Executive director Bladine reported that move in to offices at the Evans House has been completed and phones have been activated. The phone number
Bladine also mentioned his interest in hiring a Public Information Officer and an Administrative Assistant as soon as possible. He will have a staffing plan ready to submit at the public meeting on Thursday. However, if official approval is required, it will not happen then (it's not on the agenda, which must be posted 48 hours prior to the meeting).
IRC computer guy Buck Forst said equipment to broadcast commission meetings live online is due for delivery this Friday. He hopes to have the system set up and ready to go for the next public meeting afterwards (May 26th). Right now the plan is to use a website like Ustream for as many people to watch as would like. If you are unfamiliar with Ustream, check out this live video feed of a camera trained 24/7 on an eagle's nest in Iowa (yes, even at night).
During public comment today, Tucson Democratic activist Mohur Sidhwa told the Commission to place competitiveness high on the list of priorities when drawing maps. Another person, Lynn St. Angelo advocated for her Community of Interest in Oro Valley (currently in LD26).
Attorney David Braun said he is concerned that if the Commission enters into an Interagency Service Agreement (ISA) with the Attorney General's office, the appearance of impartiality will be at risk because Tom Horne is a highly partisan AG.
During public comment, I also read the first part of my blog post on the Open Meeting Law into the record and provided a hard copy to the court reporter working today's meeting.
Next on the agenda, Solicitor General David Cole addressed the Commission regarding two proposals his office submitted for consideration. Cole also spoke to Braun's concern over partisanship, explaining that lawyers are lawyers first and Republican or Democrat after that. He also mentioned how he (a Republican and former prosecutor) brought many criminal cases against both Democrats and Republicans and never asked defendants about their politics.
Cole and interim IRC legal counsel Jim Barton (a Democrat) explained that the two proposals differ in scope of services offered. One proposal is to provide advice on open meetings, records and inter-agency coordination only. The second proposal also includes providing legal advice on the map drawing the Commission must do. Commissioners gave no indication today on how much consideration they will give to the AG proposals.
We also found out today that the Rose Law Group (RLG), represented by Tim LaSota, is the additional legal services bidder (see agenda item V.). RLG had submitted a bid in Microsoft Word format but the State Procurement Office (SPO) wanted it in PDF format. The original package was submitted timely, but did not have a signature.
Procurement rules provide that if the subsequent bid is materially identical to the first bid and the corrected package was late because of something the SPO could be responsible for, the bid can be considered timely. So, SPO recommended and the IRC approved considering RLG's proposal.
Last week, the Arizona Eagletarian posted the list of law firms that responded to the RFP to provide legal services (except for RLG). This afternoon, after reviewing the proposals, the Commission decided to invite six bidders to interview and make presentations on Thursday (May 12) at the public meeting in Phoenix. The invited firms (in alphabetical order, also the likely interview order) are:
- Ballard Spahr LLP (soon to be former counsel to Gov. Brewer, Joseph Kanefield is expected join this firm this month)
- A. David Braun, Attorney at Law (sole practitioner)
- Gammage & Burnham (Lisa Hauser, former IRC Republican counsel)
- Mandell Law Firm (Michael Mandell, counsel to state Senate Democratic Caucus)
- Osborne & Maledon PA (Mary O'Grady, former state Solicitor General)
- Rose Law Group (Tim LaSota)
The agenda calls for public comment before the interviews. As I sat down to write this blog post, it occurred to me that public comment would be better AFTER the interviews. The public would then have the opportunity to reflect on the prospective counsel candidates. I called Bladine and he agreed (and believes the commissioners will too).
The IRC expects the RFP for mapping services to be released publicly tomorrow morning on Procure AZ.