Thursday, December 30, 2010

What took them so long! LOL

Less than 36 hours after receiving a cold shoulder and a warmed over list of 25 candidates qualified to become Independent Redistricting Commissioners,  Arizona's GOP legislative leaders filed suit in the Arizona Supreme Court asking that the screening panel be smacked on the hand and told to provide a list of 25 names they like better.

Basically, a temper tantrum written in lawyerspeak. 

In the meeting yesterday morning, the panel had lively discussion about what seemed to be the crux of the disagreement with the Pearce and Adams.  Most simply put, what is the definition of "public office" as it relates to the Independent Redistricting Commission?  The Arizona Constitution clearly says that IRC commissioners may not hold "public office."  It also clearly excludes school boards from the definition.  But it does not otherwise define the term. 

It just so happens that three of the 25 people on the list engage in public service that could possibly be considered holding "public office."  Two of those people are Republicans who Pearce and Adams LIKE and might even, under some circumstances, choose to appoint to the IRC.  The other is an Independent.

The technicality about which they quibble is that Independent Paul Bender serves as a volunteer, part-time judge on tribal courts in Arizona.  Republicans Mark Schnepf and Stephen Sossaman serve on water district boards.  None of those positions would present the kind of conflict of interest the writers of Prop 106 envisioned as the reason to exclude public officers.

What do Pearce and Adams not dare state explicitly?  Perhaps their fear that Bender's experience in election and redistricting law, his alleged liberal political views, and his overall gravitas, will prevent the two of them from exercising any influence over the work of the IRC once it actually gets down to business?

What do you think would happen if King Russell actually came clean about his underlying motives? 

Squabbling rages?

Headline on a link to the political insider blog post on the latest development in the Arizona redistricting saga says "Squabbling rages over state redistricting panel."

While it's easy to imagine soon-to-be Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce seething over yesterday's decision by the screening panel to snub the demands he and his compadre in the Arizona House, Kirk Adams made, the rage -- so far -- is limited to those two contemplating their next move.  Arizona Republic reporter Mary Jo Pitzl reported that "Pearce issued a statement expressing regret at the commission's action. And, he added, 'the commission and legislative leadership have a clear disagreement on this issue, and today we are reviewing future options'."

At present, Pearce's options appear to be either to file a lawsuit to challenge the actions of the screening panel or wait for his turn to appoint one person from the list provided to him yesterday. 

Unless something is changed by a court ruling as a result his hypothetical lawsuit, the clock is ticking on the selection process.  The Arizona Constitution, in Article 4, Part 2, Section 1 gives House Speaker Kirk Adams until January 31, 2011 to make the first appointment.  Then, in turn, House Democratic Leader Chad Campbell, Pearce and Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira have seven days each in which to make their choices for commissioner. 

Any of the four who fail to make a selection within the allowed time forfeits the right to make a selection at all.  If that happens, the screening panel goes back to work and makes the appointment for them.

For now, we all wait to see whether Adams makes his pick or he and Pearce spend Arizona taxpayer money on a frivolous lawsuit.

I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Appointments Commission reaffirms Dec 8 list

Arizona's Appellate Courts Commission on Appointments this morning sent a signal, loud and clear, to state GOP legislative leaders Russell Pearce and Kirk Adams that their intrusion into the process of compiling the list of eligible candidates for Redistricting Commissioner is unwelcome.

The Commission voted to reaffirm the inclusion of Arizona State Law Professor  Paul Bender as one of the Independent candidates; voted against adding the names of Crystal Russell and Christopher Gleason to the list of Republican candidates and; voted to refuse to accept the resignation/withdrawal of Mark Schnepf and Stephen Sossaman from the list.

Public comments offered prior to discussion and voting on these issues echoed the 150+ pages of written comments received by the screening panel after the December 8th meeting at which the final list of eligible candidates was first approved.  Many, if not most Republican, Democrat and Independent voters want this process to be as free from partisan interference as possible.

Pearce and Adams, along with the Republican religious group Center for Arizona Policy, had raised a stink about Tucsonan Christopher Gleason being excluded from the approved list of GOP candidates.  They had claimed Gleason was excluded solely because of his Christian faith.

During discussion of the Gleason controversy this morning, Republican panel member Dewey Schade labeled those accusations "profoundly uninformed."

There is no question in my mind that Pearce and Adams had motives beyond what they explicitly stated for the fuss they raised.   And at the meeting today, this blogger cited the report by Jim Nintzel at the Tucson Weekly website last night.   Nintzel connected the dots between Gleason and Tea Party GOP Congressional nominee Jesse Kelly, who ran unsuccessfully against Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in CD8.  According to Gleason's application, he is a member of the special interest group Conservatives for Congress.  Nintzel reported that the group was responsible for multiple "below-the-belt" hit pieces aimed at Giffords.  He also said Gleason is working to establish a non-profit organization in Tucson to hire Kelly and allow him to campaign for another shot at Giffords.

That dubious connection presents a strong appearance of conflict of interest which should have, on its own, disqualified Gleason from consideration.

Nevertheless, for now, Gleason is out of the running, Pearce and Adams are probably stewing over the results of today's meeting and scheming the next steps in their effort to co-opt the Independent Redistricting Commission for the 2011 cycle.

Monday, December 27, 2010

URGENT -- Meeting of the Commission about the Redistricting candidate list

On Wednesday morning, December 29, barely 36 hours from now, Arizona's Appellate Courts Commission on Appointments will meet in open session to consider a request made by Senate President-elect Russell Pearce and House Speaker Kirk Adams.

After this commission finalized a list of 25 candidates eligible to become Independent Redistricting Commissioners for the 2011 redistricting cycle those two, who represent the GOP leadership of the Arizona Legislature, had a conniption fit because they didn't like the list presented to them.  So, they demanded the list be changed and threatened litigation if it wasn't changed.

Your presence, if you are concerned that these two lawmakers are interfering in the process voters defined back in 2000, is needed at the hearing at 9amWednesday at 1501 W Washington in Phoenix.

You will have an opportunity to give public comment at this meeting to voice your concerns.

I am thankful that a number of people have already submitted written comments admonishing the Appointments Commission to make no changes to the list they already approved.

You may read many of these comments at the following links:

There are more than 150 pages of comments from concerned citizens on the linked pdf documents.

Those expressing support for the list already approved by the Appointments Commission are Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

This process is incredibly important.  Until the gavel goes down to adjourn Wednesday's meeting, we need to continue to voice our concern, lest Pearce and Adams succeed in usurping the will of the People of Arizona.

If you need further background on this issue, please read my previous posts on the Eagle-tarian.

I'll be there.  I hope you will be there too.

This link will help if you need to know how to find the State Courts Building:

After reviewing the more than 150 pages of written comments at the three links above, I offer a couple of observations.  One letter is a copy of one sent by Professor Paul Bender to Pearce and Adams, apparently in response to a letter those two sent to Bender on December 17 demanding that he withdraw his name from consideration for a seat on the Independent Redistricting Commission.

That is the first inkling I had of that particular expression of Pearce and Adams' obnoxious hubris.  That alone should spark incredible outrage by concerned citizens of Arizona.  But I doubt very many even know they made this demand of Bender.

Of the 150 pages, only two letters were from people addressing the faux outrage raised by Pearce, Adams and the right-wing religious group Citizens for Arizona Policy concerning exclusion of Christopher Gleason from the final list of 25 eligible to be appointed to the IRC.  Even so, it is very clear that those two had absolutely no clue as to what actually took place at the hearing on December 8 regarding Mr. Gleason.

And finally, the letters overwhelmingly supported leaving the list of 25 names unchanged while urging the Appointments Commission to disregard the interference by Pearce and Adams.

However, make no mistake, it will still be crucial for there to be a strong show of that support at the meeting on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Who should chair the Arizona Democratic Party in 2011?

More than a week ago, word came down through the grapevine as well as in a few local blogs and news sites that Rodney Glassman was mounting a campaign to get himself elected to the chairmanship of the Arizona Democratic Party.

Several of those sources also reported that there was strong opposition to Rodney becoming the new chair.  One would think that such opposition would give a smart candidate pause to reconsider and re-evaluate.  With Rodney, however, that appears NOT to be the case.

Last night, a vocal progressive activist in Navajo County posted on his blog and on facebook that he now supports Glassman's new quest.  Moments ago, I received an email from an active Democrat in Gila County passing along essentially the same message.

To anyone who paid close attention to the US Senate primary and general election campaigns, this should be profoundly troubling.  Well, I know it is for me anyway.

What is clear thus far is that Master Rodney has started making calls to Democratic activists throughout Arizona trying to drum up support. Of course, Rodney can talk a good talk.  He had his lines down so well last summer that many people could say them for him before he even opened his mouth at joint appearances/debates between the primary candidates.  Rodney is tall and can make himself look good in front of a camera.

But behind the scenes, what did he do?  Did he fulfill his promise to the ADP to bring more than a million dollars (self-funding) to his senate campaign?  How did his campaign staff feel about him AFTER they got their last paychecks?  Was he able to even muster, in the general election, solid support of Democratic voters? 

You owe it to yourselves to answer all of these questions, and more, before committing your own time and support to the possibility of Arizona Democratic Party chairman Rodney Glassman.

As for me, not only NO, but HELL NO!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

US Census data released today

Newspapers all around the US reported about the initial report of the US Census today.  Major migration patterns show many people moving West and South, largely from the North and East regions of the US.

Many of the articles in corporatist oriented sites proclaim that reapportionment (redistribution of the 435 seats in the US House of Representatives based on population shifts over the last ten years) has produced, or will produce great gains for the GOP.  They say that is because several of the states that will lose one or more seats in Congress have traditionally leaned toward Democrats and the states gaining seats lean toward Republicans.  Texas gains four seats and Florida two, while Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Georgia, South Carolina and Washington each pick up one more seat.  Michigan, New York, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Massachusetts, Louisiana and Iowa all will lose one or more seats.

That "analysis" however, fails to consider many factors including the US economy and other demographics such as the growth in Latino populations (and Latino voting patterns).

What is certain is that every state will undergo the process of redistricting in 2011.  How that process takes place, whether entrenched pols are allowed to gerrymander or whether (as in Arizona, California and a few other states) the voter approved independent panels are able to fulfill the voter mandate to establish competitive districts for Congress and for state legislatures, will ultimately determine who wins in the short term or the long.

In Arizona, we already know that GOP leadership in the state legislature is trying to co-opt the process.  In roughly one week, we may have a better idea of whether they will succeed.  No doubt, regardless of the outcome of the December 29 meeting of the Appellate Courts Commission on Appointments, Russell Pearce and Kirk Adams, Senate president-elect and House Speaker respectively, will continue their efforts at subverting the will of voters.

Some links to today's news stories on the Census:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Interview on The Lou Show, noon MST Sunday Dec 19

This afternoon, I recorded an interview to air on The Lou Show (live stream at the link above) Sunday (tomorrow) at noon Arizona time.

We discussed Arizona's upcoming redistricting process and the manufactured outrage that state GOP legislative leaders Russell Pearce and Kirk Adams have already started stirring up over the selection process for new commissioners.

Tune in if you have can.  :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chief Justice Berch schedules open meeting

On Monday, Chief Justice Berch responded to last week's initial overblown protestations by Russell Pearce and Kirk Adams with the following:

I am in receipt of your letter dated December 10, 2010.  As Chairperson of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, I can assure you that the Commission takes seriously any questions or concerns directed at the process or outcome of this Commission.  I have directed staff to schedule a Commission meeting as soon as possible to address the contents of your letter.

            As is the case with all Commission meetings, this will be a public meeting.  I encourage all those interested in the process to attend and consider providing comment for the benefit of the Commission, as it considers the issues you have raised. [emphasis mine]

            We will contact your offices as soon as a meeting time and date have been established so that you or representatives of your choice may attend and participate as you deem appropriate.

Annette Corallo, program specialist at the AZ Supreme Court told me the meeting has been scheduled for December 29 at 9 am at the state court building, 1500 W. Washington, Phoenix.

It will obviously be intriguing to see what, if anything, the Appointments Commission does differently.

In the meantime, I hope the Capitol Press Corps does more homework on the subject.   While it should be clear to anyone who attended the meeting on December 8 that the Commission did NOT solely base its decision on Mr. Gleason on his religion, that's not how it's being played in most articles I've seen up till now.  And conservative/religious blogs are making outrageous claims without facts to support the claims.


Arizona citizens deserve much more information than they are getting, especially from the corporate media, on this thus far.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kirk Adams throws a hissy fit

Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams, apparently not wanting to continually be upstaged by Russell Pearce, has called a press conference for 2:30pm today about his self-made  hissy fit -- The Independent Redistricting Commission Selection Controversy -- on the Capitol lawn in front of the House of Representatives.

Adams was not in attendance when the Appellate Courts Commission on Appointments discussed and voted on whether to include Tucsonan Christopher Gleason on the final list of candidates to become redistricting commissioners.  He issued a statement anyway, claiming that the sole reason Gleason was excluded is that Gleason is a person of faith.

Adams' statement said, "I am shocked and alarmed that a Commissioner of a constitutional commission, acting in an important constitutional proceeding, would openly oppose a candidate because his application appeared too religious.  It is totally unacceptable to suggest that candidates for public service in Arizona must check their faith at the door."

Since Michael Perry, a Republican from Maricopa County who also cited his faith (including serving or having served as associate teaching director of Community Bible Study at his church), was included on the final list of qualified candidates, Adams' manufactured dispute must not be considering all of the facts.

One difference in the applications is that Michael Perry's statement of interest is more detailed and appears more relevant.  But I can't speak for the commissioners.

On a seperate note, I hope you enjoy the YouTube clip below.

I'll figure out how to embed YouTube clips soon (I hope).  :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The best is yet to come.

I hope to make information of value available to concerned citizens everywhere.  Likely, most of it will relate to goings on in Arizona politics.  Lord knows the next year is going to be full of tumult with the state legislature set begin its regular session in early January and Independent Redistricting Commission due to get into full swing by March.

Already, sparks are beginning to fly with Democrats trying to figure out how to have any impact at all -- as they have even smaller minorities in both chambers -- in the upcoming legislative session. Senate President-elect Russell Pearce is already working on alienating everyone except the most conservative lawmakers and public; he has already declared his intent to challenge the United States Constitution (on birthright citizenship) not to mention the ever present state budget revenue shortfalls. Pearce, along with Arizona House Speaker Kirk Adams on Friday, Dec 10 complained, in writing, to Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca Burch about the list of candidates the Appointments Commission provided to legislative leaders to populate the Redistricting Commission.  Of course, there will be more issues and problems, but these will surely be among the big ones in the next year.

So, I expect to be busy... and in my "spare time" I'm hoping to get familiar with energy issues and follow some of the actions of the Arizona Corporation Commission.  In January, the ACC will become substantially less friendly to utility consumers as Commissioner Kris Mayes leaves (due to term limits) and is replaced by pro-business, anti-consumer, former Senate President Brenda Burns.  Burns, of course, was in charge of the state senate when the Alt-Fuels Debacle was passed 10 years ago or so, with no advance public review.  That situation cost Arizona taxpayers several hundred million dollars before legislation could be passed to shut down the program.

So, stay tuned because 2011 will be full of controversy and I'll try to stay up on as much as possible. 

Thanks for reading the Eagle-tarian.