Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, January 6, 2012

Redistricting -- final steps before DOJ?

On Monday, January 9, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will meet in Tempe to begin putting the finishing touches on the "tentative final" Congressional and legislative maps.

The agenda calls first for a report on the racially polarized voting analysis. Harvard Prof King (who conducted the analysis) may appear telephonically for this report but is not expected to be physically present. The AIRC will discuss and possibly take action to adjust the legislative and Congressional maps. If they were not going to make any adjustments, the estimated time for these items seemingly would be minimal. Since three hours is currently allotted, it is reasonable to expect further tweaks to district lines. Given that any adjusting of lines has the potential to be contentious, it would be anyone's guess as to how much time it will actually take.

The agenda for a possible meeting on Tuesday, January 10 is identical, with a start time of 4:30pm. Which means that there's a chance they will not get done with their adjustments and deliberations on Monday.

Additionally, the AIRC will consider renumbering districts to accommodate complaints made by some people in Prescott that want to have their districts, both Congressional and legislative, be number ONE.

Fittingly, since Monday is also the first day of the regular legislative session, the AIRC will also discuss requesting a supplemental appropriation to cover legal expenses. Friday also brought news that House Speaker Andy Tobin has requested a review of IRC finances. How shocking, right? The lede in the Yellow Sheet put it this way (emphasis mine):
Tobin yesterday instructed JLBC [Joint Legislative Budget Committee] to audit the IRC, which he took to task for what he considered runaway commission spending incurred through legal fees
Now, how could ANYONE have guessed that the AIRC would incur a great deal of expense for legal fees? What with Andy Biggs(hot) trying to drown the Commission in paper, Attorney General Horne launching a massive witch hunt and Gov. Brewer trying to decapitate the Commission altogether. Now Tobin is perhaps posturing to try to blame the AIRC for out-of-control spending? Well, that's how the Capitol Times appears to be characterizing the situation. That may or may not be a fair assessment.

Apparently yesterday (Jan 5) Tobin sent a letter to JLBC director Richard Stavneak directing him to review the situation. I have not gotten a copy of that letter yet, but do have a letter from Stavneak to Colleen Mathis.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee provides fiscal analysis to support the appropriations process in both the House and Senate. On the other hand, the Arizona Auditor General is where Tobin would have directed his inquiry if it truly was an audit he wanted. Stavneak's letter requests detailed listings of revenues and expenditures (including accrued expenses not yet paid), expenditure plans for this fiscal year and next, and listings of staff salaries and any extraordinary expenses.

While this could be perceived as an intimidation tactic on Tobin's part, it could just as easily be considered nothing more than a routine business procedure. AIRC ex. dir. Ray Bladine did not seem to think this was a big deal.

So, after an extended holiday break, business resumes. Of course, AIRC staff and consultants have been taking care of business all along.

With the January 8th memorial in Tucson on Sunday evening, and the beginning of the legislative session on Monday, the AIRC meeting coincides with the beginning of a hectic season at the state Capitol.

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