Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, April 26, 2013

Redistricting -- April 25 meeting recap

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met for about an hour and a half on Thursday afternoon with the (geographical) focal point being its office on Washington St in Phoenix. Commissioner Freeman was the only member attending in person. The other four participated by conference call.

Discussion, none of which occurred in executive session, revolved around requests made by the two Republican commissioners. Rick Stertz has requested that for additional litigation he be allowed to have separate legal counsel other than Joe Kanefield and Mary O'Grady. He made that request in writing and I have requested a copy of that letter (or memo or email, which ever it is). Scott Freeman has requested access to various commission documents that he says he has been prevented from seeing heretofore.

Both Stertz and Freeman indicated they wanted to discuss those issues openly with the public able to listen and observe even though Kanefield and O'Grady recommended going into executive session.

Rather than provide a blow-by-blow account, I'll summarize by saying that they got as far as making a motion to authorize each member to obtain separate counsel. The motion was not voted on because of concerns expressed that members wanted to think about and explore before the next meeting.

AIRC staff expressed concern about whether authorizing individual counsel was fiscally justifiable, given recent (at least verbal) push back from legislative leadership. Arizona Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl quotes House Speaker Andy Tobin:

The Legislature made quick work Thursday of bills that hand $635,226 to the commission, which is charged by voters with drawing political boundaries for legislative and congressional races. The commission needs the money to defend itself against three lawsuits arising from its work in 2011-12.
House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, called the legal costs “absurd” but nonetheless sponsored the bill appropriating the money. The state Constitution requires the public to pay the commission’s legal fees, which are mounting as the three cases, including one filed by the Legislature, proceed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is mostly about lawyers now,” Tobin told House members.

Speaking of a next meeting, because there was no decision on anything on the agenda yesterday, the AIRC is looking to set up a meeting as soon as they figure out a time all five commissioners will be available, likely sometime next week.

For wonky types (like me?) you will likely find the discussion interesting to listen to yourself once it is posted online. Staff said shortly after the meeting adjourned that they expected to have the recording posted Thursday evening. At this time, however, it still is not up. When it is, you will find it at this link.

Also on Thursday, the legislature passed a supplemental appropriation for the AIRC in the amount of $635,266.

I also heard that during floor debate on this bill in the House (committee of the whole), one Republican member claimed that the AIRC had to hire a mapping contractor to train Strategic Telemetry (its mapping contractor) on how to draw district maps. I will be looking for the video from that debate and hope to post it for your viewing pleasure as soon as possible.

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