This afternoon, co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting sent a letter (with a 59-page attachment) to the Department of Justice for the apparent intention of introducing doubt into the process, and to delay implementation of the final maps.
The two page letter says the AIRC denied a request by the Joint Committee to provide it with minority voting strength data. Which claim is, on its face, not true. Senate President Steve Pierce and state Rep. Jim Weiers are trying to say that those bad, bad people at the IRC kept us from knowing what was really going on.
The AIRC response, on pages 51-52 of the 59-page attachment, says
We do not have the specific reports that you requested ready for dissemination, but there is substantial information on the Commission’s website and through the on-line mapping program that should facilitate your ability to provide meaningful input on the draft congressional and legislative district maps during the comment period.If the data had been prepared by then, clearly it would have been provided to the committee. Instead, the AIRC response explained what was ready for use at that time.
Boiled down, today's letter to DOJ is nothing more than lawyerspeak for "we want to now throw a wrench into the works." Regular readers of the Arizona Eagletarian can reasonably surmise the one word I believe best characterizes this effort by the legislature. (See Phoenix New Times Feathered Bastard post dated October 22, 2011)
The bottom line for today's effort by the Joint Committee is found in the final paragraph of the attachment document:
Because Dr. King’s analysis is incomplete, I do not believe we can conclude that the Proposed Plans are not retrogressive. The Department of Justice will conduct additional analyses, the results of which may or may not support Dr. King’s assessment.
The Joint Committee contracted with an academic professional who routinely works with the Rose Institute affiliated National Demographics Corp, Dr. Lisa Hadley. NDC was an unsuccessful bidder for the mapping consultant contract with the AIRC.
Of course, Hadley's analysis really does nothing other than say she doesn't like the work of the guy who did what she believes she could have done better; regardless of that fact, DOJ will do its own analysis.
On another note, Commissioner Scott Freeman this afternoon tweeted:
#AIRC to legislature: total appropriations of $4.2M not enough to get to June 30th. Give us more money. #azright #azgopThis is in apparent response to a letter AIRC director Ray Bladine sent to legislative leadership today stating:
Honorable Speaker Tobin and Senate President Pierce:
The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has now received the $700,000 supplemental appropriation approved by your respective chambers. Thank you for the positive action. Because I understand that you hope to complete the current legislative session by mid-April, I wanted to address the Commission’s fiscal year 2013 budget and propose some solutions in the event of a shortfall in 2012.
For fiscal year 2013, we request that the Legislature approve the $1,700,000 appropriation that was included in the Governor’s recommended budget. Because of the uncertainties regarding legal challenges to the maps, I do not know whether that will be enough for the entire fiscal year, but I think it is a reasonable initial appropriation for the next fiscal year.
Although I appreciate the $700,000 supplemental appropriation, as you know, I do not believe this amount will be enough for the Commission to complete the work required this fiscal year. We requested a supplemental of $1,130,000, which was our best estimate as to what the Commission would require to complete the current fiscal year and be assured that the Commission would have adequate funds to be able to respond to any of the Department of Justice’s information requests, defend its maps against legal challenges, and respond to the County Attorney’s appeal of the open meeting law case. Even if there is no new litigation and no further work required by the Department of Justice, it is unlikely that $700,000 will be enough for Fiscal Year 2012.
Because a shortfall for fiscal year 2012 may not be known until after the Legislature adjourns its regular session, I offer two suggestions. First, I would again encourage an additional supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 2012 of $430,000 so that our initial request is fully funded. Perhaps this supplemental could be included in the FY 13 budget.
I recognize that this request may be futile and, therefore, as an alternative to an additional supplemental appropriation, I suggest session law be included as part of the budget package that would permit the Commission to spend some of its 2013 appropriation on expenses incurred in fiscal year 2012. This would enable the Commission to finish its work, avoid the need for an additional supplemental appropriation, and avoid the need for a special session in May or June to address a 2012 funding shortfall. It would also avoid the need for future litigation concerning the funding deficiencies in fiscal year 2012.
Suggested wording for the session law is as follows: “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, monies appropriated to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission for fiscal year 2012-2013 may be used to pay expenses incurred by the Commission in fiscal year 2011-2012.” Executive branch officials have made it very clear that without a legislative appropriation, they will not pay the Commission’s bills because of the risk of personal liability. The session law that I propose will eliminate that concern and enable the Commission’s work to proceed uninterrupted.
It is critical that the Commission have enough funding to complete its constitutional responsibilities, and sufficient funding is particularly critical in fiscal year 2012 because of the need to ensure that new districts are in place for the 2012 elections.
Until the maps are pre-cleared and any litigation resolved, the Commission’s Constitutional duties will not be fulfilled. If an interim map were to be needed it would fall on the Commission to develop it. If the Department of Justice was to ask for revisions to one of the maps, it would be the Commission that would need to act.
Clearly, the Commission’s spending has been reasonable and frugal. Ten years ago the voters appropriated $6,000,000 for the first Commission. The availability of $6,000,000 over multiple years provided needed funding flexibility given the unknown nature of the redistricting process. The last Commission spent $3,338,000 in its first full fiscal year, and ultimately ended up spending almost $10,000,000 by the end of the decade.
This Commission started with far less—a total of $3,500,000. On an inflation adjusted basis, the current commission would need to spend $4,172,000 in fiscal year 12 to match the last commission’s spending. The session law that I propose helps provide this Commission some of the flexibility that the previous Commission enjoyed.
Again, I appreciate the $700,000 supplemental appropriation and look forward to working with you to address the remaining budget issues.
If you have any questions, I would be pleased to try to answer them.Given the legislature's current overtures indicating intent to delay and otherwise hinder (Andy Tobin telling the House membership that he wanted them to authorize taxpayer funding for him to AGAIN sue the AIRC) the process further, it seems pretty obvious the AIRC will have to have more taxpayer funding.
Raymond F. BladineExecutive Director,AZ Independent Redistricting Commission
Can there be any doubt that this latest declaration by the GOP supermajority in the Arizona Legislature -- of concern for Minority voting strength (compliance with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act) -- is at all really a concern for the VOICE of Hispanic or Latino voters to be heard in public policy decisions in Arizona?
On the January 31 episode of Arizona Horizon, conservative Arizona Republic columnist Bob Robb linked the issue of Minority Voting Strength as relates to Section 5 of the VRA to his belief that the maps approved by the AIRC provide far less competitiveness than many people had hoped.
UNfair Trust's primary spokesman, David Cantelme, has since the Spring of 2011, consistently used this ONE ISSUE as a mechanism to try to advance the interest of GOP incumbent Congressional representatives and the supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature. In July 2011, Cantelme even lost his composure when I tried to start a conversation with him on the subject.
The bottom line here is that today's letter is simply one more cynical effort by parochial interests to use subterfuge to subvert Independent Redistricting in Arizona.