorship of HB2177, known to many as Arizona’s “birther bill,” could theoretically make him a target. “I would imagine that if I were Obama and this is the only bill in the nation that got through a Legislature, that it might get his attention, and therefore it would probably get the attention of Obama’s chief strategist, Ken Strasma,” he said. 
Now, Duda and the entire newsroom at the Capitol Times know two very significant FACTS that should have been a part of the story but were not.

  1. Strategic Telemetry does NOT make decisions as to where any of the district lines would be drawn.
  2. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has taken great pains to keep all staff and commissioners from knowing, let alone even thinking about considering, where any of the lawmakers reside.
While it's not a "fact," it IS CLEAR that Seel's connection is NOT PLAUSIBLE. The Capitol Times has had reporters watching the district line drawing process long enough to state unequivocally that Seel's claims are nothing less than absurd.

The Capitol Times HAS put a great deal of staff time into pinpointing where incumbent lawmakers and Members of Congress shake out on the draft maps. It makes for intriguing political theater and plenty of speculation as to who will do what. But it's clearly irresponsible for them to publish this story and allow Seel to legitimize insane ramblings inspired by imaginative, paranoid tea partiers.

Seel's testimony however, fits with other controversies he's been involved in during his tenure as an Arizona lawmaker. Besides Mr. Seel being neck deep in the birther bill situation, he has also been in bankruptcy with his house close to foreclosure. Channel 5 KPHO covered the story. Right now, it looks like the video on the KPHO website is to a different story, but the written narrative is about Seel's possible quid pro quo.

Seel also represented Arizona in one of The Daily Show's many stories covering our state. (Pardon the ad before the TDS clip).


So, here we have an Arizona lawmaker whose judgment is guided by magical thinking. He pushes birther bills, mysteriously drops a major amendment in what looks like quid pro quo with mortgage holder on his house and makes himself and Arizona look foolish on nationwide television. But the Arizona Capitol Times gives credibility to his dubious allegations.

Really, can the Arizona Capitol Times legitimately claim to be a news organization when it so obviously panders to the GOP regarding Independent Redistricting?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Redistricting -- the GOP dog and pony show and AIRC in Tucson

Choose your idiom. Dog and pony show or kangaroo court, either one is an apt description of the second day hearing of the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting in Arizona.

A familiar cast of characters addressed the committee, this time in a House hearing room with Jim Weiers presiding. As I tweeted earlier, there were too many people between me and Sen. Biggshot, so even though I tried to mouth "olive juice" to him, he probably either did not notice or wisely ignored it.

Gila County Supervisor Tommie Martin (who graciously disclosed to the AIRC that she had been advised by GOP (taxpayer funded) political operative John Mills) and a host of others made outrageous statements about how the commission has irreversibly harmed them and their communities. Tucsonan Christine Bauserman relayed accusations people had made that Commissioner Jose Herrera is racist. And our old friend, tea party organizer Lynne St. Angelo read a resolution that she said had been adopted by the Pima County GOP. That resolution sounded like a verbatim copy of that read by nutjob A.J. LaFaro Friday on behalf of the LD17 GOP.

St. Angelo also repeated the long ago debunked claim that the AIRC was given $10 million to accomplish the redistricting this year. Appropriation documents and briefings from the finance officials from the Arizona Department of Administration have clearly shown that the appropriated amount was $3.5million. Nobody, not legislative staffers in attendance nor lawmakers themselves -- all of whom KNOW that St. Angelo dramatically overstated the actual appropriation amount -- corrected her.

Whether or not the ultimate outcome of this committee's "fact" finding was predetermined before the first hearing, it's clear that Tonya Norwood-Pearson nailed it when she told the members of the panel that they were acting with a mob like mentality.

Given the weekend to organize, the GOP/tea party filled the House hearing room. Now watching the streaming video for the AIRC hearing taking place in Tucson, some of the people who harangued the commission this afternoon made it a point to appear and speak tonight also.

During the Tucson hearing, one gentleman even accused the AIRC of being a surrogate for DOJ and of violating the civil rights of MILLIONS of Arizonans by complying with the Voting Rights Act.

Doris Klatinoff, from Saddlebrook, called the proposed CD1 a travesty (for being so geographically large), as have many others. Oh, the pain of it all.

This is also just one example of independent redistricting detractors grabbing onto something they don't like and abusing the commissioners ad nauseum thereafter. Rather than recognize that the commission had made a good faith effort to address the overall (aggregated) input that they had received during the first round of Public Outreach Hearings, they get people crying foul. Sometimes, literally crying.

Anyway, the AIRC, two hours into tonight's hearing, took a break to allow the court reporter to stretch. Mathis said she had 42 more requests to speak to go through before they adjourn.

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AIRC hearings coming up this week:

Oct 25 (tomorrow)  Sierra Vista

Oct 26 (Wednesday) Mesa

Oct 27 (Thursday) Thatcher/Clifton

Oct 28 (Friday) Nogales

Oct 29 (Saturday) Yuma

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By the way, is it just me, or does anyone else see the IRONY in my ejection from the legislative committee hearing for SILENTLY mouthing a single word, BUT the five redistricting commissioners (especially the chairwoman) have had to endure LOUD, vitriolic, abusive haranguing from GOP, tea partiers and other malcontents for months? With NO end in sight.

That also makes it incredibly difficult to criticize the AIRC draft maps where and when appropriate with the cacaphony of BULLSHIT coming from the hostiles.

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Christine Bauserman had the audacity to dump on the AIRC at the Kangaroo Court this afternoon and ended up being the last speaker tonight in Tucson, deciding to make nice nice to the commission.

Then Rick Stertz had the audacity to tell Tucson citizens who had complimented the commission while calling for more competitive districts that they were reciting someone else's talking points. Rick, how could you be so rude?

Then again, I called a friend in Tucson during the recess just after 8pm who told me you had been observed being in a sour mood from the start of the meeting.  It's just sad that you would make such an impolitic comment about concerned citizens while speaking AS a COMMISSIONER.

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On the other hand, while it's obvious there is plenty of room for improvement to the draft maps, the one thing I admire most about any of the five commissioners is that Colleen Mathis has managed to stay focused on the job at hand. In light of the tremendous pressure being unfairly aimed at her, she's doing a wonderful job.

I only hope the noise doesn't keep the commission from making appropriate adjustments to the draft maps after the 30 day comment period has passed.

Redistricting -- minority voting rights and day 2 of the lege cmte to interfere

Demographer and redistricting expert Tony Sissons is not the only person working to dispel the false myth about minority voting rights and competitive districts.

During last Tuesday's round table discussion on minority voting rights, former House Minority Leader John Loredo said this:
When we talk about competitive districts, we typically hear them spoken about in the context of being the polar opposite of minority voting rights districts. Typically, you can't hear one without hearing about the other and people claim you can't have both; that if you have one, you can't have the other. And that's simply not true. It wasn't the case ten years ago and it's not the case now. You can have peaceful co-existence between competitive districts and districts protecting minority rights. You just have to figure out a way to get there.  
Of course, getting there is a very complicated process. In Maricopa County, outside of central Phoenix, there are more Republicans than Democrats, but in the rest of Arizona, they run just about even.  Loredo went on to say:
Now from a Democratic Party point of view,  everybody talks philosophically about the need for the maximum number of competitive districts... When you factor in geography and communities of interest, it's a complicated mess...  [but] the first challenge for Democrats is to learn how to be competitive...   From our perspective, reflecting back on 2003, the issue was, "how do we pick up seats?" We learned that you have be strong on issues. You have be able to overcome the numbers in some districts. You do that by fighting hard, by pushing issues and being able to convey that message. 
By the way, even though minority voting rights can co-exist with competitive districts, those who claim they cannot still work diligently to see that they will not. Regular readers of the Arizona Eagletarian know that local attorney David Cantelme has been representing UNfair Trust since early in the redistricting process. Cantelme has been the most persistent purveyor of the myth. But he is also the person who has worked hardest to try to make his myth come true. Months ago, it was apparent he was working to maximize the packing of Hispanic voters into as few districts as possible. People told me last week that he had been consulting with local Hispanic leaders and advocates, trying to get their buy in to his plans. Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who has testified on behalf of the Hispanic Coalition for Good Government told me recently that Cantelme had asked her for the phone number for her contact at MALDEF. She said she gave it to him.

Anyway, what does "fighting hard" look like? Well, we know a couple of things Republicans do and have done to fight hard to get and keep their legislative supermajority. In the most competitive legislative districts (one year in LD10 and last year in LD17), Republicans recruited sham Green Party candidates to dilute Democratic votes. Last year in Tempe (LD17) Democrats fought back hard and successfully beat back the challenge. So much so that Wendy Rogers (Republican running for state senate) complained to the AIRC at the Mesa hearing in the first round that Tempe could not have been considered competitive.

The bare fact of the matter is Republicans have worked long and hard and obviously smart enough to win what this year has emerged as a supermajority in our state legislature. In isolated instances, the interests of the majority of Arizonans IS being asserted to combat their tactics.

In 2010, Russell Pearce pushed through harsh, anti-immigrant (and very clearly anti-Hispanic) legislation. Academic studies have shown that the net economic impact on our state from passage of SB1070 has been seriously detrimental. Even before those studies began to emerge, the voice of Arizona's Hispanic citizens started getting louder. In 2010, there were marches in protest of SB1070. When Pearce pushed even more extreme anti-immigrant and anti-business legislation, the "push back" became more pronounced.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- anthropologist Margaret Mead
Also this year, business leaders succeeded in killing Pearce's bills. Two citizens groups, both led by Hispanics, began recall efforts aimed at ousting Pearce from office. Eventually, the two groups merged into one. A feat never accomplished before in Arizona took place in May of this year. Petitions, with enough valid signatures to qualify, succeeded in putting a referendum on Russell Pearce's hateful agenda on the ballot (the recall of Pearce, that is). The end result will be known in just over two weeks from now.

But Pearce and his hateful agenda are not going down without putting forth maximum effort.

If you want to know what it looks like to fight hard, as Loredo said must be done by Democrats in 2012 and beyond, just look at how the contest is going between the two Republicans THIS year in LD18.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- anthropologist Margaret Mead
It's no mistake. I put the same quote in this post twice. For emphasis.

Make no mistake, things are taking place now to work toward changing the political (and economic) climate in America and in our own backyard here in Arizona.

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Phoenix (and Tucson).  And the occupiers are changing the national conversation about politics and business/economics.

There are plenty of detractors. But that is not stopping the occupiers.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.Mohandas Gandhi
For weeks, the (corporate) news media gave its best effort at ignoring the Occupy Wall Street movement at Zuccoti Park in New York City. Then, after awareness started rising, Fox Noise, Rush Limbaugh and numerous others began "poo pooing" the movement.

Mocking took the form of pointing out that there were no leaders and vague, if any, goals and objectives.

Then cities and police forces, unaccustomed to protesting on the scale of what we've seen over the last month, began bullying, arresting, using pepper spray and trying other tactics to suppress the protests.

The movement has not gone away. and it has changed the national conversation on the issues.

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By the way, we also know that the GOP, together with rabid tea partiers, have been working VERY hard to undermine Arizona's Independent Redistricting effort. That's why I have been compelled to shine the light of day on their efforts. Thus far, I have posted more than 200 times about Arizona redistricting. And, of course, on Friday, when I silently called bullshit on Andy Biggshot, I was removed, ejected, kicked out, escorted -- out of a hearing of the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting.

The effort of those bent on subverting the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission began in December 2010 and reached rabid levels in the Spring of this year.

The detractors have latched onto every bit of possible red meat they could to deceive their easily seduced followers. Claiming the problems started with missteps made by Independent chair Colleen Mathis, they have REFUSED all rational discussion. The controversy looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to a hornets nest as soon as the decision was made to contract with Strategic Telemetry to be mapping consultant.

Even though efforts were made to get the governor to remove Mathis and others from the commission and to get Atty Gen Tom Horne to investigate, several newspaper editorials suggested people should wait until draft maps were issued before complaining. They did not wait. They complained anyway. But since the draft maps came out, the controversy has continued to escalate.

Besides the Cmte on Interfering with Independent Redistricting, newspapers throughout the state have issued editorials, without rational explanations, claiming the AIRC is harming their communities this way and that. It's impossible to tell whether the chicken or the egg came first, the legislative committee or the mindless editorials. But it's clear that the GOP has been organizing opposition to the AIRC. And information from that website has been sent to GOP LD email lists.

So, at 1pm today, the Cmte on Interfering with Independent Redistricting reconvenes in Senate Hearing Room 1. There will be people there complaining about the maps and the AIRC. Having concerns about the maps is reasonable but the legislature is not where those concerns should be aired right now.

The hard work on issues has to take place now. Demanding legislative Republicans keep their grubby mitts out of it is what we need to tell them.

Please join me at the hearing.

If you cannot make it to the hearing, you can call or send email to the members.

Sen. Steve Pierce (co-chair)   602-926-5584 spierce@azleg.gov

Sen. Andy Biggs 602-926-4371  abiggs@azleg.gov

Rep. Jim Weiers (co-chair) 602-926-4173 jweiers@azleg.gov

Rep. Doris Goodale 602-926-5408  dgoodale@azleg.gov