Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Redistricting -- Will enough of it stick to the wall?

As readers know by now, last week, the US Department of Justice provided final preclearance to the legislative district map developed by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission as a result of a painstakingly detailed process which began in 2010.

Most observers, including those paragons of fairness (the GOP leadership which controls the purse strings and the amount of money appropriated to the AIRC) in the Arizona Legislature  believed there was no basis for a lawsuit to be brought to challenge either the new Congressional or legislative map. Then, late Friday afternoon (April 27), civil actions were filed in federal court to strike down the legislative map and in Maricopa County Superior Court to strike down the Congressional map.

While it was no surprise that the GOP would continue its aggressive pursuit to undo the will of Arizona voters, the lawyers involved with UNfair Trust (Liburdi and Cantelme in particular) along with Lisa Hauser, did a superb job of keeping the basis for the challenges secret.

I've read through the federal court lawsuit and to my untrained eye it appears the only substantive (but still not necessarily valid) claim is that the GOP plaintiffs (Tea Partisans, such as convicted felon Wes Harris, the first named plaintiff was a co-founder of one of the local Tea Party groups) believe their vote has been diluted by virtue of over populating Republican leaning legislative districts and underpopulating Democratically leaning districts. Paragraph 135 of the complaint reads:
The one-person/one-vote requirement of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not permit legislative districts to deviate from the ideal population except when justified by a compelling state interest. A plan with legislative districts that do not exceed the ideal population by more than five percent over or five percent under the ideal is presumed not to violate the one-person/one vote requirement of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but the presumption of constitutionality is rebuttable. Larios, 300 F.Supp.2d at 1341.
The essence of this entire lawsuit is to rebut that presumption of constitutionality.

The red herring we've heard so much about for most of a year now about Voting Rights Act considerations for minority voters is thrown in. But only to suggest out that VRA was not the basis for the results that "injured" Harris and his gang of GOP whiners.

The Arizona Capitol Times and its gossip rag, the Yellow Sheet Report appear to have been given preferential treatment by Liburdi and Hauser. That seems to be the only publication that had any insight on the situation prior to press deadlines on Friday. The Associated Press' Paul Davenport did write about it and some websites picked it up that afternoon, but YS apparently had enough time to ask some more sexy questions and get feedback from key individuals (like Liburdi and Hauser).

ALL’S ‘FAIR’ IN REDISTRICTING WAR (April 27)
Mum was the word from both Liburdi and Hauser on whether the lawsuits are the products of the FAIR Trust effort that began – and failed – as a Republican effort to lobby the IRC. Liburdi said he could not comment on whether FAIR Trust members (who have included House and Senate Republican staffers, as well as staffers from the GOP’s congressional delegation) are helping to fund the lawsuits. Hauser said the cases will be filed on behalf of a “different bunch of individuals,” and that “there may be some [FAIR Trust] people involved in different places.” At this point, it does appear that at least one lawmaker is involved. Hauser said Shooter is a plaintiff on the federal lawsuit aimed at voiding the legislative map. Those lines, she said, can be legitimately challenged, despite DOJ’s recent preclearance, which she called “a little surprising.” In some districts, minority populations were intentionally kept out to the detriment of minority voting strength. “It seems more party-related than race-related,” she said of the commission’s work.
Nevertheless, either Hauser or the YS reporter was mixed up because Sen. Don Shooter is NOT a named plaintiff in the federal court suit. He is listed on the other lawsuit. Also from the YS:

FIRST THINGS FIRST (April 27)One source familiar with the legal actions told our reporter today that the primary goal of the lawsuit was to get an injunction against the maps, thus preventing them from being used this cycle. “It’s all about the TRO [temporary restraining order]. Once we get that, then we can litigate the whole thing,” the Republican source said. If an injunction is granted, the source said the attorneys can begin deposing various witnesses – including Mathis, McNulty and Herrera, all of whom refused to comply with the open meeting law investigation. (emphasis added)
It's nice to know that Republican sources are comfortable spilling the (partisanship) beans to Capitol Times staff. It's also not clear yet why any of those sources think that Legislative Privilege applicable to members of the AIRC would necessarily be struck down now.

I have not yet read through the state court challenge to the Congressional map (41 pages long) but do see that it, similar to the other suit aims its toilet bowl cannon and fires what appears to be an immense amount of human and animal waste products at a courtroom wall hoping that enough of the smelly stuff will stick. Much of the waste they launch in this suit is the same rehashed bullshit we've seen that was first sent to Attorney General Horne in July to egg him into starting his partisan investigation. None of it stuck to any wall of any court thus far.

A lot of it did stick to the state capitol walls with the Joint Committee to Interfere with Independent Redistricting in October/November 2011 and with Janice K Brewer's failed attempt to decapitate the AIRC. But it's been recycled and pumped with renewed intensity at trial courts in what hopefully will be another failed effort.

At least now we know that they will no longer pretend that their concern is for minority voters.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Redistricting - How shocking! Hauser/Liburdi sue over BOTH maps UPDATED 10:50pm MST 4-27-12

Late Friday afternoon, David Cantelme Mike Liburdi and Lisa Hauser have reportedly filed lawsuits challenging Arizona's newly enacted Congressional AND legislative district maps. The Congressional map challenge was filed in state court (apparently Maricopa County Superior Court) and the legislative map challenge in federal court.

When I receive copies of the initial complaints, I will post them. (links in update below) Hopefully tonight.

Much more to come.

-----

UPDATE 10:50pm MST 4-27-12

I've just received the initial court documents in the two lawsuits challenging the IRC maps.

I will write about them more over the weekend.

However, the first, very intriguing bit of information is that WES HARRIS is the first named plaintiff on one of the lawsuits.

This is the same guy that was convicted of aggravated assault but hasn't let that stop him from Tea Party activism. Donna Gratehouse reported on his involvement in last year's Phoenix mayoral race. Not long thereafter, he got involved in the effort to undermine the work of the AIRC, testifying in early September something about college students. In October, Phoenix New Times reporter Stephen Lemons explored Mr. Harris' apparent threats (inflammatory language, if not threats) against the President Obama.

Now, Mike Liburdi -- who made no pretense about his representation of UNfair Trust in testimony before the AIRC on several occasions in 2011 -- appears to be hanging his hopes on Wes Harris and friends in the lawsuit Liburdi filed in federal court to challenge the LEGISLATIVE map.

One has to wonder if Liburdi took the case on contingency because the last thing the suit says is that Liburdi (and Harris, et. al.) want TAXPAYERS to foot the bill for this outrageous action:

Plaintiffs further respectfully demand that the Court award it the following relief against the IRC only: an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1988 and A.R.S. § 12-2030, and an award of other expenses under A.R.S. § 12-2030. (emphasis added)
Exhibits filed with Liburdi's suit are in this document. The first exhibit, which goes to Mike's first claim (questioning Colleen Mathis' integrity), is Mathis' application to become a Redistricting Commissioner.

A very cursory look at the lawsuit gives me the impression that it's brazenly frivolous. But I'll look in more depth over the weekend.

Then, to challenge the Congressional map, Lisa Hauser and Mike Liburdi filed suit in Maricopa County Superior Court. Exhibits for the Congressional map challenge are here. The first exhibit in that suit is also Mathis' application.  The most familiar name in the list of plaintiffs is that paragon of sanity, Lynne St. Angelo, another unabashed Tea Partisan who began showing up in May 2011 to make sometimes incoherent remarks in testimony before the IRC.



Arizona UPRISING -- Fear and Loathing on Sustainability -- next steps

A couple of days ago, the Arizona House of Representatives recommended, in floor debate, passage of SB1507 an apparent reaction to fear and superstition regarding long held conspiracy theories put forth by such mainstream political action groups as the John Birch Society.

You may watch a replay of the floor debate on here.

House Judiciary Committee chair Eddie Farnsworth spent a good bit of time evasively responding (not necessarily answering) questions about the bill during that debate.

The bill addresses what Tea Partisans like Wes Harris (who worked with Sen. Judy Burges) refer to as United Nations "Agenda 21."

The Arizona House now has SB1507 on a Third Read Calendar, apparently set for a final vote during next Monday's floor session.

Please contact your state representative (see the link at the top of the right hand column of this blog) and tell them to KILL SB1507.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- Capt. Al Melvin, Commie???

Kudos to Blog for Arizona's David Safier for finding and posting state Sen. (Capt') Al Melvin's recent interview with VOICE of RUSSIA on his legislation (SB1332) to demand the United States government cede title to public lands over to the State of Arizona.

In a transcript of the interview, Melvin makes clear his intent is to privatize, or sell off the land to privateers.
The idea is to sell it, to privatize it. The founders of our country, when they set up 13 original colonies and went from coast to coast they said they knew in their wisdom that this land - some of it, maybe all of it – should be disposed of.
I put in a call to Melvin at his state senate office. If he returns my call, I will find out more and post an update.



Redistricting -- Legislative Map ok'd by Feds UPDATED 10:50pm MST 4-26-12

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission received notice today from Assistant (federal) Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, civil rights division chief that he has precleared the new legislative district maps.
The Attorney General does not interpose any objection to the specified change. However, we note that Section 5 expressly provides that the failure of the Attorney General to object does not bar subsequent litigation to enjoin the enforcement of the change.  
Of course, the disclaimer is standard language. We already know that David Cantelme, representing UNfair Trust, has signaled the possibility that the group which represents Arizona's incumbent GOP Congressional delegation and GOP legislative leadership will initiate a challenge to one or the other or both maps developed by the AIRC.

Nevertheless, both (Congressional and legislative district) maps are now official until or unless a court of competent jurisdiction declares otherwise.

This should also clear the way for Secretary of State Ken Bennett as well as the Citizens Clean Election Commission to use the new legislative district lines for all purposes related to the 2012 election. One such change -- to the online donation system, E-Qual -- should soon allow registered voters to make $5 Clean Elections qualifying contributions to legislative candidates for the new districts.

UPDATED 10:50pm MST 4-26-12


One has to hand it to Andy Tobin. His contempt for the will of the voters of Arizona is dramatically obvious and he's apparently never tried to hide it. However, it is also just as dramatically easy to read his true intentions.

In a written statement quoted by the Arizona Capitol Times' Yellow Sheet Report TODAY, Tobin telegraphed once again the basis for a lawsuit he would like to initiate to challenge the newly precleared legislative district maps.
"The IRC and the Obama Administration also owe the Hispanic Community an explanation and an apology. They should openly announce why they saw it necessary to shamelessly mute the voices of Arizona’s Hispanic voters."
Tobin in a written statement about the DOJ approval of the IRC legislative map.
Yellow Sheet Report, 4/26/12
For close to a year now, we have been privy to the strategy UNfair Trust has tried to implement to ensure another decade of GOP supermajority in the Arizona Legislature. David Cantelme, of course, flew off the handle at me in July at the AIRC first round public hearing in Mesa claiming I wanted to deprive Arizona's Hispanic voters their proper voice in development of public policy. He apparently has been talking about the strategy, which amounts to packing as many Hispanic voters into as few districts as possible since last Spring.

The idea, of course, is that Hispanics vote more often for Democratic candidates than they do for Republicans.

Tobin must be tremendously disappointed that Richard Miranda is no longer in the House. Miranda (formerly D-LD13) testified before the AIRC on multiple occasions asking that Voting Rights Districts include at least 70 percent Hispanic Voting Age Population.

Conservative pundits, including the Arizona Republic's Bob Robb, have declared that the reason the AIRC could not establish more districts with competitive balance between Democratic and Republican registered voters was due to Voting Rights Act considerations. They say that after ensuring minority voting strength in the Voting Rights Act districts, too few Democratic voters remain to make the rest of the districts competitive. That makes the other districts overwhelmingly Republican. Whether that's how it plays out or not is yet to be seen.  

Both Richard Miranda and David Cantelme testified before the AIRC on September 23, 2011. The official transcript of that meeting is here. Miranda presented a set of proposed (recommended) maps that showed as much as 71 percent HVAP (Hispanic Voting Age Population). Miranda pretty much implied, if not explicitly stated that he believed keeping that voting strength was necessary (his testimony and that of Cantelme saying he supported Miranda's proposal are found on pages 4 - 30 in the linked transcript) to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

How in God's name do these people actually think ANYONE will believe either Tobin or Cantelme are actually concerned about Arizona's Hispanic population having a significant voice in public policy development in the state legislature?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- Fear and Loathing over Sustainability UPDATED 11:50pm 4-24-12

Nearing the 20th anniversary of the United Nations' Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Arizona may soon codify Tea Party paranoia into Arizona law by passing SB1507.

Earlier this month, the Arizona Republic reported:

Arizona "tea party" members are pushing through legislation to quash government-funded efforts to reduce pollution and improve energy efficiency in cities, counties and the state.
Opponents of Senate Bill 1507, sponsored by Sen. Judy Burges, R-Sun City West, say the bill would shut down any government-led environmental initiative, such as Energize Phoenix, a $25 million, stimulus-funded project to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses along the light-rail corridors in central Phoenix.
Critics also say the bill is based on a tea-party conspiracy theory about a 1992 United Nations declaration.
"This is the most ludicrous bill I've ever seen in six years in the Legislature," House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, said.
With this legislation, "you could pretty much shut down any form of government sustainability" efforts, he added.
How could this shut down any government sustainability efforts?

The entire text of the bill as it currently stands:

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1.  Rio declaration on environment and development; prohibition; definition A.  The state of Arizona and all political subdivisions of this state shall not adopt or implement the creed, doctrine, principles or any tenet of the United Nations Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Statement of Principles for Sustainable Development adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June, 1992 or any other international law that contravenes the United States Constitution or the Constitution of Arizona.
B.  Since the United Nations has enlisted the support of numerous independent, non-governmental organizations to implement this agenda around the world, the state of Arizona and all political subdivisions are prohibited from implementing programs of, expending any sum of money for, being a member of, receiving funding from, contracting services from, or giving financial or other forms of aid to the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives or any of its related or affiliated organizations including Countdown 2010, Local Action for Biodiversity, European Center for Nature Conservation, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the President's Council on Sustainable Development, enacted on July 19, 1993 by Executive Order 12852.
C.  For the purposes of this section, "political subdivision" includes this state, or a county, city or town in this state, or a public partnership or any other public entity in this state. (emphasis added)
But why are they so paranoid?

Well, it IS the United Nations after all, that "One World Government" organization that describes itself thus:
The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. Although best known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its System (specialized agencies, funds and programmes) affect our lives and make the world a better place. The Organization works on a broad range of fundamental issues, from sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance, economic and social development and international health, clearing landmines, expanding food production, and more, in order to achieve its goals and coordinate efforts for a safer world for this and future generations.  
Damned subversive organization that it is!

Anyway, Wes Harris, a Tea Partisan that tried to stir things up at redistricting hearings in 2011 has apparently been working with that paragon of sensible legislation, Sen. Judy Burges (R-the seat formerly held by Scott Bundgaard). Also from the Republic's April 4 story on this bill:
Wes Harris, a Phoenix resident and tea-party member, also testified with Burges, repeating theories about the declaration that have been floated among conservative organizations such as the John Birch Society, which refer to the declaration as "Agenda 21."
Harris claimed the declaration "is an attempt to implement a one-world order. It's been going on for 20 years. It has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate. It has been snuck around the back door by the Clinton administration." (emphasis added)
What exactly does the Rio Declaration say?

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Having met at Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992, Reaffirming the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, adopted at Stockholm on 16 June 1972, a/ and seeking to build upon it, With the goal of establishing a new and equitable global partnership through the creation of new levels of cooperation among States, key sectors of societies and people, Working towards international agreements which respect the interests of all and protect the integrity of the global environmental and developmental system, Recognizing the integral and interdependent nature of the Earth, our home, 

    Proclaims that:

And it lists 27 principles, the first of which:
Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
I mean, REALLY! Just how evil can it get? Of course, that's a silly question. But it does seem to frame how people like Wes Harris and Judy Burges look at things. Unfortunately, however, they are not the only ones. Burges' bill passed the Senate by a 21-9 vote on March 1rst. The House Judiciary Committee recommended the bill pass by a 6-2 vote with an amendment to add another Executive Order to the list of what will be prohibited by our illustrious Arizona.

If you want to know more about just HOW FAR OUT in wack-a-doodle land the Arizona Legislature is trying to go, search Google for "Executive Order 13575 and UN agenda 21."

Personally, to me this seems like a dramatic reflection on the Dumbing Down of America and lack of understanding of civics and public policy in general.

The bottom line is this: the Arizona House has SB1507 scheduled for debate in Committee of the Whole tomorrow (Wednesday, April 25).

Do we dare hope that this is another bill that Jan Brewer would veto? Not at this time. We have to contact our state lawmakers.

To find out how to contact YOUR state legislators, click the link at the top of the right hand column of this blog, labeled FIND YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS. When you get to the VoteSmart website, put your Zip Code in the search field and voila.

Tell your Representatives to KILL SB1507.

UPDATE 10:25pm MST 4-24-12

Dedicated friend of the Arizona Eagletarian, Lisa Hoffman, provided additional background information on what is apparently a trend trying to sweep state legislatures throughout the nation.

It appears that the John Birch Society has been pushing Tea Partisans to instigate this kind of legislation for at least the last couple of months.

The New York Times also reported on this trend in February.

It may be a serious mistake to take a flippant attitude toward people like Wes Harris and those pushing this kind of legislation. They are very serious and need to be met with serious push back.

UPDATE 11:50pm MST 4-24-12


Please consider signing and sharing this petition, started by another friend of the Arizona Eagletarian regarding this issue:


http://www.change.org/petitions/az-state-legislature-stop-senate-bill-1507-united-nations-rio-declaration-prohibition


Monday, April 23, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- Tucson Electric and Rosemont Copper won't take no for an answer? UPDATED 3:15pm MST 4-24-12

On Wednesday, the Arizona Corporation Commission will consider, during a staff open meeting, whether to reverse a decision made on March 21 (or at least whether to grant a request to rehear the matter) regarding Tucson Electric Power's application to build a transmission line to the proposed Rosemont Copper mining site south of Tucson.

After a long day of testimony last month, Republican Commissioner Bob Stump surprised observers and voted with the Democratic Commissioners Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman against the application. Widely viewed as a victory for environmental sanity at the time, the official document filed on the vote, a 16-page decision, shows that conditional approval was granted but stayed (put on hold).

One of the key issues during the hearing was the apparently improper disqualification of an intervenor. Other potential issues include the fact that Commissioner Stump is up for re-election this year and he may have supporters in Tucson that do not support development of Rosemont Copper.

Regardless of the reasons for Stump's vote in March, the written language in the decision leaves the situation open for reconsideration. So, as far as Gary Pierce and (former ALEC bigwig) Brenda Burns are concerned, environmental considerations be damned. Rosemont and Tucson Electric appear to have been given new life at the ACC.

Contact ACC chairman Gary Pierce at Pierce-web@azcc.gov or 602-542-3933 to let him know what you think.

I will continue to look for more information on this situation and expect to update this blog post.

UPDATE 3:15pm 4-24-12


First update is that I corrected the link above for the 16-page decision (Number 73074) dated March 21, 2012 in the line siting case for the TEP/Rosemont Mine.

Also, I was able to learn that generally, the Arizona Corporation Commission does grant all line siting requests after due diligence by the line siting committee. However, the ACC seems to be legally (and politically) vulnerable as a result of the siting committee chair having disqualified Intervenor Elizabeth Webb.

Several documents have subsequently been submitted and included in the docket for this case, including an order from an administrative law judge to set a conference on timing issues, a motion from Intervenor Marshall Magruder, responses from TEP and Rosemont Copper and correspondence (a letter from an attorney) Lawrence V Robinson Jr. on behalf of interest group Scenic Santa Ritas.

Mr. Robinson's letter seems to highlight the vulnerability that arose as a result of Webb's disqualification.


“The Commission shall expeditiously conduct a proceeding pursuant to A.R.S.
40-252 in order to reopen the matter and to entertain requests for intervention,
including requests from prospective interveners and requests from any other party
who may desire to intervene.” [Decision No. 73074 at page 2, lines 23-26]
[emphasis added]

In that regard, Scenic Santa Ritas believes that the conduct of the evidentiary hearing “in
the next month or so” would not provide the aforementioned “prospective intervenors” and “any other party” with adequate time to request intervention, and, if intervention is granted, prepare an evidentiary case for presentation. Moreover, there has been no credible demonstration of a need to reach a decision by Judge Rodda or the Siting Committee (as the case may be) by June 1,2012 as Rosemont has requested. Siting Case No. 164 was needlessly hurried to a decision in November and December of 2011. That mistake should not be repeated at the Commission level.
It seems this has been ongoing for the last month and ACC chair Pierce has been trying to rectify the problem with exclusion of evidence that Webb wanted to present. We'll see how it goes tomorrow and report back with a new post to this blog then.



Patterson successor appointed

This morning, the Pima County Board of Supervisors appointed attorney Nicholas Fontana to the Arizona House of Representatives filling the Legislative District 29 seat vacated when Daniel Patterson resigned  in the wake of the House Ethics committee recommendation he be expelled.

Besides his law practice, Fontana serves as a Judge Pro Tem for the Tohono O'odham Tribal Court.

Fontana was selected on a 3-2 vote after Supervisor Ramon Valadez' nomination of union official Leon Sierra (International Brotherhood of Operating Engineers) was defeated 2-3. Supervisor Sharon Bronson then nominated Fontana, with Supervisors Ann Day and Raymond Carroll voting Aye and Valadez (along with Richard Elias) voting Nay.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Redistricting -- Supreme Court Opinion on Mathis reinstatement; ramifications UPDATED 9:15pm MST 4-20-12

In a 31-page opinion issued this morning, the Arizona Supreme Court spelled out, in exquisite detail, why Janice K Brewer and the GOP supermajority in the Arizona Senate overstepped their constitutional authority in the partisan effort to decapitate the Independent Redistricting Commission in the fall of 2011.

Lawyers for Brewer and the Senate argued among other things, that 1) the Arizona Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to do anything about their removal of AIRC chairwoman Colleen Coyle Mathis and 2) the issue was solely a political question just like the impeachment of Evan Mecham in the 1980s and therefore not "judiciable."

Those arguments, of course, are complete nonsense. The opinion makes it very clear that the Arizona Constitution does, indeed, give the Supreme Court the right to intervene.


The IRC invoked our subject matter jurisdiction under Article 6, Section 5 of the Arizona Constitution. That provision grants this Court original jurisdiction to issue “mandamus, injunction and other extraordinary writs to state officers” and extends “[s]uch other jurisdiction as may be provided by law.” Ariz. Const. art. 6, § 5(1), (6); see also A.R.S. § 12-2021 (empowering this Court to issue a writ of mandamus “to any person . . . to compel the admission of a party to the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which he is entitled and from which he is unlawfully precluded by such ... person”). (page 8, paragraph 12)


We exercised our discretion to accept special action jurisdiction because the legal issues raised required prompt resolution and are of first impression and statewide importance. (paragraph 14)


Respondents also argue that this case presents nonjusticiable political questions. The Arizona Constitution entrusts some matters solely to the political branches of government, not the judiciary... That a lawsuit involves “constitutional issues with significant political overtones,” however, “does not automatically invoke the political question doctrine.” (paragraph 16)

Under separation-of-powers principles, a nonjusticiable political question is presented when “there is ‘a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate political department; or a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it.’” ... the significance of a textually demonstrable commitment to another branch is weakened when the Constitution expressly provides discernible and manageable standards for judicial review. (paragraph 17)
In this case, the Supremes say, there were actually judicially discernible and manageable standards. As an aside, this could be the reason the Court did not (in a different case recently) provide relief when Tim Hogan sued the governor and legislature for not providing adequate funding to cover all of the AHCCCS members voters had authorized by ballot measure (Prop 204 in 2000).


And the reason why this case is NOT comparable to the Mecham impeachment:

Second, impeachment under Article 8 of Arizona’s Constitution includes four important procedural checks to ensure a Senate trial’s just outcome. Article 8 requires the Senate to try all impeachments; when sitting for trial, senators must be on oath or affirmation to do justice according to law and evidence; the chief justice must preside over the trial; and two-thirds of the Senate must concur in the impeachment. (paragraph 22)

Section 1(10), on the other hand, does not require a trial; an oath, affirmation, or a just determination based on law and evidence; or representative oversight by another governmental department. The requirement of two-thirds Senate concurrence is a significant check on the governor’s removal power and poses a potentially formidable hurdle to curb abuse of executive discretion. But the absence in Section 1(10) of the other procedural and substantive safeguards found in Article 8 distinguishes the Senate’s role under Section 1(10) from its role in an impeachment. (paragraph 23)

Third, impeachment was uniquely designed by the framers of the federal Constitution to be a political process... In contrast, the constitutional provisions creating and governing the IRC, which include Section 1(10), were designed to remove redistricting from the political process by extracting this authority from the legislature and governor and instead granting it to “an independent commission of balanced appointments.” (paragraph 24)




The significance of the detail in this Court opinion will come into play in a big way this fall. In 2011, the legislature passed SCR1001 which put a measure on the 2012 general election ballot to inject the same kind of contentiousness into the Arizona Judiciary as we saw in the independent redistricting process over the last year.  This ballot measure makes numerous changes to the way judges are appointed in Arizona.

But it also, if approved, will politicize all decisions about contested matters of law. The following is all new language the GOP supermajority hopes voters will add to the Arizona Constitution:


B. THE SUPREME COURT SHALL MAKE EVERY WRITTEN OPINION OR ORDER THAT IS ISSUED BY A JUDGE OF A COURT OF RECORD, THAT RESOLVES A CONTESTED MATTER OF LAW AND THAT IS NOT SEALED OR CONFIDENTIAL PURSUANT TO LAW ELECTRONICALLY ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC THROUGH THE SUPREME COURT'S WEBSITE.

C. NOT LATER THAN SIXTY DAYS PRECEDING THE REGULAR PRIMARY ELECTION THE SUPREME COURT SHALL TRANSMIT A COPY OF THE JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW OF EACH JUSTICE AND JUDGE WHO IS UP FOR RETENTION TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. NOT LATER THAN SIXTY DAYS PRECEDING THE REGULAR GENERAL ELECTION FOR THE RETENTION OF
JUSTICES AND JUDGES, A JOINT LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE CONSISTING OF THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, OR THEIR SUCCESSOR COMMITTEES, MAY MEET AND TAKE TESTIMONY ON THE JUSTICES AND JUDGES WHO ARE UP FOR RETENTION.
Remember the Joint Legislative Committee on Interfering with Independent Redistricting? This new procedure is like putting THAT committee on steroids.

Let's consider a scenario, shall we?

For YEARS, (elected) Tea Partisans (like Ron Gould, Rick Murphy, Don Shooter, Sylvia Allen, Terri Proud, Al Melvin, et. al.) have been complaining that the Arizona Supreme Court VIOLATED the Constitution. They do so nearly every day in committees, during floor votes and in communications (verbal and written) with lobbyists as well as their legitimate constituents.

ALEC (and US Chamber of Commerce) lobbyists then pay for lawyers and other researchers to scour the published opinions related to contested matters of law for poignant, inflammatory sound bites to incite the mob mentality. They pay political operators like Nathan Sproul to start astroturf movements similar to what we saw immediately after the 2011 AIRC selected Strategic Telemetry to be its mapping consultant.

Only NOW, they don't need Tom Horne to initiate an investigation to intimidate the AIRC. Instead, they made wild and recklessly false accusations about judges up for retention. Because it's now a political process (well, not actually yet, but IF voters approve that ballot measure, it will be), little, if anything can be done for damage control.

-----

Earlier this month, legal scholars and historians spoke at a forum about the Arizona Constitution. Speakers included former nominee for the AIRC chair and Dean emeritus of the Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law at Arizona State, Paul Bender and practicing Constitutional attorney Paul Eckstein. They mentioned that they consider certain aspects of the SCR1001 ballot measure troubling. But they seemed surprised when I suggested this was just a step before pushing direct election of judges.

Political watchers, that is anyone who has watched legislative processes over the course of a few years, can tell you that incrementalism is a key strategy for enacting change.

In public policy, incrementalism refers to the method of change by which many small policy changes are enacted over time in order to create a larger broad based policy change. 
SCR1001 presents numerous changes for voters to consider (as an all or nothing package), some of which are reasonable. For example, changing the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court Justices to age 75 (now 70). Taken together, however, they can ONLY be reasonable construed as increments toward an ultimate goal of direct election of judges. And THAT is highly problematic.

The case of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz puts this all in focus. (video is about 11 minutes long)




By the way, the GOP supermajority in the Arizona Legislature, also in 2011, passed SCR1020 which is an incremental step in their push for so-called tort reform. It will be difficult for voters to say NO to a measure to prohibit someone who has committed a crime to sue the crime victim for harm to the perpetrator of the crime.

THIS is how lobbyists, their corporate masters and ALEC-owned lawmakers intend to sneak "tort reform" and direct election of judges past Arizona voters, in bite-size pieces.

We have not yet seen the degree of subterfuge they will employ come this fall.

And THAT is why level of detail -- in the Arizona Supreme Court opinion on its order to reinstate Colleen Mathis to the AIRC -- is important.

NOTE: A shorter video (trailer) on the documentary film, HOT COFFEE, which features Oliver Diaz' story here:



UPDATE adds detail from the 31-page Supreme Court opinion above.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Redistricting -- AIRC court case info

The long awaited Arizona Supreme Court opinion -- spelling out the reasoning behind its decision to reinstate Colleen Coyle Mathis to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in November 2011 -- will be, according to an email from the court's chief communications officer, released tomorrow morning. I will post the document for all to read.

Last week, however, the AIRC filed its brief in response to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's appeal of Judge Dean Fink's ruling on the Open Meeting issue. Though Montgomery wants to frame the situation as one where the AIRC seeks to keep secrets from the people of Arizona, the primary issue may just be the importance of insulating the commission from parochial and partisan interests. We saw the GOP supermajority in the Arizona Legislature, UNfair Trust and Tea Partisans dramatically trying to interfere with independent redistricting over the last 16 or so months.

Ultimately, we are likely to also see, sooner than later, another call for a supplemental appropriation to ensure the AIRC is able to defend itself from additional interference as UNfair Trust last week gave notice of its desire to initiate a court challenge to the final maps.

Redistricting -- UNfair Trust rears it's ugly head again

Remember when Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission director Ray Bladine said the supplemental appropriation the legislature authorized last month would not be enough to last through the end of the current fiscal year, especially if anyone sued to challenge the maps?

Well, yesterday Attorney General Tom Horne's office wrote to the AIRC to notify the agency that David Cantelme is considering, on behalf of UNfair Trust, suing over the Congressional and legislative maps. Last week, Cantelme had asked for a waiver of conflict of interest since he is listed as outside counsel for the State in two cases. As authorized outside counsel for the State of Arizona, he is currently precluded from suing the state, due to conflict of interest.

We already know what Cantelme's likely claim will be in the event such a lawsuit is filed. While it may not be his only claim, he will focus on how minority voting rights (Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act) were not given enough weight in the final maps.

Stay tuned.

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Word is out today also that the Arizona Supreme Court will issue its full opinion tomorrow on the ruling whereby it reinstated Colleen Coyle Mathis to the AIRC after Brewer attempted to decapitate the agency.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- Electronic stalking and harassment

Last month, HB2549 on Electronic Communications and Stalking appeared headed for easy passage until national free speech advocacy organization, Media Coalition caught wind of it and legal analysts pointed out the chilling impact the bill, as it read at the time, would have had on free speech on the internet.

Fortunately, sponsors put the brakes on and some thoughtful consideration ensued. About two weeks ago, a conference committee with members from both the House and Senate was appointed. On Monday, the conference committee reported, recommending amendments to the Senate engrossed version of the original bill.

The recommended amendments to HB2549 appear to limit the scope of the bill by removing the more general "annoy or offend" and indicating harassment etc. by electronic communication is a Class 1 misdemeanor if directed to a specific person or persons, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten or harass, direct any obscene, lewd or profane act to the person in an electronic communication, threaten to inflict physical harm to any person or property in said electronic communication.

It also makes it unlawful to otherwise disturb someone by repeated anonymous, unwanted or unsolicited electronic communication.

However, new language also specifies that this does not apply to any Constitutionally protected speech or activity or any other activity authorized by law.

For the purposes of this section, it goes on, "electronic communication means a wire line, cable, wireless or cellular telephone call, a text message, an instant message or electronic mail."


If this law is enacted, a person convicted of a violation would be subject to up to 6 months imprisonment and a $2,500 fine.


One might wonder what kind of cacophony will be set off if this bill is enacted as it now reads. Surely somebody will try to push the limits such that law enforcement will be put in a position to at least try to do something to enforce it. Have you ever heard the expression, "fuck off and die?" Is that specific enough? Well, maybe or maybe not. A very quick internet search turned up a music group (metal band) by the name of Fuck Off and Die.

How much litigation will ensue to sort out the ambiguities that will certainly surface?

This could be among the more noble pursuits the Arizona Legislature has embarked upon this session, as cyber-bullying and stalking can be a real problem.

Anyway, I've requested feedback from advocacy groups and when I hear from them, I expect to update this post.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- ALEC loses more AZ member corporations UPDATED 10:30pm MST 4-12-12

UPDATE 10:30pm MST 4-12-12

State Sen. Steve Gallardo sits down with KPHO anchor Catherine Anaya:



On March 29th, local attorney/advocate Dianne Post filed an 18-page complaint with the Arizona Corporation Commission charging that major public service corporations (PSCs), like Arizona Public Service -- regulated by the ACC -- are members of, and are funding ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

On it's Wednesday night (10pm) news broadcast, KPHO Channel 5 broadcast a clip of Post explaining the complaint. The KPHO news desk told me they expect to interview the president of APS this afternoon. Hopefully, that interview will air this evening.

This morning, the Arizona Working Families coalition held a press conference in front of the Arizona Senate to:
shine a light on ALEC’s influence in pushing legislation in Arizona aimed at attacking workers’ rights and enriching specific industries.
Photo courtesy of Sheri van Horsen


The coalition presented an updated report on ALEC in Arizona. The 45-page report is far from comprehensive but does provide key insights on some of the current legislation before our elected lawmakers. These lawmakers, who clearly have more allegiance to ALEC than to the voters of Arizona, have pushed bills to erode the rights of working people, eliminate consumer rights granted in the Arizona Constitution, and further undermine public education.

However coincidentally, early this afternoon, Arizona Capitol Times' Jeremy Duda reported that APS has decided to end its membership in ALEC.

Arizona Public Service lobbyist Jessica Pacheco said the company will not renew its membership in ALEC, a conservative state lawmakers’ organization known for drafting model legislation for members to sponsor in their respective states.
Salt River Project, a quasi-governmental utility, is not regulated by the ACC but is, nevertheless, also considering dropping out of ALEC. SRP lobbyist Russell Smolden is the Arizona private sector chair for the business lobbying consortium.

Both Pacheco and Smolden downplayed the political pressure being brought to bear by consumer advocates these days and offered typical rationalizations for the "business decision" that has either been made or is in the works for the two biggest utility companies in Arizona.

Pacheco said the decision was economic, not political. She said APS’s new lobbying team, which formed about nine months ago, is reviewing all of its organizational memberships. The company is cutting costs, Pacheco said, and that cost-cutting includes ending APS’s memberships in organizations that don’t bring sufficient value.
“We did an assessment of the organizations that we belong to and the value that they bring to our company, to our customers and our shareholders. And ALEC was one of the organizations that we were not receiving a commensurate amount of value for,” Pacheco said.

Smolden, on the other hand, lashed out more in his rationalization:

Smoldon, who serves as one of ALEC’s Arizona chairmen – each state has a private sector and public sector chair – defended the organization, but acknowledged that it has come under increasing nationwide scrutiny.
“You have to consider it, considering all of the negative press that’s out there,” Smoldon said. “We’re looking at everything at the moment, trying to figure out what want to do, just trying not to be too quick to jump into the fray, so to speak.”
Smoldon said SRP still believes ALEC is a worthwhile organization, but has faced mounting pressure from liberal advocacy groups, public employee unions and the “spending lobby.” He said SRP has not received much pressure itself to distance itself from ALEC, outside of a few letters to the company.
“George Soros’ guys are the ones kind of driving the boat on this thing. So there’s a lot of misinformation at the moment associated with what ALEC does,” he said of the wealthy liberal financier. “This has been an ongoing assault on ALEC for the last couple of years by those folks who basically don’t want political discourse that disagrees with them.”
Smoldon said SRP would consult with many of the 56 Arizona legislators – all Republicans – who are ALEC members before making a decision. He said APS’s decision surprised him, considering how many Arizona lawmakers are ALEC members.


Perhaps Smolden had not yet been apprised of the complaint filed at the ACC against APS and other regulated PSCs. For Smolden to invoke George Soros fits nicely into the mindset of (former) public officials like Andrew Thomas who see themselves as crusaders against some intangible "evil liberal conspiracy."

Arizona Corporation Commission spokeswoman Rebecca Wilder told me this afternoon that Post's complaint is informal and will be reviewed by ACC Consumer Services Division staff. Wilder could give no timeframe or current status of the complaint but did say that if the Complainant is unsatisfied with the response, a formal complaint can then be filed.


From my seat at the keyboard, I see the work of volunteers like Dianne Post as making a tremendous impact on the side of everyday Arizonans. But Post's complaint and the movement by citizens to push back against ALEC has nothing to do with desire to stifle "political discourse." Rather, it's a recognition that ALEC has flown UNDER THE RADAR for too long, has dominated lawmaking in most or all 50 states and has defined the framework around which people view the discourse and the issues.

That defined framework gave rise to Regulatory Capture, undue influence in every area of public policy and overwhelming overreach in making and interpreting laws in our country.

It's time for an Arizona UPRISING.

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According to Rebecca Wilder, elected Corporation Commissioners do not get involved in the informal complaint process. But if a formal complaint is filed, the Commissioners then review and will act on it. Post pointed out (on page 12) that Commissioner Brenda Burns has been active with ALEC, possibly as recently as late 2010 (after her election to the ACC) and that Burns should be recused from any action to rule on this matter.

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Note: According to research dynamo and friend Lisa Hoffman,
"all of the past EIGHT (8) consecutive Arizona Senate Presidents have served in ALEC leadership roles"

  • Senator Robert L. Burns (International/Federal Relations Task Force)
  • Senator Russell Pearce (Public Safety and Elections)
  • Senator Steve Pierce (Energy Environment and Agriculture Task Force)
  • Senator Tim Bee (ALEC Leader in the States, Federal Forum, 2005)
  • Senator Ken Bennett (ALEC Leader in the States, Federal Forum, 2005; elected Arizona Secretary of State in 2010)
  • Senator Randall E. Gnant (Senior Leadership Position, ALEC Leader in the States, 2001)
  • Senator Brenda Burns (ALEC National President and Chair, 1999; elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2010), and 
  • Senator John Greene (1992 ALEC Outstanding Legislator Award Recipient, one of the Goldwater Institute's five Arizona "Champions of the Millennium, December 1999; former cabinet member of Gov. Fife Symington; appointed Chairman of the Arizona State Board of Equalization in 2009 by AZ Gov. Jan Brewer).
Bob Burns has also been appointed by Brewer to the Appellate Court Commission on Appointments and is a candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission for the fall of 2012.

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UPDATE 7:30pm MST 4-12-12


Attorney/advocate Dianne Post informed me that if any of you (Arizona Eagletarian readers) would like to join the complaint, feel free to contact her by email at postdlpost@aol.com.

Additionally, state Sen. Steve Gallardo appeared in a sit down interview with Catherine Anaya on the Channel 5 news at 6:30pm this evening. I will try to get the video link to update this blog post tomorrow.

Anaya said they expect to have more on the ALEC situation on its 10pm newscast. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- Passive Resistance OUTLAWED?

Now that the Arizona House of Representatives no longer has to deal with Daniel Patterson, it can turn its attention to other, "more pressing" matters.

The Arizona House voted this afternoon to concur with changes made in the state senate to HB2071 which, unless the governor vetoes, will make PASSIVE RESISTANCE the most serious crime in the state short of a felony.

Passive resistence is defined in the bill as:
For the purposes of this section, "passive resistance" means a nonviolent physical act or failure to act that is intended to impede, hinder or delay the effecting of an arrest.
Thank you John Kavanagh.

If you believe that Ghandi had it wrong, DO NOTHING.

But if you see this legislation as an effort to keep citizens from exercising CIVIL LIBERTIES * to show dissent to government agencies, actions and policies, please call AND write to Gov. Brewer's office and tell her to veto the bill.

From CivilLiberties.org:
Civil Disobedience is the act of disobeying a law on grounds of moral or political principle. It is an attempt to influence society to accept a dissenting point of view. Although it usually uses tactics of nonviolence, it is more than mere passive resistance since it often takes active forms such as illegal street demonstrations or peaceful occupations of premises. The classic treatise on this topic is Henry David Thoreau's "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience," which states that when a person's conscience and the laws clash, that person must follow his or her conscience. The stress on personal conscience and on the need to act now rather than to wait for legal change are recurring elements in civil disobedience movements. The U.S. Bill of Rights** asserts that the authority of a government is derived from the consent of the governed, and whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the right and duty of the people to alter or abolish it.

Throughout the history of the U.S., civil disobedience has played a significant role in many of the social reforms that we all take for granted today. Some of the most well known of these are:

1) The Boston Tea Party -- citizens of the colony of Massachusetts trespassed on a British ship and threw its cargo (tea from England) overboard, rather than be forced to pay taxes without representation to Britain. This was one of the many acts of civil disobedience leading to the War for Independence, establishing the United States of America as a sovereign state.
How ironic that lawmakers who embrace the recent Tea Party movement have, in the wake of a more genuine populist movement -- OCCUPY WALL STREET (and the local movements throughout the country, including OCCUPY PHOENIX) -- moved to stifle opposition in this manner.

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*NOTE -- It is certainly true that nothing so horrifies today's false constitutionalists as the actual exercise of civil liberties. -- John Nichols, UPRISING, page 19

And this bill serves as documentation of Nichols' insight.


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**NOTE -- that language actually comes from the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...  (emphasis added)

BREAKING NEWS: Daniel Patterson resigned UPDATED 3:00pm MST 4-11-12

When the Arizona House of Representatives convened in floor session just before 1:40pm, as his first order of business, Speaker Andy Tobin announced that he had accepted the resignation of Tucson Independent Rep. Daniel Patterson. Pursuant to HR2010 which had been introduced today, the House had been expected to vote during this floor session to expel Patterson. The resignation makes a vote moot.

The process of replacing a sitting member of the legislature, which has taken place several times already in 2012, will begin in Legislative District 29 in Tucson, right away.

UPDATE 3pm MST 4-11-12

Patterson's resignation letter states that the Arizona House of Representatives has become a "hostile work environment" and he therefore is no longer able to serve his constituents in the way they deserve.

Sal Baldenegro this afternoon announced his intent to seek appointment to the vacant seat.

Through the grapevine, I've also heard that Malena Barajas, Dr. Laura Elias de la Torre and Tom Prezelski have expressed interest.

No doubt each of the four of them would do a good job. Tom has previously served in the Arizona House and Laura, a medical doctor, has previously been chair of LD29 Democrats.

UPDATE 4:10 pm MST, 4-11-12

Malena tells me she is NOT seeking the seat and that she believes Dr. Laura Elias de la Torre "would make a fine representative."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Redistricting -- senate race in new LD26 may be set

On Tuesday evening, state Rep. Ed Ableser announced during a meeting of fellow Democrats from the new Legislative District 26 that he decided today to run for a seat in the Arizona Senate this year. Later the same evening, current Republican state Sen. Jerry Lewis, when asked by John Rojas on Facebook if he plans to run for re-election in the new LD26, gave a one word answer: "Yes."

Mr. Lewis defeated Senate President Russell Pearce in an historic recall election in November 2011.

Obviously, both individuals must still organize a campaign and collect the requisite nominating petition signatures. That and wait for the Dept. of Justice to determine that the new legislative map approved in January by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission adequately preserves minority voting strength throughout the State of Arizona.

We'll see how it all plays out, but right now the AIRC competitiveness report for the new LD map shows -- when considering the election results for the years 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010 (weighted equally) -- that LD26 is within 5.8 percent. That means Republicans were favored 47.1 percent in those elections by precincts now included in this district, and Democrats favored 52.9 percent.

Arizona UPRISING -- Do you want more pollution?

Governor Janice K Brewer has made it very clear that during this year's regular session she wants our state lawmakers to re-institute the Spoils System for state personnel management. The Goldwater Institute has put signficant effort into advocating for this change, in its published writings and in television appearances by members of its staff. HB2571 is currently making its way through the state senate, having already been approved by the House and heard by committees in the Senate.

Goldwater's chief selling point on this is to magnify problems of allegedly bad things state employees do without losing their jobs. What Goldwater does NOT want people to consider (before it's too late to do anything about it anyway) is negative ramifications of eliminating Merit System protections for public employees. Mark Flatten, author of Goldwater "Undisciplined Bureaucracy" report has appeared on local television doing some very crafty verbal sleight of hand.

In so doing, Flatten set forth his preferred problem/objection definition. Objection to the SPOILS SYSTEM plan that is. According to Flatten, people believe every time a new governor would get elected, she might institute wholesale changes in personnel at lower levels in state agencies. That would not happen, he said, because the cost of recruiting and training employees is prohibitive. He cited the experience in Georgia where these "reforms" have already been instituted.

Flatten made these statements on Politics Unplugged, a half-hour program hosted by Frank Camacho on KTVK Channel 3 in Phoenix. Camacho told me this afternoon that Politics Unplugged episodes are not posted to the television station's website.

Flatten's explanation fails however because in order to do grave damage to the "general welfare" of all of Arizona, it would not necessarily take putting very many political appointees in jobs certain positions.

Case in point: the legislature just passed HB2199 the polluter protection bill.

Advocates for this bill claim it provides incentives for polluters to clean up the problem pollution on their own in order to avoid being penalized for damaging the environment.

Combine an anti-environmental governor (not such a far-fetched possibility in Arizona in some election years) with an at-will employment situation for an Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality inspector and it is really not much of a leap to recognize the potential for a major employer in Arizona to easily avoid responsibility for a potentially catastrophic pollution problem.

This is a very real and tangible issue.

The polluter protection bill was sent to Governor Brewer yesterday (April 9). She wants her Spoils System bill and is prepared to twist arms in the upcoming fiscal year 2013 budget battle brewing between her and the legislature.

Imagine the possibilities. We can only guess at how far the GOP supermajority will succeed in overreaching on change we do NOT believe in.

It is time for an Arizona UPRISING.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Redistricting -- Congressional map precleared

Tomorrow was the deadline for the Department of Justice to respond to submission of the proposed Congressional map Arizona expects to WILL use for the next decade. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission director Ray Bladine said DOJ delivered a letter this afternoon saying that the federal government has NO OBJECTION to the map. Additional information and details will be forthcoming.

The AIRC may not receive word on the legislative district map, which was submitted to DOJ on February 28, until the near the end of this month.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Arizona UPRISING -- Forum on Arizona's Progressive Constitution

In case you'd like a reminder,


You (hopefully) will not want to miss this highly informative panel discussion featuring Professors Paul Bender, David Berman and Phillip VanderMeer (all from Arizona State University) and attorney Paul Eckstein. On Wednesday evening at 6:30pm at the Arizona Historical Society, 1300 N College Ave., Tempe. See the MAP.


Be there or be... less informed than you otherwise would.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tell Eric Holder -- Bring Arpaio's case to trial

PLEASE SIGN and SHARE THIS PETITION.

Speaking before a packed Pulliam Auditorium at the Burton Barr Central Library, former US Attorney for the District of Arizona Paul Charlton said he believed the only way to bring resolution to the ongoing patterns and practices of unconstitutional policing by Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph Arpaio is for the case to be brought to trial.

We all know that Arpaio is a master of misdirection, making many believe that the Department of Justice's investigation -- which began in June 2008 -- is something other than an effort to enforce the laws of the United States.

Charlton, a Republican, was joined -- on a panel moderated by Julie Erfle -- by former Phoenix mayors Phil Gordon and Terry Goddard as well as former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley. All were clear that any further discussion with Arpaio would be fruitless.

NO MORE NEGOTIATION. BRING THE CASE TO TRIAL.

Please sign and SHARE (on facebook, twitter and any other way you can reach your friends) this petition on change.org.


Redistricting -- Joint Lege Cmte on Interfering w/Independent Redistricting at it again

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:

Conclusion
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.

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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 #azgop
This 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.

Sincerely,


Raymond F. BladineExecutive Director,AZ Independent Redistricting Commission
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.


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.



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Patterson's melodrama drags on -- UPDATED 7:25pm MST 4-3-12

Embattled (former) Democrat (current Independent) state Rep. Daniel Patterson succeeded today in convincing Pima County Superior Court Commissioner Frederic J. Dardis to quash the Order of Protection recently obtained by his ex-wife Jeneiene Schaffer in the wake of Patterson's high-profile run ins with Georgette Escobar.

Patterson, though not present on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives, also survived an effort by House Minority Leader Chad Campbell to have the entire membership of the House vote to expel him. As a result of yesterday's release of the report of the House Ethics committee investigators, the situation seemed to be coming to a head. However, the GOP supermajority punted. The Tucson Weekly's blow by blow account does a good job of putting you in the situation to see how it all went down.

In the meantime, Patterson has until next week to respond to the report. The Ethics committee meets to consider the situation further on April 10.

Exhibits attached to the investigative report, released today with some information redacted can be found here, here and here.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE


Jeneiene Schaffer (Patterson's ex-wife) needs assistance with legal fees. If you can help with a donation, please contact Schaffer's attorney, Terri Cappozi at 928-782-2722