Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, February 17, 2012

Redistricting update and Richard Miranda UPDATED 2-17-12 10:00pm MST

Early this week, the brain trust at Arizona Capitol Times and its Yellow Sheet Report (Feb 13) issued a critique of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's DOJ submission package for the proposed Congressional map :
Nearly one month after adopting final maps, the IRC formally submitted its congressional maps to DOJ late Thursday evening. The submission begins with a 62-page synopsis of the congressional districts, the process used to create the maps and explanations on how the plan and the process satisfy the legal requirements for the commission. The summary paints a more serene picture of the redistricting process than some might remember.
The appointment of commissioners and the mapping process is mostly laid out in chronological order, but the hiring of the commission’s attorneys and mapping consultant, the legal struggle with AG Horne and Brewer’s ouster of Mathis are left out until close to the end of the report.
Those topics are broached only in a five-paragraph section near the end of the report that describes the commission’s opposition to “efforts that would undermine the independent redistricting process.”
The broad descriptions of the commission’s legal issues only minimally describe the complaints against the commission, and the only details provided in the report pertain to the defenses and countersuits filed to fight the suits.
The commission’s submission includes numerous media reports, but only those published beginning in September, well after media accounts that led to the investigation into alleged violation of state open meeting laws.
The submission includes hundreds of pages of supporting documents, including input from individuals and groups, and about 1.5 gigabytes of map data and duplicates of the documents. The commission requested an “expedited” consideration, but nonetheless, the Justice Department has 60 days (an April 9 deadline) to approve or reject the plan. If DOJ analysts aren’t completely satisfied, they can ask for additional information, triggering another 30 days of review. (emphasis added)
Apparently now, this wannabe "David" of a newspaper to the AIRCs "Goliath" appears to believe that they have the proper template for how such a request for Section 5 preclearance should be compiled. I'm curious, however, about where in the process is the Capitol Times' application to become a member of the IRC. Maybe I missed the interview and appointment process that put them on the panel.

Now, about what the YS characterizes as "efforts that would undermine the independent redistricting process...” as if that's NOT what happened. If YS writers actually believe that UNfair Trust, David Cantelme, Andys Tobin and Biggs, and the Tea Party madness was NOT intended to undermine the independent redistricting process, then that publication/newsroom has shed all pretense of objectivity.

The YS blurb, in pointing out that media accounts prior to September were left out is trying to subtly suggest that the Capitol Times actually -- prior to that time -- uncovered genuine wrongdoing by members of the AIRC. The problem with that? YS/Cap Times seems to be wanting to take credit for spurring Tom Horne's investigation. However, when Horne's office, in July and August 2011, provided the documentation it was relying on to justify the investigation, it consisted entirely of emails with specious claims made by right-wing reactionaries that came no where close to constituting violations of law.

And when Horne's investigation played itself out (after Horne being disqualified because of a conflict of interest), each legal ruling demonstrated that Horne was overreaching and completely off base.

My conclusion regarding this wacky YS blurb is that somebody in that newsroom takes themselves entirely too seriously.

Further, AIRC chief cook and bottle washer Ray Bladine said a supplement will likely be sent to DOJ soon with any information legal counsel (Mary O'Grady and Joe Kanefield) believes needs to be included that was not in the original package sent last week.

Bladine also said that the legislature appears to be stalling regarding approval of a supplemental appropriation to cover legal costs incurred as a result of last fall's (and potential future) litigation.  He said that if lawmakers do not act by next week, he may have to call for a meeting of commission members to authorize legal action against the legislature. That is because the legislature is required, pursuant to constitutional language approved by voters in Prop 106 (2000) to fully fund the AIRC.

"The legislature shall make the necessary appropriations by a majority vote." Ariz Const. Article 2, Part 1, Section 1, Paragraph 18

If the legislature fails to act on its required duties, the only avenue to compel compliance is through the courts. And while the Arizona Supreme Court recently let stand  a lower court ruling saying the legislature was not required to fully fund AHCCCS (health care for indigent Arizonans, as passed by voters), this language is more specific, the amount is far less, and the nature (context) of the requirement is dramatically different.


Yesterday (February 16), state Rep. Richard Miranda (D-LD13) abruptly resigned from the House of Representatives (effective on Monday, Feb 20), citing the cliche "wanting to spend more time with family." Nobody in their right mind believes that. The other factor Miranda cited was personal health. Last evening, I heard both from people with a little bit of background and insight as well as those wondering if I had any idea what was really going on.

Since today is Friday, expect this to be one of the hot topics for the Journalists' Roundtable on Arizona Horizon (KAET Channel 8 in Phoenix, live at 5:30pm, rebroadcast at 10pm, and online on Monday).

What I've learned thus far is that there are no impending health problems in Richard Miranda's family (which I hope continues to be the case) and that he has been the subject of federal investigation. One person speculated that investigation revolved around shaking down lobbyists. Another said that Miranda's non-profit organization, which has received federal grants, may have been misusing and/or misreporting what those grants actually paid for.

While I do not know the actual nature of the federal investigation, it does seem clear that there are legal problems on the horizon for the soon to be former state lawmaker.



Alfredo Gutierrez tweeted this afternoon:

"Story of Az. Rep Richard Miranda resignation: tawdry shameful embezzlement of thousands frm non-profit set up to benefit farmworker children."



The Arizona Republic tonight reports that an IRS investigator has been requesting Miranda's financial disclosure reports from the Arizona Secretary of State's office. That would seem to indicate there is some truth to reports about potential embezzlement issues.

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