Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Redistricting -- Right hand doesn't know what the other right hand is doing

About the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's request for a supplemental appropriation, Mary Jo Pitzl reported this afternoon that Senate President Steve Pierce

...said there were other costs that seemingly have gone unchecked, such as the legal fees for advising the commission on drawing new congressional and legislative boundaries. That was botched, he said, when the U.S. Department of Justice rejected the congressional map, requiring a do-over. "They're screwing up, they're not doing the job," he said.
But DOJ has not rejected the map... 
Pierce said before he signs off on any more money, he wants an accounting of how the funds have been spent so far. For that, he might want to refer to his seatmate, House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden. Tobin had the Joint Legislative Budget Committee do an audit of the commission -- he later called it a "request for information."
Among other things, that information request compared the current commission's budget with  its predecessor and concluded the current panel is spending at a slower pace. For example, the previous commission had a $6 million allocation to start its work, as authorized by the Arizona Constitution. The current one has received $3.5 million to date.
Word also came this morning that the AIRC has called a meeting for Friday afternoon to consider the possibility of initiating a Special Action in Arizona Supreme Court to compel the legislature to provide the funding necessary to pay its bills.

So, even though House Approps chair John Kavanagh introduced a supplemental appropriation bill yesterday, Pierce and Tobin -- both hail from LD1 -- apparently have a hard time getting on the same page.

I guess they have too many anti-labor, anti-woman and guns on campus bills to keep track of so, understandably, they can't be bothered to coordinate their message.

YOUR Arizona lawmakers working in HARMONY (not!) with the will of the PEOPLE of Arizona.

 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Redistricting -- Supplemental Appropriation?

It is still too early to determine if the legislature blinked, but House Appropriations chair John Kavanagh today introduced HB2862 to provide a supplemental appropriation for the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

The entire text of the bill is:

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1.  Supplemental appropriation; independent redistricting commission
In addition to the appropriation made by Laws 2011, chapter 24, section 50, the sum of $1,130,000 is appropriated from the state general fund in fiscal year 2011-2012 to the independent redistricting commission for the operating expenses of the commission.
A bill as introduced has no effect of law, but is only the starting point for the legislative (deliberative) process requiring 16 and 32 (the votes of 16 senators and 32 representatives on third read in the respective chambers) and the governor's signature in order to be enacted. Nevertheless, this is a necessary step.

In the case of the AIRC, there had been a fair bit of public testimony -- likely rising out of the UNfair Trust propaganda drive beginning in the Spring of 2011 -- that the IRC had been authorized to spend $10 million.  That was clearly and emphatically refuted (with documentation from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee's Budget Fiscal Year 2012 report) but TP complainers had a hard time understanding the legislative appropriation process.

Even when this supplemental appropriation passes, this year's AIRC will still be far below $10 million in current and projected expenditures. To Kavanagh's credit, it WILL save the state significant amounts of money to pass HB2862 now. The alternative is the legislature instigating further litigation just to get the GOP supermajority to comply with the clear, specific language in the Arizona Constitution (cited at the end of this blog post).

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And speaking of AIRC related litigation, I have obtained a copy of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's opening brief in the appeal of Judge Fink's ruling late last year that the IRC is subject only to the Open Meeting Clause in the state Constitution but not to Arizona's Open Meeting Statutes.


Informally, I heard today that there might be some kind of deal in the works to drop Montgomery's appeal. However, that word did not come from the Maricopa County Attorney's office, so I don't know how much weight to give it. The Arizona Republic ran a story in today's edition about a bill, HB2807, which purports to make the AIRC subject to Open Meeting Statutes, by including it in the definition of a "public body."
Public body includes all commissions and other public entities established by the Arizona constitution or by way of ballot initiative, including the independent redistricting commission, and this article applies except and only to the extent that specific constitutional provisions supersede this article.

Sec. 2.  Legislative intent; clarifying languageIt is the intent of the legislature by this act to clarify that the independent redistricting commission, a constitutionally created public body, was and is subject to the open meeting statutes contained in title 38, chapter 3, article 3.1, Arizona Revised Statutes, except for those limited instances in which the more specific provision in the Arizona Constitution applies.
Of course, the main caveat here is that in order to get to the place where everyone agrees on what "those limited instances in which the more specific provision in the Arizona Constitution applies," will require MORE LITIGATION. How much taxpayer money will it take to resolve the issue? One way to look at this is that it boils down to the AIRC and the Arizona Supreme Court giving the governor and the legislature a wedgie and they want to strike back.

Another perspective is that HB2807 is intended to make it easier for the legislature to usurp the independent redistricting authority of the commission by recasting scenarios like the political melodrama we watched play out last November. Bet your bottom dollar that the vision of those who wrote HB2807 is to give the state senate and the governor something more tangible to label "substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office, or inability to discharge the duties of office" in the year 2021.

Why will this NOT pass constitutional muster? Because Fink's underlying rationale for ruling that the AIRC is not subject to Open Meeting Statutes was that the legislature must not be allowed to have ANY leverage over the commission to influence where district lines are drawn. Yet, this is clearly what the dozens of Republican sponsors of HB2807 want to have.

Of course, I wouldn't put it past this bunch of yahoos, er, "HONORABLE representatives of the people" to try to use it to go after THIS AIRC, though that would just seem petty at this stage.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daniel Patterson -- the drama continues UPDATED 2-28-12 9:50pm MST

Today, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, Senate Minority Leadership (Sens. David Schapira, Leah Landrum Taylor and Linda Lopez) and leadership of the Arizona Democratic Party all called on Daniel Patterson to resign his seat in the House of Representatives following the most recent allegations of domestic violence.


Democratic State Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-South Phoenix) posted the following on facebook:

Accountability and respect is important. We Dems gave Representative Patterson every opportunity, this latest incident has made all Dems come out with one voice and ask him to resign. We will be submitting an ethics complaint in a few minutes.
 Patterson says he will not resign and tweeted:

Allegations are lies from person w bad mental problems & violent criminal history trying to blackmail me. I will not resign.
Patterson's girlfriend, Georgette Escobar, has obtained an order of protection nevertheless.

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UPDATE:

Channel 12 (Phoenix, KPNX) reporter by Brahm Resnik describes the police report:
Police reports on three visits to Democratic State Rep. Daniel Patterson’s Tucson home since Friday show officers responding to a “he said, she said” argument that will not lead to any charges.

A Tucson police spokeswoman read the reports to me over the phone Tuesday. The reports include Patterson’s call from the home at 8 p.m. Monday, after reports that his live-in girlfriend had obtained a restraining order against him. (A Freedom of Information Act request, the usual route to obtain copies of reports, would take a week to fulfill, the spokeswoman informed me.)

On Monday, Patterson's Democratic colleagues at the Capitol and the executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party called on him to resign. His Democratic colleagues in the House filed an ethics complaint against him. Here’s a summary of the police reports (more at azcentral.com):
No charges are currently pending pursuant to Tucson Police reports. Nevertheless, the ethics complaint filed yesterday against Patterson in the Arizona House of Representatives is not dependent on criminal charges. An ethics complaint, if accepted by the House Ethics committee would result in hearings, presentation of evidence, findings and recommended sanctions. It is too early to get a feel for how it might all play out.

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UPDATE 2-28-12 9:40pm

The Tucson Weekly posted about the Patterson/Escobar drama this evening:

This morning the Tucson Weekly requested the Tucson Police Department report on the Friday, Feb. 24, incident between state Rep. Daniel Patterson and his ex-girlfriend and ex-campaign manager, Georgette Escobar, but was told by a public-records clerk that the report was not available, because the case was assigned to a TPD detective for further investigation.
Yesterday, we interviewed Escobar and Patterson regarding what happened that day. Escobar claims that Tucson Parks and Recreation employees witnessed Patterson and Escobar get into a fight. Escobar said Patterson allegedly grabbed her roughly, pulled her fingers back to remove them from her dog's collar, and pulled the dog out of her car by the collar.
Patterson told the Weekly that he was the one attacked.
Although that report isn't yet available, the Weekly requested a list of all TPD-responded incidents or 911 calls in 2011 and the past two months made from the property owned by Patterson, located north off Santa Rita Park just east of Fourth Avenue, where he lived until recently with Escobar. 

I've had several people message me privately with their thoughts on this situation. One that reflects a good deal of my perspective on this situation reads, in pertinent part:
...I am no fan of [Daniel Patterson]..I think women should put him on a "don't date---not ever--list" but this appears to be a nasty breakup between two unstable people. 
From the description given by Mari Herreras on Tucson Weekly, that also seems to sum up the situation.

Others wonder why Democratic lawmakers and leadership of the Arizona Democratic Party jumped so quickly and forcefully on the situation, filing an ethics complaint against Patterson on Monday. All I can figure at this point is that they had had it "up to here" with him already. There have been allegations of domestic violence, drug use and evidence of difficult working relationships over the last couple of years. There is still no indication of how this will all play out in the end. But it will continue to be public drama either until Daniel Patterson resigns and retreats to his private life to get things in order or he successfully refutes allegations. I have no idea which way it will go.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Redistricting -- AZ legislature playing chicken with IRC?

As I mentioned in my previous post, it has been entirely foreseeable for all of a year now that the GOP supermajority in the Arizona Legislature intended to put the screws to the Independent Redistricting Commission and do so financially.

Of course, I could link to and recite all of the things along the way over the entire process involved -- from screening applicants to appointing commissioners to manufactured outrage by right-wing propagandists to the various lawsuits, "investigations" and special actions -- that elected GOP officials have done to subvert the independent redistricting process for Arizona. Well, maybe I will do just that soon.

However, at this moment, the Arizona Constitution* mandates the legislature to fully fund the operation of the AIRC. Yet, the legislature is threatening (not a veiled threat this time, but actual passive-aggressive (in)action) to refuse to provide that funding. This while AIRC attorneys still work on compiling the DOJ preclearance submission package for legislative district maps.

Just a few weeks ago, House Speaker Andy Tobin took to the (public) airwaves, appearing on Arizona Horizon to blame the AIRC for all manner of evil. Yes, he DID blame the AIRC for overspending, for delaying the redistricting process and for plenty more.

Now Tobin is complicit in, if not the primary instigator of, the current refusal to provide a supplemental appropriation to allow the commission to pay its bills. Failure to provide that additional funding potentially will further delay the DOJ preclearance for the new legislative district maps.

On the subject of delay, the Citizens Clean Elections Commission recently posted the following:
Although legislative districts have been approved by the Independent Redistricting Commission, these districts have not yet been precleared by the U.S. Department of Justice under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Because this has not occurred, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office cannot process candidate petitions for the ballot at this time because the Secretary cannot make a determination of the number of signatures necessary to qualify. Without this determination, the Secretary cannot process petitions, and, as a result legislative candidates cannot at this time receive Clean Elections funding.

Please contact the Clean Elections Commission or the Arizona Secretary of State’s office for further information.

However, AIRC staff has put forth demonstratively good faith effort to answer (and even anticipate) any question legislative leaders would have in order to provide the necessary funding. Review the following documents (which show that willingness and diligence to provide all information asked of it by legislative leaders):
  • Request Letter to Sen. Andy Biggs, Senate Majority Leader
  • Request Letter to Speaker Andy Tobin
  • Request Letter to Sen. Don Shooter, Senate Appropriations chairman
  • Letter to Sen. Ron Gould, Senate Approps vice-chair
  • Letter to Rep. John Kavanagh, House Appropriations chairman
  • Letter to Rep. Chad Campbell, House Minority Leader
  • Letter to Rep. Justin Olson, House Approps vice-chair
  • Letter to Richard Stavneak, director Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC)
  • Letter to John Arnold, director, Governor's Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting (OSPB)
  • Spreadsheets with a log of meetings and correspondence with lawmakers; expenditure and budget data
Shortly after publishing my previous post, I spoke with several Arizona Democratic members of the state legislature. Their sense was that the GOP supermajority will NOT willingly fund the IRC; the IRC will have to sue the legislature; the legislature will lose; and the legislature will then provide funds necessary for the IRC to pay its bills.


To get a feel for the situation, you may also review the Special Action filed by the first AIRC and counsel Lisa Hauser to compel the Dept. of Administration to issue warrants (write checks) and the State Treasurer to provide the Constitutionally mandated supplemental funding. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields was also named as a defendant because he had ordered a trial to proceed before funding had been secured. Had that trial proceeded prior to the AIRC obtaining the relief requested, the commission would have been unable to defend the lawsuit in front of Judge Fields.

Apparently, the legislature decided (AFTER the Special Action was filed but before the Arizona Supreme Court could rule on it) to provide the required funding. Therefore, the suit was dropped.

This is currently so urgent also because Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has appealed last fall's ruling by Judge Fink on the Open Meeting Law issue. Montgomery addresses the IRC issue at about the 4:50 mark into this video, Montgomery explains his understanding of the timeline for his appeal of Fink's ruling. On February 3, Montgomery's office filed its opening brief on the appeal. On February 6, the Court of Appeals ordered the AIRC to respond no later than March 19. On February 14, the AIRC filed a motion seeking an extension. Montgomery declares, in the video below, his intent to object to the request for an extension of the deadline for the AIRC answering brief.




So, while the legislative and Congressional district maps have been developed and approved by the IRC, there are still steps to go before they can be relied upon by potential candidates for nominating petition/signature gathering, and before public campaign funding can be disbursed by the Citizens Clean Election Commission.

Make no mistake, GOP legislative leadership will continue to do everything it can think of to delay, disrupt and undermine Independent Redistricting. And the pious (literally, he is wearing Ash Wednesday ashes on his forehead in the video) Mr. Montgomery declares his intent to do what HE can do to delay implementation of the legislative maps.

And both Montgomery and GOP legislative leadership will do everything possible to characterize the delays as the "Democrats on the Redistricting Commission" preventing the will of the people from being implemented. Only, in this case, according to their usage, "will of the people" means decisions of ALEC-owned lawmakers.

But if WE the PEOPLE continue to be vigilant, watchful and call them on their dirty tricks, they will NOT succeed and WE will be able to RECLAIM GOVERNMENT for the PEOPLE of Arizona.

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The legislature shall make the necessary appropriations by a majority vote. 


and


The independent redistricting commission shall have standing in legal actions regarding the redistricting plan and the adequacy of resources provided for the operation of the independent redistricting commission.


Ariz Const. Art 4, Part II, Section 1, Subsections 18 and 20

Friday, February 24, 2012

Redistricting -- financial showdown looms

In developments foreseen to a degree since February 2011, the GOP supermajority in the Arizona Legislature, and the governor's budget director appear to be putting the financial screws to the Independent Redistricting Commission.

The Yellow Sheet reported on the situation thusly:
OSPB Director John Arnold gave IRC Executive Director Ray Bladine a bit of bad news and some advice late last week. In a Feb. 17 letter, Arnold told Bladine that he will not approve any additional changes to the commission’s quarterly financial disbursements, and, “in light” of the IRC’s FY12 budget problems, Arnold reminded Bladine that state law (ARS 35-211) puts state employees and recipients on the hook for the unauthorized spending of state agencies. 
“As you contemplate an expenditure plan in excess of your current appropriation, please consider seeking legal advice on how this provision pertains to you, other individuals affiliated with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, and any recipients,” wrote Arnold. 
Bladine was in a meeting and could not be reached for comment. Bladine has asked the Legislature for an additional $600,000 to cover FY12 costs, and the commission has already been allowed to spend its fourth quarter allotment on existing expenses and debts, the majority of which consists of legal bills.
IRC Commissioner Freeman told our reporter today that it is likely the commission will meet next week to discuss the latest chapter of its financial predicament. In addition, Freeman said he is also asking Bladine to include several additional items on the agenda. First, Freeman said he will repeat his demand for more information about a November chain of emails that may have violated state open meeting laws.
“We were all trained in open meeting laws, we took the course and we had to take the little test,” said Freeman. (NOTE: In December, as part of the Horne/Montgomery lawsuit against the IRC, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Dean Fink ruled the commission wasn’t bound by open meeting laws.) Also on Freeman’s agenda wish list is a measure to create what he called “internal transparency.” He is seeking communications made by IRC attorneys, Strategic Telemetry and the IRC’s hired Voting Rights Act experts. “I feel like, as a commissioner, I was in the dark. I want to know what was going on,” he said.
Last but not least, Freeman said he wants to see another vote by the commission – the first failed last year – to release executive session transcripts with redactions for legal advice, and a vote to release IRC commissioners’ emails. For the latter request, he said, commissioners could waive their legislative privilege in the interest of being open with the public: “I’ve heard commissioners give grand, eloquent speeches about transparency, which was supposed to be the hallmark of our commission. Well, here’s our chance.” 
I expect to receive more information on the situation over the next few days and will post when I do.

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Changing the subject entirely, yesterday (Thursday) was a VERY big day, as the Arizona Advocacy Network hosted a fundraising dinner with Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaking and providing tremendous inspiration for a very important election year in Arizona. With Sam Wercinski and John Loredo in this pic.


More to come!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ALECs Attack on the RIGHTS of Arizona CITIZENS

Yesterday, I posted some of the egregious bills being advanced by the GOP SUPER-MAJORITY in the Arizona Legislature. That list, however, was far from exhaustive. The attacks being launched against the people of Arizona, in the name of "free enterprise" are brazen and pervasive.

When are we going to say that we are mad as hell and not going to take it any more?

Will it be BEFORE or AFTER Capt. Al Melvin or Crazy Jack Harper has succeeded in eliminating the right of Arizonans to seek justice in the courts when, due to the recklessness or negligence of a business large areas of our communities are blanketed in toxic pollutants?   




This report, issued in the year 2000 provides additional background on this fight, which we know to be a long-term goal of ALEC and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Now comes word that the GOP SUPER-MAJORITY has been working behind closed doors for months on budget bills for the next fiscal year. Those bills, introduced late in the evening (on the Presidents' Day holiday) before they planned to start ramrodding them through on a fast track with negligible public testimony.


STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXHouse Democrats criticized Legislative Tea Party Republicans for offering a budget proposal – crafted behind closed doors and released to the public less than 24 hours before it was considered in committee hearings – that again favors special interests and lacks a long-term plan to help stabilize Arizona’s economy and prepare for future budget needs in an accountable way.
 "This isn't a budget for Arizona. This is budget for an extremist, special-interest driven agenda,” said House Minority Leader and Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix, LD 15). “Nothing highlights this more than the fact that they completely remove oversight of taxpayer funded private prisons. All this will do is line the pockets of big out-of-state corporations with taxpayer dollars." (emphasis added)

Are you mad as hell? Should you be?

Obviously, losing the capacity for rational thoughts and actions will not solve anything. But a growing movement, emanating from New York -- Occupy Wall Street -- started last fall. That movement has changed the national conversation.

What can you do?  Well, what have people done in some other US communities?



Stand with Occupy Phoenix on February 29th against ALEC!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Why should we have fair and competitive districts?

The Democratic caucus of the Arizona House of Representatives posted the following this afternoon:
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats released today a list of the worst, most extremist bills this session, pointing out where Tea Party lawmakers’ priorities lie.
The bills include the Birther Bill (again), repealing the voter-approved Independent Redistricting Committee, guns on campus, putting a heavily-armed, untrained group of volunteers like the Minutemen on the border, taking money from kids and giving it to millionaires and much more.
“These bills just echo the extremism from Tea Party lawmakers who control the capitol,” said House Minority Leader Chad Campbell. “We should be focused on jobs. We shouldn’t be focused on these radical and extremist bills, but these are the priorities of the Tea Party and we hope that by pointing them out, Arizonans will tell their elected officials that they voted for them to work for the people, not for themselves.”

Consider the following list, which consists largely of ALEC related measures, intended to make it easier for Big Business to manipulate lawmakers and DICTATE public policy in Arizona:

Make-Arizona-its-own-country Bills
  • HB 2650 (Burges)/SB 1481 (Burges) — The Birther Bill
  • HCR 2025 (Harper/Seel) — Calls on Congress to dissolve United States’ membership in the United Nations
  • HJR 2001 (Harper/Gould) — Calls for opposition to any UN force on American soil that seeks to enforce a UN treaty which has not been ratified by the United States Senate and authorizes the use of organized resistance to “thwart any international force” that attempts to do so.
  • HB 2437 (Gowan) — Prohibits states from implementing federal mandates unless the federal government provides proof of constitutionality
  • HCM 2002 (Barton) —Calls on the U.S. Congress for devolution of federally-owned public lands to Arizona
  • HCM 2003 (Dial) — Calls on the U.S Congress to transfer all Bureau of Land Management lands to Arizona
Anti-Transparency/Voter-Suppression Bills
  • HB 2441 (Gowan) —Makes “private” conversations with constituents exempt from public records requests
  • HCR 2039 (Seel)/SB 1449 (Smith) —Russell Pearce Sore-Loser Bill: Adds a primary round to a recall election for each party (in order to avoid a repeat of Republican v. Republican and resulting in, for example, Jerry Lewis’ defeat of Russell Pearce last year)
  • HB 2710 (Tobin) — Calls for a special election for voters to choose between the district maps drawn by the Independent Redistricting Commission, committee approved by voters, or Republican Speaker Andy Tobin’s own draft maps
  • HCR 2052 (Tobin) — Calls for approval of new legislative districts drawn by Tobin, not the voter-approved Independent Redistricting Commission
  • HCR 2053 (Tobin) — Calls for approval of new Congressional districts drawn by Tobin, not the voter-approved Independent Redistricting Commission
  • HR 2005 (Tobin) — Calls for a special election in which voters would determine whether to retain the voter-approved Independent Redistricting Commission maps or the Tobin-created maps
  • SCR 1035 (Biggs) — Repeals the voter-approved Independent Redistricting Commission
  • HCR 2026 (Smith) — Instead of collecting petition signatures, a candidate can pay to be on the ballot.
  • HCR 2044 (Stevens) — Legislative ballot initiatives would be voted on during primary elections with less voter turnout.
  • HCR 2043 (Stevens) — Requires all propositions with a positive fiscal impact on the city/state/county general fund that passed since 2002 to be re-voted on at the next general election and to be repealed automatically if they don't reach the two-thirds threshold
  • HCR 2005 (Crandell) — Requires voters to re-approve initiative and referendum measures that involves public funds every six fiscal years and is retroactive to 1998
Miseducation Bills
  • HB 2039 (Fillmore) — Normally, qualifying for a teacher’s certificate is required in order to teach; this bill would remove that requirement.
  • HB 2383 (Farnsworth) — Drops university requirements that students receive certain immunizations in order to attend classes and/or live in dorms there
  • HB 2563 (Proud)— Bible Bill: Allows high schools to offer an elective on the Bible and exclude every other spiritual text from the book of Mormon to the Quran
  • HB 2675 (Kavanagh) — More debt for cash-strapped students bill: Requires a minimum $2,000 contribution by students toward their tuition, regardless of scholarships, grants or other financial aid that is need-based; students on athletic and academic scholarships are exempt from the contribution
  • HB 2719 (Seel) — Guns Near Campus Bill: Allows weapons to be carried immediately outside school grounds
  • SB 1474 (Gould) — Guns on Campus Bill: Allows persons with CCW permits to bring guns onto college and university campuses
  • SB 1061 (Crandall) — Allows schools to opt out of the National School Lunch Program, which provides some underprivileged students with their only meal of the day
  • SB 1467 (Klein) — Attacks the First Amendment, freedom of speech and local control by prohibiting profanity of any kind, even quoting a text, while teaching in the classroom. It would require suspension for the first two violations and termination for a third.
  • SB 1202 (Klein)—A strike-everything amendment that would prevent teachers from speaking “partisan doctrine” in the classroom, even in government classes or speaking about political parties in a historical context, for example. A violation of this law would cause the Department of Education to withhold 10 percent of a school district’s monthly apportionment of state aid.
Public Unsafety and Unhealthy Bills
  • HB 2729 (Gowan) — Would allow a person to carry a deadly weapon into a public establishment or event, including where alcohol is present and/or sold. It removes the owner/sponsor’s right to have the person remove the weapon and place it in temporary storage. It eliminates the liability exemption of owner/sponsor for damages/injuries/deaths resulting from use of a deadly weapon in a public event or establishment.
  • SB 1083 (Allen) — Gives newly-created Arizona State Guard, a heavily-armed, untrained group of volunteers like the Minutemen, the powers to protect the border
Self-serving
  • HB 2022 (Harper) — Repeals the one year moratorium on ex-legislators that prevents them from lobbying the legislature within that period
  • HB 2078 (Harper) —Increases salaries of statewide elected executive officials
  • SB 1047 (Murphy, Yarbrough) — STO Expansion Bill: Establishes a tax credit for excess contributions to certified school tuition organizations and allows STOs to spend more money on administrative costs. Sen. Yarbrough directs an STO.


Attack on Middle-Class Families
  • HB 2133 (Olson)—Takes money from kids’ education and gives it to millionaires by allowing capital gains to be subtracted from income tax
  • HB 2318 (Smith)/SB 1485 (Murphy)—Prevents agencies from recognizing, bargaining with, or meeting with union members and organizations
  • HB 2040 (Fillmore)—School boards would not be allowed to meet with labor organizations or their members concerning employment contracts
  • HCR 2056 (Court)—Allows employers to lower pay by $3 under the minimum wage for workers under 20 years of age if employment is part-time or temporary, which would make it harder for students to pay the $2,000 minimum tuition contribution under Kavanagh’s More Debt for Cash-Strapped Students Bill (HB 2675)
  • HB 2519 (Fann) — Greatly diminishes the number of people who receive unemployment insurance by making it significantly harder to qualify
  • HB 2571 (Olson) — Bribery Bill: Makes hard-working, middle-class families choose between receiving a raise and being a victim of cronyism or bypassing the raise and being protected


Whether or not the Tea Party would approve of each one of the bills is irrelevant. Likely, those people would approve of some of these bills, but not all of them. Nevertheless, these bills have been put forth by  people the wondrous and mighty TP ordained to rule over the great state of Arizona.

In many cases, there has been NO consideration given to unintended (but sometimes easily foreseeable) consequences. Notably, HB2571 (cited by House Dems as the Bribery Bill) actually is all about political spoils.

The lobbying group Goldwater Institute has spun the Bribery Bill as being necessary to address the problem of problem state employees. Reports the Arizona Capitol Times:

Rep. Justin Olson, who sponsored the bill, cited several examples from a 2010 report from the conservative Goldwater Institute that highlighted instances in which state, county or municipal governments in which employees were kept on the job or reinstated after egregious violations of statute or agency policies.
Olson, R-Mesa, said there is a direct cost to the state when it ends up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay and administrative leave when the State Personnel Board overturns disciplinary actions. And there is an indirect cost, he said, when supervisors are hesitant to discipline employees because the process is so cumbersome and difficult.
“Our system right now discourages productivity and it does not save the taxpayers’ dollars. With these reforms we can reverse that,” Olson said.
But Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, said Republicans are exaggerating problems with the current system and ignoring the consequences of Brewer and Olson’s plan. He and Republicans argued over the fact that the State Personnel Board upholds 89 percent of supervisors’ disciplinary actions, and said an 11 percent overturn rate is a good track record for management.
“I just can’t buy it for a second that there’s a big problem out there when you sit there and admit that 89 percent of the time these actions are being upheld,” said Patterson, who grilled Olson on whether he had any examples of problems in the personnel system that did not come from the Goldwater Institute report. Olson didn’t have any.
HB2571 would make all new state employees, and some existing ones, at-will employees, or “uncovered,” meaning they could be fired for any legal reason. It would eliminate the appeals process for employees who feel they were unfairly disciplined and eliminate the State Personnel Board’s ability to modify disciplinary actions. (emphasis added)

How abundantly clear must it be that this is bad public policy before anyone besides Democrats will object? Because legislative districts have been so heavily slanted in favor of the GOP, they absolutely do not care what Democratic lawmakers, or candidates, or VOTERS think about the proposals they dare to introduce.

How about allowing Crazy Jack Harper and other soon to be former lawmakers to immediately get high-paying jobs with lobbying firms?

How soon will TPers regret requiring public schools to teach Bible Influence on Society? What will prevent others from rightly pointing out the influence the Koran has had on our society? Will the TP be happy when our high schools are required to offer a class on the scriptures of Islam?

Authoritarian public policy is the OPPOSITE of freedom. Nationalism (anti-immigrant/racial scapegoating, etc) has engulfed America in a rabid paranoia that dramatically increases the cost of government without increasing ANYONE'S quality of life. You want Theocracy? WHO is going to put limits on what religiously inclined elected officials say you can or cannot do?





A great deal of the discussion and public testimony during and about the recently completed Congressional and legislative redistricting had to do with the link between fair and competitive districts and moderate (as opposed to extreme) public policymaking. The TPers, in most case, I believe, just did not have a clue about the ramifications of what they were trying to accomplish.

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 :
IRC SUBMISSION SHORT ON DETAILS OF LEGAL STRUGGLES
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.

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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.

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UPDATE

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."

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UPDATE

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.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Redistricting -- Congressional map sent for preclearance

On Thursday, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission submitted its Congressional map to the US Department of Justice for preclearance pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

DOJ now has 60 days in which to approve the application for preclearance, deny the request or ask for additional information.

The AIRC expects to submit the legislative map within days.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jan Brewer's Spoils System for personnel administration

The Arizona Eagletarian has obtained an outline of GED Jan Brewer's proposed "personnel reform" plan.

While corporate media minces words, I feel compelled to spell out a bit more of the who, what, when, where, how and why for you. This is nothing less than a complete attack on merit system protections that were enacted to minimize political influence. Merit system personnel rules, for example, minimize risk of regulatory capture.

Consider a hypothetical employee of the state liquor board or the health services or environmental quality departments. She knows her job is to protect the public, but a member of the Chamber of Commerce cries foul to the governor or to a prominent, ALEC-owned state lawmaker. KNOWING that she has NO rights, is she going to protect the public, or risk the economic security of her family? If you think this is implausible, you are far too naïve.


From the Arizona Capitol Times
... newly hired rank-and-file employees would no longer be considered “covered,” meaning the state would strip away some protections and rights to appeal they are currently afforded.
“Uncovered,” workers, on the other hand, can be fired at any time.
Because the proposal would strip away protections available to covered employees, it would also allow administrators to more easily start the process of hiring replacements—instead of having to wait, for example, for an appeals process to play out.
Under the plan, new hires, supervisors, attorneys, and those who hold IT positions are among those who would be “uncovered.” Those who voluntarily accept new jobs within state government would also be uncovered.
Existing employees who already have “covered” status, however, would have the option to remain as such.
Brewer carves out an exemption for peace and correctional officers, who would remain “covered” employees — unless they voluntarily elect otherwise.
Also, the governor wants to prohibit state agencies from considering an employee’s seniority or tenure in the event of layoffs — known as “reductions in force” in government parlance.
Just like in Brewer’s proposal last year, which never got introduced by the Legislature, the governor wants to alter how the State Personnel Board operates. The board hears and reviews appeals filed by permanent employees who have been dismissed, suspended or demoted as a result of a disciplinary action.
Her outline says the board could no longer modify disciplinary actions on appeal, meaning the board could only accept or reject a supervisor’s proposed penalty or disciplinary action against an employee.
Additionally, state employees would no longer be able to appeal disciplinary actions before a superior court on the grounds that they were arbitrary or capricious.
Senate President Steve Pierce said the governor wants the Legislature to approve it as soon as possible.
But he said he told the governor that lawmakers must pass a budget plan first since that is their constitutional obligation.
Pierce said they’re open to tying legislation to overhaul the personnel system with the budget.



What about those existing, "covered" state employees? Do you think they will face a simple, benign choice? Or will there be serious consequences for those covered employees who want to retain merit system protections? Or to borrow from pop culture, will it be No soup for you! for those desiring to retain merit system protections?

Again, this is nothing less than a power grab, eliminating existing statutory guidelines in place to serve the public. Elections have consequences. And our ALEC-owned Arizona governor and state legislature want to make the stakes even higher.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Arizona's Legislative Attack on Open Government and numerous Freedoms

The Associated Press reports today that,

In an apparent rules violation, majority Republicans in the Arizona Senate got a closed-door briefing Tuesday on Gov. Jan Brewer’s proposal to change the state government’s personnel system.
Senate President Steve Pierce said the private session was intended partly to reassure Brewer about the status of her plan, which would make it easier to fire workers and have more agency directors serve at the pleasure of the governor.(emphasis mine)
Of course, agency directors ALREADY serve at the pleasure of the governor, with FEW exceptions (i.e. Dept. of Public Safety*). What is the proposal REALLY about? "...Make it easier to fire workers..." is THE EXACT SAME THING as having all state employees serve at the pleasure of the governor. This is the "spoils" system. It means the winner of elections can easily give jobs to (more) supporters, whether they are qualified for the job or not.

Everyone following news and current events in Arizona should know by now that, in a reflection of the adage that "elections have consequences," Arizona is (and has for some time now been) under HEAVY assault by right-wing groups (ALEC, CAP, etc). These groups target civil liberties (CAP) and the economic security of mainstream Americans  (ALEC), co-opting the terminology of freedom in dramatically Orwellian fashion.

For perspective on what freedom actually means to everyday Americans, in practice (whether they recognize it or not), look at some US history. Elected immediately following the Great Depression, FDR called for a Second Bill of Rights addressing the grim realities with which far too many Americans became familiar.
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.  

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.
For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

We are, in the US, hopefully now emerging from what many call the Great Recession.

However, the weak, corporate-biased press has failed to call proper attention to the measures being foisted upon Arizona this year (and over the course of several years, but now more than ever because of GED Jan and the legislative GOP supermajority) and what they actually mean to you and to me.

Making Arizona "business friendly," "economic development" and "job creation" have all been used to justify incremental erosion of protections that took many years and the fight of many people to enact.

THIS is why the GOP supermajority fought so vociferously beginning in December 2010 to usurp independent redistricting.

Last month, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission certified Congressional and legislative district maps to be submitted to DOJ for preclearance. Yet, as we have seen, the fight is far from finished.

Because of the diligence of the members, staff and consultants of the AIRC, a court challenge is now unlikely from foes of independent redistricting. They have, instead, taken aim again with several pieces of legislation aiming to undermine and ultimately repeal the independent process altogether. Those measures include asking voters to outright repeal Prop 106 as well as amending statutes to broaden the scope of responsibilities of the IRC to include city, county and school redistricting.

Of course, we also learned over the last couple of weeks that GOP House Speaker Andy Tobin drew his own maps and intends to get those maps, appropriately labeled ANDYMANDER-ING, before the voters in a very costly special election in May or June of this year. $8 million costly. Why would Andy Tobin decide to spend $8 million from the General Fund on this? He says, "I blame the IRC." What a lame excuse. He could NOT cite specific, tangible items in, on or about the maps or the process for which voters reasonably should consider such a decision justifiable. On the contrary, he cited vague situations that have already been litigated (and Tobin's side LOST).

But I digress. Elections have consequences. Some of us have easily been able to predict the kinds of things we NOW see happening in our state legislature. Yet, thousands of people are now being adversely impacted by those lawmakers they supported in 2010. Yes, elections have consequences.

Consider the plight of feral cats and wild dogs throughout the world. Left to their own devices, these resourceful animals will fight for survival and scavenge for food and shelter. But they still prefer the path of least resistance. Cats and dogs -- on a scale of hundreds of millions (or more) -- have earned a living by providing companionship and affection to humans.

Arizona's GOP supermajority has been fighting for food and shelter but has determined that the easy way it can guarantee survival of its unchallenged authority is to control the redistricting process. Because choosing their own voters is SOOOOOOOOOOO much easier than having to convince us that when they cater to BANKSTERS and other monied interests they really have our best interests at heart.


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* Pursuant to ARS § 41-1711 D. The DPS director, instead of serving at the pleasure of the governor, can only be removed for cause. I believe this is the only Arizona executive branch agency providing the director such protection. Before allowing this to be changed, should there not be a careful examination of the reasons the protection was put there in the first place?
The director shall be appointed by the governor pursuant to section 38-211 to serve for a term of five years and shall be subject to removal for cause, including but not limited to malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office. The term shall expire on the third Monday in January of the appropriate year. The director shall receive annual compensation as determined pursuant to section 38-611.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Redistricting -- ANDYMANDERING

"I blame it on the Independent Redistricting Commission," said House Speaker Andy Tobin tonight when asked by Horizon host Ted Simons about wanting to spend more than $8 million for a special election hoping to have voters ratify his ANDYMANDERING. The epitome of avoiding personal responsibility, Republican Tobin BLAMES his decisions on someone other than himself.

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Tobin's own taxpayer funded political operative John Mills drew the maps in secret -- at Tobin's instruction and with UNfair Trust snake oil salesman David Cantelme's "legal" guidance.

Simons asked, "Why did you draw new maps?" 

Tobin replied, 
"Well, I think, let's be clear, there is no map even submitted to this day. I mean, we're here on a Monday, there's no map that's been submitted to the Department of Justice right now even to be approved. So, I'm gettin' a little anxious, because as everyone in Arizona should be getting, we've got uh, we haven't even ever gotten the strategy or the summary of what they did for the majority-minority districts. Usually, you don't put maps together unless you actually have some sort of strategy that has actually has a legal tenet to it. So that's not even available."

Please (PLEASE) tell me WHERE in that jumbled mess (which is an actual literal transcription) from Mr. Tobin he even came close to responding to the question posed to him. I don't see any.

I do see Tobin ranting on about the AIRC. Not coherently, mind you, but ranting nevertheless.   

Intent on USURPING the voice of the voters who, in 2000 overwhelmingly approved Prop 106, Tobin went on to make several highly UNcredible claims for which he must be called to account. 
  • Tobin set the context for his usurpation by invoking the name Jim Pederson as a plot by some rich Democrat to do something bad to Arizona voters.
  • Tobin blamed Pederson for there being no rural representation on the AIRC.
  • Tobin claimed there's no INDEPENDENT representation. In doing so, rather than examining the circumstances around each situation, he cited the alleged 100 percent correlation of Colleen Mathis' votes with the votes of (Democratic) Commissioners McNulty and Herrera. ANY scientist will tell you that correlation does NOT equal causation.
  • Claims that because of decisions he disagreed with, you HAVE TO start thinking, "is this an independent person?" I've addressed that question before.
  • Claims Prop 106 was only passed by "this much." (Tobin said 50.28 percent, but the official canvass of the 2000 general election on azsos.gov says 56.14 percent to 43.86 percent. Tobin's claim was that the margin was less than one percent difference. The official canvass puts the margin of victory at 12.3 percent a very sizable error by the Speaker)
  • Tobin asks, "would the voters not be offended by what's going on" with the IRC?
Here are some FACTS to consider when deciding whether we should be offended (and at whom):
  • Tobin was one of the first names that was associated with UNfair Trust, which we now know to have been a consortium of incumbent lawmakers raising undisclosed amounts of money hoping to influence the IRC process long before now. His name came up when reports of the group having met at the home of Arizona Diamondbacks general partner Ken Kendrick first surfaced.
  • Tobin claimed on Arizona Horizon that HIS map does a better job of honoring minority voting rights. As I have mentioned in multiple posts, David Cantelme's primary approach to advocating for the Republican incumbent lawmakers was focused on this appoach (packing) as far back as when he had his outburst when I first tried to talk to him about it immediately after the AIRC first round public hearing in Mesa in July 2011.
  • Tobin's (Cantelme's) strategy is set forth in exquisite detail in this article in The Nation. While the article is focused on the Deep South, there is no question that this is exactly what UNfair Trust, Andy Tobin and David Cantelme have all been aiming to do with THIS year's redistricting in Arizona. Contrast Tobin's maps with those certified by the AIRC, and you find higher minority populations in fewer districts, locking in the Republican supermajority even more blatantly in the rest of the districts.
From The Nation:
And it’s not just happening in North Carolina. In virtually every state in the South, at the Congressional and state level, Republicans—to protect and expand their gains in 2010—have increased the number of minority voters in majority-minority districts represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats while diluting the minority vote in swing or crossover districts held by white Democrats. “What’s uniform across the South is that Republicans are using race as a central basis in drawing districts for partisan advantage,” says Anita Earls, a prominent civil rights lawyer and executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
The truth/reality in Arizona is that Republicans have tried extremely hard from the very beginning -- in every way possible, EXCEPT by playing by the rules (of Prop 106) -- to USURP the redistricting authority Arizona voters purposefully removed from the state legislature in 2000. 

In 2001, two key factors enabled the GOP to dominate that year's redistricting: a Republican leaning Independent chair for the IRC, Steve Lynn and selection of Lisa Hauser to be legal counsel. 

Tobin claimed this evening that voters are offended by what took place with the AIRC. When Ted Simons asked Tobin how would voters now not be offended by having maps drawn by one guy, Tobin's response was, "well, let's put 'em up against the wall. At least I'm admitting it to ya." He then rants about the IRC spending money to fight open meeting law. But Tobin did NOT respond to the question Simons asked.

Supposedly, Tobin thinks because he took "a 50,000 foot level" we're supposed to think he was fair and impartial. What bullshit. 

"The maps that I drew from the 50,000 foot level still upset of course some Republicans, but IT'S FAIR! It protects the majority-minority districts. It does it better."

Better for whom, Andy?  Better for an insecure Hispanic lawmaker who is afraid that if he doesn't have as many Hispanics in the district he wants to run in, he will not get re-elected? Better for the Hispanic and other minority voters who will likely still not have a voice at the state Capitol, even though their population grew dramatically over the last decade? Or better for YOU, an OLD WHITE GUY who enjoys control of the state legislature despite having only 35 percent of the registered voters in Arizona?

Tobin had the audacity to say that his map establishes more competitive districts. This despite the fact that numerous conservatives, both before the AIRC (as well as the two Republican commissioners) and Bob Robb on Arizona Horizon last week, said that when you properly account for the Voting Rights districts, you cannot then draw very many (if any) competitive districts. Which is it Andy? Why did you lie to Arizonans and to Ted Simons? Was it because you knew nobody would demand you prove the claims you made?

Was it because when someone tries to ask you to do so, you avoid the question by launching into a recitation of an unrelated scenario of one day in the course of what ultimately took more than a year to accomplish? 

When Simons asked, "Did you consult with minority interests," Tobin said, "actually, I had meetings with the minority long before the IRC started having meetings with the minority." 

To which questions Tobin must be required to answer, with whom representing "the minority" and why did they meet with you then rather than the IRC? On its face, Tobin's claim on this one is highly implausible. Sure, he maybe met with someone with a Hispanic surname. But did that person (or persons) understand that he was already plotting to usurp the authority the voters delegated to the AIRC? Tobin claims that "they had come to us back in May and June... us, the majority, to help them formulate maps to protect the minority districts. And I still kept those maps." 

When asked whether he took input from Democrats, Tobin said he did not. The reason? "Because they already owned the IRC. There's three Democrats running the Independent Redistricting Commission." 

Simons asked why would voters scrap the IRC? Tobin specifically said that the IRC maps hurt rural Arizona. I wonder if he asked the people of Cochise County? Those people told the IRC they did NOT want to be in a district that goes all the way to the Utah border. But Tobin's map puts them in a Congressional district that does.

The essence of what Tobin intends to convince Arizona voters ahead of a special election in May (or June, he said tonight), is "did the AIRC follow the spirit of Prop 106?"

We know that because UNfair Trust obtained FEC waivers such that they were not and are not required to disclose how much money they raise, nor from whom, nor ON WHAT THEY SPEND it, Andy Tobin and his cronies intend to pull out the stops Citizens United style and (since they failed in each of their previous attempts to usurp the IRC) do the best they can to manipulate the electorate this year on this issue.  

Tobin said, "I do blame them. We wouldn't be here if they had done their job." Maybe Andy needs to better account for the money HIS office spent sending HIS political operative John Mills to most of the meetings. Because if Mills had faithfully reported on the process, Tobin would know that the AIRC DID DO ITS JOB.

Simons final question: why not let the independent process work, see what happens? 

More bullshit from Andy Tobin.


PEOPLE! Will YOU let Andy Tobin get away with this?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Internet Censorship -- thanks for telling Congress NO WAY on SOPA

As most of you know, the Internet Blackout, lead by Wikipedia was a tremendous success in getting the attention of Congress and convincing those lawmakers to back down on SOPA and PIPA.

The power of Americans to have a say in how our government conducts itself should not be taken for granted and should not be underestimated.

Consider the following infographic. The need for citizen action is not over and done with. The rights of Arizona workers in every sector are being attacked. ALEC model legislation and ALEC inspired bills are running rampant this year at in this year's regular legislative session.

infographic
Source: frugaldad.com


Be vigilant. Be ready.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Redistricting -- Analysis on Arizona Horizon

Last evening, your humble blogger appeared as a guest on KAET Channel 8 in Phoenix to provide analysis of the Congressional and legislative maps recently approved by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The appearance, on local public affairs program Arizona Horizon can be viewed online here.